Thursday April 18, 2019

Netflix has dropped a trailer for its upcoming animated series Tuca & Bertie. Tiffany Hadish and Ali Wong “star” and the series will be available to stream on May 3.

Fox has canceled Rel after 1 season. One of the worst shows I’ve seen in a while. I couldn’t make it to the first commercial break of the first episode.

Fox has also canceled The Gifted, also not surprisingly.

The NFL has released its 2019 regular season schedule.

Subscribers of DirecTV Now and AT&T’s U-verse TV no longer have access to the NFL Network — meaning they’ll miss the network’s coverage of the 2019 NFL draft next week. AT&T dropped NFL Network as the telco and the league continue to try to hammer out an agreement on the NFL Sunday Ticket, the out-of-market games package that has been carried on DirecTV exclusively for 25 years. That’s as the NFL has said it’s looking to end DirecTV’s exclusive carriage of Sunday Ticket to extend it to streaming platforms. In a statement posted online to customers, AT&T said, ‘The NFL Network and Red Zone Channel remain available to all fans on DirecTV. However, as we continue to manage content costs, we could not reach an agreement with the NFL to continue to carry their channels on U-verse TV and DirecTV Now.’”

The fact that The Act glossed over the murder the way it did has me baffled.

Life In Pieces returns to CBS tonight.

Selling Sunset focuses mostly on the petty personal drama between several high-profile real estate agents in Los Angeles. But they have plenty on the line, career-wise, too. In Season 1, for example, there's a $40 million house for sale on Selling Sunset, and everyone wants to nab that commission. The staff of the Oppenheim Group tours the property in the very first episode, and the home is pretty incredible. It boasts 20,000 square feet, five bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a 15-car garage, four hot tubs, a pool, an elevator, and the largest rooftop deck in the Hollywood Hills. Plus, whichever agent closes the deal gets a sweet $1,200,000 piece of the pie, so yeah, there's a lot of competition for who will be the one to get it off the market. The season concludes without much closure on what happens to the property, but lucky for you, we're here with answers. So, did the house on Selling Sunset actually sell? According to Distractify, the official address of the home is 8408 Hillside Avenue, and the page for the property still exists on the Oppenheim Group's website, so it seems like it's still for sale. Plus, the Oppenheim Group's Instagram page posted a video just four days ago giving viewers a tour of the listing. The website doesn't name a price, and the only description for the massive home simply says it's a "contemporary architectural masterpiece available in 2019," so details are scarce on any real developments. The home looks to be still very much under construction, but promises to be a showstopper when it's finished.”

“Two years after the Fyre Festival failed, it continues to make waves: Hulu LLC and Netflix Inc. may face subpoenas over their documentaries about the festival. Gregory Messer, the Chapter 7 trustee for the Fyre Festival estate, sought the subpoenas in a filing Tuesday in bankruptcy court. He asked the judge to require Hulu and Netflix to show whether they paid for footage that should have been deemed an asset of the company. ‘In order to create the documentaries, both Hulu and Netflix used unique behind-the-scenes footage of the festival,’ Messer said in the filing. ‘Due to a lack of information, it is impossible for the Trustee to determine where the footage came from and whether such footage was an asset of the Debtor’s estate.’ Reached by phone, Messer reiterated that he is seeking additional information on behalf of the estate. Hulu and Netflix had no immediate comment.”

Talking Dead host and former Nerdist head Chris Hardwick is in hot water again, this time over an alleged broken agreement over a podcast. According to new reports from TMZ, Hardwick has been sued by podcast company Cadence13 over claims Hardwick dropped his podcast in the midst of a two-year contract. Legal documents obtained by the gossip website indicate Hardwick was advanced a sum of $1 million. Because of the alleged breach of contract, Cadence13 is reportedly suing for $606,000, the amount the company was unable to recuperate through the sales of advertising. Hardwick stopped recording new episodes of his podcast ID10T after sexual abuse accusations first surfaced last June. After an investigation by AMC, Hardwick was soon reinstated as the host of Talking Dead and no charges were filed.”

On May 3, “HBO will debut a feature-length documentary about the osteopathic physician who sexually abused hundreds of female athletes on the U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics team. At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal uses testimonials from survivors, coaches, lawyers, journalists and Judge Rosemarie Aquilina to tell the story of Dr. Larry Nassar and the system that allowed him to get away with his crimes for more than two decades, prioritizing winning over the safety of the young athletes. The story, buried for years as accusations and evidence against Nassar grew, became a lightning rod for institutional abuses in 2016, when Rachael Denhollander went public with her own story in the Indianapolis Star. After Denhollander’s story came to light, other young women came forward, mounting a public case — and several lawsuits — against Nassar, who was subsequently fired from his job at Michigan State University and eventually pleaded guilty to abuse charges in Michigan. He is currently serving a 175-year sentence in federal prison.”

Las Vegas sports bettor James Holzhauer is rewriting the Jeopardy! record book on an almost nightly basis. On the episode that aired Wednesday, Holzhauer topped his own single-game winnings mark with $131,127 to capture his 10th straight victory. James Holzhauer won $131,127, besting his previous mark of $110,914. Jeopardy Productions, Inc. He has won $697,787 during his 10-day run and is already second on the show's all-time, regular-play winnings list, behind only past great champion Ken Jennings. Jennings won more than $2.5 million during his 74-game winning streak in 2004. Holzhauer is on pace to surpass Jennings in just 36 games and now owns the four most prolific single-day performances ever on the show. In Wednesday's episode, he went 40-for-40 on responses in the first two rounds and went into Final Jeopardy! with $71,114 and a commanding lead. Fellow contestants Lorelle Anderson and Hannah Pierson-Compeau had $5,400 and $5,000, respectively, and were chuckling about their deficit heading into the final. Holzhauer risked $60,013 on the final category 20th Century Literary Characters and had the answer for ‘His first name refers to the ancient district in which you'd find the Greek capital; his surname is a bird.’ ‘Who is Atticus Finch?’ Holzhauer wrote in his response. He added: ‘This is for you Granny <3.’ The $131,127 win bested his previous mark of $110,914 from his fourth game. which aired April 9. Holzhauer has won more than $100,000 three times. No other contestant has ever won more than $77,000 on a single show.”

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, “Mike Myers is headed to Netflix.

“The Austin Powers and former Saturday Night Live favorite will star in and executive produce a six-episode comedy series for the streaming service. Netflix is describing the untitled show as a limited series.

“Few details are known about the project at the moment, but Myers will play multiple characters. It's something he's done before, playing several roles in the Austin Powers movies and So I Married an Axe Murderer.

"‘I love creating characters, and Netflix has given me a fantastic playground to play in,’ said Myers.

“The effort would be the first narrative series of Myers' career. He was a regular on NBC's SNL from 1989-95 and hosts ABC's Gong Show revival in character as a British TV presenter named Tommy Maitland. 

“Myers will executive produce the show with John Lyons — who worked with the actor on the second and third Austin Powers movies — and Gong Show exec producer Jason Weinberg. Mackenzie Cyr and Justin Capraro-Gentuso are associate producers.

“Myers, whose recent movie credits include Bohemian Rhapsody and Terminal, is the latest big name to commit to a show on a streaming platform. He follows the likes of John Cusack (Amazon's Utopia); Dennis Quaid (Netflix's Merry Happy Whatever); Al Pacino (Amazon's The Hunt); Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin (The Kominsky Method); and Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie), among others.”

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Per Variety, “[i]n a matter of weeks, the broadcast networks will go through the annual process of ordering pilots to series for the fall season. 

“The casts of this year’s pilot crop feature many broadcast mainstays and strong performers, but also illustrate that cable networks and streaming platforms are now the go-to destination for marquee stars looking to make a splash in TV. 

“That’s not to say that there are no big names working on broadcast pilots this year. Some notable stars in the arena this year include Heather Graham, Edie Falco, Michael Sheen and Kal Penn. 

“According to David Stapf, president of CBS Television Studios, getting big stars for broadcast pilots is no harder than it has been.  

“‘I don’t know that it’s any more difficult if you have good material,’ Stapf told Variety. ‘Case in point: We had a great script from Paul Attanasio about the first female police commissioner of Los Angeles. Because the script was so good, we were able to get Edie Falco. Good material can always be the lure to attract top talent.’

“Broadcast shows are still a very lucrative market for talent. Multiple agents who spoke with Variety say they encourage their clients to go out for broadcast pilots, since the standard 22-episode season stands to net them more than they would make on a cable or streaming show with a shorter season. 

“Yet awards buzz, and the prestige that comes with it, is being dominated by cable and streaming. In the 2018 Emmys, the only broadcast shows nominated in the best drama and comedy series categories were, respectively, NBC’s This Is Us and ABC’s Black-ish. The former lost to HBO’s Game of Thrones and the latter to Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Further, no broadcast stars won an Emmy in any of the major acting categories this year. 

“The rise of streaming shows has been sudden. It sent shockwaves through the industry when Kevin Spacey and David Fincher lined up the Netflix series House of Cards just eight years ago, marking the streamer’s first completely original production. Now it is commonplace for top stars to do such shows. 

“Apple’s streaming slate alone is a who’s who of top talent. Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Octavia Spencer, Brie Larson, Chris Evans and Jason Momoa are just a few of the stars at the nascent streamer. Then you have George Clooney doing Catch-22 at Hulu, Kevin Costner in Yellowstone for Paramount Network,
Russell Crowe starring in a series about Roger Ailes for Showtime and Julia Roberts having just completed Homecoming for Amazon. It was recently announced that Jake Gyllenhaal is developing an adaptation of the book Lake Success at HBO, in what would be the actor’s first leading role in a television series.  

“One TV studio head who spoke with Variety said that one thing the SVOD and streaming revolution has done is force networks and studios to rethink dealmaking with top talent. If a particular star is highly sought after for a broadcast pilot, those behind the show are now willing to be more flexible about not requiring the star to sign on for a 22-episode season or a six-year commitment. In addition, rather than focusing on procedural and episodic shows, as they have in the past, the networks and studios are more willing to develop and order programs that are more serialized. It’s a direct influence of audiences being able to binge-watch shows with ease. 

“Of course, even with a major current star, success is not guaranteed. Last season Lucy Hale, fresh off her role in the hit Freeform series Pretty Little Liars, signed on to topline the CW pilot Life Sentence. The show was ordered to series but was ultimately canceled after 13 episodes. This season, Nina Dobrev made her TV return with the CBS sitcom Fam. The show looks likely to get a second-season pickup but has hardly been a breakout, averaging 6.8 million viewers per episode in the most current Live+7 ratings. 

“Yet the star-making potential of broadcast pilots remains, even as top talent gravitates elsewhere: An entirely new generation of headliners is waiting to be made.”

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Here are descriptions of the CW’s new summer series:

Bulletproof
Adrenalin-fueled and packed with compelling characters, Bulletproof follows two undercover cops, Bishop (Noel Clarke, Star Trek: Into Darkness) and Pike (Ashley Walters, Top Boy) as they chase down hardened criminals in London’s East End. Despite their differences, Bishop and Pike work brilliantly together even when the chemistry between them looks set to explode. Full of grit and sometimes gloss, Bulletproof is stylish and funny with entertaining, riveting criminal cases in each episode. Bulletproof is from Vertigo Films and Company Pictures, with executive producers Allan Niblo (Britannia, Monsters), Michele Buck (Endeavour, Midsomer Murders), Judy Counihan (No Man’s Land, Fresh Meat), Nick Love (The Football Factory, The Sweeney), Noel Clarke, and Ashley Walters. Bulletproof, a Sky Original, was co-funded and distributed internationally by Sky Vision.

Hypnotize Me
A comedy game show, hosted by Taye Diggs. Based on the hit U.K. format (You’re Back in the Room), the show features physical comedy and unpredictable situations, as contestants work together in teams and are challenged to complete a variety of simple, everyday tasks, from frosting a cake to blowing up balloons…after being hypnotized. With big money at stake, these contestants need to work together as a team. However, their entranced states cause hysterical hurdles that not only sabotage their progress, but reveal aspects of their personalities neither they, their family nor their friends have ever before witnessed! The series also features award-winning hypnotist Keith Barry, who stars in the original U.K. show, as resident hypnotist. Hypnotize Me is produced by Tuesday’s Child and BBC Studios with executive producers Karen Smith (Lego Masters) and Joe Sungkur (Dancing with the Stars).

Mysteries Decoded
Over the course of each hour, the investigative documentary series Mysteries Decoded will delve deeper into some America’s greatest unsolved mysteries, exploring newly discovered evidence and utilizing high-tech tools in reopening each case.  From Area 51 to the Salem Witch Trials, each investigation is led by Jennifer Marshall, an accomplished U.S. Navy veteran turned top-notch Private Investigator, as she mobilizes a team to embark on the formidable quest to bring closure to these long-lingering historical puzzles. Mysteries Decoded is from MorningStar Entertainment and executive produced by Gary Tarpinian and Paninee Theeranuntawat.

Pandora
Set in the year 2199, Pandora is a sci-fi action series about a resourceful young woman who has lost everything but finds a new life at Earth’s Space Training Academy where she and her friends learn to defend the galaxy from threats, both alien and human. When secrets about the nature of her own identity begin to surface, she must uncover the truth, and whether she will be humanity’s savior or the instrument of its destruction. Pandora is executive produced by Mark A. Altman (Castle), Steve Kriozere (NCIS), Thomas P. Vitale, Karine Martin and Chris Phillip.

Red Bull Peaking
An unfiltered, intimate portrait of athletes, told in their own words and experienced from their perspective, during the 72-hour period immediately before, during and after a landmark event in their career. These up-close and personal narratives include iconic extreme sports stars Kelly McGarry, James Stewart and Jenny Rissveds. Red Bull Peaking is from Red Bull Media House and Indigenous Films, and is executive produced by Scott Bradfield, Charlie Rosene and Gus Roxburgh.”

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This fight does not get old to me. “The WGA has filed a civil lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against the four major packaging agencies, accusing them of violating state and federal laws with respect to the fiduciary duties to their writer-clients.

“Tony Segall, the general counsel for the Writers Guild of America, West, said during a press conference at WGAW headquarters in Los Angeles on Wednesday said the suit against CAA, WME, ICM Partners and UTA makes two claims: that packaging fees violate state fiduciary duty laws, and that those fees violate federal unfair competition laws.

“Specifically, the suit cites the anti-kickback provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act. Under that law, representatives of an employee can’t receive money from an employer, Segall said.

“‘Packaging fees have caused tremendous financial harm to the guilds and their members including the individual plaintiffs,’ read the 25-page suit (read it here).

“The plaintiffs listed are the WGA West and WGA East, and WGA members Patricia Carr, Ashley Gable, Barbara Hall, Deric A. Hughes, George Johannessen, Deirdre Mangan, David Simon and Meredith Stiehm.

“Simon is creator of HBO’s The Wire and The Deuce. Stiehm is creator of the CBS series Cold Case.

“‘When the show was sold, CAA negotiated a packaging fee for itself, without my knowledge,’ Stein said in remarks at the press conference. ‘It wasn’t until six years and 134 episodes later that I learned about it. It turned out that on the show I created, I worked on exclusively for years, CAA ended up making 94 cents for every dollar I earned. That is indefensible. An agency should make 10% of what a client makes — not 20, not 50, not like in my case, 94%. 10% is enough.’

“Packaging has been allowed under the WGA’s franchise agreement with the agencies since 1976. But Segall said Wednesday that ‘the guild has been uncomfortable with packaging forever.’ He added that in the mid-1970s the guild filed lawsuits against then-William Morris Agency, in which a settlement was reached that allowed the guild to attempt to regulate packaging. That, however, was ‘completely unsuccessful,’ he said, and in recent years the TV packaging agencies ‘have abandoned the 10% commission model’ and now rely almost entirely on packaging fees.

“‘It’s now time to ban it altogether,’ Segall said.

“The guild and the talent agencies repped by the Association of Talent Agents have not set any dates to resume discussions in their impasse over a new franchise agreement. Formal negotiations broke off Friday, after which the guild ordered its members to fire their agents who refuse to sign its Code of Conduct.

“Segall added that ‘to date, thousands of writers have signed letters’ terminating their agents who refused to sign the code, which was approved by an overwhelming vote of the union’s members. It bans packaging fees and prohibits agencies from being affiliated to production entities through corporate parents.

“Before talks broke off Friday, the WGA and the ATA each made minor concessions but remain far apart on those two key issues, leading to today’s lawsuit.

“‘The agencies’ packaging fees violate the fiduciary duty that agents owe to their writer clients and deprive them of the conflict-free representation to which they are entitled,’ the suit reads. ‘For these reasons, and because the payments made from the production companies to agencies as part of any package, constitute unlawful kickbacks from an employer to a ‘representative of any of his employees” … packaging is an unlawful or unfair business practice for the purposes of the California Unfair Competition Law.’

“The suit says packaging fees should be ‘declared unlawful’ and ‘unjoined’ and the plaintiffs should be awarded disgorgement of unlawful profits, and individual plaintiffs should be awarded restitution and damages. ‘Plaintiffs bring this lawsuit to end the agencies’ harmful and unlawful practice of packaging fees,’ it said.

“Here are more details from the WGA’s lawsuit:

“The suit makes the case that changing business models in industry have made packaging fees more onerous for writers. ‘Over time, conditions in the television and film industry changed dramatically in a manner that has had significant negative consequences for writers, while drastically increasing the profits of the agencies and their agents.’

“‘First, there has been overwhelming consolidation within the market for talent agents. Because of this consolidation, the four defendant agencies now represent the overwhelming majority of writers, actors, directors and other creative workers involved in the American television and film industries. By virtue of this consolidation, the agencies exert oligopoly control over access to almost all key talent in the television and film industry.

“‘Second, the agencies have moved away from the commission-based model of compensation…Instead, the agencies have shifted to a “package fee” model whereby the agencies negotiate and collect payments directly from the production companies that employ their writer-clients and that are tied to the revenues and profits of the “packaged” program, rather than receiving a percentage of their clients’ compensation. Approximately 90% of all television series are now subject to such packaging fee arrangements.’

“Packaging fees are generally based on a 3%-3%-10% formula.  According to the suit, it generally breaks down like this:

“‘In television, the packaging fee for a particular project normally consists of three components: an upfront fee of $30,000 to $75,000 per TV episode, an additional $30,000 to $75,000 per episode that is deferred until the show achieves net profits, and a defined percent of the TV series’ modified adjusted gross profits for the life of the show.’

“According to the suit, ‘Packaging fees generate hundreds of millions of dollars per year in revenue for the agencies – far more than they would earn from a traditional 10% commission from their clients. The agencies have used the income generated through packaging to raise private capital, and their business has become so lucrative that some agencies are now planning to become publicly held corporations.’

“The suit says that ‘The packaging fee model of agency compensation harms writers in multiple respects. Because the component of any packaging fee is part of a TV episode’s budget, payment of that amount diverts financial resources away from the agencies’ clients and the projects on which they are working and to the agencies themselves. Even where the agencies are paid a lower end upfront packaging fee of, for example, $25,000 per episode, that represents the cost of hiring approximately one additional high-level writer or two additional lower-level writers for the program.’

“‘Where a studio or network insists that the budget for a program be limited or reduced, showrunners cannot reduce the amount paid to the agencies as a packaging fee, and must instead cut resources from other portions of the program’s budget.’

“‘Likewise, because the third component of the packaging fee is based on defined gross profits, the payment of the packaging fee to an agency has the effect of reducing the profit participation of the agency’s own clients, including writers, as the writers’ share of the profit points is correspondingly reduced.’

“‘Worse, the agencies in many instances negotiate more favorable profit definitions for themselves than for their own writer clients.’

“The suit says that David Simon, one of the named plaintiffs, ‘has never received any profit distributions for Homicide: Life on the Streets because his agency, CAA, negotiated a profit definition for Simon that was based on the net rather than gross profits’ The suit says that to this day, CAA ‘continues to receive profits from that show because it secretly negotiated a far more favorable profit definition for itself, without Simon’s knowledge of consent.’

“It adds: ‘The agencies themselves recognize that their interests are no longer aligned with those of the writers they represent,’ the suit alleges. ‘The head of WME has stated publicly, for example, that his most important client is now a head executive at Warner Brothers.’

“According to the lawsuit, ‘Packaging fees also distort agents’ incentives when seeking employment opportunities for their clients. In order to avoid splitting a packing fee with other agencies, the agencies pressure their clients to work exclusively on projects where the other key talent is also represented by the client’s agency. The agencies exert this pressure even when the client and the agent know that the project will be best served by involving someone from another agency.’

“Many of the individual plaintiffs in the case ‘have found that their agency presents them with opportunities to work only on projects involving other talent from the same agency,’ the suit says. ‘Their ability to obtain work and compensation commensurate with their experience has been severely hampered by the agencies’ failure to present them with other work opportunities.’

“‘The agencies also choose not to sell packaged programs to the production companies willing to pay the most for the programs,’ the suit charges, ‘or that will be the best creative partner for the programs. Instead, the agencies choose to sell packaged programs to the companies willing to pay the largest packaging fee.’

“Packaging isn’t limited only to television shows, however. ‘While the practice of packaging has its historical roots in television, the agencies now also extract packaging fees on feature film projects, particularly on independent productions not financed or produced by a major studio,’ the suit states.

“‘On packaged feature projects, the agencies are paid a fee from a film’s budget or financing, in addition to taking a 10% commission from their clients. Agencies also use their leverage to steer film projects to their own clients or affiliated companies to function as financiers or distributors of the finished film.’

“‘While the economics of the film packaging differs in some respects from packaging agreements in television, the conflict of interest is the same. The agencies leverage their access to high profile clients for their own benefit, and negotiate compensation for themselves, undisclosed to their clients and unrelated to what their clients earn.’

“‘Feature film packaging has a direct detrimental effect on writers,’ the suit says. ‘Because packaging fees are based in part on gross profit, the payment of the film’s packaging fee may, depending on the profit definition, have the effect of reducing the profit participation of the agency’s own clients, including writers. And because a portion of the packaging fee comes out of a film’s budget, payment of the fee diverts financial resources away from the agencies’ clients and the projects on which they are working and to the agencies themselves.’”

#greedyscumbagagents

Wednesday April 17, 2019

Netflix added 9,600,000 new subscribers during the 1st quarter of 2019 and generated $4.5B in revenue. More Netflix data below.

Here’s a piece about their move into some shorter-form content (e.g., Special).

Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé is now available to stream on Netflix.

Here’s a review.

I didn’t hate Bless This Mess on ABC last night.

Season 31 of The Amazing Race premieres tonight. This season’s cast is made up of former AR contestants as well as former Big Brother and Survivor competitors. Maybe I’ll watch.

Behind the scenes of last week’s Tribal Council with David Wright.

“With the addition of the Edge of Extinction twist to Survivor, at the end of each Tribal Council this season we see the voted-off contestant walking down the path and then having to make the choice on whether to continue playing or give up. And then the episode ends. What this means, however, is that we are not seeing the famous final words of wisdom Jeff Probst used to always make to the tribe after the voted-out person had departed and before sending those still in the game on their way. Sometimes, it was an observation. Other times, an ominous warning. Often, there was advice. Occasionally even, a compliment. Whatever the message was, it always served as a fitting punctuation mark to the episode. Since these final words of wisdom have been missing all season, it got us wondering: Did Jeff Probst actually say the words of wisdom at the end of each Tribal Council? And, if so, how does it feel for him to have them cut out of the episodes?  EW launched a full-scale investigation to get the bottom of this hot-button controversy. ‘Yes, I said them,’ Probst exclusively tells EW. ‘No, I don’t miss them.’”

“A&E Network will premiere a new unscripted series centered on first responders getting tattoos in June. Hero Ink follows the work of tattoo artists at Prison Break Tattoos in Houston, Texas, who specialize in creating meaningful, custom tattoos for first responders, paying tribute to the work they do every day. Each artist has some connection to the work of first responders, informing their art. Each 30-minute episode looks at both the work of the first responders in the chair, and the process of crafting their personal piece. . . Hero Ink premieres June 6 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on A&E, with back-to-back episodes.”

John Cusack is set to star opposite Sasha Lane and Rainn Wilson in Utopia, Amazon’s straight-to-series adaptation of the British drama, written by Gone Girlauthor and screenwriter Gillian Flynn. Utopia follows a group of young adults who meet online that are mercilessly hunted by a shadowy deep state organization after they come into possession of a near-mythical cult underground graphic novel. Within the comic’s pages, they discover the conspiracy theories that may actually be real and are forced into the dangerous, unique and ironic position of saving the world. Cusack will play Dr. Kevin Christie. Charismatic and media-savvy, with a brilliant biotech mind and a philanthropic outlook. Christie altruistically wants to change the world through science. Child actor and Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton also stars.”

Hoda Kotb has adopted another baby.

CNN has greenlit a six-part series set to delve into the inner workings of Abraham Lincoln’s world as part of its latest CNN Original Series. Produced by Glass Entertainment Group, Lincoln: An American President (w/t) will look to meld together archive, expert commentary and recreations to explore Lincoln’s historic political career and tragic life by examining the hardships he faced at home and how they fueled the revolutionary decisions he made in the White House. Dubbed the greatest president in American history, Lincoln built his life and career on honesty, intellectual curiosity, and hard work. Born into a poor family on the frontier near Hodgenville, Kentucky, in 1809, he was a self-educated lawyer, state legislator and Congressman. In 1861, he would be elected as the 16th president of the United States, and served in office until his assassination in April 1865.”

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Per Deadline, “Netflix is continuing to shout about some of its successes, handing out some viewing data for titles including The Umbrella Academy, Triple Frontier, The Highwaymen, its Fyre Festival documentary and the David Attenborough-narrated Our Planet.

“In its first-quarter earnings report Tuesday, the streaming company revealed that in the first four weeks on the service, Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá’s comic book adaptation of Umbrella Academy was watched by 45 million households.

“Following the release of numbers for Bird Box last quarter, which was watched by 80 million households in its first month, Netflix today also revealed that The Highwaymen, starring Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson, was watched by more than 40M households in its first month. This was surpassed by action heist movie Triple Frontier, starring Ben Affleck and directed by J.C. Chandor, which hit 52M households in the same time period.

Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, about the controversial music festival, was watched by over 20 million member households in its first month. Netflix projected that nature docu Our Planet, which launched this month, will be viewed by over 25M households in its first month of release.

“This comes after Netflix last quarter gave out viewership stats for six series, including YouSex Education and Elite. The streaming giant opted to volunteer that You and Sex Education had each been seen by more than 40 million households in their initial weeks. Spanish series Elite had been seen by more than 20 million households, the company said.

“Netflix considers an episode as ‘viewed’ if at least one episode has been watched at least 70% of the way through. The company zealously guards its data and has steadfastly refused to provide the kinds of ratings updates that its linear competitors do, even those not obligated to advertisers.”

Per Indiewire, “[n]early three years after he was ousted from the network he helped make a cable news behemoth and two years after his passing, Roger Ailes is still an unmistakably influential figure in American politics. The mastermind behind Fox News is the subject of the upcoming series The Loudest Voice, which network Showtime took one more step towards unveiling on Tuesday.

“In the series’ first trailer, Russell Crowe stars as Ailes, playing the TV exec from the inception of the cable news channel. The Loudest Voice is built around Fox News’ on-screen breakthrough into shaping the mainstream conservative agenda and showing Ailes’ behind-the-scenes behavior, which eventually led to a series of lawsuits, including one filed by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson (played here by Naomi Watts).

The Loudest Voice supporting cast is bolstered by a number of performers playing Ailes’ real-life counterparts in the building of the Fox News empire. Sienna Miller co-stars as Elizabeth Tilson, Ailes’ wife, while Seth MacFarlane plays Brian Lewis, one of the network’s top PR specialists and whose eventual departure from the company paved the way for one of the biggest windows into the toxicity of Ailes’ tenure.

“One of two upcoming Ailes-centric projects, The Loudest Voice”joins Jay Roach’s still-untitled biopic, which will see Lithgow assume the Ailes role alongside Nicole Kidman as Carlson and Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly.

“This Showtime project, though, is an adaptation of Gabriel Sherman’s The Loudest Voice in the Room. Sherman, who has become one of the media’s go-to insiders for insights on the current culture at Fox News, co-wrote the series’ first episode with director and Oscar-winning screenwriter Tom McCarthy (Spotlight). TV vet Kari Skogland, who worked on the most recent season of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” directed multiple of the series’ seven episodes.

The Loudest Voice premieres June 30 on Showtime.”

I very much look forward to watching.

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Here is the letter that the WGA sent out to its members yesterday:

Dear Members,

The trades, citing “attorneys” who prefer to remain anonymous, have announced that writers “better think again” if they expect attorneys and managers to represent them during the agency campaign. We have also heard this from members whose managers and attorneys have previously provided the very services they are now questioning, in some cases for many years.

This is the kind of misleading propaganda at which some in Hollywood excel. The legal facts, as described by WGA’s labor and antitrust attorneys at Altshuler Berzon LLP, are as follows:

The reported concerns raised by attorneys and managers are based on a misunderstanding of the Talent Agencies Act, Cal. Labor Code §1700 et seq. The Act protects writers from receiving fraudulent or conflicted representation, which no writer is demanding a manager or attorney provide. Disputes between writers and talent agents or an entity acting as a talent agent are resolved by the California Labor Commissioner upon receiving notice from the parties of a controversy covered by the Act, a process no writer intends to pursue in the current circumstances. Cal. Labor Code §1700.44.

Nothing in the Act limits writers’ right to receive necessary representation, including from the managers and attorneys who have long provided representation services separate and apart from the services provided by agents. And nothing in the Act would expose managers or attorneys to any monetary damages or other legal liability under the Act to non-clients. Likewise, nothing in the ethical rules governing California attorneys precludes them from providing representation services to writers who have specifically requested those services. Indeed, attorneys who have been providing their clients with representation in connection with an ongoing matter (such as a contract negotiation) generally have an ethical obligation to continue doing so, and are prohibited from abandoning their clients in the midst of that ongoing matter. And it is clear that managers and lawyers can continue to provide writers with the representation services they have always provided, without facing any legal risk at all, including any risk of loss of payment. See Marathon Entertainment, Inc. v. Blasi, 42 Cal.4th 974, 996 (2008).

Although the concerns raised by certain attorneys and managers are baseless, the Guild has decided that its policy going forward is to encourage its members to honor any commitment to pay a talent manager or attorney for procuring or attempting to procure engagements or employment for the writer or for providing other representation notwithstanding any alleged violation of the Act, until further notice from the Guild. If a talent manager or attorney who provides such procurement services at a writer’s direction and in good faith is not otherwise paid for those services because of an alleged violation of the Act, the Guild will reimburse the talent manager or attorney in question for those services.

Finally, the Guild has heard accounts that managers and/or lawyers may be discussing withholding services from writers who are not represented by talent agents. But the expert antitrust attorneys from Altshuler Berzon LLP have advised that any agreement, explicit or implicit, among two or more managers or attorneys not to provide services to writers who are not represented by a talent agent would constitute a combination in restraint of trade in violation of federal antitrust law–specifically, Section 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. §1. Indeed, it would likely constitute a group boycott that is per se unlawful under longstanding Supreme Court precedent. See, e.g., FTC v. Super. Ct. Trial Lawyers Ass’n, 493 US 411. Please inform us or a member of the Board of Directors if your manager or attorney refuses to provide you with representation services, so that we can evaluate whether such an unlawful boycott has been implemented, or if you learn of any agreement to refrain from providing such services to the Guild’s members.

In the interim, for any members whose lawyers are refusing to work for them, high profile firms have reached out to the guild and offered their services to clients who need new legal representation.

In Solidarity,

David A. Goodman
President, WGAW

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Per Variety, “BET has ordered the docu-series Copwatch America from Renowned Films and Critical Content.

“The show will follow the work of activists known as ‘copwatchers’ who try to monitor police activity in volatile areas. BET has ordered 10 hourlong episodes from Renowned Films and Critical Content.

“‘BET Networks is committed to bringing important stories of systemic issues of race and justice across our nation to light. We are taking this on in a way no other brand and network can, through platforms like our powerful Finding Justice franchise and our upcoming original docu-series Copwatch America, said Marisa Levy, VP and head of unscripted for BET Networks. ‘We look forward to partnering with acclaimed storytellers Renowned Films and Critical Content and continue to empower our community and focus on activists who use video cameras to protect the rights and in some cases, the lives of African-Americans in police encounters.’

Copwatch America is executive produced by Max Welch, Tim Withers and Duane Jones for Renowned Films and by Tom Forman for Critical Content. The show will deal with grittier subject matter than BET, which has undergone a management shakeup in the past year, has fielded with its unscripted programming in the past.

“‘Copwatch America will be shocking, eye-opening, exhilarating, explosive must watch action getting to the core of one of the biggest issues facing America, its police and the communities they serve today,’ said Welch. ‘Prepare for plenty of confrontation, powerful personal stories, injustices, and debate, as we capture the groundbreaking stories of those on both sides of the story in search of truth.’

“Added Jones: ‘It has never been more of an important time to bring the remarkable stories of cop watchers across the U.S. and their continued fight against injustice to the public.’

“BET said the show’s cameras will be ‘embedded’ with activists in major cities and will also aim to give the perspective of law enforcement officers on incidents. BET said the series is slated for a fall premiere.

“‘I’ve spent my career telling law enforcement stories, but never from this perspective. Not even close. Hats off to BET for allowing us to tackle this subject matter in a way that speaks to their audience and this time,’ said Forman, who is CEO of Critical Content.”

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From The New York Post: “Stassi Schroeder has a Mean Girls-like message for Vanderpump Rules newcomer Billie Lee: ‘You don’t even go here!’

“The 30-year-old reality star quoted the film on SiriusXM’s The Jenny McCarthy Show when asked how she feels about new cast members starting drama in order to stand out on the Bravo show.

“‘I don’t actually feel that bad for new people, because I wish they would just leave,’ Schroeder admitted, before contemplating that it ‘must suck’ to try to break into an established group of friends.

“She continued, ‘They come in and they think they’re about to be a star, and it’s, like, “You have no idea what’s coming for you.”’

“When Jenny McCarthy asked if Schroeder was referring to one particular person, Schroeder named Lee, saying ‘the things she tries to fight about is ridiculous.’

“‘“You don’t even go here” — that’s what it feels like,’ she added, referencing an iconic Mean Girls line. ‘If she was actually nice and kind and friendly to us, I think she would [fit in], but to just expect to be invited to every little thing we do, when we don’t know you, and pitch a fit when you’re not … acting like we’ve been friends for years? You just met us, so, no, you’re not coming to my little four-girl wine night.’

“Lee said in a statement to Page Six that she ‘never got upset or complained about a four-person girl’s wine night.’

“‘I have always been kind to Stassi and I don’t recall ever being upset about a wine night… I have stated over and over, if there’s a work event called “GIRLS night in,” I should be included,’ she said. ‘It was all about the work place and gender sensitivity. I am not the one who put transphobia on blast or perpetuated the drama for any cameras. Also, Stassi doesn’t work at Sur, so I’m confused.’

“On Vanderpump Rules, Lee — who is transgender—accused her co-stars, including Schroeder, of leaving her out of a theme party at SUR because of her gender identity.

“‘When yo coworkers don’t include the only trans girl in GIRLS night at your own job! On the night you work!’ Lee, 35, tweeted in July, adding the hashtags ‘#RudeAF’ and ‘#TransIsBeautiful.’

“Schroeder said newbies should ‘earn’ a spot on the show, pointing out that breakout star Lala Kent worked for hers. She added that she and the original cast members didn’t feel the need to prove themselves, and that she went into Season 1 thinking, ‘I’ve got this in the bag. I’m Blair Waldorf and everyone’s going to have to deal with it.’”

Tuesday April 16, 2019

17.4M tuned in for the season 8 Game of Thrones premiere.

Rob McElhenney and Martin Starr were in the Game of Thrones season 8 premiere.

HBO has confirmed that neither Curb Your Enthusiasm nor Westworld not Insecure will return until 2020.

NBC has renewed Manifest for a 2nd season. Color me surprised.

Viceland has canceled Vice Live.

Season 10 of Archer will premiere on May 29.

This Is Us star Sterling K. Brown will spend part of his hiatus from the NBC series on another Emmy-winning show. Brown has joined the cast of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel for its third season. He announced the news in a video posted to his social media accounts Monday, saying he was "eastward bound" to start work on the show, which is in production on season three. ‘The Palladinos were kind enough to write a little something for your boy, and I said yes,’ Brown said in the video, referring to Mrs. Maisel executive producers Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino. ‘I'm gettin' together with Midge, and it's going to be awesome.’ Details about the role and its duration are being kept under wraps at the moment.”

AT&T has sold its minority stake in Hulu back to Hulu. The transaction valued Hulu at $15 billion, with AT&T’s 9.5% interest worth $1.43 billion. The transaction did not require any governmental or other third-party approvals and was simultaneously signed and closed. Hulu is the entity purchasing AT&T’s shares, and Hulu’s owners — Disney and Comcast — will have an undisclosed window of time to allocate the shares.”

A review of Dax Shepard’s new show Bless This Mess, which premieres tonight on ABC.

Lala Kent doesn’t know when she’s getting married but is ready to be a mom.

Here's how she stays sober around her drunken castmates.

"As of April 15, WGA members demonstrated an impressive level of solidarity with the guild. Prominent screenwriters and showrunners shared copies of their termination letters via social media and voiced strong support for the guild’s campaign to reform the rules that govern how agents work with WGA members. Talent agents, represented by the Assn. of Talent Agents trade organization, are digging in their heels in opposition to the WGA’s new rules. In blowing up the negotiations, both sides have seemingly decided to see who will feel the most pain from the separation — and who will be motivated to offer concessions in order to reunite the warring parties. The WGA is expected to soon file a lawsuit against the ATA and its members, putting a legal framework on the guild’s opposition to talent agents earning packaging fees and the expansion of the largest agencies (through parent companies) into the finance and production arena. But a legal process will likely take months to produce any decisions. The industry is highly attuned to whether dealmaking for new projects or the management of existing business will be affected by the absence of agents from the equation. There are also questions about how strictly the WGA will enforce its mandate that members sever business ties to agents who refuse to affirm the guild’s newly implemented Agency Code of Conduct."

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, "MTV on Tuesday announced plans to launch RealityCon. The first-ever event will convene stars, producers and creators of reality TV's biggest franchises — including original MTV hits such as The HillsJersey ShoreThe Real World and The Challenge, among others.

"RealityCon will take place in the summer of 2020 with a soft launch this fall. According to a press release, the event will feature fan activations, performances, interviews and roundtable discussions exploring the genre's impact on society, representation of diversity in media and influence on entertainment, among other topics.

"Aside from MTV's own programming, RealityCon will welcome familiar faces from other networks' roster of reality. Key players from Big BrotherThe BachelorRuPaul's Drag Race, SurvivorDuck DynastyLove & Hip HopMob Wives and The Real Housewives are also expected to participate.

"RealityCon is the latest expansion in MTV's fast-growing live events business, which already includes the SnowGlobe Music Festival and MTV Spring Break. A location and venue for RealityCon will be announced at a later date.

"MTV's event follows the trend of networks holding daylong events to promote their own shows. Freeform just held its second annual summit in March, while Comedy Central is hosting its third annual Clusterfest comedy festival for three days this June."

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From TheWrap: "Forget all that 'Winter is coming' stuff — CNBC is ready for summer. TheWrap can exclusively reveal the cable channel’s Summer 2019 slate, and we’ve also got your first look at JoJo Fletcher’s and Jordan Rodgers’ house-flipping series Cash Pad, among other shows.

"This summer season, CNBC will air its biggest primetime slate yet, with more than 50 new hours of premieres. Included among them are three new original series: the aforementioned Cash Pad, as well as Listing Impossible and Five Day Biz Fix (working title). Returning are new installments of CNBC’s popular franchise series, Deal or No Deal with Howie Mandel, The Profit: An Inside Look with Marcus Lemonis, Season 3 of Jay Leno’s Garage, Season 13 of American Greed and Season 2 of The Deed: Chicago.

"CNBC’s full summer programming line-up is below in airdate order — all descriptions are in the cable channel’s own words:

Deal or No Deal Premieres Wednesday, June 12 at 9 p.m. ET/PT
The new Deal or No Deal with host and executive producer Howie Mandel returns with 10 all-new episodes and continues to offer up a high-pressure, high-stakes game of risk and reward, in which contestants face a series of potentially life-altering decisions. With 26 sealed briefcases full of varying amounts of cash – ranging from a penny to $1 million — contestants have to decide whether to accept an offer of cash from the mysterious entity known only as “the Banker,” in exchange for what might be contained in the contestant’s chosen briefcase. The new Deal or No Deal is produced by Truly Original, a subsidiary of Endemol Shine North America, with Steven Weinstock, Glenda Hersh and Scott St. John as executive producers. Jim Ackerman and Christian Barcellos are the executive producers for CNBC.

The Profit: An Inside Look Premieres Tuesday, June 18 at 10 p.m ET/PT
Marcus Lemonis looks back at a classic episode, discussing lessons learned and revealing behind-the-scenes stories about filming with Executive Producer Amber Mazzola.  The Profit: An Inside Look is produced for CNBC by Machete Productions with Amber Mazzola serving as executive producer. Jim Ackerman and Luke Bauer are the executive producers for CNBC.

Cash Pad Premieres Thursday, July 25 at 9 p.m ET/PT
JoJo Fletcher and Jordan Rodgers, the engaged break-out stars of The Bachelorette, are also experienced house flippers.  In this eight episode series, the dynamic couple partner with homeowners in Dallas, Austin, and Phoenix who are in serious need of extra income and hoping to turn their properties into thriving short-term rentals.  Whether they’re transforming a decrepit shipping container, a rundown airstream, or a garage in disrepair, JoJo and Jordan are up for the task of creating one-of-a-kind vacation hot-spots that will provide a life-changing financial boost for their homeowner partners. Produced by Electus with Chris Grant, Drew Buckley, Tim Puntillo, Craig Plestis and Ming Lee Howell as executive producers. Jim Ackerman and Marshall Eisen are the executive producers for CNBC.

Listing Impossible Premieres Thursday, July 25 at 10 p.m ET/PT
When L.A.’s wealthiest put their multi-million dollar properties up for sale, they sometimes learn that the house of their dreams… isn’t anyone else’s. And as a result their very, um, unique creations can end up sitting on the market for years. That’s where superstar real estate agent Aaron Kirman and his team come in. To fix up the homes and attract the right buyers, they’ll need to tell these owners the cold, hard truth – something the rich and powerful don’t always like to hear. The eight episode series is produced by Authentic Entertainment, a division of Endemol Shine North America, with David Tibballs, Helga Eike, and Sara Reddy as executive producers. Jim Ackerman and Luke Bauer are the executive producers for CNBC. 

American Greed Premieres Monday, August 12 at 10 p.m ET/PT
Narrated by award winning actor Stacy Keach, CNBC’s true crime series, now entering its 13th season, examines the dark side of the American dream, unveiling scandalous stories of massive fraud by criminals motivated by greed. From the disastrous Fyre Festival, to Paul Manafort’s fraud, to the college admissions scam, some people will do ANYTHING for money. Produced for CNBC by Kurtis Productions with Mike West as Executive Producer. Charles Schaeffer is the Executive Producer for CNBC.

Jay Leno’s Garage Premieres Wednesday, August 28 at 10 p.m ET/PT
Jay Leno’s Garage, hosted by legendary comedian and “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno, returns for season five with eight episodes full of adventure, cool rides, plus a few special guests including John Travolta, Martha Stewart, Tim Allen, and Jim Jefferies, among others. Jay Leno’s Garage takes the fast and the furious car fan for a high-octane spin across the country with a mix of stunts, reviews, celebrity interviews and challenges. As well as putting some of the world’s most amazing vehicles through their paces, Jay meets fellow car enthusiasts from who he’ll discover the touching, hilarious and sometimes hard to believe stories that make these cars more than just rubber and metal. There’s no wheel Jay won’t get behind to tell the story of our love affair with the automobile. Jay Leno’s Garage is produced by Original Productions, a FremantleMedia Company, and Kitten Kaboodle, with Jay Leno, Jeff Hasler, Jeff Bumgarner, Brian Lovett, Ernie Avila and Abby Schwarzwalder as executive producers. Jim Ackerman and Adam Barry are the executive producers for CNBC.

Five Day Biz Fix (wt) Premieres Thursday, September 19 at 9 p.m ET/PT
Husband and wife team Chrissy and Erik Kopplin re-think, re-design, and renovate small businesses in just five days. Using their years of high-end retail design experience and construction know-how, Chrissy and Erik come up with innovative ways to revamp underperforming spaces. Whether it’s building a bar in a book shop or creating a restaurant in a hotel bedroom, these out-of-the-box renos are guaranteed to boost revenue. Produced by Turn Card Content with Audra Smith, Courtney Smith, and Karin Jarlstedt as executive producers. Jim Ackerman, Marshall Eisen and Adam Barry are the executive producers for CNBC. 

The Deed: Chicago Premieres Thursday, September 19 at 10 p.m ET/PT
On CNBC’s The Deed: Chicago, multi-millionaire real estate mogul Sean Conlon helps rescue struggling property developers from the brink of financial ruin, in exchange for a piece of the property and a share of the profits. This season: more ambitious projects come with bigger risks… and bigger potential paydays – from a high end commercial designer who’s more concerned with her brand than the budget, to an ambitious ex-con who’s buried under a thirteen property flip. Produced for CNBC by Cineflix (Deed 2) Inc. with Dave Hamilton and Mark Powell as executive producers for Cineflix. Jim Ackerman and Adam Barry are the executive producers for CNBC."

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Per Deadline, “Katz Networks, a unit of the E.W. Scripps Co., has set May 8 for the relaunch of the iconic TV brand Court TV, and unveiled its programming schedule for the network as well as courttv.com.

“Weekday programming will kick off at 9 AM EDT daily with live, gavel-to-gavel coverage, legal reporting and expert analysis of trials across the country. Yodit Tewolde will anchor trial coverage from 9 AM-Noon, Julie Grant picks up from Noon–3 PM, followed by Seema Iyer from 3-6 PM, all times EDT. The first trial the network will be covering will be announced shortly.

“When court recesses for the day, Emmy-winning legal journalist, former prosecutor and original Court TV anchor Vinnie Politan will host Closing Arguments with Vinnie Politan weeknights from 6-9 PM ET. He’ll lead viewers through the key events and moments of the legal day, joined by Court TV’s team of anchors, legal correspondents and veteran crime and justice journalists, along with top attorneys, investigators and experts who will provide legal insights, opinion, discussion and debate.

“‘What SportsCenter is to sports, Closing Arguments will be to the legal world,’ said Politan. ‘Viewers will get nightly highlights of the trial we’re covering plus we’ll also tick through news from the other major true crime stories of the day. After our great, all-day trial coverage, it’ll be must-see viewing for those who want to keep up with everything happening in our nation’s legal system and courtrooms.’

“Court TV’s team of legal correspondents and reporters includes Chanley Painter, Ted Rowlands and Julia Jenaé. Overseeing Court TV programming are former Court TV and CNN producers John Alleva and Scott Tufts as vice presidents and managing editors.

“For nearly two decades, Court TV brought high-profile courtroom dramas into American living rooms with trials such as O.J. Simpson, the Menendez Brothers and Casey Anthony. The new Court TV will run 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will be carried on cable, satellite, over-the-air and over-the-top. The network has agreements with local TV station groups including Tribune, Scripps and Univision. Those deals will make Court available in more than 50% of U.S. TV households at launch, with cable reach to 25% of homes. New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Miami, Washington and Detroit are among the major markets in which Court TV will be seen; more distribution agreements will be announced before launch.

“During its prime years in the 1990s and early 2000s, Court TV, then owned by Turner Broadcasting, was desirable acquisition target and an incubator of notable talent both on camera and in the executive suite. Its on-air personalities included Nancy Grace, Dan Abrams, Catherine Crier and Terry Moran and its executive roster included Henry Schleiff (now a group president at Discovery), Erik Sorenson (who went on to lead MSNBC) and Evan Shapiro (a producer and former head of cable networks IFC and Pivot). Court TV’s 17-year run ended in 2008, when Turner rebranded it as truTV.

“In order to pull off the reboot, Katz acquired Court TV’s intellectual property, including the trademark, website and 100,000-hour library from Turner.”

Per The Ringer, “The Game of Thrones title sequence is, without exaggeration, a modern masterpiece. Born of the practical need to show people who never read the books where the hell this story is taking place, the literal gears and machinations of power evoke the world-building that is the heart and soul of George R.R. Martin’s series. The introduction, set to the sensational composition by Ramin Djawadi, is beloved by critics. Game of Thrones has won 38 Emmys, but its first was for its title sequence. It’s beloved by the people: It’s among the most parodied videos on YouTube and has even been commodified by Oreos. But rather than rest on their laurels, the people who made this iconic work plucked out the title sequence root and stem and remade the entire thing for the final season.

“The changes were the first twist of Thrones final season. With all the living characters in just a few places, the introduction condensed the show’s world to a handful of familiar locations but dove deeper into them. Rather than starting from the sun that illuminates the map and diving down toward King’s Landing, we begin north of the Wall and move south. Specifically, we move through the Wall, which has a gaping hole, and see some neat light-up blue tiles from the Billie Jean music video. We visit Winterfell, dive inside the Great Hall, and head to the crypts beneath lit by torch light. Then we fly to King’s Landing, visit the Red Keep, and enter the Throne Room, coming face-to-sword with the Iron Throne.

“The title sequence has been modified before. In each episode, the cities shown are altered based on what is depicted in that week’s plot, and new locations have been added when new cities are introduced. But it’s never been revamped quite like this. To get to the bottom of these changes, we spoke to two of the project leaders at Elastic, the studio that creates the visuals for Thrones’ opening sequences and has also done intros for True DetectiveThe LeftoversDeadwoodCarnivàle, and Westworld. Elastic creative director Angus Wall and art director Kirk Shintani broke down why they updated the sequence, how the coolest part of the Thrones intro was inspired by a ’70s show about a private detective, and whether the intro could be a physical object that exists in Westeros. (These interviews have been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.):

Was there any discussion about which places you wanted to highlight in the new intro? Or was it obvious?

Angus Wall: It was fairly obvious. Before every season, we have a conversation with [creators D.B. Weiss and David Benioff and producers Greg Spence and Carolyn Strauss], and there wasn’t a lot of doubt about where we needed to go. And quite honestly, they give us the places. They give us just enough information to do what we need to do every season and nothing more. We don’t know all the story beats that happen in Season 8, for instance. But we do know kind of the basics, and given that brief from them it became very obvious where we needed to go. I think there were questions about where we should start and where we should end. I mean, the opening of this is very different from previous seasons, which all start from King’s Landing, or they start at the astrolabe and then dive down to King’s Landing. We wanted to start in a very similar way but begin in a different location, which is north of the Wall, and then we sweep through the gap in the Wall and head south. It made sense given, frankly, the name of the show, Game of Thrones, to end inside and at the Iron Throne for this new title sequence as that, in an ultimate way, that’s where the whole show is heading. It’s like, that’s the seat of all power.

Had you thought about going inside the buildings before?

Kirk Shintani: That was something that Dan and David approached us about in 2017. They had a definite vision as to what they wanted to accomplish for the main title in the last season. And they wanted to go in and change everything and give the viewer a new look on what this main title could be. And for them I think it had everything to do with furthering their story, which I appreciate 100 percent.

That’s definitely one of the things where for us we wondered [after Season 1] what would that look like? We kind of took this bird’s-eye view and it was very wide and the scope of it was more broad. And when Dan and David came to us and said they wanted to fly into stuff, we were pretty thrilled. And then it begged the question of, “How do we do that?” Because we basically had to throw everything out and start over from scratch in order to go from the outside to the inside. This season was closer to Season 1 than the other seasons because we redid the whole thing. We didn’t reuse anything from the previous seasons. Season 2 through 7 it was more of an editorial exercise of updating shots and keeping some of the stuff we had done prior, but this one is all brand new, so it was kind of flashbacks for the crew to Season 1.

You guys go into the Red Keep and the crypts and the Throne Room. What’s the difference between designing architecture versus interior design?

Wall: When you’re inside, we had to answer a couple new questions, and that is, “How are these spaces lit?” In the crypt beneath Winterfell, in particular, that is almost entirely lit by torchlight so, actually, the Winterfell crypt was the design that required the most iterations because we started with one concept of how to light it and we ended up with a very different one. Not radically different, but a slightly different version of it that was more like the actual physical location. … When we first go inside Winterfell, there are some really beautiful lighting effects. There are panels that open, and this happens all the way through the sequence; there are panels that open and let in the exterior light, and that really allows for some additional drama when you’re revealing these spaces, which is pretty cool.

The Last Hearth is new. What was it like designing that?

Shintani: I think the big thing with the new location was you’ll notice the land that it is sitting on is actually a spiral, so that is thematic of what’s been going on with the White Walkers since Episode 1. So for us that was a cool little tidbit to figure out how to incorporate the spiral into the location. And that is something Dan and David thought would be really cool to throw into there.

And I also noticed that the title now has blue tiles moving in the direction of some of the show’s settings, and obviously that is ice expanding, but I’m curious why you chose to go with the square pattern.

Wall: It’s one of the things we had talked about in the early design sessions for Season 1. Making these tiles that would create the ground plane but actually see them change. It could represent the movement of people, it could represent the movement of armies, it could represent the movement of seasons, or whatever. So that’s a design system that we never implemented until Season 8.

Were there any great ideas you had to leave on the cutting room floor?

Shintani: I think, ironically, for us we’ve been staring at this main title for almost nine years now. For Season 1, there were tons of ideas that we didn’t get in there, and over the last seven seasons we’ve always wished we could redo it. So this last season gave us that chance. … Season 1, we’re trying to establish everything; we had to take this broader view and show people this is where King’s Landing is, this is where Winterfell is, this is where Astapor is. It was more about localizing the viewer so they understood what this world was. But now, in Season 8, everybody knows where everything is. I mean, there is no big mystery to where these locations are, so we had an opportunity this season to add the finer details we were toying with in Season 1.

Is the process easier now than it was nearly 10 years ago, when you started on the original introduction?

Shintani: The biggest thing is the sheer amount of power you have on the desktop versus now. Ten years ago is eons in technology terms. … The updates to the software have been mind-boggling. We’re using basically the same packages, but just the execution of it is so much easier to get super detailed. Season 1, we were afraid we were going to fill up our servers because the size of the stuff was so big because we had so many moving parts. I don’t know the exact number, but Season 8 compared to Season 1 is probably 20 times, 25 times larger. It’s a little gnarly. We’re talking about a lot of data.

Wall: One of the things we did this year that we did for the new season was actually gave everything a very specific scale. In the first seven seasons, the actual scale of all the textures and of the different structures was a little bit nebulous. So for instance, in the first seven seasons, it’s hard to know really how big the Red Keep is proportional to, you know, the real world. In the new season the Red Keep is 20 feet tall. So in designing all these things we were very, very specific in trying to approach reality as much as possible with the scale of all of the objects.

The astrolabe—the rotating thing with the bands and light and logo—I know there’s three bands on it and it tells the history of Westeros. Did you consider adding a fourth ring?

Shintani: It did come up as a possibility, but I think up until this point it’s kind of been—the point of the astrolabe in seasons 1 through 7 was to kind of give the prehistory. So if you look at what is on there, it’s all of the stuff that leads up to Season 1. So it kind of gives the astute viewer a background of where you are in the broader history of Westeros. So in Season 8, we actually updated all of the bands. And they all reflect stuff that’s actually been in the show to kind of show that it has been a long time and there has been significant events that have transpired in the show that need to be recorded down in history. So for us the hardest part was figuring out which three events to highlight because there’s pivotal moments in the show.

I read that for the original maps you consulted with George R.R. Martin for scale and to make everything right. Did you consult with him for the interiors or anything on this version?

Wall: No.

How does it feel to make an intro that some fans may consider among the greatest ever?

Wall: It’s kind of a leading question. Better than The Rockford Files, are you kidding? And actually I believe the message left on Jim Rockford’s phone changed every episode, which is actually a little bit of the inspiration—I don’t know that I’ve ever said this before—but it was actually part of the inspiration of changing this every episode.

Wait, the Rockford Files phone message was the reason that you thought about changing the title sequence?

Wall: Well, it was definitely a reference for like, “Hey, title sequences don’t have to be the same every episode.” It’s kind of cool when there are things that change episode to episode.

You said in a great interview with Art of the Title that the goal for making the original title sequence was “to replicate something that looks and acts like a physical object.” Why was it important to make it feel like a physical thing?

Wall: I think we wanted to build something that could theoretically exist within the show. Within the world of the show. And because of that, the goal should be to make something that was made from the materials that you see throughout the show, which is wood, metal, leather, fabric, some glass, primitive glass, that all seems like it needed to be in keeping with the materials of the show proper.

Is it possible that the intro is a thing that exists in the show?

Wall: Somebody asked me, “Where is this?” We did have this early mental construct of sort of mad monks watching everything unfold, watching the narrative unfold through the map and sort of monitoring things. I don’t know where the map would be if it was in the show. It was designed as a separate, almost like a companion world to the world of the show. Obviously there’s an astrolabe in the show, which we were really delighted to see, quite frankly. But yeah, I think you’d have to ask Dan and Dave that.”

Monday April 15, 2019

HBO has released a trailer for season 2 of Big Little Lies.

A recap of last night’s season premiere of Game of Thrones. Move along if you haven’t yet watched.

Here’s an early look at next week’s episode.

And an interview with Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran Stark).

Lastly, for now, the fate of Ed Sheeran’s character.

All this and we haven’t even touched up Killing Eve or Billions, both of which remain fantastic.

And what about what John Oliver put together last night?

Can we agree that there is too much to watch on Sunday night right now?

Hulu has renewed Shrill for a 2nd season. I’m a few episodes in and it’s definitely worthy of a pick up.

Hulu also announced that Mindy Kaling’s Four Weddings and a Funeral will premiere on July 31.

Veronica Mars returns to Hulu on July 26.

I watched Special on Netflix. I liked it. VERY easy to knock out, as each episode is only 15 minutes.

No Good Nick is now available to stream on Netflix. “A family finds their lives turned upside down when a teenage con artist shows up on their doorstep, claiming she's a distant relative.”

Gayle King’s deal negotiations at CBS are taking so long that staff now fear there’s not enough money to keep her. The star is working on a new deal to stay on CBS This Morning. As we revealed, she is in talks to double her current $5.5 million annual salary. And while the contract was expected to be wrapped up earlier this month, it’s still not done. A high-level source told Page Six: ‘It’s not like CBS News can all of a sudden find ABC or NBC money — it has to come from somewhere.’ It’s been suggested that Susan Zirinsky, the new CBS News president, has been given an extra pot of cash to spend on talent. But, our source added: ‘There’s not that much!’”

A first look at Disney’s live-action Star Wars series The Mandalorian.

“HBO is set to debut the previously-announced Muhammad Ali doc What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali on May 14. The two-part doc, directed by Training Day and The Equalizer director Antoine Fuqua, follows the iconic boxer’s triumphs, challenges and comebacks using recordings of Ali’s voice as well as archival footage, including some previously unseen. The first chapter looks at Ali’s early life as Cassius Clay, including his gold medal win at the Rome Olympics, becoming heavyweight champ at 22, converting to Islam and developing a close relationship with Malcolm X, and refusing to fight in Vietnam. Chapter two looks at his later life, going on a tour fighting his nemeses and becoming a goodwill ambassador and philanthropist.”

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Read TheWrap’s full interview with [Killing Eve’s Jodie] Comer below:

Killing Eve has a new writer for Season 2, Emerald Fennell. Has that changed the show at all for you?

It’s been great. Obviously change is always daunting, you know. But she’s incredible. Emerald is a fantastic writer in her own right. And she’s a close friend of Phoebe’s, actually. I feel Season 2 really continues that wit and the dark undercurrent, the seriousness of what’s going on. She’s really captured the voice of the show. And she’s great fun. It’s been really collaborative, which is so lucky, because you don’t always get that luxury of having an opinion.

Season 1 turned out to be such a massive hit, did you feel any added pressure going into Season 2?

Yes. Yes, yes, yes. [Laughs.] No, you know what I think it is? I think when something is so well-received, of course you then have that sense of, ‘Well, we can’t f— it up now.’ It’s like, you want to reach the same level of celebration. But, ultimately, when you get to set you have to focus on the material and the work, and you can’t think about the bigger picture. You have to just focus on what you’re doing now.

The show picks up right after Villanelle gets stabbed by Eve, and this is really the first time we see her on her back foot a little bit. What was playing that side of the character like?

It’s been fascinating. She always thinks she’s one step ahead of the game, but now she can’t physically do what she needs to do. She is very much helpless, and it’s interesting to have seen how she tries to navigate the world around her when she’s in this situation. She’s just completely out of her depth.

What’s going on in her head in that moment? Does this change how she sees her relationship with Eve?

I think what’s gonna be interesting for the audience is, I don’t know that she’s going to react in the way they’re expecting. That physical action is so enormous to her, and probably means something to Villanelle that it wouldn’t to anyone else in their right mind. In a way, it creates a connection between the two of them that neither of them are expecting.

In your mind, what is Villanelle’s attraction to Eve? Is it romantic? Is it sexual?

I think for Villanelle, there definitely is a sexual attraction. There’s so much more to it than that, but I think, absolutely. And in her world she thinks Villanelle and Eve could just live together and watch movies. In that warped sense of reality, she knows what she feels toward this person, but I don’t think she can comprehend her emotions at all. And that’s what we explore throughout [Season] 2, but I very much feel that she thinks she knows what love is.

The new season also introduces the idea that there’s a new girl in town, almost like a rival to Villanelle. How does she react to that?

That’s also a very interesting. She really tries not to show that she’s concerned about this other person, but deep down somewhere it’s like “What if Eve actually forgets about me?” And at the same time, she’s got such a high sense of self-worth, so she’s also thinking “Okay, this person can distract her for a minute, but we all know who’s gonna be the winner.”

One of the hallmarks of the show are those little moments of humor interspersed throughout the really dark, dark stuff, a lot of which come from your character. How do you find the balance between those two elements?

Well, Damon Thomas came back to direct for [Season] 2, and he has my complete trust. He really creates a safe space on set and encourages me to take those risks. I trust him to tell me if it’s too much, and I trust him to know when it’s great. When you have trust, you can really try to push those moments, and you know he’s going to come back and go, “No, doesn’t work.” And that’s fine, but it’s the encouragement that I really appreciate. It’s that relationship, really, of trust with a director that allows you to just have some fun and play around with it. Villanelle, herself, is so playful, and when a director creates that environment, those moments can arise naturally.

You also get a lot of opportunities to slip in and out of accents and languages throughout the show, even more this season. Do you find that challenging to manage?

Definitely. Particularly with the languages. I don’t speak any languages, so I have to learn all that phonetically. But really, it’s just another element of the job that is so much fun. A lot of other characters don’t allow you to explore this much within one story. I feel like, as long as I know my lines and I’ve done my homework, the day can be gone like that. Plus, I have a voice coach who keeps me on my toes and is always correcting me if I start slipping.

How much time do you usually have to prepare for a scene or an episode?

It really varies, because sometimes the scripts come in late and you have a week. Or sometimes we start filming in July, we get them in April/May. If I’ve got a really big scene, I’ll try to get ahead of it at least a couple of weeks, but a lot of it is within that week. If I have a scene on Thursday, I may not get it until Monday. It just depends on what the scenes entail.

It’s not really an action-heavy show, but there are a few fight scenes here and there, and there’s a lot of physicality to the part. Do you find that challenging?

It can break up a scene quite a lot, so the challenge is always keeping up the momentum and whatever the emotion is throughout the scene. If you’re picking up in the middle, making sure it flows well and there’s a continuity. But they’re never what I expect. I love the surprise element of reading a kill and being like, “Oh wow.” It’s always so out of the box.

Do you have a favorite kill?

I have one favorite that I liked doing and one that I liked the finished version. The one I really enjoyed doing was the one [in episode 3] where she clamped the guy’s balls. That’s just great. When I read it, I was like, [Nods] “Hmm, okay.” But the one I really loved watching — and actually shocked me — was Bill. There was something about that one where I was like, “Oh god, Villanelle, did you have to do that?”

That smile afterward is so instantly iconic.

And when you’re filming it, you don’t see it. But seeing it all together, you’re just like, “Whoa.”

The show is so much about this game of cat and mouse between Villanelle and Eve, but how often do you actually get to film a scene with Sandra?

[Season] 1 was not a lot at all. But, of course, the way these women’s trajectories are going, they ultimately will have to come back together, given the way their lives have collided together. So you definitely do see them around each other a lot more than in [Season] 1. How that will work is a separate conversation.”

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Per Deadline, “Former Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany is set for a lead role opposite Matthew Rhys in Perry Mason, HBO limited series from Team Downey.

“Written and executive produced by Rolin Jones and Ron Fitzgerald, who also will showrun, the reimagined Perry Mason is set in 1932 Los Angeles. While the rest of the country recovers from the Great Depression, this city is booming! Oil! Olympic Games! Talking Pictures! Evangelical Fervor! And a child kidnapping gone very, very wrong! Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner, this limited series follows the origins of American Fiction’s most legendary criminal defense lawyer, Perry Mason (Rhys). When the case of the decade breaks down his door, Mason’s relentless pursuit of the truth reveals a fractured city and just maybe, a pathway to redemption for himself.

“Maslany will play Sister Alice, a rare sight – the leader of the Radiant Assembly of God, preaching three sermons a day (21 a week!) to a hungry congregation and a radio audience that spans the country. Entertainer, politician, God’s conduit to the City of Angels, Sister Alice wields great power when she speaks, and plans to use it in ways only she can know.

“Robert and Susan Downey, who developed the project, executive produce along with Team Downey’s Amanda Burrell, and Joe Horaceck. Rhys produces. Tim Van Patten directs and executive produces.

Perry Mason brings together two recent lead actor in a drama series winners — Rhys won in 2018 for The Americans; Maslany won in 2016 for Orphan Black. 

“Maslany also earned two Critics’ Choice awards and Golden Globe and SAG award nominations for her portrayal of various clones on the BBC America seres. She is currently making her Broadway debut in Ivo van Hove’s Network alongside Bryan Cranston and Tony Goldwyn.”

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From The Hollywood Reporter: “Dick Wolf is expanding his TV empire with an unscripted series at Fox.

“The network has ordered First Responders Live, which will follow firefighters, police officers and EMS personnel from around the country during a night on the job. Former Good Morning America anchor Josh Elliott will host the Live PD-esque show, which premieres June 12.

"‘I am thrilled to work with the legendary Dick Wolf on a show that will give viewers a unique look at the bravest and most courageous among us, as they jump into the fray to rescue and save lives,; said Rob Wade, president alternative entertainment and specials, Fox Entertainment. ‘With the success of our drama 911, viewers have a strong appetite for stories based in this world. Watching real first responders spring into action as they answer these calls will be a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat journey for viewers each week.’

“Added Wolf, ‘I have always been fascinated by the brave work of first responders, who face life-and-death decisions on a daily basis. First Responders Live will give viewers a front-row seat to paramedic, fire and police calls, and they will see the challenges of every type of emergency. It is truly the real-life version of Chicago Fire, Chicago PD and Chicago Med.’

“The pickup puts Fox in business with Wolf for the first time since his series New York Undercover ran on the network in the 1990s. The mega-producer has a continuation of that series in contention for next season at ABC, along with the Chicago franchise and Law & Order: SVU at NBC and FBI and a potential spinoff at CBS. Wolf's company also produces unscripted series Cold Justice, Criminal Confessions and Murder for Hire for cable network Oxygen.”

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No one but Howard Stern could get Andy Cohen to talk about his threesome with a hetero couple, or get Chevy Chase to discuss his brawl with Bill Murray.

“Now Stern has collected his greatest interviews in Howard Stern Comes Again, and connected them with essays that explain his evolution from drive-time shock jock to self-coronated King of All Media to most probing interviewer of his generation.

In the book, due May 14 from Simon & Schuster, Bravo’s openly gay Cohen told Stern: ‘One of the things that was on my turning-40 bucket list was, “How cool it would be to lose my virginity?” In my mind, if I did it, I would want to do it with a straight couple.’ (Cohen considers himself a virgin because he’s never slept with a woman.)

“Cohen, who welcomed a baby son, Benjamin, via surrogate in February, said he texted his friend Kelly Ripa a graphic photo related to the threesome. Cohen moved ahead with his plan, but he ended up as a naked spectator and is sadly still a virgin.

“Chase gave a blow-by-blow of his aborted brawl with Murray at the Saturday Night Live”studio. ‘Words were said. I finally went to his dressing room just before the show and opened the door and said, “You say something like that again, I’m gonna . . .”’

“‘Billy jumped up and charged me at the door. And I immediately got into a fight stance, because I boxed a lot . . . Billy’s older brother came behind me and grabbed my arms to stop me. He was strong as hell. Short guy, but these guys had obviously been in a few rumbles.’

“Murray told Stern it was ‘a Hollywood fistfight,’ adding, ‘I do not like people who complain about being famous. But I’d say to people, “You want to be rich and famous? Try being rich and see if that doesn’t cover most of it for you.”’

“Jerry Seinfeld confessed he is obsessed with finding new material, even when at home with his wife: ‘I’m not authentically with her, nor am I authentically with you right now . . . Every second of my existence, I’m thinking, “Could I do something with that?”’

“Paul McCartney discussed The Beatles’ initial frostiness to Yoko Ono: ‘We didn’t welcome Yoko in the studio because we thought it was a guy thing . . . Later on, we suddenly sort of thought, “You know what? John’s in love with this girl . . . we’ve got to cope with it.”’

“Other interviewees include Madonna, Mike Tyson, Larry David, Lady Gaga, Tracy Morgan, Courtney Love, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon and Billy Joel.”

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Per Variety, “[t]he room at the Beverly Hilton was booked until midnight. But it took only about an hour on Friday afternoon for contract negotiations to break down and war to ensue between the Writers Guild of America and Hollywood’s top talent agencies.

“UTA co-president Jay Sures and CAA’s Bryan Lourd had testy exchanges with WGA West Executive Director David Young during Friday’s meeting as WGA representatives rejected many of the proposals the ATA submitted late Wednesday in an effort to reach a deal. The WGA is considering initiating legal action against the agencies for alleged conflict of interest and breach of fiduciary duty.

“The guild on Friday made good on its promise to implement a new Agency Code of Conduct, which bans agents who represent WGA members from collecting packaging fees and working with agency-affiliated production entities, among other changes. The WGA and Association of Talent Agents have been trying to hammer out a new franchise agreement since February but the sides have wrestled over packaging, production and the scope of the WGA’s ability to regulate agencies who represent their members. The WGA told members to terminate their business ties to agents that do not sign the Code of Conduct agreement as of midnight PT Friday.

“After the WGA announced the implementation of the code, a move delayed for six days last week while the sides made an effort to negotiate a deal, numerous talent agents reported receiving a steady, although not overwhelming, stream of termination letters from clients.

“The biggest move by the ATA was the offer to give a small portion of its proceeds from packaging fees back to the guild to be distributed among lower-paid members of the television program’s staff. WGA negotiators rejected the offer, saying it still didn’t address the conflict of interest issue in packaging. ‘It is not a serious proposal and we reject it,’ WGA West president David Goodman said in a statement issued to members Friday.

“Sures, Young and Goodman had a tense moment when the WGA representatives voiced the oft-repeated opinion that agents were no longer incentivized to fight for high salaries for mid- and lower-level writers because they were incentivized to protect packaging fees paid by producers. Sures at one point directly asked Goodman, a UTA client, if he believed that his representatives did not fight for him. According to multiple sources with first-hand knowledge of the meeting, Goodman’s response was something to the effect of ‘I don’t know.’

“CAA’s Lourd similarly didn’t hold back his exasperation when Young made reference to packaging fees as a criminal violation for agents who have fiduciary responsibility to their clients. Lourd fired back that the guild’s rhetoric has been dangerous and that it has spread misinformation as part of its campaign to engage its 15,000 members on the agency franchise issue. [Right, whatever you say pal.]

“Another incendiary issue was the guild’s demand that agencies turn over all employment contracts and deal information for writer clients. Sures noted that UTA has been informed by several clients that they don’t want that information disclosed. The ATA has suggested that the WGA make contract disclosure a condition of guild membership, to take the onus off of individual representatives. The WGA has countered that the agencies refuse to accept the guild’s authority to monitor the economic issues for its members. At one point during Friday’s discussion, a frustrated Sures asked the WGA representatives why such a compromise had to be ‘so hard.’

“The negotiating teams had booked a Beverly Hilton meeting room until midnight on Friday, but the gathering that began at 3 p.m. PT was over shortly after 4 p.m. A half-hour later, the WGA announced in an email blast to members that the Code of Conduct would take effect as of 12:01 am PT Saturday.

“The WGA is asking members to use a specially created DocuSign link to send formal termination letters to agents. Members are instructed to send those signed documents to the guild directly, for delivery to the various agencies en masse in a few days, according to the WGA’s FAQ distributed Friday.

“It’s not clear how vigorously the WGA intends to enforce the mandate for members to terminate their agents. Also unclear is how hyphenate talents who work as directors, producers and actors will handle the question of agency representation for work that falls outside the scope of writing. The guild is encouraging members to cut ties in all areas to demonstrate maximum solidarity. Industry observers will be watching next week to see how much, or how little, business gets done by agents.

“The WGA has a draft lawsuit ready to file against ATA member companies, Young confirmed to Variety last week. The ATA is expected to file a countersuit. The ATA previously asserted that it would not negotiate with the WGA if the Code of Conduct was in force.

“The agencies have predicted that regular business would be disrupted if the WGA forces terminations. The WGA has assembled a database designed to help writers find open staff assignments, and to help showrunners seek prospective writers. Prominent writers have been busy in the past few days assembling internal networks via email and social media to help ease the task of scouting and matchmaking process typically handled by agents.”

Friday April 12, 2019

Finally, season 8 of Game of Thrones premieres on Sunday.

What you should know before the final season kicks off.

And here’s a complete guide to the 8th and final season.

That’s quite a motley crew of suitors from which Pauly D and Vinny have to choose. Yikes.

Nevertheless there remains something oddly charming about them.

New Netflix series Special is now streaming. “Trust us, you have not seen anyone like Ryan O’Connell on TV before. The star and writer-creator of Netflix’s Special is a gay man with cerebral palsy, who, after getting hit by a car at the age of 20, decided to “rewrite” his identity and spent years pretending that he wasn’t disabled because friends and colleagues assumed his limp was the result of the accident. He finally confronted the truth in his 2015 memoir I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves, a book that caught the attention of Jim Parsons and led to his big break. O’Connell, who is warm, chatty, and funny as hell, began his TV writing career on MTV’s Awkward, worked on Will & Grace, and just started a new gig earlier this month on the 90210 reboot. Special is based on his own life, and O’Connell wrote the entire debut season: The lead character, also named Ryan, is a 20-something gay, disabled man grappling with his sexuality and independence. The show is hilarious with a touch of darkness — and, in a Netflix first, each episode is only about 15-minutes long. It also features standout performances by Jessica Hecht (who plays Ryan’s mom, Karen), Marla Mindelle (who plays his boss, Olivia), and Punam Patel (who plays his work BFF, Kim). Over breakfast in Los Angeles ahead of Special’s April 12 premiere, O’Connell opened up about how he broke into show business through blogging, his lifelong struggle with self-acceptance, what it’s like to star in his own show with no acting experience, and why he’s tired of TV shows and movies that shy away from gay sex.”

CBS has renewed NCIS for a 17th season.

Amazon has renewed Hannah for a 2nd season.

Here’s how Transparent will write Jeffrey Tambor out, in the event you still care.

Here is more evidence that no one can predict where the hits can come from. There had been chatter that the streaming platform’s new anthology series The Act, starring Patricia Arquette and Joey King, has been doing well. At today’s  Disney Investor Day, Hulu CEO Randy Freer shed some light on the show’s success. ‘It has driven more new subscribers to series than any other Hulu original in the first month,’ he said. Subscribers-to-series means new subscribers who joined Hulu and watched The Act within the first 24 hours. While there is no 100% certainty, this is a widely accepted industry metric — a property likely had driven someone to subscribe if they actively sought it out once they become members. The success of The Act has encouraged Hulu to ramp up its limited series slate, especially true-crime projects, and…played a role in the platform’s recent decision to order, The Dropout, a limited series starring Kate McKinnon as disgraced (and recently indicted) entrepreneur  Elizabeth Holmes.”

Disney’s streaming service will cost you $7 per month and Wall Street obviously believes people will come in droves and Disney’s stock was up 10% this morning.

ICYMI, Disney+ launches in November and will feature everything from Disney’s recent theatrical releases, to classic Disney movies, to new, original movies and series, to much much more. They will be investing over $1,000,000,000 into making original content.

Disney also announced that Disney+, the upcoming Disney direct-to-consumer platform, will be the exclusive SVOD home of The Simpsons.

A Jeff Goldblum-led docuseries will be among the series available on Disney’s upcoming streaming platform Disney+, the company announced Thursday at its Investor Day presentation at its studio lot in Burbank, Calif. Called The World According to Jeff Goldblum, the series comes from Disney-owned National Geographic. Per Disney: ‘Jeff pulls back the curtain on a seemingly familiar object to reveal a world of astonishing connections, fascinating science, and a whole lot of big ideas.’” Oh yeah, this CAN’T miss!

Of course, not everyone is enamored with Disney’s plans or thinks it will be a roaring success.

“In a formal proposal to the Writers Guild of America on Thursday, the Association of Talent Agents offered to share a portion of earnings from package deals with writers. The offer comes one day before the current agreement between the two groups is set to expire. ATA’s proposal would provide an unspecified percentage of packaging fees on a given film or television project with that project’s writers, 80% of which would be shared with writers who are not already participating in profits. Further, ATA’s proposal says this money will be provided regardless of who represents a writer, and that the remaining 20% would be invested in efforts to increase diversity among writers. Packaging — in which agents collect fees for bundling talent and bringing them as a package to a studio or network for film or TV projects — has been the primary point of contention between WGA and ATA as they try to hammer out a new agreement. WGA’s position is that packaging creates a conflict of interest for agents, and that it has contributed to a decline in overall earnings for writers. ATA says that packaging is essential to the agencies’ current business model, and that writers who participate in packaging earn more.” I hope the WGA tells them to shove this offer straight up their collective greedy asses, but hey, that’s just me.

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Add Jake Gyllenhaal to the list of A-list stars who are heading for television.

“The actor will make his TV debut in HBO limited series Lake Success, which, in addition to starring in, he will also executive produce for the premium cable network.

“Based on Gary Shteyngart's book Lake Success, the drama revolves around Barry Cohen (Gyllenhaal), a narcissistic, self-deluded and hilariously divorced from the real-world hedge fund manager who flees his family, his past and the SEC on a cross-country bus ride in search of his college girlfriend and a last chance at romantic redemption. Meanwhile, back in Manhattan, his brilliant wife Seema struggles to raise their autistic son and begins a tragicomic love affair of her own.  

“Shteyngart will adapt his book and co-write the script alongside Tom Spezialy (The Leftovers, Watchmen, Castle Rock). Both will serve as showrunners and will exec produce alongside Gyllenhaal and his Nine Stories banner topper Riva Marker. The series, which is currently in development, will be produced by Endeavor Content and Nine Stories.

"‘Gary's novel is a beautifully executed character study highlighting the depth of human contradiction and complication, set against the timely backdrop of America today,’ Gyllenhaal and Marker said Thursday in a joint statement. ‘We are thrilled to partner with HBO, who has consistently been home to some of the most exciting and acclaimed premium content over the past two decades.’

“Gyllenhaal joins sister Maggie Gyllenhaal at HBO, with the latter starring on the third and final season of David Simon's The Deuce this year. With Lake Success, Jake Gyllenhaal will reteam with Marker, who previously produced the sold-out Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park With George, in which the actor starred opposite Annaleigh Ashford. Gyllenhaal and Marker founded Nine Stories in 2015 and has produced features including Wildlife, Stronger, Hondros and Netflix's upcoming feature The Devil All the Time, starring Tom Holland, Chris Evans and Robert Pattinson. The company remains aggressive in the source material space, developing a number of projects after optioning source material. Gyllenhaal's previous producing credits include the features End of Watch and Nightcrawler. Marker's credits include The Kids Are All Right and Beasts of No Nation.

“For Spezialy's part, Lake Success extends his relationship with HBO, where he currently serves as an exec producer on Damon Lindelof's upcoming take on Watchmen. Spezialy is repped by CAA, Manage-ment and Jackoway Austen.

“Shteyngart, meanwhile, is the award-winning author behind the memoir Little Failure and the novels Super Sad True Love Story, Absurdistan and The Russian Debutante’s HandbookLake Success was named one of the best books of 2018 on more than 30 lists, including The New York Times, NPR and more.

“Gyllenhaal's credits include Velvet Buzzsaw, Wildlife and Brokeback Mountain.

Lake Success arrives as HBO is under a mandate to increase its originals under new corporate parent WarnerMedia. The premium cable network has been aggressive in landing projects from top talent behind and in front of the camera as it looks to better compete with billion-dollar spenders including Netflix, Apple and Amazon, among a growing list of other competitors. HBO's scripted roster includes originals from J.J. Abrams and Joss Whedon, which will join such series as Big Little LiesWestworld, Euphoria, Gentleman Jack, Gorilla and the Bird, His Dark Materials, Insecure, Lovecraft Country, The Outsider, The New Pope, Righteous Gemstones and several others. The news comes as the juggernaut Game of Thrones begins its final season Sunday.”

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Per Deadline, “Disney+ is priming The Sandlot for its streaming service, with the 1993 movie’s original director and co-writer David Mickey Evans attached to write and executive produce.

Deadline hears the series is in early development.  The Sandlot is the second 20th Century Fox-related IP announced today to be developed for Disney’s streaming service. Earlier today, a Love, Simon TV series based on Greg Berlanti’s movie from last year was announced for Disney+ with This Is Us executive producers/co-showrunners Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, who wrote the movie, writing/executive producing via their overall deal at 20th Century Fox TV.

“The Sandlot series will be set in 1984, when the original cast are adults and they all have children of their own.

“The streaming series will be separate from the The Sandlot prequel film which Evans is writing with Austin Reynolds, which is to take place in the 1950s. The series will take place in 1984 and focus on the children of the original kid team in the movie.

“The original Sandlot movie is set in 1962 and centers around Scottie Smalls (Tom Guiry) who, after moving to a new neighborhood, befriends a group of boys who play baseball at the sandlot and get into a series of touching adventures.

The Sandlot only made $32.4M at the domestic box office, but spawned two direct-to-video sequels: 2005’s The Sandlot 2, which featured an entirely new group of boys, and 2007’s The Sandlot: Heading Home, starring Luke Perry.”

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More Disney+ news from The Hollywood Reporter: “Greg Berlanti's beloved Fox 2000 feature Love, Simon is getting the TV series treatment.

“Disney+, the forthcoming direct-to-consumer streaming platform, has handed out a straight-to-series order for a series based on author Becky Albertalli's Leah on the Offbeat, her sequel to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, on which Love, Simon was based. The project hails from now Disney-owned 20th Century Fox Television, whose since shuttered sibling film studio Fox 2000 produced and distributed the 2018 movie.

“Screenwriters Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker will return to serve as showrunners on the Disney+ series, which will feature a new cast. Berlanti — who directed the former Fox 2000 pic that was the first feature with a gay lead — will not return in any capacity on the series. The prolific producer, who has a record number of scripted series currently on the air, is precluded from being involved with the new Love, Simon series due to his exclusive overall deal with Warner Bros. Television. 

“Disney+ declined comment.

“The Disney+ series gives Berger and Aptaker two shows, as the writing partners also serve as co-showrunners alongside creator Dan Fogelman on the NBC hit This Is Us.

“The decision to revisit Love, Simon comes after Disney acquired rights to the property in its $71.3 billion Fox asset buy. Disney had planned to keep Fox 2000 — the Elizabeth Gabler-run studio focused on female-focused mid-budget films — in the fold, but shockingly shuttered the shingle behind such features as Walk the Line, The Devil Wears Prada, Hidden Figures, The Hate U Give and Love, Simon. With Disney doubling the number of films it produces, there apparently was no room for Fox 2000. It's unclear what will happen to Gabler and her team.

“Love, Simon was a taboo-breaking feature. It was the first teen-targeted, major studio project centering on a gay romance. The film about a closeted high school student named Simon (Nick Robinson) and his coming out bowed March 16, 2018, and grossed $66.3 million worldwide on a budget of $17 million. 13 Reasons Whybreakout Katherine Langford starred as Leah, Simon's best friend. Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel played Simon's parents; Keiynan Lonsdale, Alexandra Shipp and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. played Simon's friends.”

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Houston Rockets point guard Chris Paul is teaming up with Live PD producer Big Fish Entertainment to develop and produce TV and digital content.

“Paul and his Oh Dipp!!! Productions have signed an overall deal with Big Fish, an MGM company, to create content for multiple platforms. He will work with Big Fish president Dan Cesareo and his team on a range of projects involving both sports and entertainment, including scripted and unscripted series, documentaries and shortform content.

“Several projects are underway, including a competition show in which celebrity families square off in an ‘epic’ game night. In addition to executive producing, Paul may host or star in several of the projects.

"‘I'm thrilled to have found the right partner to collaborate and create wide-ranging content across all mediums,’ the nine-time NBA All-Star said Thrusday in a statement. ‘I look forward to sharing my passion for storytelling and bringing audiences together through entertaining, inspiring and unique programming. There's no limit to what we can accomplish together, and we're excited to have already hit the ground running.’

“The overall deal extends an existing relationship between Paul and Big Fish, who previously collaborated on the ESPN docuseries Chris Paul's Chapter 3. The three-part project chronicled Paul's move to the Rockets.

"‘There were so many creative synergies in working together the first time that this partnership felt like a no-brainer,’ said Cesareo. ‘Chris is a proven leader in sports and business and a majorly powerful brand in his own right. We're thrilled to utilize the boundless resources we have as part of the MGM family to give him and Oh Dipp!!! the platform to develop exciting IP and allow viewers, and longtime fans alike, the opportunity to enjoy content from his singular point of view.’

“Big Fish Entertainment produces A&E's highly rated Live PD and several spinoffs, including a recently ordered project focusing on rescue workers. It also is behind VH1's Black Ink Crew and Cartel Crew and TLC's Tattoo Girls, among other shows.”