Wednesday June 19, 2019

TruTV has renewed I’m Sorry for a 3rd season. I remain a big fan of this show and highly recommend it if you’re looking for an easy 30-minute sitcom to get into.

Tru also renewed Tacoma FD. for a 2nd season.

Netflix has canceled Chambers after 1 season.

Netflix ordered 2 more seasons of Queer Eye.

Season 2 of Yellowstone premieres tonight on Paramount.

The Edge of Democracy is now available to stream on Netflix. “Political documentary and personal memoir collide in this exploration into the complex truth behind the unraveling of two Brazilian presidencies.”

You can also now stream new Netflix film Beats. “On Chicago's South Side, hip-hop prodigy August Monroe navigates crippling anxiety and new creative frontiers with the help of an unlikely mentor.”

I thought Adam Devine’s Netflix special was very funny and very much in line with his act every time I’ve seen him live.

Eddie Murphy will make a relatively rare TV appearance in the upcoming season of Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. The 11th season of the show debuts July 19 on Netflix. Murphy — who also stars in Netflix's movie Dolemite Is My Name, due later in the year — is among the biggest names sitting in the passenger seat with Seinfeld. The 11-episode season features a mix of A-listers, veteran comics and friends of Seinfeld, several of whom are making return appearances on the show. The lineup for season 11 also includes Seth Rogen, Ricky Gervais, Matthew Broderick, Jamie Foxx, Sebastian Maniscalco, Martin Short, Mario Joyner, Melissa Villaseñor, Bridget Everett and Barry Marder. Gervais, Maniscalco, Joyner and Marder have all appeared on the show before. Broderick hasn't been a guest but did help Seinfeld promote the 10th season in 2018.”

The Daily Show will air live following the Democratic Party’s first 2020 presidential primary debates on June 26 and 27. The live specials, called World War D: Let’s Get Ready to Rumble – Part I & II, will provide instant analysis and feature commentary from Perry Bacon Jr., a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight, and Howard Dean, the former DNC chair and a political consultant.

Hey, here’s a novel idea, do NOT go to the Dominican Republic for your next vacation.

Over 30M accounts watched Murder Mystery on Netflix last weekend?

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Per Variety, “[y]ou don’t need a home-improvement expert to restart Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

“Jesse Tyler Ferguson, the actor best known for his turn as Mitchell Pritchett in the popular sitcom Modern Family, will host HGTV’s ten-episode remodel of the popular home-improvement series, in which families and communities in need of help are given a massive reworking of their homes.

“‘I was so inspired by the original series and now I can’t wait to help families as the new host of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,’ said Ferguson, in a prepared statement. Ferguson represents a markedly different choice as host of the landmark show, which ran on ABC for nine seasons between 2003 and 2012. Ty Pennington, the carpenter and home-improvement expert, hosted the earlier run. The decision to hand the reins to Ferguson, who has enjoyed turns on Broadway as well as in Taylor Swift’s recent music video for You Need to Calm Down, suggests producers are looking for someone who can play up the feel-good aspects of the series, rather than focusing too intently on the nuts and bolts of home repair.

“‘Jesse’s participation as host ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’ is one of the ways that HGTV will put its own creative lens on the series,’ said Jane Latman, who was named president of HGTV in April, in a statement.. ‘We’ll make some variations to creative aspects of the show, but it will always deliver the great storytelling that made it one of the most iconic and successful properties in television. Jesse’s a funny guy, with a warm, caring nature who will help us find the humor and joy in every situation, so that will make this a unique viewing experience for everyone.’

“Each episode of the series puts a spotlight on local people trying to help someone in their area. HGTV says the home overhauls in the episodes will include interior, exterior and landscaping—all completed within seven days while the family is sent away for the week. The series will showcase builders, designers and landscapers who race against the clock to renovate a home before the family returns from their time away.

“At its peak on ABC, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition had an average audience of nearly 16 million viewers.  HGTV will make the series available via its mobile app and other on-demand venues.  HGTV has also secured the U.S. and Caribbean rights to air 100 episodes of the original ABC program.

HGTV had considered an Extreme Makeover revival for some time, Kathleen Finch, chief lifestyle brands officer for the network’s parent company, Discovery, told Variety in January. The series had ‘always has been on our list of things to do. We just said, “Why not?” We approached ABC. We approached Endemol. We had a lot of really great conversations and we were able to strike a deal,’  she said ‘When viewers hear it’s on, they are going to say, “Well, of course.” It makes perfect sense.’ She added: ‘It was really a pipe dream for a while and we are really looking to make it all come true.’

“The new episodes will be produced by Endemol Shine North America with Sharon Levy, DJ Nurre, Michael Heyerman and Brady Connell serving as executive producers. The company also produced the original version of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” for ABC.”

Well this couldn’t make any less sense, but ok . . . .

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Per TheWrap, “Gus and Mike have some making up to do when Better Call Saul returns for its fifth season next year.

“While the finale of the Breaking Bad prequel’s fourth season will be remembered for showing Jimmy McGill’s (Bob Odenkirk) final descent into Saul Goodman, it also left Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) and Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) in a bad spot.

“‘They ended on a hard note,’ Esposito told TheWrap. ‘Certainly, things will be strained, and Mike hasn’t given his allegiance over to Gus completely.’ By the time Breaking Bad rolls around, Mike is Gus’s right-hand man and arguably his most-trusted employee, so it’s clear that next season the two will have to iron some things out between each other.

Better Call Saul showed that, at least at one point, Mike had a bit of softer side, especially when it came to Werner (Rainer Bock), whose German-based construction crew was hired to build the infamous ‘Superlab’ where Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) do most of their meth cooking. But multiple setbacks and Werner’s transgressions — which included drunkenly talking about the project at a bar and escaping so he could spend a weekend with his wife — forced Mike’s hand. He had to execute Werner, but not before viewers saw just how displeased Gus was with Mike’s handling of the whole operation.

“‘There’s going to be some moves that have to be made, some conversations between Mike and Gus that either repair, or don’t repair, the relationship. That comes down to some moral questions that may come up between both of them about how can Mike ever work for Gus,’ Esposito continued. ‘If you asked me, from my experience on Breaking Bad and going into Better Call Saul, I feel like they’re similar men. But Gus is smart, and he knows he needs someone smart, and who is not only smart, but not afraid to take action. I love the moments that you have seen thus far up to now, where we’re left at a place where “Oh, these guys are prickly with each other.” Look to see how that gets ironed out in Season 5.’

Better Call Saul is not expected to return for its fifth season until next year. Co-showrunner Peter Gould previously told TheWrap he thinks the show is coming very close to the end of the line — after all, it finally paid off on its premise: How Jimmy McGill ends up practicing law under the name ‘Saul Goodman.’

“‘I couldn’t tell you exactly how many episodes there are [left], but I think we’re closer to the end than we are to the beginning,’ said Gould back in October, admiting that he and co-showrunner (and Breaking Bad creator) Vince Gilligan are working on the Saul endgame.

“‘I don’t know that I can claim to have a nailed-down plan, or that Vince and I have a nailed-down plan for how it ends, but I can tell you we’ve talked about it an awful lot,’ says Gould. ‘This is a story that has a beginning, middle and an end.’”

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They are REALLY going for it. “Short-form digital service Quibi has already secured around $100M in advertising with six high-profile launch brands launching on the service. Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman took their Quibi roadshow to the Cannes Lions event in France to announce the ad sales, coming ahead of its 2020 launch.

“Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Anheuser-Busch, Walmart, Progressive and Google are the first companies to sign up with ‘category exclusivity’.

“Katzenberg said that an hour of Quibi content, which will be broken up in to chapters, will include around two and a half minutes of advertising, compared to around 17 and a half on broadcast television and ten on Hulu.

“Whitman said that she expects around 75% of its subscribers to pay for its advertising-backed tier, which is available for $4.99 per month, rather than its ad-less top tier.

“Other revelations to emerge from the latest presentation from the pair include the fact that around 161 people will be working on Quibi by the end of next week with 25 content executives.

“Katzenberg agreed that the roll out of 5G technology would be a boon for the short-form service, which has already signed up the likes of Steven Spielberg and Steven Soderbergh to make content. ‘Every trend right now is putting more wind into the sails of Quibi,’ he said.

“Whitman added that it was not planning to become a ‘studio’ but rather a ‘commissioner’ of content with a focus on technology, including the ability to change the brightness of the screen through the app, audio optimization, new style of end credits and a speedy search function and increased personalization.

“‘From the beginning, this has to be the combination of the best of Hollywood and the best of Silicon Valley,’ she said.”

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From The New York Post: “Lindsay Lohan’s MTV reality show, Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club, will not be back for a second season, Page Six has exclusively learned — and it seems the star’s Mykonos nightclub, which serves as the setting for the show, is also closed.

“The club opened in May 2018, and the show — which follows its staff’s daily lives — premiered in January to decent ratings.

“But viewership then plummeted amid less-than-stellar reviews. The Hollywood Reporter called the show ‘vapid and tedious.’

“‘There was a renewal idea that producers hoped would perk it up for a second season,’ said a source close to the production. ‘It would be turned into a show about Lindsay and [her mother] Dina and [sister] Ali, [but] that wasn’t going to happen.’

“The show didn’t have ‘enough drama,’ the source added. ‘They wanted “breakdowns.” That’s not where [Lohan] is at with her life anymore. Their personal business doesn’t need to be aired on television; it’s already in the papers anyway.’

“Another source close to the network said it’s still trying to salvage the show.

“Meanwhile, a phone number listed for the Mykonos club on TripAdvisor wasn’t working when Page Six attempted to call.

“Another number listed on the club’s website connected to Lohan Nightclub in Athens.

“A source told us of the apparently defunct Mykonos club: ‘A friend had reservations this week, and the club just called and said that they will not be opening this season.’

“Another source vacationing in Greece last month told us that the club wasn’t open then, either.

“‘The locals said it was a waste [of time to go],’ said the vacationer.

“A social media commenter posted last month of the Mykonos club: ‘They advertised being open for [the] summer season, specifically late May. We drove past and it’s literally [deserted] . . . The Lohan sign is stripped off.’

“A Lohan rep confirmed that ‘she is not doing another season’ of the show.

“MTV didn’t comment.”

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Per Deadline, “Disruption in the entertainment business can sometimes come in unlikely forms. Witness Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, whose earnest name and humble corporate headquarters in Cos Cob, CT, belie its aggressive acquisition drive and canny knack for outmaneuvering larger rivals.

“The company’s Brooklyn-born CEO, Bill Rouhana, is a longtime media industry veteran who founded and ran Winstar Communications in the 1990s after a successful run as an entertainment lawyer specializing in film finance. In 2008, he bought Chicken Soup for the Soul, known for its eponymous, mega-selling line of books. A few years later, he expanded its operations into video-on-demand and TV programming.

“As he looked to feed the entertainment pipeline, Rouhana took the company public on the Nasdaq in 2017 and then engineered the acquisitions of Screen Media, Ashton Kutcher’s APlus.com and a controlling stake in Sony Crackle. The Crackle deal, which closed May 14, rebranded the free, ad-supported streaming service as Crackle Plus and positioned Chicken Soup as a leader in the AVOD arena. After years under the radar, AVOD has become a hot sector of late, with Viacom plunking down $340 million for Pluto TV last January and NBCUniversal and WarnerMedia both announcing big ad-supported streaming plans.

“Mike Grondahl, an analyst with Northland Capital Markets, rates Chicken Soup’s stock ‘outperform,’ with a 12-month price target of $15. Shares were trading at $7.18 at mid-day Tuesday, on light volume, and have slipped 7% in 2019 to date despite a spring surge on the Crackle news. ‘With Crackle Plus included in results, the business becomes much less lumpy,’ the analyst wrote in a recent note to clients. ‘CSSE migrated Crackle to a shared platform used by other Sony networks, reducing costs by two-thirds to about $5 million annually. … Crackle is fully integrated, so CSSE can hit the ground running with a focus on more content and adding to the ad network.’

“Rouhana recently sat down with Deadline in his compact office inside a two-story office building down the road from Greenwich that an optometrist, an acupuncturist and a liquor store also call home. The CEO discussed the path to a deal with Sony, the future of Crackle, and where his company fits into the media industry’s intensifying streaming wars. The following is an edited transcript of the conversation:

What was the entry point for you in the media business?

We started with TV series, which sounds kind of stupid, but it’s anything but that because what we were doing was creating revenue and EBITDA and building relationships with sponsors. The way we did it was by having all of our series be 100% funded by sponsors and we would keep all the rights. The trade for a sponsor was a couple of things. You could count on the fact that you wouldn’t be embarrassed by the programming – this YouTube worry that sponsors have (‘I might appear next to something disgusting!’). We’re a loved brand. Sponsors knew us. And you could see they were struggling with how they were going to reach customers because the more fractionalization, migration, DVR stuff, SVOD stuff, there were fewer and fewer places where ads were being watched. If they could get a message into a show itself, if they could find a way to integrate their messaging into the content, that would be a big advantage to them. So, all of our series – I guess we’ve done 11 now over four years – every one has been that model.

How did the Screen Media deal come about and what did it do for you?

We bought it for two reasons. One, it had a 23-year track record of buying finished programming and re-selling it around the world at a profit. And we thought, OK, now we’ll be able to buy finished programming, distribute it around the world, keep the AVOD rights, keep the VOD rights and have made money doing it that way too. So now we had a program creation business and a distribution business, both of which would give us access to content. And they had a library. And they had Popcornflix. So we were now actually in the VOD business.

Once Sony announced in the summer of 2018 that they were exploring strategic alternatives for Crackle, how did you end up with that prize when no one saw you coming?

By understanding our advantages. If you’re in [Sony’s] shoes, you’re not happy with the results for a long time. You don’t know quite why. You have a new company with new leadership. Your focus is on producing and distributing in traditional markets. Your parent company [Sony Corp.] is saying, ‘We’re going to be profitable from here on out. We’re not going to be investing in things that lose money.’ And yet, you know, you absolutely know that the leading network in a space [AVOD] that without question is going to be really big. So how do you actually deal with that? When they announced last July that they wanted a partner, they weren’t kidding. That was the best answer for them. So when they gave Moelis & Co. the job of figuring out what to do, Moelis went out with a book and they got mostly offers to buy. For us, the road was a little more circuitous because they wouldn’t give us the book. We were too small.

But you eventually got the book?

Yes, and when we finally got it, I was so excited. It was such a mess! But it’s really not. And I thought, it’s going to put off most of the people who should buy it and the guys who will bid will try to low-ball.

How was it a mess?

They had a business plan in there that was driven by the current approach to the business.

Meaning a lot of spending on expensive original programming?

It required you to have an appetite for meaningful investment on a money-losing basis for an extended period of time. So, you looked at our two companies. I had the fifth-largest AVOD business at the time, in Popcornflix. I was at 3 million [monthly active users] a month. They were at seven. Together, we were incredible. They also had their ad-rep business, which was another five million people that we would add to it. They had a great sales force.

What about companies like Pluto, which says it has 16 million users? Are they a direct competitor?

They’re not in the same business we’re in. They’re an internet streaming business. They’re a bundled cable business that’s online. It’s not VOD. I don’t even understand how that makes any sense. I think it’s a stupid, short-term business that has to disappear, for two reasons. One, consumers are being trained to get what they want, when they want it. To be able to start it and stop it as they choose. They’re being trained not to accept linear programming. Over time, the people who are coming on are going to absolutely reject that form of programming. Two, the premise of internet streaming is there being hundreds of cable channels and by definition there will not be. Because between subscriber fee losses and reduced ad returns, you will not be able to stay in business if you are a cable channel. So their programming sources are going to disappear.

So this pushed you toward the on-demand approach of Crackle.

Putting our VOD businesses together gave us scale for advertisers that would really change the way they could interact with this space. The kind of scale that would encourage them to pay us higher CPMs and scale that would turn us into the go-to place for a certain kind of advertiser, which has already started to happen. And we had the same approach, which was true VOD. Two big libraries. Our library was 3,500 films and TV shows. Theirs was the same. Putting them together was going to give us a plethora of content and the ability to create even more networks if we chose to and start to organize them around a thought, around a certain kind of programming.

But you have a very different view of original programming.

Our strategy was making money, and we didn’t need to spend too much money on originals, which, when you looked at the numbers, didn’t really drive traffic. Which was kind of interesting. Traffic was driven by library. We looked at their situation and said, ‘The library is driving your business.’ We’re in that early phase of this [streaming] business where, just like Netflix used to be all library and nothing else, this is where we are in AVOD. That’s going to change, by the way. It has to.

Why else did your offer for Crackle stand out?

It was their ambivalence, I understood they really didn’t want to sell it. But they also didn’t want to have the obligations of keeping it. They were in this Never-Never Land — ‘We’d love to own it, but not have to fund it, not have to run it, not have to think about it. But wouldn’t we love to own it?’ And I went to them and said, ‘You can own half of it — 49% — if you let me control it, if you let me take over the responsibility for it. I’ll fund it. I’ll take care of it. And you can keep 49% of it. So long as you change your head to where ‘we’re an investor.’ And start thinking about ways you can invest the great competencies you have in this business in ways that are productive. Give us access to your library on a reasonable basis. Figure out how to share technology costs, so we reduce that. Give us free reign on your lot and in your buildings for a year or two. Do things that help us, where you can help us, where it’s really no cost to you. And that’s where luck came in. We presented a credible plan and a proposal that left them exactly where their hearts were: half-in, half-out. But we were the only ones who did that. Everyone else started offering checks.

Does Sony have a chance to exit in the near term?

No. What there is is a very complex deal structure where they get an option to get out in a year.

Do you think that could happen?

It’s all about investment. It’s all about being like a Google. Being like a high-tech business. That’s what I told them. I said, ‘Look, guys, look at the big tech companies. You admire them, you respect them. You think they’re smart. They don’t try to incubate little companies inside themselves. They go make investments. They put entrepreneurs in charge and let them do the heavy lifting.

So is it a partnership or an acquisition?

From an accounting point of view, it’s an acquisition. In industry terms, it’s definitely a joint venture. We’re working together to build it. But see, what happened to this was, it became us versus a really big check. Because right in the middle of this, the Pluto deal happened [with Viacom]. And boom, the phones started ringing off the hook. And I was worried at that point that we lost it. Because all of a sudden there’s tons of cash, we didn’t hear from anybody for two weeks. The good news was, we had them believing at that point. So the debate for Sony became, ‘take a check now and risk that two years from now this thing is worth $5 billion and it’s the leading AVOD business and we used to own half of it or all of it. We took this tiny little check and we’ve given up a strategic asset.’ It’s not just a business. It’s a strategic asset in the industry. If $80 billion [in linear TV advertising spending] moves over to AVOD, that pie is going to be cut up in a few places and there are going to be some big companies.

What impact did NBCUniversal’s announcement have on the process, when they said in 2020 they are rolling out a major AVOD service across 52 million households in the Comcast and Sky pay-TV footprints?

So you look at all this — this is happening, and Sony is going, ‘We could take a $300 million check, or we could believe that this is a big opportunity and we have the biggest with this thing.’ The combination mattered. The other 3 million [from Popcornflix] really made a difference. Now, we were the biggest. All the library we had. If you just looked at our business and how we ran it, if you were them, you would want us to run your business. It wasn’t like we were some other guy, who didn’t run an AVOD business. We were the next biggest. Which very few people understood. No one understood Popcornflix was as big as it was. We were growing it as fast as we could and had plans to grow it even further. So we said, ‘Hey, how about putting them together, and let us run it for you? And let’s make you a lot of money, and you could buy it from us later if you want.’ So they said yes.

I’ve heard you use “Chicken Soup-y” as an adjective — in reference to something that reflects the family-friendly, optimistic values of the company. So, how Chicken Soup-y will Crackle Plus be?

It won’t be. It’s going to have the same voice it does now. We didn’t do anything to Popcornflix either. The real question is, are we going to change the name of the company? Right now, the name is misleading.

Is a name change under consideration?

Yeah. We’d definitely have to consider it because we’re now so big that Chicken Soup for the Soul is only one part of what we are. The name is kind of limiting and sends the wrong message. It’s kind of like a hip fake. It’s really not telling what we are. And you have to go underneath the name to get to who we are. And that may not be the smartest thing for us.

Sony spent some money doing presentations for Crackle during the NewFronts or TCA or in those kinds of industry settings. Will we be seeing more of that?

No. Not now. Makes no sense. It’s stupid.

Tubi is spending a good amount of money trying to make a splash in AVOD. Do you see them as a competitive threat to Crackle Plus?

What good does spending money do you when you’re not able to sustain your business? So let’s say they’re a legitimate alternative.

Why are you so quiet compared with Tubi?

They’re making a lot of noise because they want to sell the company.

They almost did.

If Tubi sells for anything close to what they’ve been asking for, our company is worth billions. I’m rooting for him.”

Tuesday June 18, 2019

FX has renewed Pose for a 3rd season.

The more Jon Stewart the better IMHO.

Adam Devine’s new stand-up special is now streaming on Netflix.

A new season of Drunk History premieres tonight on Comedy Central.

Followed by the series premiere of Alternatino With Arturo Castro.

Season 4 of The Detour premieres tonight on TBS as well.

Here’s the full list of winners from last night’s MTV Movie & TV Awards.

ABC has revealed who will be on the 6th season of Bachelor In Paradise.

MGM Television is developing an unscripted series inspired by the Rodney Dangerfield movie Back to School, the company announced on Monday. Inspired by the ’80s comedy starring Dangerfield and Keith Gordon, the docuseries features parents who surprise their kids by enrolling in college alongside them. According to MGM, the untitled series ‘will allow parents who missed out on their own college years to experience everything university life has to offer, including sharing a classroom with their kids — who may be less than thrilled by the idea.’ ‘I am so excited to take the premise of one of my favorite films into the unscripted world,’ said MGM’s Barry Pznick, president of unscripted television. ‘Rodney was a comedic genius and his spirit is very much in the DNA of our show’s approach to a dual fish-out-of-water comedic format for audiences to experience along with our parents and kids. I love that grown-ups are going back to school and we are able to capture this with our new series.’ MGM Television chairman Mark Burnett will executive produce the series with Poznick along with Joan Dangerfield, Rodney Dangerfield’s widow. MGM Television will produce, and MGM will distribute the series internationally.”

Eric Dane talks filming that “intense” full-frontal scene in Euphoria.

“To those out there who have clamored for David Tennant to return to the crime genre since Broadchurch concluded: Netflix sees you. (To those who have clamored for him to return as the Doctor… sorry.) Tennant and Hayley Atwell will star in Criminal, a Netflix original crime anthology with a couple of compelling twists. The show’s 12 episodes will all take place entirely inside police interrogation rooms, while unspooling “unique crime stories” set in four different countries: France, Germany, Spain, and the U.K., with three episodes per country. What’s more, talent from each country will write, direct, and star in their respective episodes, which will be produced in the country’s native language. Tennant and Atwell will headline the U.K. entries, alongside Clare-Hope Ashitey (Children of MenSeven Seconds) and Youssef Kerkour. Killing Eve writer George Kay and She’s Out of My League director Jim Field Smith, who created the show, are writing those episodes. Netflix has yet to announce a release date for the series.”

Here’s a link to the trailer.

“In court papers filed Monday, attorneys representing Sandy Hook families in their lawsuit against him said that child pornography was identified in discovery materials provided by [Alex] Jones. The filing also accuses Jones of threatening one of the attorneys. Jones has adamantly denied any knowledge of the pornographic materials, and says that unnamed individuals are trying to frame him. He has also denied making any threats. In the filing, the families’ attorneys said that consultants recently ‘identified an image that appeared to be child pornography’ in metadata turned over by Jones on May 21. The attorneys said they immediately contacted the FBI and turned over all the related metadata. The FBI subsequently said it identified several other instances of child pornography ‘which had apparently been sent to Infowars email addresses.’ The filing came in response to the June 14 episode of Jones’ self-titled internet show, during which Jones said the FBI informed him there is no evidence he had any knowledge of the images, and accused unidentified persons of ‘trying to set me up with child porn.’”

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Per Variety, “Jimmy Fallon and Hasan Minhaj were like magnets when Variety brought them together in New York for a joint Q&A about late-night TV in the age of Trump. The two host very different shows — Fallon fronts NBC’s The Tonight Show, while Minhaj recently picked up a Peabody Award for his work on Netflix’s Patriot Act — but they immediately found common ground. In addition to trying to crack each other up, the duo studiously shared their stories and contrasted their working styles.

“With sensitivity and empathy, Minhaj even steered the conversation into a candid discussion of how Fallon’s world changed in an instant when he tousled then-candidate Donald Trump’s hair on The Tonight Show in September 2016. As Minhaj wisely observed: ‘Time writes the ultimate punchlines on your legacy.’

When did you first feel comfortable in the late-night space?

Fallon: It probably took me three seasons on “Saturday Night Live” to make it feel like home. I remember one point I tried to sleep over on the stage. I wanted to bring a sleeping bag and so I could karmically, physically…

Minhaj: You can’t be serious?

Fallon: Yes. I wanted to have some kind of connection with the stage and all the ghosts of SNL past, and how much respect I have for it. I had it set up — I could have done it. People were working really super late at night. I have kissed the stage. I have hugged it.

Minhaj: Really?

Fallon: Oh yeah, it’s like at the Apollo rubbing the tree stump — you’ve got to. I wanted to make sure I touched everything that Chris Farley touched, and where did Belushi do this? These are idols of mine.

Minhaj: Jimmy, do you think you’re going to be one of these people that’s going to do this for a long time? I think you’re one of the few people in this modern era that can.

Fallon: I do want to. I look forward to going to work every day. The good times are obviously the greatest. But the tough times where the world’s against you, I think that’s fun. It’s part of the ride. Those are the things you remember — having no money, doing standup and eating ramen.

Minhaj: There was really this roller coaster with Jimmy. “Jimmy’s No.1!” “Now we’re we’re mad at Jimmy.” And then there’s the article, “Why are we mad at Jimmy?”

Fallon: It’s all happening and you just gotta go, “Hang in there dude.”

Minhaj: So who got you through it?

Fallon: My wife and tight friends.

Minhaj: Lorne [Michaels] probably got you through it?

Fallon: Lorne Michaels and my wife. That’s who I meant when I said my wife.

Minhaj: I’m still on a rookie contract.

Fallon: Yeah, but you’ve skipped levels.

Minhaj: No, you’re on a max contract. You and Stephen [Colbert].

Fallon: But you’ve already gotten the death threat. You’re on death threat level. I’ve done that already. I’m on the level after death threat.

Minhaj: How do you do comedy when you’re getting death threats? So many people have told me, “Oh man, you’re so brave for what you’ve done — as long as you don’t die. This is the best thing that could have happened to your career.” I’m like, “Dude I’m not trying to be comedy’s Tupac. I’m not trying to just die for these jokes. I want to live to see these retweets.”

Fallon: I look back on [the Trump controversy] and go — please. Doing what I’m doing, I’ve learned from my lesson. People have learned from what they’ve said about me: They’ve learned who I really am. Some people have changed their mind and said, “Oh gosh that was a little harsh. I shouldn’t have gone on a rant of 30 tweets saying ‘F— you.’ ”

Minhaj: Jimmy’s in a unique spot because he’s in the volume business. They’ve just surpassed 1,000 episodes.

Fallon: How many episodes are you doing?

Minhaj: We’re 13! We’ve just started. People like Jimmy, Conan [O’Brien], Stephen — they’re not going anywhere, and I think a thing people forget is that in this space you have to ingratiate yourself with the audience. The audience gets to know you over time. It’s not like that hot miniseries that Variety is covering that was the show of 2016. This is like a relationship that people are going to have for half a decade, a decade, or hopefully even longer. Time writes the ultimate punchlines on your legacy in terms of what matters and what doesn’t matter. The thing I’m scared for the most is I’m so young. I don’t have a ton of experience. I’m just speaking from a very raw and honest place. I’ve stepped on a few landmines and gotten in trouble with a few dictators. But I just hope that I don’t let the noise of social media and commentary and the blog posts written about the blog post about my analysis get me down. Because I want to have the longevity that a lot of the people I look up to have had.

Fallon: You will. You can already tell. You’ve got it.

Minhaj: You really mean that? Your note is a non-note. You don’t give the note?

Fallon: You’ve already gotten it. The note is — this is you. You have a wife. That is your best friend. She wants you to win. You have friends. You’ll see — when you’re in those down times, dark times, there will be friends that say, “Dude, just ride this out, it’s going to be fine.”

Minhaj: The storm feels magnified because of all of this [gestures to social media apps on his smartphone].

Fallon: It’s easy to get depressed. I stopped looking at anything on the internet. I just read papers, and then I thought, “I can’t even read the papers anymore.” And then I started looking at tech blogs. I thought no one in the gadget world or the videogame world is going to talk about “The Tonight Show.”

Minhaj: Jimmy’s really into routers now.

Fallon: I don’t know where to look where it’s not someone trying to do a jab or trying to be funny. I was finally like, ‘Oh please.’

Jimmy, you’ve said that if you had the Trump hair-tousling incident to do over again, you might’ve have handled it differently. Is it frustrating that so much of what has been heralded as good in late-night TV revolves around hard-edged Trump material. Do you hesitate to go there given the past?

Fallon: No, it’s not frustrating for me. It’s just not what I do. Someone gave me advice when I first started: Be yourself. This is totally who I am. If I went out and ranted for a half-hour — that’s not me and the audience could sniff it out immediately. I have feelings about this stuff, but my job with this show is to entertain and make lots of people laugh. I don’t want in any way to incite anger or fear or violence — I’m the opposite of that. If you like that type of stuff, you should watch other things. I want my show at the end of a long day to be a wind-down. We talk about everything that’s in the news. Right now, all it is is Trump — that’s just the way it is. Now we’re getting into the [2020 Democratic presidential field] and it’s a breath of fresh air. We get to talk about them now. I’ll take any funny joke, if it’s about politics or not. I won’t shy away from anything. I have an hour show to fill five nights a week. I really am not afraid of anything. I love a good joke.

Minhaj: A lot of people will ask the question, “Oh why isn’t Jimmy more angry?” The subtext behind that question is, “Why aren’t you being the way I want you to be?” I feel like comedians — we’re mutants, and I defend the mutants whole-heartedly. We all have different powers. I’m Jubilee and he’s Cyclops. We all have different comedic styles and personalities and strengths and weaknesses. Look, the longer I do comedy, I know the thing you have to do is be authentic and lean in to your strengths. Any time I’ve spent with Jimmy — the energy you have on the show is authentic to who you are. When people proscribe things, even with my show, I hear, “You should do more of this.” I can’t do what Jimmy does. He has different superpowers.

For something completely different, let’s talk about where and how you like to write.

Fallon: I usually talk into my phone. I have an idea as I go into work. I hum a song and do some of it and I say this is something. My voice memos have songs and clips of Pete Buttigieg’s voice.

Minhaj: So that’s how you riff it out?

Fallon: Yes, I’m trying to figure out what his voice is.

Minhaj: Do you always have to find that inflection point for the person and go with that?

Fallon: Yes, and the things people say. Like Pete Buttigieg always says, “Don’t get me wrong.” That’s the thing he goes to. So I’ll have a meeting with my writers and I’ll say, “Here’s this, and here’s my take on what I think of Joe Biden — or here’s my take on what I just heard about Trump’s latest tweet.” We riff it out and start talking and joking.

Minhaj: For me, I read the headlines. I like to read the [New York] Times and Wall Street Journal. I actually love not doing Twitter — it’s too much for my brain to process. I’ll go to the opinion page of both the Times and the Journal. There’s political and ideological bents there, and then you can read a cultivated take on a topic. It’s not just a glib sentence. They had to write about it and test their take and an editor had to approve it. It’s a fully baked thing, for better or worse. And then I’ll just free write. Long form, on a notepad.

Fallon: Yellow?

Minhaj: Yellow for standup. But I have this great notepad that has a bound red cover. I use a Uni-Ball Vision Elite. It’s one of my favorite pens. When you write with it you feel really smart. Like Jimmy, I’m a big fan of taking all these ideas that I have and taking it into the room and then vibe and flow off that. I’m looking for the writers or the news team to push me in the opposite direction and for me to push back. And then we sort of refine it. We try to nail it into a sentence [the theme of each episode]. It’ll happen in the room. We’ll write down a sentence like, “I’m lazier than I am woke, that’s why I need the government to save me from myself.” That happened in the room. We’ll yell. “That’s it, that’s it, write it down!” And then we’ll build the episode around that.

Fallon: That’s great. It started with a blank page. When you look around the room and go, “There was nothing on this page yesterday and now here we are.” That’s the greatest.””

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, “CBS Television Distribution is launching a new multiplatform network in the fall.

“The lifestyle-focused Dabl (pronounced ‘dabble’) is set to debut Sept. 9 on digital secondary channels of broadcast stations (a la MeTV or Bounce TV) in about 70 percent of the country. CBS' owned-and-operated stations are the anchor group for the launch; Dabl will be available in the top 10 and 23 of the top 25 markets.

“The network will feature library shows from Martha Stewart and Emeril Lagasse at its launch, along with other programs focusing on cooking, home renovation, DIY and travel. CBS Television Distribution will pay stations a fee to house the net on their digital subchannels and control and sell all ad inventory.

"‘The strength of our distribution and ad sales teams, combined with our O&O station group and the depth of our library, provides us with a lot of opportunities to mine in the digital landscape,’ Steve LoCascio, COO and CFO of CBS Global Distribution Group, said Monday in a statement. ‘We chose Dabl as our first foray into the space because we see a huge upside in the marketplace for lifestyle programming. We are excited to partner with our CBS stations group to bring this advertiser-friendly network with some of the most beloved personalities in the genre to life.’

“Said Stewart, ‘When CBS approached Martha Stewart TV to provide shows for their new lifestyle network, we were happy to have a fresh TV platform on which to share our extensive library. We think everyone will benefit and learn from these beautiful shows. It’s a good thing.’

"‘I’m excited to be a part of CBS’ new lifestyle network Dabl,’ added Lagasse. ‘Folks are always asking for where they can watch my shows — now there is a place. See you in the fall.’

“The new network will compete for attention with a host of syndicated launches in the fall, including talk shows from Kelly Clarkson, Tamron Hall and Mel Robbins; Jerry Springer's courtroom show Judge Jerry; the game shows 25 Words or Less and America Says; and the legal show Personal Injury Court.”

JUST what we need!

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Per Deadline, “JJ Abrams and his Bad Robot are in final talks for him to keep his TV business and move his film business under the WarnerMedia umbrella. There had been rampant speculation that he would end up there or with Apple, with WarnerMedia emerging as a frontrunner over the past couple of weeks as the shorthand he had developed with the Warner Bros TV gang, and a massive financial commitment has won the most coveted overall deal that had been in play. Expectations were that the deal would fall in the $500 million range.

Deadline reported earlier this month that it was down to WarnerMedia and Apple, with the traditional media company having the upper hand over tech giant, a comparative newcomer in the content creation game.

“Abrams, of course, has the history at WarnerMedia as Bad Robot had been based at Warner Bros. TV for many years, delivering a string of series. Of the company’s current shows, three are at WarnerMedia’s HBO, Westworld, Lovecraft and Demimonde, the first series Abrams has solely created since Alias, with the premium network also developing Bad Robot’s They Both Die At the End. The company also has three series at Apple via Warner Bros. TV, which also has been aggressively pursuing the multi-hyphenated:  the Stephen King adaptation Lisey’s Story, starring Julianne Moore; Sara Bareilles’ Little Voice; and  My Glory Was I Had Such Friends, toplined by Jennifer Garner.

“We hear that Abrams’ talks with Apple had evolved over the past weeks, focusing on continuing to work together and not through an overall deal as the expectation is that a new WarnerMedia pact would keep allowing Bad Robot to produce for outside networks.

“In the era of giant TV overall deals, it is easier for incumbent studios to come up with competitive offers for prolific creators/producers as they often have the advantage of being able to sweeten their overall deal proposals with advances toward the producers’ backend.

“This marks the second mega overall deal renewal for Warner Bros. TV, following the $400 million re-up for Greg Berlanti last year.

“In addition to WarnerMedia and Apple, Abrams and his team had engaged with Comcast/NBCUniversal and Sony, with talks slowing down after Abrams, along with 7,000 other WGA members, in April fired his agents at CAA in all areas except directing.

“On the film side, Abrams is coming from an expensive overall deal at Paramount that paid off with the launch of the franchise Cloverfield, and the revival of Mission: Impossible and Star Trek. But it proved hard for that studio to have his allegiance as a filmmaker, the place Abrams has turned in some of his best results. He has directed two Star Wars films for Disney while under the Paramount deal, the latest of which, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, debuts December 20 to cap of what indisputably will be a record year for the studio. These overall deals with A-list filmmaker/producers are always tough that way — Universal’s deal with Guillermo del Toro was strained when he signed to write/direct The Hobbit movies, and Steven Spielberg always cut his host studio into co-fi roles in projects he fell in love with at other studios, so it will be interesting to see how Warner Bros chief Toby Emmerich fares in getting him to direct pictures in the studio fold.

“Abrams’ has become more a re-fashioner of franchises than a world creator, and it was understand this deal would serve as an opportunity for him to become the latter. While WarnerMedia doesn’t have the theme parks that Disney and Comcast have, Abrams will have full access to strong WarnerMedia platforms that include a fledgling streaming service, and he clearly has the potential to leave a strong mark on the studio in this deal.”

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Tyra Banks is the latest big name to bring a project to Quibi.

The America's Next Top Model creator and host has set up a docuseries called Beauty at the short-form streaming service founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg. Banks will serve as host and executive producer of the show, which aims to have viewers "question societal standards that have defined us," per Quibi's description of the series.

"‘As I look into the future, I see radical changes in both how people ‘attain beauty,’ and how the world perceives beauty,’ said Banks. ‘Our docuseries aims to expand and redefine the definition of beauty as we know it, challenging why we accept certain beauty parameters and reject others, and examining the beliefs behind those judgments.’

“Banks joins a growing list of high-profile talent developing shows for Quibi, which is targeted for a spring 2020 launch. Among those with scripted and unscripted projects at the service are Guillermo del Toro, Jennifer Lopez, Idris Elba, Lena Waithe and Don Cheadle, who's starring in a sci-fi drama from Lost co-creator Jeffrey Lieber. 

“MTV Studios is also prepping updated versions of library series Punk'd and Singled Out for the platform.

“Quibi aims to provide subscribers high-quality shows delivered to their phones in short "chapters," usually about 10 minutes long. CEO Meg Whitman has cited statistics that users of Netflix, Hulu and other streamers watch on phones only about 10 percent of the time, so she and Katzenberg believe their service can be a complement to those platforms. Quibi's series will be tailored to mobile users (including being able to watch full-screen video in either portrait or landscape mode) and filmed specifically for the format.”

Showtime has picked up On Becoming A God in Central Florida, a one-hour dark comedy series starring Kirsten Dunst. The project, from George Clooney and Grant Heslov’s Smokehouse Pictures and Sony’s TriStar Television, was ordered to series last year by YouTube to debut this year.

“Sony TV started conversations about moving the show elsewhere earlier this year, following the Google-owned company’s programming shift that involves making all original series, originally earmarked for SVOD platform YouTube Red/Premium, available as AVOD offerings, as well as putting a pin in all new scripted development. According to sources, YouTube and Sony TV were not able to negotiate an AVOD deal for On Becoming a God in Central Florida. YouTube Originals’ brass, who are said to be proud  of the show, then worked closely with Sony TV to find a new home for it. Sony TV also has hit Cobra Kai at YouTube, which was recently renewed for a third season.

“The nine-episode On Becoming A God in Central Florida, set to debut on Showtime Sunday, August 25, is a darkly comedic story about the cult of free enterprise and one woman’s relentless pursuit of the American Dream. In addition to Dunst, the series stars Théodore Pellerin, Beth Ditto, Mel Rodriguez and Ted Levine. Created and executive produced by Robert Funke and Matt Lutsky, the series is also executive produced by Smokehouse Pictures’ Clooney and Grant Heslov, along with Dunst, Charlie McDowell, who also directed the pilot, and Esta Spalding, who also serves as showrunner.

“‘We were immediately drawn to this stylish and subversive female empowerment story starring Kirsten Dunst as you’ve never seen her before,’ said Gary Levine, President of Entertainment, Showtime Networks . ‘Throw in clever writing, inventive filmmaking, a strong, diverse ensemble and some alligators, and we’re confident Showtime audiences will find On Becoming A God irresistible!’

On Becoming A God In Central Florida, which was originally in development at AMC before getting the green light at YouTube, was one of the passion projects for the late TriStar TV topper Suzanne Patmore Gibbs who revived Sony Pictures TV’s label as home of female-focused material.

“Set in a small Orlando-adjacent town in 1992, On Becoming A God in Central Florida follows Krystal Stubbs (Dunst), a minimum-wage water park employee who lies, schemes and cons her way up the ranks of Founders American Merchandise (FAM) — the cultish, flag-waving, multibillion-dollar pyramid scheme that drove her to ruin in the first place, run by the powerful Obie Garbeau II (Levine). Determined to make a better life for herself, Krystal dives deep into FAM and develops a tangled relationship with FAM’s most loyal and fanatical follower Cody (Pellerin), until her business begins to affect those closest to her, including Ernie (Rodriguez), her affable water park boss, and his FAM-skeptic wife Bets (Ditto).”

Monday June 17, 2019

Not much to rant and rave about these days. Pass on Amazon’s Too Old To Die Young. I thought HBO’s Euphoria was ok. Ditto for Netflix series Trinkets. Nothing special and nothing you should make sure not to miss.

I did enjoy The Chef Show with Jon Favreau and Roy Choi, which you can stream on Netflix. I’ve only watched a couple of them, but certainly not a bad investment of your time.

All 8 episodes of Das Boot are available to stream on Hulu.

ABC premieres Grand Hotel tonight.

Gloria Vanderbilt has passed away at the age of 95.

Is Marie Kondo a fraud?

Big Brother returns on June 25 and “CBS on Monday unveiled the 16 cast members who will compete on Season 21, including a Broadway dancer, a college soccer star and — most intriguing of all — a ‘wine safari guide.’ This summer’s houseguests are also quite young: With the exception of petroleum engineer Cliff Fogg III, who is 53 years old, the entire cast is comprised of 20- and 30-somethings. (That includes model Jessica Milagros, whose age is described as ‘30-ish.’) The three youngest contestants — college student Ovi Kabir, public health analyst Isabella Wang and the aforementioned Analyse — clock in at just 22 years old.”

Spectrum Originals has renewed L.A.’s Finest for a 2nd season.

I watched the season premiere of season 33 of The Real World on Facebook Watch. My one question, why only 30 minutes?

Spencer Pratt and wife Heidi Montag didn’t celebrate The Hills: New Beginnings with the rest of the cast. The couple was noticeably absent from the group’s ‘family dinner’ at Vandal in New York this week with original cast members Audrina Patridge, Stephanie Pratt, Brody Jenner, Justin Bobby, Frankie Delgado, and Jason Wahler, along with newcomers Mischa Barton, Brandon Thomas Lee, Brody’s wife Kaitlynn Carter Jenner and Jason’s wife Ashley Slack, we’re told. An onlooker also told us that Jenner “happily obliged” fans who asked for selfies while he was at the bar grabbing a drink. The Pratts’ absence comes amid their ongoing feud with Spencer’s sister, Stephanie. The two have been publicly fighting for months, with Stephanie most recently saying her brother is ‘married to the devil.’ Prior to that, Spencer claimed his relationship with his estranged sister was like ‘living with this evil around me.’ As for their absence, Pratt told Page Six on Friday that they had purchased tickets to a Broadway show with their son, Gunner.”

History is gearing up to premiere Prometheus Entertainment’s non-fiction series The UnXplained, hosted and executive produced by William Shatner. The 8 x 60-minute anthology series will look to tackle mysteries such as cursed ancient cities to extraterrestrial sightings. The UnXplained will explore the facts behind some of the world’s most strange and bizarre mysteries, and features top scientists, historians, engineers and researchers who are trying to shed light on how the seemingly impossible can happen. Debuting on July 19 at 10 p.m. ET/PT, The UnXplained is produced by Prometheus Entertainment, the company behind Ancient Aliens.”

You can add Lena Headey to the list of Game of Thrones fans left unsatisfied by Cersei Lannister’s Season 8 demise. In an interview with The Guardian, Headey revealed that she has ‘a few of my own gripes’ with how the final season played out, but she hasn’t gotten a chance to ‘[sit] down drunkenly with [showrunners] David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] yet.’ When she does get to air her grievances, though? ‘I will say I wanted a better death,’ Headey admitted. As Thrones fans will recall, Cersei and twin brother Jaime perished in the HBO drama’s penultimate episode, crushed under debris as the Red Keep fell around them — a result of Daenerys taking over King’s Landing and dismantling it via Drogon’s fiery breath. At the time, quite a few fans voiced their dissatisfaction with Cersei’s death, with many suggesting that a seasons-long villain did not get a meaningful comeuppance.”

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Girls creator Lena Dunham is returning to HBO.

“The actress and prolific producer is teaming with newcomers Konrad Kay and Mickey Down for Industry, an eight-episode drama series set in the world of international finance. (It's unclear if Dunham will have an onscreen role.)

“The series is based on Kay and Down's personal experience. It explores the world of international finance through the eyes of ambitious 20-somethings struggling to secure their futures. Industry follows a group of young graduates competing for a limited set of permanent positions at a top investment bank in London — but the boundaries between colleague, friend, lover and enemy soon blur as they immerse themselves in a company culture defined as much by sex, drugs and ego as it is by deals and dividends. As members of the group rise and fall, they must decide whether life is about more than the bottom line. 

“Kay and Down created the series and penned the scripts. The duo will also exec produce alongside Dunham, who will direct the pilot. Industry marks Dunham's first series at HBO since she split with longtime producing partner Jenni Konner. Together, the duo's credits included Girls and limited series Camping, both for HBO. Since their creative split last summer, both have inked solo producing deals with the premium cable network.

Industry hails from Bad Wolf, the British indie production company behind HBO's The Night Of and upcoming His Dark Materials as well as Sundance's A Discovery of Witches. This is the first TV series for Kay and Down, who together wrote and directed feature film Gregor, which earned a Discovery Award at the British Independent Film Awards — where Bad Wolf first took notice of the duo. The company, fronted by founder Jane Tranter, has been working with them since.

"‘Mickey and Konrad’s talent, drive and commitment was obvious to us the moment we met them,’ she said. ‘The scripts for Industry have an energy and direction that comes from their first-hand experience of the trading floor, and their ear for sharp dialogue immediately captured our attention. We're excited to be making their first TV drama series with HBO — who are never afraid to make bold decisions and support new talent.’

“The series, which will be shot in Cardiff this summer, is part of Bad Wolf's commitment to scouting and nurturing new talent. The Cardiff- and L.A.-based company places a priority on providing opportunities for other behind-the-scenes roles on indie-scale dramas and creating a new wave of production talent to meet the growing global demand for quality content.

“Down, Kay, Tranter, Lachlan MacKinnon, Ryan Rasmussen and Dunham will all exec produce the series.”

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, “HBO's much-buzzed-about teen drama Euphoria debuted Sunday after star Zendaya warned audiences about the show's ‘raw,’ ‘graphic’ and ‘triggering’ content just hours earlier on Instagram. But what most viewers might not have known when they tuned into the new series is that it’s actually the deeply personal story of creator Sam Levinson.

“The 34-year-old showrunner and son of director Barry Levinson opened up about his own experience with addiction ahead of the premiere of the hourlong drama. ‘Since around the age of 18 or 19 before I cleaned up, I was always playing around with this idea of chronicling a version of myself from birth to, in its own crazy, mad way, discovering drugs and the need for it,’ he told The Hollywood Reporter.

“For Levinson, who spent his teen years in and out of hospitals, rehabs and halfway houses as he tried to quell his anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder, whatever television show he ended up making was always going to explore why he started using drugs. ‘Not that I necessarily have a clear answer for it,’ he says. ‘But it was something that I was always trying to write about in a way that felt universal even though it is such a personal experience.’

“Now 14 years clean, Levinson found a way to infuse his own experiences into Euphoria, which stars Zendaya as Rue, a 17-year-old drug addict navigating high school relationships in the age of social media and perpetual anxiety. The drama, HBO’s first major teen-centered show, doesn't hold much back — but Levinson is hoping that the show's boundary-pushing material will shed light on what it's actually like to be a young person today. ‘I just feel like there is such a disconnect between what young people are going through and what everyone else thinks they're going through,’ he says.

“Levinson sat down with THR to talk about which storylines he drew from his own past (yes, that intense kitchen scene happened in real life), what it was like to capture all the nudity on camera (‘It's just awkward’) and the reaction he's gotten from parents (‘They're fairly inarticulate about it because it is overwhelming.’):

You’ve funneled your own life story into the show’s various characters. In what ways are you like Zendaya’s Rue?

It’s a lot of the actual things that Rue goes through, whether it's rehabs or being prescribed medications at an early age for anxiety and a host of other disorders — some of them valid, maybe other ones not so much. Also, her anxiety and her general outlook on how she is able to make it through life is a hundred percent true. The idea of having a panic attack at an early age [and] going to the hospital and getting valium for the first time and going, “Oh, this is it.” That moment. And just feeling like you’re out of control of your emotions. All of those things are true.

And how are you like Hunter Schafer’s character, Jules?

The story in the pilot between Nate (Jacob Elordi) and Jules, where Jules picks up a kitchen knife and [cuts herself], that's a real story. I was at a party, I was wearing a dress or some outlandish outfit and I was about to get the shit beaten out of me. I thought, “Maybe I can avoid getting punched and beaten up if I hurt myself first.” I don't mean to turn this into a therapy session, but I have a very even temperament on set, yet there was this really surreal moment [in an upcoming episode] where I had to go in the other room and take a deep breath and go, “This is pretty incredible that I was once there and now I'm here re-creating pieces of it and putting it into other characters who can then tell their own stories.” I also think it's a way of telling that version of myself when I was that age that, like, it's going to be okay. Just be easy on yourself.

What did you see in Zendaya, who’d mostly acted on Disney Channel and in family movies up until this point, that made you think she could play this character?

It was an instinct. But if you watch her in The Greatest Showman or K.C. Undercover, or if you watch her in interviews or in Instagram videos, there is a warmth that radiates from her and also a sensitivity and a vulnerability that she tries her damndest to hold back sometimes. And I just thought that for this character, who makes some pretty poor decisions in life and is very easy to judge and to dislike because of the things she does, the audience would be on her side no matter what. I didn't think she would ever do the project.

Why not?

Because it’s tough material and it's graphic in its depiction of drug use. It can be tough to watch for some people. Just given what she had done prior, I thought, “I don't think she's going do this.” Or that her team might not let her do it. But she got a hold of the scripts and the moment I heard she wanted to meet, I was excited. She came in hoodie up with her glasses and she started talking, and even though she has lived a very different life, I just immediately was like, “This is it. She's Rue.”

Were you concerned that some of her younger fans, who will likely want to watch anything she’s in, might not be old enough for this kind of mature content?

As someone who struggled with drug addiction and overcame drug addiction, I'm very sensitive to portrayals of drug addiction, and I understand that she has a large following of young people, but I do think our show is very authentic and responsible in the way in which it depicts drug use. It's not a cautionary tale, it's not an after-school special, but it shows how drugs can destroy your life. It also shows how they can quiet the anxiety and the feelings you may be having in a given moment — but ultimately the consequences are very real and devastating.

Since Zendaya herself has said she hasn’t had a lot of those experiences in life, was there ever a moment where you thought about casting someone who’d actually lived it?

I studied method acting for four years and I'm a big believer in the idea that it's not about the actual experience itself. You don't have to go through exactly what this character has gone through. We don't ever ask Gerard Butler has he ever fought off a terrorist attack in [Washington] D.C. But I believe that if you can find the emotional parallels in your own life, then you can portray it honestly and authentically. And from day one, I was very open with [Zendaya] about my experiences and just the physicality of it. I remember sitting in my office with her, just talking about, “When you're high, you're trying to figure out how to use as few muscles as possible, so you can use your elbow but don't use your wrist and just let it hang there. And you just have to kind of slump into it in a way.” That kind of stuff.

A lot of the young cast has talked about how they trusted you with helping them get to these dark places within themselves. Did you feel at all like you were a parent figure of sorts on set?

Yeah, because I care so deeply about all of them. I want them not only to do good work, but I want them to feel good about the work while they're doing it because it's tough stuff. There are tough places you have to go to just emotionally. So I think it's important to just keep in mind that the work doesn't end when the scene ends. You want to check on someone to make sure everyone’s good, and also create an environment where everyone is rooting for one another.

Did you find yourself having conversations with the actors that weren't even directly related to the show but what were about what they were dealing with in life?

No, because I try to keep it about the work. I'm writing, I'm directing, I'm editing, I'm mixing, I'm showrunning. There is a certain point where it's like, the work is the work. I'm interested in the emotional parallels of their own life, but I'm not a therapist. There are actual therapists out there who people should reach out to if they feel the need to.

That’s fair. Who do you think the audience for the show is?

I think the audience is everyone.

Really? All ages?

I mean, over the age of 17 or 18. I’m not the MPAA or whatever, but I think it's for anyone who is old enough to watch the show and for any generation older than them. Even though older generations may not relate to the specifics of, let's say, some of the issues related to the internet, they'll relate to the emotional world of it. In the same way that like I can watch The Breakfast Club and go, “Oh that feels authentic in some way,” or, “I see myself in this character or that character or this character,” we wanted to look at it from a very human perspective and an emotional perspective, because I think that transcends all ages and groups.

I feel like it wouldn't be hard for kids under 17 or 18 to easily find this show. Do you think they could watch it?

I mean, it's interesting when young people see the show. There were some people who brought their kids to the premiere, and the one comment that we consistently get from young people is, “This feels so real,” which is interesting because I think there is something that it's dealing with that I don't know if young people have seen before. In terms of who should watch it and what age, I'm not the right person to ask. That's a parental question. I remember my parents wouldn't let me watch certain movies when I was younger. I watched them anyway, and I didn't have anyone to talk to about those films that I saw. I think it would've been great if I was able to have that conversation about whatever movie it may have been. So I think if you feel like your kid is going to watch it regardless of what you say, then maybe you should watch it with them and have a conversation about it. But I also completely understand if parents have absolutely no desire for their children to watch it because it's hard to predict how ultimately something affects an individual. Something could be extremely overwhelming, and I'm sensitive to it even with my own son. He's 3 years old, and I don't like when he's watching something and there's a really suspenseful score. I feel like it just soaks into him and it gives him anxiety. But he's also 3. If he was 13 or 14, I would a hundred percent … I mean, I would've had these conversations. I would be talking to him about his life. I just feel like there is such a disconnect between what young people are going through and what everyone else thinks they're going through.

What about your parents? Have they seen Euphoria and if so, what did they think?

Yeah, it's funny, I always send everything to [my mom]. I share every script with her. I feel like she's the perfect audience in some way because she is very emotional, but she has limits. I remember when I gave her the pilot, there was the voiceover for the prologue and then no voiceover [for the rest of the show]. And my mother called me and she said, “I was reading the script and I thought that there was some great stuff in it, but then I got to this scene with the choking and I just thought it was just too much and I threw it in the garbage."

So we have that one scene to thank for Zendaya’s narration throughout the show?

Yeah, and it’s one I’m curious to hear people's opinions on, because I think it's a complicated scene. It's about consent inside of sex, but it's also about agency and being able to own up to what you want, what you don't want, when you want it — and it’s also about acknowledging when you have crossed a line or made a mistake. As much as I love political people and passionate people, I’m not interested in making art that's easy, and I'm not interested in having things that feel like they're teaching a lesson for everyone as opposed to exploring the kind of nuances of what leads to an uncomfortable situation like that. That's something that's very important to me. It's not judging these characters — it’s allowing them to be messy and make mistakes and do things that, like, we may not feel good about. You care about them and you want them to make the right decision, but they don't and that's what it's like to be a parent. They have to find their own way.

There are obviously a lot of sex scenes in the series. How did having an intimacy coordinator help that process behind-the-scenes?

Everyone had the scripts for the first four episodes, so they knew what certain scenes called for — but I think the wonderful part about having an intimacy coordinator is that if an actor doesn't feel comfortable doing something, no matter what they agreed to do before, they have the right to not do it. Our intimacy coordinator's main job was to be an advocate, someone who can talk to the actors. Because I know that the dynamic between the director and actor is ... well, I know that they want to do a good job and it's weird. Talking about a sex scene beforehand or shooting a sex scene, it's all uncomfortable. No one is thrilled about it. They're emotionally draining in that respect, and so it's nice to have someone come in and say, “Alright, so what are you thinking for this?” And I can have a conversation with Amanda [Blumenthal], our intimacy coordinator, and then she can go and she can talk to the actor and tell them, “So this is what he's thinking. What are you comfortable with?” And then she comes back, we talk again, then we all get together and we all have a conversation and we plan for it in the same way that we plan for any stunt scene. It’s just such a weight off of your shoulders as a filmmaker and also a production, too. I would never not work with an intimacy coordinator.

Because there was so much nudity in the show, did it feel like you got more comfortable with it all? Did it get easier along the way?

No, because I'm always sensitive to it. I don't even like getting my picture taken because I feel terrible about the way I look. I'm so self-conscious about things. [Sex scenes are] always tough to shoot. I mean, it's not like we're all sitting around going, like, “Oh, fuck, this is brutal,” or whatever. It's just awkward. Because the stuff that you have to wear and the things the actors have to ... it's all so strange. To have to simulate sex in front of a small, pared-down version of the crew, the fact is it’s an odd thing to do. It's just weird.

Someone was telling me the intimacy coordinator on set could say when you needed to be done with takes if she could see in the actors’ faces that they were tired of doing it. Is that true?

There's funny legalities. Like, “Oh they're not allowed to hook up in the front seat, the rider says that they can only hook up in the back seat.” So if two people are kissing in the front seat of a car and it's, like, heavy petting or something, Amanda would be like, "Sam, you have to cut." I'm like, "Why? They're supposed to hook up." And she's like, "Well, the rider says for the back seat, not the front seat." Just the way HBO legal would do the contracts, it's very specific as to what you can show and what you can't show [based on] how it’s written in the script. There are so many of these kind of technicalities that that’s the beauty of having an intimacy coordinator is I don't have to deal with them.

HBO executive Casey Bloys has said the series “isn’t just sensational to be sensational,” noting that a lot of it is drawn from your own life.

Right, we're not anarchists. We try to be really thoughtful about it just in terms of the conversations that we have between ourselves, between the producers, between HBO, between editorial. Julio Perez, our supervising editor, is someone I rely on a lot. And then also with the actors, the consultants, the intimacy coordinators, the trans consultants. We try to look at it from a number of different perspectives of, how does this feel? How does this land so that we're not operating in an insulated way? It's a really creative and collaborative environment. So I think we're cognizant of what we're doing and trying to depict and where the limits are. There are certain things that we don't want to push, we don't want to bring it into an area that feels exploitative or feels like it fits the universe of it.

How would you rate the show if you had to?

I got an NC-17 on Assassination Nation, even though there is no nudity in the movie, there is a nude watercolor — and they gave the movie an NC-17 rating because of that nude drawing. So I can't even imagine what they would do with this.”

This interview has been condensed

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From PEOPLE: “The unlikeliest of house flipping duos is coming to Bravo this summer!

Flipping Exes follows ex-girlfriend and boyfriend Nina Klemm and Michael LeSure, two friendly exes who broke up then went into business together, as they buy, makeover and sell high-end homes for a profit.

“The series, debuting in August, is set in Carmel, Indiana, a town Klemm, a licensed realtor and designer who’s worked with clients ranging from professional athletes to CEOs, calls ‘the Beverly Hills of the Midwest.' And that’s not just real estate jargon. CNN and Town & Country have previously ranked Carmel the number one place to live in America.

“‘It’s a real estate goldmine,’ she says in a preview (above) that premiered exclusively with PEOPLE.

“The homes they flip are high end — and therefore high stakes — adding to the tensions already simmering between the mostly-friendly exes, who can be seen battling it out in the trailer. But their shared competitive spirit makes the business work.

“‘No one flips rundown properties faster than Michael and I,’ says Klemm. ‘People think I’m crazy for going into business with Michael, but despite the fact that Michael and I broke up, we do work well together.’

“‘But we do argue a lot,’ adds LeSure, a former football player and current bodybuilder, oversees construction and operations.

“Amid all the drama, the show, which counts Bobby Flay as one of its executive producers, delivers on super satisfying before-and-after reveals, making it a must-see for the HGTV crowd and lovers of a reality TV throw down.

Flipping Exes premieres Tuesday, August 6 at 10 P.M. ET/PT on Bravo.”

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From The Hollywood Reporter: “Stranger Things breakout Gaten Matarazzo has landed a second show at Netflix.

“Matarazzo will host and executive produce Prank Encounters, a hidden-camera series. The eight-episode show is set to premiere later in 2019.

“Netflix describes the series as a ‘terrifying and hilarious prank show’ that takes two complete strangers who each think they're starting their first day at a new job. It's business as usual until their paths cross and their part-time jobs turn into full-time nightmares.

“The series comes from Propagate, whose Ben Silverman, Howard T. Owens and Kevin Healey executive produce with Matarazzo and Rob Hyde (Terrence Howard's Fright Club, Troy). Undercover Boss and Dance Moms veteran Anthony Gonzales directs.

“Matarazzo plays Dustin on Stranger Things; the show's third season bows July 4 and is set in the summer of 1985 and will feature a terrifying new creature. It's the first producing credit for the 16-year-old, who was one of The Hollywood Reporter's Top 30 Stars Under 18 in 2018.

“The actor also plays in a band with siblings Carmen and Sabrina and devotes his time to raising awareness for cleidocranial dysplasia, a condition that affects development of bones and teeth. He helped launch a foundation to help families pay for dental bills for kids with the condition.”

Friday June 14, 2019

A new season of Life After Lockup premieres tonight on WE. Rejoice.

Cinemax unveils new series Jett tonight. “Jett stars Carla Gugino as world-class thief Daisy “Jett” Kowalski. Fresh out of prison, she is forced back into doing what she does best, and a cast of morally ambivalent, dangerous and eccentric criminals, from budding femme fatales to compromised law enforcers, are determined to exploit her skills for their own ends.”

Season 3 of Jessica Jones is now available to stream on Netflix.

Here’s a review.

HBO debuts Euphoria on Sunday night.

And a review.

Season 2 of Absentia is now available on Amazon Prime.

As is season 1 of Too Old To Die Young. “In one tragic night, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Martin Jones's life is blown apart, and he is forced into a deadly underground of Cartel soldiers, Yakuza assassins, and mysterious vigilantes. Soon he finds himself lost on a surreal odyssey of murder, mysticism and vengeance, as his past sins close in on him.”

A review, for completeness.

Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston’s new Netflix movie Murder Mystery is now available for your viewing pleasure.

Netflix also drops this gem today as well: Awake: The Million Dollar Game. “Sleepless for 24 hours, contestants in the comedy game show stumble through challenges both eccentric and everyday for a chance at a $1 million prize.”

Showtime officially premieres City On A Hill on Sunday, although it released the first episode last week.

Congratulations to the Toronto Raptors for winning the NBA Championship last night.

Jersey Shore Family Vacation returns on July 11.

Tracee Ellis Ross is set to play a prominent role, both as a star and executive producer, in MTV’s upcoming adult animated series Jodie. The series is a reimagining of the classic animated show Daria, and is described as a satire of the post college workplace and personal adventures of Gen Z. Daria was itself inspired by MTV’s Beavis and Butthead, based on the widespread appeal of the Daria Morgendorffer character whose wry wisdom was beyond her high school years. The new series will center around Daria’s good friend Jodie Landon (Ellis Ross), an African American character from the original series. Viewers will follow her as she comes into her own and enters the workplace in her first post-college job in tech. Other former students from Lawndale High School will also appear.”

I applaud Alyssa Milano’s passion.

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Per Deadline, “Idris Elba (Luther) is taking to the road with renowned rally driver Ken Block in Elba vs. Block, a new car-stunt series for Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman’s short-form video platform Quibi.

“In Elba vs. Block, the duo go head-to-head as they pit a variety of cars against each other through increasingly outrageous stunts to prove whose car, and which driver is the best.

“The series will be shot in London’s Docklands over eight episodes that will feature eight jaw dropping stunts, such as the Wall of Death, the Car Tightrope and the Flaming Obstacle Course.

“‘Ken is my driving hero… I’ve never worked with a driver as skilled as him so I’m a little intimidated by his talent. I love challenges, I love speed and I’m a ‘wheel man’ so let’s see how this plays out,’ said Elba.

“Block is professional rally driver known for his extreme choreographed driving stunts. His viral Gymkhana video series received over half a billion views on YouTube and pushed the boundaries of automotive filmmaking.

“‘I’m really excited to be partnering up with Idris on this new show,’ said Block. ‘I’ve admired his work for years and he has a reputation as a man who likes to go fast behind the wheel of a car, so I think we’re going to have a lot of fun with these challenges that the producers have lined up for us.’

Elba vs. Block is a co-production between Workerbee (part of EndemolShine UK) and Elba’s Green Door Pictures for Quibi.”

Zero interest.

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From TheWrap: “Orphan Black is coming back in the most unexpected of ways: as an audio sequel series. And yes, Tatiana Maslany is involved.

“Temple Street Productions, the production company behind the now-ended BBC America drama, is partnering with digital fiction startup Serial Box for an audio continuation of the TV show, Orphan Black: The Next Chapter.

“The 10-episode series is set eight years after the events of the show’s fifth and final season and will be released by Serial Box later this summer in audiobook and text formats. The official continuation of Orphan Black will feature the same characters from the series, with all 14 members of the original show’s clone sisterhood voiced by Maslany.

Temple Street and Serial Box (which is invested in by Temple Street’s parent company, Boat Rocker Studios) haven’t made additional plot details public yet, except to say ‘#cophine’ — a reference to the couple Cosima (Maslany) and Delphine (Évelyne Brochu) — ‘definitely plays a big part in the story.’

“Malka Older has been set as showrunner on The Next Chapter, with Mishell Baker, Lindsay Smith, Heli Kennedy, Madeline Ashby and E.C. Myers enlisted as writers.

“Co-created by John Fawcett and Graeme Manson, Orphan Black launched in 2013 and ran for five seasons. The critically-acclaimed series starred Maslany as a woman who discovers that she is a clone and that someone is plotting to kill her and her clone ‘sisters.’

“Maslany was nominated for three Emmys — winning best actress in a drama series in 2016 — and a Golden Globe for her performance on “Orphan Black.”

As TheWrap reported in March, a new Orphan Black series set in the show’s universe is currently in the works at AMC. An individual with knowledge of the project told TheWrap that the show is in the very, very early stages of development at BBC America’s sister network, with Temple Street attached to produce the new show.

“The individual added that the follow-up series would not be considered a spinoff of the original but rather an entirely new show set in the same world as Orphan Black.”

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Per Variety, “Salacious behavior, twists that push the human psyche to the extreme, and pressure-cooker production schedules are just some situations for which reality-show contestants may be signing on. Add in the increasing role of social media and audience tendencies to see contestants as characters, and providing proper mental-health support becomes more important than ever.

“Before Melissa Barrera broke through with American audiences as one of the leads on Starz’s Vida, she made her television debut in the 2011 Mexican reality show La Academia. At 21 years old, she says she loved the experience, but admits it nearly broke her.

“‘Reality TV is like a snake pit,’ she says. ‘You think the entertainment industry can be hard, but reality TV? That’s the epitome of whether you’re ready for this or not. If I could survive that show, it meant I could do anything. I wouldn’t change anything, but it was people constantly criticizing you for you — not even for a character you’re playing. It’s for your personality and who you are. That can be hard for a 21-year-old.’

“Barrera notes that she wanted to quit more than once, but fellow contestant Paco Zazueta, whom she eventually married, encouraged her to keep going.

“‘We would take turns telling each other we had what it takes to stick it out,’ she says. ‘When I left that show I didn’t want to sing ever again. They made me believe I was no good at it. It was a weird technique they used.’

“While Barrera was able to overcome the mental toll her reality experience took on her, some contestants haven’t fared as well. On the heels of making its American franchise debut on CBS this summer, ITV’s Love Island has faced backlash for its lack of mental-health support following the suicides of former contestants Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis.

“These are far from isolated incidents. Nearly 40 stars from a variety of reality programs, from Kitchen Nightmares and The Bachelor to Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and American Idol have been found dead by suicide or overdose around the world, prompting a larger conversation surrounding the mental effects of appearing on such series and whether production needs to offer more pre-show screening and post-show support.

“‘Everyone is really dying to be seen, and for some people, the way they imagine they will fulfill that ultimate experience of being seen is by being on television, by being the center of an entertaining, all-eyes-on-you experience,’ says clinical psychologist Brie Rosenfield. She has consulted on a number of unscripted series across network and cable for the past three years, and specifically works with contestants following their time on such series.

“‘Being seen is very different in your own personal life than it is on reality television. It can trigger a lot of the areas where we may not have a tremendous amount of resiliency and where, if there is a pre-existing condition in the face of that level of stress and discomfort, some people will not be able to move through.’

“Since the early days of reality television, producers and therapists have used emotional intelligence testing to cast contestants based on a variety of factors that play into the personalities they’re looking for on any particular series.

“Clinical psychologist Steven Stein has developed a series of scientifically validated assessments used to pre-screen during casting on dozens of North American reality series over the years, including Survivor, The Apprentice, Big Brother Canada and Scare Tactics.

“‘We usually tailor the tests to the show in terms of what they’re looking for. Some shows like Big Brother rely a lot on social and interpersonal skills. Other shows sometimes require stamina and managing stress, and so we focus on those areas,’ he says, noting the system is now mostly automated to keep up with the speed of production.

“But, he adds, ‘The first and most important thing we always do is a mental-health screening because we want to make sure that it’s safe. That the person is not going to be self-injurious or aggressive. That there are no real addiction problems. No sort of borderline personalities.’

“Stein says emotional intelligence is used to determine how potential contestants may interact with one another while on the series, to the point where he can often predict a winner before the season even begins. His team was correct in gauging the likelihood of this year’s unanimous Big Brother Canada winner, Dane Rupert, who notably dedicated his win to mental health following his own father’s suicide.

“Overall, Stein says perhaps less than 5% of the contestants they evaluate don’t make it through to actual production, because they’ve been pre-screened by casting and other departments. Once production kicks off, he’s on-call for any additional support that may be needed, and helps to prepare contestants for the upcoming downtime or how they may be perceived by others while on the series.

“When it comes to twists or particular production issues that could affect a contestant’s mental health however, he’s rarely consulted.

“According to The Challenge executive producer Justin Booth, contestants’ phobias can sometimes make for better television, but the timing of the casting process and the creation of the games on his series mean that it’s hard to specifically take those phobias into consideration.

“‘It can be noted, but sometimes when we develop these games the casting process goes on simultaneously,’ he says. ‘We might consider, “Well, we do have a lot of games that are up in the air, and I know for a fact that Cara Maria might lose her mind.” And she might get special consideration to get an invite because of it. There might be a little manipulation, but not overtly.’

“Whatever the mental toll contestants face while on a series, the real work begins once the cameras have shut off and they prepare to re-enter their former lives — all while facing the pressures of social media, public critique and newfound fame. Rosenfield says the productions she works with often offer up to three follow-up sessions, but after that, contestants are on their own to seek help.

“‘Unfortunately we are paying for the mistakes of our past and in order to be legally and financially responsible, you really have no choice but to support these contestants so that you don’t have a tragedy,’ she says.

“When it comes to unforeseen outcomes and legal issues involving former reality-show contestants, Stein theorizes it’s a matter of numbers — with more contestants participating on a growing number of reality shows, the likelihood of someone being unable to cope with these issues following production increases. He maintains that’s why it’s important to offer mental-health support for all contestants across the board.

“‘The shows I’ve worked with do invest in me, or someone like me, to ensure mental health is protected. I find the producers I work with are really cautious and when they sense or when one of the crew senses something is wrong, I get notified right away and we intervene.’

“He adds that diverse casting on series including Big Brother Canada has sparked conversation on a variety of additional issues such as Tourette’s, ADHD, bullying and gender identity.

“‘That should be the way it works for almost all of these shows. Whenever you’re taking average or normal people out of the population and putting them in this current environment, at some level there should be a psychologist involved. Just like you have usually a medical person around, for those kinds of issues, there should be someone looking into mental health. Because stuff does happen.’”

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Per Vulture, “[o]n May 24, after 2,000 episodes, Carson Daly’s late-night show came to an end, and as you read these words, I wonder if you can remember its name. To be fair, late-night shows tend to have sound-alike titles — Late Night, Late Show, Later, The Late Late Show — and Daly’s entry (let’s kill the suspense: It was called Last Call With Carson Daly) was no exception. So you may be surprised to learn that the show aired for 17  straight years in the same time slot with the same host — the longest such run of any contemporary late-night host.

“How? Last Call survived in part by changing its form radically over the years in response to budget cuts, cancellation threats, writers’ strikes, network conciliations to higher-profile hosts, and the general ongoing effort to figure out just what exactly a late-night show starring Carson Daly should look like. Last Call premiered in 2002 as a typical studio-bound talk show with a rotating house band. But the studio and the sidekick band proved to be an ill fit. So the show was reconfigured as a sit-down chat show with longer, more intimate interviews. Finally, after 2013, as Daly shuttled between New York and L.A. to host and produce The Voice and co-anchor Today, Last Call was recast as a series of produced segments, with Daly providing pretaped interstitial commentary. All of this was aired, through three presidents, two wars, and one global recession, five nights a week on NBC in the prime viewing slot of 1:30 in the morning.

“Daly claims he couldn’t be happier about the show’s relative obscurity, evincing the kind of tireless agreeability that has kept him on television for two decades now. ‘If you’d told me, “We’ll give you a choice: You’re going to have the biggest talk show in the history of mankind and you’ll have it for six years, or you’ll have a show that probably the majority of people aren’t going to know about but we’ll guarantee it will be on for twice as long,” I would take the latter every time,’ he says. At a lounge in the Regency Hotel in New York, from the same seat where his now-wife, food blogger Siri Pinter, sat six years ago when he proposed (it was a hectic day, they were in town for Today and staying at the hotel, and he just needed to get it done), I ask him whether the end of Last Call feels like a victory lap or an Irish wake.

“‘It’s a huge victory lap. A talk show? First of all, everybody was like, “No one ever makes it past MTV,”’ he says. ‘Getting the late-night show was another big step, but I’d heard of Magic Johnson and Chevy Chase, and people said this will be another one of those. So just defying those odds, and then having it go on so long, sort of quietly, while America is fast asleep — I feel like I stole something from society. Like they just never saw me coming.’ If you didn’t see Carson Daly coming, let’s recall where he was coming from circa 2002. He’d been a DJ at the influential L.A. radio station KROQ credited with, among other things, breaking the band Marilyn Manson. MTV recruited him in 1997 to host a music show called Motel California; that stint went well enough that he was hired as a permanent VJ. When MTV asked him to pitch ideas, he proposed a canny update on American Bandstand that ended up as Total Request Live, a countdown show that played the top-ten requested videos of the day, as requested by viewers, via email or phone.

“Premiering in 1998 and filmed in a studio overlooking Times Square, TRL was less a TV show than a televised pep rally and a necessary promotional pit stop for pop stars like Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, and the Backstreet Boys. Throngs of screaming teens would crowd Times Square to wave at his studio’s windows, and Carson Daly would smile and wave back at the people below. He was an ideal host for the show: seemingly edgy but never threatening; seemingly cool but never intimidating; attractive but not so charismatic that he’d distract from the real attractions. He became a celebrity, but of a particular kind: He was famous for his fame-adjacency (including in his love life; Page Six eagerly covered his relationships with Tara Reid and Jennifer Love Hewitt). He had become, in his late 20s, America’s Forever Teenager, a gee-whiz bystander in the Dick Clark mold, at the very last moment when American teenagers were interested in watching the same TV channel to collectively scream at the same thing. He recalls a young girl holding a sign on the street below that seemed to encapsulate his TRL status. The sign read, ‘Hey Carson, Let Me Up — I Want to Meet Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys.’ ‘Therein lies the relationship between me and the audience,’ he says. ‘They needed me. I was the access point, the portal to their celebrity. I’m not the celebrity per se. I’m a conduit to power — that’s really all I’ve ever done.’

“Daly didn’t want to stay forever at MTV, and he’d seen how other VJs got branded as MTV personalities. He had no interest in acting and turned down offers to take a version of TRL to network television. Instead, he went to NBC looking for opportunities, and, he tells me, ‘they said, “The only thing we have available is that, at 1:30 in the morning, we’re running SCTV reruns, and we’d be willing to pull those off the air. But why would you want to be on at 1:30 in the morning?”’

“Daly has never been an obvious fit for late night, where the most straightforward path to a host’s chair is a career in stand-up and shows are typically built around a host’s comedic sensibility. You watched Letterman, for instance, both to see Letterman and to see Letterman interacting with whoever was on that night. Daly comes not from comedy but from radio, and to hear him tell it, he has no discernible talents — or at least he’s aware that this is an opinion of him that has long existed in the world. ‘The most common thing has been people behind closed doors saying, “He seems like a nice guy, but what does he really possess?”’ Daly says. ‘I’ve heard this my whole life. “What tangible talent does he have?” The answer is none.’

“Yet Last Call With Carson Daly was born. And reborn. And reborn again. Then very nearly canceled several times, most notably in 2008, when Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien were wrestling over The Tonight Show. One proposed solution was to push everyone — Leno, Conan, and Jimmy Fallon, then host of Late Night — later. But that would push Last Call right off the schedule’s edge: NBC affiliates had a contractual obligation to air Poker After Dark at 2 a.m. ‘I got this call from Rick Ludwin, the head of late night at NBC,’ recalls Daly, ‘and he said, “I’ve got to be honest with you. We’ve got some issues. The network’s in a dispute with Conan and Jay, who are feuding over the Tonight Show. In one of the scenarios we’ve put on the table, it’s a time-slot thing, and it’s possible Last Call will just go away all together.”’ Daly, who has been open about his struggles with anxiety, recalls thinking at the brink of the show’s cancellation, after he’d just bought a house in Malibu (two houses, actually; it was a teardown project) and his now-wife was pregnant, ‘Fuck, what did I do? I’m going to be homeless with my wife and a little baby on Hollywood Boulevard. And I deserve it.

“But Conan blinked, Leno won Tonight, and Last Call survived to see another decade. In 2010, Stewart Bailey, a former Daily Show producer, came aboard to help reimagine the show — this time spotlighting acts Daly found interesting. Talent spotting turned out to be a real strength for Daly, obscured on TRL by the fact that he was playing your requests, not his. On Last Call, Ed Sheeran, Kendrick Lamar, and the Killers all made their U.S. TV debuts. ‘It felt like a college film that never lost its funding,’ says Bailey of the show’s latter incarnation. ‘Our wardrobe budget was $50 a year because every year we’d just buy Carson a new hoodie.’

“‘The best way to describe it is: Let’s say you live in a really big house, and that represents the network,’ Daly says. ‘When we moved into this house with this big, giant family, I was like, “I’ll take the shitty little room in the basement that has a half-bath,” while everybody else scattered for the bedrooms in the nicest parts of the house. Through the years, my room never got redone — but I had a fucking room. I had skin in the game.’ Seventeen years later, Last Call With Carson Daly could just as well have been titled Last Laugh.

“In 2015, Vanity Fair did a photo shoot featuring ten late-night hosts as a celebration of the medium’s ascendancy. The most-remarked-upon aspect of the photo: It was all dudes. The second-most? It was almost entirely white dudes. Even so, Carson Daly didn’t make the cut.

“By that point, Daly had already joined Today, thus completing the logical evolution from affable afternoon VJ to affable early-morning co-host. His initial role on Today, at age 40, was to be the show’s social-media liaison, reporting from the Orange Room, where viewers could interact with him on Facebook and Twitter, which is sort of the early-21st-century equivalent of hosting TRL. From the beginning, Daly has been savvy enough to recognize an opportunity in that slim space between celebrity and civilian; the value in being the person who gets to do the things we wish we could do and stand next to the people we wish we could meet. If TRL’s obvious antecedent is American Bandstand, Carson Daly’s is Dick Clark, even though Generation X likely never felt it needed a Dick Clark. (Oddly, it wound up with two: Daly and Ryan Seacrest.)

“When Daly was still in his 20s and just starting out in his career, he wangled a meeting with Clark. ‘I asked him, “How did you do this so long? How can I stay in this fight?”’ says Daly. ‘He told me, “Work hard. People think this shit’s easy — it’s not.” Then he told me: “Being likable is everything. I’d rather be likable than talented.” That one stuck with me. Because I thought, I can be that.

“Whereas once you’d find him in Times Square in front of a backdrop of screaming teenagers, now you’ll find him outside Rockefeller Center in front of a backdrop of screaming middle-aged Midwesterners. America grew up, sort of, and so did Daly, sort of. ‘Oh my God, it’s the same,’ he says of Today. ‘It’s literally TRL for grown-ups. It plays to this tiny skill set I have. It’s a perfect place for me.’ He still hosts The Voice, for which he won an Emmy, which means he shuttles from coast to coast every week. ‘People probably think I’m in a fancy hotel or taking a private jet, and I’m on a goddamn red-eye,’ he says. ‘I’m hustling. This shit is a hustle.’

Last Call’s time slot will go to a new show called (here’s the sound-alike name again) A Little Latehosted by Canadian YouTube star Lilly Singh. Her channel has over 14 million subscribers, which is roughly 13 million more people than watched Last Call on a typical night. Daly’s happy to pass the baton. ‘She’s popular. She’s talented. She comes with a bag of tricks,’ he says. As for Daly, he’s got Today and The Voice. He’s maybe cooking up a reality show with his wife. He co-hosts a podcast for the Golf channel with pro golfer Rory McIlroy. ‘Someone just wrote to me on Twitter about it,’ Daly says. ‘They wrote, “Shut the hell up. I came into this because you have incredible access to Rory McIlroy, the No. 4 golfer in the world, so do me a favor and shut the fuck up.”’ As always, Daly is open to viewer feedback. ‘I wrote back, “A hundred percent.” It’s a good note. I should remember — that’s my role.’”

Thursday June 13, 2019

Episode 1 of the 33rd season of The Real World is now available on Facebook Watch.

Game 6 of the NBA Finals is tonight at 9pm ET. The Raptors are up 3-2 on the Warriors.

A new season of Baskets returns tonight on FX.

NBC airs series finales of A.P. Bio and Abby tonight.

Project Runway will crown a 17th winner this evening.

Netflix has ordered a 2nd season of Dogs.

A&E has ordered 10 additional episodes of Live Rescue, bringing the first season total to 19 episodes. How long until this first responders fad dies?

Don Cheadle (Avengers: Infinity War, Black Monday), Emily Mortimer (Mary Poppins Returns, Doll & Em) and Helena Howard (Madeline’s Madeline, The Wilds) are set to star in Don’t Look Deeper, a sci-fi drama series for Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman’s short-form video platform Quibi. The series is a co-production between New Form, a Whistle-owned company, and Doug Liman’s 30 Ninjas for Quibi. Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight, Red Riding Hood) is attached to direct and executive produce. Co-written by Lost co-creator Jeffrey Lieber, who also serves as showrunner, and Charlie McDonnell,  Don’t Look Deeper is set in Merced, California, “fifteen minutes into the future.” It centers on a high school senior who can’t seem to shake the feeling that something about her just isn’t right. And that something is… she’s not human… not one of us. This revelation of what she really is, where she comes from, and who has started looking for her, sets in motion a series of events that suddenly puts her entire life in jeopardy.”

Game Show Network’s hit show America Says is going into syndication nationwide, courtesy of a deal with Sony Pictures Television (SPT). Hosted by John Michael Higgins,  the studio game show pits two teams of friends and family against one another to guess America’s responses by filling in the blanks to survey questions on a vast range of topics. The winning team with the most money banked after three rounds will advance to a bonus round for the chance to win up to US$15,000. Fox, Sinclair, CBS, Cox Media, Tegna, Nexstar, Mission, Gray and Lockwood have all agreed to carry the game show on their stations when it debuts this fall. The partnership brings the 30-minute survey-matching game show into 85% of the U.S.”

Cinemax has boarded Trackers, a thriller drama series based on the novel by bestselling South African author Deon Meyer. James Alexander, Rolanda Marais and Ed Stoppard are set to star in the series, a co-production between Cinemax, the South Africa’s M-Net and Germany’s ZDF. Multichoice’s M-Net and ZDF teamed for Trackers in late 2018, with Jyri Kähönen set to direct all episodes and Ivan Strasburg as director of photography. Around that time, the companies started conversations with Cinemax about coming on board as a co-producer. Trackers interweaves three story strands into a sophisticated action-packed thriller that covers the length and breadth of South Africa, explosively colliding in Cape Town in a violent conspiracy involving organized crime, smuggled diamonds, state security, Black Rhinos, the CIA and an international terrorist plot.”

Justin Bieber wasn't serious about taking on Tom Cruise in a fight, or maybe he's simply changed his mind ... because he says Tom would kick his ass! JB played it cool for the paps in L.A. Wednesday as he was leaving Hailey's fashion line office, telling them he was just goofing around when he randomly challenged the 56-year-old actor to an MMA fight and asked Dana White to make it happen. He says he had just seen an interview with Cruise so he was on his mind, and decided to tweet out the bizarre challenge ... but it was all just a goof.” Someone needs to wipe this moron out.

Stranger Things fans can now be a part of the Upside Down universe simply by enjoying fast food. In honor of the sci-fi hit, Burger King is set to serve its famous Whoppers upside down, paying tribute to the alternate dimension explored on the show. The Upside-Down Whopper sandwich, which is simply a regular Whopper with the buns reversed, also features ’80s-style packaging. The special treat can be enjoyed starting June 21 at certain restaurants in several U.S. cities, including Miami, Houston, Boston, Atlanta, Dallas, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles. Limited edition ketchup packets and T-shirts inspired by the series will also be available. The special promotion will coincide with the season 3 premiere of Stranger Things on July 4.”

All That‘s signature restaurant Good Burger (home of the Good Burger, if you weren’t aware) can now actually take your order. Ahead of the premiere of the All That revival, Nickelodeon announced plans to launch a pop-up Good Burger restaurant in Los Angeles. The team behind Saved By the Max, the Saved By the Bell-themed diner that appeared in 2016, is partnering with the network to help bring Good Burger to life. While the restaurant won’t open until July 10, you can purchase tickets starting Monday, June 17 at 10 a.m. PT. Visitors will be able to munch on real Good Burgers, Good Chunks, and Good Shakes, and, naturally, can expect ‘a few comedic mishaps and surprises’ as part of the experience. A statement from Nickelodeon also promises ‘Good Burger-themed service experiences, merchandise, games, secret sauce and more.’”

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Per Variety, “Doug Kezirian is surrounded by numbers on his new ESPN program. They aren’t sports scores.

“If you want home runs, touchdowns or three-pointers, you’ll have to go somewhere else. Each weekday afternoon, Kezirian talks to people like Preston Johnson, a Las Vegas sports handicapper with a master’s in sports psychology and a beard so big it could host its own show, or Anita Marks, a former women’s football player who analyzes fantasy football. The bottom and left-hand edges of the screen during his hourlong program, The Daily Wager, on ESPNews, aren’t crammed with batting averages or free-throw percentages but rather with stats on oddsmaking.

“‘You can have a normal conversation about betting,’ says Kezirian, who graduated from Brown University with an economics degree and has reported on sports betting for years. ‘And it will not feel dirty or shady or anything silly like that — period.’

“Many of the nation’s big media companies have already started to talk about wagering on sports. Fox Sports 1 was the first to launch a daily program about gambling — Lock It In airs weekday afternoons. During NBC Sports’ broadcast of the Kentucky Derby in May — one of the premier events in its portfolio of sports rights — the network launched its first betting program, streamed online and via its mobile app. Handicapper Eddie Olczyk offered his picks for the race. WarnerMedia’s Turner Sports teamed up with MGM Resorts to display odds on various shots being taken in its pay-per-view matchup between golfers Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Both ESPN and Turner’s Bleacher Report have struck deals to launch production studios at Caesars Entertainment properties to create content about sports betting.

“The media companies have wanted a piece of the action ever since the May 2018 Supreme Court ruling that left individual states free to legalize sports betting. Eight states currently allow it, and if a company happens to reach viewers in one of them — two regional sports networks owned by NBCU, for example, are viewed by consumers in betting-friendly New Jersey and West Virginia — then it can run ads for apps that help roll the dice, so to speak. ‘We know the behaviors have been out there,’ says Jeffrey Gerttula, executive vice president and general manager for CBS Sports Digital. ‘It can’t always be office pools.’

“Gambling has rarely been something given full consideration on national TV. Sure, some fans will remember Jimmy ‘The Greek’ Snyder predicting football scores on CBS Sports pregame shows in the 1970s and ’80s. But the subject remained taboo. These days, national sentiment is changing — just as it is about marijuana use. Many TV networks were happy to run dozens of ads for fantasy-sports sites DraftKings and FanDuel in the 2015-16 football season until legal concerns drove those two entities from the airwaves. Now, sports leagues themselves are setting up agreements with companies that consider the odds. Last year, for example, Major League Baseball struck a deal with MGM Resorts that lets the two parties share statistics and promote gaming.

“Yet the big bet here isn’t just about making money from people who want to put $15 on their favorite football team on Sunday. The companies are also laying down stakes on the future of the TV business. What better way to get people to watch live TV than to give them the chance to figure out how to make money off it? ‘Betting is almost the ultimate expression of interactive TV, which has always been positioned as the way to get people more involved with the programming. But the applications have always been underwhelming — a poll, a quiz, some kind of interactive ad,’ explains Tim Hanlon, CEO of Vertere Group, a media- and marketing-industry consultant. ‘Betting is the ultimate activity one can do in conjunction with content, and it can help insulate sports programming as the highest point of value in the television ecosystem.’

“Anything the networks can do to keep viewers more connected to the live program they watch is seen as healthy. Getting fans to pay more attention is the overall goal, executives say. NBCUniversal has also been testing what it calls Shoppable TV, an interactive function that can send viewers from, say, a sports match to an online store. Fans watching a May broadcast of the French Open could follow an on-screen alert telling them to hold their phone cameras up to the screen, and then be taken to a site to buy Lacoste clothing.

“There are even hopes betting can move from sports to other kinds of programming — anything that people are so excited by, they will follow a suggestion to offer a response via mobile app. ‘Do people want to bet on an outcome of a Game of Thrones?’ asks Will Funk, executive vice president of corporate sponsorships for WarnerMedia’s Turner Sports. ‘It’s a lot harder with a scripted show, because there are issues in terms of things getting out, but yes, I think you will see betting is something that will be integrated across other genres of programming, for sure.’

“While other media outlets are creating content around sports betting, Fox is making plans to help facilitate actual wagers. The company said in May that Fox Sports would take a nearly 5% stake in Toronto’s Stars Group, an entity that makes online and mobile gaming technology. Fox Sports executives are in discussions with the NFL, Major League Baseball and NASCAR, among other leagues to which the company has rights to broadcast games and events, about what might be possible in seasons to come, according to a person familiar with the matter.

“That’s a line some other companies are not willing to cross just yet. ‘There are certainly no plans to take bets on our platforms,’ says Ilan Ben-Hanan, ESPN’s vice president of programming and scheduling. Adds Turner’s Funk: ‘I don’t see us being a betting operator of any sort.’ NBCUniversal has been examining viewer behavior in New Jersey, a significant part of which is served by its NBC Sports Philadelphia, and believes ‘the market is going to be made up of more casual bettors,’ says David Preschlack, president of NBC Sports Regional Networks and executive vice president of content strategy at NBC Sports Group. ‘We feel the big opportunity here is to use sports betting to raise the entertainment value of sports programming.’

“Fox sees a chance to drive revenue through betting, says the person familiar with the matter, rather than simply running ads for other betting apps. Whether that means viewers of the pregame show to Fox’s Thursday Night Football can expect to see Michael Strahan talking about odds on that night’s contest remains to be seen.

“Missteps are possible. No one wants to return to the days when commercial time during TV matches was all but dominated by DraftKings and FanDuel. And networks may have to worry about their credibility. ‘There’s already an obscene amount of money involved in sports,’ says Vertere’s Hanlon. ‘The arrival of easy gambling and sports betting is only going to add more money — and more ethical challenges ahead.’

“Part of the excitement surrounding the advent of betting is that it creates a new Wild West scenario around TV. ‘It will probably roll out in a way that nobody has predicted,’ says NBCU’s Preschlack. ‘Nobody will get it exactly right, which will be fun to watch.’” 

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, “[s]everal members of the Television Academy’s Performers Peer Group (read: actors) have been disqualified from voting for the upcoming Primetime Emmy Awards.

“According to a Wednesday memo sent to the group and obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, a few members were found to have engaged in or advocated for block voting. That is to say, they discussed voting with other members of the group with the intention of all voting for one or more specific projects.

"‘The integrity of the Emmy competition is of paramount importance to the Television Academy,’ reads the memo from chairman and CEO Frank Scherma and president and COO Maury McIntyre. ‘Any suggestions of voting impropriety, whether implied or acted upon, are taken very seriously and will not be tolerated.’

“A spokesperson for the Television Academy declined to comment when reached on the matter. It is not known how many individuals have been disqualified from voting at this point or who they are, but sources say they were notified Wednesday afternoon shortly after the memo went out.

“It is also not immediately clear if said members face expulsion from the TV Academy.

”Nomination round voting for the 2019 Primetime Emmys only began on Monday. It is open through June 24, with nominations set to be announced July 16.

“Read the memo below:

Dear Performers Peer Group Member:

The Television Academy has determined that a few members of the Performers Peer Group have engaged in or advocated for block voting in the 2019 Emmy Awards competition.

As stated in an email sent to the Performers Peer Group on April 3, 2019:

[A]ny implicit or explicit suggestion of quid pro quo and/or block voting for the Emmy competition constitutes a breach of the 2018-2019 Emmy Awards Rules & Procedures and also may be a violation of the Academy's Code of Conduct. As such, this activity may be grounds for a member to be disqualified from participation.

Per the 2018-2019 Emmy Awards Rules & Procedures:

[M]embers found to be engaged or otherwise complicit in quid pro quo and block voting shall have any votes cast invalidated and be disqualified... The Television Academy has therefore disqualified these members from the 2019 Emmy Awards competition, invalidating both their ballot entries and any votes they may have cast. In addition, their conduct may be referred to the Conduct Review Committee for further disciplinary action.

The integrity of the Emmy competition is of paramount importance to the Television Academy. Any suggestions of voting impropriety, whether implied or acted upon, are taken very seriously and will not be tolerated. The Academy will continue to investigate this matter, and will take appropriate action should other members be implicated.

Frank Scherma
Chairman & CEO

Maury McIntyre
President & COO”

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Per EW, “[l]ove for The Boondocks is still very much alive. So, Sony is bringing the Freeman family back to television.

“‘A complete re-imagining’ of The Boondocks ‘for the modern era’ is in development from original series creator Aaron McGruder, the studio announced Wednesday morning at the 2019 Annecy International Animated Film Festival.

“Based on his comic strip of the same name, McGruder’s The Boondocks premiered in November 2005 on Cartoon Network’s late-night programming block Adult Swim. The comic launched in 1996. The reboot, a satire for the modern era, is said to chronicle the adventures of the Freeman family against the evil local government tyrant Uncle Ruckus, who rules the fictional Woodcrest County, Maryland with an iron fist.

“In a March appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience, comedian John Witherspoon, who voiced Granddad on The Boondocks, teased his involvement. ‘I’m on the cartoon. What is it? The Boondocks? I didn’t change my voice for The Boondocks. And they coming back,’ he said. ‘The Boondocks is coming back. It’s one of the best cartoons I’ve ever been on.’

“In February, McGruder resurrected his Boondocks comic strip to poke fun at the state of America in 2019. As shown in a series of Instagram posts shared by radio host Charlamagne Tha God, it featured characters Huey, Riley, Granddad, and Uncle Ruckus, as well as satirical takes on President Donald Trump and the Robert Mueller investigation.

“At Annecy, Sony Animation revealed a handful of other project updates. Ralph Breaks the Internet director Rich Moore is joining Sony Animation and the team behind Vivo, Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s animated musical. The studio also gave a first look at director Chris Appelhans’ Wish Dragon, set for a release in China in 2020.

Hungry Ghosts (based on the Dark Horse graphic novel by Joel Rose and the late Anthony Bourdain) and Superbago (in collaboration with Stoopid Buddy studios) are in development as new shows, and Samurai Jack creator Genndy Tartakovsky is working on two animated films, Black Knight and Fixed.”

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From The Ringer: “Like a 60-something with a Tommy Bahama frequent buyer card, I will cut to the chase: You can probably be yelled at into loving your partner more and better. OK, fine—you maybe can. Possibly? Kind of? At any rate, you can definitely watch people being yelled at in the name of love, respect, and honesty, which is basically the same thing. Unless you are one of the couples, in which case I can offer only my condolences and best wishes.

“Such—the being yelled at, that is—is the premise of Marriage Rescue, the latest Jon Taffer vehicle from Paramount Network (a rebranded Spike TV). You might know Taffer as the star of Paramount Network’s other rescue show, Bar Rescue.

“If you’ve seen Bar Rescue, you will be familiar with Marriage Rescue’s structure. A bar (marriage) is failing. Its menu (communication strategy) is outdated; its layout (conflict-resolution pattern) is unwieldy; its staff is lazy (well … ). So management (the more aggrieved partner) calls up Taffer—the self-billed “Gordon Ramsay of the bar and nightclub business” (a divorcé)—who marches in, huffs and puffs at the employees (spouses) about their sorry service and checkered pasts (this one pretty much holds), and oversees a remodel (vow renewal). The bar then reopens to great success. The couples … well.

“Taffer’s bar rescues occur, naturally, at the bars themselves. But in Marriage Rescue, our husbands and wives bring their trouble to paradise—specifically, a seaside resort in Puerto Rico, where we meet them as they bicker throughout their cab ride from the airport. (Their driver, like many other unfortunate parties including but not limited to the couples’ young children who will almost certainly watch this footage someday, are generally unseen.) Their problems are various: infidelities, businesses gone awry, boredom, being a stick in the mud, accusing the other of being a stick in the mud, being two sticks in the mud sludging woodily past each other in the night, etc. ‘I messed around with my ex,’ quoth one husband; ‘You want to hold my hand? Why do you want to hold my hand?’ quoth another.

“Taffer begins his salvation by stealthily observing (he is in a nearby deck chair) the couples as they arrive at the resort. It amounts to spying on poolside strangers at a vacation locale and viciously judging their lives based on fleeting observations—or as I call it, a vacation. ‘They have a complete disconnection!’ he declares of one pair. ‘There’s so much to sort out.’ (Later on, the wife in question suggests adopting a stray dog she sees. ‘The kids would love it,’ she says; ‘Mm,’ he replies. Taffer is not wrong!)

“Reconnection occurs via a series of bonding activities—skydiving, parasailing, salsa dancing, clay-doll modeling. (A husband enthusiastically attaches a pair of ‘boobies’ to his: ‘That’s the best part,’ he says, warmly.) These moments are interspersed with Taffer stomping around like the bouncer at the Bada Bing! club to berate the lovers for being insufficiently warm, caring, interested, honest, and/or trusting. True to form, he tends toward vulgarity and volume: ‘That’s such a crock of shit,’ he tells a wife; ‘FIX IT!’ he shrieks at a husband.

“Does Taffer believe in love? Well. He is a divorcé himself, see, one who subsequently remarried and stayed married, for 22 years and counting, not that he’s counting. He is a bad husband and a good one, an ex-husband and a regular husband, yin and yang. And anyway, he knows an inefficiency when he sees one.

“There is, in fact, a specialist floating around somewhere: The credits mention one Dr. R. Sean Hogan, who is billed as a ‘couples consultant’; his LinkedIn profile says that he specializes in reality TV, having consulted on everything from The Voice to Survivor to Top Chef. The good doctor, however, does not appear onscreen. So far as we know, Taffer alone is left to guide our ailing lovers through their misery. Taffer’s advice isn’t bad so much as simplistic—treat one another as equals; your cheating ass needs to win back trust; shit or get off the pot (really).

“Mostly, everyone seems pleasantly surprised to hear these maxims, though one husband gets so worked up by Taffer’s diagnosis that, basically, the husband sucks (he does!), that he stands up and, enhanced by wristy Italian gestures, shouts at Taffer, ‘Fuck you! I’m from Brooklyn, man!’ Besides that Brooklynite and wife, who depart the resort in a huff, our husbands and wives generally cap their episodes with a vow renewal by the sea, and then a lifetime of happily ever after. Surely.

“In any case, Taffer has proven himself a rescuer par excellence. Some other possibilities of things to be rescued via Taffer’s yelling: cats in trees, overdue library books in the keeping of college students, seagull chicks coated in oil. Paramount—call me.”

Marriage Rescue premieres on Paramount on Sunday June 16.