Friday April 5, 2019

Killing Eve returns for its 2nd season on Sunday.

Here is a little more of what to expect from the show’s sophomore season.

And here is a review of season 2, in case you want someone else’s take before you dive in.

You’re now able to stream all 9 episodes of part 2 of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Netflix.

If you’re in the mood for something more serious, you can check out new Netflix docuseries Our Planet, which is also now available for your viewing pleasure.

And for some lighter fare, there’s always season 2 of The Tick on Amazon Prime, also now available to stream.

YouTube has released a trailer for season 2 of Cobra Kai. “Cobra Kai may have won the battle, but the war has just begun. Watch Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso pick up where they left off in Season 1, and train a new generation in the way of karate. But will their past get in the way of what truly matters? Catch a new season of Cobra Kai coming April 24.”

I finally watched the first episode of The Act on Hulu. I thought it was great and look forward to what’s ahead. Also, Patricia Arquette deserves more praise than she gets. She’s a fantastic actress. If you need proof, watch The Act and Escape At Dannemora, just for starters and tell me I’m wrong. More below on this one.

Here’s a trailer for new Netflix series The Society, which will be available to stream on May 10.

What lies ahead for season 2 of You?

THIS is the best photo the New York Post could find of Howard Stern?

Adam Sandler will host SNL for the first time next month. Sandler joined SNL as a writer in 1990, and was a member of the cast from 1991-95. He has only returned to studio 8H one time, for the show’s 40th anniversary in 2014.

Hallmark will air 40 new Christmas movies this year.

How Netflix’s You vs. Wild is different from Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.

Netflix has lassoed a leading man for its upcoming Cowboy Bebop series: John Cho (The Exorcist) will star in the streamer’s live-action version of the ’90s Japanese anime phenomenon. As previously reported, the future-set Cowboy Bebop— which snagged a 10-episode order in November — will follow a ragtag crew of bounty hunters on the run from their pasts as they hunt down the solar system’s most dangerous criminals. They’ll even save the world… for the right price. Cho will star as Spike Spiegel, described as an impossibly cool “cowboy” (aka bounty hunter) with a deadly smile, wry wit and style to spare. He travels the solar system with his ex-cop partner, Jet Black, pursuing the future’s most dangerous bounties with a combination of charm, charisma — and deadly Jeet Kune Do.”

Jussie Smollett is about to get sued by the City of Chicago and, in the process, he could effectively go on trial for allegedly faking the ‘attack.’ As we reported, the City of Chicago fired off a letter to Jussie's people, demanding $130,000 for the cost of investigating the case. Jussie's people told the City to go pound sand.  The City had to wait 7 days before filing a civil lawsuit against the actor. Well the 7 days has now passed, and the City has made its intentions clear -- they are going forward with the lawsuit. A spokesman for the City says, ‘Mr. Smollett has refused to reimburse the City of Chicago for the cost of police overtime spent investigating his false police report on January 29, 2019. The Law Department is now drafting a civil complaint that will be filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Once it is filed, the Law Department will send a courtesy copy of the complaint to Mr. Smollett's L.A. based legal team.’"

Olivia Jade believes parents ‘ruined everything’ for her, and rightfully so.

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Per Deadline, “Netflix has given a 10-episode series order to Q-Force, a gay spy half-hour adult animated comedy from Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner’s Hazy Mills, Mike Schur’s Fremulon, Gabe Liedman (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, PEN15) and Universal TV.

“This marks the first animated show and first streaming series for Hazy Mills.

“Written by Liedman, Q-Force is about a handsome secret agent (I role I hear is being earmarked for Will & Grace star Hayes) and his team of fellow LGBTQ superspies. Constantly underestimated by their colleagues, the members of Q-Force have to prove themselves time and again as they embark on extraordinary professional (and personal) adventures.

“Liedman executive produces and will showrun. Schur, Hazy Mills’ Hayes and Milliner and 3 Arts’ David Miner also executive produce. Universal TV co-produces with Hazy Mills, Schur’s Fremulon and 3 Arts Entertainment.

“Hayes and Milliner had been mulling the idea for a series about a gay spy for a long time.

“‘A spy TV series is so tough, because they’re so expensive,’ Milliner said. ‘We were thinking how do we get to do gay spy and every week, and the only way to do that is animated, because we can do all of the fun parts of a James Bond film. We can travel, we can have big chase sequences; animation is allowing us that freedom.’

“Said Hayes, ‘Also, I don’t know that the studios would greenlight a feature with a leading character that’s gay in that genre. Hopefully they will, but that doesn’t seem like right now.’

“Added Milliner, ‘It does seem like it’s one of the last bastions of masculinity that seems like we can’t break the rule of who gets to play that part.’

“As for teaming up with top comedy writer-producer Schur, that happened fast and stemmed from the fact that both Hazy Mills and Schur are under deals at Universal TV and are based on the Universal lot.

“‘I’ve been friends with Mike for a long, long, long time, and I was literally driving my car to work, and he was walking,’ Hayes said. “‘ pulled over and I rolled down my window and I said. “Hey Mike, would you want to work on something together?” He’s like, “What is it?’”And I said “Gay James Bond”, and he said, “Yeah, I would do that”. So that’s how it all kind of started.’”

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Per Vulture, “Dee Dee Wanted Her Daughter to Be Sick, Gypsy Wanted Her Mom Murdered.” Spelled out in the headline for journalist Michelle Dean’s blockbuster BuzzFeed News article, the case of Dee Dee and Gypsy Blanchard sounds deceptively simple: a mother with Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a daughter driven to kill in order to escape the abuse, and a world fooled by the pair’s deception until it was too late. But as millions of readers learned, the minds of these two women, and the story of their lives and Dee Dee’s death, were far more complicated.

“The same can be said about The Act, Hulu’s haunting new show about the Blanchard case based on Dean’s article and featuring without-a-net performances by Patricia Arquette and Joey King as Dee Dee and Gypsy. (Its fourth episode, which was written by Dean, airs this Wednesday.) In an arrangement Dean describes with a laugh as ‘unusual,’ she helped adapt her own article to the screen, tapping Nick Antosca, creator of the terrifying horror-anthology series Channel Zero, to be her co-creator and co-showrunner.

“It’s a killer combination. Antosca brings an eye for surreal horror, attention to the psychology of characters in complicated relationships, and experience behind the scenes. Dean contributes rigorously reported and extensively researched knowledge of the case, including interviews with several of the key players, as well as a strong sense of the strengths and weaknesses of the true-crime genre from her previous career as a critic. Add a predominantly female cast, writers room, and roster of directors and the show stands out among its peers even before you actually, you know, watch it.

“But it’s the end result that really sinks its sugar-rotted teeth into you. Dreamlike pacing, disturbing imagery, and powerful acting add up to one of the strongest true-crime series since ACS: Versace this time last year. At the heart of it all: a mentally ill woman and her abused child, trapped in a candy-coated world where the lines between mother and daughter, deceiver and deceived, and perpetrator and victim are blurred beyond recognition.

“We spoke to Dean over the phone from Los Angeles and Antosca over coffee in New York about the unique thinking and process behind their ‘hybrid’ collaboration:

Michelle, this is your first television project, and it’s in the very crowded field of true crime.

Michelle Dean: In the run-up, I didn’t expect the article to be optioned. I didn’t have a TV agent or a film agent. I was just sort of operating as Cultural Critic Number 17. [Laughs.] When this went super-viral, I started to get the Hollywood calls. It became very clear, very quickly, from a number of different producers, that they saw so much potential in the story that someone would do it with or without me. It felt like there was something to be added in having somebody who was super-familiar with the events as a creative force in the show.

I’ve thought a lot about the true-crime trend, about what I like about it and what I don’t, and I wanted to do something that wasn’t just about the wigs. That’s the shorthand I use. Like, there’s a lot of adaptations of true stories where they spend a lot of money on the wigs, and they thought about the wigs from every angle: “Did the wig look like the real person?” We never really thought about that — beyond, of course, asking Joey to shave her head for us, which she did with alacrity.

In adaptations, I’ve often felt that they weren’t digging as deeply into the psychology of the character as they could, in part because they were limited in the specifics that they knew. I wanted this to be something that was more psychologically complex, which is why I chose Nick as my partner. He also traffics in that kind of work, and obviously he’s an experienced showrunner. That pairing led us to what I think is an idiosyncratic true-crime show.

Nick, your most recent project, Channel Zero, was a horror show. So is Chucky, the Child’s Play series you’re working on with creator Don Mancini. How much of that did you carry over into doing a show based on a true story?

Nick Antosca: My instincts are to make things that feel like dreams and nightmares, whether consciously or not. I find myself trying to capture an atmosphere that feels at home in the horror genre. I don’t think of The Act as something radically different from Channel Zero.

When the Blanchards’ pink house on that cul de sac first appeared, I thought back to some of the key images in Channel Zero and thought, Yep, same energy.

Antosca: Yeah, that pink house is the key image of the show. When I read Michelle’s original BuzzFeed story, which is how I learned about the case — I read it when it came out, along with 6 million other people — there’s a picture of that house, and that’s what you take away from it. What was it like to live in that pastel nightmare, in a cage of lies, for all these years?

In both cases, I’m interested in the characters. I’m curious about the characters. And I think we all approached The Act as a hybrid. It’s a coming-of-age story. It’s a thriller. It’s a character study. And at the same time, it’s a psychological horror story.

Michelle mentioned that’s the kind of thing that made her choose you as a partner, and which she hoped her knowledge of the case would help with as well.  

Antosca: I mean, she interviewed Gypsy. She interviewed her family. She interviewed doctors. She interviewed everybody she could talk to. She did a year of research. She has a thousand pages of medical records, court transcripts, all that stuff. She’s an expert on the case, and that was incredibly useful in collaborating. She and I came up with the structure of the season and co-wrote the first episode, and we had the writers room together. Then it was a normal TV writers-room process — you know, break it in the room — but we were always able to rely on her specific expertise in the case.

That level of involvement does set it apart, even from other true-crime adaptations on which the original reporter serves in a role like executive producer.

Dean: That was deliberate. I sold the show to producers who really did want me involved. It’s a long story and it’s boring Hollywood machinery, but the idea was always that it would be an anthology series, and it would have something to do with crimes that had a particularly strong element of deception and performance, hence giving the title The Act some weight.

The double meaning took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out, by the way.

Dean: People are divided. Some people find it very clever, and other people are like, “Now when we look you up on the internet, we get the ACT.” [Laughs.] But yeah, I’m incredibly lucky to have been allowed to participate. It had to do with having partners who cared about having my participation happen at a high level. It’s unusual. Without trying to sound too self-serving, I think it’s something Hollywood should experiment with more. It’s worked so well in the comedy space to bring in people who aren’t necessarily career TV writers — people who’ve done other things, and then ended up being, I dunno, Lena Dunham or Issa Rae.

One of the idiosyncrasies of our show is the fact that it came from a collaboration between — now I’m going to sound like Janet Malcolm — the journalist and the showrunner. [Laughs.] That we were conceiving of it creatively together was an actual strength. Both Nick and I were never really that interested in making just a straight murder show. There is a version of the show that would be really focused on what happened one night, and how the cops caught them, or something. That was never of much interest to us. I’m curious about how we got there, and I’m curious about where we go. And the show reflects that curiosity.

In addition to doing the reporting on which the show is based, you’re also familiar with television from the other side, as a writer and critic. How much of that did you carry over into the show?

Dean: Writing about TV was the only way in which I thought I was ever going to get into TV at first. I really do care about the medium. I think it holds a lot of interesting storytelling possibilities, because — although they’re now sometimes denigrated — I was such a lover of the early male anti-hero shows. I love The Sopranos and Deadwood. That HBO renaissance stuff is some of my favorite art ever produced. I was curious about the ability of TV to portray a really complex story, which obviously we had here.

It’s true that sometimes I’m looking at it from a critical angle and not a storytelling angle, and I had some stuff to learn about how stories are built. I certainly had a lot to learn about how the mechanics of how TV is built, which is fascinating — and makes me regret that I wrote about TV before. [Laughs.] I didn’t really have a concept of how a TV show is put together, and Nick led me through that. We ended up with this big machine of a show that had all of these ingredients and collaborators. We had a lot of young filmmakers contributing to the voice of the show. The majority of our episodes are directed by women. Our writers room is majority women. Those things helped build the show out into what it is.

That’s another thing that sets The Act apart, maybe more than anything else: It’s a show almost exclusively about women, written mostly by women, directed mostly by women, with a woman co-creator and co-showrunner, who’s also the woman who wrote the article it’s based on.

Dean: It has a slightly different feel. “Intimate” is the word I often hear, like, around our world of executives. [Laughs.] It was a very conscious choice, in part because of the nature of the story.

Antosca: We took it from real life. It’s two women, in a house, for many years — that’s the core of the story. And their neighbors were mostly women — the Chloë Sevigny and AnnaSophia Robb characters are composites of neighbors who lived throughout the community. It was important to have a mother-daughter counterpart to the Dee Dee and Gypsy story.

Dean: The nature of the story is about mothers and daughters, and there’s a specificity to that experience — especially this idea that mothers dress their daughters up as kind of their dolls, which a lot more people than Gypsy would report that as being their experience, right? And also, some things about the tropes of good mothers that trapped Dee Dee.

Antosca: When I read Michelle’s article, I didn’t take away from it, “Oh, this is a lurid true-crime story.” I took away, “This is a powerful story about a young woman discovering who she really is and doing whatever she can, using the only tools she has, to escape the prison of lies she’s been trapped in.” Imagine how unstable your identity would be, how your sense of self would be destroyed and malleable, if you were raised like that and shaped like that — a case of long-term medical child abuse and radical gaslighting.

Gypsy is such a complicated character. She’s deceiving the world along with her mom, but she’s deceiving herself too. Ultimately, she’s using the skills of deception that her mom taught her, which are the only thing she knows at that point, against her mom. She had access to countless drugs, so she could have poisoned her mom. Or she could have stabbed her herself. But she couldn’t do it, because she loved her mom. So she had to use the skills that her mom gave her to reach into the outside world and bring somebody else in to kill her.

Dean: When I interviewed her she would always say, “My mom was my best friend.” Which is really sad. The protective impulse that is still in her, and the ways in which it trapped her, is something I think about a lot.

Antosca: We all felt in the writers room that Gypsy is a victim as well as a killer. I mean, there’s no question. The degree to which she was justified in killing her mother is a question that the audience can ask themselves. I personally have a great deal of sympathy. Yet we also felt that Dee Dee didlove her daughter. She just had an extreme pathology, and her love came out in a way that was poisonous.

Dee Dee is not portrayed unsympathetically. Her fear itself is real, even if the things she’s afraid of aren’t.

Dean: Patricia has been saying in interviews, it’s not so much that you are sympathetic [to Dee Dee], so much as you sit with her humanity. My proudest moments in the show are where I can see that so clearly — the understanding that Dee Dee was a person. To a certain extent, that’s also the trap that the abused child is in. They see their parent as a person, a whole person, and that makes them so much harder to leave even when things are getting really bad.

This goes back to your earlier question, but I made people in the writers room read a bunch of books about mothers. Like, we read Rachel Cusk and and Vivian Gornick and Adrienne Rich. [Laughs.] I know, right? I am proud of this fact. And Nick loves those books. There was a deep immersion in the idea that this was a specifically female experience, and that there was something worth surfacing there.”

From Refinery29: “How much does Maja Norberg (Hanna Ardéhn) know? The Swedish show Quicksand, out on Netflix April 5 with no U.S. promotion to alert viewers of its presence, will spend the entire season finding out.

“For the past nine months, 18-year-old Maja has sat in jail and gone over the events of the day that changed her life forever. The best-selling book Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito opens with a scene from that devastating day: Maja lies on the floor of a bloody classroom, the only uninjured student in a shooting that took the lives of her boyfriend and best friend. In the aftermath, Maja is charged with murder, thrusting her into a place of national scrutiny. Is Maja an innocent scapegoat, or is she a cold-blooded murderer? That's the question that propels Quicksand forward.

“‘I want to tell this story from the main character Maja’s perspective; her story raises questions about guilt, responsibility, punishment, and redemption,’ Camilla Ahlgren, the show's writer, said in a statement. Like the book, which is told in a close first-person, Quicksand will be filtered through Maja's often unreliable point of view.

“At first glance, Quicksand resembles the recent spate of foreign teen TV shows on Netflix. As with Baby and EliteQuicksand is set among the attractive students of an expensive private school. Economic disparity is woven into the characters' relationships — Maja is not as wealthy as her boyfriend, the son of the richest man in Sweden. These European shows also quickly dip into controversial subject matters: Baby depicted child prostitution; Elite featured teens with sex lives wilder than Skins.

“Yet in terms of depicting violence against young people, Quicksand stands alone among these racy shows. The book Quicksand was a best-seller in Europe and received acclaim for its exploration of social issues facing Sweden. But will the highly sensitive subject matter transfer to an American audience?

“While school shootings seem nearly omnipresent in the news, they're depicted with far less frequency in pop culture — and perhaps with good reason. Take the case of Paramount's messyHeathers reboot, which was set to premiere in 2018, as a prime example of how fraught depictions of school violence in pop culture are.

Heathers' subject matter of students killing other students kept colliding with current events in a way that felt too dark to be classified as entertainment. So, following the Parkland School shooting, the March 2018 Heathers premiere was postponed to July. And in July, the show was postponed to October following the school shooting in Santa Fe, TX. And in October, the show was pulled entirely following the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. Ultimately, the whole season was made available — but the more sensitive Heathers episodes, like two featuring students going through an active shooter drill, were only streaming.

“Netflix currently streams shows that depict school shootings. The first season of Netflix's The OA drew controversy for depicting a school shooting sequence in its finale. The shooter was thwarted via a supernatural deus ex machina. A group of students and a teacher perform a series of movements taught to them by an angel (really), and are able to distract the gunman. The first season of American Horror Story is also streaming on Netflix, which features a school shooter as a main character.

“We have yet to see how Quicksand handles its mass shooting. However, the existence of the show points to a reality: For better or for worse, gun violence in schools is seeping into works of pop culture. Our news is now our entertainment, too.”

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CBS Sports and Big3, the professional 3-on-3 basketball league founded by Ice Cube and Jeff Kwatinetz, have agreed to an exclusive deal for live broadcasts of Big3’s 2019 season.

“Games will be shown on CBS and CBS Sports Network, with more than 20 hours throughout the season on the former and more than 25 hours on the latter.

“The 2019 season, the league’s third, is set to open on CBS in primetime on Saturday, June 22. During the 11-week season, games will air live on CBS Television Network and CBS Sports Network on both Saturday and Sunday, with the championship game on September 1.

“CBS Sports Network will also air the Big3 Draft live on May 1, when 120 professional players will vie for only 31 open roster spots on 12 teams, expanded from eight the first two seasons.

“In 2018, according to today’s announcement, average arena attendance for the emerging league exceeded 14,000, up from 11,000 in its debut year. Big3 this year will play in 18 cities, up from 10 each of the two previous years. Three games will be played at each location, two days per weekend (for a total of six games).

“‘Since day 1, Big3 has always been about hard-nosed, fierce competition. Now we’re ramping it up with more teams, younger players, and a shiny new TV deal with CBS Sports,’ said Ice Cube. ‘Our first two years were about showing that our vision was credible. This year is about taking the game to a whole new level. This is a big deal.’

“‘The enthusiasm of the Big3 from sports pioneer Sean McManus and his team of, David Berson, Dan Weinberg, and Greg Trager was infectious,’ said Big3 Co-Founder Jeffrey Kwatinetz. ‘The future is bright for the Big3, and it’s an incredible advantage to build on the success of the Big3 by partnering with the number one network and drawing off the experience of the team that broadcasts some of the biggest and most prestigious championship games in sports.’

“‘We’re excited to partner with such an exciting and fast-growing league that showcases some of the most recognizable basketball players in the world,’ said Dan Weinberg, EVP of Programming, CBS Sports. ‘Adding multiple hours of Big3 coverage during the summer to both CBS and CBS Sports Network – including direct lead-ins – establishes more synergy and continuity between the broadcast and cable network, while delivering these action-packed games to a national audience throughout the entire season.’

“During the offseason, Big3 added some noteworthy players to the league, including Jason Terry, Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Kendrick Perkins, Shannon Brown, Gilbert Arenas, Al Jefferson and Lamar Odom. Returning standouts include Amar’e, Nate Robinson, Stephen Jackson, Carlos Boozer, Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis and Metta World Peace.

“Coaches include household names such as Julius Erving, Gary Payton, Nancy Lieberman, Rick Barry, Lisa Leslie, and George Gervin.

“In addition to Ice Cube and Kwatinetz, the league will continue to be guided by Chairman Amy Trask and Commissioner Clyde Drexler.”

Thursday April 4, 2019

Netflix has renewed After Life for a 2nd season. Season 2 will also consist of 6 episodes.

From Miles Teller’s Twitter: “The trailer for Too Old To Die Young has finally arrived. Check it out and watch the series premiere June 14th on Amazon Prime.”

Paramount’s revival of Wife Swap, premieres tonight.

Season 10 of Will & Grace wraps up tonight.

Jeff Probst on last night’s Survivor, including Lauren fainting and Eric’s elimination.

“Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin didn’t enter a plea [yester]day in their appearances in federal court in Boston in the widespread elite college bribery scheme they are both indicted in. But prison time for the Hollywood stars is looking more and more likely. Mindful of the intense spotlight that the case is under, prosecutors are determined to see the American Crime and Fuller House actors spent some time behind bars if they are found guilty, sources tell Deadline. As the duo exited the federal courthouse in Beantown in the past few minutes, the expected rap on the knuckles that such high-profile white collar crime defendants typically receive is increasingly not an option for authorities. The charges Huffman and Loughlin face carry a potential maximum sentence of five years. However, rumblings among law enforcement indicate that the actors are more than likely looking at a penalty of somewhere around six months to just under two years.”

I watched another episode and a half of Selling Sunset on Netflix. So far, the total number of properties sold stands at a whopping zero. What exactly are they “selling” here?

HBO is filling out the cast of its Mark Ruffalo-led limited series I Know This Much Is True with a star-packed list of actresses. The adaptation of Wally Lamb's best-selling 1998 novel will star Ruffalo (who is also an executive producer) as identical twin brothers. The cast will also feature Melissa Leo, Rosie O'Donnell, Archie Panjabi, Imogen Poots, Juliette Lewis and Kathryn Hahn. The six-episode series is described as a family saga following the parallel lives of identical twin brothers Dominick and Thomas Birdsey in an epic story of betrayal, sacrifice and forgiveness, set against the backdrop of 20th century America.”

CBS News on Wednesday confirmed that CBS This Morning co-host Bianna Golodryga has left the program, a sign that the network has begun to reshape its morning show as it grapples to win new A.M. viewership. ‘Bianna Golodryga has decided to leave the network,’ CBS News said in a statement. ‘We thank her for her many contributions during her time here at CBS News and wish her the very best in her future endeavors.’ The network confirmed that Golodryga had been offered another role that involved the morning show and other CBS News properties, but declined. ‘Some professional news: I’ve enjoyed my time @CBSNews, but it is now the right moment for me to move on,’ Golodryga said via a post on Twitter. ‘I’m grateful for the friends and colleagues I’ve worked with @CBSThisMorning, and wish everyone the best. On to the next chapter!’”

Dick Vitale is set to receive the lifetime achievement award at the 40th Annyal [sic] Sports Emmy Awards taking place on May 20th, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) announced Wednesday. Additionally, live sports events such as Super Bowl LIII and the XXIII Olympics were among those to receive nominations in 41 categories including live sports special, live sports series and playoff coverage, documentaries, new media and play-by-play announcer. ESPN led the networks with a whopping 56 nominations across its group. Read the full list of noms here.”

Discovery’s Food Network said it signed popular chef Alex Guarnaschelli to a new, exclusive deal that will encompass projects for both daytime and primetime as well as the cable outlet’s linear and digital extensions. The pact is just the latest in a series of new contracts recent set between Discovery and various members of its roster of talent. Under terms of the pact,, Guarnaschelli will host a new primetime series; join The Kitchen, a Saturday morning culinary-chat show as a recurring co-host; continue in her role as judge on the  competition series, Chopped; and create and host additional episodes of a digital series, Fix Me A Plate, which shows the chef going behind the scenes at some of her favorite restaurants.”

Former UFC champion Conor McGregor continues to stoop lower with his behavior. On Tuesday, McGregor posted a photo of archrival Khabib Nurmagomedov with his wife on their wedding day. In the tradition of their religion, Nurmagomedov’s wife’s face is covered.” The caption on his post read “Your wife is a towel mate.” Hey Connor, jump off a bridge and make the world a better place mate.

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, “BBC America's breakout spy-thriller Killing Eve is a drama about women on the brink, and that won't change when the critical darling returns for its second season April 7 with new showrunners Emerald Fennell and Sally Woodward Gentle taking over for in-demand creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

“The series, which centers on Eve Polastri's (Emmy winner Sandra Oh) MI6 pencil pusher with a hidden penchant for female serial killers and her ever-growing obsession with Jodie Comer's elegant, eccentric and deadly assassin Villanelle — became a breakout in season one when, in a rare move, its ratings actually grew every week throughout its eight-episode run. Critics and awards groups heaped praise on the series, which became an unexpected and engaging thriller centered around women, strength and sacrifice and gripped audiences with its unexpected brutality and humor.

“With creator Waller-Bridge taking a backseat in season two as she readies HBO's newly ordered comedy series Run as well as prepping the sophomore run of her cult Amazon comedy FleabagKilling Eve is staring down the barrel of a second run without the woman who crafted the award-winning debut. Instead, season one exec producer Sally Woodward Gentle will take on greater responsibility and serve as showrunner alongside franchise newcomer/actress-author Emerald Fennell (Call the Midwife). The duo plan to disrupt the status quo established by Waller-Bridge while still conforming to the "exceptional" set of rules that the latter used to build the world of the award-winning series.

“Both showrunners tell The Hollywood Reporter that shifting balances of power will be a large part of what drives the second season. Season two will pick up directly after the final moments of the freshman run finale. ‘It's such a gift, that ending, as both of them are in such crisis,’ Woodward Gentle says. Adds Fennell: ‘Villanelle has escaped a Russian prison, she's a machine. But she realizes for the first time that she's mortal. And Eve realizes for the first time that she can look someone in the eye and stab them, so that's an extraordinary position to come from.’

“The direction of season two was influenced by the shocking finale, which drove Fennell to explore the catastrophic impact Eve and Villanelle have on one another. ‘We can't cheat and skip forward and make everyone sexy and great again. If you get stabbed, even if you're Villanelle, you need to find a way out. I want to know how you clean your knickers, and the ins and outs of being a very vulnerable woman, and a woman who up until now has never let anything stand in her way.’

Killing Eve's first run was focused on women, both dangerous and benign, and the subverted expectations of just what that danger can look like. The follow-up season will turn that on its head by introducing brutally violent men who shake the foundations of Villanelle and the control she holds over the world in which she resides. There's a reality in that narrative for Fennell, who sees the story as a reminder to the audience and herself that ‘it just takes one nobody guy, a moment of vulnerability on your part, a slight misjudgment, and you're in serious trouble.’

“Fennell's 2015 novel Monsters — about two young children investigating a series of grim murders — shared a similar eye-catching bleakness and humor with Killing Eve and was one of the reasons why she got the call to serve as showrunner during production on season one. By the time the series had become a hit, the team already ‘had the hard conversations’ about the direction of the next season. ‘We'd already contracted her, she was trapped,’ Woodward Gentle recalls with a laugh.

“Fennell noted that the impact of these experiences is key to where viewers find Villanelle in the early part of season two as she tries to find safety in an unknown place while she searches for the woman who tried to kill her. ‘Suddenly we go from seeing the iconic heroine to the woman. What that does to both her and the audience seemed like the most fascinating thing to explore.’

“Waller-Bridge may be less involved but she left behind a strict set of rules that continue to shape the world of Killing Eve, including one golden rule that strikes to the heart of the sophomore season's examination of shifting power dynamics: no matter what danger she comes up against, Villanelle ‘never ever uses her beauty.’

“Without Waller-Bridge at the helm, the next chapter of Killing Eve was always going to be a challenging journey, but it's one that Fennell and Woodward Gentle dove into head-on. "If season one was about finding something, learning how to be exceptional, and falling in love, then [season] two is about the limits of that, and the limits of being a woman in an extraordinary position."

Killing Eve season two premieres on AMC and BBC America on April 7.”

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Per Deadline, “NBA Superstar Steph Curry is set to executive produce the ABC extreme mini-golf competition series Holey Moley from Eureka Productions and Unanimous Media. Rob Riggle (Night School, Midnight Run)  and Joe Tessitore (Monday Night Football) will offer up their play-by-play and commentary for the show while Jeannie Mai (co-host of The Real) will serve as a sideline correspondent.

“As the first series of its kind, the 10-episode mini-golf competition will showcase self-proclaimed mini-golf lovers from around the country as they compete head-to-head through an unparalleled, epic obstacle golf course. In addition to being executive producer, Curry will be the resident golf pro of the Holey Moley course and appear in every episode.

Holey Moley will focus on the family-favorite game of mini-golf with a twist. In each episode, 12 contestants will put their miniature golf—and physical—skills to the test and face off in never-before-seen challenges on a larger-than-life course. Mini-golf experts of all ages and backgrounds will try their luck on Holey Moley’s supersized holes. Every episode will consist of three rounds of golf, culminating with three finalists taking on the daunting ‘Mt. Holey Moley’ in a three-way contest. Ultimately, one winner per episode will take home the $25,000 prize, along with ‘The Golden Putter’ trophy and coveted ‘Holey Moley’ plaid jacket. Uniquely themed holes will be featured every week, along with special celebrity guest appearances and other surprises along the way.

Holey Moley is created by Eureka Productions and produced by Eureka Productions and Unanimous Media. Chris Culvenor, Paul Franklin, Wes Dening, Charles Wachter, Michael O’Sullivan, Jeron Smith, Erick Peyton and Stephen Curry serve as executive producers. Production begins this month in California. The show’s premiere will be announced at a later date. Holey Moley is an original format created by Chris Culvenor of Eureka Productions.”

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Per Variety, “NBC is bringing pint-sized competition show Small Fortune to the small screen, Variety has learned exclusively.

“The network has put out a six-episode order from Youngest Media for the series, which will be based on the popular U.K. format that launched on ITV in February. 

Small Fortune will see teams of three friends compete in tiny challenges for a chance to win big money. From a shrunk down Oval Office to a mini Arc de Triomphe, each team must prove their skills on playing fields that have been squeezed down to the size of a dollhouse. The challenges facing contestants will require considerable dexterity, as the slightest miscalculation or tremble may result in elimination.

“‘Small Fortune is a quirky, clever and hilarious concept with a surprising level of intensity that will keep viewers in suspense,’ said Meredith Ahr, President, Alternative and Reality Group at NBC. ‘As soon as we saw the format in action, we knew we wanted to bring it to NBC. It proves that the simplest format can often pack the biggest punch.’

“To take home the titular prize, the teams that make it to the end and tackle one last tiny, but epic game.

“‘NBC have been big fans of our little show from day one and their enthusiasm makes them the perfect partner in the U.S.,’ said David Flynn and Lucas Church, co-founders of Youngest Media. ‘We can’t wait to bring the world’s smallest gameshow to the biggest market in television.’

Small Fortune will be co-produced by Universal Television Alternative Studio and entertainment studio Youngest Media, which created and produced the original U.K. format. Church and Flynn will serve as executive producers for Youngest Media alongside Michael Binkow, who will also be showrunner for the series.”

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From TheWrap: “Comedy Central is adding two new podcasts to its Global Podcast Network: Stand-Up with Chris Distefano and Your 2 Dads with Sean and Julian.

Stand-Up with Chris Distefano, launching April 18, dives into a library of stand-up routines for a weekly listening party between Distefano and his in-studio producer, Nicole Boyce. Pulling anything from modern bits to decades-old ones, the pair listen to and analyze classic routines, talk comedy, and take calls from some of Distefano’s comedian friends.

“Distefano is an actor, comedian, and host of the Comedy Central’s series Stupid Questions with Chris Distefano. His one-hour stand-up special Chris Distefano: Size 38 Waist premiered in January on Comedy Central. He recently signed an overall deal with the network, which will include a second hour-long stand-up special, an animated series, and an unscripted series. In the past he has appeared on MTV’s Guy Code vs. Girl Code.

Your 2 Dads with Sean and Julian, launching May 20, is the network’s first lifestyle podcast. It will feature Sean O’Connor and Julian McCullough sharing funny stories about fatherhood and their opinions about parenting.

“McCullough’s one-hour stand-up special Julian McCullough: Maybe I’m a Man premiered June 8, 2018 on Comedy Central. He has also appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Conan, and NPR’s This American Life.

“O’Connor is a stand-up comedian and writer. He’s written for The Late Late Show with James Corden, and was head writer on Comedy Central’s Hood Adjacent. His half-hour stand-up special aired on Comedy Central as part of the network’s The Half Hour series.

“Both shows will post new episodes weekly on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and other major platforms. They join the recently announced companion podcast to Comedy Central’s documentary-series Klepper.

“Comedy Central’s Global Podcast Network started in 2017 and includes The Daily Show: Ears Edition, The Jim Jefferies Show, Roast Battle, and You Up with Nikki Glaser, among other podcasts.”

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Per Realscreen, “A&E Network has commissioned All3Media’s Optomen Productions to produce a series that documents struggling neuro-diverse job seekers as they search for meaningful employment.

“Each hour-long episode of The Employables will showcase two neuro-diverse job hunters as they strive to overcome challenges and find fulfilling employment that provides them with the skills to boost their long-term careers.

“Each job seeker is paired with an autism or Tourette syndrome specialist to identify their strengths and the best way to pursue their job search. After identifying and understanding their strengths, each participant sets out on interviews or trial runs with potential employers to find their preferred career.

The Employables will also spotlight the highs and lows that their friends and family have experienced as they help them reach their goals.

“Additionally, A&E will provide information about organizations that offer programs and resources for neuro-diverse individuals and their families online and through social media.

“Executive producers for Optomen Content are Joseph Eardly, Ricky Kelehar, Maria Silver and Edward Hambleton (co-executive producer). Elaine Frontain Bryant, Shelly Tatro and Brad Holcman serve as executive producers for A&E Network.

The Employables is based on the original format Employable Me, produced by Optomen and the BBC.

“‘Like our Emmy-winning series Born This WayThe Employables is an important example of how embracing our differences can bring about positive and necessary change both in the workplace and in the lives of so many people,’ said Bryant, EVP and head of programming at A&E Network, in a statement.

The Employables premieres May 8 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on A&E.”

Wednesday April 3, 2019

The Hills returns to MTV on June 24.

Here’s your first look.

Former Bachelor winner Vanessa Grimaldi was almost headed for The Hills, but says she didn’t like the role she was offered on the MTV reboot. According to Grimaldi, Hills producers were curious if she was seeing anyone after her split from Nick Viall because they wanted her to date on camera if she got the gig. ‘They were like, “You’d be the single girl coming on the show,”’ she told Bachelor in Paradise alum Dean Unglert on the Pratt Cast podcast [YES, sadly that is a thing!]. ‘I was like, “I don’t want to be the single girl coming on the show and starting s–t between people and ruining relationships. That’s not what I want to do!“‘ Grimaldi, 31, said her ‘curiosity piqued’ when she first got the call about the MTV series because she was ‘ready to try something else other than a dating show.’ Ultimately, Grimaldi did not land a spot on The Hills: New Beginnings. ‘I don’t think I seemed that interested,’ she said. ‘When you did a reality TV show, you already know the back end of what happens behind the scenes. It’s a little bit nerve-racking.’ Despite not being cast, Grimaldi continues to have a connection to The Hills. Stephanie Pratt, who appeared on the original series and now the reboot this summer, is dating Derek Peth, the ex-boyfriend of Grimaldi’s best friend, Taylor Nolan.”

So I watched the first episode of Netflix series Selling Sunset. A few thoughts here: 1) the most redeeming quality about the show is the lighting, it’s good; 2) the Oppenheim brothers are simply not likable, nor are they dynamic, nor are they anything other than short twins who likely think it’s cool to hire nothing but attractive females; 3) is this show about selling real estate or selling Botox and lip injected female real estate agents who get hit on by smarmy clients and who bad mouth their own clients behind their backs? If you think this show can hold a candle to a show like Million Dollar Listing, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.

The aforementioned notwithstanding, I will watch the remaining episodes for completion and because it’s “my job.”

The series finale of You’re The Worst airs tonight on FX.

Season 3 of Brockmire kicks off tonight on IFC.

As does season 3 of Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party on VH1

To no one’s surprise, the Alliance of American Football (Charlie Ebersol’s new football league) has suspended operations.

I don’t even know what to say about this.

USA has renewed Miz and Mrs. for a 2nd season.

Viacom and T-Mobile have struck a content distribution deal that will see programming from MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, Paramount and other brands take a very prominent role in T-Mobile's soon to be released video service.

A&E Network is preparing a forthcoming docuseries about convicted child offenders in the American judicial system. Produced by The Intellectual Property Corporation, an Industrial Media company, the eight-part series Kids Behind Bars: Life or Parole tells the individual stories of eight previously convicted child offenders sentenced to mandatory life terms without parole. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in Miller v. Alabama, that mandatory life terms without parole for juveniles violated the 8th Amendment, thus, giving these child offenders the ability to seek resentencing. The forthcoming series chronicles the crimes as well as the emotional impact of the victims’ family and friends as they come face-to-face with the reality that these convicted offenders could be released back into their communities. The focus of the series will be divided between the facts of these heinous crimes when they were committed, along with new evidence; and real-time updates regarding potential release, parole hearings, and resentencing. Each episode will also include exclusive commentary from the convicted offenders behind bars, as well as psychologists, law enforcement officials and journalists closest to each case as they offer their own perspective on how each case is impacted by the Supreme Court ruling.”

What might George R.R. Martin’s original story pitch tell us about the end of Game of Thrones?

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Per Deadline, “Bravo Media has given a series order to Blind Date, a modern day reboot of the iconic dating series, from Universal Television Alternative Studio. Casting will begin immediately.

“The new series description per Bravo: ‘Dating has always been an awkward, contentious, sexy, and hilarious adventure. However, the magic of a blind date has gone away, replaced by the algorithms of dating apps, which have eroded dating into a casual meet-up to exchange preconceived notions. Sometimes you’re better off just going in blind!’

“‘Updated for 2019 with social media trends and diverse couples of all ethnicities, ages and sexual orientations, each half-hour episode will feature strangers who are paired up and sent off on a blind date. The cameras will follow every move as a narrator weaves in hilarious commentary with the help of graphics, animations and thought bubbles to ensure nothing goes unsaid.’

“Blind Date first debuted in 1999 and ran for 10 successful syndicated seasons, airing 1440 episodes in total.

“With the series order, Bravo clearly is branching out beyond its flagship Real Housewives franchise. Bravo also recently brought back Project Runway, which originally aired on the NBCUniversal cable network, then moved to Lifetime. The series is currently airing its 17th season on Bravo.

“Billy Taylor will serve as executive producer of Blind Date for Universal Television Alternative Studio.”

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From TheWrap: “Showtime has acquired Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story, an award-winning documentary about former NBA star Metta World Peace (formerly known as Ron Artest).

Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story shines a spotlight on the polarizing athlete who was at times feared and often misunderstood both on and off the basketball court. The film includes intimate interviews from World Peace, his former teammates and rivals, his loved ones and family. The story arcs from a childhood marked by violence and drugs in the notorious Queensbridge projects in New York City during the crack wars of the 1980s, through a contentious stint at St. John’s University and, finally, to a dramatic and remarkable career in the NBA. Metta World Peace gives captivating insight into his life at its most troubling moments as well as its greatest.

“The pay cable network will debut the film, which won Best Documentary at the 2019 Santa Barbara Film Festival, on Friday, May 31 at 10 p.m. ET/PT, as part of Mental Health Awareness Month. The film is directed by Johnny Sweet and written by journalist Tom Friend. It is the second long-form documentary from Bleacher Report, following Vick, about former NFL star Michael Vick, which also directed by Sweet.

“World Peace, who was born Ron Artest, legally changed his name in September 2011 to Metta World Peace. During his 17-year NBA career, Artest/World Peace played with the Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks. He won an NBA championship with the Lakers in 2010.

He was also involved in the infamous Malice at the Palace, one of the most infamous altercations between NBA players and fans in the league’s history.

“‘Whether you know him as Ron Artest or Metta World Peace, he is one of the most intriguing personalities in sports,’ said Stephen Espinoza, president, sports & event programming, Showtime Networks Inc. ‘From Ron’s challenging upbringing in Queensbridge among some of the biggest burgeoning names in hip-hop through his transformation to Metta World Peace, Metta has been best known for his fierce competitiveness and unwavering loyalty. Quiet Storm depicts Metta’s unique backstory and his intriguing evolution with honesty and candor. We are proud to add the Ron Artest story to the growing slate of compelling, relevant and contemporary Showtime Sports Documentary Films.’

Quiet Storm features interviews with NBA stars and former teammates Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Elton Brand, Jermaine O’Neal and Bill Walton. Also featured are contributions from renowned psychologist Dr. Santhi Pariasamy, who played an integral role in the anger management and mental health therapy that helped the former Ron Artest transition to Metta World Peace.

Quiet Storm is produced by Sweet, Colleen Dominguez and Omar Michaud. Executive producers are Courtney Andrialis-Vincent, Joe Yanarella, Rory Brown and Dave Finocchio.”

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I thought this was an interesting and very succinct read from MLB Network’s Brian Kenny: “In the new analytical world of baseball, big-time free agent spending appeared to be, at the least, in a slowdown, and at the most, doomed. But one old-time axiom still holds: stars sell.

“This offseason not only did Bryce Harper and Manny Machado land record-breaking deals (with the Phillies and Padres, respectively), but fellow superstars Mike Trout (Angels) and Nolan Arenado (Rockies) were also locked up in long-term contract extensions by their clubs.

“In a team sport like baseball, it pays to diversify the player portfolio. Putting big money into a free agent — usually entering his 30s — is a big risk. In recent years, just below half of these deals are worth it to the club when they are all done. It's not just the money, it's the opportunity cost of keeping an aging player on the field, and occupying a roster spot.

“Harper, Machado and Trout, of course, are a different type of investment. All three debuted in the Majors as teenagers, are still in their mid-20s and are all big-time producers. Trout's first year after hitting the free agent market would have been his age 29 season, but he, with arguably the greatest start in the history of the sport, warrants special consideration.

“Besides getting the player, though, each club gets a franchise star. Throughout the history of the game, Major League clubs have had star players to carry their brand, and fan loyalty. Even in the age of the analytical GM, not every player is an asset to hold or flip. A 10- or 13-year contract to a player in his mid-20s is a long-term deal with the fans, and the local TV and radio product. In a world of shifting attention and fracturing media, any sport still needs to bring in an emotional investment.

“Signing a ‘Franchise Player’ is a positive signal to the players, the fans and the media. Baseball is still a rare sport that can have its fans grow up during one player's career, and there is a value there that matches the huge money being spent.

“Brian Kenny is the host of MLB Network's MLB Now, known as the show for the thinking fan, and is the author of Ahead of the Curve. The MLB Network Showcase game airs Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET, called by Bob Costas, John Smoltz and Tom Verducci.”

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“Showtime is developing an animated comedy series from writer Annah Feinberg titled Multifarious MarisVariety has learned exclusively.

“In the half-hour series, on the night of her thirtieth birthday, Maris discovers a superpower. It’s not flight. It’s not teleportation. It’s the ability to, upon finishing one-too-many glasses of wine, travel amidst the lives she might have had if she had made different choices. The series will follow her journey of self-discovery through multiple universes, as she attempts to figure out how to literally live her best life.

“Should the project go to series, it would be the second animated comedy currently airing on Showtime, with the other being Our Cartoon President.

“Feinberg will write and executive produce, with Joanna Calo also executive producing. Robin Schwartz, Marc Turtletaub and Peter Saraf will executive produce via Big Beach with Big Beach’s Molly Breeskin producing. Corey Campodonico and Alex Bulkley will executive produce through ShadowMachine. Showtime will serve as studio with Big Beach providing production services. ShadowMachine, the animation studio behind BoJack Horseman, will executive produce and serve as the animation studio on Multifarious Maris.

“Feinberg was previously a writers’ assistant on shows such as I Love Dick, Arrested Development, and Veep. She is also a playwright and cartoonist, with her drawings having appeared in The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, and The Hairpin.

“Big Beach is behind the Facebook Watch series Sorry for Your Loss and Vida on Starz. The company will also executive produce the upcoming Showtime series Gorilla and the Bird.”

Tuesday April 2, 2019

Netflix has renewed The Umbrella Academy for a 2nd season.

Preach Tracy Morgan, preach. Also, get a new stylist.

Season 2 of Morgan’s The Last O.G. premiers tonight on TBS.

Kevin Hart’s new stand up special is now streaming on Netflix.

MTV’s Siesta Key wraps up another season tonight.

The season 3 finale of This Is Us airs tonight on NBC.

The 8th season of Married At First Sight wraps up this evening.

Ratings for The Walking Dead’s season 9 finale were an all-time low.

Los Angeles Chargers DE Joey Bosa will make a cameo in an upcoming episode of Game Of Thrones.

“Westbrook Studios, the production company co-founded by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, and Apollo World Touring on Tuesday unveiled a new initiative that will bring together A-list celebrities and the Formula 1 racing circuit. The initiative will see celebrities do pre-filmed stunts and challenges, as well as live performances set around Formula 1 Grand Prix weekends.”

YouTube’s Step Up: High Water garnered big numbers for its Season 2 premiere. The first episode of the second season has drawn 11.5 million views in the first 7 days since its launch.

The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t sitting this Emmy season out after all. Although the Hulu drama won’t return for Season 3 until June — making the series itself ineligible for Emmy contention this year — a few leftover episodes from Season 2 will still be up for consideration. Because the final three episodes of Season 2 fell outside the eligibility window, those episodes are instead in contention for 2019 Emmys. Hulu has now revealed who will be submitted for those episodes: In the outstanding directing for a drama series category, Daina Reid (episode 211, Holly) and Mike Barker (episode 213, The Word) will be in contention.”

“Piece by piece, the clearances for The Kelly Clarkson Show have come in. Today, NBCUniversal said the syndicated talk show set to launch in the fall is set for 99% of the country. The hourlong talker has been sold to 200-plus stations, including the top 165 markets, ahead of its September 9 kickoff, said Tracie Wilson, EVP Creative Affairs at NBCUniversal Domestic TV Distribution. Clarkson has been a hitmaker since winning the first season of American Idol. She’s a three-time Grammy winner who has racked up 11 top 10 singles and three No. 1s since her 2002 debut. All eight of her studio albums have reached the Top 3 in the U.S., including three chart-toppers. Her most recent album, 2017’s Meaning of Life, peaked at No. 2. The singer just wrapped a 27-city tour. The Kelly Clarkson Show will be produced before a live audience on the Universal Studios Lot in Los Angeles. It is produced and distributed by NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution with Alex Duda serving as executive producer and showrunner.”

If Keith Richards somehow outlives Mick Jagger, so help me.

Bristol Palin announced she's leaving Teen Mom OG, and somehow, people care.

Bianna Golodryga, who joined CBS This Morning as a co-anchor less than six months ago, is leaving the morning program, two sources familiar with the matter told HuffPost. Golodryga has been moved off the program by the new president of CBS News, Susan Zirinsky. Zirinsky felt that the show had too many anchors (it currently has four: Norah O’Donnell, Gayle King, John Dickerson and Golodryga), according to the sources, who requested anonymity to freely discuss network business. The talent change at CBS This Morning is the first Zirinsky has made since becoming president on March 1.

Deborah Norville is used to having her looks scrutinized as a television personality, but one comment from a concerned viewer proved to be a life-saver. The Inside Edition host revealed that she will undergo surgery to remove a cancerous thyroid nodule that a sharp-eyed viewer brought to her attention. ‘We live in a world of see something, say something, and I'm really glad we do,’ she said in a video announcement posted on the show's official YouTube account Monday. Norville continued: ‘When you work on television, viewers comment on everything. Your hair, your makeup, the dress you’re wearing. And a long time ago an 'Inside Edition' viewer reached out to say she’d seen something on my neck. It was a lump.’ Norville said doctors initially deemed the thyroid nodule benign, but the lump eventually grew cancerous, requiring medical treatment.”

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, “Amazon's thriller Hanna, based on the 2011 film of the same name, centers on a teenage girl (Esme Creed-Miles) raised to be an assassin by her father and chased by a shadowy spy organization. For fans of the AMC/Netflix series The Killing, it also marks the first time that stars Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman have worked together since the latter's 2014 finale.

“The Emmy-nominated The Killing garnered a passionate fanbase who were particularly taken by Enos' thoughtful and reserved Sarah Linden and her streetwise partner, Stephen Holder (Kinnaman). Since then the pair have both pursued other high-profile projects, including Enos' turn leading the ABC P.I. dramedy The Catch and Kinnaman's leading role in the first season of Netflix's high-concept sci-fi series Altered Carbon. 

“Though Hanna is a far cry from the very real-world horrors of The Killing, that difference was key to what drew both actors to the new show. The pair talked with The Hollywood Reporter about reuniting and the ease of ‘playing with each other”":

How did you both come to be working on Hanna?

MIREILLE ENOS [Writer/exec producer] David Farr approached me with the first couple of episodes of the scripts, and I happened to be shooting in England so I was able to meet with him. His writing was really beautiful, so it looked like I was going to be signing on. They started looking for their Erik, and he didn't tell me that Joel was on the top of his list, so when he let me know that I was so excited.

JOEL KINNAMAN Well, she was actually texting me and asking me to come up with a list of 40-plus European actors, so I was compiling this list of actors that I like, and then I got I the call that they were actually interested in me, so I was checking in with Mireille and saying, "I'm going to cross Mads Mikkelsen off the list then …" [Laughs]

Will fans of The Killing will be surprised by the antagonistic relationship that your characters share in Hanna?

KINNAMAN There was a danger of reuniting and playing into the fantasy of redoing The Killing, which we definitely didn't want to do, as it wouldn't be fair to The Killing and the project at hand. So this is more for people who like to see me and Mireille playing together, but just in a completely different shape.

ENOS Because we're enemies, we don't meet up that much, but in episode four we have this play that we get to do, and it's just filled with a lot of scenes of our history together and trying to suss each other out, and that was just great.

What drew you to the roles?

KINNAMAN It's a combination of things. I usually start selfishly with the character, and if it's something that I'm intrigued to play, and then it's the story and the whole. I love this character; I found it really interesting to play a man who had lived this totally selfish and destructive life, and then does this one act of selflessness, and it puts his life on this trajectory to find some kind of redemption. Then there was the story — I really enjoyed the way it weaved these three genres together. It feels like it's a coming-of-age story woven together with a political sci-fi thriller, and it's all mixed up in this odd family drama. That was really interesting and I could imagine that people who don't usually watch stuff together could come together and enjoy it together. I feel like it's going to draw people from different areas.

ENOS You know, I actually had this experience in episode six where I'd been in my little spy world, sneaking around with hidden messages, and then in episode two we meet this family, this English suburban family. When they would shoot, there was all this improvising and lots of mess, so our two storylines converge, and I was suddenly dropped into this room where people were on the floor eating peanut butter and I was like, "What's this world? It's so cool that I'm here!"

Do you feel like Hanna is a relevant story in 2019?

KINNAMAN I thought it was very cool, you know, she's such a great character. Someone that's so physically capable of defending themselves, but completely defenseless in every other aspect of life. We follow this young person into the world and discover that a lot of what she's been told about the world isn't true, but that a lot of the threats are real. It's fascinating.

ENOS Something that I think might potentially be a really powerful message for teenagers that watch this is that Erik tries to arm Hanna with tools that will help keep her safe. I think that Hanna goes through a lot of experiences that make her feel powerless, but ultimately she does have these tools. I think that those teenage years are an experience of powerlessness, and to watch this story where someone can reach for those tools will hopefully make them feel okay. There are these things I can reach for, I can speak my truth whatever it is, and make them feel like they're in control of their experience.

What was it like working together again?

KINNAMAN On the last day of shooting The Killing, we were standing on set with [showrunner] Veena Sud and [director] Jonathan Demme. We were all hugging it out and we said, "In 10 years, we'll come together again and do something completely different." We didn't make it 10 years, but it's been five years and we did this! I think it really fits the criteria that we were looking for in that it was something very different and dynamic between the characters so that it wouldn't get confused.

And when we got to the meat of our scenes — like halfway through the show, we have a mini-play between our characters — I was just struck by how, even though I was playing this completely different character and Mireille was just completely different, we still had the same enjoyment of playing with each other. It felt like we almost immediately found this flow, I think both from knowing each other so well and playing with each other so much, so it's just easy.

ENOS Shooting The Killing, there was a real sense of being each other's allies through that process. Everyone was great, the directors were wonderful, everyone was collaborating beautifully. But we knew that we had each other's backs no matter what. If there was a question about anything, we would go to each other first. We just made a really safe space. That's special when you find that kind of ease and trust, and so it was great to drop back into that in this totally different context, just knowing that it's super exciting working with someone that you do your best work with because you're so curious about what they're doing.

KINNAMAN It was good because the characters, even though they're antagonistic, they've got a lot of history, so it came in handy that me and Mireille, we have a lot of history together.

Do you keep in touch with any of your other Killing co-stars?

ENOS Definitely Veena. I actually shot a film with her last year, her directorial debut called The Lie. She's just a wonderful director, so for me it's Veena and Joel.”

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Per Vulture, “[m]uch like Serial, HBO’s The Case Against Adnan Syed ended without a real conclusion. Syed is still in jail for the murder of Hae Min Lee after the Maryland Court of Appeals denied him a new trial on March 8, 2019, just two days before the four-part documentary debuted. Still, the final episode, “Time Is the Killer,” contained multiple revelations and allegations that point toward Syed’s innocence and, like the podcast, raise even more questions about how the case was handled.

“There’s a new story by Jay Wilds, the prosecution’s star witness, that changes his testimony yet again and accuses the police of fabricating his story; information about Lee’s autopsy that changes the timeline of her death; the lack of Syed’s DNA at the crime scene (that part was already spoiled days before this episode’s airing — more on that later); and some thin but intriguing evidence pointing to two other potential killers that could, at the least, be grounds for reasonable doubt.

“And that’s only part of it. Even though it’s not a spoiler that Syed is currently in prison with no tangible route to freedom in sight, the episode also reveals the background legal maneuvers that kept him there and how he had the option to agree to a plea deal, all while not knowing that his mother was battling a life-threatening illness.

“To help you make sense of all the twists and turns in the finale of The Case Against Adnan Syed, we’ve compiled the biggest takeaways from the episode. Naturally, spoilers abound:

Syed’s mother has Leukemia

Footage from 2017 shows Shamim Syed revealing to family friend and attorney Rabia Chaudry, Adnan’s most prominent advocate, that she has leukemia. Doctors had just caught it at stage one of the disease, and she insists that nobody tell Adnan. The next scene shows her traveling to visit Adnan in prison, while he, in a voice-over, compares getting a new trial to getting “approved for chemotherapy” for a terminal illness. He says he knows five people who’ve gotten new trials only to be convicted again, and he wonders at what point he’ll be like a cancer patient and just accept that it’s all over.

Syed turned down a plea deal

There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes footage of Syed’s lawyers going over their appeals and battles against Thiru Vignarajah, a former prosecutor who somehow was still able to try the case as a private citizen while running for Baltimore City state’s attorney. Over the years, the state of Maryland informally floated potential ways for Syed to get out of prison, then finally settled on an offer in 2018: If Syed pleaded guilty, he’d serve an additional four years behind bars and then be released.

Syed’s lawyer, C. Justin Brown, speculated that the extra four years would mean Syed is freed after the attorney general goes through another election, as well as the fact that Lee’s family is still pushing for Syed to remain in jail forever. Syed pondered it, weighing the pros and cons of guaranteed freedom versus admitting to a crime he swears he didn’t commit and that he lied to everyone, including his family and Serial host Sarah Koenig.

The epilogue of the episode says that Syed declined the deal in November 2018, before his mother told him about her cancer. Following the episode, Chaudry tweeted, “The State offered Adnan a plea. But he refused to plead guilty. He couldn’t lie and say he committed a crime he didn’t. Does he regret not taking the plea now that Court of Appeals ruled against him? No. He told me to tell everyone he doesn’t regret it.”

Jay Wilds has a new story, again

Jay Wilds has changed his story about what happened the day of Lee’s murder multiple times at this point, from his first taped confessions to his trial testimony to a post-Serial interview with the Intercept. Director Amy Berg repeatedly tried to get Wilds to appear in the documentary to no avail, but he finally gave a new statement to her in January 2019.

This time, Wilds says that Syed showed him Lee’s body when they were at Wilds’s house, not in the Best Buy parking lot as he testified in the trial — that part was made up by the detectives. Wilds’s new story is that Syed, knowing Wilds was “the criminal element of Woodlawn,” asked him to procure ten pounds of marijuana and, after Wilds got it, used the drugs as blackmail to force Wilds to help dispose of Lee’s corpse. It’s unclear whether any law enforcement officials were made aware of this new story for the documentary, but it further muddies the credibility of the state’s star witness.

Lee’s body was buried much later than alleged

The prosecution’s timeline of the murder says that Lee’s body was buried in Leakin Park around 7:30 p.m., five hours after Syed strangled her to death. In the episode, private investigators hired by the defense speak with a forensic pathologist and former medical examiner who goes over the autopsy photos and report and comes up with a new timeline — Lee’s body wasn’t buried until between 10:30 p.m. and 2:30 a.m.

In one autopsy photo, which is shown onscreen, Lee’s body shows evidence of lividity, the postmortem pooling of blood inside a corpse, surrounding a double-diamond-shaped mark on her shoulder. The pathologist says the only way that mark would have appeared is if Lee’s corpse was lying face down on an object with that specific shape for at least 8 to 12 hours. No object like that was found at the crime scene. If true, that means there’s no way Lee was killed in the afternoon and buried in the park so soon, refuting Wilds’s testimony and the prosecution’s case, further raising questions of where Lee was killed and where her body was kept before ending up in the woods.

There were also no bruises, marks, broken fingernails, or signs of any struggle on the body, leading the pathologist to conclude that the murder did not happen in the close quarters of Lee’s car, as the prosecution alleged. All of this together doesn’t prove Syed’s innocence, but it casts doubt on the alleged version of how the crime played out from start to finish.

There’s plenty of mysterious physical evidence (or a lack thereof)

The big reveal of the final episode got scooped by the Baltimore Sun last Thursday when the paper, after filing a public records act, revealed that Syed’s DNA was not found under Lee’s fingernails, on her body, or on other pieces of evidence collected at the crime scene. During Syed’s trial, neither the prosecution nor the defense requested that this be tested, likely because both sides feared that it would either exonerate or incriminate him. After Serial, the prosecution still declined to test it — Vignarajah allegedly said it was the defense’s responsibility to make the testing happen, so it wasn’t until the new defense team got it done in 2018 that anyone learned the results. This alone doesn’t exonerate Syed, but does show that the prosecution didn’t have any physical evidence tying him to the murder.

What the test did show was that there was DNA of an unidentified female on two wires that were found near Lee’s body. This DNA profile was not matched to any of the investigators or anyone whose DNA is in law enforcement databases. There was also a fingerprint, maybe two, on the rearview mirror of Lee’s car that also didn’t belong to Syed or the police, but was also never matched to anyone.

Syed’s lawyer Susan Simpson told the Crime Writers On podcast that the Baltimore Sun only learned about the DNA test recently, filing its public information request for it last Tuesday and getting the information in time to publish its article on Thursday. She says it’s a suspiciously quick amount of time for the attorney general’s office to respond to such a request — usually, it would take a month or two, suggesting that the state wanted this information out there before the episode aired to diminish the documentary’s overall impact on public opinion about the case.

Don and Mr. S should be considered suspects

There’s been much speculation about Don Clinedinst, Lee’s older boyfriend and co-worker at LensCrafters, and Alonzo Sellers, the man who discovered Lee’s body in Leakin Park and was known as “Mr. S” in Serial because he hadn’t been publicly named when the podcast aired.

First, Clinedinst was cleared by police because he had an alibi — working a shift at LensCrafters. The defense investigators point out that his alibi is thin because it comes from the manager of the store, who happens to be Clinedinst’s mother, and a digital time card, which either one of them allegedly could have manipulated after the fact. Another employee at the store recounts how Clinedinst, when telling his co-workers about Lee’s disappearance, had scratch marks and bandages on his forearms. Clinedinst said those injuries happened when he was doing work on his car, and detectives never questioned him in person about the case until three weeks after Lee went missing, so the speculation is that the wounds were healed or concealed by then.

As for Sellers, the suspicion surrounding him has centered on his previous conviction of indecent exposure and the oddness of the claim that he just happened to need to urinate in the spot where he found Lee’s body. It was very far into the woods from the road, and crime scene photos show that Lee’s body was barely visible in the leaf-strewn area, even up close. The new theories linking him to the murder are that the diamond-shaped mark left on Lee’s body might have come from her body being pressed down on equipment used in concrete construction work, which Sellers had previously done for a living. Also, he lived within five minutes’ walking distance of Woodlawn High School, so there’s a chance he might have seen her before. It’s all very thin, but once again, it could have been used as reasonable doubt at Syed’s trial.

According to the documentary, neither man’s DNA or prints were compared to what was found at the scene or in the car. Of course, no male DNA was found at the scene, and if either man was involved, how does Wilds fit into that narrative, especially given that other people claim he told them about the murder soon after it happened?

Lee’s car was likely moved well after her death

In an earlier episode of the documentary, Syed’s investigators go over the discovery of Lee’s car in a Baltimore lot. Wilds’s story is that he and Syed abandoned the car there where nobody would look for it, but residents say there’s no way a car would’ve lasted there for over six weeks without being towed or vandalized.

The other revelation is about the grass underneath the car, as it’s seen in police photos. A scientist attempted to grow and simulate the decaying of that same type of grass as it would have happened under the car in that time frame, but couldn’t make any conclusions based on that. However, he does point out that there are blades of grass on the car’s wheels and that — given the precipitation, freezing, and thawing that happened between the murder and the discovery — it’s likely that the car was only there for a week at the most. If true, it leads to the questions of who drove it there and why Wilds would lie about that.”

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From The Cut: “[o]ne of the first things you learn about interviewing is to save the difficult questions for the end, but Natasha Lyonne and I started our afternoon together at a planetarium, so What is the meaning of life? came up sooner than I expected. Reclining in the dark at the Lower Eastside Girls Club — secret home to ‘the best planetarium on Avenue D’ — as our intergalactic narrator reassured us that we humans were not insignificant, just small, the byproducts of (possibly) endless explosions and reignitions that had eventually lead to the very knowledge of the vastness of the universe that may now be overwhelming us, Lyonne and I had already covered: astrology (‘I don’t talk about zodiac stuff because I’m not a tween’); quantum physics (‘not only do I understand it, but I’ve written so many books about it that are not yet published; I’m going to self-publish them all and explain it to everybody’); and apocalypses, climate-related or otherwise. (Their lack of preparation for doomsday is the main thing she and her boyfriend, Fred Armisen, fight about; she thinks they need a better plan.) I’d intended the turn to existentialism as a sort of joke, but to Lyonne, questions of life and its meaning aren’t abstract or hypothetical, things she’s been able to put off thinking about, so she approached the subject in earnest. Or her version of earnest, which frames the topics that most inspire platitudes with fuhgeddaboudit frankness and energetic gestures toward their overarching absurdity.

“‘The meaning of life is [blank],’ she sang. ‘Have you ever read Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning? It’s a hot book, right? I think it really sums it up. You have to find something beyond self. If it’s all about self-propulsion, it’s going to feel really dirty at some point. On a smaller scale, we find the things we’re good at and have a natural interest in and see the ways in which we can help illuminate the human condition through those tools. Some people can do it with a greater scope and poetry — scientists and philosophers and doctors. That does not seem to be in my wheelhouse. We’ve essentially cracked polio, but certainly I wasn’t going to be a participating member in that solution. I might be able to help distract the scientists cracking it a little bit, or the person in the iron lung who needed a little bit of relief to fight another day.’

“Lyonne, who turns 40 in April, is the co-creator and star of the recent hit Netflix series Russian Doll and the rare actress whose perspective on finding a purpose comes from actually having to find one. Her career in ‘show biz,’ as she calls it, began when she appeared on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse as Opal at age 6, and she divides it into two phases. Her reason for doing this will be obvious to most people who’ve heard of her, particularly if you were around for the cackling rubber-necking that characterized New York City gossip blogs in the early and mid-2000s: After a series of plum teen roles, including the exasperated voice of reason in the cult classic Slums of Beverly Hills and Jessica in American Pie, Lyonne slowly but publicly began to ‘drop out.’ She developed a heroin addiction and in 2005 ended up in the hospital with problems that included a collapsed lung and hepatitis C. In 2012, she had to undergo open-heart surgery due to related complications, and afterward she told Entertainment Weekly she’d figured she was done with acting for good. That sense was mostly pragmatic: She didn’t think she could get work again. ‘Nobody was eager for my return,’ she said. ‘Let’s not mistake this for a Robert Downey Jr. scenario — nobody actually gave a fuck.’ She had to be willing to take on ‘a couple lines here and there,’ mostly to pay rent, and people close to her — especially Chloë Sevigny, Lyonne’s friend of 20 years — had to vouch for her ability to show up for longer projects.

“What solidified her return, in 2013, was her role as womanizing inmate Nicky Nichols on Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black, which both allowed her to mine her past for material — Nichols is addicted to heroin, and after it’s revealed she also had to have open-heart surgery, Lyonne bares her real scar — and move beyond it in her work. The role enabled her to fully explore ‘a particular version’ of herself, the one that attracts and is attracted to the ‘sort of male, ’70s typology, that kind of genderless sort of person’ that, particularly when it’s a woman, often ends up an ‘ancillary player.’ Her success as a beloved part of the ensemble comes from the serious consideration she brought to the role; when Nichols was shipped to maximum security for trying to sell heroin and not seen for the rest of season three, Lyonne told critics she was ‘excited’ to see such a realistic development for the character. ‘It makes sense that a self-destructive person would end up where she did,’ she said, before outlining the possible ways Nichols might respond to the experience. But she’s not at all resentful of spending so much time in that role, and I believe her when she says so. ‘I’ve never done anything for seven years,’ she told me, referring to her time on the show. ‘I’ve never been in a romantic relationship for seven years, let alone one project, so it’s nice to have something with closure that’s healthy in a life. As sad as I am, it’s also kind of a nice, life-affirming event that something can go on for so long and end so positively.’

“I met Lyonne two days after the wrap party for OITNB — her hair unwashed since then — which will air its final season later this year, and about a month following the debut of Russian Doll. Here, too, Lyonne worked from life, but the relationship between her and her character, Nadia Vulvokov — a wise-cracking nihilist whose slyly impenetrable defense mechanisms begin to falter when, on the night of her 36th birthday party, she is hit and killed by a taxi while crossing the street to catch her lost cat — is more intuitive. Instead of moving on to the afterlife, Nadia reappears looking in the bathroom mirror at her party, consigned by a ripple in the space-time continuum — and/or, the show suggests, unresolved issues from her childhood — to relive her death over and over again, through scenarios that range from the ludicrous (pratfalls) to the genuinely harrowing.

“Nadia is a version of the typical Lyonne character, particularly at first, but as she softens over the course of the show, the confusion and pain of her Groundhog Day non-existence wearing on her, Lyonne’s performance improves: it’s as if she begins by going through the motions of schticky irony in order to make an argument in favor of real emotion. The disorienting and increasingly upsetting cycle of death and rebirth mimics the highs and lows of addiction, while implying the constant near-deaths an addict experiences, and the translation from literal addict to figurative one allows for a more dynamic understanding of what it means to bottom out but survive. ‘I was like, you know what?’ she said. ‘I’ll just write it for myself, because I don’t know if you guys are really grasping why I’m interested in these characters, what it means when you’re [saying], “It’s like Peter Falk or Columbo.” What does that actually mean? Peter Falk is nobody’s second banana; this guy is a real motherfucker. He can really do some shit and make you feel some things.’

“The show’s fans are calling for a second season, but Lyonne has a lot going on: her recent forays into directing — in addition to Russian Doll, she directed an episode of the final season of OITNB and a short, Fellini/Fosse-inspired film for Kenzo, Cabiria, Charity, Chastity — have revealed ‘the language that I’m interested in as a filmmaker,’ and she’s excited to make a feature. Plus her new production company with Maya Rudolph, Animal Pictures, signed a first-look deal with Amazon at the end of last year.

“Appropriately, our schedule for the day, devised by Lyonne, seemed peripatetic, but ultimately revealed itself to have a grand thematic cohesion. Our first stop, the Lower Eastside Girls Club, hosts a variety of programs for young women in the community, and in addition to the planetarium, we stopped by a couple of classes, where students asked for photos (‘You want a picture? Oh, good. I thought [my visit] meant nothing.’) and taught Lyonne how to record other users’ Instagram Stories and save them on her phone (her request). The way the organization approaches the future from a rapidly changing location that can’t help but insinuate the past influenced Lyonne while she wrote Russian Doll, which features several of her real-life friends and frequent collaborators as characters — including Sevigny as Nadia’s mother — and is set in Alphabet City, around Tompkins Square Park.

“‘There’s something about this place existing in this building in this location, which was so much the world of that show,’ she told me. ‘You’d never suspect that there’s a direct pathway to space — there’s kind of a quantum narrative about the haunting of buildings and the haunting of people within a certain geography.’ The show’s uncanny, time-warped vision of downtown New York is at once contemporary — complete with drunk bros — and nostalgic; it comes across like the past’s somewhat realistic fantasy of the future.

“The past, the future, and alternative histories and futures existing simultaneously in the chaos of the physical present: this may be why she talks so fast, interrupting and editing herself, and why her quotes work best as paragraphs. As we got in a car to go to Film Forum, where Lyonne got much of her education in movies, we saw an ad for Russian Doll. After ten years of being a ‘child actor,’ she left home and at 16 enrolled at NYU’s Tisch as a film and philosophy major, which lasted ‘a few days.’ ‘At the time it was a very big deal to be in a Woody Allen movie, and I’d been in one, and I felt like, good, this is the summation of ten years of work from the ages of 6 to 16; as an actor I’m done with this first chapter and now I’m going to become a director.’ That sense of linear progression was soon proven idealistic. Lyonne describes her ‘grandiose thinking’ as a teenager in a tone of self-effacement, but she was right to think of herself as on a different level than her peers, who, I’m assuming, had neither the determination of the “ragamuffin” autodidact nor people like Alan Arkin and Kevin Corrigan to tell them what to watch next. (Lyonne remembers binging Cassavetes on Corrigan’s recommendation while shooting Slums of Beverly Hills — she sat in the back of the New Beverly Cinema drinking a 40 from a paper bag.) In an introduction to film studies class, ‘they were watching Apocalypse Now and I was like, I know you all don’t think I’m going to give you 60 grand to watch Apocalypse Now and break it down with a bunch of teenagers.’ She bought an apartment and continued her self-directed curriculum instead.

“Last year Lyonne appeared in a Film Forum New York Luminaries video talking about her longtime appreciation for the storied cinema, but she hadn’t tried to milk her status as a VIP for a tour of the projection room until now. Upstairs, she asked awestruck questions of the projectionist and gleefully identified the scenes in a collage above someone’s desk. When we passed a row of metal canisters containing archival prints, she wondered if Scorsese’s house was lined with them — he founded a film-restoration foundation in 1990 — and then began to pile on jokes from there. ‘Can you imagine walking with your movie into a film festival or something? Can I lift this one? Can you take a picture of me with this movie? This is me pretending to be Buñuel. It’s heavy. This is why women didn’t use to make movies. That’s why Schwarzenegger’s a great filmmaker.’ Before we met, she’d been at home watching Lina Wertmüller’s Seven Beauties.

“Throughout the afternoon, our conversation reflected a mutual understanding about her ‘past’; both she and what was deemed her ‘comebac’” were covered in the press extensively, under headlines that slowly transitioned from ‘As Taxpayers, We Ask That the City Please Do Something About Natasha Lyonne’ to ‘Natasha Lyonne, the original queen of the career capsize, comes up for air’ to ‘Natasha Lyonne: “I was definitely as good as dead”’ to those that now reference her ‘personal journey.’ (The structure of Russian Doll might also represent the online news cycle.) At our last stop for the day — the Basquiat show at the Brant Foundation — I wondered if it was odd or uncomfortable that some of the worst moments of her life are common knowledge, and she said she figured it ‘makes my job a lot easier, to try to live truthfully and not have to be a chameleon when I’m speaking with you. I can just focus on being one person, the person I actually am.’ Earlier, I’d asked her if she regretted dropping out of school, and she could only be equivocal. ‘I would’ve gotten to all this sooner, and I would’ve felt more confident and written better emails,’ she said. ‘At the same time, I guess those are the same years I spent developing something to say. Having such a specific experience enabled me to have a specific point of view, even though it was a nightmare getting through so much of it. But I think of that often; if you had sort of made a deal with me then and told me, “This is what you’re going to have to go through”… ‘ She cut herself off and began to talk optimistically about aging. When we passed Anthology Film Archives in the car, she posed a fantasy future in which she becomes a ‘Stan Brakhage filmmaker’ who makes ‘movies to nap to, that I am making from my heart and soul for me, sir.’

“Lyonne knows someone who used to date Basquiat — ‘That’s me bragging transitively’ — and she ran into a few friends at the gallery, as well as a fan in the street. ‘I’m like an unfamous famous person,’ she said after the woman walked by. ‘I might as well be that fire hydrant or something. I’m just a part of the East village — a fixture. Like, ‘Ah, yeah, that makes sense!’ but nobody cares.’ Showing an artist like Basquiat in a sterile, wait-listedInstagram paradise might represent the devolution of the East Village and Lower East Side into a playground for corporate interests appropriating alternative history. But to Lyonne — whose leopard-print pants, double-breasted leather blazer, black nail polish, and accumulation of jewelry were also at home in the place–time continuum — the artist, along with Film Forum and the Lower Eastside Girls Club, exist in ‘the best New York.’ ‘You’re going to be so exhausted if all day you’re like, “This is offending me aesthetically,” meaning college students or whatever. It’s a little bit healthier to be like, “Look — the old neighborhood” and see the version of it you want to see.’

“Such ease is hard-won, and Lyonne’s ability to take what’s good and joke about the rest is at the heart of Russian Doll. Though she’s eager to spend some time away from her own life as part of her new production company, her multidimensional perspective on the self offers something richer than the standard experience-followed-by-lesson format of autobiographical fare: She can joke about herself without letting herself become a joke, and this skill — transforming self-consciousness into self-awareness — is something many people can (or should) understand. Slums of Beverly Hills begins with a scene in which Lyonne’s character tries on a bra at a lingerie store, looking directly at the camera, an implied mirror, transfixed and a little scared of what she sees. The same image recurs more than 20 years later as Nadia looks at herself in the mirror at her birthday party, as if to ask the same questions: Who is this person, and how did she get here?”

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Per TheWrap, “William Zabka is the (billed) star of YouTube series Cobra Kai and the same guy who played Johnny Lawrence back in The Karate Kid days. But when did you become so grown-up and formal, bro? What happened to ‘Billy’?

“We had to know — turns out this writer (and probably much of America) had the order all wrong. Kind of.

“‘When I did Karate Kid, I was “Billy Zabka.” I’ve been “Billy” my whole life. And then we had to do my name for the credit, and I thought, “Well, am I always gonna be a Billy? No, one day I’ll probably grow into a William,”’ he told me, a ‘Tony’ who considered growing into an ‘Anthony,’ professionally. ‘William sounds more mature, and it’s my birth name, so we went with “William Zabka.” So it’s always been William Zabka first and most people would address me that way.’

“So what the hell are we thinking of?

“‘When How I Met Your Mother’came along, which was a super-popular show, Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) called me “Billy Zabka.” On that show I was referred to as “Billy Zabka, Billy Zabka, Billy Zabka,” and then people got more comfortable calling me “Billy” and now “Billy” is out there and you see “William” and people think I’m trying to throw “William” in front of “Billy,”’ he continued. ‘It’s a big car wreck, dude.’

“‘I probably should have just stayed with “Billy” the whole time, it would have been very easy,’ Billy/William Zabka said. ‘But one thing I do like about the difference is that if I’m somewhere in public and somebody calls out to ‘William’ and I’m like with my family, I know that they most likely don’t know me personally.’

“‘This is a great thing to put in print,’ he joked, ‘but “Billy” will get my head turned.’

“Well, we (internet) printed it. Have at Billy Zabka, general public.

Cobra Kai returns for its 2nd season April 24 on YouTube Premium. Sorry to have wasted your time with that William/Billy nonsense.

Monday April 1, 2019

Great having both Veep and Barry back. More on the latter below.

Seven years after the last new episode, Rachael Ray returns to Food Network today for 30 days of 30-Minute Meals.

I do not watch American Idol, but check out this guy Uche from last night. Evidently, he set the Twitterverse ablaze.

Netflix has released a trailer for Dead To Me, starring Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini, and available to stream on May 3.

The first 2 episodes of The Twilight Zone are available for CBS All-Access subscribers.

Law & Order: SVU has been picked up for a 21st season.

I remain shocked at how much post-show coverage Saturday Night Live gets amongst the trades. Are people really that interested in recaps of skits?

On that note, how are The Neighborhood and Man With A Plan still current shows on CBS?

Here’s what is coming and leaving Netflix in April.

Vanderpump Rules Vegas.

Here’s more: “While Lisa Vanderpump‘s employees came together to support her at the Vanderpump Vegas opening party at Caesar’s Palace on Saturday night, they returned to their old ways on Sunday. James Kennedy, Raquel Leviss and Jesse Montana tanned at a sunbed at the property on Sunday afternoon, while Stassi Schroeder, Katie Maloney, Tom Schwartz, Kristen Doute, Scheana Marie and Peter Madrigal were spotted at a separate cabana area just feet away. They occasionally mingled but maintained their respective home bases. We’re told that most of the crew arrived early in the morning, but Tom Sandoval showed up to the pool around 3 p.m.”

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) voted 7,882 to 392 to implement an Agency Code of Conduct, ‘if and when it becomes advisable to do so’ when the current AMBA agreement expires on April 6. That equates to an overwhelming 95 percent of votes in favor of new rules that require talent agencies to eliminate packaging fees in order to represent WGA members. Should the WGA and the Association of Talent Agents fail to reach an agreement this week, the Code will be enforced on April 7, with the guild calling on its members to leave any agency that does not adhere to the new requirements.”

More on this battle. “The real X factor at this point is whether the guild and agencies have the stomach and the resources to wage a costly legal war over their differences. If the agencies hope to head off litigation, they’ll surely be forced to find a bigger concession than the current offer to make the packaging process an opt-in or opt-out question for writers with greater transparency. There’s a big school of thought on both sides of this fight that the real parameters of a deal won’t present themselves until a few hours before the deadline.”

“She’s in trouble, but she’s also in love: Elizabeth Holmes, the indicted founder of the bogus blood-testing company Theranos, has gotten engaged to William ‘Billy’ Evans, the heir to a hotel chain, according to multiple reports. Holmes, 35, is facing up to 20 years prison on accusations that she swindled investors out of hundreds of million of dollars. Her 27-year-old fiancé is the former manager of special projects for Luminar Technologies, which develops sensors for driverless cars. He had also worked at LinkedIn. Theranos went belly up after its claims of having developed a device that could quickly diagnose multiple illnesses based on a tiny amount of blood were proven to be phony. The ugly story is the subject of a series on HBO and a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence.”

Discovery, Inc. and BBC Studios have struck a ‘multi-million pound global content partnership,’ the companies said on Monday, which will bring BBC’s Planet Earth, Blue Planet, Life, Dynasties and other natural-history titles to Discovery’s SVOD platforms. The 10-year deal, which should close in late spring, relies on Discovery launching a new global streaming service for natural history programming by 2020 that will operate outside the U.K., Ireland and China. In addition to the hundreds of hours of already existing content, Discovery and BBC Studios will develop new landmark factual content together. The two companies will co-fund a dedicated development team within BBC Studios.”

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Per TheWrap, “Pitch Perfect star Anna Kendrick has signed on to star in the short-form comedy series Dummy for Quibi, a spokesperson for the video platform confirmed Friday.

“Created by Deadbeat and Kidding veteran Cody Heller, the buddy comedy centers on a writer and her boyfriend’s sex doll. In keeping with Quibi’s concept of short, digestible episodic storytelling, each installment of the series will be 10 minutes or shorter.

“Tricia Brock is attached to the project as a director and executive producer. Kendrick will also executive produce.

“Founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg and former Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman, Quibi (short for ‘quick bites’) is set to feature a variety of short-form content targeting mobile viewing. It is expected to launch in either late 2019 or early 2020 with a two-tier pricing model: an $8 per month option that doesn’t include advertising and a $5 per month priced tier that has limited ads.

“Directors Sam Raimi (Spider-Man), Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water) and Antoine Fuqua (The Magnificent Seven) and producer Jason Blum (Get Out) are all expected to produce content for the service.”

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Per Vulture, “[t]he new-media takeover of late night is complete. YouTuber Lilly Singh is taking over Carson Daly’s 1:30 a.m. spot, and Jimmy Fallon is recording entire Tonight Show episodes on a phone. (Specifically a Samsung Galaxy, in stores now!) Ever since the first SNL Digital Short, late night has been getting a second life online. But like some terrible cyberpunk movie, the online second life is becoming more important than the broadcasted first life. Entire chunks of late night are digital-exclusive today, and late-night hosts live and die by their branding and ability to surf internet trends.

Full Frontal tried to take advantage of videos that go viral to make the MAVNI program (and how Stephanie Miller simultaneously ruined hundreds of immigrants’ lives and harmed national security) do just that. Every media entity tries to go viral, but there are entire subsections of YouTube that rely on these #challenges to harvest clicks: trailer reaction videos, trying new foods, dance challenges. This is YouTube. But it’s also late night. Late night lives and dies by the brands of its hosts in a way even the most creator-driven prestige show doesn’t. Late night has a regular posting schedule akin to YouTubers, only with breaks built in. YouTubers can’t take a break unless they make a tearful apology post about their mental health and/or they say something racist. YouTubers rely on branded content for their money, and as evidenced by the joyful marriage of Samsung and Fallon, so does late night.

“Trevor Noah was one of the first in the late-night sphere to make digital-only content a priority. The Daily Show’s Between the Scenes clips regularly receive more YouTube views than his interviews or desk pieces, and they have their own Facebook Watch page. What’s odd about the popularity of these segments is how joke-light they are. While explaining the narrow definition of reparations to a white jabroni, Noah gets one laugh. What does it mean that some of the most popular content for a comedy show is not comedy?

“Explaining racism to a white guy for the one millionth time with good cheer is something Noah can exclusively bring to the table. He loves engaging in dialogue with people who disagree with him more than any comedian I can think of. Because there is so much media, and because a lot of that media is more immediate than a show that airs four to five days a week at a set time, late night has had to figure out what they can bring to the table that Twitter can’t. And that ain’t jokes.

“By the time James Corden has recorded his monologue, so many jokes about his subject matter have been done on Twitter, and new shit has hit the fan in between tape and air. But something Corden knows he can bring is production value. Everyone has been making hay with the Theranos documentary. Bee did an Elizabeth Holmes impression too. Both are a week late to the party Busy Philipps started on late night, and I maintain that no one’s Elizabeth Holmes is better than Tavi Gevinson’s. But what Corden can bring is a glossy parody that hits the vibe of the documentary perfectly. He can cast amazing character actors as the talking heads. He’s got a graphics department. That’s the advantage late-night shows have over every schmo online: money.

“And guests! The real TV shows still have bookers that can lock in real talent. YouTubers are getting names, slowly but surely. Lilly Singh was at Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas’s wedding, for instance. But the Jonas Brothers still promoted their comeback for a week on Corden, and this week, Stephen Colbert snagged Karen O and Danger Mouse for his show Monday. They brought Spike Jonze, so The Late Show did a BTS clip about how Jonze created the visuals for the Karen O/Danger Mouse performance. At the moment, the actual performance has more views. But the BTS video for Jonze’s Apple commercial has longer legs than the commercial itself, so it’s entirely possible Colbert’s peak behind the curtain will outlive what happened on TV.

“There are some new-media spaces that late night won’t touch. Except Jimmy Kimmel, who got into the darker side of YouTube this week: baseless conspiracy theories. But the posting schedule and media reach of the new generation just can’t be done by olds and their corporate handlers. Late Night with Seth Meyers has a podcast, but it’s mostly just audio from the TV show. YouTubers have podcasts that generate entirely new content, apparently mostly about catfucking. They live in branded castles covered with their own faces and logos. They wear their own merch. They’re young, they’re hungry, and they’re unprotected by Jackie Coogan laws.

“TV networks are responding to the new media onslaught by hiring new media stars. Lilly Singh will most likely continue to make YouTube videos once she has a late-night show, much as Busy Philipps has continued making Instagram stories and Desus & Mero have continued podcasting. The only way older late-night hosts can compete is passing off the auxiliary brand arms (the pods, vlogs, and the TikToks) to writers within the show. Yes, it is time to give Steve Higgins a vlog. He’s criminally underused standing at an announcer’s podium. Let Fallon play games with Cara Delevingne, but I want to see Steve Higgins mukbang Taco Bell. I want his ASMR cooking segments. I need him to do commentary on a marble race. Give the world the premium Higgins content it deserves, Tonight Show! It’s the only way you’ll survive.”

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From The Ringer: “One of TV’s original likable scumbags once offered his formula for getting away with (emotional) murder: ‘If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.’ All people want to do, including television audiences, is forgive and forget; the trick is to give them permission to do so by offering up a shiny new thing to fixate on. Their conscience will thank you for it.

“But Barry Berkman is not Don Draper. Adultery and identity theft are one matter, serial, cold-blooded murder quite another. The titular antihero of HBO’s Barry, played by writer-director-comedian Bill Hader, is guilty of crimes as literal as they are spiritual. Juxtaposed with the petty narcissism of his acting classmates or the mock professionalism of his organized crime overlords, the height of the Marine-turned-hitman’s body count is the foundation of his namesake show’s comedy. Barry’s kill tally, and his targets, also provide an alarmingly easy answer to the fundamental question of pretty much every antihero show before it: Is our protagonist a bad person, or just a person who does bad things?

Barry’s first season was impressive in part because it wasted so little time in giving this central query a definitive answer. In the seventh, penultimate episode, Barry escalated from taking out career criminals on his bosses’ orders to killing a nonviolent civilian on the verge of turning himself, and therefore Barry, in for a job gone wrong. Then, in case viewers didn’t get the point, Barry shot the warm, dedicated detective, who’d also become his mentor’s girlfriend, after she found him out—another innocent bystander caught in the crosshairs of his cover-up. To the central irony of an assassin trying to act, Barry added a deeper, sadder one: The harder Barry tries to go straight, the more irredeemable he becomes. Barry thinks he’s entitled to freedom from his old life without facing any of its consequences, and that belief in and of itself makes him a monster—a quiet, gentle, depressed, very deadly monster.

“But the strength of Barry’s debut also seemed to spell trouble for its longevity. If Barry came down so hard, so early on the issue of Barry’s integrity, or rather lack thereof, what more ground was there to cover? Would the show descend into nihilism, or be forced to backtrack? The New York Times’s James Poniewozik channeled this sentiment in a piece headlined On That Barry Finale and Why Some Shows Are So Good, They Need to End.

“‘Either Barry is capable of change or he’s not,’ Poniewozik wrote. ‘If he is, that seems like material for one more very good season or two. If he’s not … then the character’s drive (you, and Barry, want him to redeem himself) is at odds with the needs of the plot (you, and the network, want the story to keep going).’ Hader and his cocreator Alec Berg, also of Silicon Valley, have taken such worries in stride. ‘That review was like, “Oh, awesome!”’ Hader told The New Yorker’s Tad Friend earlier this month. ‘And then it was like, “But it’s actually bad, because we’re doing Season 2 now, so …” ‘So tough shit,’ Berg added.

“I, too, struggled to see a path forward for Barry that retained its delicate balance of humor, pathos, despair, and earnest soul-searching. But that’s also why I don’t currently have an Emmy taking up real estate on my mantel. (Both Hader and his costar Henry Winkler won awards for their performances in Season 1; Barry itself was also nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series.) The show’s sophomore effort, which premieres this Sunday, doesn’t continue to probe the same gray areas around guilt and atonement. It changes the conversation.

“In the three episodes, out of an eventual eight, provided to critics, Barry accepts as a given that its central character isn’t a good person. Instead, it poses a new question: How long will it take until he can, or is forced to, admit that to himself? Given that actors stereotypically lack self-awareness, this line of inquiry applies to most of Barry’s cast, not just its eponymous lead. Emotional honesty is the core of good acting, and yet few people are less capable of being honest with themselves than theater types, even the ones who aren’t secret mercenaries.

Barry’s first season ended with a flash-forward, a near future the second-season premiere dutifully fleshes out. Barry is sharing an apartment with two of his classmates and working a day job with another at Lululemon. His unlikely comrade, a genial Chechen mobster named NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan), is adjusting to the responsibilities that come with being boss. Barry’s acting teacher, Winkler’s serenely egotistical Gene Cousineau, is shattered by grief, going so far as to consider shutting down the acting class that gives him purpose and a steady stream of adoring disciples.

“It’s not a spoiler to say he doesn’t; the show must go on, including the tragicomedy of ditching crime for bad Shakespeare. But the new project Gene seizes on also happens to be the perfect vehicle for Barry’s slightly retooled mission. Rather than rehash monologues out of everything from Macbeth to Magnolia, Cousineau charges his pupils with writing their own material, sourced from the most traumatic moments of their own lives. For Barry, that means his time in Afghanistan, which left him so shattered that a gig as a murderer for hire looked like a life raft. For his girlfriend Sally (Sarah Goldberg), a bona fide working actress still stranded in thankless bit parts, that means the abusive marriage she left to pursue her dreams in Hollywood. For Gene, it prompts one of the funniest lines of the series to date: “LET’S MAKE IT ABOUT OURSELVES FOR ONCE!”

“This pivot dovetails nicely with the standard work of a sophomore season: broadening and deepening an ensemble beyond the outlines we came to know in Volume 1. As viewers, we’ve only heard about Barry’s time at war. Now, we get full-blown, unflinching flashbacks in keeping with the show’s skepticism toward a killer who wants to move on from his past without accounting for it. (Jingoistic young men let loose in a foreign country are about as glamorous as mercenaries who strangle drug dealers in a pile of their children’s toys.) Sally’s origin story, too, provides important context for the character and her single-minded drive to succeed. But Gene’s assignment isn’t just about his students’ histories; it’s about how they choose to present those histories, often in a more flattering, less truthful light than the project calls for. Just as Barry won’t let himself reckon with the true meaning of his actions, he can’t bring himself to admit to his peers that he got a rush out of his first kill, or that he’s not the war hero they might have pictured. For her part, Sally learns she may have exaggerated her own defiance, only to shut down any doubts before they start to interfere with her self-image.

“Slowly but surely, Barry turns into a show about people who can’t acknowledge the truth about themselves, even when it’s staring them right in the face. (A version of the theme even plays out in the gangster subplot, as NoHo Hank persists in believing he can co-run the mob with his Bolivian BFF, despite pressure from his bosses and a new Burmese rival.) We know Barry’s soul is beyond repair; more importantly, Barry knows we know it, and shapes its plot accordingly. Rather than handicapping the show, the undeniability of Barry’s badness ends up a boon, precisely because he continues to deny it. The dramatic irony continues to build, likely toward its breaking point. But Barry isn’t there just yet.”

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, “Rick Devens is a whole new man. 

“The Survivor castaway broke free from the Edge of Extinction in this past week's merge episode, returning to the game with fire and fury — which may or may not be the unofficial names of the two halves of the whole immunity idol he returned with, playable only if he survived the first vote of the merge. (It's not.) The Georgia newscaster survived the merge vote indeed, though not without weathering two votes against him, one of which was cast by evening's ultimate victim: Joe ‘Joey Amazing’ Anglim, betrayed by his own Kama tribe.

“Of course, Devens knows a thing or two about getting cast out by his own people. He was first voted out at the fourth Tribal of the season, in what was supposed to be an emotional elimination for all parties involved. Turns out? Not so much, as veteran player Kelley Wentworth declared Devens her new public enemy following his unexpected return to the game. (For her part, it appears there are reasons to doubt the extent of Wentworth's desire to take down Devens, as revealed by the San Juan Del Sur and Second Chance contestant herself.) 

“What's the real reason Wentworth wanted Devens gone at the merge? The official Survivor answer will have to wait until this week's coming installment, if not later. For now, here's another account on the record: none other than the island's very own Kool-Aid Man, Rick Devens himself, who joins The Hollywood Reporter this week for an active player interview about what life was like out on Extinction, what was running through his mind on his journey back into the game, his perspective on the merge Tribal Council, and more:

Welcome back, Rick Devens! You were voted out, you survived Extinction, and now you're back. As someone who lived on both sides of this season's twist, how would you say the Edge of Extinction most impacts the traditional game of Survivor?

There are the obvious things, like sending advantages back into the game and the possibility of having to face castaways you had a hand in voting off. Another big one is the free exchange of information on the Edge of Extinction. We told each other pretty much everything. That wasn't very beneficial to me however, because everyone except Aubry was original Manu. Aubry told me a lot about Kama, but it was clear by her blindside that it might not be the whole story. Wendy tried to bring clarity to that Manu 2.0 dynamic for Aubry, but she was clearly also outside of the decision making.

You spent nearly a full week on the Edge of Extinction. How bleak was your existence out there? Who were you closest with? Who did you avoid at all costs? How did you keep comfortable, pass the time, and hang onto any shred of sanity?

It is so boring.  It's shocking how quickly you lose track of the game. I don't believe I ever would have made the mistake of solving the map for everyone if it had been "inside the game." It's a unique healing process. I didn't try to avoid any individuals, although at times I'd walk to the other side of the island to avoid everybody. Chris and I definitely got close. He was the one I felt I had most betrayed and he was really big about forgiving me. The worst thing about the Edge is the boredom and the lack of information. I fished (unsuccessfully), I napped, we talked, and we played stupid games to pass the time. Have you ever played "Big Booty"? Don't.

The six Extinct players competed in a challenge to return to the game. Congratulations! It's you! Can you walk us through that experience, from the revelation of your existence to the other players, through winning the challenge?

The six of us were waiting right outside the challenge. We knew we were competing but had no idea how it would work. We had talked, and agreed that we hoped the others would not be watching. We hear Jeff yell, "Come on in guys!" That's when we know they'll be watching. Jeff yells it again and we come in. Everybody looks shocked. I'm trying to make eyes with David and my Lesu tribe. They're all playing it cool. When Jeff describes the challenge, I think, "I can do this." By no means did I feel like it was mine to lose, but I knew I could compete. I was right on Chris' tail through the physical part of the rungless ladder and cargo net. Aubry got that lead on us using the bamboo to get the key but I was very focused on keeping pace with Chris. We got to the snake about the same time and he had the knots to work on. It felt like an out of body experience. I could hear everyone cheering us all on. I did hear Wardog supporting me quite a bit, which felt great. I was so locked in. When the ball dropped in the snake's mouth and Jeff called out my name, I was elated. But I was surrounded by these people I really cared about and we thought their game was over. It was a wide range of emotions.

As you reentered the game, what was your plan of attack? What was your philosophy on how to play the game now that you had this new lease on life?

Coming back into the game, my number one priority was to check in with my buddy, David. He and I had been 100% loyal and I wanted to make sure that was still the case. Other than that, I saw myself as a free agent. I was happy to work with former Lesu because I really liked and cared about those guys, but I also felt justified in finding new allies since I knew I was at the bottom of that five. In a big picture sense, I was going to play harder. I spent a lot of time on the Edge feeling like I had gone out too easily the first time.

I felt coming back that I was in a great position. I thought Lesu would be trying hard to reel me back in and I felt I had the social skills to fit in with the original Kama folks and wait for cracks. I tried hard at the merge feast to find that common ground and make friends. Julia and I bonded over being Army brats. Eric, Julie and I talked a lot about our kids.  Ron and I hit it off quickly, two Georgia guys. Gavin and I were fast friends and I thought Victoria was hilarious.

What were the other players' reactions to learning about the Edge of Extinction? What kinds of questions did you weather from everyone? Did you lie about any of the details?

I was pretty open about what the Edge of Extinction entailed. I withheld information about the competitions for advantages but told them about everything else. There was a real sense of dread. It was obvious people did not want to visit there. Kama was so curious about Reem and Keith. Apparently they had adopted Keith as some sort of secret mascot for their tribe. I guess you have a lot of time for that sort of thing, dancing, and singing when Joey Amazing is on your tribe. My tribes were so consistently jealous of the vacation Kama was on with Joe. He is, by the way, as amazing as advertised.

After your return, in no time at all, Wentworth set her sights on you — a surprising development given the closeness of the Lesu Five, as seen in your fateful Tribal Council. Can you help us understand what's happening here, as best as you're able?

I loved Lesu. I went to Joe and pitched a Lesu plus Joe and Aurora alliance. David did too. Then Julie came to me and said Wentworth and Lauren wanted to send me right back to the Edge. I was shocked. I couldn't believe they'd do that to me on a personal level, and it made no sense to me on a game level. I thought they'd be overjoyed to have me back. I told David, he was just as confused. As weird as it was to hear, it's important to note that I also never doubted Julie, Ron, and Eric were telling me the truth. Lesu had been less than welcoming. I was told by Kama folks that Wardog did not want to do it. Wardog and I were good friends and he was pushing for David to go, but was overruled.

You ended up working with Kama on this vote. Was this simply self-preservation, or did you feel you could trust and work with these people moving forward?

I felt like Kama was such a big and untested group that they would fracture. I believed if David and I could get Kama to focus on the three other Lesu for a few Tribals, they would turn on each other and David and I would be able to pick our path. David was a lot less comfortable. He felt we were putting too much power in their hands by letting them leave us out of the vote. They did not tell us who they were voting for because they did not trust us. I told them we would vote for Wentworth and they said, "Do it." David and I talked a lot about possibilities but didn't have a lot of options because we did not want the other Lesu to know their plan was not the plan.

As part of your reentry into the game, you earned a two-part idol that can only work if you survived the first vote of the merge. What were your thoughts on how to use it?

There was no doubt I wanted to give half to David. The thought of using it as a bargaining tool with Kama was too much risk. If someone came to me and said, "I have an idol. I can't use it tonight but after tonight it's full power." I'd vote that person out. One less idol to worry about. So I knew I could trust David. The problem was making sure both of us made it through Tribal. Once Joe was voted out, our idol gained its wings. Now the powerhouse DAVENS™ alliance has an extra tool in our arsenal.

At Tribal Council, we saw Reem, Chris and Aubry return as members of the jury. Were you surprised?

I was shocked. I was also happier than ever that I had won the challenge to re-enter the game. We didn't know where Keith and Wendy had gone so we didn't know why these three were still around and those two were not. But I was really happy to see those guys. I really had grown to care about them and was crushed when I thought they were out of the game. I was happy to see they still had a chance. I also felt like my time on Extinction could pay off in the form of jury votes. Reem and Chris had never met anyone from Kama and disliked most of Manu. I had made my peace with them, and formed a friendship with Aubry outside of the strategic game.

Heading out of this Tribal Council, Joe's gone and the Lesu Five have shot their votes all over the place. You have a newly minted idol burning a hole in your pocket. What's your take on the state of the game and your place in it as you're exiting Tribal that night?

I'm feeling good exiting Tribal. Three days earlier I was on the Edge, now I was safe because strangers had come to my aid. I felt like David and I proved ourselves to the Kama Six and that put us in a much better spot than the Lesu Three. With our idol, I felt like David and I were in a strong spot to take advantage of the fallout. I'm also feeling super smug towards my old tribe because they took a shot and missed. I was hurt, mad, and so happy to be playing Survivor again.

Oh, yeah. Before you go, one last thing: what's up with you and the Kool-Aid Man?

That took on a life of it's own. I think I said the Kool-Aid Man's "Oh Yeah!" line twice during the game, once in an interview on day one, and once before the very first immunity challenge. I was surprised when they showed it and embarrassed. When I'm self-conscious about something I try to own it (think: dadbod) so that's what I did. But then people didn't make fun, they seemed to laugh with instead of at me. The whole thing became really positive and I've doubled down with GIFs as I was voted out and won my way back in. My wife Becca, who is an amazing twitter follow, really bought in. The rest is history.”