6 Things We Know About Black Mirror Season 4

Jonathan Prime / Netflix
Jonathan Prime / Netflix

If there’s one thing fans of Black Mirror—the technology-meets-sci-fi anthology series that has led millions of viewers to cover up their laptop webcams with tape—know, it’s to expect the unexpected from the show. Over its three seasons, the British series-turned-Netflix Original has delved into the darkest corners of technology to present what some might consider a very possible, very dystopian, and very terrifying future. And they can’t get enough of it.

Just one day after the first of seven trailers for the new season dropped, Netflix has announced that season four will premiere on Netflix on December 29, 2017. Here’s everything we know so far about the fourth season of Black Mirror.

1. IT WILL TRY TO PREDICT WHAT'S GOING ON IN THE WORLD.

In February, The Telegraph interviewed Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker, who shared that he and his team were in the midst of shooting season four at that time. He admitted that one of the biggest challenges they face in creating a new season is in trying to “predict” what will be happening in the world by the time the episodes air.

“We're working on the new season at the moment—we're about to start filming the third episode in Iceland—so if we were trying to predict the real world, we'd have to think about where the real world's going to be in another six months or so,” Brooker said.

2. IT WILL TAKE A STAB AT COMEDY.

“We've got one that's overtly comic, much more overtly comic than anything we've done,” Brooker told The Telegraph. “It's got fairly mainstream comic elements, but also some really unpleasant stuff that happens.”

3. AS WITH PREVIOUS SEASONS, EACH EPISODE WILL HAVE A DISTINCT TONE.

"When we did previous seasons, we realized after we'd done the first two [episodes] that basically each one was a slightly different genre, and we actively approached the first Netflix season like that,” Brooker said. “And we're carrying that forward [into season four], so we've got some strikingly different tones and looks.”

4. JODIE FOSTER DIRECTED AN EPISODE.

Though Black Mirror is hardly lacking in star power, season four sees two-time Oscar winner Jodie Foster step behind the camera to direct "Arkangel," an episode starring Rosemarie Dewitt, Brenna Harding, and Owen Teague.

News of Foster’s attachment to the show was reported back in October 2016. Brooker says that the episode will focus on a mother-daughter relationship and have an indie movie tone.

"Netflix got in touch with her,” Brooker explained of how Foster came to the series. “She's done episodes of Orange Is The New Black before, and they spoke to her and sent her our script, and within a week of that we were Skyping. It was a bit odd, to be Skyping with Jodie Foster—but I did a good job of hiding my delight that I was Skyping with Jodie Foster.”

5. THERE WILL BE SIX EPISODES.

As with season three, Black Mirror's fourth season will consist of six episodes. Here's what we know about each one:

Arkangel” stars Rosemarie Dewitt, Brenna Harding, and Owen Teague and is directed by Jodie Foster.

“Black Museum” stars Douglas Hodge, Letitia Wright, and Babs Olusanmokun and is directed by Colm McCarthy.

"Crocodile” stars Andrea Riseborough, Andrew Gower, and Kiran Sonia Sawar and is directed by John Hillcoat.

“Hang the DJ” stars Georgina Campbell, Joe Cole, and George Blagden and is directed by Tim Van Patten.

“Metalhead” stars Maxine Peake, Jake Davies, and Clint Dyer and is directed by David Slade.

“USS Callister” stars Jesse Plemons, Cristin Milioti, Jimmi Simpson, and Michaela Coel and is directed by Toby Haynes.

6. SEASON FOUR MAY NOT BE AS BLEAK AS PREVIOUS SEASONS.

In addition to being one of Black Mirror’s most universally acclaimed episodes, season three’s “San Junipero” installment is also notable for being one of the hit series’ most uplifting episodes ... well, as “uplifting” as a show about the many ways technology can be terrifying can be. But the success of the episode posed some challenges for Brooker going into season four.

"I'm terrified of ‘San Junipero’ in a way, because I think we sort of captured lightning in a bottle there,” Brooker admitted. “You try and think, okay, that went really well, what else can we do? But you've got to then immediately put everything you think of out of your mind, because you can't really do the same thing again.”

In addition to making sure that each episode is unique, it’s important to Brooker—and his sanity—that he not be constantly immersed in dark themes. "I do think that at the moment, as we're doing new episodes, there's a limit to how much constant nihilistic bleakness I can take,” Brooker continued. “And the world is in a place at the moment where I think maybe people appreciate things that aren't so unremittingly horrible. But you also don't want to short-change people on the unremitting horribleness.”

10 Things You Might Not Know About Robert De Niro

RALPH GATTI, AFP/Getty Images
RALPH GATTI, AFP/Getty Images

Robert De Niro is part of the pantheon of independent-minded filmmakers who cut through Hollywood noise in the 1970s with edgier fare to create what became known as “The New Hollywood.” Following stints with Brian De Palma and Roger Corman, De Niro teamed up with Martin Scorsese for the first time with 1973's Mean Streets, which launched a fruitful artistic collaboration that has produced some of the best movies of the past half-century.

Even after his shift into commercial comedies like Meet the Parents, “dedication” has remained De Niro’s watchword. The two-time Oscar winner has earned Hollywood legend status with panache and bone-deep portrayals. Here are 10 facts about the filmmaker on his 75th birthday. (Yes, we’re talkin’ to you.)

1. HIS FIRST ROLE WAS IN A STAGING OF THE WIZARD OF OZ—AT AGE 10.

Robert De Niro got bit by the acting bug early. He threatened to thrash a hippopotamus from top to bottom-us as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz at the tender age of 10. (This is the remake and casting the world needs right now.)

2. HE DROPPED OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL TO PURSUE ACTING.

Robert De Niro arrives at the UK premiere of epic war drama film 'The Deer Hunter', UK, 28th February 1979
John Minihan, Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

De Niro’s mother, Virginia Admiral, was a painter whose work was part of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, and his father, Robert De Niro, Sr., was a celebrated abstract expressionist painter. So the apple falling into drama school instead of the art studio still isn’t that far from the tree. Having already gotten a youthful dose of stage life, De Niro quit his private high school to try to become an actor. He first went to the nonprofit HB Studio before studying under Stella Adler and, later, The Actors Studio.

3. HE’S A DUAL CITIZEN OF THE UNITED STATES AND ITALY.

De Niro is American, Italian-American, and, as of 2004, Italian. The country bestowed honorary citizenship upon De Niro as an honor in recognition of his career, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing to the passport office. A group called the Order of the Sons of Italy in America strongly protested the Italian government’s plan due to De Niro’s frequent portrayal of negative Italian-American stereotypes.

4. HE GAINED 60 POUNDS FOR RAGING BULL.

Preparing to play the misfortune-laden boxing champ Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull required two major things from De Niro: training and gaining. For the latter, De Niro ate his way through Europe during a four-month binge of ice cream and pasta. His 60-pound-gain was dramatic enough that it concerned Martin Scorsese. It was one way to show dedication to a role, but the training element was even more impressive. De Niro got so good at boxing that when LaMotta set up several professional-level sparring bouts for the actor, De Niro won two of them.

5. HE AND MARLON BRANDO ARE THE ONLY ACTORS TO WIN OSCARS FOR PLAYING THE SAME CHARACTER.

De Niro won his first Oscar in 1975 for The Godfather: Part II, for portraying the younger version of Vito Corleone—the wizened capo played by Marlon Brando, who also won an Oscar for the role (Brando’s came in 1973, for The Godfather). No other pair of actors has managed the feat, although Jeff Bridges came close in 2010 when he was nominated for playing Rooster Cogburn in Joel and Ethan Coen's True Grit (a role originated by John Wayne in Henry Hathaway’s 1969 movie of the same name). Oddly enough, Bridges was in contention for the role of Travis Bickle, the role that earned De Niro his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

6. HE DROVE A CAB TO PREPARE FOR TAXI DRIVER.

If you’re looking for commitment to a role, ask Hack #265216. De Niro got a taxicab driver’s license to study up to play Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver and spent several weekends cruising around New York City picking up fares. It’s possible that having his teeth filed down for Cape Fear is the most intense transformation he’s undergone for a role, but picking up a part-time job to live the lonely life of Bickle is more humane.

7. ONE OF HIS FILMS POSTPONED ONE OF HIS OSCAR WINS.

The 53rd Academy Awards—where De Niro won for playing Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull—were originally scheduled for March 30, 1981 but were postponed until the following day because of an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan. The would-be assassin, John Hinckley, Jr., claimed the attack was intended to impress Jodie Foster, who Hinckley grew obsessed with after watching Taxi Driver.

8. HE LAUNCHED THE TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL IN THE WAKE OF 9/11.

Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal speak onstage at the 'Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives' Premiere during the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival at Radio City Music Hall on April 19, 2017 in New York City
Theo Wargo, Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

Producer Jane Rosenthal, philanthropist Craig M. Hatkoff, and De Niro founded the Tribeca Film Festival in 2001 as a showcase for independent films that would hopefully “spur the economic and cultural revitalization of lower Manhattan” after the devastation of the 9/11 terror attacks. With its empire state of mind, the inaugural festival in 2002 featured a “Best of New York Series” handpicked by Martin Scorsese and drew an astonishing 150,000 attendees.

9. HE WAS ONCE INTERROGATED BY FRENCH POLICE CONCERNING A PROSTITUTION RING.

One of the most bizarre chapters in De Niro’s life came when he was publicly named in the investigation of a prostitution ring in Paris. The 1998 incident included a lengthy interrogation session (De Niro filed an official complaint) and a pile of paparazzi waiting for him when he left the prosecutor’s office. De Niro railed against the entire country, vowing to return his Legion of Honour and telling Le Monde newspaper that, "I will never return to France. I will advise my friends against going to France.” (He had cooled off enough by 2011 to act as the Cannes Film Festival’s jury president.)

10. HE LOVED THE CAT(S) IN MEET THE PARENTS.

Meet the Parents’s Mr. Jinx (Jinxy!) was played by two Himalayans named Bailey and Misha, and De Niro fell in love with them. He played with them between scenes, kept kibble in his pocket for them, and asked director Jay Roach to have Mr. Jinx in as many scenes as possible.

National Portrait Gallery Celebrates Aretha Franklin With Week-Long Exhibition

Courtesy of Angela Pham BFA
Courtesy of Angela Pham BFA

With the passing of Aretha Franklin on August 16, 2018, the world has lost one of its most distinctive voices—and personalities. As celebrities and fans share their memories of the Queen of Soul and what her music meant to them, the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery will pay tribute to the legendary songstress's life with a week-long exhibition of her portrait.

Throughout her career, Franklin earned some of the music industry's highest accolades, including 18 Grammy Awards. In 1987, she became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Nearly 30 years later, in 2015, the National Portrait Gallery fêted Franklin with the Portrait of a Nation Prize, which recognizes "the accomplishments of notable contemporary Americans whose portraits reside in the National Portrait Gallery collection." (Madeline Albright, Spike Lee, and Rita Moreno are among some of its recent recipients.)

Milton Glaser's lithograph of Aretha Franklin, which is displayed at The National Portrait Gallery
© Milton Glaser

Franklin's portrait was the creation of noted graphic designer Milton Glaser, who employed "his characteristic kaleidoscope palette and innovative geometric forms to convey the creative energy of Franklin's performances," according to the Gallery. The colorful lithographic was created in 1968, the very same year that the National Portrait Gallery opened.

Glaser's image will be installed in the "In Memoriam" section of the museum, which is located on the first floor, on Friday, August 17 and will remain on display to the public through August 22, 2018. The Gallery is open daily from 11:30 a.m. until 7 p.m. and admission is free.

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