The Ulmer Scale

You hear it bandied about all the time -- such-and-such celebrity is an "A-lister," or an actor you recognize from a minor role or two might reside on the "D-list." But did you know that there actually are such lists -- official ones -- and how celebrities are ranked on them is calculated according to a formula? It's called the Ulmer Scale, and was devised by longtime entertainment journalist James Ulmer as a tool to calculate the "bankability" of a given star.

What's bankability? When it comes to putting together financing for a movie, it's incredibly important: the skyrocketing salaries of the top 20 or so movie stars these days is a direct result of how movie moguls perceive their bankability; can they open the movie? IE, will their name alone get butts in theater seats? There are other factors, too, which Ulmer rates on a 1-100 point scale:

Willingness to travel/promote. It may sound ridiculous that going on Letterman and giving interviews is considered work, but when you do weeks of this kind of thing at a stretch, I've no doubt that it is (though I can't speak from experience). If the star of your movie is too lazy/busy/agoraphobic to fly to New York and go on some talk shows, you're going to have a problem getting a return on the investment which is his or her salary. Thus, they are less bankable -- thus, their Ulmer Scale rating sinks.

Professionalism. Is your star going to wind up in the tabloid pages for drunk driving or cavorting with hookers in Vegas? Is he going to fuss and cry when his trailer isn't stocked with the right brand of bottled water, or scream at the crew like a madman? In the 90s Robert Downey, Jr. was considered one of Hollywood's most talented actors -- he was nominated for an Oscar for 1992's Chaplin -- but his reputation as an insane, drug-addled bad boy kept him off the A-list.

Career management. What other kinds of roles in what other kinds of films is the star accepting? It's hard to remain bankable as an A-list action star if you decide to start taking roles on daytime soaps, just as it's hard to land roles in high-profile Oscar-bait movies if you have a reputation for taking any role in any schlocky movie that comes along (I'm looking at you, Sam Jackson).

Talent. Yep, talent is actually a factor. Surprised? A lot of stars are great at playing one kind of role: Kate Winslet in dramas, for instance. But would you ever consider replacing Kate Beckinsale in the Resident Evil movies with Kate Winslet? Not likely. Just the same, one-time A-lister Arnold Schwarzenegger saw his star power sink not because he dropped out of movies to pursue politics, but because as he approached late-middle-age, it became clear that he couldn't keep toplining action movies, but there wasn't a whole lot else he could do, either. Range is important. That's why an actor like Tom Hanks -- who started out in comedy, but won an Oscar for drama Philadelphia and is now appearing in action-thriller Angels and Demons -- is solidly A-list.

B-list celebrities are people whose names everyone knows, like Mark Wahlberg and Kate Hudson, but who can't quite "open" a movie on their name alone. The C-list is pretty much everyone else who could be considered famous, and the D-list -- contrary to popular belief -- isn't part of the Ulmer Scale, and doesn't actually exist.

There are other factors, too, which Ulmer uses to compile his massive Hot List, which he's issued as a book and is available through Amazon.

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Netflix's Most-Binged Shows of 2017, Ranked

Netflix might know your TV habits better than you do. Recently, the entertainment company's normally tight-lipped number-crunchers looked at user data collected between November 1, 2016 and November 1, 2017 to see which series people were powering through and which ones they were digesting more slowly. By analyzing members’ average daily viewing habits, they were able to determine which programs were more likely to be “binged” (or watched for more than two hours per day) and which were more often “savored” (or watched for less than two hours per day) by viewers.

They found that the highest number of Netflix bingers glutted themselves on the true crime parody American Vandal, followed by the Brazilian sci-fi series 3%, and the drama-mystery 13 Reasons Why. Other shows that had viewers glued to the couch in 2017 included Anne with an E, the Canadian series based on L. M. Montgomery's 1908 novel Anne of Green Gables, and the live-action Archie comics-inspired Riverdale.

In contrast, TV shows that viewers enjoyed more slowly included the Emmy-winning drama The Crown, followed by Big Mouth, Neo Yokio, A Series of Unfortunate Events, GLOW, Friends from College, and Ozark.

There's a dark side to this data, though: While the company isn't around to judge your sweatpants and the chip crumbs stuck to your couch, Netflix is privy to even your most embarrassing viewing habits. The company recently used this info to publicly call out a small group of users who turned their binges into full-fledged benders:

Oh, and if you're the one person in Antarctica binging Shameless, the streaming giant just outed you, too.

Netflix broke down their full findings in the infographic below and, Big Brother vibes aside, the data is pretty fascinating. It even includes survey data on which shows prompted viewers to “Netflix cheat” on their significant others and which shows were enjoyed by the entire family.

Netflix infographic "The Year in Bingeing"


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