Monday October 21, 2019

I enjoyed Living With Yourself, the new Paul Rudd Netflix series. It is not a must watch, but you could do worse. More below.

I also very much enjoyed Watchmen.

Lots of Watchmen takes out there this morning.

Here’s one. Another below.

HGTV premieres Rock The Block tonight. I’ve seen the finished work from this show and it’s pretty damn remarkable what these women were able to do.

Fox has picked up a 2nd season of Bless The Harts.

I ran into Jessica Pearson at the grocery store. I was starstruck.

Catherine The Great premieres tonight on HBO.

Could You Survive The Movies? is now available on YouTube Premium.

Netflix plans to raise $2 billion dollars for what it refers to as ‘general corporate purposes,’ which it says ‘may include content acquisitions, production and development,’ among other things. Here is the full relevant language from the Securities and Exchange Commission filing: ‘Netflix intends to use the net proceeds from this offering for general corporate purposes, which may include content acquisitions, production and development, capital expenditures, investments, working capital and potential acquisitions and strategic transactions.’ The senior unsecured notes, which reach $2 billion in aggregate in U.S. dollar and euro denominations, will be offered in two series.”

Mina Kimes is preparing to take ESPN into a new frontier. The sports-media giant has launched a SportsCenter for Snapchat and tested baseball telecasts for kids. Now it’s hoping to set up shop in another media venue. Starting to[day], the Disney-backed company launches ESPN Daily, a weekday morning podcast that aims to tap its vast array of reporters and analysts. Kimes, who will host the program, has already been working on stories. ‘We will certainly be engaging with the news and the sports calendar, but we also want to find stories that aren’t the obvious ones, the ones people wouldn’t hear about otherwise,’ Kimes says in an interview. The show will last about 20 minutes and tackle everything from stories about the biggest names in sports to narrative investigations and some quirkier stuff.”

The inside scoop on Bachelor in Paradise With Sydney Lotuaco.

Jennifer Aniston has picked up 15.2M Instagram followers in a week!?

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Per Rolling Stone, “Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen landed on comic book fans in the fall of 1986 with the force of a thunderbolt, if not that of a giant psychic interdimensional squid. (You kind of had to be there.) The series was, among other things, a murder mystery, an alternate history commenting on that particular era of Cold War pre-apocalyptic paranoia, an extremely R-rated superhero story, and, oh yeah, a ruthless deconstruction of superhero comic books. Across 12 issues, Moore and Gibbons dismantled, harshly examined, then garishly reassembled every structural and thematic device the medium had been using all the way back to the birth of Batman and Superman. What kind of person, the book asked, would put on colorful tights and a mask to go beat people up in public? How different would our world be if people with godlike powers existed? Watchmen interrogated everything, down to the way individual panels were traditionally laid out. It was a comic book for adults, not just because of the sex, the language, and the excessively graphic violence, but because of its themes and the way it questioned the very nature and purpose of stories like it.

Watchmen, along with Frank Miller’s Batman story The Dark Knight Returns, utterly transformed the image and aspirations of the comics industry. They birthed the perpetual cycle of ‘Zap! Bam! POW! Comics Aren’t Just For Kids Anymore!’ headlines, and inspired other creators to tackle more mature content. But most of Watchmen‘s creative descendants only skimmed along the surface of what made it so radical. They adopted the sex, the violence, and the sense of self-loathing about superheroes themselves, in a desperate cry to be taken seriously, but lacked Moore and Gibbons’ deeper ambitions. At the same time, Watchmen itself began to gather a reputation as unfilmable, with directors as varied as Terry Gilliam, Darren Aronofsky, and Paul Greengrass trying and failing to make a movie out of it. Eventually, Zack Snyder succeeded with his 2009 movie version. Snyder’s take has its moments (particularly an opening credits montage inserting superheroes into iconic American images across four decades), but in faithfully adapting the comic’s pulpy plot, it missed all the conceptual daring that was the important part. Characters who were meant to illustrate the absurd arrested development of superheroics were instead badasses having fights with bullet-time effects. It was like someone proving they could trace over a Picasso painting, without understanding what the original artist was doing with his strange rendering of the human anatomy.

“Even the Snyder film’s most ardent supporters admitted the source material would have been better served as a premium cable series, which would have room for both the story and its many weird flourishes, and for the larger questions the comic raised. A decade after Snyder, Watchmen has finally landed at the screen home where it probably always belonged, HBO, but in an unexpected fashion. Damon Lindelof, the inspired, divisive mind behind Lost and The Leftovers — two shows with a generous helping of Watchmen DNA already — is in charge. Rather than simply retell the comic story at greater length, Lindelof has taken an enormous swing. He’s sidestepped adaptation altogether and created a sequel set in the same universe as the comic, that is faithful to the events of that story but only features a few characters from it. The setting — present-day Tulsa, Oklahoma — is completely different. So is the show’s central theme of white supremacy.

“Where Snyder’s focus on following the letter of the law with Watchmen caused him to utterly miss the spirit of the thing, Lindelof’s disruptive approach comes far closer than you might expect at first, given how many departures he’s taken from where the comic book left off. Not all of it works, but it’s a fascinating — and frequently thrilling — attempt to rebottle some of the same lightning that Moore and Gibbons unleashed back in the Eighties.

“Lindelof’s take isn’t a deconstruction of superhero shows, nor of TV dramas in general, in the way that the comic picked apart other comics. Television has been deconstructing itself plenty in the post-Sopranos era, and even some comic book dramas have done it, whether through the psychedelic imagery of Legion or the self-aware goofiness of Legends of Tomorrow. But he’s successfully taken the comic’s larger sociological questions and extrapolated them out to the terrifying world we live in now. In Ronald Reagan’s America, for instance, the thing that seemed on the verge of destroying us was nuclear war, and much of the comic’s story was fueled by fear of everyone dying under a mushroom cloud. In Donald Trump’s America, the existential threat is white nationalist extremism — and, beyond that, more casual but pervasive forms of racism — which Lindelof turns into the Seventh Kalvary, a KKK-style movement whose members wear masks inspired by Watchmen vigilante Rorschach. The Kalvary’s terrorist actions in turn have forced police officers to assume costumed identities, like Regina King’s Tulsa cop Angela Abar, who patrols the streets in a fetish nun outfit, calling herself Sister Night.

“Cops dressing like superheroes is an inversion of a plot device from the comics, where masked vigilantes were legally banned in the Seventies. But it also feels unnervingly applicable to our world, where events like Botham Jean’s murder (and its violent aftermath) can create the impression — particularly in minority communities — that the police are already a team of untouchable vigilantes. That Angela herself is black is a complication the series examines early and often, with Lindelof again taking advantage of the fiery brilliance of King, who was briefly part of The Leftovers ensemble.

“The story deftly toggles between our own history and the alternative one Moore and Gibbons crafted. We open decades before any event from the comic, with a horrifying depiction of the real-life 1921 massacre in the Greenwood section of Tulsa, which at the time was known, to the displeasure of local Klan members, as ‘Black Wall Street.’ And then we land in a version of 2019 where Robert Redford has been president for a quarter century, and where Angela and her boss, Judd Crawford (Don Johnson) are at open war with the Seventh Kalvary. The series takes its time explaining how our past is connected to its present, particularly via an inscrutable man in a wheelchair played by Louis Gossett Jr. It’s also in no hurry to reveal how figures from the comic book — including Jean Smart as an older, hard-bitten version of Laurie Blake, who once fought crime as the scantily-clad Silk Spectre; and Jeremy Irons savoring every bit of scenery he can chew as an enigmatic exile who sure seems to be smartest man in the world Adrian ‘Ozymandias’ Veidt — figure into this new story. There are parts that may be impenetrable to viewers who don’t know the original story (or even the movie’s slightly modified version of it), but the eventual explanations — and particularly the link from the Greenwood prologue to the present day — prove incredibly effective.

“Along the way, Lindelof and his collaborators (including fellow Leftovers alum Nicole Kassell as lead director) continue to ask how the world would be different — both better and worse — if it had superheroes in it. The series as a whole isn’t a takedown of Peak TV, but there’s a great running gag involving show-within-the-show American Hero Story, a stylized anthology that’s Zack Snyder crossbred with Ryan Murphy. And through the use of this more cynical Laurie Blake — played with delightful and very necessary wry humor at all times by the great Jean Smart — the show nimbly continues the work of analyzing why someone would put on a mask to get what they want, whether they’re a would-be hero or a racist villain.

“At times, Watchmen falls into some of the same traps that could make the first season of Leftovers so difficult to get through. The tone can be dour, the show’s visual palette frequently more muted than the material seems to demand. (The hypnotic synth score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is more up to the challenge than many of the photography choices are.) But then we’ll cut to whatever ridiculousness Jeremy Irons is up to, or alien squid will rain out of the sky (again, you kind of have to be there), and Watchmen will come to dazzling life in the same jaw-dropping manner in which Lindelof’s two previous series so often did. The sixth episode, a largely black-and-white trip back to New York in the late Thirties, unlocks the show’s secrets and themes so smartly and audaciously, it left me feeling the same visceral, disbelieving thrill I haven’t experienced since Kevin Garvey sang karaoke to escape The Leftovers‘ afterlife, if not since we found out that Lost‘s John Locke was in a wheelchair before the plane crash. It’s the best kind of magic trick, where you can’t stop wondering how they pulled it off, even as you keep applauding the end result.

“Alan Moore has famously disavowed any filmed adaptations of his work, and anyone else working with Watchmen in particular. It’s hard to imagine him even watching this show, let alone approving of all the deviations between his work and Lindelof’s. But I’d like to imagine an alternate version of history where Moore hasn’t been burned too often in the past by others playing with his toys. In that timeline, he sits down to watch what Lindelof has done with his signature work. He’s baffled at first by how little resemblance it bares to what he and Gibbons once did. But gradually, he lets the tiniest of smiles peek out from under his signature Old Testament beard as he sees how much this Watchmen can feel like his Watchmen, even if they look nothing alike.”

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, “[This story contains spoilers for the finale of Netflix's Living With Yourself.]

“After eight episodes of Old Miles trying to figure out how he can coexist with the cloned and better version of himself, Netflix's Living With Yourself delivered a happy ending — sort of.

"‘I like these characters and I wanted them to have happy endings — whatever that means,’ creator Timothy Greenberg tells The Hollywood Reporter about the finale's unconventional resolution. Then clarifying, ‘I would actually say “satisfied” endings; it’s not always happy. That’s important: sometimes bad things can be satisfying or appropriate in a different way. I want audiences to feel hopeful that there’s a future for the characters, but it’s going to be really challenging. Because that’s sort of the best you can hope for anybody.’

“In the finale of the sci-fi dramedy starring Paul Rudd in a dual role, Old Miles has finally realized that he wants to fight to get his life back. But when he finds out that wife Kate (Aisling Bea) tested out the waters with his better version, aka New Miles, Old Miles vows to kill his cheating clone. With Rudd playing both of the Miles characters, a fight ensues that required the actor to develop a technique in order to truly play opposite himself and takeover both sides of the shots. In the end, after a near-death moment for New Miles, Old Miles comes to terms with the fact that he loves his life, and he even loves his clone.

“That's when Kate walks in to tell Miles-squared that, after trying for years to have a baby with Old Miles, she is now pregnant, and she doesn't know which Miles is the father. Looking to Old Miles for the cue, the father-to-be is overcome with emotion and the show ends with a three-way hug, where Kate is cradled between two ecstatic Miles'. The camera ends on her face, however, which signals a more realistic reaction that reads, ‘Is this my new normal?’

“Greenberg says they tuned that final moment with extra care. ‘First you are on her face and, it’s a big hug! Then we drop out the music and you hear this kind of sigh," he says of the final scene. "You are supposed to understand that, this is the best thing ever! But, also... what the? It’s meant to feel both like it’s wonderful and also, 'how is this ever going to work?' at the same time. That’s kind of the fun of it. If Kate had said at the end, 'This is great but, wait, what?' and the show had cut out after her saying that, that would be the equivalent line to her expression.’

“Greenberg began writing Living With Yourself more than four years ago, and though he pitched it as a series, he always intended for the first season to be a satisfying story. That pitch was also part of the appeal to Rudd when the Marvel star signed on for his first starring TV role. But with so many questions left up in the air by the final scene development, Greenberg concedes that he has ideas for a season two — should the audience demand more.

"‘Paul had never done TV before. He was very leery of getting into some open-ended thing and playing a character forever," says Greenberg. "I wrote the story that I had in mind. We did tweak it a bit so that it could be the one season, and then we’ll just see where it goes from there. I have ideas for what could be future seasons. But we definitely talked about how we wanted it to have an arc this season that was entire unto itself. Somewhat because, what if there is only one season? Then we can walk away feeling happy. But, more important, because that’s the kind of story that I like telling. That said, obviously, there’s more to be done if everyone involved in the world cares to see more. If there's a desire for more of these characters and this universe.’

“There is indeed much to explore in the immediate aftermath of the decision. For example, what would the car ride home be like for the newly committed throuple? And when they arrive home, would Old Miles move in?

"‘What they do 10 seconds later is definitely very funny,’ says Greenberg, picturing what would happen after the show fades to black. “So, do I still live here? Am I moving in? What’s happening’’ That is that moment you never see in the movie. I do think [a second season] would have to do with what you do from there and how you continue to go about your life.’

“Should Netflix renew Living With Yourself for a season two, Greenberg would also want to expand out his vision.”

"‘You would absolutely need to open it up and do something different. This premise as it is, you can’t just keep going like this. I’m happy to say that people seem interested in these characters and want to know what happens to them. But you can’t keep doing the, “Oh, you’re the better one and I’m the worse one” in the same way, because I feel like we’ve covered that particular area,’ he said of the core Old Miles vs. New Miles tension of this season. ‘I feel like what we haven’t done is delve at all deeply into: what does it mean to live with yourself? How do you come to terms with that? All they’ve done so far is not kill each other (laughs). They haven’t gotten that far!’

“He continues, ‘They are literally standing there in the wreckage of this battle where they almost killed one another and now they’re having a baby. They’ve solved season one; there are certainly other big issues to come. And I also think that there are other perspectives to be looked at here that I would want to get to because I think that it would get a little claustrophobic otherwise. It would be interesting to see if we get that opportunity how we would do it. I have a lot of ideas, but it’s not all figured out yet.’

“As for Rudd, he remains more focused on the current season of Living With Yourself, and says he hasn't given much thought to what the future could hold. ‘I only have so much bandwidth — as do we all!’ he jokes to THR when asked about interest in doing more. ‘Who knows what that would look like or where anything goes. But when we were looking at that last episode and reading it I just thought, “Oh, well of course. This is what is has to be. Of course.” I thought it was a poetic stroke to make this the last moment of the season of the show.’

“Directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, who helmed all eight episodes, said the entire ending — one they described as touching but ‘still kind of messed up’ — hinged on the final expression viewers see from Old Miles when he accepts the idea of raising this baby all together. 

“Of the decision to end on Kate's face instead of the Miles', Dayton says, ‘We had to keep it twisted and odd enough so that it didn’t just become singular. That we have all the different feelings. And that’s why we end it on their backs and with seeing her face as she, like us, is absorbing what that moment means.’ Farris adds, ‘Being caught between this very strange relationship, holding the two of them.’

“No matter what the future holds — imaginary blue skies or a second season — Rudd says he wanted this season to be one "that would be emotionally satisfying" for audiences. ‘We wanted it to feel like that was a complete experience and, great if it feels right to do more, but we really wanted it to feel like it had an ending,’ adds Faris.”

This article has been condensed.

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Per TheWrap, “HBO Max has picked up Amy Schumer’s pregnancy documentary Expecting Amy, the forthcoming streaming service announced on Friday.

“The film will document the ‘struggle, strength and ambition that has made Schumer one of the singular comic voices of all time,’ according to HBO Max. ‘It takes viewers behind-the-scenes as Schumer goes through an extraordinarily difficult pregnancy while touring to prepare for a stand-up special. From hospitalizations to going out in front of a crowd of thousands, to quiet moments at home with her family, Schumer shares it all.’

“Schumer produced the film herself, with Alexander Hammer, who previously edited Beyonce’s Homecoming for Netflix, serving as editor.

“‘Amy Schumer is an inspiration and this project is such an honest look at her experience being on the road while preparing for her special,’ Sarah Aubrey, head of original content, HBO Max, said.’Her willingness to showcase her immense vulnerability, during the most challenging time in her life, is both empowering and hilarious.’

“‘Women are warriors, every one of us. And I hope sharing my story brings more awareness to the challenges of pregnancy and childbirth,’ Schumer said.

“The project will be available on HBO Max following the platform’s launch in spring 2020.”

Hard pass.

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Another major loser for HBO Max, a streamer that seems to be on a road to nowhere prior to even launching: “Celebrity stylist and TV personality Brad Goreski and Family Guy producer and writer Gary Janetti are heading to HBO Max in a new lifestyle follow-doc series. The upcoming WarnerMedia streaming platform has given a green light to Brad & Gary Go To…(working title), from Married to Medicine producers Purveyors of Pop and Entertainment One. The six-episode series will follow the Hollywood power couple as they go on a jet-setting culinary adventure around the globe, inspired by their Instagram stories.

“‘Brad and Gary have become an Internet sensation and it was actually their over one million followers who requested this series. These same fans also helped turn Gary’s go to Starbucks order into a viral sensation known as The Gary’ said Sarah Aubrey, head of original content, HBO Max. ‘We can’t wait to travel the world with them and capture their fabulousness and hilarity.’

Brad & Gary Go To…(wt) will be produced by Goreski and Gary Janetti as well as Purveyors of Pop (Married to Medicine, Ex on the Beach, Lady Gang, and Real Housewives of Miami) and eOne. Matt Anderson, Nate Green, and Cooper Green will serve as executive producers for Purveyors of Pop and Tara Long for eOne.

“Goreski is a host of E!’s Live From the Red Carpet and fashion correspondent for E! News. He previously hosted his own show on Bravo It’s A Brad Brad World and was a host on E!’s Fashion Police. Goreski has traveled the world styling clients, photoshoots and campaigns and served as the brand stylist for Kate Spade for four years.

“Janetti is an Emmy-nominated producer and writer of Family Guy, Will & Grace, and Vicious, among others. His first book, Do You Mind If I Cancel? is set for release on October 22. Janetti has generated recent buzz on his Instagram account with his satire of British Royals through the eyes of young Prince George of Cambridge.”

Not if it were the last show on earth.

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Trey Parker and Matt Stone, along with Viacom Inc., are nearing what's likely to be a rich deal for the streaming rights to South Park

“Numerous companies are bidding for exclusive U.S. streaming rights to the full library, with sources confirming to The Hollywood Reporter the potential price tag of up to $500 million. Bloomberg first reported the bidding. 

“Currently, the Comedy Central cartoon is available to watch on Hulu, which a source says is among the current bidders. Before that, it was on Netflix.

South Park is in the midst of its 23rd season and recently was scrubbed from the Internet in China and banned after a critical episode about the Chinese government, which also mocked Hollywood for shaping its content to please the Chinese censors. Because of that, Parker and Stone have become folk heroes to the protesters in Hong Kong.

“In recent months, bidding wars have emerged for popular library shows as the streaming wars heat up. Hits from the past like The Office and Friends represent safe bets for the emerging platforms as they look to lure new subscribers.

“NBCUniversal's direct-to-consumer platform paid $500 million for exclusive streaming rights to The Office for five years and WarnerMedia ponied up $425 million to move Friends to its HBO Max service for the same length of time. Netflix, for its part, spent north of $500 million over five years for Sony TV's Seinfeld, while HBO Max paid out upward of $600 million for The Big Bang Theory.

“The eye-popping deals offer a considerable windfall for a show's creators, producers, writers and directors who had previously negotiated ‘points’ in the series. Actors are less likely to have ownership of a show, unless they're a big star like Jerry Seinfeld or Steve Carell.

“Parker and Stone created South Park while in college together at the University of Colorado Boulder. The show started as a short animated Christmas card that was passed around Hollywood before Comedy Central greenlit a pilot.”

Friday October 18, 2019

Watchmen premieres on HBO on Sunday. More below.

All eight episodes of Looking For Alaska are currently streaming on Hulu. More below.

Paul Rudd’s new Netflix series Living With Yourself is now available. “Burned out on life, Miles undergoes a strange procedure at a strip mall spa -- and wakes to find he's been replaced by a better version of himself.”

Rudd and the show’s creator Tim Greenberg talk more about the series here. “Similar to other recent, existential TV offerings like Amazon's Forever, Netflix's Russian Doll and NBC's The Good Place, part of the fun of watching Living With Yourself is going in somewhat blind to the very binge-able and theoretical twists and turns that await as the story unfolds. The eight episodes shift the narrative to show multiple perspectives and the story jumps back and forth in the chronological timeline.”

Season 1 of Modern Love is now available on Amazon. “An unlikely friendship. A lost love resurfaced. A marriage at its turning point. A date that might not have been a date. An unconventional new family. These are unique stories about the joys and tribulations of love, each inspired by a real-life personal essay from the beloved New York Times column Modern Love.”

Showtime airs Sid & Judy tonight at 8pm. “A revealing new look at legendary entertainer Judy Garland fifty years after her tragic, untimely death. Fusing the unpublished recollections of producer, manager and third husband, Sid Luft, with film clips, rare concert footage and Judy's own inimitable words. What emerges is a complex portrait of a woman whose vulnerabilities were exploited by an industry she helped to build but whose resilience and extraordinary talent made her the quintessential icon.”

A trailer for season 3 of Netflix series Atypical, which will be available on November 1.

Inside the Breaking Bad pop up.

Stephen Colbert has extended his Late Show contract through 2023.

CBS has announced that the entire first season of American version of Love Island will be available for free streaming at CBS.com and on the CBS mobile app. The show returns for Season 2 in summer 2020. Ashamedly, I will watch.

On the other hand, however . . . “A Fat Joe sitcom could be coming to your TV screen. We hear the veteran rapper, who has a new song out featuring Cardi B, is developing a comedy pilot called Mi Nuevo Barrio. The show’s about ‘a streetwise Puerto Rican auto mechanic from the South Bronx who moves his Dominican wife, son and mother-in-law to an upscale New Jersey suburb after coming into a large sum of money and discovers that fitting in isn’t as easy as it looks.’ A source told us that if the project pans out, Joe — who’s reportedly prepping a new album — would play the lead and executive produce. Another source told us he’s cooking up multiple potential projects.”

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, “[t]he Kurt Sutter era at FX — and now, Disney — has ended.

“The Mayans M.C. showrunner has been fired following what sources describe as "multiple complaints" over his behavior on the drama series. Sutter detailed his dismissal by FX CEO John Landgraf and Disney TV Studios and ABC Entertainment chairman Dana Walden in a letter sent to the cast and crew of the Sons of Anarchy spinoff, describing himself as an ‘abrasive dick.’ (Read Sutter's full letter, below.)

“In spite of Sutter's departure, the writer and exec producer's (who also delivered Bastard Executioner to the network in 2015) overall deal with 20th Century Fox TV has not been affected. Sutter renewed that pact in January 2018 and was the first producer to re-sign with 20th TV amid its impending sale to Disney. Sources note that the decision was made Wednesday and Sutter's memo was sent early Thursday.

“Representatives for FX and 20th Century Fox TV declined comment. Representatives for Sutter did not respond to multiple requests for comment. 

“Sutter has been outspoken about his management style. In a September 2018 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Sutter shared that he has in his office a framed copy of a letter he received detailing his ‘unprofessional behavior’ on Sons of Anarchy and with executives at Fox 21. (The letter detailed an incident where he told an exec that he'd "crawl the fuck out of my ass" during a discussion about keeping the biker drama on budget.)

"‘The reason why that letter was hung up in the first place and the reason why it's still there is not about like, “Fuck you, I'm a bad ass.” It's about, “I'm a fuckin' idiot and that behavior creates fucking lawsuits,"‘ Sutter told THR.

“At the time of the interview, Sutter was on the cusp of becoming a Disney employee. When asked about conversations with Landgraf and Walden, his reputation and how he might fit under the more cuddly Disney umbrella, the showrunner made it clear that he was aware of the impending culture shift.

"‘It was just a conversation about, “This is the current climate. We don't suspect that you're going to sabotage anything, but we need to do the due diligence,"‘ he said at the time. ‘And at first it was disconcerting because I'm like, “What does that mean? Does it mean there's a new watchdog on my shoulder?” And it didn't mean any of that. It was basically, “We know who you are, we know what you can do, we have to make sure that when new entities come in that we can vouch for [you]. And at the very least we can say we have had this conversation.” Then there was, in a very politically delicate way, a “Are there any skeletons in your closet that are gonna come back and bite us in the ass?” And I was like, “Well, as far as I know, I didn't Weinstein anybody. I may have upset people, I may have said inappropriate things, but there was not [any of that].” But again, they needed to do the due diligence. And as Landgraf says, “It's a different climate and you have to acknowledge it and be aware of it and move in step with it.”’

Mayans, currently in the midst of airing its second season, was created by Sutter and Elgin James. A decision on a third season has not yet been determined, but Sutter had already announced that he would be ceding day-to-day showrunner duties to James in the event of its return.

“Here's Sutter's letter to cast: 

Dear Team Mayans,

Apparently, Disney HR and Business Affairs has conducted an investigation into the unacceptable conditions that have been created on the set of Mayans in season 2. As you know, I’ve removed myself quite a bit this season, allowing others to take a bigger role in producing the show. It appears that philosophy has backfired. It’s been reported by writers, producers, cast and crew that my absence and subsequent behavior when there, has only created confusion, chaos, hostility and is perceived as abandonment. Or at least that’s how Disney has interpreted it. I’m sure it’s true.

This morning I was fired by Dana Walden and John Landgraf for all the complaints levied against me. Not the way I wanted to end my 18 year relationship with FX. At least being fired for being an abrasive dick is on brand.

I deeply apologize if I’ve made people feel less than or unsupported. My intention was literally the opposite. But clearly I’ve not been paying attention. My arrogance and chronic distraction has created wreckage. Just know, I adore this cast and crew.

I’m not sure what the fate of Mayans MC holds. But if it continues, you’ll still be in good hands. As I said at the premier, Elgin is ready to take on the challenge of running the show. I’m sure FX will get him the support he needs to find and follow his vision.

For those of you who wanted me gone, you win! For those of you who didn’t, you win too. Although I will no longer be involved, I have no doubt the new team will move things forward with the same quality fans have come to expect.

Thank you for the honor of working with all of you.

I don’t need, nor want, replies or condolences. I know where the love is. And for those of you who have it, I’m sure our paths will cross again.

Best,

ks”

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From EW: “In the decade-and-a-half journey to adapt Looking To Alaska, the story of Hulu’s series has always remained the same: Miles enrolls in the Alabama-based Culver Creek Prep boarding school to seek his ‘great perhaps,’ meeting new best friends, growing up, falling in love, and dealing with loss along the way. And the story is still set in 2005, with nary a cell phone in sight. So why fight so hard to bring a dated YA novel to the screen? Because, according to the Looking For Alaska stars, Green’s novel is timeless and relevant for anyone no matter when you were a teenager.

“‘I first read the book when I was 15 and it really came to me at a time in my life where I felt like I was asking so many of the same questions and wanting to go on such a similar journey that Miles ends up on going on,’ Plummer tells EW. ‘And all the questions he attempts to find answers to were all things that were on my mind at the time so it really felt like everything was colliding.’

“Like her costar sitting next to her, Froseth’s first time reading Looking For Alaska was also when she was the same age as the characters. ‘I remember feeling really understood,’ The Society star tells EW. ‘John Green’s really good at putting all those emotions and thoughts and issues onto paper through well-written and complex characters. I really connected with Alaska and the other characters. It was my relief. I felt less alone and less crazy about everything I was dealing with.’

“‘He’s a magical man,’ Plummer says with a smile.

“‘I don’t know how he does it,’ Froseth agrees with a laugh.

“Rounding out the core four of Culver Creek’s BFF group are Jay Lee, who plays Takumi Hikohito, and Denny Love, who plays Chip ‘The Colonel’ Martin. They both agree that the combination of Green, Schwartz, and Savage is pitch perfect for a story that Lee knows ‘has a very deep-seated place in people’s hearts — it’s helped them get through some difficult times in their lives, helped them appreciate their friends. It’s an incredible piece of art that brings people together with hope for the future.’

“‘The magic of John Green and Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage is that the works that they do, while they can be set into a specific time, are telling timeless stories,’ Lee adds. ‘They’re dealing with coming-of-age stories that will always be relevant. We may be using payphones on our show but that’s just texturing to set the period. It puts an interesting lens on these stories that creates conversations for people to have with each other, like kids who are having to make choices about their social identities in a very concrete, immediate, and real way.’

“According to Love, Looking For Alaska is ‘such a realistic portrayal of what it feels like to be young.’

“‘If you’re a young person who hasn’t hit this age yet, it’s something to look forward to,’ he tells EW. ‘You can’t wait to get older. And older people can look back and remember what it was like to be that age. I remember what it felt like and that’s so present in this story. It’s a slice of life and people relate to it. When we’re young, we all deal with the same things — with pain and relationships and mischief and pranks and exploring yourself. It’s all in the show.’

“But what Love connects to most is the story’s ‘message about friendship, the power of having your own tribe and a group of people you can relate to.’

“‘That’s what makes it all worth it,’ he says. ‘I don’t think we’re supposed to go through those crazy years by yourself. If you find a tribe, it makes everything so much better.’ And Love is proud to say that he’s still best friends with his tribe from growing up. ‘They actually came to visit me on set,’ he adds with a big smile. ‘It’s really cool to have your friends be so proud of you and to see how far you’ve come. A lot of my friends I met through sports; a lot of my best friends I met through playing basketball and they’re still my best friends today.’

“Bringing this story to a new generation is something that the young stars were acutely aware of during filming because of the emphasis put on themes like grief, hope, and finding meaning in life even in its lowest moments. ‘I just hope they connect with this story,’ Plummer says of teens watching, ‘and especially connect with the fact that these characters are asking incredibly important questions for anyone to ask, regardless of age, but doing so at such a young age they’re not settling for anything other than the truth. That’s important. I hope that people feel something and if that helps them in their lives, if they’re able to grow a little bit from it, that would be amazing.’

“For Froseth, she just hopes that the Hulu adaptation can help more people feel the same way she felt after reading the book. ‘I felt so much less alone with all my feelings and thoughts so I hope that people start talking openly about how they’re really feeling and that it starts a conversation and we remove the stigma around that,” she says. “We should all be happy and not keep it all inside.’

“Love echoes her sentiment, adding that he wants young fans to feel ‘understood.’

“‘For young people, that’s so important,’ he says. ‘People look down on young teens like we don’t know nothing when in fact, we know a lot! We deal with a lot of the same things that adults deal with. It’s just about discovering yourself. I hope our fans can see themselves through our characters and understand that we put so much joy and love into this project for them and I know for a fact they’ll feel the same when they watch it. It’s just so special and we’ve kept the integrity of what John wrote and his vision for it, and we also added a lot of stuff that I think the fans are really going to respond to.’

“One big change from the page to the screen is telling the story from more characters’ perspectives instead of just Miles’, which allows Alaska to evolve from a two-dimensional manic pixie dream girl of a character into a three-dimensional real human being, flaws and all. In the book, she exists solely through Miles’ eyes, creating a problematic idea of a person instead of an actual one. The Hulu series successfully addresses that while still remaining true to the story.

“‘She has the same path and journey but you spend a lot more time with her in the TV show,’ Froseth promises. ‘You get to know her on a whole different level. You get to feel her internal battle. There’s more private personal moments you get to see. You see her vulnerability a lot more. Maybe on the outside when you first meet her she might be viewed as this unattainable thing, but I think if I met her I’d be like, ‘You take up the space in the room, where does this confidence come from?’ It’s not a façade but it’s covering up her broken heart; she’s just protecting herself. You get to see all that in that she’s not this imaginary idea of a girl.’

“Expanding Alaska into a real person in this adaptation was ‘really important’ to Froseth because she knew how much it would mean to young girls. ‘Because growing up and watching these girls and not really getting to see their human sides, I felt left out and didn’t understand what was wrong with me and why I didn’t see myself,’ Froseth says. ‘They were all so perfect on screen. It’s really important to show all our truthful sides, the pains of growing up and battling your demons. Making sure that she wasn’t going to be at all viewed as the manic pixie dream girl was hugely important to me.’”

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Per The New York Post, “[a]mid wild rumors following Megyn Kelly’s headline-making Fox News appearance, Page Six has learned she is not returning to her former network — and is instead set to launch her own news production company and take on her old nemesis Bill O’Reilly.

“Kelly was personally invited by Tucker Carlson to appear on his Fox News show Wednesday after a year off the air following her unceremonious exit from NBC. She unleashed on NBC News, branding Matt Lauer a ‘sexual predator’ while demanding an urgent, independent investigation into the rape and sexual harassment allegations against him, questioning whether NBC execs were ‘more interested in protecting their star anchor than they were in protecting the women of the company.’ Her appearance on the show drew four million viewers.

“Despite speculation, Kelly isn’t returning to Fox’s anchor desk. TV insiders say Kelly’s difficult spell at NBC has made her ‘radioactive’ to the large news organizations, even before she went on TV to trash her former bosses.

“A Fox spokesperson pointed to a statement issued Monday that said: ‘Megyn Kelly’s forthcoming guest appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight was coordinated weeks ago and is a one-time occurrence. Any future programming changes we are considering do not involve her.’

“Instead, she is launching her own video podcast, just like O’Reilly, whose subscription service to show No Spin News has proven to be vastly profitable. Kelly has also been looking at office space in Midtown to build up her ‘Kelly brand’ and get her teeth back into the news business ahead of the 2020 election.

“A source said despite her often-contentious relationship with O’Reilly at Fox News, she has taken a close interest in his money-making media business. Kelly also hopes to produce documentaries and continue her mission to support victims of sexual harassment.

“The source said, ‘Megyn has been talking to a lot of powerful media execs. When you love what you do, it’s hard to stay away for too long,” adding that her stint on Carlson’s show reminded viewers that she firmly belongs back in news.’”

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From Vulture: “It’s January 2017, and Damon Lindelof is profoundly worried. HBO and Warner Bros. have just approached the erstwhile Leftovers and Lost showrunner for the third time about an extremely sensitive topic for geeks: Watchmen. The graphic novel of that name was originally published in serial form by DC Comics in 1986 and 1987 and has subsequently been hailed as one of the greatest superhero stories ever published. It depicts costumed adventurers as narcissistic, violent perverts who leave destruction in their wake, and fans have long admired it as a deconstructionist take on a hoary genre. However, it’s also been a source of great controversy on two fronts. For one, progressive critics have cast aspersions on its portrayal of womenqueer people, and people of color.

“But more pressing to Lindelof was the second matter, which has to do with creators’ rights. Watchmen was written by Alan Moore and drawn by Dave Gibbons, and the initial plan was for the rights to the book to revert to them after a period of initial publication. However, there was a stipulation that the Warner-owned DC would hold onto the rights if the book didn’t go out of print — which it never did, and rather than follow up on Moore’s intended outcome, DC used that quasi-loophole to hold onto the rights. A displeased Moore eventually severed ties with DC over that and other disputes, and has declared his disapproval of all subsequent uses of Watchmen properties, such as a 2009 film adaptation and a 2011 series of prequel comics. (Gibbons has been more cooperative, and you can read more about the counterarguments to Moore’s stance here.)

“Lindelof is a longtime Watchmen superfan and Moore admirer, so when HBO and Warner asked him to do something with the book on television, he initially refused. They asked again; again, he turned them down. But on that third time … well, he started wondering whether he might be able to do something interesting with it. It was soon after that I received an odd email asking if I’d be willing to speak with Lindelof about a mysterious matter. We scheduled a phone call, during which he explained that he had read a Vulture essay I’d published just a few days prior. DC had started to incorporate Watchmen’s characters into their mainstream superhero universe, meaning they could meet up with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and the rest of the gang. I thought this was a bad idea.

“Lindelof was receptive to that argument and, after swearing me to secrecy, told me about the HBO/Warner offer and asked if I thought it would be smart to move forward, considering their history with Moore. I told him it was probably unethical, but that if he went through with it, there were ways he could make it interesting. Eight months later, it was announced that Lindelof was making a Watchmen series. Later, he published an open letter (which I offered some prepublication notes on, per his request) saying the show would not be a straight adaptation, but rather a ‘remix.’ Over the next year, we emailed occasionally about how the series was developing. I was far from a consultant on the show — indeed, I knew no details until I saw media screeners a few weeks ago — but I told him he owed me a big interview before it came out. ‘A Lindelof always pays his debts,’ was his response.

“Fast-forward to last week, when I sat in Lindelof’s memorabilia-lined office in Santa Monica for 90 minutes and we talked about Watchmen, both the book and the show. It was an intriguing conversation, revealing Lindelof as a man both proud of what he and his collaborators have made, but also deeply unhappy with his decision to make it in the first place. He’s also pretty sure that Moore, an avowed practitioner of magic, put a curse on him:

How are you feeling?
How I’m feeling, in general, is excitement. It’s very hard not to feel excited when I’m driving around and I see Watchmen billboards with Regina [King]. There’s relief that it’s finally going to be out there. But there’s a lot of fear and trepidation about how it’s going to be processed. Not just the usual “Will people like it?” Obviously, I’ve come to some degree of peace that not everybody is going to like it. It’s not going to be universally loved, especially because it’s Watchmen and especially because it’s about what it’s aboutThe show is explicitly about the struggle against racism and right-wing extremism in America (albeit in an alternate reality).. It’s more a fear of being misunderstood or wondering whether it should have been this. I’m alternately proud of it and second-guessing myself.

The rights to Watchmen, the book, were supposed to revert to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. But DC Comics didn’t do that and Moore has historically been furious about it, as have readers who advocate for creator rights.* What does it feel like to make a show that a lot of people are going to oppose on principle, independent of the quality of the material? Is that something you think about?
That’s something that I think about a lot. What are the ethical ramifications of this even existing at all when I completely and totally side with the creator? Acknowledge that the creator has been exploited by a corporation? Now that very same corporation is basically compensating me to continue this thing.

I ask, “Is it even hypocrisy?” Then I say, as a fan, “Where would I come down on this thing if someone else was doing it? If I heard someone else was doing an HBO series called Watchmen that was not a strict adaptation of the book?” I felt that I’d be really angry about it and then I’d watch it. [Laughs.] I wonder how many of the angry people who don’t think it should exist will actually have the discipline to not even watch it. Those are the people that I really admire. The ones who are like, “This shouldn’t exist and I’m literally not watching it.” That’s an admirable position.

Does it keep you up at night? Or have you made your peace with it?
It wakes me up at night, but much less so now that it’s done. I’m about to say something very ridiculous, but in all sincerity, I was absolutely convinced that there was a magical curse placed upon me by Alan [Moore]Alan Moore has long been open about being a practitioner of magic, particularly magic involving snakes.. I’m actually feeling the psychological effects of a curse, and I’m okay with it. It’s fair that he has placed a curse on me. The basis for this, my twisted logic, was that I heard that he had placed a curse on Zack [Snyder]’s [Watchmen] movie. There is some fundamental degree of hubris and narcissism in saying he even took the time to curse me. But I became increasingly convinced that it had, in fact, happened. So I was like, “Well, at least I’m completely and totally miserable the entire time.” I should be!

When Zack was making Watchmen — and I only know this because I watched the DVDs — I was like, “This guy is having the time of his life!” And I did not enjoy any of this. That’s the price that I paid. Psychological professionals would probably suggest that I emotionally created the curse as a way of creating balance for the immorality.

When we first spoke, you were pretty sure that HBO and Warner Bros. were gonna get someone to do a Watchmen show. You were like, “If it’s me, I can make it as good as it can be so it doesn’t suck.”
That’s hypocrisy, too. It’s like, “Well, I didn’t kill the animal. The steak’s already there. So me not eating the steak doesn’t save it.” It’s a bogus argument to say, “Someone else would have done Watchmen, so it might as well have been me because I loved it the most.” I have to accept the bogusness of that argument and say the truth, which is I just wanted to do it so bad. I wanted to return to the source. This thing that I read when I was 13 years old is what made me. I tried to say “No” twice, but it kept coming back. Twenty years from now, am I going to be regretting that I didn’t do Watchmen because I was scared? If I’m a professional storyteller and I love and revere Watchmen and I spent countless hours of my life thinking about this thing? I wanted to do it.

You keep talking about being miserable; how miserable are we talking here? Was there nothing joyful about putting together the show?
I don’t think it’s fair to say that there was nothing joyful about it. Certainly, the first ten to 12 weeks that we spent in the writers’ room, where we started talking about the vision for the season, that was immensely challenging and not fun. It was work. And, obviously, we’re talking about white supremacy. When you spend hours and hours talking about that stuff, it is supposed to be unpleasant.

There were some days that I came home and I was like, “We had a really good day today.” I was never suicidal. I was never fearful of my life. I don’t like using the word depressed because I know people who are really depressed. That feeling of not wanting to get out of bed and despair and hopelessness — I had all those feelings, but they were attached very specifically to the show. What I was saying to my collaborators on a fairly constant basis was, “This was a huge mistake. I never should have done this. Why did I do this? I can’t quit, I have to see it through, but this was a huge mistake.”

Doesn’t that demoralize people?
Yes.

How did this show get to the finish line, then? How did you manage to power through?
A lot of work that we did in those 12 weeks ended up being the show. Also, the first thing that we did was we wrote all of Jeremy [Irons]’s materialJeremy Irons plays Adrian Veidt, a.k.a. Ozymandias, a mortal but hyper-competent character from the comic, who is portrayed in a surprisingly comic mode in the show.. We went to Wales, and we shot everything, all the way through the finale, for him. He’s not in episode six, but every other episode, you get this Black Freighter–esque interlude. We had to plot all that stuff out and shoot it right after. They picked up the pilot, and then, based on the weather, we were like, “We’ve got to go to Wales. This thing has to be finished shooting by the end of October or things are going to get very inclement, literally and figuratively.”

So the Veidt stuff was super-duper fun because we did it first. It gave us a road map. It’s like we had run mile one, mile seven, mile 15, mile 18, mile 21, and mile 26 of the marathon, so it was just kind of connecting the dots. The other part was the material that we were getting back from [shooting in] Atlanta. The stuff that we were getting for [episodes] two and three was like, “Jean Smart is really good. Regina is really amazing. This stuff is working.” As miserable as I was, I’d watch dailies and I’d be like, “That’s pretty cool.” 

The short answer, now that I’ve monologued about it, is the show stopped feeling like it was mine and it started feeling like it was ours.

Given the racial and gender politics of the show, I didn’t want this to just be a conversation between two white men. So I reached out to a group of women of various ethnic backgrounds who wrote a series of essays called “Women Watch the Watchmen” to ask them what they’d want to ask you. The first question comes from Chloe Maveal: “Do you feel like this show is something that can help redeem Watchmen to literally anyone who’s not part of a straight white male audience? Do you, as both a fan of the comics and showrunner of the TV series, feel like the comic books here need redeeming in the first place?”
[Long pause.] I’m only thinking because words are very important. The word redemption is not semantics.

Take your time.
I don’t think that the original Watchmen requires redemption on any level. In any way, shape, or form. I accept it in its totality as a staggering work of art. I also acknowledge that my relationship with Watchmen is that of a hetero straight male who read it as a 13-year-old, which may be the perfect sweet spot. I am not in a place where I can be critical of Watchmen. I am in a place where I can acknowledge criticisms of Watchmen. I will say that a number of the women who worked on Watchmen — wrote Watchmen, produced Watchmen, directed Watchmen — had found the treatment of women in the graphic novel to be less than ideal.

Let’s talk about LaurieLaurie Juspeczyk was a costumed adventurer in the comic. Her father, Eddie Blake, a.k.a. the Comedian, attempted to rape her mother, Sally Jupiter, a.k.a. Silk Spectre, at one point. In the show, she’s played by Jean Smart.. In our presentation of Laurie 30 years later, instead of apologizing for or mocking her younger self, we can show she’s evolved. I think that we were given clues at the end of the original Watchmen — when she says that she wants to get some guns — that she’s feeling this kinship with her dadBlake is a violent, jingoistic, sociopathic bastard whom Laurie despises in the comic, and she only learns about her parentage near the book’s end.. So I’m like, “Instead of casting somebody to play Eddie Blake in flashbacks, what if Laurie is now Eddie Blake?” Not to write her in a masculine way, but to give her that level of nihilism and cynicism. It’s not an idea about redeeming the original Laurie.

We would have Watchmen book club in the writers’ room. Every two or three days, we would unpack an issue. We would argue and debate on areas of ambiguity. I think it’s just fascinating that these characters are so dimensionalized — most of them. You really care about them, but they don’t fit into a very, very simple box. Laurie, I would say, lacked the same level of dimensionality that some of the other male characters in Watchmen do. I would actually argue that Silk SpectreSilk Spectre, a.k.a. Sally Juspeczyk, was a costumed adventurer in the 1930s and ’40s. She is depicted in the comic as a strong-willed, somewhat vain woman who became intimate with Blake, despite his attempted sexual assault., her mom, is fairly dimensionalized. That’s a very provocative idea in 2019, let alone in 1986, that a woman is in love with her rapist. I think, through a certain prism, that idea would require some redemption.

Because I’m not Alan Moore, I get to make a Watchmen that’s like, “Here’s how I feel about female characters. Here’s how I feel about characters of color. Here’s how I feel about Rorschach.” I get to have those debates in the writers’ room. Those other writers get to say, “Well, here’s how I feel about it.” Of course, in the writers’ room, there was a wide range of whether or not Rorschach was a white supremacistRorschach, a.k.a. Walter Joseph Kovacs, is a costumed vigilante with a lethal streak and an unshakeable sense of right and wrong. Speaking of right: He’s profoundly socially conservative and an avid reader of a trashy right-wing magazine. In his diary, he writes about his distaste for queer people and other marginalized groups.. I said, “That’s not relevant. He’s dead. What’s interesting is that you can make a compelling argument that he was and I can make a compelling argument that he wasn’t.”

That gets to a question from Sara Century: “Why is it important to reimagine Rorschach?”
I don’t think that we are reimagining Rorschach. I think that we are interpreting Rorschach. The meta-ness of Watchmen was critical, I think, to its success. This idea of a comic book that is deconstructing comic books, to the degree where a comic book, The Black FreighterThe Black Freighter is a comic that exists within the narrative of Watchmen. It’s about pirates, a topic that became very popular in that world because superheroes never caught on, what with the fact that they were real and therefore somewhat dull., is inside the comic book. You’re actually deconstructing the form. For Veidt to be able to say, “I’m not some Republic Serial villain” with a straight face when he is monologuing about how he just dropped a fake alien squid on New York CityAt the comic’s climax, Veidt unleashes a bizarre assault on New York City wherein he fakes an interdimensional invasion from a giant squid–like creature with psychic powers and deliberately kills 3 million people in the process. The goal is to unite the world at a time when the U.S. and the Soviet Union are about to go to war. and killed 3 million people? That is meta at its most brilliant meta-ness. To that degree, the show is about appropriation. We’re appropriating the original Watchmen. We’re reinterpreting it. We’re saying, “Instead of just being a cover band, we’re going to try to make a new album that is inspired by the original Watchmen and bears its name.”

One of the things that really struck me on my reread of Watchmen, as we were writing the show, was how ineffective Rorschach is. He actually doesn’t accomplish anything. He finds the Comedian costume in Blake’s apartment and then he goes to warn Dr. ManhattanJon Osterman, a.k.a. Dr. Manhattan, is a blue-skinned being from the comic with honest-to-God superpowers, such as the ability to manipulate and destroy matter at will. He is romantically involved with Laurie, but he decides at the end of the book to leave Earth behind. that someone is coming after masks. First off, Dr. Manhattan would know if somebody was coming after him, so Rorschach’s theory is entirely wrong. Then his investigative technique is to just walk into bars and break people’s fingers. He gets suckered by Moloch and gets thrown into jail. DanDan Dreiberg, a.k.a. Nite Owl, is Laurie’s other beau. He’s a nerdy and slightly paunchy costumed adventurer with a lot of gadgets. shows up and gets him away, then he shows up in Karnak too late to stop Veidt’s plan. Then he insists on exposing it all to the one person who he knows is going to kill him. His journal doesn’t out Veidt because everything that he learns in Karnak was not in his journal. So he’s not the brightest bulb. He’s got some very non-progressive views about the world. He’s sad and he’s tragic. At the same time, I love Rorschach. I loved him as a 13-year-old, and I still love him. When you see the tears streaming down his face when his mask is pulled off, one of the cops is saying, “This little runt is wearing lifts.” It just breaks my heart every time. I have such empathy and compassion for this guy who’s losing. The world is sickening, and there’s nothing that he can do to stop it. He’s broken, so he’s going to appeal to broken people.

I worry that the first six episodes, in some ways, can almost be read as a white-supremacist militiaman’s vision of America. Like, “Cops care too much about black people, and they’re cracking down on proud whites like me who just want to see a pure country.” But in reality, the much bigger problem is cops not caring enough about black people. Was that something you thought about? Was that something that worried you?
Yes. I’m not even going to use the past tense. What we’re really worried about, in my opinion, it’s not the television show. What we’re really worried about is a reflection of the real world. The paradox is: How do we feel about the police? When you say “the police,” you can mean it quite literally, which is just people wearing police uniforms. But how do you feel about authority? How do you feel about the law? Is the law just? The answer to the question, “How do you feel about the police?” Well, are you white? Are you a man? Are you a woman? Are you a person of color? What part of the country are you living in? Those are all questions that you should be asking.

We understand that being a police officer is a dangerous job. At the same time, we understand that there are police officers who are not following the law, who cannot be trusted, who do not behave in ways that are demonstrative of equality. This is demonstrated for us over and over again, to the degree where I think anyone who says that there is no issue in the United States in terms of policing and race is a crazy person. That isn’t to say that all cops are racist is any more ridiculous than saying all cops are not racist.

When we went to TCA, the very first question was asked by Eric Deggans from NPR, a writer who I think is phenomenal. He also happens to be a man of color. He said, “I think the only interpretation that you can possibly take from this pilot is that we’re supposed to believe that the cops protect black people in this world? I don’t buy that for a second.” I was like, “Well, I think we should revisit this question after you’ve seen all nine episodes.” I’m not going to hide behind the fact that this is an alternate world. I’m not telling anybody how to feel about the police. It’s a TV show. At the end of these nine episodes, are you going to feel that the police are racist? No. You’re going to feel like some are, and you’re going to feel like some aren’t. What are the effects of covering your face?

One of the great superhero questions.
Why would you wear a mask? Does the mask protect you or does it unleash your most dangerous and violent tendencies? Those are the ideas that I’m more interested in exploring. People keep saying Watchmen is about superheroes. Other than Dr. Manhattan, they’re not. None of them have powers. They’re vigilantes, at best. So it’s like, “What if the police start dressing up?” It’s a provocative and interesting question. When you get to the end of the season, it’s not resolved. In 100 years in the United States of America — if we make it that far — we’re still going to be worried about the police and whether or not they treat everybody the same. This is not a solvable problem. But at least I could create a piece of television that had us talking about it.

Not to be a provocateur for provocation’s sake, but the thing about Watchmen is you can create a space to have these conversations. The territory that worries me the most is what I’ll call the Joker territory. Was this irresponsible to do? Is it harmful? Not just in the most extreme case, where God forbid, somebody goes and sees Joker and that incites them to engage in a violent act. But if somebody wanted to be Rorschach for Halloween, would they go, “Maybe I can’t do this anymore because Damon Lindelof ruined Rorschach. Now, if I put on this mask, people are going to think that I’m a white supremacist.” I don’t want to ruin Rorschach. But at the same time, when you were dressing up as Rorschach before I made this show, which part of him were you idolizing?

In the world of the show, a lot of the racial politics emanate from the fact that Robert Redford, a well-intentioned liberal, has been president of the United States for decades. You don’t say he’s created a dystopian nightmare, but you certainly don’t say we all lived happily ever after.
What you’re talking about is exactly the intention. Clearly, it was off the table to say that the president of the United States was going to modeled on Trump in any way. Then it’s not Watchmen. Also, we were left a clue at the end of the original, which is that Robert Redford was running for president. We contend that he never, ever would have been able to beat NixonIn the comic, Nixon wins the Vietnam War with Dr. Manhattan’s help and makes that country the 51st U.S. state. Riding a wave of popularity, he ends the constitutional prohibition on third terms and serves all the way up through the events of the comic in 1985. at the height of Nixon’s popularity, especially post-squid. So Nixon wins in ’88, he beats Redford, and then he dies in office in ’90. Redford gets to run again, against Gerald Ford, and he wins. We had all these conversations about, “Who was on the Supreme Court in ’92 when Redford became president? Who would have been on Nixon’s Supreme Court? How many years would it have taken for Redford to get a Supreme Court that would go liberal?” In the meantime, the world is still spinning as a result of 3 million people dying in New York.

Liberals get two things wildly wrong, in my opinion as an unabashed liberal. One is we spend way too much time wagging our fingers. The second is we don’t know when to stop regulating. Regulation is important, it’s necessary, but that’s what the people on the right legitimately fear. So, when does it stop? What is it to be 30 years into a liberal regime? That felt like low-hanging fruit that is too delicious not to not grab at. It’s going to be imperfect. You need a two-party system in order to achieve some level of balance. It doesn’t mean that I’m not wildly progressive. But if you said to me, “How do you feel about a Senate that is divided 70-30?” I’d say that’s no bueno. That’s not going to be representative of America.

How did you sell it to Redford?
I didn’t.

Redford had no say on any of this?
There was a time that we wanted every episode to have a post-credits sequence, just like the comic book. One of them was Redford giving an excerpt from his State of the Union. That would have required us going to Redford and saying, “We would like you to actually play the president of the United States.” Then, literally four days after Jeff [Jensen] drafted an outline for it, Redford announced that he was retiring from acting. I’m certainly not going to pick up the phone and say, “Hey, I’m the guy who completely totally ignored what Alan Moore wanted me to do. Now, I’d like to also disrespect your wishes because it’s all about me. I couldn’t help but notice that you retired from acting, but would you like to play yourself as president of the United States?” He’s going to say, “What the fuck are you talking about?” So we just did it.

You haven’t gotten any complaints?
I hope that he’s tickled by it. One of the things that I always loved about Veep, which is one of my favorite shows ever, is that the president is just off-camera. When you see Nixon in Zack’s movie, when it was an actor playing Nixon, it took me out of it in a weird way.

So yeah, the classy thing to have done would have been what I did with Alan, which is writing him a letter saying, “I’d like your blessing to do this.” Then getting a letter back that says, “Leave me alone.”

You got a letter back from Alan?
I’m paraphrasing. I didn’t get a letter back from Alan. [Pauses.] I received a communication back from Alan, in which he made it clear — and I want to respect this — that he didn’t want his name to be used in any way. It’s not really possible for me not to mention his name, like he’s Voldemort. But if you want to support Alan Moore’s wishes, do not watch the show. That’s what he would want.

If Dave Gibbons, another co-creator of the book, had said no, would you have done the show?
[Pauses.] Probably not. When we talked to Dave, Jeff and I, we were able to say to him, “We’re not doing your 12 issues, we’re doing 30 years later. We’re going to have Veidt and Laurie. It wouldn’t be Watchmen if Dr. Manhattan didn’t make some kind of appearance. But it’s just going to be those three. They are in support of a new story. This isn’t their continuing adventures.” Dave is like, “That sounds really cool.” If he had said, “That doesn’t feel like Watchmen to me” or “I think you’re getting a bit out over your skis,” that would have given me serious pause.

Do you think people should read the comic before they watch the show?
The way that I feel about it is that everybody should read Watchmen. Not everybody’s going to like it, but it’s [like] Catcher in the Rye, Huck Finn, Things Fall Apart, Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies — these are the things that we should all be forced to read and discuss at some point in our education. So, you should read it whenever it strikes your fancy.

Look, I just love this book and I think it’s amazing. I would agree that it is imperfect, but it has to be. It has to be imperfect. It’s just a fascinating piece of art. So, should you? No. Do you have to? Definitely not.

If you were Adrian Veidt at the end of Watchmen, would you push the button? Would you drop the squid?
A hundred percent.

Really? It’s that easy for you?
Absolutely. Adrian Veidt pushing that button is completely and totally contingent on his belief that the equations and mathematics that he had run about the inevitability of nuclear holocaust said this was his only way of stopping it. I think that he could have accomplished the same goal with less of a death toll. Maybe not New York; you’d probably accomplish the same thing somewhere else. But other than that, I find no fault with the plan. I think it’s quite brilliant.

Spoken like a true storyteller who’s playing with lives every day. That’s how it works, right?
Yeah, why stop at 3 million?:

Thursday October 17, 2019

Not announced yet, but the good folks at Quibi are doing a show called Barkitecture. You can decipher what it’s about based on the name I presume, but if not, it’s a dog house build and design show. Now, knowing Quibi to be the star f*ckers that they’re proving themselves to be, they decided that they HAD to have a “celebrity” name as one of the co-hosts. I’m told they are paying through the roof (no puns intended there) for someone who isn’t necessarily worth the kind of money they’re shelling out and who doesn’t have any sort of construction background. More to follow on this one . . . .

Then there’s this. “Entertainment Weekly has long been a go-to destination to catch up on the best moments from late-night, whether it be Jimmy Fallon‘s newest star-studded game or Seth Meyers‘ Closer Looks at the latest political morass. But soon we’ll be offering fans a whole new way to catch up on late-night TV’s must-see moments. EW is partnering with the forthcoming streaming service Quibi to launch Late Night This Morning, a daily recap show highlighting the smartest monologues, best interviews, and must-see sketches from the previous evening’s slate of late-night shows. Our hosts will also provide classically EW commentary, including which show ‘won’ the night. Late Night This Morning will be part of Quibi’s Daily Essentials programming, which curates ‘quick bites’ of news, entertainment, sports, and more to catch up on every morning. Los Angeles production company B17 Entertainment is producing the show, with co-founders Rhett Bachner and Brien Meagher as executive producers alongside Meredith Entertainment Group (which includes EW, People, and People Español) president Bruce Gersh and senior vice president of digital Will Lee.”

I might be done passing along these stupid Quibi updates. Launch your stupid streaming service and let’s see what happens.

Food Network and celebrity chef Guy Fieri are teaming up again, this time on a culinary competition program. The five-episode Tournament of Champions will feature 16 chefs going head-to-head in a series of challenges using ingredients and special cooking tools and equipment  while racing against the clock. The difficulty of the challenges increases with each round of the tournament, until only two chefs are left to vie in the final round. The Discovery-owned cable network says a call for challenger nominations issued last week to fans by Fieri and the network on social has already racked up more than 1 million views . Fans will also have the chance to influence the bracket lineups once the final competitors are announced by voting on social for which chef they think should be ranked number one.”

Amazon Prime has released a trailer for the 4th and final season of The Man in the High Castle, premiering November 15.

“Netflix said that Season 3 of Stranger Things was viewed by 64 million households in its first four weeks on the platform, the hit series’ best numbers to date. The revelation came as the streaming service reported better third-quarter earnings that mostly beat Wall Street estimates. Last month, Netflix re-upped for another trip into the Upside Down, renewing its flagship series for Season 4 and signing series creators/showrunners the Duffer Brothers to a big multiyear overall deal.”

“The creative team behind Billions has a new story of wealth and corporate battles in its sights. Brian Koppelman and David Levien, co-creators and showrunners of the Wall Street drama, are developing a limited series about transportation/tech company Uber for Showtime. The project is based on New York Times writer Mike Isaac's book Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber. ‘The story of Uber is rich in plot twists, one-of-a-kind personalities and important implications for corporate America,’ Showtime Entertainment president Jana Winograde said Wednesday in a statement. ‘It is a case study of ingenuity and insanity, and there are no writers better suited than Brian and David to explore this business and the people who drive it, literally and metaphorically.’ The project will center on Travis Kalanick, the hard-charging Uber CEO who ultimately resigned in 2017 after major shareholders demanded he step down. The show will depict the roller-coaster ride of the company, embodying the highs and lows of Silicon Valley — where Uber stood out as both a marvel and a cautionary tale.”

Endeavor Holdings Group has officially withdrawn the registration of its planned IPO, about three weeks after it halted the launch of the stock on the New York Stock Exchange the same day it was to debut. In a filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday, the company requested the ‘withdrawal of the Registration Statement because it no longer wishes to conduct a public offering of securities at this time.’ The company added it ‘requests that all fees paid to the Commission in connection with the filing of the Registration Statement be credited for future use.’ When Endeavor pulled back the IPO on September 26, the company left open the possibility of revisiting the offering in 2020. There was no other time frames referenced in today’s filing. . . .Endeavor — whose holdings include talent agency WME, the UFC, sports and fashion management firm IMG and the Professional Bull Riders — had been planning its IPO for months, even down to celebratory signage being printed and prepared for ceremonial unfurling at the NYSE But at the eleventh hour, seeing the various factors converge — including a softening market, shrinking demand from investors — Endeavor and its private equity partners opted to pull the plug. Many Wall Street analysts have evinced the theory that investors are more eager for clear signs of profitability or at least a road map for how to get there. Endeavor, while certainly not in the same category as a Silicon Valley startup, carries significant debt and had booked losses in recent quarters, according to recent SEC filings.” LMFAO.

Would you rather eat your pets or become a vegetarian? A new reality show titled “Meat the Family” that’s set to air on the U.K.’s Channel 4 next year will force four families to make that exact choice, giving them the option to either give up meat or cook and eat a farm animal they’ve been living with for three weeks. The episodes will see families co-habitating with — and potentially dining on — a piglet, a lamb, a chicken and a calf.”

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From The Hollywood Reporter, “Greg Berlanti and Jim Parsons are teaming for an LGBTQ-focused docuseries set up at HBO Max.

“Titled Equal, the four-part docuseries chronicles the landmark events and forgotten heroes of the LGBTQ+ movement. Each hourlong episode brings to life the stakes and deadlines of historical events that have not yet been given their due. The series will feature high-end re-enactments, never-before-seen footage and capture the emotions of the times with messages just as relevant as today, HBO Max says. 

“LGBTQ+ pioneers featured in the series will include Harry Hay, the Daughters of Bilitis, Christine Jorgensen and Bayard Rustin. The fourth episode chronicles the Stonewall Riots from start to finish as well as the first Pride event, the year after Stonewall. 

“‘In June, we commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which shepherded in a new era for LGBTQ+ pride. While we know the story behind that fateful summer night, there’s a lot of fascinating, untold history of the patriots, artists, and thinkers who paved the way,’ said Jennifer O’Connell, executive vp nonfiction at HBO Max. ‘It’s time to share their heroic tales, and we could not have more perfect partners in Jim Parsons, Greg Berlanti, Jon Jashni and Scout to introduce our HBO Max audience to these historical trailblazers.’

“The series hails from Warner Horizon Unscripted TV's new documentary unit. Berlanti and Parsons — who each have overall deals with Warner Horizon parent Warner Bros. TV — will exec produce via their respective production companies, Berlanti Productions and That's Wonderful Productions. Mike Darnell, president of unscripted and alternative at Warner Bros., will oversee alongside Brooke Karzen. Scout Productions' David Collins, Michael Williams (The Fog of War), Rob Eric (Queer Eye) and Joel Chiodi will exec produce. Berlanti Productions topper Sarah Schechter will also exec produce for the company. Parsons' husband and That's Wonderful partner Todd Spiewak will also exec produce. Raintree Ventures' Jon Jashni (Lost in Space) will also exec produce. 

“‘We are extremely proud to partner with these groundbreaking producers on a subject this important, at a time this critical,’ said Darnell. ‘What a perfect project to launch Warner Horizon Unscripted Television’s new documentary series unit.’

Equal is Berlanti's latest effort for HBO Max — and second with a cast member from Big Bang Theory. It joins Kaley Cuoco-fronted scripted drama The Flight Attendant on the TV side and a slate of four YA-focused feature films. HBO Max, set to launch in the spring, will be the exclusive (domestic) streaming home to the entire 12-season run of Big Bang Theory

“For Parsons, Equal becomes the actor's latest producing project and joins Netflix's shortform comedy Special and CBS' Big Bang Theory prequel Young Sheldon. His next acting roles are two Ryan Murphy-produced Netflix projects: TV movie The Boys in the Band (based on the Broadway show in which he starred) as well as scripted series Hollywood.

“For HBO Max, meanwhile, this is the streaming platform's latest docuseries and joins Ellen DeGeneres-produced Finding Einstein.

“All told, this is Berlanti's 20th show in the works and first unscripted series. All told, he has business at four of the five broadcast networks as well as streamers DC Universe, HBO Max and Netflix.”

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If they’re not going to stop, why should I? Per The Ringer, “[i]n the first season of Succession, Tom Wambsgans had some questions for Cousin Greg upon his first day at Waystar Royco. ‘Forgive me, but are we talking to each other on the poop deck of a majestic schooner? Is the salty brine stinging my weather-beaten face?’ Tom asked. ‘No? Then why the fuck are you wearing a pair of deck shoes, man?’

“Clothes are highly important in the universe of Succession; in the show’s cutthroat, materialistic world, they are signifiers of wealth, status, and experience. In turn, commentary on clothes has been one of these characters’ sharpest weapons through Succession’s two seasons. Tom, once an arbiter of fashion criticism against Greg, often found his own style choices under a microscope in Season 2, a harsh and consistent reminder of where he stands in the Roy food chain. ‘Where do you buy your suits?’ Roman asked him in the second episode of the season. ‘Maybe that’s why I’m not moving as fast as you, I just don’t have that corporate, boxy look. Right? I mean, I’m sorry but like, what the fuck? You look like a Transformer.’ And later, in Argestes, Roman said: ‘Nice vest, Wambsgans. It’s so puffy. What’s it stuffed with, your hopes and dreams?’

“But beyond the literal signifiers, the costumes on Succession are an important ingredient in fully fleshing out each character. There is deeper meaning in the way Shiv Roy dresses, in the tailoring of Cousin Greg’s suits, and in the colors Kendall wears. Before Season 2 of Succession came to an end, the show’s costume designer and assistant costume designer, Michelle Matland and Jonathan Schwartz, hopped on the phone with me to delve into those deeper meanings, talk vests, and reveal whether Jeremy Strong dressed up as Kendall Roy at the 2019 Emmys:

First of all, we need to address a major mystery: The suit Jeremy strong wore to the Emmys looked very similar to the suit Kendall would wear a week later at his father’s 50-year celebration in Dundee—is it the same suit?

Matland: No, it is not ... it’s a different version of that. It has a vest that we did not use. I didn’t even know there was one. We had to order that from Italy to the United States, then it wasn’t going to be here in time. It was a big drama, because we had talked about getting the suit for that particular scene, and because Jeremy Strong is very, very involved in everything to do with his character—down to his underpants and socks. Every detail has to be fully Kendall. And getting that suit was the biggest drama, and it showed up finally, in Scotland—sans bow tie. Overnight we made the bow tie out of something we found in a fabric store in Scotland, and found this wonderful tailor who could cut it out and make it happen to surprise Jeremy in the morning, within moments of the scene. So, that was the long answer. The short answer is no—it’s not the same exact suit.

It’s a really interesting suit. What made you choose it?

Matland: We started with very definitive choices for him in Season 1, and then by Season 2, he starts to transcend into another Kendall. If you look at the palette in Season 1, it’s very austere, it’s much darker. It’s much more clear what he’s trying to say about himself. And then after he breaks at the end of Season 1, it becomes apparent, the toll that’s been taken. His tonality becomes much more muddled. There’s a lot of muted, muddy greens, a lot of browns. So we ended up going with a suit that was very obscure. I mean, obviously that was a very strange choice for him to make.

You mention Jeremy being involved in everything “down to the underpants.” I’m curious what goes into picking out Kendall’s underwear.

Matland: We know that it’s going to be some incredibly hard-to-come-by European brand that could only be purchased—

Schwartz: If it’s not Swedish, it will not be worn.

Matland: It’s definitely going to be European, that’s for sure. For each character, the detailing has to be discussed and prepared for, so that we know what the reason behind it is, so it’s not just by accident. We try to make sure there are no accidents.

What was discussed for Shiv in Season 2, a season in which she had a lot of ups and downs?

Matland: Well, we started with her as an associate to a political being—she was representing that person. We didn’t get to know her as much in Season 1; we knew her as an operative for someone else. By Season 2, as she leaves the Gil [Eavis] world and moves more into the Roy world, before she transitions into the Shiv who wants to fit into the boardroom, we see Shiv as she inherently is, I think. We see a little bit of her tomboy side, having been brought up in a household of men. We see a little bit of her feminine side, as she is playing with people outside of herself, her flirtations with the world. And then we see her as she transitions into the Roy world, which is into the boardroom. We start to see that one more tangent of Shiv who is fitting into the men’s world, without giving up her own identity. She now knows who she is. She wants to be an equal in the boardroom with her brothers, she wants to be someone who her father can associate with, to have that understanding with and get his respect, so she’s willing to take on some of the masculinity that’s part of that space.

Is that sort of hybrid version of her something we saw in “DC” and then beyond?

Matland: Absolutely. That’s where you can see that she does not lose her femininity to become part of the gang. But she is willing to put on a veneer, that feminine-touch suit that has power to it. She does not want to lose her economy to her father. At the same time, she is willing to represent herself in a way that she can compete like the men in the room.

As for her husband, Tom—Roman has literally made fun of the way he dresses and wears his suits. Have you been deliberately dressing him that way all along?

Matland: Well, there is a peacock-esque sense to him. In Season 1, he’s a bit of a robot. He’s not prancing yet. He’s just trying to muddle his way through to glean as much information as he can. By Season 2, he’s absorbed quite a bit. He now has decided what he thinks will make other people think something specific about him. And so, he is full of pretense. No one else in the family will look at the price tag. They will buy something because they can afford it, and they love it, they like it, whatever. Tom doesn’t know what quality is, it’s not part of his history. Money equals quality to him. Whereas, for the rest of the family, they know the difference, they were trained to know the difference.

Tom’s just trying to exist in this family.

Matland: He’s a monkey. He’s learning the detailing as he goes along. What we tried to do was give him subtle detailing that would enhance that desire to show himself as something important in the room—like the pocket squares, the suspenders. His shoes are highly polished, whereas Roman would never look down. For Tom, there’s a lot of posturing going on.

And what about his protégé/best friend, Greg? I have noticed that his suits seem to be fitting a little better these days.

Matland: Oh, absolutely! He’s come into money. The first time we see him, he’d never owned a suit in his life. When he goes to the thrift store and he buys the suit and the shoes, that’s one of the greatest moments in a character study, for me personally; watching him walk through the park, trying to get his shoes to stay on. It was something Nicholas Braun brought to the moment that just happened organically. But it was a stroke of genius that made you understand that this guy’s never owned a pair of laced-up leather shoes.

Schwartz: In real life, in the fitting room, Nicholas will say, “I love Kendall’s suits. He looks so great. Shouldn’t Greg be in a Kendall suit?” And we’re like, “Greg, you’re not there yet.”

Matland: By Season 2, when he’s come into enough money, he is now taking on what he sees when he walks through the hallway. He’s now wearing Hickey Freeman, instead of a thrift-shop version from Men’s Warehouse. He’s starting to pick up on where you buy it, how you buy it, how you get it tailored if it doesn’t fit, because obviously he’s a very different fit. He couldn’t walk into any store and just buy a suit. He’s 6-foot-7, you know?

How much of your job is spent picking out vests?

Matland: [Laughs.] Are you talking about “Argestes?” I would love to take credit for all those vests and say I created the image of what these tech geeks wear; these multimillion-dollar boys. But, the reality is, this is what these gentlemen wear when they go to these conferences. For example, Tom is wearing a Moncler puffy vest that’s very iconic.

Schwartz: There are a couple of iconic photos of Jeff Bezos all puffed up for the Sun Valley Conference.

Matland: But for Kendall, his is a Cucinelli. The subtle differences—they’re all wearing puffy vests but they’re all unique to the character’s story lines … I think they wear them because they make them look tougher than they actually are. These are guys who never played football. The vests are something that make them feel bigger than they physically are.

To go back to Dundee,”can you tell me about picking out the jersey Kendall wears for his performance of L to the OG? You had a pretty major role in one of the best, most cringeworthy moments of TV this year.

Matland: The L to the OG … Well, there were obviously numerous ways that we could go, so we did a little bit of homework. What the look of it would be, where the logo options were, what the number would be? We did create the options and then choose. We could have done a basketball jersey, but we decided to do the button-up because, on a practical level, how would he have put it on if he were going through the process he does in the scene. But it started by looking at the real thing and trying to steal from that as accurately as we could, without making fun of it. The humor is in the acting.

Schwartz: [Succession creator] Jesse Armstrong doesn’t want any costume comedy. He wants all of the comedy to be organic, through the characters.

Was there a specific reason you went with a pinstripe jersey? I wondered if it was a suggestion that Kendall’s a Yankees fan.

Schwartz: Most rich white guys are.

Matland: Oh, God, don’t say that! That’s heartbreaking. We’re in the playoffs. We just have to let it ride.”

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Per Deadline, “Shonda Rhimes has conquered television and now she has her eye on the podcast world. The Emmy-nominated superproducer and writer is partnering with iHeartMedia to launch Shondaland Audio.

“Rhimes is set to executive produce a new slate of iHeartRadio Originals on Shondaland Audio which will be distributed through the iHeartPodcast Network. The agreement includes a full slate of iHeartRadio Original Podcasts set to release over the next three years. Rhimes will oversee development and Sandie Bailey, Chief Digital and Design Officer, will manage day-to-day operations.

“‘Podcasting continues to see tremendous growth and I’m excited to partner with iHeartMedia as Shondaland expands its storytelling journey into this medium which has seemed to usher in a unique sense of boldness, intimacy and connection,’ said Rhimes. ‘With iHeartMedia we aim to share stories that are engaging, insightful, and reflect a robust world-view while staying true to the authentic storytelling voice that has become synonymous with Shondaland.’

“Rhimes isn’t a total stranger to the world of podcasting. In 2017, Shondaland launched Katie’s Crib, a weekly podcast following Scandal and Waitress actress Katie Lowes where she shared intimate conversations about the joys, pains, and hilarity of new motherhood with guests. New episodes of Katie’s Crib will be folded into the Shondaland Audio’s slate originals.

“Shondaland Audio will be an addition to iHeartMedia’s podcast library including iHeartRadio Original shows like The Ron Burgundy Podcast, Disgraceland, Chelsea Handler: Life will be the Death of Me, Noble Blood and Committed.

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Per Variety, “Megyn Kelly made the first steps toward a TV comeback on Wednesday night, appearing on Fox News, the network that brought her to prominence, to decry NBC, the network from which she parted ways last year. It was a booking that had everything that has made Kelly a compelling figure for years — a sense that the fight was deeply personalized even as Kelly appealed to a higher set of values, a certain glee in the cut-and-thrust of argument and a positioning of Kelly herself as separate and apart from colleagues in the media.

“And yet some fundamental charisma seemed gone. Kelly, a star on Fox whose NBC morning hour failed to suit her prosecutorial zeal, ought to know how to do this. Interviewed by a host as fundamentally congenial to his ideological allies as Tucker Carlson, Kelly was presented softball after softball about NBC’s mishandling of the Harvey Weinstein story — a story recounted in Ronan Farrow’s new book that happened to be unfolding while Kelly, who’d previously been near the center of the Roger Ailes sexual harassment inquiry, was in the building. And yet she was at times uncharacteristically tongue-tied. Speaking with care about an employer from whom she’d had a contentious split (saying, for instance, that ‘the question is open as to whether they put dollars ahead of decency’), Kelly seemed to be stopping short; in issuing a terse ‘no comment’ to a provocative question implying she’d been let go from NBC for being outspoken, she made herself clear.

“But it was a point that seemed to demand amplification, given other details for her departure (which occurred after she defended blackface on-air); elsewhere, she tried to position herself very near the center of the NBC story, saying she was ‘getting to the bottom of what NBC knew’ while there — something that strained credulity if only because Kelly had so little even in the way of unique insight to show for it. There was, often, the sense of things being held in reserve. Perhaps if Kelly is to tell what she sees as the real and complete story of her time at NBC, it’ll happen on her own time and her own platform.

“But that platform seemed at times further away, no matter that, at interview’s end, Kelly said she’d be looking for new opportunities: ‘I’ll get back on that horse soon, because this has been fun.’ Fun is in the eye of the beholder, perhaps. Historically, Kelly’s temperament had run toward the icy as she took apart whomever was that day’s opponent; the colder things got, the more fun was being had. (This, notably, is why then-candidate Donald Trump’s assessment of Kelly as fueled by rage was not just misogynistic but fundamentally untrue; her questioning of him in a 2015 debate had the typical Kelly sangfroid.) Here, though, Kelly seemed uncertain of herself and where she was going: Allowed to rove freely by Carlson’s limp questioning, she ranged over, say, NBC News chief Noah Oppenheim’s college writings about women and assault, before allowing that college students often say indefensible things. Having one big point to make — that NBC News ought to bring in an outside investigator, an argument it hardly took a former anchor on their air to carry across — and having clearly made it, there was almost too much room to maneuver.

“On NBC, Kelly had been hemmed in not merely by a corporate culture she now speaks out against, but also by smaller but more visible things: Format, a desire to broadly reach an audience. She made the choice, then, to attempt to downshift the content and the tone of her broadcast, working to speak on other topics (she eventually faltered, obviously) and to speak in a tone a bit further from the courtroom. The trouble, now, may be that after that experience and after a year off the air, Kelly is out of practice. Guided in for a landing by Carlson, Kelly addressed the unique and special qualities of Fox as a broadcaster, noting that it was a place that, since its inception, had believed that, “If you did fair and balanced news, the people would watch.” (Her specific mention of Fox’s creation in 1996 called to mind the recent departure of anchor Shep Smith, who’d been there since the beginning and who quit after his evenhanded reporting grew controversial.) Elsewhere in the media, she said, ‘there was a baked-in bias against people who believe in home-schooling, who believe in a pro-life position, who might have a gun’; the rest of the mainstream media, in her telling, has now mobilized against Trump and his supporters.

“It was unpleasantly transparent even for a host whose moves in the past — framing herself first as the most equanimous at Fox, then as the sunniest of all NBC, then as someone not fired but granted an opportunity to speak out — had had a certain clomping unsubtlety. More groaning still, was, when asked what she’d learned, Kelly’s response was, ‘Just as awful as the media can be, actual humans are awesome.’ Kelly’s adversaries nowadays are members of the media; so, too, is Farrow, whose reporting she frames herself as having been right behind as she chased the story at NBC; so is Kelly herself, or so she was and might be again. That her pathway there is using an experience she can barely discuss to open a broader argument against the media as the whole is an unpleasant reminder of the era of Kelly’s dominance, one in which her savvy reigned over any core belief. 

“Maybe, though, that savvy’s a bit rusty, too. Before she said she’d learned that real people are better than the media, Kelly joked that she’d learned nothing. ‘I’m like Woody Allen!’ she said. It was a weird and off-tone gag for a TV personality commenting on the reporting of Allen’s son, who’s been open about his belief that Allen molested his sister. Maybe she’s forgotten what she once knew about TV. Or, maybe, in making the sort of comment that will attract writers to say that Kelly is insensitive and just plain odd, Kelly is showing that, learning or no, she’s at least remembered how to play the provocateur. The question as to whether or not TV needs another such chaos agent will be answered soon enough.”

Word to the wise, don’t compare yourself to Woody Allen.

Wednesday October 16, 2019

I watched something called Battle of the Fittest Couples last night on Bravo. It’s basically The Challenge with more testosterone. Caveat emptor.

NBC has wisely pulled Sunnyside from its schedule. Perfect Harmony should be next.

Limetown is now available to watch on Facebook. Jessica Biel plays American Public Radio journalist Lia Haddock, who launches an investigative podcast to find out the truth about a mass disappearance in Limetown, with her uncle, played by Stanley Tucci, amongst the missing.

All episodes of Impulse are now available on YouTube. “In the YouTube Originals drama series Impulse, 16-year-old Henry Coles is an outsider in her new town of Reston, New York. With a major chip on her shoulder and no friends, she remains withdrawn and isolated, but everything changes when a traumatic encounter with a classmate triggers something deep within Henry— unleashing a power she cannot control.”

The Goldbergs pay tribute to Animal House tonight.

Ahead of its November 1 debut, Apple+ has renewed For All Mankind’s for a 2nd season.

Why do men keep winning Survivor?

Quibi’s torrential downpour of programming deals continues. Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman’s shortform digital platform is teaming with the Weather Channel to be its exclusive source for weather content. The deal includes daily weather-related programming from the Byron Allen-owned outlet that will be part of Quibi’s Daily Essentials, which features minutes-long bites of news, entertainment and inspiration. The untitled show will include national and hyper-localized weather and forecasting stories, as well as leverage the Weather Channel’s Immersive Mixed Reality to help audiences understand how the weather will impact them.” As I said yesterday, with each passing announcement it seems like Quibi’s chances of success fade.

Only one Big 4 broadcast series actually grew its TV ratings from the first week of the 2019-20 television season to the second. Congratulations to CBS drama FBI — at least one branch of the federal government is actually improving these days. Counting a week of delayed viewing, the CBS procedural grew from a 1.56 premiere-week rating in the important adults 18-49 demographic to a 1.58 on the following Tuesday night, according to Nielsen. That represents an enormous increase of — wait for it — 1.2821%.”

“Disgraced Today anchor Matt Lauer allegedly had an affair with a famed and well-respected broadcaster, Page Six is exclusively told, representing a ‘clear imbalance of power.’ The woman signed a nondisclosure agreement when she left NBC. We have agreed not to name the broadcaster at her request, but a TV source said: “Matt had influence over everyone’s career — one word and your career would be sunk. I know there was a clear imbalance of power in this woman’s relationship with Matt.”

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Clearly I’m not ready to turn the page on Succession yet. From The Ringer: “The second season of Succession was, in Tom Wambsgans parlance, a closed-loop system. As it began with Kendall Roy addressing the media on Logan’s behalf, so it ended—except this time, the number one boy used the platform to stab his father in the back. And in between the two press conferences, a lot of memorable stuff happened this season—the death of Vaulter, Boar on the Floor, and “L to the OG,” to name a few—but what transpired right before the closing credits trumps everything. The king is (theoretically, metaphorically) dead. And now everyone will be jockeying for power to sit atop an empire as structurally sound as Willa’s Broadway production. (Sands is a masterpiece misunderstood in its time!)

“This is the closest Succession can get to blowing itself up without throwing Logan into an actual coffin. I don’t have the faintest idea of what, exactly, will happen in Season 3—only that shit is gonna go down, and this dank content needs to arrive ASAP. In the meantime, let’s kick off our boat shoes and marinate over the eight most pressing questions we need Succession to address in 2020:

Who’s the new CEO?

Rhea Jarrell has already stepped down after the revelation of the tumultuous cruise line scandal, and Logan’s biggest obstacle heading into next season is avoiding prison time after Kendall’s mic drop. The Waystar throne, in other words, looks entirely up for grabs—and it seems every Roy sibling and company subordinate is invested in the outcome. Roman was tapped as sole chief operating officer by Logan before Kendall went rogue; combine that clout with his psychosexual alliance with Gerri and the Rock Star and the Mole Woman start to look like a formidable contender for the throne.

And if the first two seasons of Succession focused on Kendall and Shiv, respectively, it stands to reason that next year becomes the Season of Roman. (For what it’s worth, this theory’s got the Kieran Culkin stamp of approval.) The thing is, should anyone even want the CEO gig right now? The shareholder meeting is imminent, and the board may prefer Stewy and Sandy over the Roys and their perpetual back-stabbing. Along with the cruise line fiasco still hanging over the company’s head, taking over Waystar is—sorry for the maritime pun—not unlike a captain going down with his ship.

Can Logan retaliate against Kendall?

In the final shot of the season, Logan sports a beguiling smirk as he watches his son toss all the corporate malfeasance in his lap. One read of the scene I’ve seen on Twitter is that Logan is smiling because he and Kendall were in cahoots the whole time—what seems more likely, however, is that Logan is proud of his son for actually having a “killer” instinct. Logan can love Kendall only when he’s broken, and can be impressed only when his son is trying to destroy him, lest we needed any more reminding than the Roys are a super-messed-up family.

But just because Logan’s awed by Kendall’s rebellion doesn’t mean he’ll stand idly by and eat shit. This is Logan Roy, after all—a guy who made his son-in-law grovel and oink on the ground for a sausage link. Were Logan to exact revenge on Kendall, there’s an obvious place he can start: exposing his role in the young waiter’s death from the Season 1 finale. Kendall is still wracked with guilt over the incident, and if Logan made his son’s manslaughter public knowledge, Kendall could face his own legal repercussions. At the very least, that would ensure that Kendall would be too toxic to take over the company—though after all the psychological abuse, existential dread, and stolen vape fluid from bodegas, he should really just use that as an excuse to fuck off forever in the Mediterranean.

Who else could face legal ramifications?

Kendall’s press conference attacking Logan wasn’t just an empty threat. The dude’s got the receipts, thanks to some Greg sprinkles. It’s not clear when Cousin Greg confessed to Kendall that he kept a handful of cruise line documents, but this budding bromance, molded by shitty park cocaine, ought to leave Tom shook. The man whom The Atlantic described during the congressional hearing as a “smirking block of domestic feta,” could still face some consequences.

Whatever is on the documents would likely also implicate Tom, seeing that he was in charge of the cruise line and ordered Greg to shred the rest of the evidence. Since Kendall said in his press conference (truthfully) that his father knew everything about the cruise line cover-up, it will be that much harder for Waystar subordinates to claim they didn’t know a thing—especially the guy overseeing the whole damn division. But if a prison cell is really in Tom’s future, at least he got to eat his father-in-law’s chicken like a modern-day Daniel Plainview first.

Does Roman finally have his shit together?

Roman returned from Turkey with a renewed sense of maturity. He gave a level-headed analysis to his dad about going private with an injection of Azerbaijani money—simply put, it’s too risky an investment to gamble the company’s future on—and even asked Shiv and Kendall whether they could talk “normally” about things going forward. (Naturally, their impulse is to make fun of Roman because everybody in this family is irreparably damaged and incapable of real intimacy.)

We’ve come a long way from the days of Roman’s overseeing a rocket explosion and jerking off in his corner office. (Well, he still jerks off, but only at Gerri’s behest.) He seems to have really matured! And all it took was … being trapped in a life-threatening military coup that gave Karl a panic attack. Logan and Rhea both surmised that Roman would make a good CEO once he got his shit together. I never really understood their perspective. The Roman of the Season 2 finale, however, is a different and much more promising candidate, if this sort of behavior is what we can expect from the character next season.

Did Hearts win the Scottish Premiership?

Eduard assured us he was going to get some dope players on loan to help his newly purchased soccer club qualify for the Champions League. Since I’ve been alive, the Scottish powerhouses have traditionally been Celtic and Rangers—Hearts would need a lot of help to get over the hump, let alone contend with the giants from other European leagues they could face in the Champions League.

Oh, I’m sorry, do you not care about the Scottish Premiership and the Champions League? Fuck off, then! Personally, I need to know who was loaned to Hearts, the tactics implemented by the manager (Eduard definitely has a hard-on for inverted wingers), how much the club invested in modern analytics, and the final Scottish Prem standings. I expect the Hearts subplot to continue next season. I will not rest until Roman and Eduard are bribing officials and trying to create a European Super League. Go Hearts!

Can Shiv and Tom’s marriage be salvaged?

(Even if they don’t formally file for divorce, um, no.)

Where the hell is Marcia?

“When I am with someone, I am with them,” Marcia told Logan during the sixth episode of the season, “Argestes.” The inverse appears to be true, as a Rhea Jarrell–induced fissure in their marriage has led her to spend a lot of time mysteriously off screen. Marcia’s motives have never been very clear—whether she was helping Logan recover from his health scare last season because she loves her husband or has ulterior motives is among Succession’s enduring mysteries. (She also said she’d need ample time to explain her life’s story, but at this point we’d settle for a two-minute anecdote!)

Will Marcia go back to Logan’s side now that he’s suffered a devastating blow? Will she ally herself with one of his kids, instead? Will she try to leech some of the Roy fortune for herself? I couldn’t say what Marcia’s going to do—only that I’d like to see a lot more of her next season. If nothing else, it’s gotta mean something that she also knows about Kendall’s manslaughter, which she could dangle in front of Logan, Kendall, or both.

Is Connor still running for president?

Willa’s play is a mere sand mite in a desert of aesthetically and culturally significant Broadway productions, Connor is broke, and Logan will loan him a casual $100 million only if his son finally cancels his batshit presidential bid. Connor would’ve had to accept Logan’s terms eventually—or, I suppose, turn a profit off the resale of Napoleon’s shriveled penis—but Kendall’s press conference would ostensibly put all of these developments on hold. Logan has much bigger fish to fry than handing out even more money to his biggest failson.

It’s a very confusing and—if you sit in the front of Willa’s play—itchy affair. We need a balm and, more importantly, some Connor clarity. The Con-heads need answers!”

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Per Deadline, “[a] new iteration of Grease is in the works by HBO Max. The upcoming WarnerMedia streaming service has given a series order to Grease: Rydell High, a musical series inspired by the 1978 film.

“Set in and around the world of Rydell High, the show reimagines the global smash hit movie with familiar as well as new characters. Per HBO Max’s description: ‘It’s still the 1950s, a world that rocks with big musical numbers from the period combined with new original songs as well. It’s the peer pressures of high school, the horrors of puberty, and the rollercoaster of life in middle America with a modern sensibility that will bring it to life for today’s musical lovers.’

“The movie starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John was the highest-grossing live-action musical of all time before the Disney reboots of Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King. Its soundtrack has sold more than 8 million copies in the U.S. alone.

“‘Grease is an iconic pop-culture phenomenon that works for every generation, and I’m thrilled that our friends at Paramount were excited about the idea of opening up the show and putting it on a larger canvas for a weekly series,’ said Sarah Aubrey, head of original content at HBO Max. ‘This is high school and life in small-town USA told on the scale of a big rock ’n’ roll musical. It’s Grease 2.0 but with the same spirit, energy and excitement you immediately think of when you hear any of these iconic songs.’

“Said Nicole Clemens, President of Paramount Television, ‘Grease is one of the most beloved Paramount titles and it’s a thrill to be re-imagining it for today’s audience with our good friends at Temple Hill and Picturestart. When Bob Greenblatt called about bringing it to television, we knew we would be in the perfect hands because of our great working relationship with HBO Max and Bob’s genuine passion for musicals and Grease in particular.’

“Picturestart and Temple Hill will serve as executive producers and Paramount Television and Picturestart will produce the series. No indiviual producers or writers were announced. Additionally, Temple Hill, Picturestart and Paramount Pictures are in development on a feature film prequel to Grease, entitled Summer Lovin’.”

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More HBO Max news . . . “HBO Max is doing the walk and talk.

“Aaron Sorkin's iconic political drama The West Wing will leave Netflix — where it has been streaming — and move to WarnerMedia's forthcoming streaming service.

“Bob Greenblatt, chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment and direct-to-consumer, indicated that the Warner Bros. TV-produced political drama, which ran for seven seasons on NBC from 1999-2006, will be part of the HBO Max offering when the service launches in the U.S. in April. The West Wing currently streams on Netflix in the U.S..

“Greenblatt put the show alongside the ‘treasure trove of great shows’ from Warners' library that would be migrating to HBO Max. These include previously announced deals for The Big Bang Theory and Friends, which WarnerMedia recently secured in deals worth a reported $600 million and $425 million, respectively.

“Greenblatt, speaking Tuesday at a keynote at the Mipcom market in Cannes, said he would be mining the ‘thousands of titles’ in the Warner Bros. library to help stock HBO Max.

“‘We are looking at acquiring shows but we are also mining the library we have. Warner Bros. has the best movie library in the world and the best TV library in the world. We'll be curating that for HBO Max.’

“WarnerMedia and HBO Max are not alone in mining the past for treasure. NBCUniversal paid $500 million to pull its hit comedy The Office off Netflix and secure it for Peacock, its new SVOD service. Netflix, in turn, ponied up $500 million for global rights to Seinfeld. (Financial terms of The West Wing deal were not revealed; reps for HBO Max were also unclear if the deal covers global or domestic only rights.)

“At the Mipcom market in Cannes this week, there was talk of a similar, big money SVOD deal for Mad Man in the works.

“Greenblatt did highlight a few new shows that will be coming to HBO Max, announcing Grease: Rydell High [See above], a series spinoff of the hit 1978 musical, as well as ‘several shows in the DC universe’ to be produced by Greg Berlanti (ArrowThe Flash). He also said HBO Max would be open to acquiring international and foreign-language shows. ‘We’ve seen on Netflix and Amazon extraordinary shows from Israel and Russia, and we’d love to have some of those as well,’ he said.

“But Greenblatt downplayed fears that the new streaming service, and its rapacious demand for more content, could lead to HBO sacrificing the quality of its shows in exchange for increased volume. He said that HBO would sit ‘unchanged’ on the new platform, with all additional content — including library series and film and newly commissioned shows — in the ‘Max’ portion of the offering.

“‘To build the new platform, we’re adding new programming. We’re not taxing HBO to do anything other than what they do,’ Greenblatt said. ‘HBO is the great brand of all time in our opinion. People know it for its excellence. This year alone has been another extraordinary year, so there’s no plans to do anything but to keep that intact. The shows are made very carefully. There’s a certain number that is comfortable and we’re increasing slightly, but nothing to be alarmed about. It’s not going to be significant.’

“When it comes to the programming of HBO Max, Greenblatt said he will not be leaving everything up to the robots but will do “real scheduling” to roll out shows in a manner akin to a traditional, linear broadcaster, at least initially.

“‘Eventually the tech will catch up but we want to have a balance between the computer and the human being,’ he said. ‘We are trying to build an algorithm that is a little more personal.’

“Greenblatt noted a statistic that it took the average viewer on a streaming service around 9 minutes to find something they wanted to watch. ‘We want to shorten that.’”

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Per EW, “[t]here are a lot of appearances by Breaking Bad alums in Netflix’s El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, but perhaps none are more surprising than Jesse Plemons. And the surprise isn’t the mere presence of the dearly departed sociopath Todd, rather how much of a presence he is, virtually serving as the second most prominent character and turning a good chunk of El Camino into what Plemons jokes is a ‘buddy road trip movie.’

“Like Bryan Cranston’s Walter White and Jonathan Banks‘ Mike Ehrmantraut, Todd is brought back from the dead via flashbacks by Breaking Bad creator and El Camino writer-director Vince Gilligan. Unlike those other more iconic characters from the series, Todd hangs around past just one scene, as we spend a day with prisoner Jesse and Neo-Nazi Todd, who killed Jesse’s girlfriend in front of him and who Jesse will eventually strangle to death. What starts as Todd asking Jesse for a favor while Uncle Jack and the rest of the crew is out of town leads to a trip inside Todd’s Easter-like apartment, where they will dispose of his Hispanic maid who was killed for finding money in volume M of his encyclopedia set (‘Iwonder what she was looking up…M for Mexico maybe?’). They will then journey into the desert to bury her, and to show how truly broken Jesse is during this period. After Todd says a few words about the deceased, he sends Jesse to grab some cigarettes from the car’s glove box, where he also finds a gun. Holding it firmly in his grasp, Jesse eventually hands the gun over to Todd after being promised a night of pepperoni pizza and beer. With Jesse in tears, Todd wraps his arm around the man whose life he’s made a living nightmare.

“To learn more about his extended return, EW chatted with Plemons, who went on to memorable roles in Fargo and Black Mirror after Breaking Bad, about his ‘confusion’ upon learning of El Camino, whether Todd was testing Jesse, and the “unfortunate” discovery that Todd was still lurking inside of him:

What was your first reaction when you found out Vince Gilligan was working on El Camino and wanted you back?
Surprise and confusion were the main feelings. It’s just something that I never expected to happen. I remember really well the day that Todd was strangled, and I never imagined to step into Todd’s crazy shoes again. I was working in Atlanta on something and had missed a few calls from a number that I didn’t recognize, and I just assumed that it was a telemarketer and sort of picked up frustrated and then heard Vince and [producer] Melissa’s [Bernstein] voices and they told me they had an idea. I was very intrigued, and the script was even better than I could have anticipated.

You were surprised to get that call to begin with, so were you even more surprised at how much of a presence Todd was going to be? A lot of Breaking Bad alums came back for like one scene, while you’re out here almost in a Todd-Jesse buddy film.
Yeah, buddy road trip movie. I assumed it was a scene or two and was surprised to find out that it’s a significant part of the movie. I didn’t really think I had too many more questions about Todd that needed answers, but, then, in reading the script, my mind just started racing all over again. I feel like there were pieces of Todd that I hadn’t really thought about. The relationship with Jesse was one where there were a lot of great scenes from the show, but it was a different side of Todd, and I think it was one of his happier days, just getting to spend the day with his good pal Jesse — never mind the unfortunate task they had to do. But it was always so much fun.

How do you view that Todd and Jesse relationship? It really does seem like Todd genuinely likes Jesse, and maybe even looks up to him a bit.
I think it’s kind of like a man’s best friend situation. [Laughs] I really think he looks at Jesse with some admiration and feels close to him, because he’s probably been more honest to him than most people. I wasn’t sure if I was going to talk about this, but, while we were shooting the show, I got a dog that is getting old now, but I kind of viewed Jesse with the sort of characteristics of my dog, and I think in the same sense of a dog not knowing what’s best for him, like, “You do need me, you may not realize it.” And also, Todd did save Jesse’s life. So it’s almost like best friends and a dog and owner-type relationship.

That’s an interesting comparison, especially with thinking about one of my favorite scenes, which was them out in the desert burying Todd’s maid. Todd asks Jesse to grab some cigarettes from the glove box, and Jesse finds a gun, Todd talks him into putting it down via promises of beer and pepperoni pizza. How did you view that scene? Was Todd testing his prisoner? Or did he just forget about the gun?
Someone else asked me if I thought it was a test. I didn’t read it like that. I think Todd actually slipped up because he was having such a nice time, and then was genuinely hurt that Jesse would pull a gun on him. But, I feel like however anyone wants to take it, go for it.

What was it like getting back into the mindset of Todd? It’s been six or seven years since you last played him, and I was struck rewatching some of the final season episodes how young you were. And, like anyone, you’ve grown through different experiences and just the fact of getting older.
You can say it: I look different. [Laughs] There’s obviously an innocence with Todd, but once I spent some time with the script and watched some of those scenes from the last few seasons to just remember who Todd was and talked to Vince, I was surprised at how easy it was to slip back into. It was a long time ago, but it was a very big part of my life. The scripts were so well-written and so vivid and in a lot of ways it felt like we picked up right where we left off. But I was fairly nervous that first day, just to see if I could do it again. It took a few takes, but fortunately — or unfortunately — Todd was still lurking in there somewhere.

What do you like about playing Todd? Like you said, he has this innocence to him despite all of the terrible things he’s done. That’s on full display in one of the best small moments when he’s driving out to the desert and he signals to a trucker in hopes of getting him to honk.
I like the fact that he’s so hard to peg or define. As I was saying, about feeling closure at the end of the series and not feeling like I had too many more questions about him, but then reading the script, I was all of a sudden flooded with questions about Todd. He’s a person who the more you look into, the more confusing he becomes. Obviously, he’s stunted and missing some critical piece that allows him to understand the weight of his actions. He does show empathy at times, but then at other times if it’s justified in his mind for whatever reason it’s really plain. He’s got some sort of survival instinct; I’m sure his childhood was not what anyone would want. I love the sort of rabbit hole you can go down in trying to figure him out.

You’ve played so many different types of characters over your career so far, but do you find a Todd or Robert in Black Mirror, these hard-to-peg people who aren’t a traditional protagonist, to be more interesting to play?
Definitely. Even starting with Friday Night Lights, what I was drawn to with Landry, especially in high school movies and shows, is it’s tough to get past stereotypes. He was not a nerd as you’ve seen before, he was his own unique person, and I’m drawn to that, characters you haven’t seen before and you can’t put in a certain box and write off and know them entirely.

You mention Friday Night Lights, between that and Breaking Bad, you’ve been a major part of two all-time great shows, and early in your career. So, with some distance now from when you worked on them, is it surreal to think about how lucky you’ve been?
Yeah, I think I should retire soon — quit while I’m ahead. I have no idea how it happened. Right place, right time, right part, right time. It’s just such incredible training ground being on a series like Friday Night Lights or Breaking Bad; it definitely shifted my focus and perception of what I thought acting was. I learned so much on both of those shows.

Speaking of incredible training grounds, you’re in The Irishman (streaming Nov. 27 on Netflix), which has premiered to rave reviews. What was that experience like working with so many legends? Just looking around and seeing Martin Scorsese and Al Pacino and Robert De Niro.
It’s like having a ticket to the Legendary Movie Mobsters Ball every day. Again, it’s just crazy the endless difference a day and a phone call can make and just totally alter your life in a matter of seconds. It’s really difficult to describe. I’m still a little speechless over the whole experience if you can’t tell. I was really excited to find that, aside from the incredible actors they are and the unbelievable director that Scorsese is, they’re all extremely welcoming and do their best to put everyone at ease. It was just so much fun to be a fly on the wall and watch some takes during scenes that I wasn’t in. I’ll never forget a second of it.”

Tuesday October 15, 2019

USA debuts Treadstone tonight. “From a producer of the Bourne franchise, Treadstone is an action-packed thriller set amidst the CIA black ops program Operation: Treadstone. Exploring both the origin of the infamous covert program, as well as connecting to present-day special ops, Treadstone follows the action across the globe -- from D.C. to Berlin to Paris and beyond. Using a mysterious behavior-modification protocol, Treadstone turns its recruits around the world into nearly-superhuman assassins, following sleeper agents as they’re mysteriously “awakened” to resume their dangerous missions.”

USA also premieres a new season of The Purge tonight.

A new season of Arrow premieres tonight on The CW.

Jennifer Aniston has joined Instagram. Yay.

“Kathleen Zellner, the lawyer for Making a Murderer subject Steven Avery, has filed a new brief at the Wisconsin Appeals court to grant Avery a new trial or evidentiary hearing in the murder case of Teresa Halbach. According to WBAY, the attorney filed the 135-page document with the Wisconsin Appeals Court District II on Monday. In the brief, she presented 10 “complex legal issues” that she asked the court to consider, including that the circuit court “abused its discretion” in hearing Avery’s requests for additional scientific testing, that it failed to address Avery’s claims that he had ineffective counsel at trial, and that they made a mistake by not granting Avery’s supplemental motion regarding the human bones found in the Manitowoc County gravel pit. The entire brief can be read here.”

Comedian Sarah Silverman is filming a new late-night pilot for HBO, the network announced Monday. According to HBO, the untitled late-night project will see Silverman “weighing in on the mishigas of the week and taking live video calls.” Judd Apatow and Amy Zvi will serve as executive producers on the pilot alongside Silverman. In addition, Silverman will also record a new stand-up comedy special for the premium cable network. No details about the special were announced.”

Mike Johnson and Demi Lovato are apparently no longer dating, because the Bachelorette castoff just asked Keke Palmer out on a date on national television. During an appearance on Strahan, Sara and Keke on Monday, Johnson, 31, told Palmer, 26, ‘I made a mistake. I don’t like dating in public, but if I were to ask you if we can go on a date in public …’”

Chicken Soup for the Soul continues its push into entertainment programming. The entertainment-focused company has launched its own film and TV studio, Landmark Studio Group, and appointed former IDW Entertainment president David Ozer as its CEO. As part of its launch, Landmark — which will create and develop franchises for multiple platforms — has set its first development slate, teaming with the likes of Ellen Pompeo, Ice-T and Michael Bay for two scripted series and a docuseries. Like Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, Landmark and its development slate is being funded by Cole Strategic Partners. Landmark will develop, produce and distribute all of the IP it creates and will serve as an independent studio that will not only provide content for Chicken Soup for the Soul's growing VOD platforms (like Crackle) as well as outside outlets. Stand-up comedy specials and animated series are also in the works.”

Adam Rippon will serve up a daily dish of ‘useless’ throwback celebrity moments for Quibi, the short-form mobile TV streaming service set to hit phones in the spring of 2020. The former Olympic ice skater will host This Day in Useless Celebrity History, produced by Hearst Magazines’ originals division, for Quibi’s Daily Essentials news and entertainment lineup. Rippon will take viewers on a ride down memory lane, revisiting stars’ breakups, makeups and other outrageous events from the early 2000s to the present day. Rippon promises that the celebrity rehash show for Quibi will be ‘a witty retrospective look at pop culture.’ The show is scheduled to run Monday-Friday and premiere in April 2020. Each ‘day in history’ will coincide with the actual calendar date that the event occurred.” With each new announcement, it becomes more likely that this Quibi will not be around long. I’ll eat crow if I’m wrong, but this sure doesn’t smell like a huge success to me.

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Per Deadline, “ABC has handed a series order to The Hustler, a new mystery-based game show hosted by Craig Ferguson. The series from All3Media-backed Studio Lambert is set to begin production this fall, with an airdate to be announced later.

“Based on an original format by British TV and radio host Richard Bacon, each episode follows five contestants as they collaborate to answer a series of trivia questions, with the goal of building a collective prize pot that increases with each correct answer. The catch? One of the five contestants, the Hustler, already knows the answers but must keep their identity a secret in order to have a shot at winning the grand prize. Throughout each episode, two contestants are eliminated anonymously by the Hustler, leaving three remaining contestants – the Hustler and two others – who must collectively decide who they think the Hustler is. If they are right, they share the prize pot. If the two contestants are wrong, the Hustler goes home with the full cash reward.

“Bacon serves as an executive producer along with Studio Lambert company founder Stephen Lambert, EVP of Studio Lambert USA Jack Burgess, creative director Tim Harcourt and Susan House.

“‘It’s rare and exciting to have a mystery-based game show that employs viewers and contestants to tap into their sleuth skills,’ said Rob Mills, SVP Alternative Series, Specials and Late Night at ABC Entertainment. ‘This fun new format is the perfect addition to our dynamic game show lineup, and Craig’s unmatched wit and humor make him the ideal host. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome him back to ABC.’

“Emmy-winning game show host, actor, writer, comedian Ferguson’s U.S. breakout came as Mr. Wick in ABC’s The Drew Carey Show, a role he played from 1996-2003. He went on to host CBS late-night talker The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson from 2005-14. Ferguson most recently returned to his stand-up roots with Craig Ferguson: Hobo Fabulous, a six-episode hybrid stand-up/documentary show, set to start streaming next month on the Comedy Dynamics Network.

“‘Studio Lambert and format creator Richard Bacon are incredibly excited to partner with ABC on The Hustler,’ said Studio Lambert CEO Stephen Lambert. ‘With Craig in the driver’s seat, the comedic beats of this game are very much to the fore. We think ABC viewers will laugh a lot but also be shocked and surprised by the twists of this game, which invites contestants and viewers to play detective, solving a whodunit or, in this case, a whoisit.’”

Sounds absolutely awful.

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“Jason Sudeikis is bringing his Ted Lasso character to Apple’s upcoming streaming service.

Variety has learned that Apple TV Plus has given a series order to Ted Lasso, on which Sudeikis will star in addition to writing and executive producing. In the series, Sudeikis plays Lasso, an idealistic all-American football coach hired to manage an English football club despite having no soccer coaching experience at all. This marks Sudeikis’ first regular onscreen television role since he left Saturday Night Live in 2013. He previously voiced the main character in the Fox live-action/animation hybrid series Son of Zorn in 2016.

“The character originally appeared in an NBC Sports video in 2013 to help promote the fact that NBC Sports would begin broadcasting English Premier League games. It proved so successful that NBC brought the character back the following year to serve as an analyst.

“Sudeikis co-wrote the pilot along with Bill Lawrence, with Lawrence also set to executive produce under his Doozer Productions banner. Doozer’s Jeff Ingold will also executive produce, with the company’s Liza Katzer co-executive producing. Warner Bros. Television, where Doozer is under an overall deal, will serve as the studio.

“Since leaving SNL, Sudeikis has primarily focused on films, starring in comedies such as Horrible Bosses and its sequel, We’re the Millers, The Angry Birds Movie and its sequel, Booksmart, Downsizing, and Colossal. He has also appeared on shows such as Eastbound & Down, The Last Man on Earth, and Detroiters in addition to sporadic guest appearances on SNL.

“Apple TV Plus is set to launch on Nov. 1. Shows that will be available upon the launch of the streamer include The Morning Show starring Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, See starring Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard, and For All Mankind starring Joel Kinnaman.”

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More Succession post-mortem because it’s the best show on television: “First things first, Jesse Armstrong is not going to clear up the deus ex machina in Succession’s season two finale.

“Though the HBO showrunner and his writers’ room dropped a bombshell on audiences on Sunday during the season ender — which revealed that once-dutiful son Kendall (Jeremy Strong) is whistleblowing on his father’s role in covering up sexual misconduct at his company — he politely declines to discuss details of Kendall’s plot, or Greg’s (Nicholas Braun) involvement, or Logan’s (Brian Cox) episode-ending smile in an interview the morning after Sunday’s finale. ‘I kind of feel like it’s nice to be able to have your own take on that stuff,’ he says.

“Even without digging into the writers’ room’s intentions for the show’s latest twist, Armstrong has some behind-the-scenes information to convey. That Mediterranean yacht? Director Mark Mylod slept onboard nominally to get some morning and evening shots. From whence came the line that delighted many on Twitter, ‘Sails out, nails out, bro?’ That was a Jesse Armstrong original. Armstrong’s favorite Succession meme? The ‘kiss me daddy’ remix.

“During his interview with The Hollywood Reporter following This Is Not for Tears, Armstrong also discussed improvisation in the finale, the yacht’s connection with real-life media moguls and the extent to which he’s thought about season three, expected in 2020:

First of all, was Kendall planning on taking down his father all season long or did he just take the opportunity when he had it?

I hope I won’t be too frustrating to you because I’m happy to chat about the show but I take the kind of “Oh, I’d rather not sort of talk out the details” [approach]. I kind of feel like it’s nice to be able to have your own take on that stuff. I’d rather have people give me their thoughts about [what happens. In the [writers] room we [have our own ideas] and then sometimes even the actors have a different take on that stuff, so different interpretations are valid.

My next question might elicit the same response but I’ll try it anyway: When did Greg get involved in Kendall’s plot?

Their friendship is a nice element of the show and there’s a warmth there but again, it feels like the show was a good expression of what we want to put out there on the whole so I hope that isn’t too frustrating.

When Logan smiled at the end of Kendall’s press conference, was that scripted or was that a Brian Cox flourish?

That’s in the script, but I think Brian performs it even more brilliantly than anything I could have suggested. But that was something he aimed for.

How early did you and the writers’ room know that you wanted Kendall to try his hand at taking down his father again?

I like to know where we’re going. It’s not the sort of show where we [want to confound] the audience even though there’s quite a few questions of interpretation left, like we mentioned, so I like to know. I think that although it’s fun to have a twist at the end, I hope it also has that clunk of almost inevitability. So we knew what Kendall’s story was and how to fit it into the rest of the family from pretty early on.

When Tom had a fight with Shiv in the finale, why was it important that he assert his real position on her request in the first season to have an open marriage?

In general, it’s a feature of relationships, isn’t it, that we live in a kind of palimpsest, with layers of relationship going back for years. When we think about doing a show which has a bit of breadth and all this [space] to portray the characters, you get to do more [deep work] in the relationships. It’s interesting to me in other shows when echoes, little bits from the past, shine through again. I think that’s what we feel about that bit.

That one of the most dramatic episodes of the season took place on a yacht seemed significant to me, given how many major moments have happened on yachts with media moguls like Rupert Murdoch and Robert Maxwell. Were you thinking back to real-life media icons when you chose the setting?

I think we all wanted [the finale] on a boat and obviously we knew the [media-mogul connection], especially the British ones, like the history of Maxwell and other famous meetings on mogul yachts, so we weren’t unaware of those resonances. It felt like a perfect place for us to be.

What was the origin of the line ‘sails out, nails out’?

I think that’s my coinage. But I do remember when we were looking at the history and whatever other behavior is going on [on yachts] — although kind of anything goes sometimes — they are quite careful of their decks. So that detail is real.

To what extent was the conversation around the table at the yacht as to who should be sacrificed scripted, and to what extent was it improvised?

That’s all scripted. We improvise, but it’s really to give the show a certain amount of looseness and possibility and sometimes we get an extra line [out of it]. That hewed pretty closely to the script, but not tightly: We do scripted takes, and then we do loose takes and we take fragments from here and there, but with something like that, you wouldn’t get that result from an [improvised] situation.

Were there any particularly fun moments to shoot on the yacht given the bucolic nature of that setting?

It was filmed in the Croatian Mediterranean and it wasn’t the worst place to be, but me and [writer] Tony Roche, day by day we were usually in the deep hull of the ship where they had a screening room. It was the most stable place and we were looking at lines and that kind of thing, so I didn’t get a suntan myself, but it was a nice spot. I think Mark Mylod, the director, stayed overnight on the cruise: He told us it was so he could get some nice shots in the early morning and at night. I’m not sure if that was the whole story, but he stayed on the boat.

So many dramatic moments happened in last season’s finale — did you feel any pressure this time around?

In the abstract, I did. Me and Mark Mylod felt it. I just felt [about last season’s finale], “I think that’s pretty much as good as I can give,” and I think Mark Mylod was proud a bit, too. We did, from time to time, look at each other with a [glance that said], to me, “Can we do one like that again?” So I did feel a certain amount of pressure. When you’re writing, you’re usually quite tormented by the feeling that what you’re doing is no good anyway so it’s not an unusual feeling.

Did you pay any attention to all the memes that really began in earnest this season and if so, do you have a favorite? 

It’s lovely. I can sense that the show has hit with some people but it’s just not that useful going into the writers’ room and thinking about the show while having a ton of other stuff in your head. However, people have been sending me stuff, and the one with the Daddy’s Kiss song was a remarkable piece of production and writing. I did clock that one.

How involved were you in the decision to get Pusha T to remix the show’s theme song?

That was Nick Britell. It was his suggestion, he’s got much more [sophisticated] musical tastes. We chatted about it when he had the idea, but that was really his call.

It’s one thing to read a show’s script and quite another to see how it’s translated to the screen. Do you have a few favorite moments of film from season 2?

That’s a good question. It feels invidious to pick among them. There are moments that you write and you hope that the electricity will be there like it feels it is on the page. Off the top of my head, Shiv and Logan talking to each other in the first episode, I remember feeling affected by; we were very pleased by how the end sequence of the episode in Hungary worked out, around the dining room table, which felt like an interesting place for us to go and I remember the shot where we felt like we got it; and then in episode four, the piece where Shiv and Kendall have a moment of closeness at the end of the episode, which comes as rather a surprise. It was very affecting on set to see those two brilliant actors drop some layers in front of your eyes. And then of course a bunch from last night’s episode: there were some bits which were memorable, among a ton of others.

Have you started thinking about season three yet?

No, no, I’ve started thinking about it a lot. The writers room won’t convene for a while but it will [feel] quite soon. Definitely we have some thoughts and feelings.

Can you tell us anything about what to expect?

Well, no, not that I’m going to say right now. Sorry.”

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One more for good measure (per Vulture): “‘There was a certain inevitability to it,’ Brian Cox says of Succession’s season-two finale. After the Roy family gathers on a yacht in the Mediterranean to choose their blood sacrifice, Logan Roy picks his son Kendall to take the fall for Waystar Royco’s cruise scandal — unless he actually picks him to commit patricide? It all depends on how you see Logan’s ever-so-slight grin in the episode’s final shot, as he watches Kendall declare his father a cancer to the family’s empire, implicating him in the scandal that threatens to destroy the company he built. ‘Logan is really setting Kendall up to become the man he has not been,’ Cox says. The smile, then, is a moment of pride.

Succession’s second season concluded Sunday night, but the 73-year-old actor has a busy week ahead: In glasses and a South Texas drawl, he’s currently starring as Lyndon B. Johnson in The Great Society on Broadway. The play, Robert Schenkkan’s sequel to All the Way, doesn’t have a lot of victories: In The Great Society, LBJ is embroiled in the Vietnam War, has shouting matches with Martin Luther King Jr. about integration, and quarrels with Bobby Kennedy over the 1968 election. Over the phone recently, Cox talked about the parallels between the irascible Roy patriarch and the towering good ol’ boy president. ‘When you listen to these wonderful DVDs called The LBJ Tapes, as I did in my research, they were fascinating about how Johnson operated. I was very much taken by that. [The Great Society] seemed to be a no-brainer, though quite frankly, I could’ve done with a little bit more leeway,’ he says with a laugh. ‘I’m going between Logan Roy and LBJ!’ Vulture talked to Cox about his presidential run on Broadway, the shocking twist at the end of Succession’s finale, and why the white male is past his ‘sell-by date.’

When you found out how Succession would end this season, what was your first thought?
It was inevitable but surprising, in terms of Kendall having been so careful through the whole second season. He’s shied away from his strength, Kendall has. Logan knew in order to sacrifice himself, he would have to do it through his family. He figured that the one chance he had was to make Kendall into the killer. That’s why, at the end, he smiles. He’s achieved what he was after. “My son has come of age. He’s now officially a killer.” [Laughs.]

Tell me more about that smile in the final shot.
It was gratifying to play because once Logan received the death sentence, it was important to him who’d deliver the death. He wanted to keep it within the family, as opposed to it coming from outside of the family. The smile is him saying, “Finally, my son is stepping up to the plate, doing what he needs to do to run a business. Finally, he’s the heir apparent to Waystar Royco.” In a way, it’s a completion. But there’s life in the old dog yet! We’ve got quite a journey now. Logan has to reclaim himself. He needs to even the odds.

But why Kendall? Why do you think Logan trusted Kendall to deliver that death sentence over Shiv or Roman?
Roman’s not such a — excuse the expression — fuck knuckle as people make him out to be. There’s more to Roman than meets the eye. He’s actually compassionate. It’s wonderful to see him defend Gerri in that episode. The way he questions what has just happened to him in Turkey, the way he sees through that [bad deal]. Roman has a particular vision, which Logan acknowledges.

He’s certainly not going to set up Siobhan to do it, because she’s in a fragile state in terms of her own marriage. Logan’s eldest son, Connor, God bless him, is far too much of a flake! [Laughs.] He would’ve taken the hit only for the money. It’s very, very thought through, very carefully done.

Do you see Logan as the malignant presence the shareholders seem to think he is?
Of course I don’t. They’ve had good times, the shareholders have. They’ve done very well off of Logan Roy. His fault was that he turned a blind eye. It was also a fault of the time. These assaults, this whole cruises thing, happened many years before, but he overlooked it. That’s what’s undone him. He himself is actually quite Puritan. He says it’s hard for him to take his own shirt off with his wife! He has not attended to what was vile within his firm, with Mo Lester and all of that. Logan’s a bastard, but he’s not an indecent bastard.

Tell me this: How many times did Matthew Macfadyen have to snatch that chicken from your plate and take a bite from it?
[Laughs] He had to only do it a couple of times. They cut a wonderful bit, which quite rightly was edited out, where Matthew walks away and has a moment of panic. He says, “Is he looking? What’s he doing? What’s the old boy doing?” They cut those lines, but it was quite good.

Do you think Marcia will come back to Logan?
I hope it will happen. He clearly loves Marcia. There’s this idea that he had this affair with Rhea, but I’m not sure that happened. Both Holly [Hunter] and I felt that hadn’t actually happened, that it was more in the minds of the kids. He does ask her to stay the night, but that was because he had plenty of rooms. His sell-by date on that sort of thing is near. The kids thinking they were having an affair was more them projecting.

That’s fascinating. The general consensus seems to be that Rhea and Logan were having an affair.
Of course people think that! That tells you more about those people than what actually happened. [Laughs.] That’s the giveaway. That’s frailty in human nature, I’m afraid.

Logan makes Kendall kick Naomi off the yacht. Was that Pierce-family resentment, or does something about her specifically set him off?
There was a scene where I actually talk to her. I hated the scene, it never made any sense [because] he would never talk to her directly. It was a family affair, and she was intruding. There wasn’t a reason for her to be there. The problem with her and Kendall, to Logan, is that they’re both addicts. He doesn’t necessarily think that will add up to a good relationship. I’m sure he understands that Kendall may love her, but given the fact that Kendall has to go into a new life, Naomi Pierce is not going to help.

Would Logan ever see Willa’s Broadway play, Sands?
Absolutely not. Absolutely not!

I’ll admit Sands was my favorite subplot this season. I want to see it!
I think his theatrical interests are at a minimum. He’d wish her well and good luck, but that’s it. I’m really curious about it, though. I want to know how good the play is. It may not be as bad as people have made out. I think there’s something quite considerable about Willa. She can’t be counted out. This is a girl who has tried to be a writer, she was forced to become an escort to [subsidize] her talent. In a way, I’m understanding of that. She might be a talent, but it’s a first-time play. She might be an extraordinary playwright for all we know!

You should never believe critics. They’re the last people you should believe. They’ve always got their own agenda. The problem with critics is that they’re [either] a force for good or they’re frustrated in their own lives. They’re naysayers. I think theatrical criticism has completely evaporated in the last years without Brooks Atkinson, Ken Tynan, [Harold] Hobson. I’m old enough to realize how great theater criticism was.

You have to tell me how luxurious that yacht was in real life.
Oh, ridiculously luxurious. I don’t know where it came from, but it was ridiculously luxurious.

I was talking to your Succession co-star Arian Moayed on opening night of The Great Society, and he said that you told him about the play right before you guys jumped into the Adriatic Sea together. Is that true?
Yeah, right before jumping into the Adriatic Sea, it was mentioned to me that this play was happening. At that time, it was going to be a dramatized reading. And then it ended up as what you saw.

What makes LBJ and this period of time interesting to you?
America has a checkered history, and it doesn’t ever quite own up to it. That’s what I loved about about Deadwood, the use of that lawlessness in terms of the Indian Wars. What I love about [Great Society playwright] Robert Schenkkan is that he really looked at Johnson, he really wanted to evaluate Johnson, to clear the debris that surrounded Johnson. Johnson did something that no other president could do. Great visionaries have a sense of the world at the grassroots, and Johnson certainly had that.

Do you think all powerful men have something in common? You’ve played a lot of them.
It’s a weird thing. As I get older — I’m still surviving, I’m still here — those parts become the key roles. I’ve been lucky enough to play them. I think it’s actually a reflection of my classical background, really, that’s allowed me the entry into those roles. They’re fascinating guys. The other thing now, especially in this age of diversity, they are like the white dinosaurs. There’s something fascinating and curious about that, dramatically.

Logan really bristles at that dinosaur label, and LBJ consciously made an effort to not be seen that way, no?
Exactly. Nobody thinks of themselves as dinosaurs. I’m talking about the objective view, but increasingly, it’s a world where the white male is past his sell-by date.

There’s an element of premonition about [The Great Society]. Robert has really tried to say, “You have to look at this guy.” Joseph Califano, who was domestic adviser to Johnson, came to see the show last night. He was raving about it and said, “My God, you’ve got him, you understand the guy.” He told me this wonderful story — and this is so typical of Johnson! — Califano had this son, Joe III. When Joe III was a little boy, he swallowed a whole bottle of aspirin. It was a panic within the household, and they had to pump it out. Johnson said, [uses Texas accent] “Where you been? I’ve been tryin’ to find you all mornin’!” Califano said, “I’m sorry, Mr. President, my son just swallowed a whole bottle of aspirin.” Johnson said, “He swallowed a whole bottle of — oh, I gotta deal with that now!” [Laughs.] So Johnson drafted up a bill. When you see a safety cap on a medicine bottle, that was Johnson.

I didn’t know that.
There’s certain things that really get me about Johnson. I love the fact that he was a schoolteacher. That’s how he started out. He would’ve been horrified by what’s going on at the border, because that’s where he was! That’s where his schoolkids were, that’s where his school was.

My personal favorite is how he looked. He looked like my dad. My dad wasn’t tall, but they [both] had the dark-brown eyes, dark-brown hair. They could’ve been brothers. I was always predisposed to Johnson because he looked like my dad. [Laughs.]

When you’re about to go onstage, do you see your dad in yourself?
Yeah, I can see the old man. My dad was slightly better looking than I was, but yeah. [Laughs.]

How did you do get the southern accent down?
I got it from the tapes. When you listen to the tapes, he talks to people differently. There’s a wonderful conversation between him and Jackie Kennedy about a month after the assassination. Jackie, she wasn’t a boo-hooer. She was in a state of shock after, as you see clearly in that famous picture of Johnson being sworn in and Jackie still standing there with a blood-stained outfit. A month afterward, he’s talking to Jackie and he’s very warm and she completely melts with him. It’s extraordinary when you hear it. She does this very revealing thing; she says, “I just want to thank you. You’ve written to me more than Jack ever wrote to me!’ That was who Johnson was. And he was a bit of a lady’s man, as history has revealed.

Succession is a show about the superrich. What’s your biggest extravagance?
My biggest extravagance? My biggest extravagance is probably having an ice cream. [Laughs.] I like vanilla. You know what a brown cow is?

No, what’s that?
A brown cow is ice cream and Coca-Cola. I have it with Coke Zero — I can’t take it any other way because I’m diabetic.

The Roys were barely in New York this season. Which location was your favorite?
It was wonderful going back home to my hometown, which was completely unexpected. To have an episode called Dundee is pretty amazing. I’m very fond of my hometown. It’s been a tough town, and it was a tough town. Winston Churchill was our MP, and we threw him out! Quite rightly, because he did a lot of strange things. I love going back to Dundee. But I do have to say, swimming in the Adriatic was pretty unbeatable. [Laughs.]”