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FROM THIS EPISODE

We check in with awards analyst Scott Feinberg for one last Oscar-themed News Banter. Then, we take a look at two projects made on iPhones and other Apple devices. Modern Family co-creator Steve Levitan has directed and co-written an upcoming episode of the sitcom that takes place entirely on a computer screen. He tells us how the cast and crew made it work. Turning to films made with iPhones, we hear from actress Mya Taylor, whose first acting job ever--playing a transgender prostitute in Sean Baker's Tangerine--took her on an unexpected journey to Sundance.

Photo: Screenshot from Modern Family episode "Connection Lost." Nolan Gould, Sofia Vergara, Ed O'Neill, Julie Bowen, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Ty Burell (obscured), Ariel Winter. © ABC/Twentieth Century Fox Television

Producers:
Kaitlin Parker

Hollywood News Banter 7 MIN, 55 SEC

Kim Masters and Scott Feinberg of the Hollywood Reporter discuss top entertainment news stories of the week.

- Some major categories at this year's Oscars already look to have clear winners, best supporting actor and actress among them. It's likely that J.K. Simmons and Patricia Arquette will take home gold statues to add to the bevy of awards they've already won this year.

- Julianne Moore is the far and away favorite to win Best Actress, but the Best Actor category is more of a question. Eddie Redmayne is favored to win for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, but Michael Keaton is a strong contender for his role in Birdman.

- And while Boyhood was in the lead to win Best Picture for many months, Birdman has taken an edge after winning at all the various guild award ceremonies.

- But of course, all will be revealed at the ceremony on Sunday.

More:
Oscars 2015: Who Will Win, Who Should Win

Steve Levitan: 'Modern Family' 15 MIN, 28 SEC

If you're a fan of ABC's mega-hit, Emmy-magnet sitcom Modern Family, which follows the misadventures of the extended Pritchett clan, you'll remember how Jay's son-in-law Phil lusted for an iPad.

Apple products have fans behind the show's cameras, too. A few months ago Modern Family co-creator Steve Levitan came up with the idea of shooting an entire episode with iPhones, iPads and Macbook Pros.


Screenshot from Modern Family episode "Connection Lost"
Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell
© ABC/Twentieth Century Fox Television

We reached Levitan at his office, and he recorded his end of the interview -- how else? -- with the help of an iPhone. The uniqueness of the episode comes not just from the devices they used to shoot it, Levitan told us, but the fact that the entire episode plays out on Claire's computer screen. Think a longer version of those Google screen capture commercials. Levitan was partially inspired by short film called Noah, something his college-aged daughter clued him into.

Levitan directed the high-tech episode and co-wrote it with Megan Ganz. He said that while this episode took less time to shoot than a typical episode, any time they saved while shooting, was more than made up for in post-production, which took almost three months--the longest a Modern Family episode has ever spent in post. And while there are an awful lot of Apple products featured on screen, there's no official sponsorship or promotion going on here, Levitan just happens to use Apple in his real life.

The very modern Modern Family episode is called "Connection Lost." It premieres on ABC on February 25.

Guests:
Steve Levitan, TV writer and producer (@SteveLevitan)

Mya Taylor: 'Tangerine' 4 MIN, 2 SEC

When Steve Levitan mentioned a movie shot on iPhones that played at Sundance this year, he was talking about Tangerine, a bittersweet film from Sean Baker that won glowing reviews at the festival. Tangerine stars 23-year-old Mya Taylor as a transgender prostitute on the streets of Hollywood.


Mya Taylor at Sundance: Courtesy of Totally RAD! Media

For Taylor, the road to Park City was particularly difficult. As a transgender youth living in Los Angeles, Taylor struggled to find work of any kind for years before landing this role. KCRW's Jenny Radelet, who met Taylor at Sundance, has the story.

Guests:
Mya Taylor, actress (@TheMyaTaylor)

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