Discovered: Agatha Christie’s Whodunnit Template

No one has ever written mystery stories more interesting and difficult for the reader to solve than Agatha Christie. But don’t let that get you down because guess what. As of this week – right now – the mystery of how she did it has been uncovered. And with enough patience, we can all do it too.



by Haroon Siddique

agathachristieequationFor almost 100 years, Agatha Christie has beguiled readers with her much-loved mysteries. But now a panel of experts claims to have worked out how to answer the perennial question: whodunnit?

To celebrate the 125th anniversary of the birth of the world’s best-selling novelist, academics have created a formula that they claim will enable the reader to identify the killer before the likes of Hercule Poirot or Miss Jane Marple have managed the feat.

The research, commissioned by the TV channel Drama, analysed 27 of the prolific writer’s books – 83 were published during her lifetime – including classics such as Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile. The experts concluded that where the novel was set, the main mode of transport used and how the victim dies were among the key clues.

One of the panel, Dominique Jeannerod, from Queen’s University in Belfast, said questions had long been asked about whether Christie followed a pattern. “We gathered data including the number of culprit mentions per chapter, a ‘sentiment analysis’ of culprit mentions, transport mentions and several cross-references with other key concepts of the novels,” he said.

“We were able to discover patterns emerging in several aspects of Christie’s novels: trends formed when we grouped our data via year, detective, gender of culprit, motive, cause of death.

“We also assessed the sentiment of the first mentions of the culprit in each work, using a sentiment analysis program, Semantria, to unmask themes in Christie’s word patterns and choices when mentioning the culprit. We found that, generally, for example, she employs more negative sentiment when the culprit is female, whereas a male culprit has higher levels of neutral or positive sentiment.”

Read it all at The Guardian

Would You Invest in the TV Biz as it is Now?

Whoa! Television must be dead. Even the Wall Street Journal is starting to smell the corpse:


Note to Media Investors: TV Isn’t Quite Dead Yet
by Paul Vigna

The media sector got walloped last week, hit hard by investors fleeing amid the panic of the “cord cutters,” people who are dropping their cable packages in favor of Internet-based platforms like Netflix , Hulu, YouTube, or Amazon. Far from a sudden crash, however, it seems that Wall Street is just starting to take seriously a phenomenon that’s been building for year.

As you’ll recall, the selling started after Walt Disney Co. noted on a conference call to go over second-quarter earnings that growth at ESPN – one of the most prominent and profitable cable channels – was weaker than the Street expected. Forget the fact that the movie business drove profits up 11%. Forget the fact that Disney is relaunching a little movie franchise later this year called Star Wars. Cable is 46% of Disney’s operating income.

The flames started by Disney were then fanned by Viacom Inc. when it reported weak advertising and viewer numbers. Suddenly, the cord-cutters were undercutting the entire media business. Disney’s shares are down 10% since then. Time Warner Inc.shares are down about 8.4%. 21st Century Fox Inc. shares are down 12%. Viacom’s Class B shares are down nearly 50% since July 11.

Only,  the trend is not new and there may not be as many cord cutters out there as some people seem to think. “The the media landscape has been in flux for several years – Wall Street is only beginning to catch up now,” said Nicholas Colas, the chief market strategist at Convergex. (He has a point; we recall writing about the TV versus web issue all the way back in 2007.)

Read it all at WSJ

Project Greenlight is Back

The Usual Suspects

The Usual Suspects

Oh no! We mean, yay! We mean…well, we’ll have to see the new version of PROJECT GREENLIGHT when it returns to HBO after a hiatus of a decades. Will it really discover new filmmakers? Talented ones? Considering what came out of the original series, we’re doubtful.

But hope. We got miles and miles of hope.

Anyway, here’s the teaser:

YouTube Preview Image

Enter the SPLOID Short Film Festival

You’ve put in more time and work than you ever thought possible to develop your video crafting techniques and have the samples to prove it. And you went through all this hell, why? Because you were driven by creative demons? Because you really, really, really wanna go pro? Because you have a need to entertain? Maybe even a need to be – gulp – famous?

If that’s you, bunky, then here’s the next step:

sploidby Casey Chan

Welcome to the first edition of the Sploid Short Film Festival, a celebration of great storytelling and awesome eye candy. We will select the best short films of 2015 in the next five months leading to a November award ceremony at Gawker Media’s theater on Fifth Avenue in New York.

What is the Sploid Short Film Festival?

Sploid has been curating the best videos on the internet for almost two years now. We’ve featured hundreds of shorts with great stories and awesome visuals and helped bring those films to a larger audience.

Now we want to go one step further and recognize the talent of the amazing individuals and teams of filmmakers with a festival to celebrate their art.


The selection process

We are opening up submissions for the Sploid Short Film Festival 2015 starting today: Just send us a link to your video. It’s that simple. You can do that by e-mailing us here. If it matches what we’re looking for, we will contact you back.

We will also contact the filmmakers of any short film we love as part of our daily curatorial work and invite them to submit their films to the Sploid Short Film Festival as well.

Read it all at Gizmodo

We’ve Seen the Future & It’s – Bingewatching!


Know how we’ve been saying for years that watching whatever television you want whenever you want is the way of the future? That future officially arrived when NBC announced it was going to release all episodes of its then new show AQUARIUS for bingewatching, picking up on what Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, which are websites first and production/broadcasting entities second, already were doing.

And now Turner Broadcasting is following in NBC’s footsteps by arranging to release the first four episodes of PUBLIC MORALS, a new drama starring Edward Burns, August 25th, the day after the show premieres on TNT. The eps will be available on cable and satellite through Video On Demand, the “Watch TNT” mobile app, participating provider sites and apps, and, of course, at

Turner is also going to do the same with TNT’s COLD JUSTICE, FRIENDS OF THE PEOPLE, a new series on its truTV channel, and truTV’s IMPRACTICAL JOKERS. In the words of John Harran, Senior Vice President of Business & Product Development at Turner Content Distribution, “Turner is embracing a different approach to the way programming is traditionally released and providing our audiences with multiple binge-viewing options in order to enhance their TV experience.”

In other words, yesterday’s “enhanced experience” is now today’s experience period.

Loud sing Haloo!

Remembering a Forgotten Writer

NOTE FROM LB: In the early 50s, when I was very, very young, my anti-social self learned about the world via this very little box called a TV. One show that fascinated me for reasons I no longer remember but which I think had to do with the fact that no one on it was trying to sell me anything or talking down to me or doing anything other than living their sweet little lives.

The name of that show was ETHEL AND ALBERT. Even at the age of 5 or 6 I knew the life Ethel and Albert were living together wasn’t real. But, man, I sure wanted it to be.

Peg Lynch, the creator, writer, and star of the show, died last week. The following is the best of not-nearly-enough tributes to her pioneering work:

LYNCH-obitby Bruce Weber

Peg Lynch, who wrote and starred in “Ethel and Albert,” one of television’s earliest situation comedies, died on Friday at her home in Becket, Mass. She was 98.

Her daughter, Astrid King, confirmed the death.

Ms. Lynch, who wrote nearly 11,000 scripts for radio and television without the benefit of a writer’s room committee (or even a co-writer), was a pioneering woman in broadcast entertainment. As a creator of original characters and a performer of her own written work — every bit of it live! — she might be said to have created the mold that decades later produced the likes of Tina Fey and Amy Schumer.

And long before Jerry Seinfeld made a famous show ostensibly about nothing, mining the mundane details of the lives of single New Yorkers, Ms. Lynch did much the same thing, mining the mundane details of the lives of Ethel and Albert Arbuckle, a representative young married couple living in a representative American town called Sandy Harbor.

“I base my show on the little things in life,” Ms. Lynch said in an interview in The New York Times in 1950, when the show, then on radio, was known as “The Private Lives of Ethel and Albert.” “I believe that people like to find out that other people have some of the same problems they do.”

The show had its first national exposure as a 15-minute, five-day-a-week radio program on the Blue Network (the progenitor of ABC) in 1944, with the actor Richard Widmark playing Albert. Three of the radio scripts were staged for television in Schenectady, N.Y., in 1946 — by then her co-star, who remained with the show for its remaining years, was Alan Bunce — and in 1950 “Ethel and Albert” appeared in sketches on “The Kate Smith Hour,” an afternoon variety show. It became its own weekly series, broadcast on Saturday nights on NBC, in 1953, later moving to CBS and then ABC before going off the air in 1956.

Read it all at the New York Times