Netflix renews ‘Queer Eye’ and ‘One Day at a Time’

Image: Carin Baer/Netflix

The Fab Five are coming back, baby.

Queer Eye and five other series have been renewed by Netflix including One Day at a Time for a third season, and Dope, Drug Lords, Nailed It!, and The Toys That Made Us for their second seasons, The Hollywood Reporter reported Monday. 

All of the shows outside of One Day at a Time are all relatively new unscripted series, showing Netflix’s commitment to giving reality-style television a fair shot at making it on the streaming platform.

Out of that lineup, Queer Eye probably garnered the most buzz online. It’s a reboot of the mid-2000s broadcast television show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, with a new lineup of queer guys who use their individual expertise to make other guys’ lives better. Instead of focusing on straight guys in New York, though, the new Queer Eye takes place around Atlanta and doesn’t just stick to straight guys.

The new Fab Five — Antoni, Bobby, Jonathan, Karamo, and Tan — have garnered a cult following online and the show’s wholesome, feel-good premise is intoxicating. In one episode, it can make you laugh, cry, and give you a handful of tips to make your life just a little bit better.

There is no expected release for the new Queer Eye season, but THR reports that it’s expected in 2018. One Day at a Time‘s 13-episode third season is expected in 2019, the docuseries Dope is coming back April 20, and the other three shows do not have expected release dates.

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/03/26/queer-eye-season-2/

Why ‘Love, Simon’ is so important, and why you need to see it (twice)

Everyone loves "Love, Simon," and all that it represents
Image: Twentieth Century Fox

The recently released Love, Simon is not only making LGBTQ+ history; it’s also elevating the rom-com genre in unprecedented ways.

It’s been met with a choir of critical praise so far. Mashable’s own MJ Franklin showered it with love in a review that called it “a gotdamn delightful romcom, and gay as hell.” In a perfect summation of the movie’s far-reaching impact, he wrote: 

“[Love, Simon is] a heart-wrenching, empathy-expanding look at what it means to be a gay teen AND it’s a universal story about the awkward, messy attempts of navigating high school, AND it’s a hilarious comedy in it’s own right.”

Voices all around the internet are in agreement: Love, Simon is not only a triumph of cinema, but a huge leap toward a long overdue and desperately needed cultural shift.

Why is it so important? For one, it’s probably the first rom-com with the power to save literal lives. 

Data indicates that LQBTQ+ teens are at a much higher risk of attempted suicide or suicidal thoughts. As a recent report from CNN noted, a 2015 study conducted in the United States found that 40 percent of high school students who identify as “gay, lesbian or bisexual or questioning” had “seriously” considered suicide at one point or another. (It’s important to note those numbers donot include transgender teens.)

Non-profit organizations like Dan Savage and husband Terry Miller’s It Gets Better Project have worked hard to provide everyone who identifies as LGBTQ, and youths in particular, with the support system needed to combat this too-common sentiment. But a mainstream Hollywood movie that addresses the joys of gay high school experiences as well as the difficulties has the potential to reach people on a much larger scale.

And that’s not to mention the important fact that this stellar, young cast isn’t just diverse in terms of sexual orientation, but also race:

In 2016, groundbreaking Best Picture winner Moonlight shined a bright light on the especially isolating experience of being gay, black, and male in America, from youth to adulthood. That stark portrait and its success sparked an important conversation that Love, Simon continues in its own uniquely impactful way.

It should go without saying, but Love, Simon is not just an important film for LGBTQ+ people. As Franklin put it, “calling it a gay teen rom-com seems to do Love, Simon a disservice because it’s so much more than that.” This movie reflects reality by showing a broad spectrum of love and coming-of-age issues, including those of straight people. 

Heterosexual people and their relationships still dominate mainstream culture, and LGBTQ+ folks have had no problem identifying with the universal experience of love depicted in all those rom-coms. Love, Simon steps out of that heteronormative mindset, but it’s still for everyone.

Representation in mainstream culture leads to normalization. As a gatekeeper of what our culture views as “normal,” Hollywood has the power to breed life-changing empathy toward LGBTQ+ folks in those who struggle to see outside their own heterosexual lives.

Most importantly, Love, Simon is already helping LGBTQ+ teens (and adults) become more comfortable with expressing their identities:

So in summary: everyone has a reason to go see Love, Simon — twice, if possible. Oh, and don’t forget to pick up a copy of the book too.

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/03/17/love-simon-important-impact-twitter-lgbtq-rom-com/

Sony apologises for making light of food allergies in ‘Peter Rabbit’

Sony Pictures and the Peter Rabbit filmmakershave apologised for making light of allergies following calls to boycott the movie, which hit U.S. cinemas over the weekend. 

A scene in the new adaptation of Beatrix Potter’s classic shows character Tom McGregor, who’s allergic to blackberries, being pelted with the berries by Peter and his friends. One of the berries lands in Tom’s mouth, and he has to use an EpiPen to treat his allergic reaction. 

The scene prompted a massive outcry on social media, and many parents called on people to boycott the film, which they deemed to find “humor in bullying” people living with allergies. 

Brittany Dye, a parent of a child with a severe food allergy, penned an open letter calling on Sony Pictures to pull the film, which she said “mocks children with disabilities.” 

“If someone launched green peas, or lentils, or any of the other 6 foods my son is allergic to into his mouth the way the rabbits did to McGregor in the movie with blackberries, he would need timely epinephrine. If he did not receive it, he would likely die,” wrote Dye in the letter. 

One parent of a daughter with allergies called the scene “sickening.” 

“Please stop showing anaphylaxis as something that is funny,” wrote another person on Twitter. 

Another parent of a child with “severe food allergies” called the film “absolutely disgusting.” 

In a Facebook post, the Kids With Food Allergies (KFA) Foundation wrote that the scene “may be disturbing to young viewers” with food allergies. 

“KFA believes that food allergy ‘jokes’ are harmful to our community,” read the post. “During a reaction, patients require the life-saving drug epinephrine and must go to the nearest hospital for follow-up treatment.” 

They added that the scene was harmful to those living with allergies. “Making light of this condition hurts our members because it encourages the public not to take the risk of allergic reactions seriously, and this cavalier attitude may make them act in ways that could put an allergic person in danger,” the post continued. 

A spokesperson for Sony Pictures said in a statement that the film “should not have made light” of the character’s allergy “even in a cartoonish, slapstick way.” 

“We sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue, and we truly apologize,” the statement continued.

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/02/12/peter-rabbit-movie-allergies/

9 Things I Never Knew About Cruises Until I Ran the Worlds Largest Ship

At a time when travelers are feeling more precious than ever about “authentic experiences,” the cruise industry is doubling down on the exact opposite: completely manufactured fun. Leading the pack is Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., whose mega-ships are destinations unto themselves: Its restaurants, casinos, Broadway-caliber musicals, silent disco parties, skating rinks, karaoke, dance clubs, and escape-the-room experiences are such strong lures, some guests don’t even bother to look up where the ship is docking. 

So when the cruise line invited me to join the ranks as temporary director of its largest ship, —which is as big as five s—I knew I was signing up for the most manic week of my life. 

As cruise director, my primarily responsibility was seeing to the happiness of 6,322 passengers and 2,200-plus crew. Over the course of a week, I had my hands in every department, from ship activities and entertainment to onboard revenue, making sure that everyone and everything worked in, well, harmony. From stocking the world’s biggest buffet and staving off gastrointestinal disasters to hosting celebrity guests, everything is 10 times crazier when you’re mayor of a city that’s floating in the middle of the sea. 

There Is Secret Cruise Code Language

Illustration: Zohar Lazar

It’s crucial for the staff to have code words so that passengers don’t get freaked out if something goes wrong. A “30-30” means the crew is asking maintenance to clean up a mess; three times during my stint I called in a “PVI” (public vomiting incident). An “Alpha” is a medical emergency, a “Bravo” is a fire, and “Kilo” is a request for all personnel to report to their emergency posts, which happens in the event of, say, a necessary evacuation. Be wary of “Echo,” which is called if the ship is starting to drift, or “Oscar,” which means someone’s gone overboard. A crew member told me he’s had only four or five “Oscars” in 10 years of cruising.

Drunk Guests Can't Outsmart the On-Board Bartenders

Illustration: Zohar Lazar

If you thought those all-you-can-drink beverage packages were directly correlated with drunk debauchery at sea, think again. Only eight to 10 percent of passengers purchase unlimited booze packages—Royal Caribbean’s guests are largely family travelers—and those who do are carefully monitored. Every single alcoholic beverage is poured with a jigger. Intoxicated passengers can have their SeaPasses (onboard credit cards) temporarily disabled, barring them from being served at any of the ship’s bars. As for the most popular alcoholic beverage ordered on board? It’s a cinnamon fireball shot.

According to Ivan De La Rosa, the ship’s senior doctor, the biggest issue involving alcohol is when the ship is docked in Cozumel, Mexico. Mix an afternoon of unregulated drinking on land at Señor Frogs with tropical heat and a few glasses of Mexican tap water, and you’ve got yourself a guaranteed “PVI.”

Cruise Staffers Regularly Engage in Subliminal Messaging

The first thing guests likely see in their cabins is a gleeful jingle about hand-washing looping on their television screen. It’s catchy as a Katy Perry song and meant to steer you toward Purel pumps around the ship, each carefully positioned at high-traffic junctions (think entrances to the main dining halls and theaters) by senior staff. Along with the emcees’ banter at large group events—“Have you washed your hands 50 times today? I have!”—the jingle is part of the crew’s unwavering effort to stave off a potential Norovirus outbreak. 

But sanitation is just one aim of the frequent subliminal messaging. Special promotions around the ship encourage passengers to scatter when certain areas become congested, and moving guests around the ship subtly encourages them to diversify (and increase) their onboard spending. If casino revenue is low, for instance, senior management might host a raffle or karaoke event at the far side of the slots to drive foot traffic and encourage passengers to linger (or better yet, play) a while. Activities managers will even film their daily newscast about onboard events with Starbucks iced coffees in hand, as a quiet reminder that passengers can get their venti latte fix on Deck Six. Often times, these veiled announcements are aimed at boosting the ship’s bottom line.

There Is a Cruise Ship Burn Book 

Dru Pavlov, veteran cruise director and my mentor during this Royal Caribbean stint, keeps a hallowed book of stupid comments and questions; passed down from one cruise director to the next as a right of passage, it makes great vamping material for event emcees. 

The book Pavlov bequeathed to me included such doozies as: “Where’s the elevator to get to the front of the ship?” Others include “Is the toilet water drinkable?” and “How long does it take the crew to get home every night?” My favorite contribution came three days into my tenure, when a passenger stopped me to complain that she could no longer find her cabin. The ship had been parked backwards, she claimed.

All Cruise Guests Basically Eat the Same Things

Illustration: Zohar Lazar

Freezers on board are the size of New York studio apartments—and stocking them is an art form. Before each sailing, the inventory team receives enough ingredients for 20 different dining venues, plus servings for the 2,000-member crew. (The total cost, including such other consumables as paper towels, is about $800,000.) Overestimate the order, and the voyage becomes less-profitable (and wasteful); underestimate, and you’ll risk a riot over coconut shrimp. 

Luckily, passengers’ eating habits are fairly predictable. On the average week-long cruise, Royal Caribbean estimates its guests will be 80 percent American, consuming around 3,000 bottles of wine, 7,000 pounds of chicken breast, and almost 100,000 eggs. 

If more than 80 percent of the guests are American, the crew orders extra ketchup. When the percentage of Chinese passengers increases, they bump up the supply of sliced fruit, seafood, and rice. Latin Americans consume more red meat and Coronas (which also requires additional limes). And family-prone Spring Break cruises require three times as many chicken nuggets. The one thing that never changes no matter who is on board? Toilet paper. Around 9,600 rolls are used each week.  

Every Ship Has an "Outbreak Prevention Plan," With a Hair Trigger

Illustration: Zohar Lazar

Nothing is scarier to cruisers than a Norovirus outbreak—which ship doctor De La Rosa says is almost always caused by a passenger who has brought the illness aboard, rather than poor sanitary conditions on the ship.

The U.S. Health Department requires that every ship maintain a detailed OPP, or Outbreak Prevention Plan. On , regular sanitary conditions are called “OPP1,” and they get ratcheted up to “OPP2” when there’s a “6 in 6,” or six passengers reported ill in six hours. (You’ll know OPP2 is in full gear when the crew gets less subliminal about its “wash your hands” messaging.) 

If the incidence rate escalates and the situation reaches OPP3, guests lose the ability to handle their own food. The entire crew, from the ice dancers to the synchronized swimmers, is recruited to the buffets to help serve, and all restaurants and guestroom linens are put in red biohazard bags and obsessively laundered in a special facility on land.

If you want to avoid Norovirus like, well, the plague, stay away from short sailings, says figure skater and veteran crew member Chris Mabee. “Those trips tend to be the least-expensive, attracting both older passengers, who are prone to getting sick, and the young booze cruisers, who forget about hygiene.”  

As for the most common diagnoses at sea? They include upper respiratory infections, bruised bones, and the odd Viagra mishap. UTIs are also frequent, thanks to frisky honeymooners, and prescribing antibiotics can be hairy when passengers are committed to their all-you-can-drink packages.

Crew Members Are Trained to Deal with Handsy Passengers …

Illustration: Zohar Lazar

Sleeping with a passenger will get you “chicken or beef,” as Pavlov puts it—“That’s what a flight attendant asks you when you’re put on the first flight home.” 

The zero-tolerance policy seems to be an industry-wide standard—at Royal Caribbean, there’s even staff training on how to defuse an escalating situation. More often than not, it’s a vacationing guest trying to seduce a crew member. “Whenever I take photos with people, I always give a thumbs up,” notes Pavlov. “My hands are visible, so no one can claim any inappropriate behavior.” And with cameras covering virtually every nook and cranny of the ship, it’d be easier to rob a bank than take a bite of some forbidden fruit. (Though some crew members still use Grindr or Tinder to get a sense of who’s on board.)

… but the Staff Quarters Are a Genuine Love Boat 

With 2,200 crew, the staff quarters are a village unto themselves, with cabins, bars, a mess hall, shop, and gym set across decks 0, 1, 2, 3, and 12. (Most services are set off a second-deck corridor dubbed “I-95.”)

Among the crew, dating is not just allowed but tacitly encouraged—they live onboard through the entirety of their contract without days off, often 10 months a year. They have their own calendar of daily events that range from karaoke sessions to poker games and foreign language classes. And since Wi-Fi is pricey, romance is very much analog.

Coupling up on the ship is like dating in dog years: Things move about seven times faster. Several crew members recounted instances when they put in a request to share a cabin with their new boyfriend after only a month of dating, or dropped the “I love you” bomb within the first week of meeting someone. And since relationships often end once one person leaves the ship, cruise couples tend to become “lifers.” (Almost everyone I met in upper management met their spouse onboard.) 

The Ship Has Genies, and They Can Perform Magic 

Although bargain-basement discounts draw plenty of travelers to big-ship cruising, procuring Royal Caribbean’s VIP status can offer a true luxury experience. The easiest way to get it is by booking into the Royal Suites Star Class; the company’s crème de la crème offering includes 10 state-of-the-art apartments on with privileged access to pleb-free parts of the ship and butler-style service from a coterie of “Royal Genies.”

The Genies are trained to cater to your every whim, but with limited resources at sea, this can require real creativity. Daniel, one of the genies, once had a couple ask for their suite to be filled with flowers. Unable to secure real bouquets, he had the pastry team bake dozens of petal-shaped cookies and scattered them around the room. And when one family got locked out of a peak-season December sailing, genie Andrei surprised them with an early Christmas by decorating their suite and putting wrapped presents under a makeshift tree.

“The hardest thing to do is host a celebrity on board,” says Andrei, who has served a slew of A-listers and their families, including Kelsey Grammer, Adam Sandler, and Seth Rogen. To give them privacy amid thousands of cruisers, he says, “We usher them into shows after the lights go dark, and we grab them to leave five minutes before the show is done.” 

No matter how you earn your VIP status—or if you’ve earned it at all—my time on board proved that the crew will always bend over backwards to make sure you leave satisfied. Want to thank them? Tipping is great, but comment cards that explicitly name standout crew members make more of a difference. Your praise gets noted on their permanent record, earns them such onboard perks as free Wi-Fi, and helps secure promotions down the road.

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-31/secrets-of-cruise-ships-from-crew-codes-to-sex-to-norovirus

    Jimmy Kimmel brought his adorable son Billy on the show, after his heart surgery

    Jimmy Kimmel’s son Billy, who was born with congenital heart disease and who has been at the center of the talk show host’s arguments around U.S. healthcare, had his second open heart surgery last week. So, Kimmel brought him on Monday’s show.

    Kimmel has taken time off during Billy’s surgery, instead inviting guest hosts Chris Pratt, Melissa McCarthy, Tracee Ellis Ross andNeil Patrick Harris to keep the seat warm.

    Billy’s surgery was a roaring success, and Kimmel thanked the doctors and nurses at the Children’s Hospital LA for his son’s treatment. “Daddy cries on TV but Billy doesn’t,” said a tearful Kimmel during his opening monologue.

    Kimmel has been at the forefront of the U.S. healthcare debate recently, slamming the proposed Graham-Cassidy bill for not providing coverage for kids like Kimmel’s son (and rejoicing when it was blocked). On Monday’s show, Kimmel championed the CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), administered by the Department of Health to cover families with modest incomes that are too high to qualify for Medicaid. Kimmel says Congress has failed to approve funding for it this year. He also urges people to enrol for healthcare before the cut-off date on Dec. 15.

    Billy has one more surgery planned for when he’s six years old, then he’s done. Go get ’em Billy!

    Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/12/12/jimmy-kimmel-son-billy/

    David Cassidy, ‘Partridge Family’ superstar, in critical condition

    (CNN)David Cassidy, the wildly popular ’70s heartthrob who shot to fame when he starred and sang in TV’s “The Partridge Family,” is in critical condition with organ failure.

    Cassidy is being treated at a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, area hospital, longtime publicist Jo-Ann Geffen told CNN on Saturday. He is in the intensive care unit and has a breathing tube, she said.
    “He is conscious and surrounded by family and friends, nothing is imminent and we are taking it day by day,” Geffen said.
      She did not say what caused the organ failure.
      Cassidy, 67, told People magazine earlier this year he was battling dementia.

      A ’70s superstar

      “The Partridge Family,” a sitcom about a mother and five children who formed a rock ‘n’ roll band, gave Cassidy a national audience for his music. Cassidy, who played Keith Partridge on the show, captured the spirit of 1970s youth.
      His wispy voice and wholesome persona broke out from the small screen. At the time, his fan club reportedly was bigger than those of Elvis Presley and The Beatles.
      The singer toured the world singing his hit songs, such as “I Think I Love You,” filling concert halls with screaming teenage girls.

      Health problems

      Cassidy has spoken publicly in recent years about his struggles with alcohol. He was arrested for driving under the influence on three separate occasions during a four-year span between 2010 and 2014.
      Cassidy, in an interview with CNN in 2014, said his trouble with alcohol was “very humbling and it’s also humiliating.”
      He told People magazine earlier this year that he is battling dementia. He said dementia runs in his family, affecting both his grandfather and his mother.
      “I was in denial, but a part of me always knew this was coming,” he said to People, regarding the disease.

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/18/entertainment/david-cassidy-hospitalized/index.html

      NFL’s Litany of Excuses Runs Out After Ratings Fall for Second Year

      TV networks are running out of excuses for the dwindling popularity of the National Football League.

      They blamed the election for ratings declines last year, and hurricanes for a soft week one in September. Protests during the national anthem, and President Donald Trump’s criticism of the league, have faded from the headlines. 

      Advertisers are starting to believe a different explanation: the viewers aren’t coming back. Audiences are down an average 7 percent from a year ago through the first eight weeks of the season, excluding last Monday. That’s on top of a decrease of about 8 percent last season that spurred numerous changes in the broadcasts, from shorter commercials to better matchups earlier in the year.

      “There’s just not as many people watching TV the way they used to watch TV,” said Jeremy Carey, managing director of Optimum Sports, a sports marketing agency. “It’s going to be an issue for advertisers when they can’t reach a large-scale audience the way they have.”

      With CBS Corp., 21st Century Fox Inc. and Walt Disney Co. set to report earnings in the next few days, analysts are bound to raise questions. These companies have used the popularity of the games to extract additional fees from cable operators, promote other shows on their networks and sell lots of commercials. Pro football games drew about $3.5 billion in ad spending last year, including the postseason, according to SMI Media Inc.

      Media companies have spent billions of dollars on the right to air football games, which had been immune to the erosion of viewership for other TV programming. Audiences for TV networks have diminished for years as the growing popularity of online alternatives Netflix and YouTube and the availability of most shows on-demand have reduced the appeal of dramas and comedies. Live TV, like sports, was supposed to be immune, but that theory looks highly questionable now.

      Ratings for the NFL suggest the same societal trends are now affecting the league, even if the declines aren’t as dramatic. The drop in game viewership ranges from 5 percent for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” to 11 percent for the CBS Sunday package. “Monday Night Football,” on Disney’s ESPN, has attracted more fans this year than a year ago, but the numbers are still down from 2015.

      Viewership of the four main broadcast networks fell 8.7 percent last year, and 12 percent among adults 18 to 49, an important demographic for advertisers.

      CBS’s 11 percent slump for NFL games is the steepest of the networks. Its parent company, which reports earnings after the close Thursday, is more vulnerable than rivals to the trend because the vast majority of its earnings come from the broadcast network. The declines at CBS reinforce a complaint that has gotten louder and louder in recent weeks: The league got greedy in adding the Thursday night game on broadcast.

      Reserving top games for Thursday night robbed other time periods of good match-ups. After a nosedive in ratings at “Monday Night Football” last season, the league has scheduled better games for that time period, further damaging Sunday afternoon.

      “Ratings declines on both general entertainment and NFL programming could be the single biggest point of focus for investors this quarter, and we’re not sure what media companies can say about the health and tone of the ad market to assuage fears,” Steven Cahall, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets, wrote in a note last month.

      Viewership is dropping fast among people under 54 — a key demographic for advertisers — and even faster among those 18 to 34. Audiences for games on CBS, NBC and Fox have slid at least 10 percent among that younger cohort.

      Advertisers aren’t abandoning the NFL, one of the only places they can still reach more than 10 million people at once. But they are growing concerned. John Schnatter, who appears in TV spots on behalf of his Papa John’s Pizza International Inc., laid into the league on a conference call this week, blaming the ratings for his company’s slow revenue growth and calling for the league to put an end to player protests.

      Networks and other advertisers identify a wide range of reasons for the NFL’s struggles. The league has overexposed itself by making highlights available on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Snapchat. Identifiable stars like Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers have either retired or gotten hurt. The quality of play has deteriorated. Player protests and concussions have driven away some fans.

      Some executives argue viewership of the league has still improved over the long term while dropping for every other show. Yet the amount of time people have spent watching football this season is at the lowest point since 2011, back when there were fewer televised games, according to Mike Mulvihill, Fox Sports’ head of research.

      “The cumulative effect of everything happening in the world at large is having an impact on NFL viewership,” Mulvihill said. “ The league was defying the laws of gravity.”

        Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-02/nfl-s-litany-of-excuses-runs-out-as-ratings-fall-for-second-year

        Opioid Billionaire’s Indictment Opens New Window on Epidemic

        More than a decade after opioid painkillers first exploded across the U.S., John Kapoor found an aggressive way to sell even more, according to prosecutors: He began bribing doctors to prescribe them.

        Speakers’ fees, dinners, entertainment, cash — federal charges unsealed Thursday claim Kapoor’s striving company, Insys Therapeutics Inc., employed all of that and more to spur prescriptions of a highly addictive fentanyl-based drug intended only for cancer patients.

        As President Donald Trump declared at a White House event that opioid abuse represents a public-health emergency, authorities arrested Kapoor in Arizona and painted a stark portrait of how Insys allegedly worked hand in glove with doctors to expand the market for the powerful agents.

        “Selling a highly addictive opioid-cancer pain drug to patients who did not have cancer makes them no better than street-level drug dealers,” Harold Shaw, the top FBI agent in Boston, said of Kapoor and other Insys executives charged earlier in the case.

        The story of the 74-year-old billionaire and the company he founded traces the arc of a crisis that claims 175 lives each day. What began with the over-prescription of painkillers in the late 1990s soon became a race by manufacturers to dispense more and more pills.

        Overdose Risks

        Charged with racketeering conspiracy and other felonies, Kapoor became the highest-ranking pharma executive to be accused of an opioid-related crime, and his arrest may portend charges against companies far larger than Insys, which has a modest $417 million market capitalization.

        In Connecticut, prosecutors have begun a criminal probe of Purdue Pharmaceutical Inc.’s marketing of OxyContin. Scores of states, cities and counties have sued companies including Purdue, Endo International Plc, and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals, alleging they triggered the opioid epidemic by minimizing the addiction and overdose risks of painkillers such as Percocet.

        But so far, no recent case has been so sweeping as the one against the executives including Kapoor, who made his initial court appearance late Thursday in Phoenix. A U.S. magistrate judge set bail at $1 million and ordered Kapoor to surrender his passport and submit to electronic monitoring. His lawyer, Brian Kelly, said Kapoor posted bail after the hearing.

        This week, a Rhode Island doctor admitted accepting kickbacks from Insys in exchange for writing prescriptions. Earlier this year, two doctors were sentenced to more than 20 years behind bars for accepting bribes from companies including Insys to sell fentanyl-based medications.

        The Kapoor indictment pinpoints the start of the alleged scheme.

        Oral Spray

        It was early 2012, and Insys’s new oral spray of the opioid fentanyl wasn’t selling well. Because it was so addictive, the pain-relief drug was subject to a tightly controlled distribution system, and regulators demanded to be notified about suspicious orders by manufacturers, wholesalers and pharmacies. And the drug wasn’t cheap, so insurers set up barriers for patients seeking it.

        That was when Kapoor and others at Insys went to extremes to dramatically boost sales of the painkiller, prosecutors said. Doling out speaker fees, marketing payments and food and entertainment perks, they allegedly began bribing doctors to prescribe the drug, and then tricked insurers into paying for it.

        One Insys sales executive told subordinates that it didn’t matter whether doctors were entertaining, according to the indictment: “They do not need to be good speakers, they need to write a lot of” Subsys prescriptions, the official said, referring to the brand name of the painkiller.

        Over a two-year period starting in 2013, Chandler, Arizona-based Insys set aside more than $12.2 million for doctors’ speaking fees, prosecutors said. One doctor received as much as $229,640 in speaker fees for appearing at what amounted to “sham events that were mere social gatherings also attended by friends and office staff,” according to the indictment.

        Friends, Family

        The company encouraged doctors to write more prescriptions by hiring their friends and family members to serve as “business liaisons’’ and “business-relation managers,’’ prosecutors said. These support-staff employees worked in the doctors’ offices but were paid by Insys in what the indictment called bribes and kickbacks.

        Insys even made a video featuring a sales rep dressed as a giant fentanyl spray bottle, rapping and dancing to a song that pushed the idea of getting doctors to prescribe higher doses, prosecutors said.

        Others previously charged include Michael Babich, Insys’s former CEO, Alec Burlakoff, the ex-vice president of sales, and Richard Simon, once the company’s national sales director. They all deny wrongdoing.

        Joe McGrath, an Insys spokesman, declined to comment on Kapoor’s indictment in Boston federal court. The company, which wasn’t charged, has reportedly been in settlement talks with the U.S. Justice Department to resolve a probe into its Subsys marketing. The company’s shares fell more than 22 percent to $5.74 in Nasdaq trading.

        The Lawyer Who Beat Big Tobacco Takes On the Opioid Industry

        The first person in his family to attend college, Kapoor rose from modest means in India to become a wealthy health-care entrepreneur, after earning a doctorate in medicinal chemistry at the University of Buffalo in 1972, according to a work-history the school posted.

        He was a plant manager at Invenex Laboratories in New York and later became chief executive officer of LyphoMed, a hospital-products company. He sold LyphoMed to Fujisawa Pharmaceuticals and formed a venture capital firm that invested in health-care companies.

        In 2010, he merged privately held Insys with NeoPharm Inc. to get access to technology to develop pain drugs for cancer patients. Even though he has stepped down as Insys’s chairman and chief executive officer, he still holds more than 60 percent of its stock.

        Kapoor and Babich are also accused of misleading insurers about patients’ diagnoses and the types of pain they suffered that were covered by the Subsys prescriptions tied to the payment scheme, prosecutors said.

        The company’s agents allegedly told insurers that patients were receiving Subsys for “breakthrough pain’’ to secure coverage. They also misled insurers about what other pain drugs patients had tried before being proscribed Subsys, according to the indictment.

        Some lower-level Insys employees have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with prosecutors, according to court papers. Elizabeth Gurrieri, a former manager who oversaw insurance reimbursements, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud in June.

          Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-26/insys-therapeutics-founder-charged-in-opioid-fraud-case

          Blizzard takes legal action against ‘Overwatch’ copycat

          Image: blizzard entertainment

          There’s a Chinese mobile game called Heroes of Warfare, which takes as much inspiration as possible from Blizzard Entertainment’s hit game Overwatch. A little too much inspiration for Blizzard’s liking.

          Blizzard and its Chinese partner NetEase are suing Heroes of Warfare‘s creators, 4399, for infringing on its intellectual property, Japanese news site PC Watch reported today. Blizzard claims that 4399’s Heroes of Warfare and another game that’s already been shut down is too similar to Overwatch, and is calling for a take down.

          Just take a look through this gameplay video of Heroes of Warfare and you’ll see what Blizzard is getting at:

          Many of the playable characters in Heroes of Warfare look and play similarly to the heroes in Overwatch, the maps are nearly identical to Overwatch maps, and the heads-up display showing scores, kills, and health is basically the same as Overwatch‘s.

          As is common practice for intellectual property infringement lawsuits, Blizzard is asking for 4399 to cease production of its copycat games, for monetary compensation for damages, and that Heroes of Warfare be removed from iOS and Android app stores.

          This isn’t the first time a game developer has copied Overwatch‘s aesthetics and gameplay approaches. A different Chinese mobile game called Hero Mission did the exact same thing earlier this year. In fact, Hero Mission and Heroes of Warfare are pretty hard to tell apart.

          Also, sidenote to all game developers ripping off existing games: Try to come up with better, less-generic names than Heroes of Warfare. What does that even mean?

          H/T Kotaku

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          Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/10/13/overwatch-china-infringement/

          9 things you don’t know about Americas unofficial first family, The Simpsons

          This calls for a collective Belcher family belch
          Image: FOX

          Set your grills to medium-high, Bob’s Burgers fans, because the Belcher family’s lovable antics are officially coming to the big screen.

          Are your palms as slick with sweat as Tina’s while gazing longingly at Jimmy Jr.’s butt? Well they should be, because the Fox animated show not only boasts an enviable cast of comedians, but also a heart of gold — with arteries as clogged as Teddy’s, presumably. (But they’re clogged with love, so keep shoving those burgers into our hearts!)

          On Twitter, creator Loren Bouchard confirmed that the team behind the animated show is developing a feature film set for release in 2020:

          Bouchard then immediately got our pulses racing by responding to a fan’s request for the film to focus on “Horseplay” (a reference to a character voiced by comedian Ron Funches, from the show’s legendary “Equestranauts” episode tackling the brony phenomenon). 

          “We’re still kicking around titles, but ‘Horseplay, the Horsening’ is definitely in the running,” Bouchard tweeted back

          That’s a juicy enough title to sink your teeth into. Bob’s Burgers is known for its Grade A pun and spoof humor — though, to be clear, the actual restaurant still only boasts a barely passing grade from health inspector Hugo. But if episode titles like “Eat, Spray, Linda” and “Zero Larp Thirty” are anything to go on, the team will certainly be serving up some choice meats for the film.

          Yet, while Bouchard is committed to writing a film for Bob’s Burgers regulars, he also sees it as an opportunity for a grand re-re-re opening that brings new customers into the family comedy.

          “We also know it has to fill every inch of the screen with the colors and the sounds and the ever so slightly greasy texture of the world of Bob’s – but most of all it has to take our characters on an epic adventure. In other words, it has to be the best movie ever made. But no pressure, right?!” Bouchard said in a statement, first reported by Deadline. 

          It’s been a big year for Bob’s Burgers. While it may not be the cultural phenomenon that The Simpsons has become, the quirky step-sister of the Fox animated comedy lineup still took home its second Emmy Award for Best Animated Series last month.

          We’re hoping the film will take Bob’s Burgers from being a secret menu item and raise it to entree status in the public’s eyes (or, uh, tummies.)

          Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/10/04/bobs-burgers-movie-release-date-2020/