Dr. Seuss’ new book ‘What Pet Should I Get?’ debuts #1 on Amazon


Beloved children’s author Theodor Seuss Geisel – better known as Dr. Seuss — has a new book out today, called “What Pet Should I Get?” His widow, Audrey Geisel, found the manuscript in their home soon after his death in 1991 and put it aside; it was rediscovered in 2013 and published on Tuesday. And the first day, it became the #1 best-selling book on Amazon.

Dr. Seuss has never experienced a substantial drop in sales, even in death. He’s sold 650 million books, 450 million of which sold in the 24 years since he died.

The publisher, Random House Children’s Books, has planned accordingly, and printed an initial run of 500,000 hardcover copies, which it then increased to 1 million.

But doesn’t conventional wisdom hold that print is dead?

Actually, no.

“What Pet Should I Get?” is released into a marketplace that’s surprisingly hospitable to traditional media, despite…

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‘I am Cait’: The business of Caitlyn Jenner’s new show


“I Am Cait,” the television series about Caitlyn Jenner’s transition to life as a woman, premieres on Sunday, July 26 on the E! network. It comes at a time when Caitlyn Jenner’s popularity is soaring, and it seems likely that the premiere will attract huge numbers of viewers.

Jenner currently has 2.7 million followers on Twitter, and Beth Kseniak, executive director of public relations for Vanity Fair, confirmed that the Caitlyn issue was their best seller since January 2011. The episode of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” in which Jenner came out as transgender drew 4.24 million viewers. The show hadn’t attracted an audience of that size in three years, and it also exceeded the number of viewers watching the series finale of “Mad Men.”

But the true test of the Caitlyn brand is whether or not anyone wants to put money behind it. So how is…

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RIP Owen Mays, 1982-2015

I only met Owen Mays in person one time. We had struck up a friendship on a now-defunct stoner rock discussion board, based almost exclusively on our love of old country music, and when he visited New York in 2008 he paid Asia and me a visit at our home. We discussed country music, food and guns. It was awesome.

When he left, it didn’t occur to me that I would never see him again, that his life would be over in seven years’ time. I guess you never think that way. Everyone is just going to be here forever and you’ve got all the time in the world to pursue the friendship. Until you don’t, and then the finality of it seems impossible.

Yesterday I found out that Owen died in his sleep the night before. I don’t know any of the circumstances, but he was 32 years old and had a lot more to say and do. In the 13 years since I was that age, I’ve become a father and a professional writer, and my life has shifted to something very different from what it was then. It saddens me to think that now he can never have the things that I’ve been lucky enough to have in the last bunch of years, like children, a career and a fixed address. But in his defense, he never seemed interested in any of that stuff anyway. He lived the life of a dirt-poor, touring and recording musician. That’s a life that I was too timid to live when it came down to it, but he was anything but timid, and he didn’t see poverty as anything but an inconvenient nuisance that he just put up with while he lived his dream.

Owen and I were both big fans of Townes Van Zandt, who said that when he made the decision to commit to music full time, it meant “blowing off” a lot of things, such as family, money, security and happiness. I couldn’t bring myself to turn my back on those things, so I never fully committed to being a full-time musician. Owen had no such problem. He blew all of those things off with the glee of a trucker mowing down traffic pylons. The only thing he didn’t blow off was happiness. I believe that in the last few years as a full-time musician, he was having the time of his life, and I always envied his ability to take the path that I couldn’t bring myself to take.

Owen had actually covered a song by my old band, Slow Horse, and did it in a Ray Price shuffle that worked really well. He was one of the most consistent people encouraging me to get back to playing music again, and one of the last times we talked, he did it again.

“Have you ever considered doing any sort of acoustic/country type of project? The songs that you wrote were pretty brilliant, and I think they would translate beautifully into that style,” he said. “I hope you give it a go someday. I’d be willing to lend my skills on a Telecaster or Upright Bass to it if you did.”

It was nice to hear that from someone I considered an expert. Everyone who commits to a full-time life of touring and recording is an expert, in my opinion, because it’s really not for everyone.

Owen was much too young to die, but he put everything he had into those 32 years and he lived the life that he wanted to live. He touched a lot of people, and a lot of people are grieving today. But you can hear two things in their grief – genuine affection for him, and a little bit of jealousy that he went out there and did it, no excuses.

Why Judd Apatow may be the biggest man in Hollywood right now


Judd Apatow is currently riding a wave of commercial success that his earliest fans scarcely dreamed possible, and his detractors hoped wouldn’t take place. Once criticized in some quarters as a casually misogynist relic of the “bromantic” comedy genre, the director, writer and producer has some relation or another to all three of last weekend’s top-grossing movies.

The Washington Post broke it down thusly. The highest-grossing film of the weekend, “Ant-Man,” took in $57 million in its opening weekend. Paul Rudd, star of such Apatow-directed films as “Knocked Up” and “This Is 40,” has the starring role. In second place was “Minions,” which took in $49 million in its second weekend in theaters. The movie is a spin-off “Despicable Me,” which starred Steve Carell of the Apatow-helmed “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.” Finally, in third place was Amy Schumer’s “Trainwreck,” which he directed and which took in $30 million in…

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Will Amy Schumer’s ‘Trainwreck’ avoid the ‘comedy curse’?


Comedian Amy Schumer has never been more popular than she is right now, but a major test of her newfound stardom comes Friday when her new movie, “Trainwreck,” opens.

At the moment, the ascendant trajectory of her career is a fact. The third season of “Inside Amy Schumer” just finished its run on Comedy Central, and a fourth season is already confirmed. On Thursday, she was nominated for an Emmy for her work on the show in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series category. She’s the scheduled opening act for Madonna at the singer’s September performances in New York City; she appears on the cover of the August issue of GQ, which features her in a lewd “Star Wars”-related pictorial called “Amy Schumer Is the Funniest Woman in the Galaxy.”

“Trainwreck” could either shore up or endanger all of these gains. It was written by Schumer…

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Netflix, Amazon rack up Emmy nominations


The nominees for the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards were announced this morning in Los Angeles, and the spread of streaming networks into major network nomination territory has continued. The clear winner in that sense was Netflix, which seems to have decisively answered the question of whether or not their shift to original programming was worth it. (Hint: The answer is “yes.”)

Last year, Netflix received 31 Primetime Emmy nominations, more than double its haul from the previous year. In 2015 it went up to 34, a much less dramatic increase, but an increase nonetheless.

Netflix received nominations for such programming as “House of Cards,” “Orange is the New Black” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” which was originally developed by NBC, who sold it to Netflix in 2014. It premiered on the streaming service in March, and the rest is Emmy nomination history.

Netflix isn’t the only streaming service…

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How Bill Cosby’s fortune and legacy collapsed


Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

On July 6, the Associated Press obtained records from a 2005 civil suit filed against comedian/actor, Bill Cosby. In his deposition, Cosby testified that he had given Quaaludes to at least one woman with whom he hoped to have sex. The lawsuit was settled in 2006, but anyone who had stood by him since his sexual assault scandal went extremely public in November now had no choice but to cut ties.

The Centric Network, a spinoff cable channel of BET Network, immediately pulled reruns of “The Cosby Show” from its schedule, but it was only the latest in a long series of blows to Bill Cosby, whose net worth was once estimated to be $400 million. Here’s a look at the unravelling of the Cosby fortune, legacy and prospects.

October 16, 2014

During a stand-up performance at Philadelphia’s Trocadero, comedian Hannibal Buress…

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These are the ‘Star Wars’ spinoffs, sequels and re-releases in the works


In 2012, the Walt Disney Company bought the production company Lucasfilm from its founder, “Star Wars” creator George Lucas, for $4 billion. Now, the company is offering some details about the what movies it’s going to roll out and when.

Last week, The Hollywood Reporter announced Lucasfilm’s plans to make a movie about space pirate and all-around scoundrel Han Solo. It arrives in 2018, three years after “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens” opens.

That “The Force Awakens” will attract a large audience is a given. Analysts are already declaring it a runaway box office hit, despite the fact that it doesn’t open for another five months and has not sold a single ticket.

“Force Awakens will hit $1 billion without blinking,” box-office analyst Phil Contrino told The Hollywood Reporter in April. “If it’s really good, it could cross $2 billion.” That’s a good thing, as Disney chairman…

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Grateful Dead could gross $50 million for last 5 concerts


Formed in 1965 in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Grateful Dead toured almost nonstop for 30 years. Its live performances were showcases for lengthy, LSD-fueled improvisations that changed radically from show to show, and its hardcore fans, the Deadheads, followed them from city to city, in the hopes of hearing how tonight’s version of “Dark Star” would be different from last night’s.

It all came to an end in 1995 when the group’s iconic singer and guitarist Jerry Garcia died of a heart attack. The Grateful Dead disbanded, dealing a mortal blow to the Deadhead lifestyle, and disenfranchised jam band fans have had to make do by watching Phish.

The results were not the same.

In January, almost 20 years since Garcia’s passing, drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, bassist Phil Lesh and guitarist Bob Weir announced that the group would reunite to play three shows at Soldier Field…

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