"Whitney Dead." Emblazoned in big, bold letters on practically every publication, the news shocked the world a year ago today. Whitney Houston: pop icon, superstar, "voice of an angel," and drug enthusiast was found dead at the Beverly Hilton hotel at age 48. As the news broke, journalists rushed to publish obituaries, the Recording Academy rushed to put together a Grammys tribute, and everyone else rushed to the Internet. A special report published in The Signpost, Wikipedia's community-managed newspaper, reveals that Houston's death brought a record number of fact-seekers to her Wikipedia page.
According to The Signpost, "On February 12, 2012, news of Whitney Houston's death brought 425 hits per second to her Wikipedia article, the highest peak traffic on any article since at least January 2010."
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And it looks as though the traffic boost Houston's death gave the site is only the beginning of a trend. Of the eight stories The Signpost lists as the most viewed pages on Wikipedia in a one hour period, since January 1, 2010, five of them — a motley crew consisting of Houston, Amy Winehouse, Steve Jobs, Osama bin Laden, and Ryan Dunn — were due to their respective subject's death.
Of course, Wikipedia's analytics have no way of tracking the motivation behind its users' searches, so people could have been looking for highlights from Houston's life or to determine what year she starred in The Bodyguard as they were to check out the cause of her death, but come on. That's probably not the case. We are a morbid, death-obsessed nation so the spectulation seems as crazy as Bobby Brown's reality show.
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Second only to prominent deaths in the hearts and minds of Wikipedia's English-language readers is the Super Bowl halftime show, The Signpost reports. Searches for Madonna and The Who skyrocketed when they took to the 50 yard line in 2012 and 2010, respectively. The only entry to break the top nine (why Signpost only reported the top nine and not the top 10 is beyond me) is Jodie Foster, who peaked at 125.4 views/sec during her 2013 Golden Globes speech.
Now, imagine if Jodie Foster died after "coming out" while performing at the Super Bowl halftime show — Wikipedia would implode. Sorry, Jodie. That was mean. You wouldn't be caught dead at the Super Bowl.
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The TV prankster was killed in a high-speed car crash in Pennsylvania last June (11), and Knoxville gave a special reading at a memorial service days later.
Knoxville also penned an online tribute in the wake of the tragedy, but has rarely spoken about his pal's death since. However, on Wednesday, he told his Twitter.com followers he had visited Dunn's resting place in Brecksville, Ohio.
Uploading a photo of the gravestone, which features an image of Dunn and was surrounded by flowers, Knoxville wrote, "We just visited Ryan's grave out in Brecksville. Was glad to see he has had many people coming by to visit."
In a post-Harry Potter Avatar and Lord of the Rings world the descriptors "sci-fi" and "fantasy" conjure up particular imagery and ideas. The Hunger Games abolishes those expectations rooting its alternate universe in a familiar reality filled with human characters tangible environments and terrifying consequences. Computer graphics are a rarity in writer/director Gary Ross' slow-burn thriller wisely setting aside effects and big action to focus on star Jennifer Lawrence's character's emotional struggle as she embarks on the unthinkable: a 24-person death match on display for the entire nation's viewing pleasure. The final product is a gut-wrenching mature young adult fiction adaptation diffused by occasional meandering but with enough unexpected choices to keep audiences on their toes.
Panem a reconfigured post-apocalyptic America is sectioned off into 12 unique districts and ruled under an iron thumb by the oppressive leaders of The Capitol. To keep the districts producing their specific resources and prevent them from rebelling The Capitol created The Hunger Games an annual competition pitting two 18-or-under "tributes" from each district in a battle to the death. During the ritual tribute "Reaping " teenage Katniss (Lawrence) watches as her 12-year-old sister Primrose is chosen for battle—and quickly jumps to her aid becoming the first District 12 citizen to volunteer for the games. Joined by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) a meek baker's son and the second tribute Effie the resident designer and Haymitch a former Hunger Games winner-turned-alcoholic-turned-mentor Katniss rides off to The Capitol to train and compete in the 74th Annual Hunger Games.
The greatest triumph of The Hunger Games is Ross' rich realization of the book's many worlds: District 12 is painted as a reminiscent Southern mining town haunting and vibrant; The Capitol is a utopian metropolis obsessed with design and flair; and The Hunger Games battleground is a sprawling forest peppered with Truman Show-esque additions that remind you it's all being controlled by overseers. The small-scale production value adds to the character-first approach and even when the story segues to larger arenas like a tickertape parade in The Capitol's grand Avenue of Tributes hall it's all about Katniss.
For fans the script hits every beat a nearly note-for-note interpretation of author Suzanne Collins' original novel—but those unfamiliar shouldn't worry about missing anything. Ross knows his way around a sharp screenplay (he's the writer of Big Pleasantville and Seabiscuit) and he's comfortable dropping us right into the action. His characters are equally as colorful as Panem Harrelson sticking out as the former tribute enlivened by the chance to coach winners. He's funny he's discreet he's shaded—a quality all the cast members share. As a director Ross employs a distinct often-grating perspective. His shaky cam style emphasizes the reality of the story but in fight scenarios—and even simple establishing shots of District 12's goings-on—the details are lost in motion blur.
But the dread of the scenario is enough to make Hunger Games an engrossing blockbuster. The lead-up to the actual competition is an uncomfortable and biting satire of reality television sports and everything that commands an audience in modern society. Katniss' brooding friend Gale tells her before she departs "What if nobody watched?" speculating that carnage might end if people could turn away. Unfortunately they can't—forcing Katniss and Peeta to become "stars" of the Hunger Games. The duo are pushed to gussy themselves up put on a show and play up their romance for better ratings. Lawrence channels her reserved Academy Award-nominated Winter's Bone character to inhabit Katniss' frustration with the system. She's great at hunting but she doesn't want to kill. She's compassionate and considerate but has no interest in bowing down to the system. She's a leader but she knows full well she's playing The Capitol's game. Even with 23 other contestants vying for the top spot—like American Idol with machetes complete with Ryan Seacrest stand-in Caesar Flickerman (the dazzling Stanley Tucci)—Katniss' greatest hurdle is internal. A brave move for a movie aimed at a young audience.
By the time the actual Games roll around (the movie clocks in at two and a half hours) there's a need to amp up the pace that never comes and The Hunger Games loses footing. Katniss' goal is to avoid the action hiding in trees and caves waiting patiently for the other tributes to off themselves—but the tactic isn't all that thrilling for those watching. Luckily Lawrence Hutcherson and the ensemble of young actors still deliver when they cross paths and particular beats pack all the punch an all-out deathwatch should. PG-13 be damned the film doesn't skimp on the bloodshed even when it comes to killing off children. The Hunger Games bites off a lot for the first film of a franchise and does so bravely and boldly. It may not make it to the end alive but it doesn't go down without a fight.
When Ryan Dunn died last week, he left a recently debuted series on G4 -- which will return to the air in July, the network announced on Monday.
Dunn's Proving Ground, which sees the Jackass star trying to re-create famous stunts from movies and games, was pulled from the G4 after one episode following Dunn's fatal car accident last week. But Dunn and Co. finished nine episodes, and the show will resume its run on July 19 at 8 p.m. ET.
The first episode back will be immediately preceded by a Dunn-focused Attack of the Show!, featuring the late actor's most memorable moments on the network as well as interviews with his friends and colleagues.
“Ryan was an incredible talent who will be missed tremendously by his many fans, including G4 viewers,” said Neal Tiles, President, G4. “It was important to all of us at G4 to find a way to celebrate his life and pay tribute to him. With the support of Ryan’s family, we’ve decided to air the remaining episodes of ‘G4’s Proving Ground’ and give his fans the opportunity to continue watching this series that he was so passionate about.”
The TV prankster was killed in a high speed car crash in Pennsylvania last week (20Jun11) and Knoxville was among the friends and family members who attended a special service in his memory two days after the tragedy (22Jun11).
Knoxville spoke at the memorial, but admits he struggled to find the words to describe how much his late pal meant to him, so he decided to write his feelings down in a note posted on his website titled 'In memory of Ryan... From Knoxville With Love'.
He writes, "At Ryan's memorial Wednesday... people were invited up to the microphone to say a few words about his life... I walked to the podium and tried to share memories of my dear friend, but the words were just spinning in my head. What came out were the mumblings of a man trying his best not to cry, and I wasn't even successful at that... Here is what I wished I could have told everyone then...
"I felt 34 per cent funnier when I was with Ryan, but I guess everyone did... He wasn't incapable of seriousness, though. Ryan was a great listener. If you were having troubles... Ryan also had an enormous capacity to love. His friends and family got a lot..."
Knoxville goes on to express his great sadness that his children, daughter Madison and son Rocko, as well as his unborn daughter due later this year (11), will miss out on spending time with Dunn: "I'm becoming upset now because this isn't right, Goddamnit. Ryan, I had to go wake up Madison and tell her you were gone. Do you know how hard that was?!!... Rocko will never get to know you like she did, nor will my daughter that is coming in October. I cry a lot about that."
He adds, "I'm hurting!! We all are because we loved you so much and now you're gone. I know your spirit lives on in me... but that's pretty tough to see right now through the tears. I'm starting to ramble now, just like I did at the memorial, so I'll stop... I'm just very sad because I lost my brother and my world got about 134 per cent less funny. "