Posts with «celebrities» label

RIP ChatGPT's knockoff Scarlett Johansson voice [2023 — 2024]

When OpenAI showed off GPT-4o's seemingly more-human like voice mode last week, observers were quick to point out that one of ChatGPT's voices sounds like Scarlett Johansson, particularly her character in Her. The company says the similarity between the flirty AI voice Sky (which it actually rolled out in September) and Johansson was unintentional. However, it's "working to pause the use of Sky" while it addresses some questions about the voice.

"We believe that AI voices should not deliberately mimic a celebrity's distinctive voice — Sky’s voice is not an imitation of Scarlett Johansson but belongs to a different professional actress using her own natural speaking voice," OpenAI wrote in a blog post detailing how it picked ChatGPT's five voices. "To protect their privacy, we cannot share the names of our voice talents." It added that each of the performers is paid "above top-of-market rates, and this will continue for as long as their voices are used in our products."

For what it's worth, shortly after OpenAI demoed the upgraded version of Sky, CEO Sam Altman posted the word "her" on X. But it's definitely "not an imitation." 

New Chat GPT-4o personal assistant uses the voice of Scarlett Johansson (Samantha in the 2013 movie Her) pic.twitter.com/m9GOKaQrMM

— Architectoid (@Architectoids) May 14, 2024

Johansson's performance in Her is one of the more famous depictions of a virtual voice assistant in cinema. The film predated the conversational AI craze by around a decade, so it's not too much of a surprise that Johansson's portrayal of a breezy, warm chatbot is effectively a template for current voice assistants. The actor previously took legal action against a developer that was said to have used an AI-generated version of her voice and likeness in an ad.

It's unclear why exactly OpenAI removed Sky for the time being or what changes (if any) it plans to make before restoring the voice in ChatGPT. Engadget has asked the company for comment.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/rip-chatgpts-knockoff-scarlett-johansson-voice-2023--2024-143620642.html?src=rss

US House passes TICKET Act to force event pricing transparency

On Wednesday, the US House of Representatives passed a bill that could provide at least some accountability for Ticketmaster and other live event vendors. NBC News reports the TICKET Act (not to be confused with the Senate’s separate bill with the same try-hard acronym) would mandate that ticket sellers list upfront the total cost of admission — including all fees — to buyers.

In addition to the full pricing breakdown, the bill would require sellers to indicate whether the tickets are currently in their possession. It would also ban deceptive websites from secondary vendors and force sellers to refund tickets to canceled events. The bill doesn’t appear to address price gouging or extravagant fees.

It now moves to the Senate, which is floating two separate event-reform bills: the other TICKET Act and a bipartisan Fans First Act. The latter was introduced in December to strengthen the 2016 BOTS Act that bars the use of bots to buy tickets, a practice that Taylor Swift fans (among others) can attest is still all too common.

Reforming the ticketing industry became a political point-scoring item in late 2022 after Ticketmaster’s Taylor Swift fiasco. The Live Nation-owned service, which has a stronghold on the industry, melted down as millions of fans battled “a staggering number” of bots. Ticketmaster said presale codes reached 1.5 million fans, but 14 million (including those pesky bots) tried to buy tickets.

Live Nation President and CFO Joe Berchtold testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee in January 2023, where he largely passed the buck to Congress to fix the mess. He suggested the government strengthen the BOTS Act, which one of the Senate’s bills would try to do. During the hearing, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) needled the executive for dodging blame, accusing the company of pointing the finger at everyone but itself.

Representatives Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) issued a joint statement on Wednesday about the House’s TICKET Act. “This consensus legislation will end deceptive ticketing practices that frustrate consumers who simply want to enjoy a concert, show, or sporting event by restoring fairness and transparency to the ticket marketplace,” the group wrote. “After years of bipartisan work, we will now be able to enhance the customer experience of buying event tickets online. We look forward to continuing to work together to urge quick Senate passage so that we can send it to the President’s desk to be signed into law.”

Artists publicly supporting legislation to combat the ticketing industry’s failures include (among others) Billie Eilish, Lorde, Green Day, Cyndi Lauper, Jason Mraz and Dave Matthews. “We are joining together to say that the current system is broken: predatory resellers and secondary platforms engage in deceptive ticketing practices to inflate ticket prices and deprive fans of the chance to see their favorite artists at a fair price,” a joint letter from over 250 musicians reads.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/us-house-passes-ticket-act-to-force-event-pricing-transparency-202852148.html?src=rss

HBO’s upcoming MoviePass documentary is a must-watch for fans of tech trainwrecks

The rise and fall of MoviePass is one of those stories just begging for the documentary treatment and, well, HBO has got you covered. The platform just set a premiere date of May 29 for MoviePass, MovieCrash, a documentary helmed by filmmaker Muta’Ali and produced by none other than Mark Wahlberg.

The film chronicles the “meteoric rise and stranger-than-fiction implosion” of the movie ticket subscription platform, which originally set the world on fire when it first launched back in 2011. However, it wasn’t long before the company realized that the “all you can eat” approach that works so well with gyms and other membership clubs is a weird fit for movie theaters, particularly at the service’s low price point. In just eight years, the company went from the fastest growing subscription service since Spotify to total bankruptcy.

As the trailer shows, the documentary will feature interviews with many of the major players involved in the various stages of MoviePass. This includes original co-founder Stacy Spikes and former CEO Mitch Lowe. There will also be plenty of interviews with journalists who covered the service, FTC personnel and former subscribers. Incidentally, the trailer promises an anecdote in which a customer sent a box of feces to the MoviePass offices, and we don’t want to miss that.

Though premiering on HBO at 9PM ET on May 29, the documentary will also be available on-demand via Max. Director Muta’Ali has made a few good documentaries, including Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn and Cassius X: Becoming Ali.

As for MoviePass, well, it’s a long and complicated story. The app captured the hearts of theater-goers in 2011 by promising unlimited trips to the cinema for a single monthly subscription fee. The love affair didn’t last. The company ceased operations in 2019 and filed for bankruptcy in 2020. Between those dates, there have been reports of wire fraud, securities fraud and significant data breaches, among other outlandish scenarios. In short, it’s perfect fodder for a documentary.

MoviePass is actually still around. Co-founder Spikes recently bought the company’s assets, brought on new investors and re-launched the service. However, the updated pricing model is on the confusing side, with credits and tiers, and seems to have not captured lightning in a bottle for the second time.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/hbos-upcoming-moviepass-documentary-is-a-must-watch-for-fans-of-tech-trainwrecks-184923511.html?src=rss

Netflix will stream its first NFL games on Christmas Day

After dipping its toes into live sports with golf and tennis exhibitions, Netflix is taking a major step forward on that front. The company has locked in a deal with the NFL to air a Christmas Day doubleheader, marking the first time that it will broadcast games from the league. Netflix will stream at least one holiday game in 2025 and 2026 as well. These games won't be blacked out in competing teams' home markets.

Reports last week suggested Netflix was in play for Christmas Day NFL games, and that was seemingly why the league postponed the reveal of its 2024 schedule until today (when Netflix is trying to win over advertisers at its upfront presentation). To that end, it's not yet clear which NFL teams will be the first to square off live on Netflix around the world, though we'll find out when the league releases the schedule at 8PM ET.

Of course, Netflix isn't the first streaming service to broadcast NFL games. Prime Video has been showing them for years, while YouTube is the home of NFL Sunday Ticket.

It's not Netflix's first foray into the NFL as a whole, either. Last year, it debuted Quarterback, a hit unscripted series that followed Patrick Mahomes, Kirk Cousins, and Marcus Mariota during the 2022 season. A self-explanatory follow-up show called Receiver will arrive this summer.

Before we get to Christmas Day and Netflix's first NFL games, the company will stream a boxing card featuring Mike Tyson vs. Logan Paul, which is somehow now an official professional fight. The holiday NFL games will also act as something of a warmup for Netflix as the company will start streaming live WWE programming every week in January.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/netflix-will-stream-its-first-nfl-games-on-christmas-day-163407396.html?src=rss

A Tomb Raider series from Phoebe Waller-Bridge is on the way to Prime Video

Amazon's Prime Video is riding a high after the success of Fallout and it has more video game-related projects lined up. The streaming service has ordered a Tomb Raider series with Phoebe Waller-Bridge of Fleabag fame set as writer and executive producer. The show was rumored to be happening as far back as January 2023 and now it's official.

“If I could tell my teenage self this was happening I think she’d explode. Tomb Raider has been a huge part of my life and I feel incredibly privileged to be bringing it to television with such passionate collaborators," Waller-Bridge said in a statement. "Lara Croft means a lot to me, as she does to many, and I can’t wait to go on this adventure. Bats ‘n all."

Few other details about the "epic, globetrotting" project have been revealed (it's not yet known who's playing Lara Croft, for one thing), though it stems from a deal between Amazon MGM Studios and Crystal Dynamics to develop shows and movies based on Tomb Raider. There's no release window for the series as yet, but Amazon says it will premiere in more than 240 countries and territories. The company's games division is also publishing Crystal Dynamics' next Lara Croft adventure, while a long-awaited animated Tomb Raider series is slated to hit Netflix this year.

Prime Video has also lined up a docuseries about EA's blockbuster Madden NFL games. EA Sports will open up its vault of rare and unreleased footage for the project. A documentary crew will follow the development of the next game in the series.

These are just some of the many announcements that Prime Video is making today as it tries to win over advertisers at its upfront event. A pop culture version of Jeopardy! is on the way to the service, which will host its first NFL Wild Card Playoff game in January. A Legally Blonde prequel series called is coming too.

Elsewhere, Prime Video renewed its hit show The Boys for a fifth season, announced a live-action Spider-Man Noir show starring Nicolas Cage and revealed the first trailer and release date for the second season of Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. In addition, a documentary following the last 12 days of Roger Federer’s professional tennis career is coming to Prime Video on June 20.

One final serve. FEDERER: Twelve Final Days, June 20. pic.twitter.com/yKhsTKOgMu

— Prime Video (@PrimeVideo) May 14, 2024

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/a-tomb-raider-series-from-phoebe-waller-bridge-is-on-the-way-to-prime-video-153636273.html?src=rss

Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power trailer reveals season two release date

Amazon's Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power was both extremely successful and extremely divisive in the LOTR fan community. (Separate question, has any recent adaptation or new content in a beloved franchise not been divisive? Thoughts for another time.) Lots of people whined about how Amazon should just trash the first season and start over, but clearly that was never going to happen. What is happening is that season two of The Rings of Power has its first trailer and an August 29 release date.

I'm a pretty big Lord of the Rings fan and found season one enjoyable if not essential, but I like the looks of how things are ratcheting up here for season two. We get plenty of teases of epic battles and creepy creatures as Sauron reveals himself and begins to tighten the noose on all of Middle-earth; there are also looks at him in his "fair" form as he forges the titular Rings of Power with Celebrimbor. 

Amazon says the first three episodes will arrive on August 29, with subsequent entries following every week. Like the first season, this one will consist of eight episodes total. 

This announcement comes less than a week after Warner Bros. Discovery announced it would release a new live-action Lord of the Rings film in theaters in 2026. Tentatively titled The Hunt for Gollum, the film is directed by and will star Andy Serkis, who played Gollum in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. That project will be set in the same universe that Jackson built, while Amazon's series is an entirely separate entity. There is some shared DNA, though — the first season of The Rings of Power was shot in New Zealand, like Jackson's films, and composer Howard Shore wrote the main credits theme for Amazon's show after scoring all six of the Middle-earth films. 

Oh, and Lego just dropped this incredible Barad-Dur set — it's a big week for Lord of the Rings across the board!

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/lord-of-the-rings-the-rings-of-power-trailer-reveals-season-two-release-date-142522261.html?src=rss

28 Years Later is coming to theaters next summer

Fans have been waiting a long, long time for another installment in the 28 Days Later franchise, and we now know when the next followup is coming out: June 20, 2025. Per Variety, Sony Pictures announced the release date for the upcoming film 28 Years Later on Friday. It would have been kind of cool if it were timed with the original film’s actual 28th anniversary in 2030, considering how close we are to that now (horrifying, I know), but I can't blame them for not keeping people hanging even longer.

28 Days Later, starring Cillian Murphy in what turned out to be his breakout role, came out in 2002, and was followed by a sequel with a different cast, 28 Weeks Later, in 2007. There were at one point murmurs of plans for 28 Months Later, but it looks like we’re skipping over that. The new film will be directed by Danny Boyle and written by Alex Garland, who both helmed the first movie, The Hollywood Reporter reported earlier this year. Murphy will be among its executive producers, according to Variety, but don’t get your hopes up for seeing him in a starring role. As of now, it doesn't seem like that’ll be the case.

We don’t know anything about the plot yet, but 28 Years Later will reportedly star Jodie Comer, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Ralph Fiennes. And it could be the first of three new movies in the franchise. According to THR, the plan is ultimately for a trilogy.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/28-years-later-is-coming-to-theaters-next-summer-171831988.html?src=rss

What we’re listening to: Trail of Flowers, Hyperdrama, Science Fiction and more

In this installment of What We're Listening To, Engadget writers and editors discuss some of the recent music releases we've had on repeat. It's safe to say there's some variety on this list.

Sierra Ferrell - Trail of Flowers 

Sierra Ferrell seems almost like an anachronism in 2024, but in the best possible way. She has this effortless, old-timey country style that is at points reminiscent of the likes of The Carter Family or Flatt and Scruggs (her brilliant covers of songs once performed by the latter duo are permanently seared into my brain), and it’s just so refreshing. Trail of Flowers, Ferrell’s second studio album, toes a little further into a more modern sound, but it maintains this deeply Americana feel that just seems to roll off the West Virginian artist so naturally.

Country music isn’t just one thing, and neither is Trail of Flowers. It meanders through different flavors — folk, bluegrass, hints of jazz — but it manages to do so in a way that feels cohesive when it’s all taken together. The wistful “American Dreaming” and “Wish You Well” are offset by sillier, whimsical numbers like “I Could Drive You Crazy” or the deep cut cover, “Chitlin' Cookin' Time in Cheatham County.” Tracks like “Money Train,” “I’ll Come Off the Mountain” and “Lighthouse” are instantly catchy. “Why Haven’t You Loved Me Yet” and “No Letter” feel like classics in the making.

And then there’s the cheekily sinister, scorned-lover’s lament, “Rosemary.” It’s one of the songs that first got me hooked on Sierra Ferrell years ago, as I imagine is the case for a lot of fans who have followed Ferrell’s career since her busking days or her unforgettable GemsOnVHS performances. I was almost nervous to hear it on Trail of Flowers, with a full production, after loving the raw, stripped-down recording I’ve been replaying on YouTube for so long. But they’ve done a beautiful job of capturing that magic, and “Rosemary” may be my favorite track on the album. It’s hard to pick, though.

Castle Rat - Into the Realm 

Sometime early last year, I discovered something I didn’t realize was missing from my life: medieval fantasy doom metal. I was at a show at the gloriously trippy Brooklyn Made watching an opener ahead of the band I’d gone there to see, and unexpectedly found myself witness to an on-stage choreographed sword fight (well, there was a scythe involved too) between a woman in chainmail and someone wearing a hooded rat mask and lingerie. I’d already been enraptured by the band’s heavy, immersive riffs and the singer’s hypnotic 1970s-esque vocals, but in that moment, yeah, things really clicked into place. This was my introduction to Castle Rat, and it was a damn good one.

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of their debut album ever since, and from the second it dropped last month — an LP called Into the Realm — I’ve pretty much been playing it on a nonstop loop. It would actually be embarrassing if you were to check the number of times I’ve listened to the album’s standout ballad, “Cry For Me.” It is a haunting, emotional song that really takes you on a journey and I’m a little obsessed with it. Into the Realm opens strong with the boppy “Dagger Dragger,” and some real heavy-hitters follow in tracks like “Feed the Dream,” “Fresh Fur” and “Nightblood.” “Red Sands” is a slow-building powerhouse, and I’ve even found myself loving the three roughly minute-long instrumental interludes that tie the whole album together.

Doom bands love a good theme (as do I), and we tend to see a lot of weed, witchcraft, science fiction and fantasy pop up throughout the subgenres that fall under this umbrella. Castle Rat definitely isn’t the first to have a shtick, but there’s a certain freshness to the band’s even more specific, self-described medieval fantasy brand, perhaps because they commit to it so hard. Their ‘70s and ‘80s influences are obvious, yet everything they’ve put out so far still feels original. Some people might find the whole thing gimmicky, but I think it’s working. Especially since they have the chops to back it up. I’m excited to see where Castle Rat goes from here.

Honorable Mentions:

Girl with No Face, Allie XAnother song I’ve been listening to an embarrassing amount these days is Weird World, off Allie X’s latest album, Girl with No Face. I somehow haven’t tired myself of it yet, it makes me go absolutely feral. Girl with No Face is full of synth-pop gems, like “Off With Her Tits” — a dancey, angsty anthem sure to resonate with anyone who has experienced dysphoria around their body image — “John and Johnathan,” “Black Eye” and “Staying Power.”

Club Shy, Shygirl This is just a collection of straight-up bangers. It’s not even 16 minutes long, but it really hits. If you need an instant mood-elevator ahead of a night out, this album is it.

Stampede: Volume 1, Orville Peck Orville Peck’s first release in his fringeless era is a duets album, the first part of which was released on Friday and features artists including Willie Nelson, Noah Cyrus and Elton John. I haven’t had much time to spend with Stampede: Volume 1 yet, but I’m into it so far. “Conquer the Heart” ft. Nathaniel Rateliff and “How Far Will We Take It?” with Noah Cyrus feel like they combine the best elements of Pony (2019) and Bronco (2022). Bronco came in two waves, so I expect we’ll see a Volume 2 for Stampede before long, too.

— Cheyenne MacDonald, Weekend Editor

Hannah Jadagu - Aperture

Whenever I hear the words “banger” or “bop,” I don’t think about artists like Taylor Swift. I think about the nebulous musical genre known as bedroom pop. Bop, after all, is right there in the name. Hannah Jadagu is a bedroom pop wizard of the highest order. Her first EP was made entirely on an old iPhone and still slaps, though she has since graduated to real recording studios. Jadagu’s latest full-length on Sub Pop, Aperture, is filled with both bangers and bops, and my favorite is the lovelorn “Say It Now.” Listen to this thing. It just may be the perfect pop song and is absolutely crying out for some road trip singalongs. The shoegaze-adjacent “What You Did” is another classic and would be at home on any decent summer playlist.

— Lawrence Bonk, Contributing Reporter

Justice - Hyperdrama

Justice’s first full-length release Cross from 2007 is one of my favorite albums of all time. Not only did it define the crunchy electronic sound of the blog house era in the late 2000s and early 2010s, it also felt like a new French duo had picked up where Daft Punk left off following 2005’s Human After All. Now Justice is back with its fourth album in Hyperdrama. But instead of being inspired by a specific genre of music like we heard in Audio, Video, Disco’s stadium rock tracks or Woman’s disco-fueled beats, this album feels more like the soundtrack to a moody sci-fi thriller, almost as if this is Justice’s alternate reality take on the Tron: Legacy soundtrack.

“Generator” is a certified banger and probably the song that sounds the most like classic Justice. “Neverender” and “One Night/All Night” are also highlights, though I think Justice may have leaned a bit too heavily on Tame Impala to give this album personality. “Dear Alan” delivers super smooth vibes and Thundercat makes a delightful appearance and finishes things strong in “The End.” 

The one thing I really miss is at least one truly danceable track like we got on all of the band’s previous albums. I also have to admit that some of the songs in the middle blend together in a less-than-memorable way. So while Hyperdrama isn’t the top-to-bottom masterpiece that Cross was a decade and a half ago, more Justice isn’t a bad thing.

— Sam Rutherford, Senior Reporter

Utada Hikaru - Science Fiction

Over the past few weeks, I've mostly been listening to songs from Science Fiction, the first greatest hits album by J-Pop artist Utada Hikaru. I've been a fan since they released their debut album First Love back in 1999, when people were far more likely to be weirded out by the fact that yes, you can enjoy music with lyrics in a language you don't understand. Utada has been in and out of the J-Pop scene since then, and there were long stretches of time when I wouldn't hear anything about them. Every new music drop is a gift, especially this album, since it's tied to an upcoming concert tour, which they only do once in a blue moon.

Utada experienced a resurgence in 2022 when their songs “First Love” and “Hatsukoi” — which also translates to “first love” — were featured in a hit Japanese drama series on Netflix called (you guessed it) First Love. Those tracks are, of course, in Science Fiction, which also includes songs from various points in Utada's career. 

The album will take you on a journey from when they mostly wrote R&B-inspired pop to an era when their music became more experimental, and it will introduce you to their current sound, which is both mainstream and unique. While some of the re-recorded versions of their older songs like “Traveling” don't quite hit the mark, it's still a good representation of who Utada is as a musician. As a long-time fan, though, this album isn't just a collection of songs to me, but a collection of memories from different stages of my life.

— Mariella Moon, Contributing Reporter

Caroline Polachek - “Starburned and Unkissed”

There are a few reasons that “Starburned and Unkissed” stands out against the I Saw the TV Glow soundtrack, which is replete with not only beloved mainstays like Broken Social Scene's “Anthems For A Seventeen-Year Old Girl” as well as other original songs from luminaries like Phoebe Bridgers and Hop Along's Frances Quinlan. If cornered, I would say the most brilliant thing about “Starburned and Unkissed,” its greatest strength, is that it's just a little too slow. 

Every note stretches and yearns with the impatience of adolescence, verges on running out of air, of snapping in two. Much like the scene of the utterly and equally brilliant I Saw the TV Glow it was written for, it captures the sleepy anxiety of a too-warm high school, overcrowded and isolating. The heaviness of its crushing guitars ebbs and flows unsteadily, mimicking the experimentation of callow hands. (It takes the second try on the chorus for the drums and guitars to all come in on cue.) 

It's unstable, hopeful. Caroline's voice — gently mangled by intentional autotune pitch shifts — falls out of key in the song's last few refrains, threatening to derail the dreamy beauty of the past three minutes. It ends abruptly, begging for another listen, another return to a time that can't be recaptured.

Honorable mentions:

“Lover's Spit Plays in the Background,” Claire Rousay — Rousay's sentiment is a perfect album for reading outside on an overcast day. I'm not sure I can pick a standout track, as the experience is really in letting the whole thing wash over you, but this one's close enough.

“Stickers of Brian,” Hot Mulligan — Classic pop punk subject matter (“my job sucks and I hate everyone”) but my god what an earworm.

“On Brand,” Ekko Astral — Levels of snottiness previously considered unachievable. Hard not to love what a beautiful mess these folks make.

“Cometh the Storm,” High on Fire — Most of High on Fire's 20+ years of output sounds like — and lyrically is probably about — an axe-wielding barbarian ripping a bong, or whatever other D&D nonsense they're up to. (I say this lovingly. I adore High on Fire.) The title track off the new one is… unusually dirge-like? At first it felt very “old band showing their age” but it's grown on me as an intentional and welcome change. They're not off the hook for using AI for the “Burning Down” music video though. C'mon guys.

Avery Ellis, Deputy Editor, Reports

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/what-were-listening-to-trail-of-flowers-hyperdrama-science-fiction-and-more-143052023.html?src=rss

A new Lord of the Rings film, The Hunt for Gollum, will hit theaters in 2026

Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film trilogy came out right around the time movie studios decided everything needed to be a big franchise that exists in perpetuity. From that perspective, it’s a little surprising that Warner Bros. Discovery hasn’t milked Tolkien’s work more than they already have. That’ll change soon, though, as the company just announced that there are two new Lord of the Rings films in the works (you can read the full press release here).

The first is tentatively titled Lord of the Rings: The Hunt for Gollum, and it’s being directed by Andy Serkis — you may remember him for his landmark performance as Gollum in Jackson’s prior movies. The fact that Serkis is on board, and working from a script by Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens (who co-wrote the prior Middle-earth movies along with Jackson) has me feeling a bit better about this not being simply a crass cash grab. Peter Jackson, along with Walsh and Boyens, are set to produce as well. Serkis previously served as second unit director on The Hobbit films and also directed 2022’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage.

Given the working title of the film, you won’t be surprised to learn that Serkis is also starring again as the titular Gollum. While part of me was interested to see how another actor might take on the character, Serkis so defined Gollum for the big screen that it’s almost impossible to put anyone else in the role. As for what the movie will cover, there’s no official word yet — but again, the title indicates it’ll take place between the events of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings as Gandalf and Aragorn search Middle-earth for Gollum, trying to learn more about the ring that Bilbo and then Frodo possessed. 

Given Hollywood’s insatiable thirst for Content based on Popular Franchises, it’s a little surprising something like this didn’t happen sooner. Jackson and company followed up the original trilogy of films nine years later with the bloated and overly CGI-reliant film series based on The Hobbit and corresponding events from Tolkien’s LOTR appendices. And, of course, Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power series debuted in 2022. And before The Hunt for Gollum arrives, we’ll see another intriguing project: an anime-style film called The War of the Rohirrim. That movie arrives this December and covers events in Rohan a few hundred years before The Lord of the Rings.

As a massive Lord of the Rings fan, I’m both skeptical and excited by this announcement. The sad reality of the entertainment world is that projects like this are going to happen no matter what; there’s too much money wrapped up in things like Lord of the Rings to not try and extract more. But Serkis seems like an excellent choice to direct this movie, and hopefully they’ll find a tight, self-contained story that works as a standalone film. The mess that was made in the Hobbit films has me wary, but even in those movies I found plenty of things to enjoy — and this feels like a good opportunity to chart a positive course forward for more movies in Middle-earth.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/a-new-lord-of-the-rings-film-the-hunt-for-gollum-will-hit-theaters-in-2026-140141386.html?src=rss

OpenAI partners with People publisher Dotdash Meredith

OpenAI is partnering with another publisher as it moves towards a licensed approach to training materials. Dotdash Meredith, the owner of brands like People and Better Homes & Gardens, will license its content for OpenAI to train ChatGPT while the publisher will use the AI company’s models to boost its in-house ad-targeting tool.

As part of the arrangement, ChatGPT will display content and links attributed to Dotdash Meredith’s publications. It also provides OpenAI with fully licensed training material from trusted publications.

That’s a welcome change after the company got in hot water for allegedly using content for training purposes without permission. The New York Times and Alden Capital Group (owner of The Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News and the Orlando Sentinel) have sued the ChatGPT maker, accusing it of using its content without permission. Comedian Sarah Silverman and a conspiracy-mongering car salesman (the latter for different reasons) have, too.

“We have not been shy about the fact that AI platforms should pay publishers for their content and that content must be appropriately attributed,” Neil Vogel, Dotdash Meredith CEO, wrote in a press release. “This deal is a testament to the great work OpenAI is doing on both fronts to partner with creators and publishers and ensure a healthy Internet for the future.”

Before the Dotdash Meredith deal, OpenAI struck an agreement with The Financial Times. “It is right, of course, that AI platforms pay publishers for the use of their material,” the paper’s CEO, John Ridding, said in a statement last month.

Dotdash Meredith, which also owns Investopedia, Food & Wine, InStyle and Verywell, will use OpenAI’s models to supercharge its D/Cipher ad-targeting tool. The publisher says its advertising system “connects advertisers directly to consumers based on the context of content being consumed, without using personal identifiers like cookies.” That’s an industry-wide shift on the horizon, as Google is moving to a cookie-less future — albeit later than initially advertised.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/openai-partners-with-people-publisher-dotdash-meredith-212832821.html?src=rss