NETFLIX FOR TWO?

The streaming place to end all steaming place found in TV Land (wherever this “TV Land” is) Netflix, realizes that their ever loving subscriber that gives out their e-mail address and passwords to all other to use (or “borrow”) their access to all of the content found in Netflix Land, which is located within TV Land–or as the map says so.

Anyway, the gang at the streaming site says they will test out a new fee allowing current subscribers to share their email address and passwords for a few extra dollars a month.

From what this writer knows about this new system works this way. Say subscriber Jane Q Public holds a subscription to Netflix. Jane’s friend, John Doe, wants to see a few programs but doesn’t want to take a subscription on his own. So John asks Jane if he could borrow her account so he can view a few episodes of a hot new series. If John likes this series, as well as the rest of the offerings found on their portals, that John will pony up for a subscription on his own. Since John and Jane are good friends, Jane obliges to give John entry to the portal.

Netflix themselves isn’t necessarily aware that Jane is sharing her credentials. But once they find out, and with their power and fame they eventually will, will charge Jane let’s say an additional two dollars a month because John is an add-on to Jane’s account. If Jane doesn’t want to pay the extra two bucks per month, then Jane would have to change her account so John will no longer have access to Jane’s account. That is, unless Jane gives John her new password for access, then  John will sponge in on Jane’s account. That can last until Netflix finds out and bills Jane that two buck fee. And the cycle continues! (Something like “wash, rinse, repeat”!)

It was no real surprise that the folks at Netflix finally realized that their subscribers were doing this sharing thing for years. And unlike cable piracy of old, this sharing was more of a legit thing versus stealing TV service. After all, it involves a paying subscriber doing the sharing, fully aware that the passwords were given out willing and freely.

When it came to cable piracy, that was done under uncouth methods. And it took more skill to do this. When cable television was king (1970’s through the 2010’s), some folks would go out of their way to tap into a coax cable line hooking up the line to their dwelling space to get cable TV for free. Many did this ploy and got away with it since the cable cable company would not know of these illegal hookups until they would do an audits on their line, or if somebody played stool pidgin and finked to the cable company that their friend (or perhaps ex-friend) was stealing their service.

When it came to not only getting cable, there were the pay channels that were part of the connection, but not with their regular subscription. Most cable companies offered such pay services as HBO, Showtime, perhaps channels as The Movie Channel, Cinemax, and a host of others ranging from Bravo to The Playboy Channel. But for the most part, it was always HBO and Showtime.

When somebody has a regular cable service and attempted to tune in to the channel that HBO or Showtimes was found, they would see a scrambled picture. Many times, they could hear the audio portion of what was going on, and sometimes it was silent, or there was a recording of somebody saying that if the viewer wanted to see what was going on, then they would have to call the local cable company and other services. This recording was called in the CATV business the “barker audio”, since that voice was playing like a carnival barker telling the audience what they would get to see for their admission price, which was around $15.00 to $25.00 a month additional to their regular service.

When yours truly was working for the (late) Group W Cable system, that company used cable boxes made by Scientific Atlanta. These boxes, which were square in shape around 10” x 8”, consisted of a red LED two digit channel number gauge in its front. They hooked up to a standard TV using coax cable that was attached to the back of the set using an RF input. The boxes themselves were “addressable”, meaning that at the cable company “head end”, they could be turned on or off through a series of switches. So if one was a legit subscriber of let’s say HBO, then that person’s box can be turned on to get HBO through the channel number that HBO was found on their system. Keeping control of everyone’s box through the company headquarters meant that the cable company could remain in charge of who gets what, right?

Not really! There were a number of electronic companies that sold these devices that can unscramble any channel coming in without the cable company knowing that somebody is using one of these boxes. So many of these electronic companies (and there were a few) would place small ads in such magazines as Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, and other related titles, stating that they offer these boxes. All one had to do was write for a free catalog to get the list of what devices were available and for what price.

Yours truly wrote to one of these companies, a company calling itself “E&J Electronics” based in Van Nuys, California. They sent me a five page catalog of what boxes were available, based on what type of cable box one used from companies such as Jerrerd, Zenith, Blonder-Tounge, Scientific Atlanta, and so on. One can get a “E&J” box that attaches to the cable TV box that attaches to a TV set. Once that E&J box was attached, then one can get all of the pay channels free and clear as long as the box functioned.

The boxes themselves sold for $100.00 each. But if one can get five pay TV channels through their cable company, and each pay service costs $15.00 a month, then the E&J box would pay itself off after two months, taking into consideration that one is getting $65.00 worth of pay TV for “free”.

So I ordered a box that was compatible with my Scientific Atlanta converter box. After writing a check for $100 payable to E&J Electronics, and mailed it to a street address on Van Nuys Blvd. (The address itself was in reality, a postal mail drop off center.)

About a month later, I received the box, consisting of a black metal plate with two RF connectors on its rear, a power supply plug for the plate, along with a single page instruction sheet. All I had to do was to connect a coax cable connected for the output of my cable box into the input of the E&J box. Then I would take a second coax cable connected from the output of the E&J box into the input on the TV set. Then I would plug in the power supply to an outlet to turn on (so to speak) the E&J box.

After doing that and hoping for the best, I checked the HBO channel to see what it looked like. Sure enough, I saw a clear picture. Then I turned on Showtime. It was just as clear as HBO’s signal. Ditto for The Movie Channel, Cinemax, as well as Bravo who at the time, was a pay service that offered foreign films and related “art house” programming. And the best part of this all, the cable company never found out that it was getting their service without them knowing it!

Of course, this is what was called “stealing” their services. However, these boxes being sold was legal to buy and own. The loophole was something to the effect that these boxes were being sold as test electronic equipment. They never said in any of their ads or catalogs that they count be used for getting pay TV without paying. All it said that these boxes could unscramble a video signal for the purpose of testing the transmission of the scrambled signal and nothing more. And sadly, the cable companies could not stop these companies selling these boxes. It was what it was.

Of course, the whole landscape of premium television has changed. Streaming TV is not the hot button, and the cable companies know that they can’t compete anymore. The one’s that are still around are now toting their offerings with a combo of both traditional cable with 200+ channels, along with a screaming service or two (or three, or even more). And these cable companies no longer offer their signals as analog. Now they are digital, making what’s left of those cable boxes of yore no longer functional.

And many of the flat screen sets no longer have an RF connection to then. Meaning that one can’t even connect them to a flat screen set. And even if one can, those boxes no longer work. Now they just serve as an electronic knickknack, very much as a set of set-up “rabbit ears” antennas would.

WHEW! That little episode of how to get pay TV without paying for it might have been a bit overwhelming, but that is how it was back when cable TV was the be-all-to-end-all to get their television signals. But in the school of if there’s a will there’s a way of getting what one wants, we are such that people are getting these streaming services for naught. We can’t state how that is possible, but it is. Let’s just place a wait and see how Netflix is going to handle this. Until that occurs, we’ll bide our time with Netflix and Chill!

———————————————————————————————————

The Odyssey Theater presents the west coast premier of Lucas Hnath’s A PUBLIC READING OF AN UNPRODUCED SCREENPLAY ABOUT THE DEATH OF WALT DISNEY, a play that is nearly self explained to what the concept is (almost) all about!

The setting is a room that consists of a rectangular table or to be precise, two rectangular tables edged along each other with four chairs around the two tables. In this room, a “table read” will take place where Walt Disney (Kevin Ashworth) along with his brother Roy (Thomas Piper) will be reading off a screenplay penned by Walt himself that self centers itself to Walt and is about Walt along with some of the legacy notions that make Walt the legion and the story. The scenes as read speaking about various elements from building a self supported city inside a “bubble” where people live, work, and play, keeping the Liberty Tree at liberty forever, controlling the results of a wildcat strike orchestrated by his staff of animators, creating a short subject that can be considered as a “snuff” film, and kicking around an idea of having Walt under deep freeze. Then there are some personal items to deal with between his daughter Diane (Brittney Bertier) and his son-in-law Ron Miller (Cory Washington). As the screenplay rolls on, it pinpoints that Walt is the center of it all, in spite of what is real or is just another fable.

This single act play written by Lucas Hnath is not a bio of the man from Missouri whose success started with a mouse. It’s really a production where a fictional Walt created a screenplay that focuses upon the slices that may have been true or may have been fabricated as Walt was known to have a public life and a private one. The stage production itself is dolled out as a staged radio drama where the cast members recite most of their lines from a printed script placed in front of them, although it’s assumed that all lines and the actions that go along the spoken lines are memorized by the players.

Kevin Ashworth as Walt shows off his character as a secret Walt that consumed his pilled medication to relieve his aches and pains by downing it with vodka, and smoked so heavily, he coughed up blood due to the cancer forming in his lungs. Thomas Piper as his sibling Roy plays his role as a “second banana”, always as the underscore to his brother, even sporting a cartoon-type bandage on his forehead. (That had to do something with Walt throwing one of his many Oscar statuettes at his brother’s head!) Brittney Bertier as daughter Diane pays some respect toward her father, but wasn’t too keen in naming their future son after dear ol’ dad (Walt junior?) under distress. And Cory Washington as Ron Miller is one of the more obscure people around the universe of Walt as only die hard fans of Disney would really know how he fits into the domain of this Mickey Mouse organization!

Peter Richards directs this program with a fictional Walt writing and reading a story about the idea of Walt, rather than his actual death that would come much later. Walt was aware that his vices would get the better of him while Roy would take over the reins of the studio for the next few years after the noted death of his bro until Roy himself would eventually pass on.

David Offner designs the stage set that does consist of the pair of tables set parallel to one another, along with various objects placed on the tables that consist of among other items, two flip-type cell phones c. 2004, a jar of “pills”, and a bottle of vodka complete with “xxx” written on its label. Kiff Scholl creates the graphic design that is projected on a small “home movie” screen to the stage left of the action that represents imagery from a slide projector that shows with crude illustrations the plot points from Walt’s unproduced screenplay.

For those expecting a story that is about the man and his mouse, one won’t find one here. However, it’s amusing to witness a stage production that brings some of these stories and myths about “Unca Walt” to a new(er) life. And was Walt really frozen as he wanted to be? Just wish upon a star and just let it go! (Puns intended!!)

PS..This production’s running time is about seventy minutes. That is only six minutes longer than Disney’s shortest full-length animated feature that isn’t considered as a “short subject”. (That feature is available for viewing on Disney + with a disclaimer attached!!)

PSS..This production was originally scheduled to open in April of 2020. However, a pesky pandemic got in its way. So after nearly two years, it’s finally arrived at the Odyssey Theater for those to experience this production the method it’s meant to be viewed–on stage and in person!

A PUBLIC READING OF AN UNPRODUCED SCREENPLAY ABOUT THE DEATH OF WALT DISNEY, presented by Working Barn Productions and performs as a visiting production of The Odyssey Theater, 2055 South Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, until May 1st. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM.

For ticket reservations and for more information, call (310) 477-2055 ext. 2, or visit online at http://www.Onstage411.com/Disney

——————————————————————————————————–

On Sunday, March 27th, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences presented the 94th Academy Awards presenting the Oscar for the best films of the 2021 calendar year, held at the Dolby Theater within the Hollywood & Highland complex in Hollywood hosted by Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall.

Will Smith won Best Actor for the feature release King Richard Jessica Chastain won Best Actress for The Eyes of Tammy Faye. Jane Campion won Best Director for Power of the Dog, and CODA won as Best Picture.

For a list of all nominees and winners, visit the official web site at
http://www.Oscars.com

The day before, March 26th, the Golden Raspberry Foundation presented the 43rd Razzie Awards awarding the Razzies for the worst films released in the 2021 calendar year.

LeBron James won Worst Actor for the feature Space Jam: A New Legacy. Jeanna de Waal won Worst Actress for Diana the Musical. Christopher Ashley won Worst Director for Diana The Musical, and Diana The Musical won as Worst Picture.

Special awards went to Bruce Willis for Worst Performance by Bruce Willis in a 2021 feature release (That “losing” feature was Cosmic Sin) and Will Smith was awarded the Redeeemer Award, an award given to a performer that used to appear in “bad” movies to later appear in a “good” film, was for his role in King Richard.

For a listing of all nominated films and people as well as its “winners’, visit the official Razzes web site at http://www.Razzies.com

——————————————————————————————————–

ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE
is a presentation of Linear Cycle Productions

Details@AccessiblyLiveOffLine.com
AccessiblyLiveOffLine@gmail.com
Details@LinearCycleProductions.com
http://www.AccessiblyLiveOffLine.com
https://www.facebook.com/accessiblylive.offline
@AccessiblyLive (Twitter)
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEHxSllfDItpWh3z8vuUb_w
(Accessibly Live’s channel on YouTube)
http://www.LinearCycleProductions.com

(Look for us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and see us on YouTube!)

ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2022 Linear Cycle Productions. All rights reserved. The views and opinions are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the staff and management. ‘Nuff said!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s