Wednesday, October 6, 2010

“Facebook the movie -- a.k.a. 'The Social Network' -- hits theaters - Los Angeles Times” plus 2 more

“Facebook the movie -- a.k.a. 'The Social Network' -- hits theaters - Los Angeles Times” plus 2 more

Facebook the movie -- a.k.a. 'The Social Network' -- hits theaters - Los Angeles Times

Posted: 01 Oct 2010 09:09 AM PDT

October 1, 2010 | 9:14 am

The big day has arrived for Facebook and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg: "The Social Network" hits theaters to rave reviews from critics.

Aaron Sorkin, who penned the screenplay, appeared on "The Colbert Report" Thursday night to say the movie is "absolute nonfiction" which is a retort to the Facebook line that it's absolute fiction. (For a researched and reasoned take on the controversy, read this).

"This Zuckerberg guy might come after you with a haymaker," Colbert said. Sorkin replied: "I'm not worried about the haymaker. I'm worried about an entire building full of people who know how to hack onto my hard drive and put child porn on there."

Zuckerberg Eisenberg Another interesting side note: Actor Jesse Eisenberg, who plays Zuckerberg, has a cousin who works at the Palo Alto company.

He told Reuters: "In the final weeks of filming the movie, my cousin got a great job at Facebook and is now an employee there. My cousin told me Mark couldn't have been more gracious toward him. ... Mark came up to him at a party during his first week on the job and said: 'I think your cousin is playing me in a movie; that's really cool.' I couldn't have heard better things from my cousin both personally and professionally about Mark. It coincides with how I feel having played him as well."

Some folks in Silicon Valley will see the film Friday at a special screening sponsored by Eastwick Communications followed by a panel discussion, "Trust, privacy and ethics in the Facebook age," moderated by All Things D's Kara Swisher.

Zuckerberg has said he does not plan to see the movie.

-- Jessica Guynn

Photos: Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg (left) and Jesse Eisenberg, who plays him in the movie. Credits: Sebastien Nogier/Reuters and Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

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Studio Behind Facebook Movie Woos Techies - New York Times Blogs

Posted: 29 Sep 2010 02:05 PM PDT

You would expect to find software developers and Internet dwellers lining up for a movie like "Inception" or the latest "Star Trek." But will they clamor to see a big-screen drama about software developers and Internet dwellers?

The answer to that question will come on Friday with the wide release of "The Social Network," a dramatic reimagining of the origins of Facebook.

One challenge in marketing the film was convincing a technologically sophisticated crowd that a movie about a social networking site, the Internet and building a start-up could be captivating enough to fill two hours, said Scott Rudin, one of the producers of "The Social Network" at Sony Pictures.

"Some people in the tech community were very skeptical about a Facebook movie," he said. "They were wondering whether it would be a version of 'Sleepless in Seattle' but with friend requests."

To counter that, the studio worked with technology blogs like Mashable and organizations like Girls in Tech to set up advance screenings around the country, Mr. Rudin said.

Sony Pictures coordinated roughly 350 screenings and a 25-stop blitz of colleges and universities to build buzz before the movie's national release.

"We also showed it to people who would be obviously interested in the subject, entrepreneurship and innovation," Mr. Rudin said. "We showed it at business schools, hedge funds, anyone involved in the financial business."

Mr. Rudin said that advance screenings were common in his industry, but that with this film, the studio wanted to win over people who might expect the subject matter to be overly familiar.

"As specific as this topic is, the people closest to it could also be the most xenophobic about it," he said. "That is something we wanted to try and overcome."

On Monday evening, Mashable played host to screenings of the film in New York and San Francisco. At the New York event, technology buffs, entrepreneurs and programmers excitedly filed into a downtown Manhattan theater and traded quips about whether a biopic about the Twitter or Google founders would soon follow.

Before the lights dimmed, Adam Ostrow, the editor in chief of Mashable, acknowledged that he had not always been sold on the allure of a movie about the origins of a Web site.

"When we first heard about 'The Social Network,' I thought it was a ridiculous idea," Mr. Ostrow said. "But it's come together."

Throughout the film, the audience cheered on some of the characters and snickered at the witty one-liners that the fictionalized Mark Zuckerberg pelted at nearly everyone in the film. When it was over, Mr. Ostrow asked several New York-based developers and entrepreneurs to come on stage and share some of their thoughts on the movie.

Soraya Darabi, a founder of a start-up called Foodspotting, said the movie resonated with her more than she had anticipated. "Facebook's history is becoming our history," she said. "That's what's compelling."

Anecdotally, there seems to be a lot of interest in the movie among the tech crowd, so perhaps the strategy worked. What about you, readers? Will you line up this weekend to see "The Social Network?"

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New movie may help form image of Facebook founder Zuckerberg - Detroit Free Press

Posted: 03 Oct 2010 12:31 AM PDT

The Harvard dormitory where Facebook was born is a red brick and ivy-draped campus castle that, beyond just being a place to sleep and study, has long prided itself as a community of the best and the brightest.

But Kirkland House -- where a curly-haired 19-year-old prodigy named Mark Zuckerberg hid out in his room for a week writing the computer code that would eventually redefine the way people interact on the Internet -- is wary of threats to its sanctuary. "Do not copy or lend your key to anyone," it instructs residents. "Do not allow anyone access to the House unless you know him/her."

Ever since Zuckerberg dropped out at the end of his sophomore year, he has worked to create an online world where such rules no longer apply.

Facebook -- with 500 million users, the world's largest social-networking site -- began as a tool for communication between people who knew each other and were bound by shared and exclusive interests. Zuckerberg required those signing up to have a Harvard e-mail address, months after the university nearly expelled him for hacking its computers and jolting the campus with a site that encouraged students to rank their classmates' looks.

That site, called Facemash, made fast enemies. But with its successor, Zuckerberg vastly expanded what it means to make friends.

Stretching boundaries

Zuckerberg, now 26, has built Facebook into an international phenomenon by stretching the lines of social convention and embracing a new and far more permeable definition of community.

In this new world, users are able, with a few keystrokes, to construct a social network well beyond what would ever be possible face-to-face. We are encouraged to disclose personal information freely, offering up everyday life as material worthy of the biggest stage.

In Zuckerberg's world, the greatest status is conferred on those who "friend" others fast and frequently, even those they've never met.

"I'm trying to make the world a more open place," Zuckerberg says in the "bio" line of his own Facebook page.

This week, ready or not, the publicity-shy wunderkind -- whose own story has largely escaped the public's attention despite widespread fascination with the network he created -- is being forced into the open in a way far beyond his control.

On Friday, Hollywood laid out its version of his story in a movie called "The Social Network." The script by Aaron Sorkin ("The West Wing") depicts Zuckerberg as a socially inept and intellectually corrupt genius, fighting wars with both friends and rivals for the right to call Facebook his own.

The movie comes a week after Zuckerberg, in the last chance to shape his image independently, appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show to announce a $100-million donation to the long-troubled Newark, N.J., school system, casting himself as the nation's brightest young face of philanthropy.

"When you look at the gift to Newark, what it demonstrates is his recognizing that he can't leave it to the movie to define his image to the general public because he has no image," says David Kirkpatrick, author of "The Facebook Effect," a book written with the cooperation of the man and his company.

Central to this tale: the contradiction between the blank slate that is Zuckerberg, and his campaign to get people to bare their souls via Facebook.

Reclusive creator

A Facebook spokesman, Larry Yu, said Zuckerberg would not agree to an interview to talk about himself. That reluctance, he acknowledges, contributes to the vacuum that is the CEO's public persona.

"He is a shy guy, no question about it," Yu said. "He does not like doing press stuff. What excites him is building things."

Yu said Zuckerberg was not trying to seize control of his image with the donation to Newark. Company public relations staff had warned him to delay the announcement because it would be seen as a ploy, he said. Zuckerberg went ahead despite that concern because the timing suited city and state officials and the producers of "Oprah," Yu said.

Zuckerberg, who grew up in the New York suburb of Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., in a hilltop house where his father still runs a dental practice, was a programming prodigy. He began writing code at 10 on an Atari computer his dad bought.

As a senior at Phillips Exeter Academy, he and a friend created a Web tool called Synapse that built personalized music playlists by automatically determining listener's preferences. Microsoft reportedly offered the pair nearly $1 million, but they turned it down.

Accounts differ

Exactly what happened after he got to Harvard in 2003 depends on who's doing the recounting. Soon after he arrived, Zuckerberg created a site called Coursematch that allowed students to choose classes by showing what their classmates were doing. Then, in the fall of his sophomore year, he hacked into the online "facebooks" of Harvard's residential halls to create Facemash.

"The Kirkland facebook is open on my computer desktop and some of these people have pretty horrendous facebook pics. I almost want to put some of these faces next to pictures of farm animals and have people vote on which is more attractive," Zuckerberg wrote at the time in his online journal.

Harvard's Administrative Board called him in for a hearing, but let him stay at the school. He told the Harvard Crimson student newspaper that criticism of the site had made him rethink its viability. "Issues about violating people's privacy don't seem to be surmountable," he said in an e-mail to the Crimson. "I'm not willing to risk insulting anyone."

In early 2004, former classmates say, the normally sociable Zuckerberg all but vanished for a week, emerging from his room to urge his friends to join a creation called the Facebook.

Stephanie Camaglia Reznick, then a freshman at Harvard who was the 92nd to sign up, says Zuckerberg fast gained notoriety. When she arrived for the first day of a discussion group for an introductory psychology class, eyebrows went up when Zuckerberg's turn came to introduce himself.

"Someone said, 'Great, you're the Facebook guy!' And he was so embarrassed," says Reznick, now a medical student at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

Classmate James Oliver recalls a conversation in the dorm soon after, when Zuckerberg explained that he had worked to launch Facebook quickly to show up a Harvard administrator who had said a university-wide online directory would take two years to create. By the end of the semester, Facebook had nearly 160,000 users.

But three fellow Harvard students quickly took issue with Zuckerberg's creation. Identical twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and friend Divya Narendra said they had hired Zuckerberg to write computer code for their social-networking site in November 2003, and that he had stolen their idea.

"I worked with the expectation that I would be included in the overall development of the project but found that I was being subjected to demands on my time without truly being made a part of the development team," Zuckerberg wrote Cameron Winklevoss in a February 2004 e-mail at the time.

The dispute over Facebook's beginnings -- which the company settled by paying the trio $65 million -- is far from unique. Inventors have been fighting to take credit for technology's biggest ideas since at least the telephone, says Paul Saffo, a longtime Silicon Valley forecaster.

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