AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The last America saw of Don Draper, he was meditating on a Pacific hillside, imagining one of the most iconic ads in television history.
What’s left of the flawed protagonist of “Mad Men” has now gone to Texas.
Show creator Matthew Weiner and production company Lionsgate have donated the “Mad Men” archive — including scripts, drafts, notes, props, costumes, digital video and reams of research materials that went into creating the show’s richly detailed presentation of the American 1960s — to the University of Texas’ Harry Ransom Center humanities library.
Weiner, who also wrote and directed many episodes, said he donated the archive to the Ransom Center because he couldn’t stand the thought of the material being dispersed at auction or lost forever.
“There is a record here of mid-century America that digs so deep,” Weiner said. “It would have been sad to let that go.”
The donation was scheduled to be announced Thursday.
Weiner chose the Ransom Center as the resting place for a show about Madison Avenue advertising professionals almost by chance. He was in Austin to attend a film festival when a visit to the Ransom Center’s “Gone With the Wind” exhibit inspired him to donate the “Mad Men” archive for preservation and research.
The “Mad Men” collection from its 2007-2015 run starring Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss includes a selection of costumes and props. They include Draper’s terms of re-employment letter (meticulously typed in a size of font typical of the time), Betty Draper’s medical file, advertising poster boards, rolodexes full of phone numbers, and even a fictitious “Star Trek” episode that one of the show’s characters had hoped to get produced.
Boxes of research materials show how deeply show writers dug to preserve an authentic feel, even before the first episode was aired. “Look books” of period fashion and style were laid out for each character, home and office design, with details from the average kitchen toaster to re-creating a checkbook or men’s suits. Magazines of the times were scoured to research the news and language of the era, such as when the word “groovy” would first be used
“We would take things from the Sears catalog, not just the cover of Vogue,” Weiner said.
Kevin Beggs, Lionsgate television group chairman, said “Mad Men” is more than a great show. “It is part of American television history, a ground-breaking classic worthy of the scholarly research the Ransom Center supports.”
If the collection holds any secrets about the characters or stories, Weiner said they reside in the rough drafts, rewrites, screen tests and Weiner’s own notes that show how episodes or seasons evolved before they aired.
“It often didn’t start the way it came out. You will get to see the origin of everything, from what a character was supposed to be like, to how a story was originally supposed to work. It’s all there,” Weiner said.
Weiner’s personal notes also reveal production battles, such as his yearslong efforts to be allowed to use Beatles music in the show, or archive news footage of CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite covering the 1969 moon landing.
“My argument was, my show is fake until I get a Beatles song in there,” Weiner said.
Steve Wilson, the Ransom Center’s film curator, said it will take about a year to catalog the entire collection. Some pieces will be put on display and the collection will be available to researchers and the university’s radio, television and film students.
Weiner wants the students and researchers to see all the work behind the show, including the burps and missteps that went into crafting the final product.
“Artists have traditionally hidden the long road of mistakes,” Weiner said. “When you see a finished work, it can be intimidating. Showing all the brush strokes hopefully is very encouraging to people.”
This story has been corrected to show that the Lionsgate chairman’s name is Kevin Beggs, not Biggs.
Follow Jim Vertuno on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JimVertuno
PARIS (AP) — Baboon grunts and mating calls may hold secrets about human speech, according to a new study suggesting that the origins of human language could reach back as much as 25 million years.
The barks, yacks and wa-hoos of the Guinea baboons reveal distinct human-like vowel sounds, according to the study published Wednesday in the journal Plos One by scientists from six universities in France and Alabama.
The authors, led by Dr. Louis-Jean Boe of Grenoble Alpes University, studied the acoustics of 1,335 baboon sounds and the animals’ tongue anatomy.
They cast doubt on theories that language developed only after the appearance of humanoids with a low larynx. Instead, they say their research suggests that the human vocal system developed from abilities already present in ancestors such as the Guinea baboon.
They also found similar muscles in baboon tongues as human tongues — which are key to our ability to make vowel sounds.
“Language is a key difference between humans and the rest of the natural world, but the origin of our speech remains one of the greatest mysteries of science,” the scientists wrote.
“The evidence developed in this study does not support the hypothesis of the recent, sudden, and simultaneous appearance of language and speech in modern Homo sapiens,” the study says. “It suggests that spoken languages evolved from ancient articulatory skills already present in our last common ancestor … about 25 million years ago.”
The authors say the findings “reveal a loose parallel between human vowels” and baboon vocalizations produced in such communications as sounding alarm or calling to copulate.
A similar study on monkeys published last year also identified five vowels suggesting a link to the origins of human language.
Professor Scott Moisik of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands, who was not involved in the new study, said its findings fit with other research — and his own experience listening to primates in zoos and online animal videos.
“When I hear a cat on YouTube produce a vocalization that very much sounds like ‘oh long Johnson,’ or the ‘no no no’ cat, or a dog that gets pretty-darned close in imitating ‘I love you’ … I am led to believe that, to use the words of Boe and company, ‘speech precursors’ (however rudimentary or limited) go back further than 25 million years ago,” he said in an email to The Associated Press.
He and colleague Dan Dediu noted that vowels are just part of the equation — and called for more research on tougher-to-make consonants.
BOSTON (AP) — Have you ever wanted to know what Tom Brady sees as he stares down a pass rush, scans the field for an open receiver … or brushes his teeth in the morning?
This year’s Super Bowl broadcast could be just what you’re looking for.
Thanks to a 360-degree replay technology called “Be the Player,” Fox TV broadcasters will be able to show a play from virtually any spot in the stadium within minutes of the action taking place. The spin around and zoom “freeD” system has been used at other sporting events — including the NBA and baseball All-Star Games and the Olympics — but this will be the first that goes the last step and shows things from the athlete’s perspective .
“The difference here is you would be able to go in and see from his vantage point what the player actually saw,” said Zac Fields, a senior vice president for graphic technology and integration at Fox Sports Group. “It’s something that most of us have never been able to see before. The vantage point that most of us have on TV is really different than what the guys see on the field. That’s what the promise of this technology is.”
Intel is rolling out the new technology at this year’s Super Bowl, and promoting it in an ad that will feature Brady in his everyday life — waking up, making breakfast, brushing his teeth — with the tagline: “Intel replay 360 makes anything look epic.” As the Patriots quarterback snarfs down a pancake, the camera spins around to a new angle and shows the crumbs falling from his mouth.
And, if New England makes it to the Feb. 5 Super Bowl in Houston, there will be even more opportunities to see things from Brady’s perspective.
“It’s something that fans have always dreamed about: ‘What did Tom see when he threw that pass?'” Jeff Hopper, the general manager of strategy and marketing for the Intel Sports Group, told The Associated Press in advance of the announcement. “Everyone wants to be the player, to see what it’s like to see it from that point of view.”
To make the “Be the Player” video possible, Intel has installed 38 separate 5K resolution cameras in a perimeter inside NRG Stadium, creating what Hopper calls “a volumetric capture of everything that’s going on on the field.” The cameras are connected by five miles of fiber optic cables to a special control room, where a half-dozen Intel producers, working with one from the Fox Sports broadcast, can pick out and package the replays that will be used in the broadcast.
The massive amount of data — about 1 terabyte per 15-30 second clip — allows producers to position a “virtual camera” anywhere it wants — including, virtually, inside a player’s helmet. (Early versions even toyed with superimposing a facemask on the screen, though that has apparently been dropped.) It will take about two minutes to produce the clips, meaning it’s not yet ready for instant replay but could, for example, be available to show a new view of a touchdown by the time the teams are done with the extra point or kickoff.
In an interview in Boston’s Back Bay this week, Hopper said there could be up to 20 “Be the Player” replays, though ultimately it is up to Fox to decide how to use it.
“It will depend upon the story you are trying to tell,” Fields said. “It’s not something we’re planning on using because it is a new bell and whistle. It is a storytelling tool, and that’s how we’re planning to utilize it.”
Right now, use of the system is limited to big events: It took about a month to retrofit the stadium in Houston with all of the equipment needed for the freeD data capture. Also, each 15-30 clip consists of about 1 terabyte of data.
But Hopper said new stadiums are already being built with the cameras in mind.
“Anyone who’s building a new stadium now is saying, ‘What do we need to do to make it freeD ready?'” he said. “Because everyone sees it as the future.”
Eventually, Hopper said, the technology will not be limited to storytelling.
Teams and leagues are hoping to mine the data to improve performance. In the X-Games, Hopper said, the athletes were eager to figure out how high they jumped and use that information to tune their techniques — or just brag about big air with the competition.
In time, coaches will be able to use the video to see what their player saw, instead of relying on overhead shots of the field. And, as the turnaround time quickens, the technology would also help replay reviews by giving officials the ability to freeze the action and zoom in at any angle to look, for example, to see whether a player’s knee was down before the ball popped out.
“We’re working with pretty much the entire sports world,” Hopper said. “All the leagues, all the teams. I don’t think there’s anyone that we’re not. We can’t do them all, but we’re talking with them all.”
And Hopper envisions a sports world where every fan will be able to immerse himself in the game on his phone or a virtual reality headset — not just view the shots curated by a TV producer sitting in a trailer next to the stadium.
“That’s good; I think it’s interesting. But the transformative nature of what we’re working on is: Everybody gets to do it themselves,” Hopper said. “Ultimately you’ll be able to be on the field, with the players — the best players in the world — whatever sport that is, whether it be soccer, football or cricket, whatever. You’ll be able to be part of the action. I don’t think you can get any more immersed.”
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP—NFL
NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook is launching a journalism project aimed at strengthening its ties with media organizations to help them expand their audiences, come up with new products and generally promote trusted news in today’s “post-truth” era.
The project is in its early stages and as such, light on specifics. But the company envisions Facebook engineers working with news organizations to create new ways of telling stories and novel advertising or subscription models, right from the early stages of development. The company also wants to help promote “news literacy” and support local news.
“It’s very early in the process but certainly something we are really excited about,” said Dave Merrell, lead product manager at The Washington Post, which is among the news organizations working with Facebook. “We worked with Facebook on numerous products over the years, but often were not involved in the product development stage.”
With “Instant Articles,” launched in 2015, the social network hosts and displays news items directly instead of pointing users to news websites. Such instant stories load faster on Facebook than those on outside links, and Facebook gives participating publishers a cut of the advertising revenue from Instant Articles.
But publishers also lose some of their ability to connect with their readers, understand their browsing habits and direct them to other stories and video. So Facebook plans to start testing a new feature of Instant Articles that will show readers multiple stories from the same news organization.
As part of that change, Facebook could also improve the way its algorithms recommend other stories — that “people also shared” — to users. Its automated system has sometimes suggested purported news articles that included unverified information or that were only marginally related to the original story.
FACEBOOK GROWS UP
The move suggests Facebook is starting to accept its outsized influence over how people get their news, even if it’s not a traditional publisher itself. According to the Pew Research Center, more than 40 percent of American adults get news on Facebook.
And it follows the company’s announcement last month that it is taking new measures to curb the spread of fake and misleading news on its huge and influential network.
The news literacy aspect of the project is relevant to that effort. Facebook says it will work with outside organizations on how to help “people in our community have the information they need to make decisions about which sources to trust.” To start, the company is working with the News Literacy Project to produce a series of public service advertisements on the issue.
But Facebook acknowledges that its efforts to fight fake news, such as by making it easier for users to report false articles and working with outside fact-checkers to debunk such stories, are still very early.
The journalism project’s goal is to increase transparency and help Facebook figure out its role in news, Facebook product director Fidji Simo said in an interview.
“(With) being a new kind of platform comes a new kind of responsibility,” she said. “It’s definitely something we are thinking about very carefully.”
Working with news organizations, she added, will hopefully lead to products that will be “better than what we would have done on our own.”
CHICAGO (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department will conclude in a report to be released Friday that the Chicago Police Department displayed a pattern and practice of violating residents’ constitutional rights over years, a law enforcement official said Wednesday.
The official, who is familiar with the findings, spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. He declined to offer details. Based on other such investigative reports on other big cities, Chicago’s could run well over 100 pages.
The Police Department has been dogged by a reputation for brutality, particularly in minority communities, so a finding of at least some violations isn’t a big surprise. Chicago has one of the nation’s largest police departments with about 12,000 officers, and the report stems from an investigation launched in 2015 after the release of video showing a white officer fatally shooting black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times. Among the questions Justice Department investigators were expected to examine was whether Chicago officers are prone to excessive force and racial bias.
A message seeking comment Wednesday from a police spokesman wasn’t immediately returned.
The Justice Department under President Barack Obama conducted around 25 similar investigations of police nationwide, from Miami to Cleveland and Baltimore to Seattle. A report is one step in a process that’s typically led in recent years to plans to overhaul police departments that are enforced by federal judges.
President-elect Donald Trump’s commitment to such intervention isn’t clear. His nominee for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has expressed some reservations about using federal courts to pressure police to reform.
The Chicago investigation focused on institutionalized misconduct and sought explanations for why it happens. Investigators combed thousands of police records, interviewed officers and held town-hall meetings.
Follow Michael Tarm on Twitter at @mtarm.
MOSCOW (AP) — A Libyan military chief has visited a Russian aircraft carrier off the coast of the troubled North African country.
The Russian Defense Ministry says Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter visited the Admiral Kuznetsov carrier Wednesday. The carrier and accompanying ships are coming home from a mission off Syria’s coast.
The ministry said Hifter was given a tour of the ship and had a video call with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to discuss “acute issues of fighting international terrorist groups in the Middle East.”
It is the strongest sign yet of Russian support for Hifter, who is allied with an eastern-based parliament that is at odds with a Western-backed government in the capital, Tripoli.