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Julianna Margulies couldn’t be happier to be on Billions: ‘It feels like going home’

Billions’ biggest investment finally paid off. After years of pursuing Julianna Margulies for their hit Showtime series, creators David Koppelman and David Levien were able to land the Good Wife star for a juicy role in season 5. “Julianna Margulies is just one of the smartest actresses working in film and television,” Koppelman tells EW.…

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Billions’ biggest investment finally paid off.

After years of pursuing Julianna Margulies for their hit Showtime series, creators David Koppelman and David Levien were able to land the Good Wife star for a juicy role in season 5. “Julianna Margulies is just one of the smartest actresses working in film and television,” Koppelman tells EW. “The two of us have admired her work for a long time. The way in which she’s able to make any kind of dialogue sound like her own, how she’s able to create a character from the ground up that seamlessly fits into the world of a show but is it’s own distinct thing. She’s a marvel, one of the greats, and a legend for a reason. We wanted to sit and talk to her because the other times she came in, the timing didn’t land right and we didn’t have an exact part, but we knew we would write something for her at some point in the run and wanted to get to know her a little bit so that we could tailor some of it.”

Added Levien: “Beyond her talent and how much we were excited to work with her, when we sat with her, we just loved her, she was so cool to hang out with, and we were like, ‘We’ve got to have her on the show just so that we can spend time with her.'”
The showrunners don’t want to spoil too much about Margulies’ character, Catherine Brant, an Ivy League sociology professor and best-selling author, revealing that “her story and Chuck’s (Paul Giamatti) intertwine a bit.” Further shares Koppelman, “She’s written a bestselling book in the area of sex and sociology, she’s sex-positive, she has a clear point of view on where feminism sits and where she sits in modern feminism, and she’s a brilliant person. Sitting with Julianna just let us know that she would be able to sink her teeth into this kind of character. It’s not that she and the character are similar, it’s that we felt like she would understand this character’s journey.”

Ahead of the three-time Emmy winner’s return to TV, EW chatted pre-quarantine with Margulies about feeling at home on Billions, realizing how exhausting leading The Good Wife was, and being grateful for not having to understand or use the show’s financial jargon. Above, watch an exclusive clip of Margulies making her Billions debut.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: David and Brian have long been after you for Billions, so what made this opportunity the right one?

JULIANNA MARGULIES: I’d always been a fan of the show, and Brian and David had brought me into their office a couple of years ago right after The Good Wife ended and said, “We’re dying to get you on the show.” But I had a job and it didn’t work out, and then the next year they tried but then I was going to do Hot Zone. Then, finally this year they brought me in and said, “We have a great character for you,” and they sat me down and explained who this woman was, and I loved it, and I happened to be free. I said, “Great, I can give you like four episodes, and let’s see where we go from there.” So it was one of those where just timing worked out and the character was great. I play a sociology professor at Yale who has written this one book that was a  New York Times No. 1 bestseller a few months in a row and changed peoples’ lives, so she’s a little bit of a hotshot in her field. It was a fun character to dive into. And all of my scenes were with Paul Giamatti, someone I’ve been dying to work with since I saw him in Sideways, so I was thrilled.

What’s the experience been like so far?
I always felt so lucky that I’m an actor in New York, because, first of all, I know half of the crew, they were all on my set on The Good Wife. There are so many people that I know and actors who come up to me and I’m like, ‘Oh my god!’ Ben Shenkman, who I did Canterbury’s Law with, Steve Kunken, who I was on Broadway with. I walk into the read-throughs and I know so many of the people, so it doesn’t feel foreign to me, it feels like going home. Yet, I don’t have to carry the whole show. It’s been really easy. Paul Giamatti is the consummate actor. He’s actually an actor who works very much like I do, in that I love to run lines until we know them inside and out. He loves doing that, so there’s a real kismet going on set that’s just easy and gentle and it doesn’t feel like I’m breaking my back. I’m just having a really good time.

After seven seasons as the face of The Good Wife and having so much on your shoulders, is it a nice break to just pop in and have some fun for a few episodes?

Oh my god, it really is. It’s like a staycation. [Laughs] When I did The Good Wife, I really didn’t realize how exhausted I was, because I didn’t have the time or the luxury of time to allow myself that feeling until it ended — and then I just collapsed. Because the first two seasons we did 23 episodes per year and then the next five seasons we did 22 episodes, so having been the star of a show for 156 episodes, plus having a little baby at the time, so when I’d get home I never just relaxed, I wanted to be a mom and a wife, and all of that pressure that I put on myself. Now, going in, I don’t know how I did it. Being able to say, “Oh, great, I work Tuesday and Wednesday and maybe in one scene on Friday,” I can plan my kid’s dentist appointment, I can go out to dinner with my friends — I have a life. And I never knew that you could actually have a life and work, that just wasn’t part of my dialogue for seven years. So it feels really good to always feel fresh to start the day, not just feel exhausted when I begin a fourteen-hour day. It’s a very different beast and I’m really enjoying myself.

Brian and David were a bit secretive about your character when I chatted with them, but, in addition to her job and accomplishments, what can you tell me about Catherine Brant?
I don’t want to give too much away, but I will tell you that she’s sort of the conduit for Chuck Rhoades (Giamatti) finding another side of himself. And I think it’s because she comes from a place of complete non-judgment, nothing fazes her; she’s been studying his kind of behavior all of her life, she teaches it at school, and she’s a scholar. So she isn’t deterred by his behavior, which he finds that quite enlightening. So I think you’re going to be able to see a different side of Chuck Rhoades as he’s discovering himself outside of what he’s always thought he needed.

What’s it been like diving into the scripts for Billions? The dialogue is really unlike anything else on TV, between the speed, financial jargon, and pop culture references.
Well, I can tell you that I’m really grateful that I don’t have to do any of the financial dialogue. [Laughs] I think that’s probably just as hard as medical dialogue or lawyer dialogue. I watch the show and sometimes I have to see it again because I don’t understand all of the terminology in the finance world. But, jumping in as a different character from the rest of the group, they’re very conscious of me not speaking like everyone else, in that same sort of quipped, quick tone. There’s definitely some of that in there, and you can’t help but sort of jump on that wagon with everyone else, because that’s also sort of the charm of the show. But my character stands a little bit aside from that kind of dialogue because it’s not her world. What’s really fun, and I’m so grateful that they respect the acting and writing process enough to make every single person, no matter how big or small their part is, we all go in for a table read before the episode starts. And they make it very easy, they serve us lunch, and we sit down for an hour and we read it out loud, and that is really rare. We actually used to do it on ER, but only with the main characters. This is with every single actor, and what happens is that you get enveloped into this story, because it’s one thing to read a script, it’s another thing to hear it read by the actors who play those parts. So there’s a real understanding of what you’re getting into before you start filming, and that is few and far between in television. I think it helps the writers, it helps the actors, and it helps you have this understanding of what the story is they’re telling from everyone’s point of view instead of just your own.

Billions airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime.
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Pope endorses civil union laws for same-sex couples

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Mi Notebook 14 Review

Xiaomi is one of very few new brands in the laptop space, but its huge footprint across the Indian smartphone and TV markets means that it isn’t a new name. Brand recognition and trust are important when spending large amounts of money. Of course, the Chinese giant is best known for offering excellent value in…

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Xiaomi is one of very few new brands in the laptop space, but its huge footprint across the Indian smartphone and TV markets means that it isn’t a new name. Brand recognition and trust are important when spending large amounts of money. Of course, the Chinese giant is best known for offering excellent value in the entry-level space, and it will be interesting to see how that translates to laptops. We’ve already reviewed the premium Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition model, and now it’s time to take a look at how Xiaomi is catering to more budget-conscious laptop buyers.The vanilla Mi Notebook 14 loses some of the distinctive design elements and features of its Horizon Edition counterpart, but it’s still a slim and light laptop. It stakes its claim in a highly competitive segment, and will have to fend off major players such as Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer, and Asus. Let’s see what the Mi Notebook 14 has to offer.The Mi Notebook 14 features a 14-inch anti-reflective full-HD screen Xiaomi Mi Notebook 14 designWhile not quite as slick as its sibling, the Horizon Edition, the standard Mi Notebook 14 is still quite modern and attractive. It has a metal body with an anodised sandblasted exterior, and the same logo-free lid that we liked on the more expensive model. The overall look is fairly minimalist and unassuming.There’s really nothing to see on the outside other than the ports on the left and right and a small indentation to help you left the lid. Intake vents are on the bottom and hot air is exhausted through the back of the hinge.Unlike with the Horizon Edition though, you’ll have to hold the base down with one hand while raising the lid with the other. The total weight is 1.5kg and thickness is just under 18mm so this laptop should be easy enough to carry around and even commute with every day.Flipping the lid open, you’ll see a relatively thick chin below the screen and some blank space all around it. This is one of the key differentiators between the standard Mi Notebook and the Horizon Edition, which boasts of slim borders. Even though there’s enough room on the top for a webcam, this model doesn’t have one built-in. Xiaomi says that this was a conscious decision made during the design process, but since people are now suddenly more dependent on video conferencing for remote work and learning, an external USB webcam will be included with every Mi Notebook.The keyboard deck is also metal, with a sunken tray for the island-style keyboard keys. The arrow keys are crammed into a single row and there’s no backlighting, but there aren’t any major issues with layout. In fact there are additional Fn row keys here, compared to the Horizon Edition’s keyboard, so that PrtScrn and Insert don’t have to be secondary functions. The wrist rest areas are generous enough, and the trackpad size and placement are quite standard.There’s only slight flex to the lid, and the screen doesn’t warp when pressure is applied. The hinge opens to 140 degrees and is quite firm. Overall, Xiaomi seems to have done a good job with design – the Mi Notebook 14 doesn’t feel cheap and plasticky, which gives it an advantage in its price segment.The selection of ports on the Mi Notebook 14 is relatively limited Xiaomi Mi Notebook 14 ReviewThere are three variants of the standard Mi Notebook, all of which use the same quad-core 10th Gen ‘Comet Lake’ Intel Core i5-10210U processor. This CPU has base and boost speeds of 1.6GHz and 4.2GHz respectively, and features integrated Intel UHD Graphics. All three versions have 8GB of DDR4-2666 RAM which is soldered and not upgradable.The base variant was launched at Rs. 41,999 and features a 256GB SSD. Stepping up to the middle tier doubles the SSD capacity to 512GB, which seems like great value since it’s priced at Rs. 43,999. At the top end, the SSD remains the same but you also get a discrete Nvidia GeForce MX250 GPU, for Rs. 48,999. This is the one I have for review.Unlike the top-end Horizon Edition, there’s no choice of CPU. Xiaomi has also used SATA M.2 SSDs for this model – you can swap yours out for an upgrade, but there’s no blank slot for an additional one. It also isn’t clear whether you can swap in a faster NVMe SSD.The port selection is also a bit limited, compared to the Horizon Edition. Most tragically, you don’t get a USB Type-C port at all. There are two USB 3.1 (Gen1) Type-A ports, one USB 2.0 port, an HDMI 1.4b video output, a 3.5mm combo audio socket, and a DC power inlet. An SD card slot would have been nice.A non-reflective screen is usually better for work, especially under indoor lighting. Xiaomi has gone with a 14-inch full-HD panel for the Mi Notebook 14. The company makes no claims regarding colour accuracy, but does boast of 178-degree viewing angles.The battery has a 46Wh capacity which Xiaomi says translates to 10 hours of usage. You get a fairly chunky 65W power adapter in the box, plus of course the external 720p webcam. Dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac and Bluetooth 5 are supported. The Mi Notebook 14 also has bottom-firing stereo speakers rated at 2W each, as well as DTS audio enhancement.Xiaomi ships the Mi Notebook 14 with Windows 10 Home and a one-month trial of Office 365. The two in-house apps that we saw on the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition also make appearances here – Mi Blaze Unlock lets you automatically sign in to Windows if you’re wearing a compatible Mi Band, while Mi Smart Share is for transferring files to and from phones running the equivalent app.The keyboard is easy to get used to, but the trackpad isn’t very responsive Xiaomi Mi Notebook 14 performanceInitial setup went smoothly, and the Mi Notebook 14 was ready for use after following the standard Windows setup process. This laptop is convenient enough to use in various situations, even while reclining. Resuming from sleep sometimes took 10-15 seconds, but in general, usage was no trouble at all. I was able to multitask with over a dozen browser tabs open, streaming video simultaneously.The screen isn’t very vibrant and colours are somewhat muted. Xiaomi’s claim about viewing angles is not overstated, but the screen’s brightness will have to be pumped up fairly high. I did appreciate the anti-reflective finish. The speakers aren’t very loud, and sound is unfortunately scratchy and tinny.Typing is quite comfortable. The keys are just a little stiff, but that’s easy enough to get used to. On the other hand, the trackpad wasn’t always as smooth or responsive as I’d have liked, and the click action is a bit sticky.Coming to benchmark tests, it’s easy to see the strengths and weaknesses of the Mi Notebook 14. SSD speed is limited by the SATA interface, and so the CrystalDiskMark test showed sequential reads and writes capped at 500.6MBps and 383.3MBps respectively, with random reads and writes coming in at 300.2MBps and 269MBps. In real-world task tests, the Mi Notebook 14 took 7 minutes, 6 seconds to compress a 3.24GB folder of assorted files using 7zip, and 1 minute, 34 seconds to transcode a 1.3GB AVI file to H.265.The Mi Notebook 14 looks subtle and minimalist with no logo on the lid PCMark 10 posted scores of 3,542 and 3,371 in its standard and Extended runs, respectively. Cinebench R20 achieved 361 and 1,604 points in its single- and multi-core tests. POVRay finished its benchmark run in 2 minutes, 52 seconds.As for graphics performance, the Nvidia GeForce MX250 GPU is definitely not meant for serious gaming or anything beyond entry-level performance. 3DMark’s Time Spy and Time Spy Extreme scores were 1,217 and 171 respectively, while the Night Raid test and Fire Strike Extreme managed 12,327 and 1,661 respectively.Shadow of the Tomb Raider barely managed to cough up 23fps while running at its Lowest quality preset at 1920×1080. Taking the resolution down to 1280×720 and disabling AA entirely resulted in a jittery but playable 41fps average.This means the Mi Notebook 14 is capable of running older and less demanding games. However, it did get rather hot, and unfortunately the area around the WASD keys, along with the left wrist rest, did become uncomfortable after just a few minutes of gaming. The right side of the keyboard stayed cool but I could feel air being sucked in from between the keys by the cooling fan. Speaking of the fan, it did become audible while gaming, but not to a distracting degree.Xiaomi promises 10 hours of battery life but doesn’t say under what conditions. I found that with casual use, which involved streaming a movie and multitasking mostly within a Web browser, I got a maximum of eight hours, but usually more like six hours per full charge. The intense Battery Eater Pro test lasted 1 hour, 23 minutes which is lower than average. Thankfully, this laptop does charge quickly – I went from zero to 55 percent in 30 minutes with the laptop turned off.VerdictXiaomi has done a good job overall, and the Mi Notebook 14 is suitable for everyday performance. You shouldn’t expect to be able to play modern games, and movies won’t look or sound their best, but general productivity should be fine. Students and office workers, as well as home users with reasonable expectations will be happy with this laptop.Construction quality is good, and I do like the minimalist look with the logo-free lid. Not a lot of people are commuting these days, but if or when you do need to move around, you’ll appreciate what Xiaomi is offering.The base variant doesn’t make much sense since you can double your SSD capacity for just a few thousand Rupees more. The top-end one, which I have reviewed here, is of debatable value as well since the GeForce MX250 GPU is of limited use in such a machine. However, the mid-tier option seems to hit a sweet spot and is quite competitive, considering it is priced under Rs. 45,000.I would definitely have liked at least one USB Type-C port, an SD card slot, a faster NVMe SSD, and a backlit keyboard, but I think the package is reasonably well balanced overall. The Horizon Edition (Core i7 variant) is of course faster and sleeker, but it’s more expensive by around 33 percent, which makes the standard Mi Notebook 14 well worth considering.Is Mi Notebook 14 series the best affordable laptop range for India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.

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Shawn Mendes bares his heart in Netflix doc ‘In Wonder’

At least that’s what the new trailer for his Netflix documentary “In Wonder” wants to stress.According to the streaming giant the doc “follows Shawn Mendes’ journey toward self-discovery, after the physical and emotional demands of his rise, and his last world tour, pushed him towards a personal and musical reckoning.”In the trailer Mendes says, “This…

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At least that’s what the new trailer for his Netflix documentary “In Wonder” wants to stress.According to the streaming giant the doc “follows Shawn Mendes’ journey toward self-discovery, after the physical and emotional demands of his rise, and his last world tour, pushed him towards a personal and musical reckoning.”In the trailer Mendes says, “This isn’t a story about a famous musician. This is a story about a guy growing up.”And yet the 22-year-old former You Tube star is very aware that the world sees him as a musical superstar.”If I tell the world I’m just a normal human, will they stop coming to my shows?” Mendes asks. “Maybe I should pretend I’m Superman for a little bit longer.”We also appear to learn a bit about his love affair with fellow singer Camila Cabello, who he’s been dating for over a year.”My song comes on the radio or something and I’m like, ‘Everything’s about you. They’re all, they have always been about you,'” he says as we see a shot of Cabello. “She goes, ‘What do you mean?’ Like, they’re all about you. Like every song I’ve ever wrote.”The debut feature length documentary will be released on Netflix on November 23.

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