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Netflix: Shonda Rhimes: ‘I see myself not as one of TV’s most powerful women but as one of TV’s most powerful people’ | USA

In 2005, the world first fell in love with the television show Grey’s Anatomy. Seventeen years later, viewers are still closely following the private and professional lives of the staff at Seattle Grace Hospital. This was how Shonda Rhimes, the creator of the series, started her career in television. At one point, she was producing 70 episodes for free-to-air television a year, while her production company Shondaland has been responsible for hits such as Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder. In 2017 she left ABC network, which is owned by Disney, to sign a five-year contract with the streaming platform Netflix. According to US media, the contract was worth more than $100 million (€87 million). In 2021, Netflix renewed the contract for another five years and gave her a juicy pay rise, with the current agreement estimated to be worth $150 million (€130 million).

Shondaland is the production company behind one of Netflix’s biggest successes, Bridgerton, whose second season comes out on March 25. On February 11, Shondaland’s new series Inventing Anna was also released. It is the first show Rhimes has created since Scandal in 2012. Inventing Anna follows the true story of Anna Delvey (real name Anna Sorokin), who posed as a rich German heiress to win favor with New York’s elite and swindle businesses and individuals out of thousands of dollars. Delvey conned $275,000 out of luxury hotels, banks and multimillionaire friends – crimes that landed her in prison. She was released on bail in February 2021 and has had no involvement with the Netflix series. Rhimes talked to EL PAÍS about the new show and her work in television via a video call.

Question. Why did you choose Delvey’s story for your first series as a creator in a decade?

Answer. It came from such a compelling article written by Jessica Pressler [in New York Magazine in 2018] that I was just excited about it from the very moment I read it. You could feel the cinema within it, and the characters and the idea of these women was something I couldn’t get out of my mind.

Q. What was the most challenging part of telling the story of Inventing Anna?

A. It was a fascinating story because we were writing it as it was unfolding. Our writers’ room began while the trial was happening and then we had the pandemic to contend with. So a project that I think we started writing in 2018 didn’t complete filming until 2020 -2021. It took a long time to complete this project: to write something as it is unfolding and then to be stopped by a pandemic and then to have to pick it up again meant that we had a project that went for a long time. The meaning of where the world was changed while we were making it.

Trailer for ‘Inventing Anna’

Q. Ten years have passed since Scandal, the last series you created. Why so long?

A. It sounds like it’s been a lot of time, but you have to think about the fact that the TV shows I created go for a very long time. Scandal lasted for seven years. Grey’s Anatomy was still going. For me, it wasn’t about there being a long time between creating them, it was about having time to create more shows. And when we moved to Netflix, which was really an exciting move for us, the first thing that I did after putting Scandal to bed was focus on what I really knew I wanted to be our first project , which was Bridgerton.

Q. Now that you have developed two shows for Netflix, what do you see as the difference between producing a series for traditional network television and for a streaming platform?

A. I’m enjoying the collaboration that Netflix provides a lot. There was a certain kind of show that you could produce for network television that follows a certain kind of rule. With network television, you are working for a corporation. And with Netflix, you’re working with what almost feels like a start-up. And a start-up has a very ‘can-do’ mentality. There is a great sense of enthusiasm for telling stories and telling new kinds of stories and for being versatile, which I’ve really enjoyed.

Q. Your deal with Netflix was announced nearly five years ago. Bridgerton was released three years later and now your second production for the platform, Inventing Anna, has arrived. It appears you like to take your time to create and develop TV shows, at least in comparison to other producers and creators…

A. I did take my time. I like to do a good job. My goal wasn’t to rush and just throw things out there on the screen. We wanted to get it right and we wanted to make shows that we were really proud of. I’m not saying that other people aren’t doing the same thing at a faster pace, but we were doing it at our own pace.

A scene from the series 'Grey's Anatomy.'
A scene from the series ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’

Q. What do you look for in a story as a producer?

A. I always look for a story that I want to watch. That’s the best barometer I have for whether or not a show is going to be good. Do I want to watch it? Betsy Beers, my producing partner, and I, we’ve always worked from that theory that we make stories that we want to watch. Bridgerton was something we wanted to watch really badly. Inventing Anna is something I knew we wanted to watch.

Q. You are considered one of the most powerful women in television. Does this power weigh on you?

A. Well, I don’t consider myself one of the most powerful women in television, I consider myself one of the most powerful people in television. Because I don’t think there is a difference in how powerful women are and how powerful men are. And I don’t think it weighs on my life at all. It’s my job. I’m lucky that I have this as my job.

Q. I’m sorry for how I phrased my previous question, you’re right. You have been asked a lot about the experience of being a Black woman in the television industry, which is dominated by white men. Do you think you have paved a way for others?

A. I don’t know, I hope that the doors have opened and that there is plenty of room for everybody to be making stories and telling stories. I think it’s very clear that the more people telling stories and the more voices that are telling stories, the better television is doing and the more people are interested in watching those stories. Nobody wants to watch the same kinds of stories all the time.

Simone Ashley and Jonathan Bailey in a scene from season two of 'Bridgerton'
Simone Ashley and Jonathan Bailey in a scene from season two of ‘Bridgerton’LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX (LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX)

Q. What decisions are you most proud of in your career?

A. I think I am just most proud of being a writer. I think at heart that is what I am, a writer. I’m a producer, there are other jobs that I do, but in my heart, I am always just going to be a writer.

Q. What has Grey’s Anatomy meant for your career? And what lessons have you learned from the show that you have applied to your other creations?

A. I would say that I learned everything from Grey’s Anatomy. I had never worked in television before. Creating Grey’s Anatomy was my first job in television so I learned how to make television by making Grey’s Anatomy. I learned how to run a television show by working on Grey’s Anatomy. I learned everything that I know about TV from Grey’s Anatomy. It amazes me that it is still on the air and it’s still running and it’s still a top show for the network and that fans are still responding to it and that a new generation is still discovering it. Netflix makes it possible for new generations of fans to discover that show on a daily basis, which is so amazing to me. I think we’re on our second generation of fans. We have writers in our writers’ room in Grey’s Anatomy who grew up watching that show. That show will always be incredibly special to me, because it taught me how to do this job.

Q. What do you think is the key to the success of your shows?

A. I have no idea, I really don’t. I can’t begin to tell you why other people like the shows. I’m thrilled that they do. I hope it’s because we tell stories honestly and that we create characters that feel real and are living authentic lives in really complicated situations that make you feel compelled to watch. But I don’t spend my time thinking about why they watch because then I would get worried because I don’t know if there is a formula. I’m just really glad that they do watch.

Q. You are often asked about your success. But have you experienced failure? And if so, what did you learn from it?

A. What’s been really interesting for me is that I’ve been raised to not look at failure as failure. Or to look at it like it’s fine to fail. Failures are simply another way of learning something. I think our biggest problem is when we look at failures as some kind of devastation or some sort of horrible moment. I think you can succeed in some things and you can fail in others and that’s absolutely okay. Those failures are ways of teaching you things and giving you lessons for how to be better and to keep you humble. Nobody’s perfect. And to expect yourself to be is a dangerous road to go down.

Q. Your shows are sometimes referred to as a “guilty pleasure.” What do you think of this concept?

A. I think there is nothing guilty about pleasure. I always find that phrase slightly insulting because it suggests that you shouldn’t be watching them. Our shows are highly compelling, lots of people watch them. I don’t know why you should feel guilty for watching something and I don’t know why pleasure should make you feel guilty. It’s a phrase that people like to use, I haven’t figured it out yet.

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How Emergence of AI-Generated Virtual Twins Is Revolutionizing The Fashion Modeling

Emergence of AI-Generated Virtual Twins

The Voice Of EU | In the ever-evolving landscape of fashion modeling, a groundbreaking innovation has emerged: the creation of virtual twins through the power of artificial intelligence (AI). This technological advancement has already made waves in the industry, exemplified by the case of Alexsandrah, a renowned model who has seamlessly integrated her AI counterpart into her professional endeavors. The implications of this development are far-reaching, reshaping not only the creative landscape but also the economic and ethical dimensions of the fashion world.

Alexsandrah, known professionally by her first name, stands as a pioneer in this new era of modeling. She proudly shares that her digital twin mirrors her appearance “even down to the baby hairs,” blurring the lines between reality and simulation. This symbiotic relationship between the human model and her AI counterpart signifies a transformative shift propelled by AI technology.

Advocates of AI-generated modeling argue that its increasing prevalence promotes diversity and inclusivity within the fashion industry. By showcasing a wider range of body types and underrepresented demographics, AI models empower consumers to make more informed purchasing decisions, ultimately reducing fashion waste stemming from product returns. Moreover, the cost-effectiveness of digital modeling presents economic opportunities for both companies and individuals seeking to leverage this innovative technology.

However, amidst the promise of progress, critics voice concerns regarding the potential ramifications of AI modeling. The displacement of human models, makeup artists, and photographers looms large, raising questions about job security and ethical implications. Furthermore, there is apprehension that unsuspecting consumers may be deceived into mistaking AI models for real individuals, undermining transparency and authenticity in the industry.

London-based model Alexsandrah has a twin, but not in the way you’d expect

London-based model Alexsandrah has a twin, but not in the way you’d expect

Sara Ziff, a former fashion model and founder of the Model Alliance, underscores the pressing need to address these concerns. She highlights the risk of distorting racial representation and marginalizing models of color through the uncritical adoption of AI technology. Indeed, data indicates that women, especially those from underrepresented groups, are disproportionately affected by the advent of AI in modeling, further exacerbating existing disparities in the industry.

The case of iconic denim brand Levi Strauss & Co. illustrates the nuanced stance that companies are taking towards AI-generated models. While initial experiments with AI models aimed to diversify representation, backlash prompted a reevaluation of their approach. Levi reaffirmed its commitment to live photo shoots and human models, signaling a cautious approach to AI integration in its operations.

Despite varying responses from industry players, the demand for AI-generated models continues to grow. Companies like Lalaland.ai, founded by Michael Musandu, are at the forefront of this technological revolution. Musandu emphasizes the complementary nature of AI models, envisioning them as supplements rather than replacements for traditional photo shoots. He underscores the potential of AI to enhance the shopping experience, reduce product returns, and create new job opportunities within the industry.

The journey towards ethical AI implementation in fashion modeling is fraught with challenges, as highlighted by the experiences of models like Yve Edmond. Concerns regarding consent, compensation, and labor rights underscore the need for robust regulatory frameworks. The Model Alliance advocates for legislative measures to safeguard the rights of fashion workers, including provisions for informed consent and fair compensation in the realm of AI modeling.

Amidst the complexities and controversies surrounding AI-generated modeling, individuals like Alexsandrah navigate this new frontier with a sense of optimism tempered by vigilance. By fostering transparency, ethical use, and equitable compensation, AI has the potential to expand opportunities for models of color and revolutionize the fashion industry. As stakeholders grapple with the ethical and economic implications of this technology, the journey towards a more inclusive and sustainable future for fashion modeling continues.


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— By Darren Wilson | Contributor VoiceOfEU.com

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Top 10 most profitable places in Britain for holiday rentals

The most profitable locations in Britain for holiday rentals has been revealed – and the majority are not located anywhere near a beach.

Staycation favourite Cornwall is top of the rankings, with an average price per night of £84 for a room and £117 for a whole house.

A total of 476,910 bookings were made via popular holiday rental companies in the area last summer, according to analysis of Office for National Statistics data by the money website Wealth of Geeks.

The figures suggest that holiday lets in Cornwall took bookings worth £40million between the beginning of July and the end of September last year.

However, most of the top 10 are located in inner London, the research showed.

The most profitable locations for buy-to-let have been revealed, with staycation favourite Cornwall at the top of the rankings

The list of top ten places also includes several areas in London, including Westminster in second place.

The average price of renting a holiday let in Westminster is £133 a night for a room and £435 for a house.

With 304,790 holiday let bookings, it produces a revenue for the area in the heart of London’s west end of £34,441,270 for the summer period last year.

The calculations were based on bookings on Airbnb, Booking.com and the Expedia Group, with data taken from the Office for National Statistics.

The rental prices, meanwhile, were taken from Airbnb across 388 British towns, and the total revenue was calculated by multiplying the number of nights with the nightly cost of a room on Airbnb.

The revenue did not take into account any costs of running a holiday let, such as repairs and maintenance, nor did it factor in property prices.

All of the remaining locations in the top ten were in London except for one on the south coast.

This was Brighton and Hove, where average rental prices per night were £100 for a room.

In total, the data suggested that the British holiday rental market made £739,211,390, during the summer of 2023.

Michael Dinich, of Wealth of Geeks, said: ‘Holiday rentals play a vital role in the UK’s tourism industry by supporting local economies, providing accommodation to enhance visitor experience, and promoting tourism in diverse regions across the country.

‘Tourism also helps to promote awareness of lesser-known areas, helping to distribute tourist spending more evenly across the country.

‘While some destinations may experience seasonal fluctuations in tourism often in the summer months, holiday rentals attract visit year-round, helping to sustain economies and businesses during off-peak seasons.’

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced in this year's Budget that the tax relief available for furnished holiday lets would be scrapped

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced in this year’s Budget that the tax relief available for furnished holiday lets would be scrapped

The findings show that those looking to invest in the holiday lets market need to do their sums carefully before taking the plunge and committing to a particular area.

North London estate agent Jeremy Leaf, explained: ‘This data shows that it’s not just the prospect of beaches and more reliable weather which drives profitability.

‘It’s not just traditionally popular holiday destinations which produce the best returns so it’s vital that would-be landlords do their research carefully before investing.

‘The ability to make money depends on supply and demand, not just the attributes of an area.

‘At what level a landlord can rent their property for, after taking into account all expenses, is key and explains why areas such as Westminster and Camden are proving profitable, where they may lack the charm of a traditional UK holiday destination such as Cornwall.’

The British holiday rental market made £739,211,390, during the summer of 2023, according to the latest data

The British holiday rental market made £739,211,390, during the summer of 2023, according to the latest data

Tax crackdown

The data on the most profitable holiday lets follows a crackdown on the sector by the Chancellor.

Jeremy Hunt announced in this year’s Budget that the tax relief available for furnished holiday lets would be scrapped to help improve the availability of long-term rentals.

The move is due to come into force at the beginning of April next year and is widely seen as a way of bringing the tax regime of shorter-term lets more in line with longer term rentals.

Experts operating in the sector insisted that holiday rentals remained in demand ahead of the changes.

Graham Donoghue, of Sykes Holiday Cottages, said: ‘Staycations have been growing in popularity over the past decade and right now demand for our UK holiday cottages is higher than ever, with the average annual income of a holiday let owner up as a result.

‘Hotspot locations like Yorkshire, Cumbria, and Cornwall continue to see considerable demand and bookings across the UK for our holiday cottages have been up 11 per cent during the current Easter school holidays.

‘The demand we’re witnessing is particularly good news for our holiday let owners who have faced their own set of challenges recently. Despite changes, which we are carefully guiding our owners through, it’s clear that holiday letting remains a profitable and rewarding long-term business model.’

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‘Monkey Man’: Dev Patel makes directorial debut with a delicious stab at action cinema

Dev Patel makes directorial debut with a delicious stab at action cinema

Dev Patel has always had an intelligent glint in his eye. From his big screen debut in Slumdog Millionaire to his role as a journalist in Aaron Sorkin’s series The Newsroom, the British actor usually brings a sense of peace, calm and intelligence to his performances. Perhaps that is why it is no surprise that, at 32, he has made his directorial debut with a film in favor of social outcasts, which he also produces, co-writes and stars in. The surprise is its genre: Monkey Man is a fierce action and martial arts film, revolving around hand-to-hand combat, dismemberment and knife fights.

Patel returns to India, the land of his ancestors, for his story of revenge that is strengthened by the creative arsenal applied to its sequences — and not only those of combat. While there was a serious lack of design in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, one of the worst choices for Oscar for Best Film in Oscar history, Monkey Man has at its heart a physical and moral entanglement, involving a sadistic police chief, a luxury brothel that serves as home to both fornication and power, and a ragged young man who seeks to atone for the death of his mother through the most savage forms of violence.

Monkey Man is also set in a slum overrun by gambling and fights, with Patel earning a few rupees as an underground bare fist fighter wearing a crude monkey mask. With its colors and the camera’s handling of Bombay’s chaos, the movie has echoes of Brazil’s City of God.

Image from the movie 'Monkey Man.'
Image from the movie ‘Monkey Man.’Universal Pictures

A comparison can also easily be made with the John Wick saga, which has revolutionized commercial action and martial arts cinema in the past 10 years. Patel even mentions John Wick in one on-screen exchange. Yet, despite the similarities, the staging and editing of their spectacular fight sequences set them apart. In the four installments of the John Wick movies starring Keanu Reeves, the choreography regarding the confrontations is developed through a paradoxically harmonious staging of continuity, with general shots extended in time. The dynamics of their contenders and their movements are visualized with hardly any editing, almost like a classic fifties musical but instead of dances, there is physical destruction.

The action in Monkey Man, on the other hand, is not one of continuity, but of rupture. The cuts are incessant and move at an unrestrained pace; the shots come in quick succession, with barely a second or two between them. Patel’s handling of cinematic language is brutal. For a novice director, he displays a dazzling energy, cadence and expressiveness. This is demonstrated by three of the only four fights in the ring, each one based on a dynamic sense of space and narrative. The first is defined by the close-up shot, with the camera directed at the waist of the opponents or even lower — giving the viewers a sense of overwhelming closeness. The second offers a very different vision of the fight, which is both more poetic and exquisite. And the third uses surprise as the main exponent, and is raw and concise.

With rough textures, contrasting colors and ochre photography, reflecting the social mud in which most of the characters are stuck, Monkey Man only slips off kilter in the second half, when the Hindu demigod, Hanuman, assumes the tragic halo that envelops the protagonist. Although it gives him authenticity with respect to his lineage, the visualization is tinged with a somewhat tiresome messianic muddle of lyrical ambition.

Monkey Man

Director: Dev Patel.

Cast: Dev Patel, Sharlto Copley, Pitobash, Sobhita Dhuliwala.

Genre: Action. United States, 2024.

Duration: 121 minutes

Release date: April 12.


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