Monday July 1, 2019

I started a rewatch of Friday Night Lights, which is just a spectacular show. Between a Pearl Jam song and Mike Ross cameo within the first 4 episodes, it’s a must watch for anyone who’s never seen it.

Euphoria is becoming more difficult to watch by the week, but I find that I cannot quit. More below.

Season 3 of HBO’s Divorce premieres tonight.

Food Network debuts something called Cupcake Championship tonight.

A new stand up special from Katherine Ryan is now streaming on Netflix.

Lisa Vanderpump could be expanding her West Hollywood restaurant empire, Page Six has learned. An LA source told us of the Vanderpump Rules star: ‘Lisa’s hubby, Ken, was seen last week at 8755 Melrose near Robertson Boulevard. It’s around the corner from Sur. It looked like he was with a broker and an assistant. The vacant restaurant had a “leased” sign on it a few days later,’ the spy said. In addition to Sur, Lisa and Ken also own LA eateries Pump and Villa Blanca, plus Tom Tom with co-stars Tom Sandoval and Tom Schwartz, and new Vanderpump Cocktail Garden in Vegas.

Here’s a look at the cast of CBS’ Love Island, which is simply Paradise Hotel under a different header.

Not surprisingly, Meryl Streep continues to be incredible on Pretty Little Lies. More below.

Here’s a trailer for Hulu’s upcoming Four Weddings And A Funeral.

Seasons 1-3 of Veronica Mars are now streaming on Hulu.

How long before this guy has his own show called Revenge Body? The show of the same name fronted by Khloe Kardashian was a colossal fail. Someone will fall for a second go around.

“Miley Cyrus “had a few surprises during her concert at the Glastonbury Festival in the U.K. this weekend, one of which was strutting out on stage as Ashley O, her character from the Black Mirror season 5 episode Rachel, Jack and Ashley, Too.

Early reactions to Fox’s new show What Just Happened?!?! With Fred Savage have not been positive.

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From The Hollywood Reporter: “Liam Hemsworth has signed on to star in a thriller for shortform streamer Quibi that has echoes of his breakout role in The Hunger Games franchise. 

“Hemsworth will play the lead in an untitled thriller from writer Nick Santora (Scorpion, Prison Break) and CBS Television Studios. He plays a terminally ill man named Dodge Maynard who's desperate to provide for his pregnant wife before he dies. To that end, he accepts an offer to participate in a deadly game where he discovers he's not the hunter, but the prey.

“Santora will executive produce the project with director Phil Abraham (Mad Men, Daredevil), Gordon Gray and Silver Reel Pictures.

“Hemsworth becomes the latest high-profile name to commit to a show on Quibi, which will offer shortform series broken into eight- to 10-minute "chapters" upon its launch in 2020. The service, backed by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, aims to offer high-quality programming to mobile users, with shows shot specifically to be viewed on mobile devices.

“Among those also developing or starring in shows for Quibi are Jennifer Lopez, Idris Elba, Chrissy Teigen, Lena Waithe, Don Cheadle, Tyra Banks and Lorne Michaels. The service will also be home to revivals of MTV's Punk'd and Singled Out and plans to offer short daily newscasts and a sports highlights show.

“Hemsworth is coming off rom-com Isn't It Romantic and has thriller Killerman due to hit theaters in August. He just completed a feature called Arkansas opposite Vince Vaughn; other recent credits include Independence Day: Resurgence and The Duel. “

Per Deadline, “Pretty Little Liars alum Shay Mitchell made an surprise announcement today via her YouTube  page.

“‘There is something in the oven and it’s not my pizza!!! WOW… It’s kind of surreal processing the fact that another human is growing inside of you,’ she said.

“Yes, Mitchell is pregnant with her first child with Matte Babel. And she plans to document her pregnancy journey in a biweekly YouTube Original Series titled Almost Ready, which will premiere July 17 and post every other Wednesday. 

“‘It’s exciting, nerve-racking, difficult and emotional all at the same time,’ said Mitchell, whose credits include You and the upcoming Hulu comedy series Dollface. ‘Everyone waits for the right time to make the announcement, and for me, it wasn’t until I couldn’t hide it anymore and was tired of wearing over-sized sweatshirts. We’re beyond excited and looking forward to starting a family. I’ve learned so much about myself and parenthood over the past six months, and feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface! It’s going to be a wild ride!!’

“Mitchell plans to document the highs and lows of her pregnancy, including the endless hunt for non-alcoholic wine and lathering herself in every oil known to man.

“Why document it? “Women go through a lot during pregnancy,” said Mitchell. ‘It’s exciting, difficult, emotional and amazing all at the same time, and I wanted to share my journey with more than just a photo.’

“On board for the series are executive producers Eli Holzman and Aaron Saidman for Industrial Media’s The Intellectual Property Corporation, executive producer and showrunner Tracy Wares, and executive producers Mitchell and Babel.”

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The return of HBO's Big Little Lies has been building toward a showdown between Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman's characters, and Sunday's episode revealed the former's grand plan.

“Ever since her season two arrival, Mary Louise Wright (Streep) has been epically inserting herself into the lives of the Monterey Five characters. In the fourth episode — titled She Knows — Mary Louise hires a lawyer and files a petition for guardianship against her daughter-in-law, Celeste Wright (Kidman), whom she believes is unfit to care for her grandsons, Celeste's twin second-grade boys.

“The act of betrayal comes after futile attempts to uncover the truth on her own about how her son Perry Wright (Alexander Skarsgard) died, and why he would sexually assault Jane Chapman (Shailene Woodley) if he was happy in his marriage with Celeste — despite how many times Celeste has told Mary Louise that Perry abused her. In addition to dealing with her personal trauma from the domestic abuse, Celeste is also holding the group's big lie close to the chest: She, along with the rest of the Monterey Five, witnessed Bonnie Carlson (Zoe Kravitz) push Perry to his death in an act of self-defense.

“By offering her services as a hands-on grandmother to a grieving Celeste, an all-seeing Mary Louise has witnessed more than enough events to concern Celeste when it comes to her case. After Celeste crashed her car while driving on Ambien, a snooping Mary Louise rifled through her prescription drawer; Mary Louise also saw Celeste push one of her boys while they were fighting and, on Sunday, the grandmother was on the receiving end of a slap in the face from Celeste. But the moment that perhaps pushed her over the edge came when Mary Louise returned the boys home after a sleepover and found an out-of-sorts Celeste nearly in bed with a one-night stand.

"‘I'm worried about the boys. Because you seem unwell, erratic. You hit me. You snapped,’ Mary Louise tells Celeste during their first sitdown after the slap. Later, when delivering the legal papers, she tells her blindsided daughter-in-law, ‘I think you need to take some real time to heal, and while you do that, I think Max and Josh should reside with me.’

“When Celeste puts up a fight, Mary Louise tells her flatly, ‘You're a mess, Celeste. And until you're better, we need to think about protecting the well-being of our boys. ... They're at risk here. They're at risk in your care.’

“Mary Louise, viewers find out, is now playing dirty to get what she wants by nabbing the best lawyer in the Bay Area and preventing Celeste from hiring the next-best options by conflicting them out. "Its an ugly process," Mary Louise is told. The attorney she hires is Ira Farber (Denis O'Hare), who is the best family law attorney in town, according to Renata (Laura Dern).

"‘She’s everything you hope she’s going to be. She is fun, she’s serious. She’s really, really dedicated to what she does,’ O'Hare, who calls his character ‘very intense,’ told The Hollywood Reporter at the Big Little Lies premiere about Streep. ‘She’s brilliant when you watch her act. She’s insecure like the rest of us. She’s completely the best version of all the things you would hope. She’s brilliant.’

“Of Streep's subtly altered appearance for the role, including glasses, a wig and fake teeth, O'Hare says, ‘It’s a very, very small thing. I know why she does it. It’s to sort of shock you into being that person.’

“When talking about the second season, Kidman had warned that Celeste's journey as a domestic abuse survivor would be controversial. ‘We’re not doing an overall analysis of domestic violence,’ she said at a cast panel at the the Wing SoHo ahead of the premiere. ‘This is a very particular story with this particular woman. Hopefully it’s incredibly real. And there’s an enormous amount of truth in it. I was adamant when we started the series that [Celeste] wasn’t a superhero. She wasn’t coming out of this saying, “I’m healed. Off I go. Let’s go.” So you’re going to see the path and her navigating the path of what that means.’

“She added, ‘There hopefully will be discussion and create more and more awareness and discussion and, hopefully, change.’

“Creator and executive producer David E. Kelley had also set the season two tone when speaking to THR to say that the paths to healing for both Celeste and Jane would be ‘complicated and tricky.’ He added specifically of Celeste's arc, ‘We don’t shy away from it, and Nicole doesn’t shy away from it. She really tunnels in on Celeste — the good, the bad and the ugly.’

“Now that Mary Louise lives in the same apartment building as Jane and her paternal grandson, Ziggy, (Iain Armitage), a confrontation between the new in-laws, followed by a conversation with Celeste and her therapist (Robin Weigert), signals that neither Mary Louise nor Celeste will be backing down.

"‘I've seen the way these things play out, nobody wins,’ Celeste's therapist warns — with three episodes left.”

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From The Ringer: “In the first scene of the first episode of Zendaya’s Disney Channel series K.C. Undercover, the titular teenage spy and her parents are eating dinner at a prim French restaurant when they notice an enemy agent slip out through a backdoor and into a private lounge. K.C.—disguised in fishnets, black lipstick, and a punky wig—leaps up to trail him. ‘You can’t go in the lounge,’ her father stops her, pointing to a sign by the door that reads ADULTS ONLY. ‘Not a problem,’ says K.C., disappearing behind a wall and throwing off her wig. A moment later, she emerges in what can only be described as adult drag: A one-sleeved evening gown, full makeup, deadly serious expression. Zendaya hams it up, brushing her hair out of her face in an exaggerated pantomime of maturity. Says her father, a beat ahead of the canned laugh track, ‘My little girl’s grown up so fast!’

“Across three seasons and 76 episodes, K.C. Undercover was in some sense an excuse for the stylistically chameleonic Zendaya to dress up in a dizzying array of costumes, from the glamorous to wacky to genuinely absurd. In one episode, she was a kickass, Pam Grier–esque agent known as Bad, Bad Cleo Brown; in another, she went undercover in an all-boys’ military school and was unrecognizable as her male alter ego Guy Mann. Perhaps most memorably, she and guest star Raven-Symoné dressed up as elderly male janitors, complete with prosthetics and graying facial hair; yes, this is really Zendaya.

“But she had some higher aims with K.C. Undercover, too. In 2013, after the success of her first Disney show Shake It Up, a then 16-year-old Zendaya took a meeting with the heads of the channel, who had presented her with a potential new project, a teen-espionage-based comedy, the working title of which was Super Awesome Katy. Before she’d sign on, Zendaya had a few demands. ‘I was like, “The title is whack. That’s gonna change,”’ she recounted in a Vogue cover story several years later. She also wanted to change her character’s name to something a little less girly (‘Do I look like a Katy to you?’ she asked them). Most crucially, though, she wanted her family on the show to be black. ‘I didn’t feel like there was any other choice,’ she later reflected in a Glamour interview. ‘I was like, “If I’m going to do this, this is how it has to be.” There needs to be a black family on the Disney Channel. A lot of people who aren’t people of color can’t quite understand what it’s like to grow up and not see yourself in mainstream media.’

“The Disney executives agreed to her terms, including one that she become a producer on the series. At 16, she became one of the youngest producers in the Disney Channel’s history—neither the first nor the last time she’d make a mockery of the Adults Only room.

“Rue, the character that Zendaya plays on the new HBO show Euphoria, is only one year older than the character she played on her Disney Channel series, though the similarities between the two projects end right there. Far from the family-friendly fodder of her K.C. years, Euphoria has been greeted with a near-unprecedented degree of pearl-clutching and parental distress. ‘Thirty penises in one episode?’ asked a now-infamous Hollywood Reporter piece that ran ahead of the pilot, ‘Zendaya’s new series, filled with graphic nudity, violence, and drug use among young people, is so extreme that one star quit mid-shoot.’ To call the show ‘Zendaya’s series’ in this context is a bit unfair (Euphoria was created by the 34-year-old writer-director Sam Levinson, and partially based on his teenage experience with drug addiction and hard partying), but Rue does serve as Euphoria’s de facto narrator, guiding the viewer through a 21th-century Inferno saturated with casual pill popping, hookup apps, and omnipresent internet porn. In Sunday night’s episode, Zendaya narrated both an installment of smutty One Direction fan fiction and a humorous, eye-popping aside about acceptable dick-pic etiquette. ‘Some people say eyes are the windows to the soul,’ Rue said, imitating a teacher’s drone. ‘I disagree. I think it’s the dick. And how you fucking photograph it.’

“Suffice it to say we’re outside the city limits of the Magic Kingdom.

“Zendaya spent the first 13 years of her life in Oakland, the daughter of two teachers. When her father was growing up, Black Panther meetings were sometimes held in the basement of his home, since two of his sisters were active members of the party. Her mother taught public school in an impoverished community and, as a second job, was the house manager of the California Shakespeare Company. (The Company’s productions were Zendaya’s earliest exposure to acting; her favorite Shakespearean character, she told Voguerecently with a breezy familiarity, is Viola from Twelfth Night.)

“Intense and introverted, Zendaya attended the private school where her dad taught and where she was one of the only black students. In one interview, she recalled how, the first time she straightened her hair, she got incessant compliments. ‘That made me feel weird,’ she said. Observing the stark contrast between the two schools where her parents taught gave Zendaya an early awareness that the idea of the Universal High School Experience depicted in most TV shows and movies is usually a distortion if not an outright lie, and that all sorts of outside factors and larger systemic forces contribute to how one perceives their ‘wholesome’ teen years.

“Shy as she was, Zendaya felt comfortable on stage. She began doing some local acting and modeling and, when she was 13, she was scouted by an L.A. talent agent that lead to Disney offering her a role on Shake It Upalongside costar Bella Thorne. But—this being the 21st century and all—the first time that most people over the age of the average Disney Channel viewer heard the name Zendaya was the result of one viral controversy or another. Maybe it was in 2014, when 17-year-old Zendaya’s name was attached to a rumored Aaliyah biopic; Aaliyah’s family objected to the project, and Zendaya later backed out, saying she felt like “production-wise everything just felt a little rushed.” But Zendaya’s first real brush with mainstream attention, unfortunately, came when Fashion Police host Giuliana Rancic sparked outrage by suggesting that the 18-year-old actress’s dreadlocked hair at the 2015 Academy Awards smelled of ‘patchouli oil’ and ‘weed.’

“The next day, Zendaya posted to Instagram a lengthy response that seemed wiser than her 18 years. ‘There is already harsh criticism of African American hair in society without the help of ignorant people who choose to judge others based on the curl of their hair,’ she wrote. ‘My wearing my hair in locs on an Oscar red carpet was to showcase them in a positive light, to remind people of color that our hair is good enough. To me locs are a symbol of strength and beauty, almost like a lion’s mane.’

“There’s a Zendaya moment I love in 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming—actually, I love every all-too-brief moment she’s on screen in Spider-Man: Homecoming—when, during an academic decathlon meeting, Zendaya’s character MJ notices Peter Parker mysteriously sneaking off somewhere yet again. ‘What are you hiding, Peter?’ she asks melodramatically. Then she laughs and abruptly switches her tone to sardonic irony: ‘I’m-just-kidding-I-don’t-care-bye.’

“The characters Zendaya plays aren’t know-it-alls so much as they are just knowing, and something about that quality feels specific to her generation. A Gen-Z Spider-Man has to operate on a meta level because we’ve all seen this movie before, quite literally; Zendaya herself has already lived through three different Spider-Men and two Mary Janes. To be young and digitally native in 2019 is to experience culture as an endless succession of reboots and easily obtainable knowledge. And so she knows on some instinctual level that this is the part of the story where she suspects something is up with Peter Parker, and so she must encase her lines in the particular kind of humor that makes us know that she knows there are no new stories left under the sun. Zendaya is very good at playing these sorts of characters; she exists with a perpetual air of already-having-Googled-it.

“But at the same time, there is actually something new about the characters she embodies, MJ in particular. She’s not the stereotypical superhero movie love interest, or even the standard teen-movie female protagonist. She’s the one that used to be relegated to a supporting character rather than the colead; MJ is much more Ally Sheedy than Molly Ringwald. And as opposed to, say, the steamy Spidey-Kiss of the 2002 movie, it’s not even clear yet after Homecoming whether anything romantic is going to happen between Peter and MJ at all. ‘She’s not Mary Jane Watson, that’s not who the character is,’ Spider-Man producer Kevin Feige said of Zendaya’s character. ‘Clearly, she says she’s not obsessed with him, she’s just observant. But she’s there.’ Zendaya’s take on MJ? ‘She’s always thinking about something, always reading. I like that. And I also like that I don’t really have to do anything for hair and makeup. I just get to walk in and walk out.’

“A shrugging androgyny, too, is a significant part of Zendaya’s particular cool. She has both Jaden and Willow Smith energy, except a little more ... grounded. ‘I was lucky to have parents who let me wear what I wanted to wear and let me shop where I wanted to shop,’ she told fellow actress Yara Shahidi two years ago in a Glamour interview. ‘Nine times out of 10 I was shopping in the boys section. I wore cargo shorts and hoodies. That was my uniform.’ Euphoria’s Rue has a similar stylistic sensibility, fashioning, say, a boys’ oversize tie-dye alien T-shirt into a knee-grazing dress. ‘Not only does Zendaya love fashion but she understands that you can play a role when you get dressed,’ the designer Michael Kors said admiringly of her two years ago, after dressing her as a glimmering, bowl-cut robot at the previous year’s Met Gala. The onetime star of K.C. Undercover has grown into perhaps the quintessential Gen-Z fashion avatar for how fluidly she can slip between butch and femme, old and new, high-fashion and low-top sneakers. She can be the girl in the Bruno Mars video, yes. But—as the world saw when she played him in drag on Lip Sync Battle, strutting her stuff to 24K Magic—she can just as easily be the Bruno Mars.

“‘Here’s the fucking thing that pisses me off about the world,’ Rue says in the pilot of Euphoria, as some of the show’s male characters flip through leaked naked photos of one of their female classmates. ‘Everytime someone’s shit gets leaked, whether it’s J-Law, or Leslie Jones, the whole world’s like, if you don’t want it out there, don’t take the nudes in the first place. I’m sorry. I know your generation relied on flowers and father’s permission, but it’s 2019, and unless you’re Amish, nudes are the currency of love. So stop shaming us. Shame the assholes who create password-protected online directories of naked underage girls.’

“Although critics of Euphoria have accused the show of trading on shock value and exaggerating the sexualized nature of the digital era, this monologue took on new meaning several days after the episode aired, when leaked photos of Zendaya’s now-21-year-old former Disney costar Bella Thorne surfaced. The old holier-than-thou arguments were trotted out—’If you’re famous, I don’t care how old you are, you don’t take nude photos of yourself,’ Whoopi Goldberg said on The View—and Zendaya came to her friend’s defense with a very Rue-like statement of support. ‘[Zendaya] called me today to make sure I was OK,” Thorne wrote on Instagram, “we talked a lot about this generation, the one before us as well, and how as women we shouldn’t feel bad about ourselves and our bodies. Slut shaming is one of the biggest topics of this generation but yet we still keep going on somehow.’

“Much like the endless iterations of Spider-Man, ‘Disney star’s fall from grace’ is a story we’ve heard way too many times before. Zendaya is ready to once again wrestle control from her elders and update that arc. The night Euphoria premiered, she posted another eloquent note to her Instagram account, which now has more than 57 million followers. ‘Just a reminder before tonight’s premiere that Euphoria is for mature audiences,’ she wrote. ‘There are scenes that are graphic, hard to watch and can be triggering. Please only watch if you feel like you can handle it. Do what’s best for you. I will still love you and feel your support.’

“Her tone is comforting, calm, all-seeing. Classic Zendaya. What’s striking is that she’s worried not about the outraged adults gasping ‘30 penises?!’ but the well-being of viewers who are, presumably, around her age. She respects them enough to let them be responsible for their decisions: Do what’s best for you. She knows they’ve been through a lot, because she has too: She’s dealt with ignorant people twice her age, misrepresenting her in front of the entire world. She’s been treated like a grown-up child and an immature adult, whichever stereotype has been more convenient to the media at a given moment. Such is growing up in this accelerated culture. But Zendaya has emerged as an icon for her generation because she gives off this conspiratorial air, as if being young right now meant being admitted into a covert club, complete with its own jokes, memes, tribulations, and secret handshakes. Sure, at any point she could throw on the right disguise to be admitted into the Adults Only room. But what’s the rush? Is anyone really having that much fun in there?”

Friday June 28, 2019

Pop has picked up One Day At A Time.

Showtime premieres The Loudest Voice on Sunday. Here’s a review.

100% Julian Edelman airs tonight on Showtime. “Narrated by acclaimed actor Michael Rapaport and featuring original conversations with everyone from Mark Wahlberg to Snoop Dogg, Tom Brady, Michael Strahan and Deion Sanders, the film is an imaginative look inside Julian Edelman's underdog journey from major injury and NFL suspension to Super Bowl MVP in 2019.”

Here’s the trailer.

Family Business is now streaming on Netflix.

As is Instant Hotel. “Teams of Australian homeowners compete for the title of best Instant Hotel by staying overnight in each other's rentals and rating their experience.”

Ramy Youssef: Feelings premieres on HBO on Saturday.

The trailer.

Starz debuts The Rook on Sunday.

Fox premieres What Just Happened with Fred Savage on Sunday night.

I sound like a broken record (pun intended), but I continue to really enjoy NBC’s Songland.

“The second Democratic debate, headlined by former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Kamala Harris, outperformed the first in the preliminary ratings. Thursday night’s debate, which featured a fierce back-and-forth on the issue of healthcare, scored a 8.05 household rating in metered markets on NBC, up around 13% from the Wednesday night sparring session which scored a round 7.0 in the same metric. Those figures don’t include MSNBC and Telemundo, which both also broadcast the debate. The total viewership figure for the second debate across the three networks will be made available later in the day.”

El Rey Network has begun production on the unscripted travelogue series United Tacos of America, which sets out to locate the best tacos in America. Produced by Taco Journalism, United Tacos of America (8 x 30 minutes) will follow creators and hosts Mando Rayo and Jarod Neece as they embark on a journey across the country to discover new flavors, cultures and regional variations of the traditional Mexican dish. Taco Journalism’s Mando Rayo and Jarod Neece are the executive producers alongside series director Dennis Burnett.”

Thomas Ravenel is offloading his multimillion-dollar South Carolina estate in the wake of his legal battles. The former Southern Charm star, 56, listed the mansion known as Brookland Plantation at $3.95 million. According to real estate records, he purchased the property in 2006 for $2,586,667. It features four bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms over approximately 60 acres.”

A double date with Michael Jordan and Cristiano Ronaldo?

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, “[w]hen Andy Cohen receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which Real Housewives stars will he invite to the ceremony? ‘That's a really good question!’ Cohen tells The Hollywood Reporter of the daunting task ahead of him in 2020.

“It's to little surprise that picking from the deep bench of Bravo's reality star lineup would be a challenge for the Real Housewives brand ambassador. Stars across all cities of the franchise came out in full force when the executive producer (who helped launch the franchise in the early 2000s) and longtime Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen host held a baby shower before the arrival of son Benjamin Allen, who was born via surrogate in February. Adding to the Bravo star power was the single father's pal John Mayer, who made a surprise appearance at the extravagant event.

“Now, Mayer is once again showing up for the late-night host by adding his name to the guest list for Cohen's 10th anniversary show of Watch What Happens Live. Joining Mayer is superfan Chrissy Teigen and Real Housewives of New York City star Luann de Lesseps, the latter performing her new single to cap off a night that promises to be filled with Bravo fandom and nostalgia. ‘We have a lot to get through, but we jam a lot into a half hour every night. That’s one of the hallmarks of the show,’ says Cohen, who remains the only gay late night host on TV, of the pop-culture powerhouse he's created.

“Below, in a chat with THR, Cohen looks back on 10 years of clubhouse success, which he credits to a ‘home-made’ and ‘high-low’ vibe that it is ‘unlike all of the shiny floor late-night shows.’ WWHL, which he calls an extension of his living room, has become a must-visit for A-listers and even predicted the election of Donald Trump. He also shares his hopes for more diversity across the late-night dial (‘It’s time for a network to put a woman on five nights a week’) and teases a Bravo float that is ‘going to break gay Pride’ at this weekend's New York City WorldPride parade:

Chrissy Teigen and Luann de Lesseps (aka the Countess) are your Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen 10th anniversary guests. The show, airing Thursday, closes out two weeks of a 10 p.m. programming move to honor the 10-year milestone. Why these stars? 

Well, we added a third special guest: John Mayer. And if you look at those three people, they are so emblematic of the diversity of Watch What Happens Live. You have a Real Housewife, a Real Housewife superfan and then you have an absolute rockstar who has nothing to do with Real Housewives but who is part of the Watch What Happens Live culture. John hosted my 50th birthday show, so we obviously love him and I’m so excited that he’ll be on the 10th show as well. It’s going to be a lot of fun and a look back. John is going to help us play a game and the Countess is going to perform her new song. 

The WWHL clubhouse got a 2017 makeover, but the 30-seat downtown Manhattan set remains as intimate as when you launched in 2009. As you've grown over the years and expanded with large-scale L.A. shows, how tempted have you been to go bigger — and why haven’t you?

We always love the opportunity to bring the show to larger audiences. It’s exciting and it’s a jolt for us. But, I have to say, I think our real roots will always remain in the show being a combination of Wayne’s World and Playboy After Dark, and I think the small studio lends itself to that experience. Part of the longevity and appeal of the show is that it is unlike all of the shiny floor late-night shows. This feels more home-made. We’re the only live show in late night and anything can happen, and there’s an authenticity to the experience of being in this little 30-seat clubhouse that conveys onscreen and into peoples’ homes. There’s a connection that people have to that experience that is unlike the other shows.

In this 10th anniversary lead-up you’ve been looking back at iconic clubhouse moments. While memory lane is fresh, what are some of your personal favorites — and what are the most cringeworthy?

There have been so many peaks and so many valleys in 10 years; so many shows and so many guests. I guess the peaks are rather obvious, if you know me: Meryl Streep, Cher, Oprah. With all of the kind of divas we’ve had on the show — J. Lo, Mariah Carey, Lady Gaga — I feel like we’ve gotten such a different interview out of them than any other show. I’m really proud that you could have seen someone on so many other shows, but when you see them on ours, it’s an entirely different experience. That’s another reason why those interviews stand out to me. And, of course, all the times Joan Rivers was on. That was really special to me. And in terms of the low points? Oh, man. I step my foot it in so many times. Sometimes I’ve gone one step too far in prying. We’ve had some technical difficulties; we’ve had a fire alarm go off and the lights go out. Hurricane Sandy sidelined us for a minute. And I made out with Cloris Leachman — I can’t tell if that's a highlight or not!

What is your favorite all-time "Plead the Fifth" game admission?

It’s every time we play the game. I have to say, there’s no one admission that sounds out. We’ve cut more highlight reels than you can believe. This show has generated so much clickbait, we’re like a clickbait machine.

At what point in these last 10 years did you feel a shift and that WWHL had cemented itself in pop culture?

Meryl Streep coming on [in 2012] was really a turning point for the show. She had a movie out and it was more female-centric and it was big for us. I had been leaning on the kindness of friends to do the show, like Sarah Jessica Parker and Liam Neeson and Jerry Seinfeld. And they were all very kind and did the show. And then when we started booking guests who came on just because they thought it would be good for one reason or another, that was big. She opened the door [on future asks] and Oprah [the following year] did, too.

Who is still on your dream guest wishlist?

So many. Madonna, Michelle Obama, to name a few.

A year ago, you said you would welcome President Trump on the show. Is he still on that list?

Sure. I think he would wind up storming off, but yeah, why not?

Would you pair him with a Real Housewife?

He is a Housewife. I would pair him with no one.

What about the 2020 candidates? You use moments on your show to address major political and social issues. Do you have plans to wade more into politics during election season? 

I’m the only gay late-night host and so I view it as a personal responsibility to speak up when our rights are being threatened, which has happened more, or when someone says something terrible or when there’s a teachable moment. Those are the opportunities that I really lean into, otherwise I feel like there’s enough politics everywhere else. And in terms of presidential candidates, for sure we’ll have some on. But I don’t like to go too deep. I really like to have fun. I will say that we predicted Trump winning. We had a poll on our show that asked: "Who would you vote for if the election was held today?" And Trump won. So, there you go.

Your 10th anniversary show comes during Pride Month. Does the fact that you are still the only gay late-night host surprise you?

It doesn’t really surprise me. There is Samantha Bee, but it’s incredible to me that there are no five-night-a-week talk shows helmed by women. It makes no sense to me. So, no. The idea that I’d be the only gay guy and that it’s been 10 years, that doesn’t really surprise me.

What would you like to see in terms of more progress on late night — more streaming opportunities?

I don’t know the answer. I think it’s time for a network to put a woman on five nights a week. I’d love to see that. 

WWHL is unique in that you have big guests who come on to revisit the events of the latest Bravo episode. How do you warm them up?

I don’t have non-Bravo guests on to talk about Bravo shows unless they’re fans. This week, I [had] Chaka Khan and Adam Lambert on and we’re going to talk about Chaka Khan and Adam Lambert. So it just depends what night it is and what we’re going for that night. But one of the reasons that I love Watch What Happens Live is that I think it’s high-low. If you open up an Us Weekly magazine, you not only see Kerry Washington, you also see [Real Housewives of Atlanta star] NeNe Leakes. I feel like we’re a true representation of who America is viewing as stars these days. And I like that. I think it’s democratic.

How many hours of Bravo do you watch a week?

I really watch the shows that I’m responsible for, which is all the Real Housewives. When there are reunion shows that I’m doing, I usually binge those shows. I don't have time to watch a ton of other shows. I do watch a lot of documentaries.

How has being a dad impacted your longterm goals for WWHL?

The good news is that he goes to bed at 8:30 p.m. and I leave for my show between 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. And then he wakes up between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m., which is the time I was waking up anyway. So, the schedule actually works pretty well for me.

In addition to WWHL and your Bravo role, you also have a SiriusXM show, an imprint and a U.S. tour with Anderson Cooper. Will you also keep hosting CNN's New Year's Eve Live celebration?

I would love to do New Year’s Eve again. We’ve had two years of incredible ratings success for a franchise that existed on CNN for years and years before it, and I’m really proud of that. And I obviously love working with Anderson. We just had two very successful shows Friday and Saturday at the Beacon Theater. I have Radio Andy, all the Housewives, the reunion shows for all of those and the other Bravo shows, plus Watch What Happens Live. So I have to say, my dance card is pretty full. And I’m just focusing on all of that.

What has turning 10 made you reevaluate the most? Are there any regrets?

I have no professional regrets. There was a moment in my life where I had been offered the job of head of production at Bravo and Logo was starting, and I wanted to be head of Logo production, because I thought, “There’s no one gayer in programming.” I didn’t get that job. And I remember being depressed that I didn’t get the job, but thank God I didn’t because this whole thing wouldn’t have happened without Bravo. I’m so grateful to Bravo. Bravo is so a part of my life.

What about the next decade of WHHL: How many years do you envision doing the show?

I haven’t thought about that. For us, every new guest, every new big star that we get to come on the show who has never been on is why I keep doing it. And, beyond that, it's for people who love the show. One of the things that keeps me engaged is, “Oh, wow. We have Chaka Khan this week. She’s never been on. That’s really exciting. John [Mayer] agreed to come back — how awesome.” The Rock was on a few months ago and we had never had him on. That’s cool for me, because I had never met The Rock and him viewing this show as important enough to come on and do? That’s exciting.

Why do you think the Real Housewives franchise has stayed strong after all these years? And would you call it empowering?

People think of the show and they sometimes think of a table flip or more conflict or drama, but if that was the only note of the show, it wouldn’t still be going as strong and it wouldn’t be the pop-culture powerhouse it still is today on every platform that is presented. It’s relatable, it’s funny, it is shocking. And people love to judge human behavior. Being able to look at these women — who you either love or love to hate, or root for or root against — and see how they’re living their lives as wives, mothers, sisters, friends; there is something that satisfies us about that. There are some endorphins that are released in us. I think it’s replaced the soap opera and it’s like guilt-free gossiping. You can watch it and not feel bad about it. It’s fun and it’s also something that bonds us together. I know more people who have said, “My mom and I get along about nothing, but we love talking about the Housewives. It’s our happy place.” And I think that’s a real thing.

You once said you would never scale back when it comes to hosting the Real Housewives reunion shows. Do you still stand by that?

I’ll host them for as long as Bravo wants me to host them. I love it. And also, it’s where I cut my teeth. I think one of the reasons people love Watch What Happens Live is that I go there and ask questions you aren’t going to see on other shows. But the way that I cut my teeth as a host is with the Housewives and asking them questions they couldn’t believe they were being asked in front of polite company. Now I can transfer those questions and ask them to big stars. I appreciate that.

How would you characterize the upcoming Beverly Hills and New York reunion shows?

They are excellent. They’re really good. New York is that perfect mix of intense drama with some hilarious moments and some fantastic resolution. And Beverly Hills is really good and really dramatic. [Co-star Lisa] Vanderpump wasn’t there. I wish she had been there and I think she would have come out of it with more resolution. I think she hopefully would have been able to resolve some stuff. I gather that she doesn’t want to so, there you go.

Lisa Vanderpump exited Beverly Hills after nine years and skipped the reunion taping. Have you spoken with her about returning?

No. I think she knows it’s an open door and, like all these shows, the show will go on. We will miss her. But there is a fantastic group of all-stars that remain on the show so I can’t wait to see what happens next.

How many Housewives do you have coming on the Bravo float for the NYC WorldPride parade? 

The float is going to break gay Pride. It really is. It’s basically my baby shower ,but on a float. It’s me and NeNe Leakes and Teresa [Giudice] and Dorinda [Medley] and Sonja [Morgan] and Melissa [Gorga] and Margaret Josephs and LeeAnne Locken and Gizelle Bryant and Cynthia Bailey. And we have a drag Lisa Vanderpump and a drag Lisa Rinna. Kelly Dodd from Orange County. Plus Captain Sandy from Below Deck and Pat Altschul from Southern Charm. People are truly going to lose their minds. It’s honestly going to be next-level.

Any last words to say about Luann de Lesseps' new single "Feeling Jovani" (which features Cohen)?

I think the song speaks for itself!”

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From EW: “Demodogs, shadow monsters, and love triangles… oh my!

“When season 3 of Netflix’s hit show Stranger Things debuts July 4, we’ll return once again to the small town of Hawkins, Indiana. This time, it’s 1985 and school is out for the summer. The kids are ready to hang out at the town’s new mall and put the past — and all of its monsters — behind them.

“The plot is, of course, being kept mostly under wraps, but the show’s creators, brothers Matt and Ross Duffer, previously teased to EW that the new season would explore ‘a theme of change.’ Puberty, growing pains, and yes, more interdimensional terror, can all be expected.

“In preparation for the new season, EW made a handy guide to where all of your favorite characters left off at the end of season 2, which took place in 1984. Read on for the scoop:

Mind Flayer

The Demogorgon of season 1 looks mild compared to season 2’s big bad, the Mind Flayer (also referred to as the shadow monster). Named by Dustin after the Dungeons and Dragons character of the same name, the mysterious sentient creature who can seemingly control the “hive mind” of the beings from the Upside Down — Demogorgons and their four-legged variation, the demodogs — spends much of season 2 plaguing Will (Noah Schnapp), eventually taking over his body, and wreaking havoc on the town. In the show’s climax, Eleven uses her powers to seal the Mind Flayer behind the Gate of the Upside Down. However, in the season’s final moments, the creature’s massive, tendril-y silhouette can be seen looming over the Upside Down version of the kids’ school, where the Snow Ball is being held.

Eleven

Stranger Things‘ sophomore season sees Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) go on a bit of a journey of self-discovery. She starts the season living in a cabin in the woods with Hopper (David Harbour), unhappily separated from the town and her friends for her protection. After an argument with Hopper, she finds his research into her biological mother, Terry, and Eleven, who also finds out her real name was Jane, attempts to use her powers to contact her missing mom. Eventually she finds her mother, and uses her powers to tap into her mother’s memories. It’s then that she learns there are others like her, and she seeks them out. The mysterious gang of powered individuals is busy finding and killing the scientists who conducted experiments on them. Eleven tags along, and learns from a scientist that season 1 villain Dr. Brenner (aka Papa) is actually alive, after it was presumed he was dead following a Demogorgon attack at the end of the first season. Just when it looks like Eleven might contemplate staying with her newfound friends, she has a vision that her pals back in Hawkins are in trouble, and she flees to fight with them. Ultimately, Eleven rejoins Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and the gang to help defeat the Mind Flayer by sealing it behind the Gate to the Upside Down. In the season’s final moments, Eleven attends the school dance (referred to as the Snow Ball) and it’s there that she and Mike answer one of the many will-they-or-won’t-they questions of the show, and kiss for the first time.

Dustin, Will, Lucas, and Mike

Creepy monsters and hormones alike plague the boys in season 2. Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) battle it out for the affections of new-girl-in-town Max (Sadie Sink), with Lucas ultimately winning out when he and Max kiss at the Snow Ball. Dustin finds a strange slug, which he decides to keep and name D’Artagnen, or Dart for short. Dart ends up being a young Demogorgon (RIP Dustin’s cat), and he later dies when Eleven closes the Gate to the Upside Down. Mike, bereft over Eleven’s absence, continues to try and communicate with her in the pillow fort. Eleven, using her powers, also tried communicating with Mike throughout the season. The two reunite towards the end of the season, and Mike finally gets to fulfill his promise that he would take her to the dance.

Will, meanwhile, can’t catch a break. As if disappearing in the Upside Down in season 1 wasn’t bad enough, in season 2 he is possessed by the Mind Flayer and used for its villainous deeds. However, the possession works both ways, with Will being able to understand what makes the Mind Flayer tick. It’s revealed that it doesn’t like the cold, so eventually, Will’s mom, brother, and Nancy are able to “burn” the creature out of Will.

And, true to the spirit of the show, eventually the kids all team up to defeat the monsters. The group, with the help of Steve, work together to burn out the sprawling underground tunnel system used by the Mind Flayer, distracting it so that Eleven is able to close the Gate.

Nancy, Jonathan, and Steve

Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) spend much of the season getting closer, and eventually romantically involved, on their quest to find out what’s really going on in Hawkins. Their journey takes them to the lab, where they find themselves locked in an interrogation room by the lab’s new Director of Operations, Dr. Owens. Nancy records Dr. Owens admitting the lab’s fault in Barb’s death and some of the weird phenomena happening in the town. The two then set off to find the investigator Barb’s parents hired to look into their daughter’s disappearance. When Jonathan and Nancy find him, he convinces them to water down their evidence in order to make it more believable to the public. The duo agrees, and send the watered down version of events to a newspaper. Later in the season, Jonathan, Nancy, and Joyce help exorcize the Mind Flayer from Will. At the school dance, Nancy encourages the lonely Dustin by dancing with him and giving him advice, while Jonathan helps nearby taking pictures.

With things not looking so hot with Nancy, Steve (Joe Keery) finds himself spending more and more time with the younger kids, frequently looking out for and protecting them, and even offering them advice at times. In particular, he forges a bond with Dustin, leading to arguably the show’s best bromance. The last time we see Steve in season 2, he’s driving Dustin to the Snow Ball. He watches Nancy inside and then drives away.

Chief Hopper, Joyce, and Bob

Things aren’t any easier for the adults of the show.

Because the Upside Down just can’t leave her son, Will, alone, Joyce (Winona Ryder) spends a second season fighting for his safety and health (although, thankfully, this time around people don’t think she’s crazy). Season 2 also brings a new love interest for Joyce in the form of RadioShack manager Bob (Sean Astin). When the Mind Flayer takes over Will’s body, Joyce, Bob, and Hopper take him to the lab to be treated by Dr. Owens. Unfortunately, while there, the Mind Flayer (through Will) unleashes a pack of demodogs. In one of the show’s most heartbreaking moments, Bob offers to fix the power when it goes out at the lab, with demodogs looming nearby. Everyone else manages to escape, but unfortunately, poor Bob isn’t so lucky — he gets attacked and killed by the creatures. After successfully burning the shadow monster out of Will with the help of Jonathan and Nancy, a grieving Joyce is last seen outside the Snow Ball being comforted by Hopper.

Chief Hopper sees himself become a makeshift dad to Eleven when he takes her in and keeps her hidden to start the season. The two frequently butt heads, but it’s clear the two care for each other. When the pumpkin patches in town rot, he discovers the Mind Flayer’s maze of tunnels beneath Hawkins are responsible. He gets trapped down there but is eventually saved by Joyce and Bob. Following the deadly encounter at the labs, Hopper and Eleven team up to close the Upside Down’s gate together. Hopper, with the help of Dr. Owens, officially adopts Eleven, or ‘Jane Hopper’ as the certificate shows, as his daughter.

Billy and Max

Max and her stepbrother Billy (Dacre Montgomery) are the new kids in town in season 2 after their family moved from California to Hawkins. Spirited skateboarder Max spends much of the season trying to find her place among the group while simultaneously dealing with bullying from her abusive stepbrother and the competing affections of Lucas and Dustin. By the end of the season, Max has helped the gang fend of the demodogs and Demogorgons, she’s stood up to Billy by knocking him unconscious with a sedative after he attacks Steve, and she attends the school Snow Ball, where she and Lucas dance and have their first kiss.

Billy, meanwhile, spends much of the season brooding around town and antagonizing his younger stepsister and his rival, Steve. He is not a fan of Max’s budding relationship with Lucas. Things come to a head at the end of the season when his father and stepmom return home to find Max gone. After a violent confrontation with his father, Billy is sent to find Max. Billy gets violent himself when he finally finds Max, and an altercation between Billy and Steve ensues in which Max eventually uses a spare sedative from the lab to knock him out.”

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Per TheWrap, “DJ Pauly D and Vinny’s Double Shot at Love is over — and they insist the romance was real.

“Now that the reality dating show’s season finale has aired, TheWrap caught up with Vinny Guadagnino on what went into his decision between his final two ladies — Elle and Alysse — and what he has to say about some of the show’s most-talked-about personalities, Nikki and Maria.

“‘I was pleasantly surprised that I did end up really clicking with a couple people in there that were really my type, and I did have a genuine connection with them,’ Vinny said. ‘I accomplished the best case that the show would bring me personally.’

“But before we get into the spoilery-details, let’s address the question on everyone’s mind from last week — how hard was it saying goodbye to Maria?

“‘With Maria, I’ll say there were a lot of things that weren’t really shown on the show. She was really scared of being hurt on national TV, because supposedly on her last show she was hurt,’ he said, referring to her previous appearance on Season 7 of MTV’s Are You The One.

“He added: ‘I didn’t wanna be that guy that hurt her again. … I didn’t want Maria to be standing up there on the last episode and then I pick Alysse, or pick Elle, and send her home, you know what I’m saying?  So I kind of just bit the bullet on that one. I didn’t wanna drag her along,’ he said.

“‘Maria was a fan favorite of the audience. Everyone loved Maria. And I tweeted this — just because she’s compatible with the audience doesn’t mean she’s necessarily compatible with me. We had a couple of great moments where we talked about funny things on a friendly basis, but that’s not all it is when it comes to having a relationship,’ he added.

“So alas, we must officially accept that Maria and Vinny shall never be.

“In the end, it all  came down to the final four. Elle and Alysse for Vinny; Nikki and Deryn for Pauly.

“So who did Vinny end up with in the end?

“‘You can’t not like Alysse — she’s a sweetheart,’ Vinny said of his chosen lady. ‘She’s quiet, she’s chill, she’s cool. She’s not extra, she’s not rude. So I could see why my mom liked her.’

“The two had a lot in common.

“‘She’s quiet and shy when the cameras were on. So you’re not gonna see that outspoken side of her. I can relate to that because I’m the same exact way on Jersey Shore,' he said. ‘Behind the scenes, she wasn’t like that. Whenever you’re in the club and music came on, she was awesome. She’s a professional dancer.’

“‘Seeing someone being able to dance or rap music when Biggie comes on — she had swag,’ he said. ‘Every time we hung out she would just jump in my lap. We’d just already be in that status where we’re comfortable in each other’s physical space. All of that combined together was why I chose her.’

“It was no shocker that Vinny picked Alysse — his mom was clearly impressed by her cooking skills, and we all know that Pauly and Vinny are mama’s boys.

“Vinny also had a thing or two to say about his best friend’s final decision.

“In the end, Pauly decided to continue “flying solo,” and in a shocking turn of events, he called cabs for both Deryn AND Nikki.

“Although Nikki was the show’s token villain, she did make it to the final cab ceremony, and Vinny said there’s something to be said for that.

“‘I think Pauly made the right choice,’ Vinny said. ‘But at the same time, I will defend her and say she was there for a competition. She wasn’t there to make friends with all the other girls. She made a choice — I’m either gonna be here for Pauly and completely Pauly and get the other girls mad at me, or I’m gonna make friends and be on a TV show.’

“‘I’m glad that Pauly could figure that out on his own, that she was too much for him. But at the same time, she wasn’t doing anything really wrong by being there all for Pauly,’ he said.

“No matter what, one thing is for sure — Pauly D and Vinny will always have each other.”

From EW: “Call them, beep them, if you wanna reach them (or cook with them).

Kim Possible stars Christy Carlson Romano and Will Friedle have reunited for the first episode of Romano’s new YouTube series, Christy’s Kitchen Throwback.

“In the episode, which debuted Thursday, Romano and Friedle, who voiced the characters of Kim Possible and Ron Stoppable in the animated Disney Channel hit, make — what else? — a ‘naco.’

“Kim Possible fans will recognize the blend of a nacho and taco — or ‘happiness rolled up in more happiness,’ as Friedle calls it — which was created by Ron Stoppable and popped up frequently throughout the show.

“While cooking, Carlson and Friedle answer some of the questions they get asked most by fans, including whether or not they remember the lyrics to Say the Word or The Naked Mole Rap, who their favorite villain was, and what their favorite Kim Possible moment was.

“The duo also recreate one of their favorite scenes from the series, using Kim Possible action figures that Romano’s mom held on to. They also share some behind the scenes memories of their time on the show, which aired from 2002-07 and followed the titular crime-fighting teen, her sidekick Ron, and his naked mole rat Rufus, on their many adventures.

“True to its name, Christy’s Kitchen Throwback is set to feature Romano cooking with some of your favorite stars from the ’90s and early aughts, as well as today’s biggest YouTubers. Yummy food is not the only thing on the menu, however, as Romano has teased that viewers can expect dance numbers, singing, scene reenactments, challenges, and more.

“In addition to her new YouTube endeavors, Romano recently appeared in the live-action Disney Channel original Kim Possible movie, which aired on Feb. 15. Friedle, who is also known for his role as Eric Matthews on Boy Meets World, has done a lot of voice work of late, including voicing Star-Lord in the animated Guardians of the Galaxy series, as well as Lex Luthor on DC Super Hero Girls. The two will also be working together on the upcoming season of Disney Channel’s Big Hero 6 series.

Christy’s Kitchen Throwback will stream new episodes every Thursday over at Romano’s YouTube channel.

“Check out the first episode above.”

Thursday June 27, 2019

I don’t know how these kids on Are You The One? are going to figure things out and win the money this season. They all want to have sex with everyone. It has to be quite confusing for them!

CBS has renewed Blood & Treasure for a 2nd season.

The series finale of CBS’ Life In Pieces airs tonight.

Season 2 of Miz & Mrs. will return to USA Network on August 6.

That truck driver on Big Brother MUST go. If I have to listen to him do one more confessional interview I’m going to pull my hair out.

Those set to debate on night 2 this evening:

Michael Bennet, Colorado senator
Joseph R. Biden Jr., former vice president of the United States
Pete Buttigieg, South Bend, Indiana mayor
Kirsten Gillibrand, New York senator
Kamala Harris, California senator
John Hickenlooper, former governor of Colorado
Bernie Sanders, Vermont senator
Eric Swalwell, representative from California
Marianne Williamson, self-help author
Andrew Yang, former tech executive

Night 1 drew a 7.0 HH rating in metered markets on NBC. That could translate to 10 million viewers or so in the final ratings.

“Superfly today announced the fall opening of The Seinfeld Experience, a new attraction in New York City that provides a fully immersive behind-the-scenes look at the legendary television show. The Seinfeld Experience will allow fans to immerse themselves in the world of Seinfeld through an exploration of classic show moments and beloved characters. The ticketed experience will feature interactive exhibits designed to bring Seinfeld to life that include iconic costumes, memorabilia, set re-creations, and props from the show as well as never before seen content. In addition, the space will feature a retail store that offers limited edition and exclusive merchandise specific to the show and The Seinfeld Experience.”

Divorced couple Tarek El Moussa and Christina Anstead are returning to HGTV with a new season of Flip or Flop. The new season will return on Thursday, Aug. 1 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Additionally, the Discovery-owned cable channel says El Moussa’s own digital house-flipping series, Tarek’s Flip Side, will also debut on Aug. 1 on the HGTV app, HGTV.com, on demand across all platforms, HGTV Facebook and HGTV’s YouTube channel.”

“Spencer Pratt has said many controversial things, but this might be the most ‘vile’ thus far—at least according to one person. In a recent Q&A with Cosmopolitan magazine, The Hills star shared that he isn't convinced Corey Bohan is actually the father of Audrina Patridge's daughter, Kirra Max, especially after seeing the two interact on the show. He joked, "I wanna know who's baby that is. How do we know it's not Justin's Baby? Let's get a DNA testing kit for the reunion." Now, it's very likely the comment was made in jest, but it's definitely ruffled Bohan's feathers. In a new Instagram post to his private account, Corey slams Pratt for making ‘vile and disgusting’ statements about his family in order to keep his ‘name in the headlines.’ ‘You can say whatever filth you want about YOUR family, cast-mates or even myself but I draw the line when it comes to MY daughter,’ he emotionally captions a photo of his middle finger. ‘Kirra is an innocent three year old child.’ Bohan continues, ‘I would hope that since you're now a father yourself you'd have more tact and understanding, but I can't say that I'm surprised. The things you say publicly will be accessible to my daughter forever and I will continue to do everything in my power to not expose her to such nonsense. Keep her out of your attempts to stay relevant ya f--k.’"

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This is just plain CRAZY (courtesy of Deadline): “With its 2017 acquisition of Scripps Networks, Discovery became the dominant player in the unscripted cable market with 19 networks, with all but OWN focused entirely on reality fare.

“Using its newly found clout, I hear Discovery has put forward a new model for financing its series, and it has the unscripted producing community up in arms.

“Profit margins for cable reality producers have been consistently shrinking over the past decade as basic cable networks grapple with declining ratings. With networks also controlling ownership in majority of the cases, reality companies rely entirely on license fees — often in the neighborhood of $300,000-$400,000 per episode — to cover production costs and keep about 10% in profit. They get those license fees paid by the network as they go into production on the episodes.

“Discovery is changing that. According to sources, in its new contract template implemented across the board by all of its networks, production companies are required to finance the series themselves and take out a loan if they don’t have the funds to do so (I hear they are being sent to Citibank, which has a partnership with Discovery). The networks are paying their budget upon delivery of the completed order, compared with pay as you go, which is the common practice. That allows Discovery to protect its cash flow and delay payments for as long as a year and more after ordering a series.

“This raises a number of problems. Production companies, especially smaller indies that don’t have strong financial backing,  need to take out a loan of millions of dollars and pay interest, which I hear could cut already razor-thin profit margin almost in half. Producers I have spoken with note that they have asked Discovery to add the interest as a line in the budget but were rebuffed, with the network group countering that if they cover the interest, they would reduce the show’s production budget. Other sources familiar with the situation dispute that, saying that the interest is being added to series’ budgets.

“There are also the issues of production overages and reshoots, which networks and production companies always wrangle over and networks usually cover (at least partially). Producers fear that, if Discovery executives require reshoots in the completed order, they will have to shoulder the cost if they want to get the original license fee agreement honored by Discovery so they can pay off their bank loan. (The networks also are believed to have a right of refusal to pick up the already produced seasons and pay for them.)

“The new budget paradigm is said to be the brainchild of Discovery CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels. He comes from Europe, where this model is widely used, but producers there retain ownership of their shows, which is not the case in Discovery’s modification.

“In the U.S., the only area producers point to that employs a similar mechanism is in independent films, which are financed by the producers and are then acquired by a distribution company. But the producers again have ownership.

“The new Discovery business model involving self-financing by producers does not allow them to have IP control, with their shows still owned by Discovery.

“This appears to be a belt-tightening strategy by Discovery and a way to keep cash on the books following big-ticket deals for sports rights and Scripps. It is raising eyebrows, especially as the company’s  chief executive officer David Zaslav sits atop the list of highest-paid public company CEOs with $129.4 million pay package for last year.

“‘We have engaged in constructive discussions with our producing partners to better manage our cash flow as we invest more in content than ever before,’ Discovery said in a statement to Deadline. ‘We have gotten a positive response so far from both big and small production companies.’”

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Per TVLine, “Jessica Pearson is striking out on her own with her eponymous Suits spinoff this July, and she’ll be doing so with an ensemble of new coworkers at the Chicago mayor’s office. But what about her friends back in New York City? Could some of Jessica’s former colleagues migrate over to the offshoot when the long-running USA drama wraps up its run this year?

“‘My gut reaction is, I don’t really see any of the Suits characters being regulars on the spinoff,’ executive producer Aaron Korsh tells TVLine. ‘It’s a different tone, it’s a different world, and I don’t see it. It doesn’t mean that couldn’t change.’

“‘There are worlds in which I could see it, but I would sooner think that they would, in success, show up for an episode or an arc,’ Korsh continues. ‘But you never know. If they showed up for an episode or an arc, and it turned out to be outstanding, and they fit in well, then it’s possible. Anything is possible.’

“As someone who has already visited the Windy City in the backdoor pilot, Harvey is an obvious and well-suited candidate for a guest spot. And Gabriel Macht agrees that ‘it would be great’ to drop by star Gina Torres’ new digs, but he’s not sure how it would work. ‘I don’t know if Harvey really fits in that world,’ Macht confesses. ‘Maybe there’d be some opportunity to do something… My hope is for the Suits fans to go and start watching Pearson. That would be excellent. If those fans really, really want to see Harvey come in there and try and fix a few things, that would be fantastic. But this is her show, and she’s got a great cast.’

“Plus, there are logistics that would need to be ironed out to bring the lawyer to the spinoff. ‘It’s all going to depend on timing and where I am and what I’m doing, what’s going to work out as far as what’s right for my personal life and all of that,’ Macht explains. ‘But I’m super psyched to see what they’ve done.’

Pearson debuts Wednesday, July 17 at 10/9c on USA, following the final-season premiere of Suits.”

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Per Deadline, “VH1 has ordered eight one-hour episodes of Love & Listings, a Southern California-set celebrity-focused real estate docuseries, starring Jacob Knight, Suge Knight’s son. It’s set to premiere Wednesday, July 31 at 9 PM ET/PT.

“The series, from Entertainment One, Creature Films, Purveyors of Pop and Relevé Entertainment, delves into the glamorous and scandalous lives of Southern California’s young, ambitious real estate agents and their elite celebrity clientele, including Jermaine Dupri, Jordin Sparks, Amber Rose, Ray J, Brandy Norwood and Laz Alonso. The celebs look to this group of talented real estate moguls when it’s time to buy and sell their Hollywood dream homes. In between closing million-dollar deals, the lines between business and pleasure blur and the real drama begins.

“The series takes an exclusive look into the life of Suge Knight’s son, Jacob, a real estate trainee determined to forge his own path and recover his family legacy following his father’s alleged legal woes. Knight struggles both personally and professionally under the weight of his family name as he strives to rise in the ranks of LA’s real estate game. Watch the trailer above.

Love & Listings is executive produced for VH1 by Entertainment One (eOne), Creature Films and Purveyors of Pop, and produced by Relevé Entertainment. Tara Long serves as executive producer for eOne with Mark Ford and Kevin Lopez for Creature Films and Nate Green and Matt Anderson for Pop, alongside Holly Carter for Relevé. Christopher Costine and Sean Matthews also serve as executive producers.

“VH1’s cast descriptions follow below:

Zac Diles is a former professional football player and has since suited up for a new type of game: real estate. After eight years playing ball, Zac has built a network of clients out of his former teammates (and adversaries). Zac’s love for the ladies (including other agents) often gets him in trouble. Despite being in a relationship with Kat Tat from VH1’s Black Ink Crew: Chicago, Zac finds himself caught between his current girlfriend Kat and fellow cast member and ex-girlfriend Samantha, who is determined to get him back.

A part-time waitress struggling to fulfill her dream of becoming a celebrity real estate agent, Ajani Scott moved her hustle over to the world of real estate to make some money while she builds her professional network. Seeing her potential, veteran agent Erik Miles has taken Ajani on as an apprentice at his own agency. The stakes are high as Ajani learns to put her money where her mouth is, which jeopardizes Erik’s A-list clientele.

Taylor Schwartz is a rookie agent. Despite her young age, she is a force to be reckoned with. She has the charm, smarts and beauty to reel in new clients, but her fiery temper often lands her in hot water, leaving her career in jeopardy. Working under Tai’s wing, Taylor begins to wonder if the “grass is greener” when fellow real estate competitor Andrew Clinkscale offers her a position.

Andrew Clinkscale is a top agent at one of Beverly Hills’ most prestigious real estate agencies. However, Andrew wasn’t always on top. He grew up through the foster care system and was homeless twice in his life. He’s seen the bottom and is determined to never go back. Andrew’s professional and personal life soon collide as romantic rumors with another real estate agent begin to arise. Will the swirling affair rumors around the engaged “golden boy of real estate” bring him down?

Samantha Barretto recently moved to LA and has quickly moved up the real estate food chain by joining one of the most prestigious agencies in Beverly Hills. While running in the same industry circles as her ex-boyfriend Zac, Samantha’s feelings for him begin to heat back up and start to affect her professional life.

Sarah Scheper is a proven real estate power player who originally conquered the market in Orange County. After overcoming personal struggles, Sarah has embraced her sobriety and turned over a new leaf in LA. While Sarah quickly becomes the queen of Beverly Hills real estate, her reputation is threatened when she begins an on-again, off-again relationship with Jacob which leads to friction between him and the other agents.

Erik Miles is a charming lawyer-turned real estate agent, a one-stop shop with his own imprint at a West Hollywood agency. The son of a successful athlete, Erik is willing to take risks to close deals which often pays off… but sometimes blows up in his face.

Tai Savet is eager to break bread (and the bank) with his unique LA-based brokerage firm as the go-to agent for the biggest names in show-biz. From Tai’s perspective, the future is bright and primed for expansion, especially with a roster of hip millennials on his team, including Taylor and Jacob.

Alexandre Anu is a real estate titan at of one of LA’s premiere brokerage firms and continues to grow his elite clientele. All of his listings are high-end luxury properties with an extensive client roster of A-list celebrities and top business executives.”

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From The Hollywood Reporter: “Things are getting spooky at A&E. One of cable's premiere unscripted destinations is betting hard on paranormal programming, reviving the long-running Ghost Hunters and ordering four more projects in the space.

“‘Paranormal worked really well for us in the past,’ A&E Network executive vp and head of programming Elaine Frontain Bryant tells THR. ‘It feels like it’s a time in the country where there’s a trend for people to be spiritual without being overly religious. I think paranormal programming can feed that, while being entertainment-forward.’

Ghost Hunters, one of the crown jewels at Craig Piligian’s prolific Pilgrim Media Group, produced 230 episodes for Syfy over the course of its 11-season run. As a part of the new deal, A&E will also get access to the series’ formidable library — one that averaged a robust 3 million viewers per episode during its heyday.

“As for the new version, series original Grant Wilson is returning on-camera and as an executive producer with a handpicked group of professional ghost hunters to investigate supposed hauntings. By engaging forensic experts, historical records and new technology, the new Ghost Hunters team will assist everyday people struggling with unexplained events. ‘I don't chase ghosts,’ Wilson says in the first trailer. ‘I chase the truth.’

“‘We’ve ensured it’s going to please the die-hard fans,’ Bryant adds of the update. ‘The show is about helping people. The original Ghost Hunters could have been on A&E back in the day. A lot of A&E programming is about searching for the truth and emotional closure. And you could say that for a lot of these shows.’

“The new Ghost Hunters, which has gotten an initial order of 20 episodes, kicks off Aug. 21.

“Other series include reimagined versions of previous A+E Networks properties Psychic Kids and Celebrity Ghost Stories. The former, which will air alongside the new Ghost Hunters this August, finds the now-grown children from the original run spending time with other youngsters who claim to have paranormal abilities. It is produced by A+E Originals. Celebrity Ghost Stories, which is exactly what it sounds like, joins the schedule later in 2019 after a five-year break from TV — previously airing on A+E Network Biography (now FYI). The six-episode order is being produced by Jarrett Creative.

“Brand-new projects include Trey the Texas Medium (working title) and special The World’s Biggest Ghost Hunt (also a working title). Texas Medium follows Trey Ganem, a man who both creates custom caskets as a master carpenter and claims to bring messages from the dead to loved ones looking for closure. An initial 12-episode order, it’s being produced by Anthony E. Zuiker in conjunction with Main Event Media.

The World’s Biggest Ghost Hunt is a two-hour special, eyed to premiere sometime in the fall. It’s the product of two weeks of filming inside Pennsylvania’s allegedly haunted Pennhurst Asylum. Five paranormal investigators were given access to the grounds, where they locked themselves up for two weeks to determine the reasons for a recent spike in seemingly paranormal activity.

“A&E has been on a bit of a buying spree of late. After expanding the order for Live PD spinoff Live Rescue, the network doubled down on its live efforts just a week ago with the addition of a stunt series The Impossible Live and an upcoming live special.”

Wednesday June 26, 2019

Happy birthday to my mom.

Night 1 of the Democratic candidate debates begin tonight on NBC. The participating tonight are:
Cory Booker, New Jersey senator
Julián Castro, former housing secretary
Bill de Blasio, New York City mayor
John Delaney, former representative from Maryland
Tulsi Gabbard, representative from Hawaii
Jay Inslee, Washington governor
Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota senator
Beto O’Rourke, former representative from Texas
Tim Ryan, representative from Ohio
Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts senator

The Office is leaving Netflix in 2020 and heading to NBCUniversal’s forthcoming streaming service, beginning in January 2021. NBCU said it has secured exclusive domestic streaming rights to all nine seasons of the sitcom for a five-year term. The streaming service is expected to launch in mid-2020. Unlike new offerings from Disney, WarnerMedia and Apple designed to compete with Netflix when they hit the market soon, NBCU’s effort will be free to the company’s pay-TV subscribers and supported by advertising. It will launch across the combined footprints of Comcast and Sky, reaching more than 50 million households from the moment it goes live. A stand-alone, subscription version is also said to be in the offing.”

Here’s a bit more detail, including the $500,000,000 cost.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I kind of enjoyed Mr. Iglesias on Netflix. It’s not good.

Speaking of which, I might be out on City On A Hill. I labored through episode 2.

Lena Headey will follow her role on Game of Thrones with a part in another epic saga. The actress has joined the star-packed voice cast of Netflix's series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, a prequel to Jim Henson's 1982 film that's set to debut Aug. 30. Other additions to the cast include Benedict Wong (Doctor Strange), Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians), Sigourney Weaver, Hannah John-Kamen (Ant-Man and the Wasp) and Henson and Muppets veteran Dave Goelz, who also worked on the original film.”

Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn’s Amazon fashion competition series has gotten a title, timeline and first-look photos. Newly titled Making The Cut ‘will bring together 12 talented entrepreneurs and designers from around the globe who are competing to take their fledging brands to the next level in becoming the next big global phenomenon,’ per Amazon. Looks from Making the Cut will be shoppable on Amazon, and the winner of the series will receive one million dollars to invest in their brand. It’s set for premiere in 2020. Amazon also unveiled the show’s judging panel which includes supermodel Naomi Campbell, who also serves as a consulting producer, former EIC of Vogue Paris Carine Roitfeld, designer Joseph Altuzarra and fashion icon, bestselling author and television personality Nicole Richie.”

David E. Kelley is returning to broadcast. The Emmy-winning creator of Big Little Lies and Mr. Mercedes has signed on to write and executive produce a CBS adaptation of Michael Connelly's best-seller The Lincoln Lawyer. The drama, which is currently in development, comes with a series production commitment attached. That means if CBS does not pick up The Lincoln Lawyer to series, the team behind the project will be paid a sizable penalty fee. The CBS drama, like Connelly's series of novels and the subsequent 2011 feature film starring Matthew McConaughey, revolves around Mickey Haller, an iconoclastic idealist who runs his law practice out of the back of his Lincoln town car as he takes on cases big and small across Los Angeles. Connelly is attached as an executive producer alongside Ross Fineman, who previously worked with Kelley on Amazon's Goliath. The project hails from A+E Studios and CBS TV Studios.”

The Hills returned to MTV with a new revival on Monday, marking the second most-watched cable series premiere among young adults of 2019. With a 0.70 rating among adults 18-34, according to Nielsen’s live-plus-same-day metric, The Hills: New Beginnings is only topped by MTV’s Double Shot at Love with DJ Pauly D and Vinny. MTV sister network VH1’s Cartel Crew currently holds the number three spot.”

Sorry, The Simple Life fans -- ET has learned there is no truth to speculation that a reboot of the popular reality series could be in the works. After an account for the series posted a photo of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan on Tuesday, social media was abuzz with talk of Netflix rebooting the show with Lohan replacing Hilton’s original co-star, Nicole Richie. The account also shared a photo of Hilton and Richie with the caption, ‘#SimpleLife6,’ further teasing a reboot of the series, which ended with its fifth season in 2007. The only followers under the account are Lohan, Hilton and Netflix. The account has since lost its verified mark.”

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From TheWrap: “Anthony Jeselnik is getting a new Comedy Central series. The stand-up comedian and Jeselnik Offensive alum will host what Comedy Central is calling a ‘comedic interview series,’ titled Good Talk With Anthony Jeselnik.

“The six-part series will premiere on Sept. 6 at 11/10c. David Spade, Kristen Schaal, Kumail Nanjiani, Natasha Leggero, Nick Kroll, and Tig Notaro are set as guests.

Good Talk is part of Jeselnik’s multiplatform development deal at Comedy Central.

“Below is Comedy Central’s description:

In Good Talk, Jeselnik switches gears from his signature acerbic style for tongue-in-cheek interviews with his fellow comedians about their careers, influences and what it’s like to live in his massive shadow. Jeselnik and his guests center their extremely funny conversations around stand up, stories and bits and participate in unconventional studio segments.

“Christie Smith and Meaghan Rady are executive producers of Good Talk with Anthony Jeselnik, with Rady also serving as showrunner. Anne Harris, Tara Schuster and Jackie Sosa are executives in charge of the series for Comedy Central.”

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Per Variety, “Quibi keeps shelling out cash for content: Jeffrey Katzenberg’s richly funded startup has ordered a short-form murder-mystery comedy written by and starring former Saturday Night Live writers Paula Pell and John Lutz, and executive produced by Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video alongside Seth Meyers and Mike Shoemaker.

“In Mapleworth Murders, Pell (pictured above) is Abigail Mapleworth, a murder-mystery writer who solves homicides in her quaint small town of New Woodstream. Each episode will feature guest victims and suspects in search of answering a bigger question: Why are there so many murders in one small town?

“The series is one of dozens of shows — designed for on-the-go mobile viewing in sub-10-minute episodes — coming to Quibi, which is slated to launch in April 2020 at $5 monthly with ads and $8 without ads.

“Led by former DreamWorks Animation chief Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman, Quibi has raised $1 billion from investors including major Hollywood studios and is seeking to raise another $500 million ahead of its spring 2020 launch. The company last week said it had booked $100 million in upfront ad deals from advertisers including Google and Procter & Gamble.

Mapleworth Murders is executive produced by Lorne Michaels, Broadway Video’s Andrew Singer, Seth Meyers and Mike Shoemaker, and co-executive produced by Hilary Marx and Jason Carden. The show is being produced at NBCUniversal’s Universal Television.

“Quibi has announced a slew of projects including  Steven Spielberg’s After Dark, a horror series users will be able to watch only between sundown and sunrise local time. Other partners include Guillermo del Toro, Antoine Fuqua, Sam Raimi, Jason Blum, Steven Soderbergh, Catherine Hardwick, Anna Kendrick, Doug Liman, Laurence Fishburne and Stephen Curry’s Unanimous Media. Quibi also has ordered shows featuring Tyra Banks, Chrissy Teigen, Don Cheadle and Idris Elba as well as a remake of MTV’s Punk’d.

“Quibi’s untested theory is that people will pay to watch premium entertainment, produced specifically for mobile consumption. Its challenge will be to carve out a large and loyal subscriber base, amid stiff competition from free and paid video services and apps. In the first year of launch, Quibi is aiming to deliver 7,000 pieces of content, including scripted and unscripted shows and daily news and lifestyle programming.”

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, “WarnerMedia has added two more original series to its forthcoming streaming platform, both coming from showrunner Patrick Somerville.”

“The streamer, which is set to launch in beta in the fourth quarter, has ordered a comedy called Made for Love, based on a novel of the same title by Alissa Nutting, and the limited series Station Eleven, a post-apocalyptic thriller based on the book by Emily St. John Mandel. Both shows hail from Paramount Television and will have 10-episode runs on the as-yet unnamed streaming platform.

Made for Love centers on Hazel Green, a thirty-something woman on the run after 10 years of marriage to an unstable, needy and possibly sociopathic tech billionaire. She discovers her husband has implanted a revolutionary monitoring device called the Made for Love in her brain, allowing him to track and watch her and even know her feelings. Somerville (Maniac, The Leftovers) is adapting Nutting's book and will executive produce with S.J. Clarkson (Orange Is the New Black, Succession, the Game of Thrones prequel pilot), who will also direct. Nutting, Liza Chasin and Dean Bakopoulos will also executive produce the comedy, which is a co-production of WarnerMedia Entertainment and Paramount TV.

Station Eleven takes place in a world where survivors of a devastating flu try to rebuild and reimagine the world while holding on to the best of what's been lost. Somerville will be credited as the creator and will executive produce alongside director Hiro Murai (Atlanta, Barry), Scott Steindorff, Scott Delman and Dylan Russell; Nate Matteson will be credited as co-EP.

“WarnerMedia is set to feature a roster of scripted originals as well as content from WarnerMedia-owned platforms including HBO, TBS, TNT, CNN and more. Made for Love and Station Eleven are the fourth and fifth series in the works for the upcoming SVOD service, joining Paul Feig's comedic anthology Love Life, starring Anna Kendrick; a Dune sequel; and the Ansel Egort-led drama Tokyo Vice. A Gremlins animated prequel TV series is also in the works.

“Details on WarnerMedia's streaming launch date, as well as a name for the service, its price point and other key information, have yet to be revealed.”

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Per Vulture, “[i]f you spend any time online, you’ve seen it: a short GIF of Homer Simpson disappearing backward into a hedge, his eyes wide open — a visual ‘don’t mind me.’ Taken from a 1994 episode of The Simpsons, it’s generally used as a reaction to express embarrassment or the desire to disappear from an awkward social interaction, a longing for an exit so seamless that it’s like you were never there. But before it appeared on The Simpsons, and long before it took on its final form as a meme, the concept of inter-hedge travel was just an idea in the head of a sci-fi-obsessed kid running around the suburbs of northeast Philadelphia named David Mirkin.

“Mirkin, who was the Simpsons’ showrunner when the episode aired and still works on the show today, spoke with Vulture about the meme’s origin.

“‘Him coming through the hedges was based on my childhood behavior of walking through hedges in my neighborhood. I would pretend that I was dimension-hopping,’ Mirkin says. ‘You can only do it a few times before you leave a hole, and so I did tens of thousands of dollars of damage to people’s hedges I’m sure.’

“As a child, Mirkin — who worked as an electronics engineer before becoming a writer and director — devoured movies, comics, and horror magazines, as well as science-fiction shows like Star Trek, The Outer Limits, and The Twilight Zone. ‘I was incredibly obsessed with all of that,’ he recalls. ‘It was around the time of 2001 [A Space Odyssey] too, which was dimension-hopping, stargates, and stuff like that.’

“That idea of hedges as suburban stargates stayed with him until it made its way onto The Simpsons in season five, episode 16, Homer Loves Flanders, a morally nuanced episode written by David Richardson in which Homer has a sudden desire to befriend his irritatingly Christ-like neighbor Ned Flanders and, in the process, ruins Flanders’s life.

“Mirkin wanted to subvert the common sitcom trope of the annoying neighbor who always pops over uninvited and put a twist on it. This led to Homer’s mounting obsession with Flanders, which goes from endearing development (‘Nacho, nacho man!’) to surreal nightmare over the course of the episode as Homer’s bone-deep ignorance of common decency and personal space slowly drive Ned to the brink of destruction. As Mirkin puts it, ‘[Flanders] was always hopeful of being more friendly with Homer, and always trying, and getting his wish and that actually happening turned into his worst possible nightmare.’

“It’s a dark episode, even by Simpsons standards, and the moment Homer emerges like a liquid hologram from the bushes marks the exact moment where his behavior goes from overbearing to scary. After a scene of biblical corruption in which Ned tells what might be his first-ever lie to get out of spending more time with his neighbor, Homer says “Oh, okay” in a monotone, then melts, unblinking, back into the bushes.

“Mirkin says he pushed animation director Wes Archer and his team to make the motion as smooth and slow as possible for maximum unsettling effect, and he attributes the meme’s popularity largely to the striking, uncanny quality that their meticulous work achieved. ‘I’m really proud of it because I had to have the animators do that motion — both coming out and going back in — about five times to get it slow enough and detailed enough so that it felt right to me, because I wanted it to be a kind of a magical, creepy thing,’ he recalls.

“Indeed, the movement is distinctly unlike Homer — smooth and disturbingly effortless rather than clumsy – resulting in something along the lines of Homer Simpson, Transdimensional Hedge-Monster.

“A storyboard caption from the episode hints at the desired level of menace: ‘Never taking his eyes off of Flanders, he back through the hedges.’

“The website Know Your Meme has a useful rundown of how ‘Homer Simpson Backs Into Bushes’ became the all-conquering meme it is today. It reportedly first appeared in 2010 on a site called GIF Garage under the heading “Homer appears, then disappears in bush,” though it doesn’t seem to have caught fire at that point. Its profile was raised in 2012 when a Tumblr blog posted a version of the GIF with a blank background that allowed users to replace the hedge with other images, spawning remixes like Homer backing into a wall of pizza, which resulted in a post on Uproxx titled ‘Homer Backs Into Things Is The GIF Theme We Need Right Now.’

“A Reddit post from 2014 advertised a ‘Homer backing into things generator,’ hosted on the now-defunct URL HomerBacksIntoThings.com, encouraging Redditors to make new versions of the meme, resulting in further media coverage. Once it hit the mainstream, the meme mushroomed on Twitter, where quick-fire reaction GIFs are king. According to Know Your Meme, the meme gained additional traction as a panel of four images, rather than as a GIF, in 2014 when people used it to roast fair-weather fans who ‘disappear’ when their team is losing, resulting in its inclusion in various lists of the funniest memes about the Super Bowl and the 2014 World Cup.

“There are many other highly popular Simpsons memes (Grandpa Simpson’s Nothing To See HereLisa giving a presentation, and that evergreen plea for online mercy: Stop! He’s already dead!), but Homer Backs Into the Bushes remains the most ubiquitous. It’s even inspired a browser game called Hide Homer.

“It’s the nature of memes to be shorn of their original context and used as emotional shorthand, often with no regard for their original meaning. As Mirkin points out, the Homer meme is no exception. ‘What’s really interesting is the meme really has nothing to do with the way it was used in the show, because it’s not a retreat or an embarrassment, as it’s used — it was really just an ominous, threatening look and a very weird backing up while never breaking eye contact with Flanders,’ he says. ‘So it’s great the way it’s been changed, but it’s not the original intention.” He notes that while people have reinterpreted Homer’s expression as one of shame, “it’s a creepy stalker energy instead of an embarrassed, retreating energy.’

“Mirkin adds that another common misconception about the sequence is that people often think it’s a Terminator 2 reference, which, he concedes, is an easy mistake to make considering the almost shot-for-shot Terminator homage that immediately follows, in which Homer robotically chases down Ned’s sputtering Geo as the Flanders family desperately tries to escape his affections.

“At this point the meme has become so well-known that it’s even been referenced on The Simpsons itself, making it that rare unit of entertainment matter that makes the orbital journey from TV to cultural absorption and back again to its original medium.

“It was Cesar Mazariegos, a new Simpsons hire and one of the youngest writers in the room, who pitched the idea of Homer texting his own meme in the season 30 episode, The Girl on the Bus. Mazariegos, who previously created the comedy High & Mightysays that it may in fact have been his first joke that made it onto The Simpsons.

“‘I was brand new. It was literally my first week,’ he says, explaining that he pitched the idea at a screening of the episode’s animatic (essentially a rough cut). The episode had been written before he joined the writing staff, and when producer Al Jean and the writers decided that a scene in which Homer texts Lisa “needed a pop” at the end, he tossed out the idea and it got a laugh.

“The internet loved the reference-within-a-reference, and even Time magazine covered the rare instance of the Simpsons universe folding in on itself. Mazariegos was stunned by the reaction.

“‘I’m showing it to my wife like, “Yo check this out, I pitched this like my first week there!”’ he remembers, calling the positive response ‘a pretty fun, cool way to get welcomed into the Simpsons fold.’ Like most of the meme’s users, Mazariegos grew up watching The Simpsons, taping it on a VCR to watch over and over. ‘So when I saw it as a meme, of course it went into my phone,’ he recalls. He agrees that the meme’s popularity is down to the quality of the animation as well as the meme’s versatility. ‘It’s the perfect button to, you know — you’re having a conversation and it’s a TMI moment or like an ‘I don’t need to be here’ moment. It fits into whatever people are trying to say in that moment.’

“As far as Mazariegos knows, this is the first time The Simpsons has referenced a Simpsons meme on the show, at least so explicitly. As for meme culture, he drew an analogy with early New York City rap.

“‘These GIFs are kind of like sampling — little snippets, removed from their original context and repurposed into a whole new creative thing,’ he says. ‘You can hate on it or you can embrace it, and I think it’s cool that the show gave a little wink and embraced it.’

“After 30 years and going on 700 episodes, The Simpsons has put so many jokes and ideas into the ether that it seems inevitable that some would mutate and bubble back up in unexpected ways, including as memes.

“‘It’s a great compliment,’ says Mirkin of the cultural feedback loop The Simpsons has created. ‘It’s one of the greatest gifts you can have as a writer, because you go, “Oh yeah, that made an impact — that hit people in the imagination” … We’re always thrilled with that, and it really is the goal to get as much of your stuff out there into the culture as you possibly can, because it’s guaranteed that you will live forever when that happens and never die.’

“Though it’s been decades since Richard Dawkins coined the term ‘meme’ for ideas and cultural artifacts that propagate themselves by ‘leaping from brain to brain,’ exactly how memes work is a bit of a mystery.

“We all know what a meme is, but as for how and why some become part of the vernacular while most blink out of existence almost immediately, that’s still anyone’s guess. Memes remain more alchemy than science.

“Mirkin, whose other work has included Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion and the surreal sitcom Get a Life, says he’s always looking ‘for images and moments that you haven’t seen before,’ and that impulse toward novelty may be the most anyone can do to create something indelible. After that, the culture takes over. Make it weird and different enough — like Homer teleporting through a hedge — and maybe it’ll stick.

“‘And then if you’re also lucky that it has some sort of art to it, some sort of look that is striking in addition to being something you haven’t seen before, you have some sort of a chance that it’ll hit people just right,’ he says.

“But, he adds, there’s still a lot of luck involved.

“‘The timing has to be right, and it’s impossible to ever guess what the public will be super excited about and what, no matter how excited you are, they’re going to completely ignore or hate. That’s part of the fun of it.’

“‘It really is a roulette wheel, and you’re just happy when something works.’“

Tuesday June 25, 2019

A new season if Big Brother premieres tonight!

Mike Epps’ new stand up special is now streaming on Netflix.

Fox announced fall premiere dates.

So did FX.

Hot takes from last night’s premiere of The Hills:

-Heidi needs a new hair stylist
-Spencer needs a new wardrobe and personality
-That bathroom scene with the two of them was awkward and uncomfortable
-Whitney looked awful
-Brody seems to complain about being married a bit too much
-The years have been kind to Audrina
-They have not been as kind to Pamela Anderson
-MIscha Barton looks a bit older than 33
-Justin Bobby is still pretty cool IMHO
-Strahan and Sara hosting the after show? Couldn’t make less sense to me.

The aforementioned Anderson is single again.

WME filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against the Writers Guild of America on Monday, accusing the guild of engaging in an illegal group boycott in its campaign to prevent talent agencies from collecting packaging fees. WME’s complaint against the WGA West and WGA East accused the unions of conspiring to unreasonably restrict competition by implementing its Agency Code of Conduct in April. The battle between the WGA and Hollywood’s largest talent agencies led to thousands of film and TV writers firing their talent agents in April. The WGA filed its own lawsuit against WME, CAA, UTA and ICM Partners, seeking to invalidate packaging fees under California state law. WME asserts that the WGA has engaged in a “concerted refusal to deal” that violates the antitrust exceptions in federal law that are offered to collective bargaining organizations. WME is seeking an injunction on the WGA’s enforcement of its Code of Conduct as well as undetermined damages.”

People seem to really like Yellowstone on Paramount Network. I need to dive in.

John Stamos is still handling his Fuller House co-star, Lori Loughlin's, current personal struggles with a lot of sensitivity and thought. ET's Nancy O'Dell spoke with the 55-year-old actor on Sunday as he debuted two pieces of art he's created -- which are going to be showing at Malibu Lumber Yard -- where he opened up about how Fuller House plans to address his onscreen wife's absence from its fifth and final season. Loughlin is not expected to return to the show after her and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, were accused of paying $500,000 in bribes to get both their daughters -- 19-year-old Olivia Jade and 20-year-old Bella -- admitted to the University of Southern California. Loughlin and Giannulli both pleaded not guilty in April. As for how Loughlin could factor into the final season, Stamos says he's still trying to ‘figure it out.’"

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From EW: “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has long been one of television’s most audacious — and audaciously satirical — sitcoms. The FXX comedy’s writers have never been afraid to sink their teeth into a hot-button issue, expertly tackling topics ranging from white privilege (The Gang Turns Black) to the #MeToo movement (Time’s Up For The Gang) through the escapades of their politically backward, notoriously sociopathic bar owners.

“The series has also not been shy about tackling the conflict between religiously conservative ideology and LGBTQ+ acceptance — embodied by Rob McElhenney’s dopey, cognitively dissonant Mac. The core of Mac’s character throughout the series is his long-running internal struggle between his Catholicism and his sexuality. In season 12’s Hero or Hate Crime?, he came out to his closest friends — who had known about his repressed sexuality for years — so he could claim ownership of a $2 lottery scratcher. Mac entered 2018’s season 13 of It’s Always Sunny as a gay man, but not a proud one. He’d come out to his inner circle, sure, but he’d done so in the impulsive manner in which he does everything else, and he was still unsure of his place both among his friends and in the LGBTQ+ community.

“In season 13’s game-changing finale, Mac Finds His Pride, the show made perhaps the strongest choice it has ever made. While the first two-thirds of the episode is business as usual, with the gang grossly misunderstanding Pride and treating Mac poorly, it ends with Mac coming out to his father by performing a wholly surprising, beautiful five-minute contemporary dance. The dance is so profound that Frank (Danny DeVito), a frequent user of homophobic slurs and a man who claimed to have never ‘gotten’ Mac’s sexuality, is moved to tears. DeVito added a remarkable gravitas and sincerity to the episode’s final line: ‘Oh my God. I get it.’

“It isn’t exactly difficult to be critical of an overt public display of LGBTQ+ ally-ship. In television shows and movies, queer characters are often underdeveloped or sidelined, and their adversaries — often conservative homo/transphobes — are caricatures. But in It’s Always Sunny’s case, it’s different. The care with which the show crafted Mac and Frank as satirical archetypes of the sexually repressed Catholic and the transgressive rich man over the course of 13 seasons ended up, paradoxically, giving them multiple dimensions, full characters, and complex relationships.

“The beauty of Frank’s last line is that it’s a sympathetic epiphany from a man who, until that point, had not one ounce of sympathy toward Mac in his whole body. The audacity of the episode’s turn isn’t simply that it decided to feature an emotional dance number — it’s that it flipped the genre of a sitcom on its head by mining the depths of a 14-year relationship for the gold to take Mac and Frank out of stasis and move them forward on a fundamental level.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia returns for season 14 on Sept. 25 at 10 p.m. ET on FXX.”

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From The Ringer: “Toward the end of Stranger Things 2, all seemed quiet on the Hawkins front. Mike and Eleven got their kiss, Dustin and Steve had a budding bromance, Lucas and Max were experiencing some tween-age feels, and after a year-plus of visions, mind control, and coughing up slimy alien bits, Will was finally monster-free. Then, in true Stranger Things fashion, all that optimism vanished in a matter of seconds.

“This is the closing shot of Season 2, an image of the Mind Flayer—a giant tarantula-like specimen the kids named after a Dungeons & Dragons character—looming over Hawkins Middle School in the Upside Down. This creature (also called the Shadow Monster) unveiled itself as the show’s Big Bad last season, as it controlled all the demogorgons and demodogs and spread tentacle-like tunnels throughout the town. It’s also the monster that pulled Will over to the dark side and used him as a spy on our side of the world.

“Needless to say, it was a relief when Joyce and Jonathan Byers—Will’s mom and brother—sweat-lodged the Mind Flayer out of Will in the season’s final episode, and when Eleven sealed off the portal to the Upside Down. But it turns out that that was just the beginning. ‘Eleven closed the gate, but the Mind Flayer is still alive in the Upside Down,’ Matt Duffer, one of the show’s cocreators, told EW this spring.

“Matt’s brother Ross Duffer, the show’s other cocreator, also said after Season 2 that, ‘They shut the door on this thing but it’s still out there. And it wasn’t aware of Eleven [before], and now it very much is.’

“Last Thursday, Netflix dropped its third and final trailer for Stranger Things Season 3, which comes out July 4. And while the previous teasers largely left out any references to the Mind Flayer, this one made it clear that the creature has returned to Hawkins -- if it ever really even left? Now that we know the Mind Flayer will play a pivotal role in this season, two major questions loom: What does it want? And how does that relate to Eleven?

“The first question is probably the more difficult one to answer, given that we don’t know much about the science behind the Upside Down. But the third trailer includes some dialogue that, though the means of transmission aren’t clear, must be coming from the Mind Flayer. (Here is where I would like to shout out the Duffer brothers for learning from Game of Thrones’ mistakes and giving their Big Bad some lines! Your fave Night King could never!) In the middle of the trailer, as shots of the original gang, Hopper and Joyce, and families at a carnival whip by, a voice-over says, ‘We’re going to end you; we’re going to end your friends. Then, we’re going to end everyone.’

“I’m just assuming the Mind Flayer is using the royal ‘we’ (which is a nice touch) because the creature doesn’t seem like one that’s willing to share control. So basically it’s out for blood, and it seems that Billy—with his endless swagger reserves, sweet mullet, and side glances that send Mike’s mom into fits—will serve as the monster’s next host. In the first trailer, we see Billy look at his arm in the shower and notice a developing rash; the third trailer, meanwhile, flashes to Billy standing in what seems to be an abandoned warehouse, as Will says the monster is looking for someone new to inhabit.

“(Please allow me to pause briefly and throw on my tinfoil cap: This season Billy is working as a lifeguard at the Hawkins pool, extremely shirtless—thank you, Duffer brothers, sincerely—and we see his rash first start to develop in the shower. So, is the pool how he gets infected by the Mind Flayer? Is there some sort of aquatic connection between the real world and the Upside Down?? And if there is—COULD WE GET BARB BACK??? OK, OK, it’s a stretch, but unlike Nancy, I’ll never leave Barb behind.)

“So we know that the monster is looking to destroy humanity. Its motive—if there is one—isn’t clear, but it seems like a natural endgame for a creature the kids named after, as the Dungeons & Dragons wiki puts it, ‘alien humanoid-looking beings [that] sought to expand their dominion over all other creatures, controlling their minds to use them as hopeless slaves and devouring their brains for sustenance.’ Which brings us to our second question: How does all of this relate to Eleven?

“Even in the first trailer, it’s clear something was coming for Eleven. In a shot of her standing alone on a beach—which, we must be going on vacation this season, because I’m pretty sure there aren’t beaches in Indiana—there’s red lightning in the air, similar to the charges that surrounded the Mind Flayer at the end of Season 2.

“Then, the third trailer opens with dubbed-over dialogue, which presumably comes from the Shadow Monster: ‘You let us in. And now you are going to have to let us stay.’

“Both Ross Duffer and Stranger Things producer Shawn Levy have either said outright or alluded to the fact that there’s a connection between the Mind Flayer and Eleven. She was the only person who could stop the monster at the end of Season 2 (though I guess that didn’t actually work out), and now it knows who it’s dealing with. She seems to be the key once again for Season 3, as she’s pictured squaring off with other monsters, sinking into her black mind void, and talking with Hopper about fighting. Can she take down the Mind Flayer without the element of surprise this time? Is there another, even deeper connection between the two?

“There’s a lot we still don’t know ahead of this season, but we do know this: After the mall antics, carnival plots, and teenage hormones subside, the crux of this summertime adventure in Hawkins will revolve around Eleven vs. the Mind Flayer. And that’s a title fight I’m looking forward to.”

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Per Rolling Stone, “[t]he story of the year in television so far was told in the closing shot of Broad City. As Ilana descended into the subway and out of our lives, the camera followed a new pair of friends, then another and another, each of different ethnicities and gender identities, all with a dynamic similar to Ilana and Abbi’s. The message was clear: There are so many women’s stories to be told, and you’ve been watching only two.

“With the departures of Broad City, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Jane the Virgin and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, not to mention the ways that Game of Thrones failed Daenerys, Sansa and Arya in its own farewell season, 2019 could have marked a downturn for women on TV. But most of those shows concluded well. And they didn’t leave a barren landscape: Nearly all of this year’s best shows so far have been about and made by women.

“Start with Netflix’s inspired Russian Doll, in which Natasha Lyonne (who created it with Amy Poehler and Leslye Headland) plays Nadia, a coder who keeps dying and being resurrected around the events of her 36th birthday. Lyonne is a comic force of nature throughout. In one episode, Nadia survives long enough to make it to work, where her male colleagues scold her for an error. She points out that one of them made the mistake, fixes the bug quickly while they stare at her in puzzlement, then runs off to investigate her existential quandary. It recalls a line about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers: She did everything he did, but backward and in heels.

“In Hulu’s Pen15, 31-year-old co-creators Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle play themselves at age 13, opposite a cast of actual middle-schoolers. What starts as a sketch-comedy idea goes much deeper into the messy dynamics of best friends experiencing adolescence at different speeds. It’s also gut-bustingly raunchy in a way that’s usually reserved for stories about boys. Female self-gratification has never seemed as hilariously all-consuming as it does in the episode where Maya learns how to masturbate.

“The year has offered one striking new female-centric debut after another, including Netflix’s Tuca & Bertie, an animated buddy comedy that’s emotionally rich and endearingly silly; HBO’s Gentleman Jack, starring Suranne Jones as a barely closeted 19th-century English landowner trying to figure out how to take a wife; and Hulu’s Shrill, with Aidy Bryant as a writer struggling to get the world to look beyond her physique.

“Not only that, many of 2019’s best shows have been returning female-fronted series that found ways to level up. Starz’s Vida, about two Mexican American sisters reuniting to save their late mother’s lesbian bar, returned more confident than in Season One, when it didn’t seem to fully grasp how to tell its characters’ stories. As a result, it’s been more satisfying and intimate. The third season of Pamela Adlon’s great autobiographical FX series, Better Things — without disgraced co-creator Louis C.K. — expanded the focus beyond the usual mother-daughter dynamics while maintaining the delicate command of tone and sentiment. And the belated second season of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Amazon series, Fleabag, in which the title character fell for a hot priest (Andrew Scott), was a wonder, with remarkably keen insight on faith and love.

“At one point, Fleabag meets a businesswoman (Kristin Scott Thomas) who sums up the female experience as one driven by suffering: ‘Women are born with pain built in,’ she says. ‘It’s our physical destiny. Period pain, sore boobs, childbirth. We carry it within ourselves, throughout our lives. Men don’t. They have to seek it out.’ That’s just one of many female takes on the world that — despite the departures of Abbi and Ilana, Kimmy Schmidt and others — are leaving TV in secure hands.”

Per The Hollywood Reporter, “[i]n the works for three and a half years, the retooled third season of Scream is finally going to air — on VH1 instead of its original home on MTV.

“The six-episode season of Scream: Resurrection will debut Monday, July 8 and run for two hours per night starting at 9 p.m. and run through Wednesday, July 10. The cable network, which like MTV, is overseen by Chris McCarthy, has not aired a scripted series in a few years. Scream was the last remaining scripted series earmarked for MTV after Teen Wolf wrapped its run a couple years ago, though the network previously had announced some development in the space.  

“The third season of Scream was announced Oct. 14, 2016, with Brett Matthews (The Vampire Diaries, Supernatural) taking over as the drama's third showrunner in as many seasons. The rebooted series also added Queen Latifah, Shakim Compere and Yaneley Arty as exec producers on the series, which features an all-new cast, premise and location. Also new in season three is the actual Ghostface mask, which MTV's Scream had previously been unable to use. Roger Jackson, who voiced the killer in the Scream feature film franchise, will reprise that role for the VH1 take. This marks the first time the original Ghostface mask will be used on television.

“Season three centers on Deion Elliot (RJ Cyler), a local star football running back, whose tragic past comes back to haunt him and threaten his hard-earned plans for the future ... and the lives of his unlikely group of friends. The cast includes Mary J. Blige, Keke Palmer, Tyler Posey, Tyga, Giorgia Whigham, Jessica Sula, RJ Cyler, C.J. Wallace and Giullian Yao Gioiello. The first-look trailer for season three — watch that, below — also reveals that Paris Jackson will guest star. Wes Craven, Tony DiSanto, Liz Gateley, Marianne Maddalena, Cathy Konrad also exec produce. Matthew Signer and Keith Levine produce the series, with VH1's Maggie Malina and Dana Gotlieb-Carter overseeing.”