Apple and Oprah to debut a new interview series, ‘The Oprah Conversation’

Apple is expanding its relationship with media mogul Oprah Winfrey. The company announced today its plans for a new series, “The Oprah Conversation,” which will feature timely discussions between Oprah and “newsmakers, though leaders and masters of their craft” across a range of topics. The first few episodes will focus on conversations around race, given recent events like the BLM protests.

The series, which was filmed remotely during the pandemic, will begin on July 30 at  4 PM PST with an episode titled “How to Be an Antiracist,” which will see Oprah and bestselling author Professor Ibram X. Kendi talking with book readers who are on a journey to learn how to become anti-racist. This episode will then be followed by a two-part interview with athlete, commentator, activist and creator and host of “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man,” Emmanuel Acho on August 1.

Oprah will also converse with Equal Justice Initiative founder and bestselling author Bryan Stevenson later in the series.

The show’s format will include Oprah speaking with guests, but will also incorporate audience engagement, like viewer questions.

Image Credits: Apple; Episode 101 with Oprah and Kendi

This is the third series that Oprah is now doing for Apple, having launched “Oprah Talks COVID-19” in late March, and “Oprah’s Book Club” last year, as part of her multi-year agreement with the company. Another show, produced in partnership with Prince Harry and focused on mental health, has yet to arrive. Oprah also participated in Apple’s documentary series, “Visible: Out on Television.”

Unfortunately for Apple, Oprah’s multi-year deal is overlapping with a pandemic which has shut down TV production leading to the launch of these “filmed remotely”-style series.

Oprah’s COVID series, for example, was quickly put together in reaction to the health crisis and used lower production values, making it a first of its kind on Apple TV+. Before its arrival, Apple TV+ content had been highly produced and offered in 4K. But those initial experiments in remote TV production made further shows like this new series possible.

While much of Apple TV+ content requires a subscription, “The Oprah Conversation” will debut exclusively on the service for free on Thursday, July 30, Apple says. After the first free episode, the remainder of the series will require a $4.99 per month Apple TV+ subscription to view. The Apple TV+ service is available across devices, including Apple’s own, as well as select smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV, and Roku.

Apple TV+ to release Tom Hanks naval drama ‘Greyhound’ on July 10

Tom Hanks’ “Greyhound” is the latest movie to skip theaters and head straight to streaming — in this case, to Apple TV+. Deadline reported last month that Apple had picked up the film, which now has a release date of July 10.

Sony had previously pushed back the movie’s release multiple times, most recently settling on June 19 (Father’s Day weekend).

Of course, those plans were scuttled by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting theatrical closures. Although theaters are preparing to reopen with new social distancing measures, with Warner Bros’ “Tenet” and Disney’s “Mulan” scheduled for release in July, it remains to be seen whether moviegoers are ready to return.

Meanwhile, studios have taken different strategies for different films — delaying some, accelerating VOD/streaming releases for others and either skipping theaters for their own streaming services (in the case of Disney) or selling films to streamers (in the case of Netflix and “The Lovebirds”). Sony went the latter route, with “Greyhound” going to Apple.

Aaron Schneider directed the film, while Hanks wrote the screenplay based on C.S. Forester’s novel “The Good Shepherd.” He also stars as a first-time Naval captain during World War II who has to protect a convoy of 37 ships from Nazi U-boats.

Apple was already working with Hanks on “Masters of Air,” a World War II series executive produced by Hanks, Gary Goetzman (who also produced “Greyhound”) and Steven Spielberg.

VLC prepares to add AirPlay support as it crosses 3 billion downloads

VLC, the hugely popular media playing service, is filing one of its gaps with the addition of AirPlay support as its just crossed an incredible three billion users.

The new feature was revealed by Jean-Baptiste Kempf, one of the service’s lead developers, in an interview with Variety at CES and it will give users a chance to beam content from their Android or iOS device to an Apple TV. The addition, which is due in the upcoming version 4 of VLC, is the biggest new feature since the service added Chromecast support last summer.

But that’s not all that the dozen or so people on the VLC development team are working on.

In addition, Variety reports that VLC is preparing to add enable native support for VR content. Instead of SDKs, the team has reversed engineered popular hardware to offer features that will include the option to watch 2D content in a cinema-style environment. There are also plans to bring the service to more platforms, with VentureBeat reporting that the VLC team is eying PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and Roku devices.

VLC, which is managed by non-profit parent VideonLAN, racked up its 3 millionth download at CES, where it celebrated with the live ticker pictured above. The service reached one billion downloads back in May 2012, which represents incredible growth for a venture that began life as a project from Ecole Centrale Paris students in 1996.

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