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Netflix Announces 2021 Film Slate

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Last month, Disney revealed an enormous trove of new content for its streaming service, Disney+. That followed WarnerMedia’s announcement that all 17 of its films this year would be available on HBO Max the same day they debuted in theaters. And on Tuesday, Netflix — the biggest streaming service of them all, with 195 million subscribers worldwide — announced its 2021 film slate: some 70 movies featuring Academy Award winners, box office stars and a reminder of its power in a Hollywood that has been irrevocably changed during the pandemic.

The normally secretive company made the announcement with the help of a fast-paced trailer. Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot and Dwayne Johnson, the high-profile stars of “Red Notice,” Netflix’s $160 million entry into the PG-13 action world, kicked off the video, which highlighted comedies, dramas, horror, family films and foreign-language movies. (The company did not disclose most of the release dates.) It concluded with Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio, the leads of Adam McKay’s “Don’t Look Up,” walking out of an aircraft carrier, a not-so-subtle reminder that the company, once an also-ran when it came to luring prestige filmmakers and big stars, is now an industry behemoth.

“We have found our way into the business with some incredible, world-class filmmakers,” Scott Stuber, the head of Netflix’s film division, said in an interview. “People saying, ‘You’ll never be able to do it,’ was personally, the easiest way to make me go do it.”

The director Jane Campion, an Oscar winner for “The Piano,” will make her Netflix debut with “The Power of the Dog,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst. Lin-Manuel Miranda will direct his first movie, the adaptation of the stage musical “tick, tick… Boom,” while Jay-Z will collaborate with Netflix for the first time by producing “The Harder They Fall,” a western starring Idris Elba, Regina King and Zazie Beetz. This month, the company will also release the prestige films “The White Tiger” and “Malcolm & Marie” (starring Zendaya and John David Washington) with hopes of gaining Oscar attention.

The breadth of Netflix’s content tells the story of the tumult in the movie business during the pandemic. Once seen as the ultimate Hollywood disrupter — the biggest threat to the very existence of the movie business — Netflix has now become something of a savior with its massive reach and little dependence on theatrical distribution.

When other studios were scaling back, Netflix went big in acquiring a slew of titles from the year’s film festivals, including “Concrete Cowboy,” with Mr. Elba, the Rosamund Pike-led “I Care a Lot” and Halle Berry’s directorial debut, “Bruised.” Netflix was also able to acquire finished films from other studios, which chose to offload them in an effort to repair balance sheets decimated by the widespread closing of theaters. For instance, Disney sold Netflix its adaptation of the best-selling novel “Woman in the Window,” starring Amy Adams and directed by Joe Wright (“Atonement”). It will become available this year, as will the buddy comedy “Bad Trip” that MGM produced and Sony’s animated film “Wish Dragon.” (Last year the company took “The Trial of the Chicago 7” off Paramount’s hands and is now promoting it for Oscar consideration.)

Netflix is also recommitting to the genres that have made it successful. The final installments of the teen romances “To All the Boys” and “The Kissing Booth” are coming in 2021, as are teenage horror movies like the adaptation of the Adam Nevill novel “No One Gets Out Alive” and the “Fear Street” trilogy from the filmmaker Leigh Janiak (“Honeymoon”).

Mr. Stuber said he was encouraged that “the quality of the filmmaking continues to grow” on Netflix but would like to increase the company’s focus on big-budget action films. He sees Zack Snyder’s “Army of the Dead” as one example of that this year, but is also looking beyond 2021 to movies like “The Gray Man” starring Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans from Joe and Anthony Russo (“The Avengers”) and a new adaptation of “The Chronicles of Narnia.”

In 2019, Mr. Stuber tried to reach a deal with the major exhibitors for the release of “The Irishman” but was stymied by the theaters’ insistence that they get to show films exclusively for close to three months before they moved to Netflix. That calculation has now changed with WarnerMedia collapsing the theatrical window completely and Universal Pictures negotiating deals with exhibitors like AMC and Cinemark that involve revenue-sharing on premium video-on-demand sales. Mr. Stuber is still interested in negotiating with the theater chains but will not do so until the pandemic ends.

“I do believe we all needed a bit of an evolution to give movies that were not made from intellectual property an opportunity,” he said. “Now we are waiting to see what the theater business becomes. When that tectonic plate stops, we will be able to have those conversations. We are open to those conversations.”

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Tony Hsieh’s Fatal Night: An Argument, Drugs, a Locked Door and Sudden Fire

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Tony Hsieh, who developed Zappos into a billion-dollar internet shoe store and formulated an influential theory about corporate happiness, deliberately locked himself in a shed moments before it was consumed by the fire that would kill him.

Last November, Mr. Hsieh was visiting his girlfriend, Rachael Brown, in her new $1.3 million riverfront house in New London, Conn. After the couple had an argument about the messiness of the house, Mr. Hsieh set up camp in the attached pool storage shed, which was full of foam pool noodles and beach chairs.

Those details appeared in reports released Tuesday by New London fire and police investigators, the first law enforcement accounts of the incident. They said Mr. Hsieh could be seen on a security video from Nov. 18 looking out the shed door about 3 a.m., even though no one was about. Light smoke rose behind him.

When Mr. Hsieh closed the door, there was the sound of the door lock latching and a deadbolt being drawn.

The entrepreneur, 46, was traveling with a nurse. He planned to leave before dawn for Hawaii with Ms. Brown, his brother Andrew, and several friends and employees, according to the police report. While in the shed, he asked to be checked on every 10 minutes. His nurse, who was staying in a hotel, said this was standard procedure with Mr. Hsieh.

Investigators said they didn’t know exactly what had started the fire, partly because there were too many possibilities. Mr. Hsieh had partly disassembled a portable propane heater. Discarded cigarettes were found. Or maybe the blaze erupted from candles. Investigators said his friends had told them that Mr. Hsieh liked candles because they “reminded him of a simpler time” in his life.

A fourth possibility is that Mr. Hsieh did it on purpose.

“It is possible that carelessness or even an intentional act by Hsieh could have started this fire,” the fire report said. The report added that Mr. Hsieh may also have been intoxicated, noting the presence of several Whip-It brand nitrous oxide chargers, a marijuana pipe and Fernet-Branca liqueur bottles.

The exact role of drugs or alcohol that night is likely to remain unclear. Dr. James Gill, Connecticut’s chief medical examiner, said in an email that “autopsy toxicology testing is not useful” if the victim survives for an extended period. A final report is pending.

Firefighters who broke down the door found Mr. Hsieh lying on a blanket. He was taken to a nearby hospital and then airlifted to the Connecticut Burn Center, where he died on Nov. 27 of complications from smoke inhalation.

Mr. Hsieh’s death shocked the tech and entrepreneurial worlds because of his relative youth and his writing on corporate happiness. Zappos was a star of the early consumer internet, helping convince the cautious that buying online held few perils. Mr. Hsieh became chief executive in 2001, promoting to all who would listen the notion that companies should try to make their customers as well as their employees happy. He relocated Zappos from the Bay Area to Las Vegas.

Amazon bought Zappos for $1.2 billion in 2009. The next year, Mr. Hsieh published “Delivering Happiness,” a best seller. “Our goal at Zappos is for our employees to think of their work not as a job or career, but as a calling,” he wrote.

Mr. Hsieh remained at Zappos but turned his attention to a civic project to revitalize downtown Las Vegas. Many investments and many years later, the project was at best an incomplete success. In the last year or so, Mr. Hsieh concentrated on Park City, Utah, where he spent tens of millions of dollars buying properties and became so manic that friends said they had discussed an intervention. Few outsiders knew that he had quietly left Zappos.

On the night of the fire, according to police interviews, Mr. Hsieh was despondent over the death of his dog the previous week during a trip to Puerto Rico. He and Ms. Brown had a disagreement that escalated, at which point Mr. Hsieh retired to the shed. An assistant checked with him frequently, logging the visits with Post-it notes on the door. Mr. Hsieh would generally signal that he was OK.

As the group prepared to depart in the middle of the night for the airport, Mr. Hsieh asked for the check-ins to be every five minutes. But four minutes were all it took for the fire to become deadly. Attempts by those in the house to break down the locked door were unsuccessful. Three Mercedes-Benz passenger vans arrived to take the party to the airport about the same time that firefighters arrived.

Ms. Brown, an early Zappos employee, did not return calls for comment. A family spokesman also did not respond to a message for comment.

Firefighters were regular visitors to the house in mid-November. On Nov. 16, they were summoned at 1 a.m. by a smoke detector that was wired into a security company. A man who answered the door said the alarm had been set off by cooking, according to department records.

The firefighters left but returned minutes later, prompted by another smoke detector. “On arrival found nothing showing and a male stating again that there was no problem,” Lt. Timothy O’Reilly wrote in a summary of the call. Firefighters said they had entered to take a look around.

Lieutenant O’Reilly and his colleagues found smoke in the finished basement, along with “melted plastic items on the stovetop along with cardboard that was hot to the touch,” which were apparently plastic utensils and plates. They also found a candle burning in “an unsafe location” and extinguished it. While the smoke in the basement dissipated, the firefighters offered fire safety tips.

The investigators’ report also recounted an episode early in the evening of Nov. 18. Mr. Hsieh’s assistant checked on him in the shed and noticed a candle had fallen over and was burning a blanket. The assistant asked Mr. Hsieh to put out the flame, and the entrepreneur did.

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Insurers defend covering ransomware payments

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Insurers reject claims that by covering ransomware bills they are funding organised crime.

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Apple says iOS 14.4 fixes three security bugs ‘actively exploited’ by hackers

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Apple has released iOS 14.4 with security fixes for three vulnerabilities, said to be under active attack by hackers.

The technology giant said in its security update pages for iOS and iPadOS 14.4 that the three bugs affecting iPhones and iPads “may have been actively exploited.” Details of the vulnerabilities are scarce, and an Apple spokesperson declined to comment beyond what’s in the advisory.

It’s not known who is actively exploiting the vulnerabilities, or who might have fallen victim. Apple did not say if the attack was targeted against a small subset of users or if it was a wider attack. Apple granted anonymity to the individual who submitted the bug, the advisory said.

Two of the bugs were found in WebKit, the browser engine that powers the Safari browser, and the Kernel, the core of the operating system. Some successful exploits use sets of vulnerabilities chained together, rather than a single flaw. It’s not uncommon for attackers to first target vulnerabilities in a device’s browsers as a way to get access to the underlying operating system.

Apple said additional details would be available soon, but did not say when.

It’s a rare admission by Apple, which prides itself on its security image, that its customers might be under active attack by hackers.

In 2019, Google security researchers found a number of malicious websites laced with code that quietly hacked into victims’ iPhones. TechCrunch revealed that the attack was part of an operation, likely by the Chinese government, to spy on Uyghur Muslims. In response, Apple disputed some of Google’s findings in an equally rare public statement, for which Apple faced more criticism for underplaying the severity of the attack.

Last month, internet watchdog Citizen Lab found dozens of journalists had their iPhones hacked with a previously unknown vulnerability to install spyware developed by Israel-based NSO Group.

In the absence of details, iPhone and iPad users should update to iOS 14.4 as soon as possible.

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