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Netflix loves to pick hits for each subscriber _ but how?

Netflix wants subscribers to know it's looking out for them.

For instance, the average Netflix subscriber might never guess that its dark superhero drama "Jessica Jones" might strike similar chords as the zany hijinks of "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt." Netflix is happy to help you make the connection.

Much of the attention showered on this streaming-video giant in recent years has dwelled on its insatiable appetite for original content and for creators to produce it.

"We want to appeal to as many different people as possible, and appeal to the many moods that each person has," says vice president of product innovation Todd Yellin. "The more diverse our content, the more likely that someone, at their moment of truth about what they're going to watch, will choose to go to Netflix."

But this service's multibillion-dollar annual outlay for new programming necessitates another challenge: helping each program get discovered by the subscribers most likely to enjoy it. Four out of five of the shows watched on Netflix were found by its subscribers thanks to recommendations offered them, Netflix says.

Those suggested new favorites are much more customized for each subscriber than might be evident from a glance at the Netflix home page.

Most every row of program suggestions (even generic-seeming categories like "Comedies" and "Dramas") is tailored for each subscriber, Yellin says.

And how the rows are arranged vertically on the home page is a function of the subscriber's demonstrated genre preferences.

"You might have 'Comedies' as your fifth row," says Yellin, "and for another person it might be 25th. And someone else might not get a comedy row at all."

So your Netflix is different from everybody else's. But where do these tips come from?

"It's very important that the titles most relevant to each person bubble up to the top of the catalog," says Yellin. "And we want those relevant titles to be diverse. We don't want to make the amateur mistake of getting caught in an echo chamber, such as: Just because you watched one horror title, slapping in front of you nothing but more horror titles."

Yellin likens the process of providing bespoke TV for each customer to a three-way collaboration.

First, a legion of Netflix "taggers" screens every program, tagging different elements that compose it. This data is crunched and continuously refined by the company's secret-sauce algorithm. And then viewer habits gathered by Netflix from its 100 million accounts worldwide add more grist to the mill.

Thus can Netflix take a "gateway" program and point the person watching it to other unexpected or unknown fare with presumably similar appeal.

Consider "Ozark," which viewers might be led to from any of several directions, explains Yellin.

"Ozark" is a recently released original drama series starring Jason Bateman as a money-laundering family man who's seriously jammed up with the Mexican drug cartel he works for.

"We've found that people who tend to watch 'Blacklist' and 'House of Cards' tend to like 'Ozark,'" says Yellin. "But another kind of person who will find he likes 'Ozark' is a fan of 'Narcos' and 'El Chapo' and other drug-cartel-oriented dramas and documentaries."

But, wait, there's yet another "taste community" rallying to "Ozark," says Yellin: fans of the 2015 film "The Big Short," which deals with Wall Street dirty tricks, have been found to respond to the money monkeyshines that animate "Ozark."

"It's not like we could have guessed this ahead of time," says Yellin. "We just track which shows tend to cluster together. Who would have thought that 'Jessica Jones' and 'Kimmy Schmidt' would cluster together?" As well as — no kidding — "Making a Murderer" and a John Mulaney stand-up concert.

___

EDITOR'S NOTE — Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore@ap.org

British science fiction writer Brian Aldiss dies at 92

Brian Aldiss, one of the most prolific and influential science fiction writers of the 20th century, has died aged 92.

Literary agency Curtis Brown said Aldiss died early Saturday at his home in Oxford, England.

Born in 1925, Aldiss served in India and Burma with the British Army during World War II and later became a bookseller, publishing his first stories in a trade magazine.

He went on to have a huge influence on sci-fi, as a writer of stories and novels and as editor of many anthologies.

His work includes "Greybeard," set in a world without young people, and the "Helliconia" trilogy, centered on a planet in which the seasons last for centuries.

Aldiss' 1969 short story "Supertoys Last All Summer Long" was an unrealized dream project for the late Stanley Kubrick and formed the basis for Steven Spielberg's 2001 film "A.I."

He also wrote general fiction, some of it inspired by his wartime experiences, and two volumes of autobiography.

Son Tim Aldiss tweeted that his father was "a drinking companion of Kingsley Amis & correspondent with C.S. Lewis & J.R.R. Tolkien," and younger writers hailed Aldiss as a major influence and encouraging mentor. On Twitter, "Sandman" author Neil Gaiman called him "a larger than life wise writer."

Aldiss was awarded the title of Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.

Detention of famous director upsets Russia's artistic world

In a move that sent a shockwave through Russia's art community, investigators on Tuesday detained a prominent theater director famous for his biting satire of Russian officialdom on charges of embezzling $1.1 million.

Kirill Serebrennikov, 47, who has won international acclaim for his productions spanning from drama to opera to movies, has denied the accusations.

The detention of Serebrennikov, whose productions mocking official lies, corruption and growing social conservatism have been hits for years, marks the first time since Soviet times when a theater director faced official reprisals.

Top members of Russia's cultural elite have strongly defended Serebrennikov, denouncing his detention as an act of intimidation.

The Investigative Committee, Russia's top investigative agency, accused Serebrennikov of staging a scheme to embezzle 68 million rubles (about $1.1 million) in government funds allocated for his productions in 2011-2014. He rejects the charges.

Serebrennikov's lawyer, Dmitry Kharitonov, said he was detained in St. Petersburg where he was shooting a movie about a Soviet-era rock star and escorted to the Investigative Committee's headquarters in Moscow.

After interrogation, Serebrennikov was taken to jail pending a court hearing Wednesday on whether to keep him in custody.

The director was briefly detained and questioned in May, but the investigators then stopped short of pressing charges. The theater's accountant and one senior manager have remained in custody and another manager is under house arrest pending the probe.

Russia media have reported that the accountant and several others had testified against Serebrennikov.

Serebrennikov's productions have topped Moscow's theater scene for years. In September, he was to direct an opera production in Stuttgart, Germany. His movie "The Student" won the Francois Chalais prize at the Cannes film festival last year.

While Serebrennikov had personal contacts with some members of the Russian government and his theater received lavish state funding, he also faced frequent attacks by hardline politicians and conservative activists who wanted to revoke the state subsidies for his productions.

In July, Moscow's famed Bolshoi Theater canceled a much-anticipated ballet directed by Serebrennikov just three days before the opening night, a development that made many in Moscow's art scene speak of a return to censorship.

The Bolshoi denied reports that the show about dancer Rudolf Nureyev had been scrapped because of its frank description of his gay relationships — which is taboo under a strict Russian law banning gay propaganda.

Members of Russian art community, liberal politicians and activists on Tuesday strongly pushed for Serebrennikov's release. Some drew parallels with the arrest of Vsevolod Meyerhold, an iconic Russian theater director executed by NKVD secret police during Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's purges.

"The director's detention is clearly excessive," Alexei Kudrin, a former finance minister known for his liberal views, said on Twitter.

Mikhail Shvydkoi, President Vladimir Putin's envoy for international cultural cooperation, criticized the investigators for what he described as a "demonstration of force," according to the Interfax news agency.

Earlier this year, prominent members of the Russian artistic community defended Serebrennikov in an appeal to Putin. Shortly after that appeal, the Kommersant newspaper quoted Putin dismissing investigators as "fools" in May during a private conversation with Yevgeny Mironov, a prominent actor and director who spoke in Serebrennikov's defense.

"The Investigative Committee has tried to prove they aren't fools," activist Olga Romanova commented Tuesday.

Cosby's retrial delayed as new legal team joins case

Bill Cosby's retrial on sexual assault charges will be delayed as his new legal team gets up to speed on the case.

Judge Steven O'Neill on Tuesday granted a defense request to postpone the retrial, which had been scheduled to start in November, saying there's no way the 80-year-old comedian's lawyers would be ready by then.

"To ask someone to review the voluminous record over 18 months — now 20 months in this case — simply cannot be done," O'Neill said from the bench.

Cosby's new lawyers made their first court appearance on behalf of "The Cosby Show" star, who's charged with drugging and molesting a woman at his home near Philadelphia in 2004. His first trial in June ended in a hung jury, setting the stage for a retrial.

The attorneys who represented Cosby at the first trial, Brian McMonagle and Angela Agrusa, had asked to be let off the case. O'Neill approved the request, praising them for their "extraordinary advocacy."

As they left the courtroom, the departing lawyers shook hands with Cosby and his new legal team, which includes Tom Mesereau, the high-profile attorney who won an acquittal in Michael Jackson's child molestation case. Mesereau told TMZ last month that the case against Cosby was "weak" and that retrying him was "a waste of time."

Other lawyers on the retooled legal team are former federal prosecutor Kathleen Bliss and Sam Silver, who represented now-imprisoned former U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah in a corruption case.

After meeting in chambers, the judge asked Cosby's lawyers to review their calendars and consider a start date sometime between March 15 and April 1. He said he'll issue a firm date once they get back to him.

Signaling an early change in strategy, the new lawyers said they are willing to pick a jury from Montgomery County, where the alleged assault at Cosby's home took place. Cosby's former defense team insisted on picking a jury from a different county, partly because the case was a campaign issue in the 2015 race for Montgomery County district attorney. The first jury was selected from the Pittsburgh area and spent two weeks sequestered 300 miles (480 kilometers) from home.

None of the lawyers commented as they left court Tuesday.

Cosby is charged with drugging and molesting Andrea Constand, a former employee of Temple University's women's basketball program. He has said the sexual encounter was consensual.

The AP does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.

Jay-Z dedicates ‘Numb/Encore’ performance to Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington

While performing a set at Virgin V Festival in Chelmsford, England, Sunday, Jay-Z paid tribute to Chester Bennington, the late Linkin Park singer.

UsWeekly reported that the rap icon, 47, mentioned Bennington by name before performing “Numb/Encore,” a 2004 single that was a collaboration between Jay and Linkin Park.

>> Read more trending news

“Can you guys light it up tonight for Chester, Linkin Park, one time tonight?” he said. “Please make some noise so he can hear you all the way up in heaven tonight!”

Bennington died of a suicide July 20 at his Los Angeles home. He was 41 years old.

“Numb/Encore” comes from “Collision Course,” a collaborative EP released by Jay and Linkin Park in 2004. 

Linkin Park member Mike Shonda tweeted a thank you to Jay-Z for dedicating the performance to Bennington, according to People.

“We appreciate you,” Shonda wrote.

A video, uploaded by a concertgoer, of the performance at the festival can be watched on YouTube.

Coroner: Jerry Lewis death was from end-stage heart disease

Authorities in Las Vegas say Jerry Lewis died of heart disease, but the wording of his death certificate differs from what was reported earlier.

Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg said Monday that Lewis' official cause of death was end-stage cardiac disease and peripheral vascular disease.

Lewis was the clownish comic hailed as an artistic genius and the host for decades of annual muscular dystrophy telethons.

He died Sunday of natural causes in Las Vegas at age 91.

Fudenberg says coroner deputies had been told Lewis died of ischemic (ih-SKEE'-mihk) cardiomyopathy.

Ferozan Malal is the hospice and palliative medicine physician in Las Vegas who signed Lewis' death certificate.

She tells The Associated Press that peripheral vascular disease and ischemic cardiomyopathy both fall under the category of end-stage cardiac disease.

Box Office Top 20: 'The Hitman's Bodyguard' hits No. 1

"The Hitman's Bodyguard" stole the weekend from the heist pic "Logan Lucky." Starring Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds, "The Hitman's Bodyguard" opened to $21.4 million, easily topping the weekend which continued the downward spiral of the summer movie season compared to last year.

The horror pic "Annabelle: Creation" took second place in its second weekend in theaters with $15.6 million, while director Steven Soderbergh's "Logan Lucky," starring Channing Tatum, Adam Driver and Daniel Craig, hobbled into third place in its first weekend in theaters with $7.6 million.

Christopher Nolan's WWII pic "Dunkirk" placed fourth with $6.6 million, bringing its domestic total to $165.4 million after 5 weeks in theaters, while "The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature" took fifth with $5.1 million.

The top 20 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Sunday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Monday by comScore:

1. "The Hitman's Bodyguard," Lionsgate, $21,384,504, 3,377 locations, $6,332 average, $21,384,504, 1 Week.

2. "Annabelle: Creation," Warner Bros., $15,612,680, 3,542 locations, $4,408 average, $64,156,901, 2 Weeks.

3. "Logan Lucky," Bleecker Street, $7,600,036, 3,031 locations, $2,507 average, $7,600,036, 1 Week.

4. "Dunkirk," Warner Bros., $6,614,385, 3,271 locations, $2,022 average, $165,422,464, 5 Weeks.

5. "The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature," Open Road, $5,092,344, 4,003 locations, $1,272 average, $17,675,989, 2 Weeks.

6. "Emoji Movie, The," Sony, $4,441,028, 2,791 locations, $1,591 average, $71,858,380, 4 Weeks.

7. "Spider-Man: Homecoming," Sony, $4,256,367, 2,341 locations, $1,818 average, $314,057,748, 7 Weeks.

8. "Girls Trip," Universal, $3,911,300, 2,010 locations, $1,946 average, $104,053,445, 5 Weeks.

9. "The Dark Tower," Sony, $3,788,669, 3,143 locations, $1,205 average, $41,673,047, 3 Weeks.

10. "Wind River," The Weinstein Company, $2,975,732, 694 locations, $4,288 average, $4,089,001, 3 Weeks.

11. "Kidnap," Aviron Pictures, $2,961,475, 2,345 locations, $1,263 average, $24,527,158, 3 Weeks.

12. "The Glass Castle," Lionsgate, $2,549,459, 1,461 locations, $1,745 average, $9,705,840, 2 Weeks.

13. "Atomic Blonde," Focus Features, $2,179,190, 1,628 locations, $1,339 average, $47,158,045, 4 Weeks.

14. "Despicable Me 3," Universal, $2,073,810, 1,551 locations, $1,337 average, $251,774,330, 8 Weeks.

15. "War For The Planet Of The Apes," 20th Century Fox, $2,010,898, 1,608 locations, $1,251 average, $140,958,101, 6 Weeks.

16. "Wonder Woman," Warner Bros., $1,092,338, 803 locations, $1,360 average, $404,000,714, 12 Weeks.

17. "Big Sick, The," Lionsgate, $1,001,010, 618 locations, $1,620 average, $38,066,440, 9 Weeks.

18. "Detroit," Annapurna Pictures, $856,766, 1,428 locations, $600 average, $15,525,229, 4 Weeks.

19. "Baby Driver," Sony, $856,054, 683 locations, $1,253 average, $101,689,495, 8 Weeks.

20. "Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Plan," STX Entertainment, $397,019, 465 locations, $854 average, $39,227,747, 5 Weeks.

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Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by 21st Century Fox; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.

Taylor Swift teases fans with snaky return to social media

Days after surprising fans by disappearing from social media and having her website go dark, Taylor Swift is returning with a few selective images.

Billboard reported Friday that Swift deleted her profile picture on her Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook pages, and her official website went black.

Swifties -- Swift’s fan base -- speculated about the change. Three years ago on Aug. 18, she released her single “Shake It Off,” leading some to think it was tied to the anniversary of the release.

>> Read more trending news

Others thought she was teasing a new music project fans are calling TS6, after what will be her sixth studio album.

All fans got a hint Monday when clips of the tail of what looks like a snake or some other reptile appeared on her social media pages, according to CNN

The snake imagery could be Swift taking a jab at the snake label she has been given in recent years, notably by Kim Kardashian. In 2016, Kardashian “exposed” Swift for her story about not giving Kanye West approval to reference her in a song. Kardashian posted a series of Snapchat videos showing West speaking to Swift over the phone and getting her permission to reference their feud in his song “Famous.”

Related: Taylor Swift wipes social media accounts; website goes dark

“I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / I made that (expletive) famous,” West says in the song.

“I mean, what’s dope about the line is it’s very tongue-and-cheek either way,” Swift was heard telling West over the phone. “And I really appreciate you telling me about it, that’s really nice.”

Joseph Kahn, who directed Swift’s “Bad Blood” music video and others in 2015, linked to the singer’s tweet with the reptilian video and only commented with a smiley face.

He also teased something from Swift coming at noon, but nothing has shown up on her social media pages since the video post.

“People shouldn’t take my tweets literally, metaphorically, alliteratively, seriously, or ironically,” Kahn said nearly 20 minutes past noon.

Her official website remains black.

The social media change comes after a jury sided with Swift in in her suit against radio DJ David Mueller who she said groped her at a pre-concert photo-op. Judge William J. Martinez ordered Mueller to pay Swift a symbolic $1.

Swift, her record label, Big Machine Label Group, and her representative have not commented on the changes on her social media platforms.

Famous Norman Rockwell study drawing of umpires fetches $1.68M at auction

An original study drawing of a famous illustration by Norman Rockwell sold for $1.68 million Sunday night in Heritage Auctions’ Platinum Night Sports auction.

>> Read more trending news

The 1948 study, or preliminary work, for “Tough Call,” which was used as the April 23, 1949, cover of The Saturday Evening Post, belonged to the family of John “Beans” Reardon, an umpire who was the primary subject of the drawing.

“I need to credit my colleagues in the art division for the assist on this one,” said Chris Ivy, director of sports auctions at the Dallas-based auction house. “This isn’t the first time that we’ve been able to draw from other segments of our million-strong bidding clientele to benefit a sports consignor.”

Reardon’s family had believed the original study they owned was merely a signed print, worth only several hundred dollars, Ivy said. It sold to a buyer who wished to remain anonymous, Ivy said.

Sandra Sprinkle, Reardon's granddaughter, inherited the drawing and put it above the mantle of her Dallas home, Reuters reported.

After her death in 2015, her husband, Gene Sprinkle, sold the couple's home and moved to a retirement community. His nephew looked at the drawing and noticed brushstrokes.

"We always thought it was a print, but we hung it over our fireplace because it was signed by Norman Rockwell to Beans Reardon," Gene Sprinkle told Reuters by telephone on Monday.

The drawing is also known as “Game Called Because of Rain,” “Bottom of the Sixth,” and “The Three Umpires.” Rockwell’s finished painting is on display at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

The drawing depicts a game at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field, with the Dodgers leading the Pittsburgh Pirates 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning. Reardon and his fellow umpires are looking skyward, debating whether to call the game due to rain.

Gene Sprinkle, 74, said he agreed to let his nephew contact Heritage Auctions, which determined it was an original oil.

"Sandra and her grandfather were very close," Sprinkle told Reuters. "Whenever people came to our house to visit, she was always proud to show it off and tell them about her grandfather."

Sports memorabilia fetched more than $10.7 million during the two-day auction, which ended Sunday, Ivy said.

Britney Spears proves she really can sing with impromptu live song at Vegas show

Pop star Britney Spears is tired of all the criticism over lip-syncing during her live Las Vegas shows.

>> Read more trending news

Spears set the record straight over the weekend, singing the southern classic “Something to Talk About” live onstage with a band accompanying her.

After telling the audience she’d been thinking about it for sometime, she explained why she decided to belt one out.

“I’ve never really spoken about it, you know, and I’m a Southern girl, I’m from Louisiana, I’m from the South,” she said.

“And I have to keep it real, so I just want to make sure I keep having you (expletive) something to talk about, okay?”

>> Related: Britney Spears shows off abs, does a split in new social media post

She was referring to the media there and the bad press coverage of her over the years.

Spears then launched into a live cover of Bonnie Raitt’s award-winning song “Something to Talk About.”

>> Related Britney Spears’ backup dancers spring into action when guy bum-rushed the stage at her Vegas showcase

Her impromptu performance comes nearly two months after she publicly defended herself against lip-syncing rumors.

“A lot of people think that I don’t do live. … It really pisses me off, because I am busting my (expletive) out there and singing at the same time, and nobody ever really gives me credit for it.”

>> Related: Flight attendants recreate Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’ video

Spears’ live rendition of “Something to Talk About” is below, but a warning about graphic language before the song.

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