Hello, and welcome to this Monday's edition of The Monitor, WIRED’s entertainment news roundup. Today we've got some news about Jay-Z and Meek Mill, a surprising second act for the South by Southwest film festival, and some free content from HBO and AMC. Let's get going.
Rejoice, everyone looking for new content to binge-watch! HBO and AMC are both now offering tons of streaming content for free. Starting Friday, HBO began offering nearly 500 hours of programming—from Veep to The Sopranos to Six Feet Under—available for free through its HBO Now and HBO Go apps. (Notably, it’s not offering Game of Thrones.) It’s also offering some 20 Warner Bros. movies, like The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part and Crazy, Stupid, Love. (The full list of free programming is here.) The move is intended to give folks something to watch while they’re under stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic.
Similarly, AMC Networks announced a campaign on Friday allowing viewers to watch the first half of The Walking Dead’s 10th season for free on the AMC website until May 1. It’s also making a series of BBC America documentaries free to watch, as well as IFC series Spoils of Babylon and Baroness von Sketch Show. (See the full lineup here.) “We want to join with our talent and respond to this moment in the best way that entertainment companies can—which is, to entertain people,” Sarah Barnett, head AMC Networks Entertainment Group, said in a statement. “We also wanted to make our great content available to more viewers at a time when we are all looking for fantastic things to watch.”
As you may have noticed, South by Southwest didn’t happen this year. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to see the films intended for its festival lineup. Last week, Amazon announced that the company is working with the annual Austin festival to stream the movies originally slated to play at this year’s event, which was canceled due to coronavirus. Organizers haven’t announced a date yet, but once the online film festival starts, filmmakers who opt to have their films screened will be able to offer them on Amazon Prime for free for 10 days, so that even folks who aren’t Prime members will be able to watch them. Those filmmakers will also receive a screening fee for their film. “We were delighted when Amazon Prime Video offered to host an online film festival, and jumped at the opportunity to connect their audiences to our filmmakers,” SXSW’s head of film, Janet Pierson, said in a statement. “We’re inspired by the adaptability and resilience of the film community as it searches for creative solutions in this unprecedented crisis.”
The Reform Alliance, the criminal justice organization cofounded by Jay-Z and Meek Mill, announced over the weekend that it is sending 100,000 surgical masks to jails and prisons across the US. Covid-19 poses a heightened risk to inmates and correctional facility workers, and the masks are intended to help them prevent an outbreak. According to the organization, 40,000 masks will go to the Tennessee Department of Corrections, 5,000 will go to the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, 50,000 will go to Rikers Island jail in New York City, and an additional 2,500 will go to a Rikers medical facility. “It’s a very vulnerable population, Reform’s chief advocacy officer, Jessica Jackson, told CBS News. “We’re really worried about the number of people coming in and out of the [facilities], the fact that people living there might be might be sitting ducks during this pandemic.”