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Ellen's Oscar selfie, a very cloudy Sex Tape and a more-bizarre-than usual CES moment.
The year in good and bad celebrity tech moments got off to its usual screaming start at the International CES conference in Las Vegas and it hasn’t let up. For better or worse, big names from movies, TV, sports and more are intertwined with the world of technology today. (IDG News Service reporting is included in this slideshow.)
Move over smartphones and tablets, make way for the celebrities at International CES. Pharrell Williams, Tim Tebow, Janelle Monae, LeVar Burton and more dazzled in Vegas.
Bold move, Cisco
Give Cisco credit for rolling the dice at International CES by inviting racy comic Sarah Silverman onto the stage with John Chambers to hype the Internet of Things. Silverman, behaved herself, though she did poke fun of Michael Bay’s freeze-up and got the audience to laugh by telling them she didn’t write the, uh, “junk” she was spouting during the schtick.
Kanye vs. Coinye
Rapper Kanye West in January slapped a lawsuit on Amazon.com and more than 50 others in an effort to shut down digital currencies bearing variations of his name. The lawsuit followed the creation of a consumer-friendly digital currency dubbed "Coinye" that never really took off and that West had no part in launching.
“Her” honored, lampooned
Spike Jonze’s movie “Her,” in which a character played by Joaquin Phoenix falls for a Siri-like computer OS voice, won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. It also might have won the prize for most parodied new movie, with everyone from SNL to Seth Rogen giving their NSFW takes on it.
Scarlett Johansson, the actress who voices “Samantha,” the Siri-like voice in the movie “Her,” called the Apple voice technology “a backstabber” in a Vanity Fair interview after hearing that Siri was giving Samantha the business when asked about her (“portrayal of an intelligent agent is beyond artificial.”).
“Oh. My. God,” Johansson responded, playfully hurt. “I feel like I’ve been betrayed. The other day I asked Siri how I looked and she said, ‘You’re the fairest of them all.’ So she’s obviously playing both sides … What a backstabber, man.”
Silicon Valley gets a show of its own
HBO debuted its new show Silicon Valley, which according to the cable network is about the people most qualified to succeed being least capable of handling success. The comedy, which scored positive reviews early on, is partially inspired by the Silicon Valley experience. A comedy partially inspired by the experiences of show director/writer Mike Judge, a Silicon Valley engineer in the late 1980s who is best known for Beavis & Butthead, Office Space, etc.
Sex Tape: Blame the cloud
You'd almost think Apple rival Samsung underwrote the upcoming movie "Sex Tape" when you see the just released NSFW trailer. A couple, played by Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel, have their life turned upside down after they record a sex tape that then spreads through iCloud to a bunch of iPads they've given as gifts to family, friends and even the mailman. Yes, a cloud gaffe even more embarrassing than all those industry cloud outages.
Mac at 30 music to their ears
The band One Republic had a once-in-a-lifetime gig: They played on the Apple campus in Silicon Valley to help the company celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Macintosh computer.
A “Social Network” sequel of sorts
First we had “The Social Network,” the 2010 movie that documented the beginnings of Facebook and young Mark Zuckerberg. Next up: A movie based on Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s book, “Lean In,” which focuses on helping professional women achieve their goals.
“Twibel” victory for Courtney Love
Singer Courtney Love has made something of a habit of getting into trouble on Twitter, but she almost really paid for it after being slapped with a landmark defamation case (or “Twibel” as some called it) by her former lawyer after tweeting the attorney has been “bought off”. But a jury decided in Love’s favor, based in part on the fact that her message about the lawyer was meant to be a private direct message.
Movie director/actor Quentin Tarantino announced in January he was suing the website Gawker for linking to leaked scripts for his next movie, The Hateful Eight (Gawker didn’t host the script, but just linked to copies of it). Meanwhile, the singer Prince filed, then dropped, a suit against fans who linked to a bunch of concert videos on Facebook and blogs. We won’t link to any stories on this, in a show of misguided solidarity.
Another Conan job controversy?
Dozens of names were bandied about in the press as to whom would replace Steve Ballmer as Microsoft CEO, before Satya Nadella got the nod. Though talk show host Conan O’Brien wrote a post on LinkedIn explaining why he actually turned the job down: “I knew, in my heart of hearts, that Microsoft would never, ever, let me rename the entire company CONAN.”
Seacrest no BlackBerry idol
BlackBerry filed a copyright infringement suit against a company co-founded by American Idol host Ryan Seacrest that makes a slip-on iPhone keyboard that BlackBerry thinks is a little too close in design to its own iconic offering. BlackBerry won an injunction against the company, Typo, in March, and was pushing in April to have sales of the $99 accessory halted.
Keyes, BlackBerry part ways
BlackBerry early this year ceased its year-old relationship with "global creative director" Alicia Keys, the "Girl on Fire" singer who apparently wasn't able to help the smartphone maker catch fire itself. Maybe BlackBerry never got over her tweeting from her iPhone.
Ellen’s tweet seen round the world
Ellen DeGeneres realized she had to do something, anything to try to make the Oscars TV show interesting. Her celebrity-stuffed selfie/Samsung product placement grabbed a quick 2.5 million retweets, breaking a record held by the Obamas. What was really funny about the Ellen selfie, though, is that she used an iPhone to take another selfie back stage, much to Samsung’s chagrin no doubt. Boston Red Sox slugger nearly outdid her when his team visited the White House and Ortiz snapped a selfie with the President.
The Cos does Instagram
Comedian Bill Cosby celebrated his appearance at South by Southwest by joining Instagram and recording his first post there, with the immortal words: “Welcome Instagram, it's good for me.”
Singer Neil Young reinventing the iPod
Veteran rocker Neil Young blew away his $800K Kickstarter campaign goal and scored more than $6M for his PonoMusic portable music player, a $400 device that promises better sound fidelity than MP3s.
More Steve Jobs drama
Who knows if Sony’s movie adaptation of Walter Isaacson’s “Steve Jobs” biography will ever really get made into a movie, but the upfront drama has been compelling. Rumors have swirled this year that Christian Bale will play jobs, though recent reports have director David Fincher bailing due to a contract disagreement. Adam Sorkin (“The Social Network,” “West Wing”) is supposedly writing the screenplay for the movie, listed on IMDB as slated for 2016.
HTC: blah, blah, blah
HTC thinks having actors Gary Oldman and Robert Downey, Jr., say blah, blah, blah will get you to buy its HTC One (M80) phone.
Microsoft takes on Netflix
Microsoft is getting into the TV show game, following Netflix and Amazon, and is producing a scif-i robot series called “Humans” that’s designed to help transform its Xbox gaming system into a more full-fledged entertainment system. Microsoft is partnering with the UK’s Channel 4, which will also show the series next year. Rumors are that a “Halo” show could also be in the works. And what about a horror series called “Vista”?