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When an Actor Meets an Angel: The Love Story of Dylan Sprouse and Barbara Palvin

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Related: Dylan Sprouse & Barbara Palvin Celebrate 2-Year Anniversary

As most epic love stories do, it began with a thoughtfully penned letter.

Okay, a slide into her DMs–that, of course, being how things are done in 2018. But Dylan Sprouse‘s hopeful missive to the model he chatted up at an industry event was left lingering in cyberspace for the better part of a year.

“I was like, ‘Hey, I don’t know if you’re in New York for very long, but we should hang out if you want to. Here’s my number,'” he told W Magazine of his opening salvo to Barbara Palvin after discovering she had followed him on Twitter. “And she didn’t message me for six months.”

The Hungarian-bred beauty had her reasons. For all the reports attaching her to the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Justin Bieber, this was a bold-faced name she thought just might stick–as long as they didn’t do anything to screw it up. “I took my time,” she explained. “I knew I wasn’t in a good mindset at the time, and maybe deep inside I knew that it could be something more.”

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Dylan Sprouse Gushes Over Relationship With Barbara Palvin

She was right, of course, as evidenced by the fact that the twosome were sharing this tale at their first joint magazine shoot. Already a well-worn dialogue in the months since they’d gotten together, each knew their lines, with Palvin punctuating her last statement by turning to the actor, celebrating his 28th birthday today, and instructing, “Now say your part.”

The too long; didn’t read version: he didn’t want to look desperate and so he booked a gig in China, where he’d spend six long months filming Xiaolong Zheng‘s Turandot. “I’m not one to chase,” he noted. “If I get left on read after putting out my number, f–k that.” The time away meant he missed the long-anticipated opening of his Brooklyn meadery, but not his shot with Palvin. Because just as he was wondering, whatever happened to that girl, she finally texted.

Now the former Disney Channel star (one half of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody‘s Sprouse twins, as most 20somethings would tell you) and the 26-year-old Giorgio Armani beauty ambassador have eclipsed their second anniversary en route to a potential forever.

“A few days late now due to having no service in Yosemite but happy two-year anniversary,” Sprouse captioned a selfie, recognizing the June day they finally met up in Asia. “Here’s to us looking more alike with each passing year until we’re a single beast with four arms and four legs that runs at a top speed of 50 mph and screams like a baboon at nearby travelers trespassing into our woods. I love you.”

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So you could say he’s grateful he took the risk.

That initial text launched an endless chain with the multilinguist (in addition to her native Hungarian, she speaks German, English, French and Japanese) quickly finding her digital footing. “There’s a little language barrier for me, so I was never good with texting or flirting,” she admitted to W. “With Dylan, everything seemed so easy. We had the same interests, and jokes were hitting at the right spot, and he didn’t think I was disgusting or anything.”

Which is apparently a problem for someone who’s been selected to model for the likes of Prada, Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, Vivienne Westwood and Chanel.

Eager to see if giving good text translated to IRL chemistry, Palvin booked a flight to China, deciding not to cancel even when her planned job in the country fell through. “I was like, ‘Do you think that’s crazy that I still want to go and see you?’ because I was so excited,” she recalled in a 2019 interview with People. “And he’s like, ‘Please come.'”

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Though she initially rebuffed his requests to be exclusive, she knew she was done considering other prospects “the first minute we met,” she admitted. “I just sat down, took a deep breath and I’m like, ‘What am I waiting for? There’s no other guy I would love more than I love him and he’s got everything that I need.'”

If millennials had an answer for going steady, it’d be going Instagram official, and by August 2018, Palvin was wishing her actor love a happy birthday by gushing it was she that had received “the biggest present of all.”

And with the confirmation band-aid ripped off, there was no reason not to be very public on the Internet, posting snapshots of their August trip to her native Hungary. Though the couple explored the sites of Budapest, the getaway’s major attraction was one not listed in tour guides: meeting the fam.

Some boyfriends buy flowers, Sprouse studied Hungarian, taking particular note of common phrases during the earlier part of their trip and listening to Palvin’s advice that he accept any offers of sausage and palinka, a traditional liquor.

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“I wasn’t nervous to meet her parents,” he said, “but the truth is that there is a language barrier, obviously. Her mother speaks a very tiny bit [of English], and I am not proficient in Hungarian. I’m trying, but learning is definitely an overstatement.”

Mastering his role as Palvin’s plus-one has been infinitely easier. Since making their red carpet debut in a very on-brand way at a New York Fashion Week party in September 2018, the couple have become step-and-repeat regulars. Most memorably, Sprouse turned up, Shake Shack in hand, to watch the 5-foot-9 pro work the Victoria’s Secret runway in 2018, then hand-deliver her requested post-lingerie splurge.

That move earned him more than a few boyfriend-of-the-year declarations, plus a few offers to reprise his role. The proud owner of a Dos Toros black card (it nets the user unlimited burritos), he told W, “I’m going to be the new food guy on red carpets.”

He’s also the guy in the front row, offering endless encouragement, his vows to thoroughly embarrass her with his over-the-top cheering leaving her grateful her family attended the runway show’s earlier viewing. But he simply couldn’t help playing the part of proud boyfriend.

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“You know what, it’s hard to see, like, from these interviews and I guess just from the Instagram posts and stuff how hard she’s really worked to do this,” he told E! News. “So I think the best part for me is just knowing that like after all of that, it really paid off.”

He was equally congratulatory when she was officially named one of the venerable brand’s Angels in March 2019, bragging on Instagram that “the missus” had just scored the coveted gig.

“Not only am I proud of her but really I think it’s a case of feeling good about the world a little bit,” he said to E! News, “because this is someone who I know has worked her ass off to achieve something that she’s really dreamed about for a long time and then seeing someone put in that much effort, it often times doesn’t pay off. But, with her, everyone supported her and came together and then she made it happen for herself, so it just gave me hope.”

So a public shoutout was a must, though he could have just as easily delivered the message in person at their shared Brooklyn flat.

Their home for the past year and change, it’s where the couple of two-plus years log much of their time indulging in sweets and a shared love of Dragon Ball Z and Naruto. While Sprouse told E! News they do venture out at times, to scope out new food joints in the city (you know, back when people did that sort of thing), and that they have plans to expand their culinary scope to Iceland and Japan (“Those are the two places that we want to go really badly”), asked to name their favorite date night, he had to admit they’re of the homebody variety.

“Honestly, we’re pretty low-key,” he said. “We like watching anime and chilling inside and eating ice cream together. That’s kind of our thing.”

Kevin Mazur/VF19/WireImage

Of course as two, young, attractive public figures, duty calls at times. In February 2019, they turned up at the Vanity Fair fete (the post-Oscars bash) to hobnob with the rest of the industry’s hot young things, but mostly to hold court with one in particular: Dylan’s brother Cole Sprouse, who’d yet to make Palvin’s acquaintance. (Riverdale filming requirements kept him tied to Vancouver, forcing the siblings to meet up in the most Hollywood of ways.)

Though they’re so loathe to be apart, their W mag profile describes them as refusing to “lose touch with each other,” Palvin’s status as one of modeling’s current crop of “It Girls” means the occasional stretch of long-distance is a reality.

But when her work and his on-location acting gigs divide them, “We make sure we FaceTime once a day,” she recently told ET. “And we just text and just send a lot of memes to each other.”

And these days she never ever leaves him on read.

(Originally published Oct. 8, 2019, at 3 a.m. PT)

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Netflix is developing a live action ‘Assassin’s Creed’ show

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Netflix announced this morning that it’s partnering with Ubisoft to adapt the game publisher’s “Assassin’s Creed” franchise into a live action series.

The franchise jumps around in history, telling the story of a secret society of assassins with “genetic memory” and their centuries-long battle the knights templar. It has sold 155 million games worldwide and was also turned into a nearly incomprehensible 2016 film starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, which underperformed at the box office.

The companies say that they’re currently looking for a showrunner. Jason Altman and Danielle Kreinik of Ubisoft’s film and television division will serve as executive producers. (In addition to working on adaptations of Ubisoft’s intellectual property, the publisher is also involved in the Apple TV+ industry comedy “Mythic Quest.”)

“We’re excited to partner with Ubisoft and bring to life the rich, multilayered storytelling that Assassin’s Creed is beloved for,” said Netflix’s vice president of original series Peter Friedlander in a statement. “From its breathtaking historical worlds and massive global appeal as one of the best selling video game franchises of all time, we are committed to carefully crafting epic and thrilling entertainment based on this distinct IP and provide a deeper dive for fans and our members around the world to enjoy.”

It sounds like there could be follow-up shows as well, with the announcement saying that Netflix and Ubisoft will “tap into the iconic video game’s trove of dynamic stories with global mass appeal for adaptations of live action, animated, and anime series.”

Netflix recently placed an eight-episode order for “Resident Evil,” another video game franchise that was previously adapted for the big screen. And it also had a big hit with its adaptation of “The Witcher,” which is based on a fantasy book series that was popularized via video games.

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Original Content podcast: ‘Lovecraft Country’ is gloriously bonkers

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As we tried to recap the first season of HBO’s “Lovecraft Country,” one thing became clear: The show is pretty nuts.

The story begins by sending Atticus “Tic” Freeman (Jonathan Majors), his friend Leti Lewis (Jurnee Smolett) and his uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) on a road trip across mid-’50s America in search of Tic’s missing father. You might assume that the search will occupy the entire season, or take even longer than that; instead, the initial storyline is wrapped up quickly.

And while there’s a story running through the whole season, most of the episodes are relatively self-contained, offering their own versions on various horror and science fiction tropes. There’s a haunted house episode, an Indiana Jones episode, a time travel episode and more.

The show isn’t perfect — the writing can be clunky, the special effects cheesy and cheap-looking. But at its best, it does an impressive job of mixing increasingly outlandish plots, creepy monsters (with plentiful gore) and a healthy dose of politics.

After all, “Lovecraft Country” (adapted form a book by Matt Ruff) is named after notoriously racist horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, but it focuses almost entirely on Black characters, making the case that old genres can be reinvigorated with diverse casts and a rethinking of political assumptions.

In addition to reviewing the show, the latest episode of the Original Content podcast also includes a discussion of Netflix earnings, the new season of “The Bachelorette” and the end of Quibi.

You can listen in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also follow us on Twitter or send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:36 Netflix discussion
3:18 “The Bachelorette”
6:30 Quibi
14:35 “Lovecraft Country” review
31:32 “Lovecraft Country” spoiler discussion

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The short, strange life of Quibi

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“All that is left now is to offer a profound apology for disappointing you and, ultimately, for letting you down,” Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman wrote, closing out an open letter posted to Medium. “We cannot thank you enough for being there with us, and for us, every step of the way.”

With that, the founding executives confirmed the rumors and put Quibi to bed, a little more than six months after launching the service.

Starting a business is an impossibly difficult task under nearly any conditions, but even in a world that’s littered with high-profile failures, the streaming service’s swan song was remarkable for both its dramatically brief lifespan and the amount of money the company managed to raise (and spend) during that time.

A month ahead of its commercial launch, Quibi announced that it had raised another $750 million. That second round of funding brought the yet-to-launch streaming service’s funding up to $1.75 billion — roughly the same as the gross domestic product of Belize, give or take $100 million.

“We concluded a very successful second raise which will provide Quibi with a strong cash runway,” CFO Ambereen Toubassy told the press at the time. “This round of $750 million gives us tremendous flexibility and the financial wherewithal to build content and technology that consumers embrace.”

Quibi’s second funding round brought the yet-to-launch streaming service’s funding up to $1.75 billion — roughly the same as the gross domestic product of Belize, give or take $100 million.

From a financial perspective, Quibi had reason to be hopeful. Its fundraising ambitions were matched only by the aggressiveness with which it planned to spend that money. At the beginning of the year, Whitman touted the company’s plans to spend up to $100,000 per minute of programming — $6 million per hour. The executive proudly contrasted the jaw-dropping sum to the estimated $500 to $5,000 an hour spent by YouTube creators.

For Whitman and Katzenberg — best known for their respective reigns at HP and Disney — money was key to success in an already crowded marketplace. $1 billion was a drop in the bucket compared to the $17.3 billion Netflix was expected to spend on original content in 2020, but it was a start.

Following in the footsteps of Apple, who had also recently announced plans to spend $1 billion to launch its own fledgling streaming service, the company was enlisting A-List talent, from Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro and Ridley Scott to Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Lopez and LeBron James. If your name carried any sort of clout in Hollywood boardrooms, Quibi would happily cut you a check, seemingly regardless of content specifics.

Quibi’s strategy primarily defined itself by itself by its constraints. In hopes of attracting younger millennial and Gen Z, the company’s content would be not just mobile-first, but mobile-only. There would be no smart TV app, no Chromecast or AirPlay compatibility. Pricing, while low compared to the competition, was similarly off-putting. After a 90-day free trial, $4.99 got you an ad-supported subscription. And boy howdy, were there ads. Ads upon ads. Ads all the way down. Paying another $3 a month would make them go away.

Technological constraints and Terms of Service fine print forbade screen shots — a fundamental understanding of how content goes viral in 2020 (though, to be fair, one shared with other competing streaming services). Amusingly, the inability to share content led to videos like this one of director Sam Raimi’s perplexingly earnest “The Golden Arm.”

It features a built-on laugh track from viewers as Emmy winner Rachel Brosnahan lies in a hospital bed after refusing to remove a golden prosthetic. It’s an allegory, surely, but not one intentionally played for laughs. Many of the videos that did ultimately make the rounds on social media were regarded as a curiosity — strange artifacts from a nascent streaming service that made little sense on paper.

Most notable of all, however, were the “quick bites” that gave the service its confusingly pronounced name. Each program would be served in 5-10 minute chunks. The list included films acquired by the service, sliced up into “chapters.” Notably, the service didn’t actually purchase the content outright; instead, rights were set to revert to their creators after seven years. Meanwhile, after two years, content partners were able to “reassemble” the chunks back into a movie for distribution.

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