Thursday October 3, 2019

Netflix has renewed Dear White People for a 4th and final season.

Panda on The Masked Singer was Laila Ali.

I didn’t hate Fox’s Almost Family, which premiered last night.

USA premieres a new season of Chrisley Knows Best tonight. How and why I guess we’ll never know.

Following the big ratings for the Season 1 finale of Marrying Millions, Lifetime has renewed the reality show for a second season. It will consist of 16 episodes, up from 10 for its freshman season, and is slated for premiere in 2020. From the creators of 90 Day Fiancé, Marrying Millions follows relationships where one partner is incredibly wealthy and the other definitively is not.”

Snowpiercer is moving back to TNT from TBS

Add clothing designer to Erin Andrews‘ already stacked résumé. On Thursday, the Fox Sports reporter dropped her first-ever collection of game-day apparel with her brand WEAR by Erin Andrews, which consists of nine styles for all 32 NFL teams and is currently available on NFLShop.com and Fanatics.com..”

A&E Network is preparing a two-hour paranormal investigation special, just in time for Halloween. World’s Biggest Ghost Hunt: Pennhurst Asylum is the longest continuously filmed paranormal investigation in television history, according to A&E. It sees five investigators locking themselves into the infamous Pennhurst Asylum for two weeks to document unexplained or paranormal activity, based on reports of full-body apparitions, physical attacks, mysterious noises and more. Ghost Hunters team leader Grant Wilson hand-picked this group of professional ghost hunters made up of Daryl Marston, Kristen Luman, Brandon Alvis, Mustafa Gatollari, Brian Murray and Richel Stratton. The special is produced by Morgan Freeman and Lori McCreary’s Revelations Entertainment with Mark Marinaccio, Jon Crowley, Kelly Mendelsohn and James Younger serving as executive producers. Amy Savitsky, Devon Graham Hammonds and Molly Ebinger serve as executive producers for A&E Network. A+E Networks holds worldwide distribution rights. World’s Biggest Ghost Hunt: Pennhurst Asylum.premieres Oct. 30 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on A&E, followed by the season final of Ghost Hunters.”

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From The Hollywood ReporterI: “Netflix is adding to its roster of sketch-comedy series with a show from comedian Iliza Shlesinger.

“The six-episode project, The Iliza Shlesinger Sketch Show, is set to premiere in 2020. It extends the relationship between Netflix and the comedian, who has done four stand-up specials for the streamer (Elder Millennial, Confirmed Kills, Freezing Hot and War Paint) and is prepping a fifth. 

“The sketch series will take viewers into a secret world filled with absurd characters, insight into the female experience and irreverent yet poignant social commentary. The effort is being produced by Avalon Television (Catastrophe, Last Week Tonight).

“Shlesinger became the first woman to win NBC's Last Comic Standing in 2008 and has been featured on Comedy Central Presents and John Oliver's New York Stand-Up Show in addition to her Netflix specials. She also hosted the late-night series Truth & Iliza on Freeform, which had a brief run in 2017.

“Shlesinger is executive producing the sketch series with Kim Gamble, Kara Baker, David Martin, Richard Allen-Turner and Jon Thoday. Laura Murphy (Girl Code, Adam Ruins Everything) will direct.

The Iliza Shlesinger Sketch Show joins fellow sketch series I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson and the upcoming Kenya Barris-produced Astronomy Club on Netflix. 

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“Amazon is developing a one-hour crime drama that boasts Michael B. Jordan and Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg among its executive producers.

Variety has learned exclusively that the streamer is currently working on the drama “Middle West.” In the series, two Chicago FBI agents get called to Gary, Indiana as they investigate the murder and disappearance of two cops who were searching for an array of missing young men.

“The series hails from writers Alexander Aciman and Julien Martin Hawthorne, who will also serve as executive producers. Jordan and Alana Mayo will executive produce under their Outlier Society production banner, while Rogen and Goldberg will executive produce along with James Weaver and Josh Fagen for their Point Grey Pictures. Loreli Alanis, Point Grey’s head of television, will oversee the project for that company. Steven Caple, Jr. is attached to direct and executive produce.

Middle West is a co-production between Amazon Studios and Lionsgate Television. Outlier Society is currently under a first-look TV deal at Amazon, while Point Grey recently signed a multi-platform production deal with Lionsgate.

“Outlier Society’s current TV slate includes the OWN series David Makes Man and the Netflix series Raising Dion, which is due to debut on Netflix this Friday. The company is also producing the legal drama 61st Street, which was ordered to series at AMC on Tuesday.

“The Point Grey-produced AMC series Preacher recently wrapped up its run after four seasons this past Sunday, while the company’s Hulu series Future Man was renewed for a third and final season back in April. The company also produces the Showtime comedy Black Monday, which launched on Showtime back in January and has been renewed for a second season. Most recently, Point Grey produced the Amazon series adaptation of the comic book The Boys, with that series receiving critical acclaim upon its debut. It was renewed for a second season before the first had debuted.”

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Per Deadline, “TBS has given a straight-to-series order to Obliterated, a 10-episode one-hour action drama from Cobra Kai creators Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg and Josh Heald and Sony Pictures Television where the trio is based.

“This marks the first series order for TBS this cycle and the second drama series pickup for the once-comedy-focused TBS following the May announcement that upcoming sci-fi drama Snowpiercer was moving from TNT to TBS. UPDATE: Shortly after the Obliterated pickup announcement, WarnerMedia revealed that the decision to move Snowpiercer has been reversed, and the drama will air on TNT as originally planned. 

“Written and executive produced by Hurwitz, Schlossberg and Heald, Obliterated is a serialized action dramedy focused on an elite special forces team tracking a deadly terrorist network, hell bent on blowing up Las Vegas. After their raging end-of-mission party filled with alcohol and drug-fueled debauchery, the team discovers the bomb they deactivated was a decoy. With the clock ticking, the intoxicated team has to fight through their impairments, overcome their personal issues, deactivate the bomb, and save the world.

“Dina Hillier from Hurwitz, Scholossberg and Heald’s Counterbalance Entertainment will serve as a co-executive producer.

“‘As TBS’ brand continues to evolve, our primary focus of late has been for us to find dramas that are as much fun as they are high stakes,’ said Brett Weitz, general manager, TNT, TBS, truTV. ‘We’ve worked with Josh in the past and tried to buy Cobra Kai, so letting this series get away from us just wasn’t an option. This incredible team brings heart and absurdity to a situation as serious as saving the world, which makes Obliterated a perfect fit for TBS.’

“In a recent interview with Deadline, Weitz hinted at pending series and pilot orders at TBS and TNT and talked about the TBS brand filter that involves adding “more humorous, premium populist dramas” to the network’s slate of original half-hour comedies.

“‘We could not be more excited to be making Obliterated with our friends at Sony and TBS, who have embraced our concept and empowered us to push the envelope on how funny, action-packed, heartfelt, and totally badass a one-hour show can be,’ said Hurwitz, Schlossberg and Heald.

Obliterated falls under the overall deal the trio inked at Cobra Kai studio Sony TV in May. Cobra Kai has been a mega hit for YouTube, where it is heading into a third season and is expected to serve as an anchor of the platform’s transition from SVOD to AVOD.

“‘Jon, Hayden and Josh are incredibly talented visionaries with a unique approach to character and tone. They hit the bull’s-eye with Cobra Kai, also a pitch to series, and have crafted an undeniable story with Obliterated,’ said SPT co-president Jason Clodfelter. ‘All of us at Sony Pictures Television are thrilled to be part of their creative journey.’

“This marks Sony TV’s return to TBS where the studios has produced such original comedy series as My Boys, Men at Work and Your Family or Mine.

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Per Decider, “TV shows aren’t made in a vacuum, and all art is reflective of the times that created it. That’s the way it’s always been, too, even if the passage of time has dulled the those once sharp political edges. Just look at the sitcoms of the ’70s, from the actively political All in the Family to the actively apolitical Brady Bunch. Norman Lear and Sherwood Schwartz were both acutely aware of the issues of the day, from Vietnam to women’s lib and Watergate, and their shows were equally a response to those issues either by tackling them directly or providing escapist fare for stressed out audiences.

“That’s why, under the current administration, a lot of scripted shows have sharpened their political voice—which sometimes makes for a natural fit as politics have become deeply, literally personal. Specifically, shows like One Day at a TimeJane the VirginSupergirlThe ConnersMurphy Brown, and Superstore have all tackled the topic of immigration and deportation in different ways, bringing the tragedies of our headlines to the small screen, with or without the cover of metaphor.

“This is an important step in fostering empathy between those who don’t live in fear of ICE raids and those that do (although, TBH, the empathy should be there from the jump because we’re all people). But it’s easy for some to remain ignorant of the fears faced by other communities, and these storylines on these shows do their part to break down those barriers. Progressive ideas on TV can change the way people think about political issues.

“That’s all well and good, but after a couple years of seeing fictional characters deal with the very real, very traumatic effects of a zero tolerance deportation policy, Netflix’s docu-series Living Undocumented goes where no TV show, especially no sitcom, can.

“The show comes from Eli Holzman and Aaron Saidman, whose work on Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath earned them an Emmy, and follows the disparate but heartbreakingly similar stories of eight undocumented immigrants from all across America. It’s unflinching in its portrayal of the callousness with which these people are being treated. It doesn’t matter if you’re a born again ex-convict, a successful entrepreneur, or the wife of a military veteran. There’s no mercy shown, no understanding, no path forward.

“That’s why Living Undocumented is a sobering watch after years of seeing these stories unfold primarily on sitcom sound stages. Unlike a multi-cam show, Living Undocumented never has to hold for applause. Whatever you think of the deportation storylines featured on revivals like Murphy Brown or The Conners, they can only do so much and go so far before returning to their predominantly white, documented characters and the storylines that don’t involve an ICE raid.

“Of the shows currently on-air and dealing with immigration issues, NBC’s Superstore strikes the right balance—and it’s clear why when you see the similarities between Mateo’s storyline and what the real subjects of Living Undocumented are facing.

“Mateo, like the teenage daughter of Israeli immigrants Ron and Karen, came to America as a young child and didn’t even know about his undocumented status until Season 2. And Mateo’s current situation as a detainee at a Homeland Security facility looks a lot like what one subject of Living Undocumented endures in Episode 2. Mateo’s storyline isn’t played for jokes, and Superstore takes its screen-time with Mateo (an original cast member and series regular) very seriously. Superstore succeeds in selling the seriousness of this issue in a sitcom format because it’s paying attention to the small, upsetting details.

Living Undocumented is a powerful, necessary watch, especially after years of seeing these storylines unfold in fiction. This Netflix series is the most 2019 show on TV, and that’s the devastating truth.”

Wednesday October 2, 2019

Here’s a sneak peak of tonight’s episode of The Challenge.

ABC has canceled Grand Hotel.

Season 4 will be the last for TNT’s Claws.

I oddly enjoyed In A Man’s World (Bravo) if for no other reason than the makeup/disguise work was out of this world.

Fox premieres Almost Family tonight. “Executive producer Jason Katims (Friday Night Lights, Parenthood) and writer Annie Weisman (About A Boy, Desperate Housewives) bring you the story of an unusual family formed through extreme odds. Exploring such hot-button issues as identity, human connection and what it truly means to be a family, this unconventional dramedy taps directly into the zeitgeist, harnessing the emotional complications that new generations of IVF-bred children all face.”

Might we ever see a Fleabag season 3, especially after series creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge took home a surprising (but totally deserving) three Emmy wins this year? Bridge says she could see herself returning to her popular character, just not anytime soon. ‘I quite like the idea of coming back to her — well, me — when I’m 50 ’cause I feel like she would’ve had more life then, and God knows what she would’ve got up to,’ she told Seth Meyers during an appearance on Late Night, just before she’s set to host Saturday Night Live this weekend. ‘Actually, seeing a character like that in her later stage of life is exciting, but for now, she’s been through enough. We’ve got to let her go.’”

Food Network has ordered The Girl Scout Cookie Championship dessert competition series to be hosted by How I Met Your Mother star Alyson Hannigan. The four-part series will challenge professional bakers to turn traditional Girl Scout cookies into ‘decadent and delicious dessert creations,’ per Food Network. Food Network regulars Katie Lee and Nacho Aguirre are on board as permanent judges. Carla Hall will be among the judges set to rotate through the third panelist slot. Cookie Championship is set to bow in the first quarter of next year, just in time for Girl Scout Cookie selling season. Hannigan, Lee and Hall are all alumni of the more than 100-year-old organization that aims to foster leadership and service skills for girls.”

Ava DuVernay is going into business with HBO Max. The When They See Us and Queen Sugar multihyphenate and Westworld executive producer Roberto Patino are developing a series based on DC Comics title DMZ, a futuristic drama set in an American civil war. The project has a pilot order at the WarnerMedia streaming platform. Based on the critically hailed Brian Wood-Riccardo Burchielli comic, DMZ is set in a near future where America is embroiled in a bitter civil war. The island of Manhattan has become a demilitarized zone separating the two sides, largely destroyed and isolated from the rest of the world.  The series will follow a fierce female medic who saves lives while desperately searching for her lost son. As she contends with the gangs, militias, demagogues and warlords who now control the lawless island, she becomes the unlikely source of what everyone there has lost: hope.”

A&E Network is set to launch a new two-part documentary about country music icon Garth Brooks as part of its ‘Biography’ strand. Garth Brooks: The Road I’m On follows Brooks’s life and career, from his early days playing college bars in Oklahoma to his record-breaking world tours to his status as the best-selling solo artist of all time. The four-hour documentary features exclusive interviews with Brooks as well as with Trisha Yearwood, Keith Urban, George Strait, James Taylor, friend and original bandmate Ty England, songwriter Tony Arata and more. It also provides a behind-the-scenes look at Brooks’s current stadium tour. Garth Brooks: The Road I’m On will anchor the network’s ‘Garth Week’ event celebrating the country star, including branded digital content and a special airing of his Yankee Stadium concert on Nov. 26 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.”

Black Panther star Winston Duke has been cast in the lead role of the Apple TV Plus series Swagger. Inspired by NBA champion Kevin Durant’s youth basketball experiences, Swagger explores the world of youth basketball, and the players, their families and coaches who walk the fine line between dreams and ambition, and opportunism and corruption. Duke will star as Ike, a youth basketball coach and former star player. Production on the series is slated to begin this month.”

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Per Deadline, “On the heels of the success of Double Shot at Love with DJ Pauly D and Vinny, MTV, the year’s #1 non-sports cable network in prime with P18-34, is betting on another reality series headlined by Jersey Shore veterans Paul Delvecchio and Vinny Guadagnino. The Viacom net has greenlighted docuseries DJ Pauly D and Vinny’s Vegas Pool Party (working title). The Las Vegas-based series, which marks the latest expansion of the Shore franchise, is currently in production and slated for a 2020 launch.

DJ Pauly D and Vinny’s Vegas Pool Party is a followup and an extension to Double Shot at Love with DJ Pauly D and Vinny, the #1 new cable series of 2019 in P18-34. The show, starring Delvecchio and Guadagnino, scored 0.82 adults 18-49 rating (Live+same day), winning Thursday night in the demo, and nearly one-million total viewers across its commercial-free series premiere.

DJ Pauly and Vinny’s Vegas Pool Party (wt) follows the Jersey Shore duo as they take over Las Vegas and give their friends a shot at the Vegas life. Between Pauly D’s DJ residency and Vinny performing on the strip, including stints as celebrity host of Chippendales, the two will epitomize the definition of work hard, play hard in the infamous Sin City.

DJ Pauly D and Vinny’s Vegas Pool Party is produced by MTV, SallyAnn Salsano — the architect of the Shore franchise who created Jersey Shore nearly 11 years ago — and her 495 Productions. Salsano and her company were most recently behind Double Shot at Love with DJ Pauly D and Vinny as well as Jersey Shore Family Vacation. Prior Shore offshoots include Snooki & JWoww and The Pauly D Project.

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Per Variety, “The lineup of creatives taking a shot with Quibi keeps on growing.

“This time The Daily Show host Trevor Noah is teaming up with his regular home Comedy Central to develop a comedy series for Quibi’s mobile-only platform. The series, produced by Day Zero Productions and Comedy Central Productions, will follow the comedian on a tour to the far corners of the country and beyond.

“Here’s some more description of the show: ‘Trevor will give Quibi’s audience an unprecedented peek at his candid interactions with the people he meets and the incredible places he visits along the way. We’ll learn how these moments influence his unique point of view and affect his stand up in each city.’

“EPs on the series alongside Noah will be Haroon Saleem for Day Zero Productions, Bob Bain for Bob Bain Productions, and Norman Aladjem, Derek Van Pelt and Sanaz Yamin for Mainstay Entertainment which reps the comedian.

“The prospective show is one of dozens in the works at Quibi, which is slated to launch in April 2020.

“The company is attracting A-list talent across the board, and 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 has also ordered shows featuring Tyra Banks, Chrissy Teigen, Don Cheadle and Idris Elba as well as a remake of MTV’s Punk’d.

“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 launch.”

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From TheWrap: “AMC has given series orders to two new projects, the courtroom drama 61st Street and the convention-busting Kevin Can F**k Himself.

61st Street is being described as a ‘two-season television event series,’ and has been picked up by the network for two seasons of eight episode each. The drama centers on Moses Johnson, a ‘promising, black high school athlete who is swept up into the infamously corrupt Chicago criminal justice system’ when he is taken by the police as a supposed gang member and accused of the death of an officer during a drug bust gone wrong.

“Peter Moffat, who wrote the BBC drama which inspired HBO’s The Night Of, is showrunner and executive producer. Michael B. Jordan and Alana Mayo of Outlier Society will also executive produce alongside Hilary Salmon of BBC Studios.

Kevin Can F**k Himself is a meta take at the TV trope of the sitcom wife. Per AMC, the series ‘looks to break television convention and ask what the world looks like through her eyes. Alternating between single-camera realism and multi-camera comedy, the formats will inform one another as we imagine what happens when the sitcom wife escapes her confines, and is full of rage.’

“The project, which has been given a 10-episode series order, is created by Lodge 49 alum Valerie Armstrong. Craig DiGregorio will serve as showrunner and executive producer.

“‘At AMC we believe in shows that have startling vision and fresh voice, with something to say,’ said AMC Networks and AMC Studios president Sarah Barnett. ‘These two projects couldn’t be more in our sweet spot, as both have something big to say, and a genius way of saying it.’”

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Per Vulture, “Spoilers ahead for The Politician and the New York State constitution.

The Politician is a truly bonkers show. A show so bonkers that by the time Judith Light shows up in the season finale as Dede Standish, the Speaker of the New York State Senate, flanked by her chief of staff Bette Midler, you’re just nodding along like, Yes, this is happening. Sure! As the finale reveals, a Democratic senator-elect from Texas has invited Standish to join his yet-to-be-announced presidential campaign as vice-president. Okay! Which means she’s not putting any muscle into running for reelection for her current position, leaving space for a young, unknown challenger full of ideas and charm to wedge his way in there.

“Enter Payton Hobart (Ben Platt), the politician of The Politician, who ends the season announcing his campaign for Standish’s State Senate seat. After an hour-long finale in which we learn he ended up at NYU after Harvard rescinded his acceptance, he’s since developed a drinking problem, and he spends his nights playing piano at Marie’s CrisisSure!!! Oh, and did I mention Hobart’s friends-slash-advisers have uncovered what they believe to be Standish’s Achilles’ heel … her secret three-way marriage. See? This show is the definition of a lot.

“Anyway, I’m spiraling. Back to Hobart’s run for State Senate. If The Politician occurred in a world even remotely resembling our present reality, his political aspirations would already be dead in the water. When he opens the episode vamping at Marie’s about what it means to be a New Yorker, he mentions he moved to the city three years earlier. (Then he does a full-on performance of Vienna, which I will be discussing with my therapist imminently.) Assuming he filed his paperwork immediately upon moving from California to New York — and, let’s be honest, Payton Hobart would be the kind of person to get a new license within that required 30-day window after you move — this means three years is the maximum length of time he’s been a resident of the state. A spokesperson for the New York Board of Elections told me that would disqualify Hobart from running.

“‘I don’t want to comment on a TV show I have not seen, but for New York State Senate, which is different from United States senators, you have to be a citizen, you have to be 18 years of age, and you have to be a resident of the state for five years and a resident of the district for 12 months immediately preceding election,’ she said, noting the requirements are the same for the New York State Assembly. ‘Part of that comes from the New York State Constitution and the other part is the Public Officers Law.’ (She also asked if I’d recommend The Politician. ‘Uh, it’s definitely an insane show,’ I answered.)

“Hobart does meet some of the requirements. Being a citizen? Being 18? Being a resident of the district where you’re running for 12 months immediately preceding the election? Check, check, and check, since I’m going to assume Hobart isn’t changing his residential status to go home to California for the summer. Given that his billionaire father disowned him in favor of Hobart’s twin brothers who tried to commit patricide and that his mother, Gwyneth Paltrow, is finding her bliss in, uh [checks notes], Bhutan.

“But that still leaves the problem of the five-year-minimum residency rule. It appears to already be an election year. When Hobart’s perpetually suit-clad friend McAfee arrives at Standish’s office for an internship, she is tasked with mailing out flyers. ‘The election is November 6 and we want these in the mail the first week of October,’ she’s told. ‘You’ve got time.’ It seems unlikely that a candidate like Dede Standish, who has faced no real competition in years past, would bother putting in a years-early effort for the election. But when during election year is it?

“Alas, the scenery and wardrobe choices in the finale aren’t totally indicative. In the first few scenes, there are no leaves on the trees and the sidewalks have a damp glisten. The cast is clad in coats and hats and turtleneck sweaters. When Hobart visits Harvard, again wearing a scarf and light jacket, the campus still has green grass. During a walk in the park, everybody is wearing coats, it’s drizzling, and the trees are dotted with distinctly brown and dead leaves. Which leaves us a few options. Either it’s late spring of election year, which seems unlikely given even the most incompetent intern wouldn’t need six months to affix labels to 300,000 mailers. Or … it’s September. (But September in a world where September is still autumnal and temperatures aren’t consistently 90 degrees and wearing wool is not a painful thing to do.) Either way, it’s impossible for Hobart to hit the five-year residency mark and make his run legitimate.”

Tuesday October 1, 2019

Netflix has ordered a 4th season of Stranger Things. Hopefully it’s better than season 3. “[T]he streaming service has signed the sci-fi series’ creators and showrunners, Matt and Ross Duffer a.k.a. The Duffer Brothers, to a multi-year film and series overall deal. And to accompany this announcement, Netflix dropped an announcement video that hints “Stranger Things 4” won’t take place in the fictional Hawkins, Indiana, following the Stranger Things 3 finale’s major post-credits scene cliffhanger. The financial terms of the Duffers’ overall deal with Netflix were not disclosed.”

Nikki Glaser’s new standup special is now streaming on Netflix.

Bravo debuts In A Man’s World tonight. “This eye-opening series follows four dynamic women who embark on the journey of a lifetime as they transform into men to experience life from the opposite side. With the help of Academy Award-winning Special Effects make-up team, Lou and Dave Elsey, and skilled voice and movement coaches, each woman develops her own alter ego and spends two days living in a man’s world. After their frustration at being disregarded because of their gender, the women are looking to flip the script and experience a day without bias from the very same people who held them back in the past.”

Season 2 of Sorry For Your Loss is available on Facebook Watch.

The Rock is coming back to WWE Smackdown. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson will make his first appearance on the weekly show in six years Friday when Smackdown — named after one of Johnson's catchphrases when he was a WWE star — makes its debut on Fox. The show has spent the last nine years on cable (Syfy from 2010-15 and USA from 2016 until last week). The Fast and Furious and Ballers star announced his return on Twitter, saying ‘There's no greater title than the people's champ. And there's no place like home.’"

Jerry Seinfeld has emerged the winner of a legal battle with a former collaborator who claims that he came up with the original idea for Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee [on a technicality IMO]. U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan ruled on Monday to dismiss Christian Charles’ suit on grounds that it exceeded the three-year statute of limitations for civil copyright suits.”

Billie Eillish’s interview with Howard Stern yesterday was quite riveting. Here’s a clip.

A review of Amazon’s upcoming Modern Love.

In the event you’re in the market for some of the clothes worn on Schitt’s Creek, here’s your chance.

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From The Hollywood Reporter: “[This story contains spoilers from the first season finale of Netflix's The Politician.]

“The final hour of The Politician's first season not only caught up with the ultra-ambitious titular character several years after his scandal-plagued run for high school president, but it also introduced the players in his next run for office.

“Payton Hobart (Tony winner Ben Platt) faded into obscurity (and incidentally developed a drinking problem) after his disastrous run for student body president. Instead of Harvard, he settled for NYU (which has produced no U.S. presidents, vs. Harvard's five, or seven if you count advanced degrees), and makes money playing at a piano bar.

“Enter powerful New York State Senate Majority Leader Dede Standish (Judith Light), who's being tapped for a vice presidential run by a Beto O'Rourke-esque Texas senator-elect (Sam Jaeger). Once Dede and her chief of staff (Bette Midler) set their sights on the White House, she begins to neglect her district. When some of Payton's old high school pals realize there's an opening for fresh blood to challenge Dede for her seat, they visit Payton with a proposal: Maybe his political career isn't over after all, and he should run.

“The episode set up a season two that will see Platt and Light go head-to-head in the local race, switching the setting of the series from sunny California to New York City. The specifics, however, are still elusive, even to star Platt.

"‘We really don't know [where the story is headed],’ Platt told The Hollywood Reporter about season two. ‘Every time we think we know, [creators Ryan Murphy, Ian Brennan and Brad Falchuk] really shock us. All I know is that it will be very much focused on mine and Judith's race, and that we'll be in New York now. And we're theoretically a little bit older and coming into our own as adults.’

“The first season focused on a group of teens whose ambition and privilege collided in sometimes disastrous ways. Season two will see those characters adapting to adulthood in a completely different environment than the one in which they were raised.

"‘I think the most interesting thing for all of them is seeing what happens to them when you strip away the context for their personalities that seem very formulaic and that have been developed very pragmatically in reaction to their surroundings,’ said star Lucy Boynton, who plays Payton's high school rival.

“Boynton wants to see how the characters are able to translate the way their privilege and ambition has shaped their personalities into new, very different contexts. ‘How best to thrive and survive in that surrounding has been developed into a persona. Once you pull away the high school surroundings and context, what does that turn into? What survives and what falls by the wayside? We'll see how much Astrid stays true to herself.’

“Platt echoed that sentiment. He's interested in, ‘like Lucy said, seeing how much of our archetype remains when we're out of that environment and in the real world, and how much will remain intact just by virtue of the fact that we're still in a political setting.’

“He added, ‘For Peyton, similarly, I think by the end of the season he's had this taste of if he does strip away his ambition and all of his gravitas and his self-preservation, he can feel all these things and be very connected and empathetic. Obviously, his ambition once again at the very end gets the better of him, and he wants to jump back in the game. So I think it'll be interesting having tasted now both sides of it, whether he can strike any better of a balance or whether he'll have to fall completely back to his old ways. Your guess is as good as mine.’"

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Per Deadline, “Chelsea Handler’s bestselling memoir, Life Will Be The Death Of Me, is heading to the small screen. In a competitive situation with multiple studios bidding, Universal TV, where Handler is under a first-look deal, has acquired the rights to develop the book as a TV series, which Handler will executive produce.

Life Will Be The Death of Me was published April 9 by Penguin Random House. Per the publisher’s official description, the book tells ‘the funny, sad, super-honest, all-true story of Chelsea Handler’s year of self-discovery—featuring a nerdily brilliant psychiatrist, a shaman, four Chow Chows, some well-placed security cameras, various family members (living and departed), friends, assistants, and a lot of edibles.’

“Comedian Handler’s 2008 bestselling book, Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea, a collection of mostly autobiographical essays, was adapted as a TV comedy, which was picked up to series by NBC and ran for one season.

“The deal for Life Will Be The Death Of Me comes on the heels of Handler’s return to stand-up as part of a continuation of her book tour. She recently announced additional stops across North America starting this November.

“Handler’s documentary Hello, Privilege. It’s Me Chelsea, was released on Netflix on September 13. In it, she explores how white privilege impacts American culture — and the ways it’s benefited her own life and career.

“Handler also is executive producing dramedy Unspeakable starring Mary McCormack, which is in development at Hulu, and the streamer’s upcoming animated series Marvel’s Tigra & Dazzler.

“Handler, who headlined talk shows on E! and Netflix and the 2016 Netflix documentary series Chelsea Does, is also the author of bestsellers Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang and Uganda Be Kidding Me.

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From Realscreen: “As networks and media organizations move toward increasing diversity onscreen and behind the camera, it only makes sense that relationship programming would become more inclusive.

“LGBTQ+ identities have been part of the reality TV landscape for decades. The original ‘Fab Five”’made their debut on Bravo’s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy in 2003. Three years before that, Richard Hatch, an openly gay man, won the first season of what was to become an unscripted juggernaut, Survivor on CBS.

“Beyond queer cast members in reality staples such as The Real World and Big Brother, entire shows have been built around LGBTQ+ characters and identities over the last couple of decades. Examples include TRANSform MeThe Real L WordGaycationRuPaul’s Drag RaceFire IslandI Am JazzI Am CaitMy Fabulous Gay Wedding/First Comes Love and Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys.

“Another unscripted sub-genre, however, has been slower to move out of its established comfort zone. With ABC’s The Dating Game premiering in 1965, dating shows are firmly entrenched within popular culture. The basic premise — one man and one woman fall for each other — has been the norm since then, whether in The Bachelor and The BacheloretteJoe MillionaireParadise Hotel or countless other formats.

“But the status quo may be changing, as dating formats buck the trend in favor of greater diversity among participants. Last May, MTV announced that the cast of the latest season of its dating format Are You the One?  would be made up entirely of people identifying as sexually fluid, meaning that any of the 16 participants could potentially pair off with one another, regardless of gender.

“Just a few months earlier, in time for Valentine’s Day, Netflix premiered Dating Around, the global streamer’s take on the dating show, featuring six singles going on dates in New York. Of the six, two went on same-sex dates. Other examples of the shift include E!’s The Bi Life from last year, Logo and VH1′s Finding Prince Charming from 2016 and Logo’s Transamerican Love Story, now more than a decade old, having aired in 2008.

“With Are You the One?, bringing on sexually fluid contestants was prompted by the casting process of previous seasons. Lighthearted Entertainment’s Rob LaPlante, EP and co-creator of the series, says the move was an organic one. ‘We started to see people talking to us about sexuality in a way that was different, interesting, eye-opening, and rather than turn our backs on that and try to make the show continue to be what it always has been, we decided to open our ears and say, what is this thing?’ he tells Realscreen.

“With Dating Around, on the other hand, the premise was always tied to capturing a snapshot of the New York dating scene in all its diversity. For Chris Culvenor, creator and EP for Eureka Productions, that would have been impossible to accomplish while looking through a strictly straight lens. ‘It just felt absolutely natural to us. I think good casting is about being flexible and being able to be nimble when you see something new and different in that process.’

“The two shows approached the question of LGBTQ+ representation from very different vantage points. Are You the One? already had an established fan base. In opting for a sexually fluid cast, it was sticking to an established format while arguably flipping the whole endeavor on its head.

“‘Any time you make a change to an existing franchise like this, you get concerned that you might aggravate the audience in some way, just because they like it — they’re watching it [as it is],’ says LaPlante.

“In the end, the move paid off, prompting coverage from The Atlantic, NPR, ViceSlateThe New York Post, CNN and more. Viewership nearly doubled in its first four weeks on MTV.

“As a new show, Dating Around had nowhere to go but up, and didn’t have a set brand to adhere to. ‘We actively avoided any reference points, because we wanted it to be a distinctly different dating show,’ says Culvenor. ‘I think it was fascinating to see how a 73-year-old person dates, or how a 22 year-old person dates. We didn’t worry about alienating straight viewers, because we thought it was such a fantastic opportunity just to see how different people date.’

“LaPlante and Culvenor both report that MTV and Netflix, respectively, were supportive from the start, pointing to goodwill across the board. MTV even suggested training sessions with GLAAD so that the production team on Are You the One? could learn about how LGBTQ+ communities have been represented — and misrepresented — in the past, helping them avoid certain common pitfalls.

Are You the One? and Dating Around stand out, not only as successful entries in the genre but as formats that do not treat LGBTQ+ identities as requiring a new hook or twist. They are dating shows, full stop, and they can work as-is regardless of who appears on screen. Are You the One? has been a successful franchise for years, while Dating Around features several episodes without LGBTQ+ participants.

“Some previous attempts at integration, however, opted for gimmicks or narrative twists. In 2004, Fox’s Playing It Straight saw a woman on a ranch with a group of men, going on dates with them to figure out which were gay and which were straight. In the UK, Sky1′s 2003 format There’s Something About Miriam had six men trying to woo Mexican model Miriam, with the revelation that she was a transgender woman saved for the final episode. Fox’s 2008 A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila, meanwhile, saw men and women competing for the TV and social media star’s affections, finding out she was bisexual only at the end of the first episode.

“Such shows may have emerged in less progressive times, but perhaps they also served to clear a path to today’s more receptive atmosphere. Doug Ross, creator and EP of Bravo’s 2003 series Boy Meets Boy, fondly recalls the process of pitching a gay version of The Bachelor. While that idea didn’t fly, he was able to get a greenlight when he added a twist — some of the contestants vying for the star’s affections would be straight, and part of the challenge for him would be to suss out the truly eligible contestants before picking one.

“Ross was also producing Gay Weddings for Bravo as he moved forward on Boy Meets Boy. For context on how far society has come, Gay Weddings was produced long before same-sex marriage was legalized in the U.S., and thus contestants prepared for commitment ceremonies that could not be legally termed ‘marriage’ at the time.

“He recalls how, despite what he terms as initial pushback from the show’s star, Boy Meets Boy was a successful experiment in creating empathy while having fun.

“‘The straight guys really had this huge epiphany of, “Oh my God, I don’t think I ever really understood how much I took for granted that I could be who I am, and here I was in a situation where I couldn’t be who I was,”’ says Ross. ‘I don’t think there was one that didn’t think it was a great learning and growing experience.’

“Ross says he would make the show again today, given the chance. ‘I’m sure that we would make some adjustments for 2019-2020, but I still think it would be an interesting experiment, and maybe even more interesting now that the culture has changed so much.’

“‘I really do believe that programs like Boy Meets Boy and the original Queer EyeWill & Grace and a lot of other shows — some employing a lot of stereotypes, some trying to bust stereotypes, some challenging social conventions, some bugging people — helped to generate the current social conversation and get us to where we are today, so that a show like Are You the One? can actually be on MTV and be a hit.’

“‘It’s kind of cool, actually.’”

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“For Variety’s latest issue, we asked Kenneth Lonergan to write a tribute to Kieran Culkin, one of 50 people to make our New Power of New York list. For the full list, click here.

“It’s hard to write about Kieran in this context because I genuinely love and admire him, and genuinely find him aggravating. Only when he is unsure of himself is my first impulse to praise and encourage him. But I have to clarify: His values, for lack of a less dirtied-up word, and his morals — which are way too severe for me — will always restrain him from being obnoxious because he’s doing well. He’s just one of those people who are pleasanter when you have them at a disadvantage, so that’s how I prefer it. Maybe that’s just my own insecurity talking.

“Another reason it’s hard to write about Kieran as a New Power in Hollywood is that apart from the perfectly reasonable desire to make a good living and play good parts, he has never demonstrated the slightest ambition to be anything of the kind. His career has dragged behind his creative interests, not the other way around. That he hasn’t totally sabotaged himself as a result is only partly a testament to what a good actor he is; it’s also a testament to the reassuring if sporadic persistence with which audiences respond to exceptional work even when it’s not under a horrible and garish spotlight. When someone like Kieran does gain the appreciation of a wider audience, it’s so rewarding to your sense of justice that you don’t mind having to strike another name off your private roster of underappreciated great artists.

“It wouldn’t be good for Kieran for me to call him a great artist here, but he won’t mind if I notice that he’s a serious one. As an actor he reaches great depths with no visible effort, and while you could fairly call him a purist, he’s the opposite of precious. In fact he’s astonishingly spontaneous and freewheeling, all the more so because of his great emotional reach; and he’s really funny. I really don’t know anybody like him, and after almost 20 years of watching and working with him I’m still amazed — amazed! — by what a good actor he is. As for his aggravating qualities as a friend, they’re fairly insubstantial — he’s a bad arguer, he’d rather get on your nerves than make his point, he’s never seen a movie pre-1980 and constantly accuses me of only pretending to like them to show off, etc., etc. But these things pale in comparison with his finer points. I mention them only in passing, and as far as I’m concerned he’s welcome to all the Hollywood Power he can handle.

Kenneth Lonergan is a playwright, director and screenwriter. He won an Oscar for his screenplay for Manchester by the Sea.”

Monday September 30, 2019

I really enjoyed The Politician on Netflix. If you need a new series to pick up, I highly recommend. More below.

Ben Platt talks about what might be ahead in season 2.

The latest trailer for El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie dropped over the weekend and this one features a cameo from Old Joe, the junkyard owner who helped Walter and Jesse evade Hank in Season 3.

Check it out here.

The Ringer ranked all 62 Breaking Bad episodes.

The 6th season of BoJack Horseman will be its last.

The Situation dropped 36 pounds and is looking good.

Jim Parsons is hoping to make another big bang in Hollywood with his next role. The actor-producer and Dylan McDermott are among nine who have joined Ryan Murphy’s Hollywood series at Netflix. The others jumping aboard are Samara Weaving, Maude Apatow, Joe Mantello, Laura Harrier and Jake Picking. They join previous announced cast members Darren Criss, Jeremy Pope and David Corenswet, who are all executive producing in addition to starring. Murphy previously described the show, which received a straight-to-series order at the streamer, as ‘a love letter to the Golden Age of Tinseltown.’ The exact nature of the plot is being kept under wraps, though Criss did confirm that the series will be set in the 1940s and that it is slated to debut on Netflix in May 2020. Murphy co-created the series with Ian Brennan.”

Pete Davidson was absent from the SNL premiere because he was filming Suicide Squad. I remain blown away at how much people still care about this show.

This is why John Oliver continues to win Emmy Awards.

A new audio production and podcast label, Listen Entertainment, has been launched to help TV content creators tune into the power of audio. There is an increasing cross-pollination of podcasts and TV content, with audio series being developed for the small screen and spinoffs of television IP such as The Chernobyl Podcast getting traction. Listen Ent. is born of the creative team at Wisebuddah, a London-based studio and audio production business. Adam Uytman, director of content at Wisebuddah, and Josh Adley, director of commercial relations, are leaving the company to set up the new firm, alongside executive director Tim Hammond. The trio have bought the Wisebuddah production business, including its current roster of work. Its recent output includes The Gemma Collins Podcast for the BBC’s new audio app, BBC Sounds; the true-crime podcast Beyond Reasonable Doubt; and The Greatest Dancer Podcast, which accompanied the eponymous BBC One TV series from Syco and Fremantle. The trio behind Listen said they have launched the new business to help TV content companies navigate the future of audio. It will produce audio across all genres – from podcasting and on-demand programs to live and recorded radio. Listen will offer a consultancy service to work with producers on their audio strategy. The company also plans to build a catalogue of formats that can be adapted into TV series or movies.”

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The battle to become CEO of Waystar Royco is over, and Rhea Jarrell appears to have emerged victorious. Or has she?

“The eighth episode of Succession, which concludes with Logan Roy (Brian Cox) publicly naming his latest girlfriend and business confidante (Holly Hunter) to the position, offers no easy answers. Shiv Roy (Sarah Snook), Rhea's main competitor for the top job, shockingly advised her father to appoint Rhea after she learned the company was headed for troubled waters: A whistleblower, perhaps backed financially by one of Logan's enemies, is preparing to go public with his knowledge of secret payoffs at Waystar's beleaguered cruise line. At the same time, Logan Roy's bitter brother, Ewan Roy (James Cromwell), capped the episode off with a threat to his brother that it was ‘time to pay up’ — suggesting Ewan himself may be the financial backer behind the whistleblower, or have some knowledge of the coming revelations.

“As Shiv astutely surmises, Rhea's rise to the top at such a turbulent time might ultimately benefit her and her siblings, even if it means that they have to hand over some corporate control to a family outsider. None of Logan's entitled children appear ready to helm such a large company, and Rhea's leadership could provide them all some time to prove their potential.

“Perhaps none could use it more than Roman Roy (Kieran Culkin), a wisecracking trust-fund baby who has spent the bulk of the second season trying to catch up on the basics of his father's business. In Sunday's Dundee episode, Roman attempts a grand gesture to show Logan his business mettle, only to watch it fall flat (he attempts to buy his father's favorite Scottish football team, except he buys the wrong one). ‘The moment that Roman feels that he's in the position where he could be the guy [the successor], then he gives a hell of a shit, but right now, he's just like, “At least Rhea's not one of my siblings,"‘ Culkin tells The Hollywood Reporter.

“Prior to the eighth episode's release on HBO, Culkin — who had not yet seen the episode in its final form — sat down with THR to discuss the Roy children's brief moment of unity in Dundee, Roman's strange relationship with Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) and why Roman could be ‘an actual candidate’ to take over his father's business empire:

One major revelation in the episode is that Rhea is being named the next CEO of Waystar Royco. Will that decision ultimately benefit the Roy kids or imperil their future at the company?

It's interesting. She's clearly angling herself for the job and putting herself in a position where he [Logan] considers her first. But what she's saying isn't wrong, either: I don't think anyone else is ready and I don't think there is anybody there that is up for the job. I have to look at it through Roman's perspective and think, "For me [Roman], this is better than Shiv or Kendall. I can't have them be in charge of me because then I'm toast, so you know what? She seems smart, she's transparent in terms of trying to charm the family, she does seem right for the job, and maybe ultimately I can build a nice rapport with her." So from Roman's perspective, I think it's not the worst thing. The moment that Roman feels that he's in the position where he could be the guy, then he gives a hell of a shit, but right now, he's just like, "At least Rhea's not one of my siblings."

Another major moment was the episode’s final scene, because it was so potentially explosive. When Ewan Roy threatened Logan Roy that it was “time [for him] to pay up,” does that mean he’s the financial backer behind the cruise line whistleblower?

Maybe if I knew I could be able to make the decision about whether or not I could expose that information, I just have no idea; honestly, I didn't know that was in the script. We do a table read about a week or so before we start the actual episode, and then from there, there are so many changes on a daily basis, we get so many rewrites in a day that [I ask myself,] "Does this involve my character? No? Then I can't involve myself. My character wouldn't know what's going on." There's a lot of the show I watch where I'm like, "Holy shit, that happens? I had no idea." Particularly with Greg and Tom, I had broad strokes of what that was going to be because of the table read, but I had no idea about the details of it.

Roman seems to have been priming himself to be a real successor candidate this season but faced a few setbacks in this episode. Are we going to see him redeem himself going forward?

I think it's possible. The way I see Roman is that he grew up never having to suffer any consequences; he can say and do whatever he wants: Sure, things get handed to him, but he feels he's entitled to them. In the first season, it was all about him feeling like he should be COO, even though he has no idea what that job entails — [he feels] he deserves that job, and he'll figure it out. The part of him who's very ambitious says, "I'm going to go for it. I don't know what that means, but I'm going to go for it." And there's also that no-consequences thing simultaneously happening of like, "Fuck it, none of this matters anyway." So when he really wanted to buy the right football team and he didn't, he thinks, "Oh, of course I bought the wrong football team, I'm an ass, look at me, I'm a dipshit, ha ha, whatever, fuck it, I'll try something else. Or not." There's no heavy consequences with him. He's always looking at that job and always looking to find his way in, but that's not his whole life. This entire show, it's never about one thing, which is something I love. I've never had to go, "What's this scene about?" because that's not what the show is. Roman's not like, "How can I scheme to the top?" It's there, he's ambitious, but also there's this other shit.

Shifting toward Roman Roy’s very idiosyncratic relationship with Gerri, what did Roman mean by telling Gerri they should “marry” this episode? Is that a way of him asking her to form a business partnership?

It's never this or that [for Roman]. It's not only not this nor that, it's always simultaneously all of it. I sometimes worry that the scene becomes "about something." Usually before I have to say anything, Jesse [Armstrong, the showrunner] gets on it and is like, "No." So Roman says "Let's get married," and that means, "Haha, I'm kidding, but also, yeah, it's a business partnership, but maybe we should also fuck or actually get married or not, whatever, fuck it. We should do it. Or not." That does not clarify things, bu I think as confusing as it may be to [Gerri] to hear him, he's probably just as confused inside himself.

Where do you see that relationship between Roman and Gerri going?

What's funny is that between seasons one and two, I had an idea that I would love to see some version of a strange — sexual or not — relationship with Gerri. Because J. and I have known each other for a long time, we sort of fuck around on set during the scene or in between, and there is a lot of in-character flirting. Gerri took it so easily, rolled her eyes and was able to bat it away or say something right back; she knew that I was just some little ant that she could flick away. That was fun, and I think [the writers] watched that, liked it and were willing to experiment. Maybe this is kind of it, maybe we're at where [the relationship] goes. I'd like to think that there's a lot more between them. I think she's the one that Roman calls he needs actual help, actual advice. She's the only one at the moment he can actually rely on.

In this episode, the Roy kids teamed up to make Rhea look like a bit of a fool in front of Logan. Are we going to see them bonding together, rather than fighting among themselves, more going forward?

I feel like unless something really huge happens, you're always going to see both. In the first season, they were always fighting and saying horrible things like they meant it, but they could also get together at the boathouse, smoke a joint and hug it out. They can get together for a common enemy, too. I have lots of siblings, and whenever we saw an outsider creeping in, being weird with the family, we were all just like "fuck this guy" and they were ousted pretty fast, but there could still be infighting. I had somebody tell me that it was hard to watch all the horrible shit Roman was saying to his brother at the beginning of this season. I was like, "Oh really? I mean, it's real, he means it, there's venom but there's no weight." Because at the end of it, Roman says, "I'll see you at dad's dinner, you piece of shit. I hate you, and I mean it, but, really, see you later."

What can we expect from Roman Roy for the rest of the season?

Slowly what's happening, in a backwards sort of way that he didn't mean, is that he's taking his future and position a little more seriously. Again, not directly. And I think he's actually kind of doing a good job. Even in the last episode, he had to [hound] his mother for money, and he does a pretty good job of it. It's not a big deal to him, and he doesn't really care, [like,] "Yeah, I have to prove something to my dad, it's my job, I'll just do it", but he does it well. I think Roman does have good ideas, he doesn't necessarily always know how to execute them, but people always see him as the dipshit and he seems to believe he's not, and the more he grows up and lets go a little bit, in his future I see him being an actual candidate. That's funny, because at the end of the first season, I thought, "He's not really a candidate. Sure, if they want to fuck things up, he's the guy." But I think in the very near future he could be in that position where it makes sense and people might be able to see that. The plot is up to Jesse; I just feel like it's going in that direction, but we'll see.”

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, “HBO Max is getting into business with Ellen DeGeneres.

“The WarnerMedia streaming platform has greenlit three series from the comedian — unscripted shows Ellen's Home Design Challenge and First Dates Hotel and animated kids' series Little Ellen — and is developing a fourth, a docuseries titled Finding Einstein.

“DeGeneres announced the news Friday on her daytime talk show — and also gave each member of the studio audience a free two-year subscription to HBO Max, which is scheduled to launch in spring 2020.

"‘Ellen is a singular talent, and a powerhouse, creative triple-threat that we are lucky to have now bringing her talents to bear on behalf of HBO Max,’ said Kevin Reilly, chief content officer for HBO Max and president of TNT, TBS and TruTV. ‘Ellen’s flair for home design and matchmaking will most certainly inspire and delight — but HBO Max is full service, so as not to leave the kids out she’s bringing them back to the hilarious misadventures of her childhood in an imaginative animated series.’

“Said DeGeneres, ‘I'm very excited to bring my new shows to HBO Max. I don't know who Max is, but I can't wait to work with him.’

Ellen's Home Design Challenge, First Dates Hotel and Finding Einstein bolster the unscripted roster at HBO Max, which also includes voguing competition Legendary and another design-centered series, the globe-trotting The Greatest SpaceLittle Ellen is among the first originals for HBO Max aimed at kids.

“Descriptions of the four shows are below:

Ellen's Home Design Challenge | Similar to Ellen's Design Challenge, which last aired on HGTV in 2016, the series will challenge eight designers to push their creativity to the limits. DeGeneres will appear on camera to provide humorous color commentary on the designers' work. The show comes from Warner Bros. Unscripted and Alternative Television and A. Smith & Co. Productions (which produced the HGTV show) in association with Telepictures and DeGeneres' A Very Good Production. DeGeneres, Jeff Kleeman and Arthur Smith are the executive producers.

First Dates Hotel | Based on a British format, the show will bring together single people from multiple generations at a boutique hotel for an intensive, tailor-made romantic experience. After first dates at the hotel restaurant or by the pool, matched couples can decide if they want to stay for a second date. Twenty Twenty Productions, which produced the original, produces with Warner Bros. Unscripted and Alternative, Shed Media and A Very Good Production; DeGeneres, Kleeman, Pam Healey and Dan Peirson exec produce.

Little Ellen | A 2D animated series that follows seven-year-old Ellen on a series of misadventures in her musical hometown of New Orleans. The 15-minute series, which has a 40-episode order, is from Warner Bros. Animation and Ellen Digital Ventures, with DeGeneres, Kevin A. Leman II and Sam Register exec producing.

Finding Einstein | Currently in development, the docuseries — made with the blessing of the Einstein estate — aims to seek out, celebrate and support the next generation of potential Einsteins who may help change the world for the better. It's from Warner Bros. Unscripted and Alternative, Telepictures and A Very Good Production, with DeGeneres, Kleeman and Todd Goldman exec producing.”

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From EW: “Warning: This story contains spoilers for season one of The Politician.

Glee‘s Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron). Scream Queens‘ Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts).

“Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan love a bitchy blonde and they’ve created another doozy with The Politician‘s Astrid played by a top-notch Lucy Boynton.

“The actress, who appeared in 2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody and is now dating co-star Rami Malek, sat down with EW to talk about perfecting that death glare for the Netflix series and trying to out serve Dylan McDermott on the tennis court:

What drew you to Astrid?
The Ryan, Brad, and Ian element of it. I was very obviously very much aware of that work before. So, you know, before even going into reading it that it’s going to be something very different than what we’re already seeing on TV or in movies. And, then it kind of lived up to every expectation and exceeded it tremendously. And, especially to get to play Astrid in a Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk world where you know you get to do all the elements of the Ice Queens that you have seen before, but then she’s kind of cracked open. It’s a much more complex character. It is just heaven to complement each other in those ways to feel very liberated. Being the Ice Queen while having so much meat to that role.

Did you practice Astrid’s death glare? Because you’re really good at it.
My sister saw episode 1 at one of the screenings and says that she takes credit for that stare because I practiced it on her my whole life, so there’s that.

It sounded like Ben Platt really prioritized you all bonding before shooting started.
Yes. The first person I heard from on production I think when I got it other than obviously the production coordinator was Ben messaging me on Instagram and saying that we should all get to dinner when we move to LA, which was such a generous thing to do, to take on board as his role. I think because so many of us our storylines run so parallel, we wouldn’t have got that much opportunity to hang out and he definitely paved the way to do that and it just makes the experience so much more rich.

It means everyone is rooting for everyone else rather than feeling in any way disconnected and when then you have to do a scene in front of everyone in that auditorium or very intimately one-on-one, you’re much more at home and you’re much more confident and comfortable. And, then in that one-on-one environment, it is so tremendously helpful to do it with someone that you love and respect because it means that you get to take it so much further and be much more experimental and you feel okay to make mistakes.

The costumes and styling on this show are so incredible. Did you have input on Astrid’s look?
Yes. I mean I had an idea of what I wanted it to be and then I got the look book from Claire Parkinson the costume designer and it was everything I could want and more. I was so taken aback by it and just so head over heels for it. And, it was such an intelligent dissection of what Astrid wants herself to be perceived as.

She’s kind of cast herself in this role of the school mean girl in order to create this protective barrier. Her clothing very much represents that. So, even down to the sound of the shoes on the floors of those schools is important to Astrid and the immaculateness of it all and the colors and pairing things to make them a brand new outfit where other people will not be doing that. It’s all very important and specific.

Then, you see the way it changes throughout the series depending on how she wants to be perceived or how she feels in herself.

Why do you think she hates Payton so much? Is it because of the bond he had with River (David Corenswet)?
Yes, I think it weighs into it. She sees him as such a fraud and it’s really frustrating to see someone be so fraudulent and everyone kind of eating out of the palm of his hand and buying it. She doesn’t understand why people are willing to invest. So, it’s kind of a projected anger. I think it’s this resentment of him trying to claim any part of River. She doesn’t know how to grieve. She doesn’t know how to deal with the loss of him. And, then the kind of sharing of him in that. It was very much Astrid and River until he’s gone and then everyone gets to kind of own him and claim him. And, so I think that will running in River’s place, is it kind of taking back and drawing the line in the sand that this is where River and I stand and you are the other side of that. And, so I think that definitely feeds into that relationship with Payton.

You get to play tennis against Dylan McDermott, who plays Astrid’s father. Who’s the better player?
I will tell you that Dylan is because I had to have the ball taken out.

It’s a CGI tennis ball?!
It is a CGI ball. I worked for months with my tennis instructor in LA who is fantastic, and he said that at the end, I had great form. Great form — can’t get the ball. So, that was especially mortifying, especially as Janet Mock was directing those episodes and she is just the definition, the epitome of cool. 

Astrid seems so lost throughout this series. At one point, she even fakes her own kidnapping to go to New York. What do you think she’s searching for?
She’s just kind of been brought up in this bubble of privilege and she’s always been told what to think and what to strive for, especially by her father. How to work and what your role is in the world and how to navigate that in order to get what you want which is this. And, so it was easier to just accept that than think for herself. And I think for the first time she can break from it and then starts to question for herself what, who the hell she is and what the hell she actually stands for or cares about. And, then she goes back. I think with that renewed sense of understanding of I didn’t have to cut all ties and I can still work with what I’ve got and make it mine.

There’s a time jump at the very end that finds all the main characters in New York and Astrid seems to be willing to help Payton in this new election. What can you tease about that?
I think she’s kind of finally addressing her feelings towards Payton and maybe maybe putting down some of that resentment. However, it is Astrid so we never really know where we stand with her.

You’ve had such a huge year between The Politician and Bohemian Rhapsody. What has it been like?
It’s been a lot of fun. I mean we obviously hoped going into that film and making that film and as we became a family hoped that it would touch people on an emotional level. But, you don’t extend your thoughts to what it could be and how far it could reach. How far and wide that film did reach was so astonishing and wonderful to have it be a message you can really stand behind. And, then to do it with those people who are just absolutely family, is kind of laughably ridiculous dreamy. I still haven’t found a way to describe it.

Maybe it can be like the Christopher Guest movies and you all do different films together?
Everyone keeps talking about that because we can’t bear to go on not being near each other or working together. So, hopefully, eventually, we’ll cross paths again.”

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Per Variety, “Benjamin Franklin believed that only two things were certain in life — death and taxes — but longtime Ryan Murphy collaborator and recently elevated president of Ryan Murphy Productions Alexis Martin Woodall begs to differ. It’s all about music and smells in her estimation. ‘Nobody is ever going to smell the same thing you smell and feel the exact same way. And that’s how music is,’ she says. ‘You hear a song and it puts you in a time and place. I argue that music is important in every show.’

“Murphy wouldn’t disagree with Woodall on that score — they’re like a old married couple. And when it comes to a mutual love of music, they might be soulmates.

“Fittingly, Woodall’s collaborations with Murphy (Pose, AHS, and more) have been hallmarked by a strong musical presence. Friday mark[ed] the premiere of the first product of Murphy’s record-breaking development deal with Netflix, The Politician. And the titular character’s portrayal by musical theater sensation Ben Platt, who won a Tony for Dear Evan Hanson, rather than an Oscar-winning movie star like cast members Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Lange, suggests that music will play a big part.

“Woodall gets to know new characters by creating personal playlists for them. ‘Long before I start a show, I build playlists on my phone,’ she says. ‘And not every show needs it, but it’s a way to get my mind thinking even if they don’t get used. Like when I was doing The Politician, in the early days I envisioned it as being very needle drop-heavy — you know, songs on the radio. And then as we got into it, the comedy was so great that when I was working on the score with my composer [Mac Quayle], I felt like, “Wait a minute, this is actually not a show about needle drops, this is a show about score.”’ (That said, expect to hear the likes of CHVRCHES, Elliott Smith, LCD Soundsystem and — an odd choice for a show set in sunny Santa Barbara — Sufjan Stevens Chicago over the opening credits.)

“Murphy and Woodall believe that music is integral to the pre-production process as opposed to post. ‘It’s entirely about the story and character,’ says Woodall, who also collaborates with their full-time music supervisor, Amanda Krieg Thomas. ‘But before everything gets to her, Ryan and I have already put our heads [together] — that’s just how we work,’ Woodall says. And that’s been her boss’ style pretty much from the beginning. ‘You watched Nip/Tuck, I’m assuming,’ Woodall says of their first collaboration (she began her career as a PA on the series in 2003). ‘Ryan Murphy is the original “let’s play anachronistic music — great jams — and let’s make something that you haven’t thought about in 20 years fresh again,”’ she says. ‘So I get a lot of inspiration directly from Ryan.’

“And vice-versa. ‘There’s nothing more enjoyable than watching him toe tap during a song when we’re watching the cut together. And when he starts singing along, I know I’ve killed it.’ Not that she wants to take all the credit; both Woodall and Murphy are listed as music supervisors on Pose along with Thomas. ‘It’s always a collaboration,’ Woodall says.

“‘We do have very similar musical tastes and at this point, we’ve worked together for so long that I know how to spot a Ryan Murphy hit before Ryan even knows I’m going to put it in.’ Except, that is, when Murphy writes a favorite song into the script. ‘He loved Hold On by En Vogue,’ she says, referring to the tune’s two appearances in the second season of Pose, one of which Murphy asked for and the other he wrote in himself. ‘I said to him, “Normally we don’t repeat songs. I just wanna make sure that you intentionally repeated it.” And he said, “Absolutely.” I was like: “Great! Done.” So there’s always a conversation with him.’

“Occasionally those conversations go something like this: “There will be times that he says: “I just love this song — we have to use it,”’ says Woodall. “And I’m like, “Great.” Then I get to figure out where we want to use it. Or how we want to use it.’ Among the myriad responsibilities of music, according to Woodall? ‘To communicate subtext, context, emotion and entertainment at the top level,” she says. “We’re asking a lot out of a song.’

“Case in point: Madonna’s Vogue, which inspired the entire second season of Pose. ‘I won’t say it was the most difficult [to get approved], but it took a long time,’ says Woodall, who estimates that the entire process took six months. But for her, it was worth the wait. Not that they had a choice: ‘The whole show was predicated on that one,’ she says.

“For Woodall, her shows are not unlike children — and although mothers may claim that they don’t play favorites, she’s upfront about the series she cherishes the most. ‘I love all of my shows, but Pose has a very special place in my heart,’ she says. ‘Pose has been the single greatest gift of my career because it has genuinely opened my heart and opened my mind. And I think that in its own right is something you don’t always get in storytelling.’

“That’s an understatement. ‘But Pose has this optimistic and aspirational feeling — it’s about bravery and compassion and kindness,’ Woodall says. ‘And then me getting to add my music? It makes me so excited that I get to come in and I’m like, “I know what they’re going to walk to in the next ball [scene].” And even Ryan will say: “Don’t tell me. I want to be surprised.” So is it’s a combination of heart and style and fashion and music.’

“Her selections certainly seem inspired, like choosing Evelyn Champagne King’s Shame during a Pose scene in which trans women struggle — physically and emotionally — with disposing of a dead body. She also peppers lesser known songs from that era by Frankie Knuckles and Malcolm McLaren, and one episode flawlessly recreated the Solid Gold top 10 countdown from 1990, including U Can’t Touch This by MC Hammer, Sinead O’Connor’s cover of Nothing Compares 2 U and Bell Biv DeVoe’s Poison. Woodall even managed to work in scene with Broadway veteran Patti LuPone belting showtunes. (‘I wasn’t surprised when I was asked to sing Steve Sondheim’s I’m Still Here from Follies,’ LuPone told Variety, but it was remarkable for a show that isn’t musical. ‘It was a perfect choice for my character,’ adds LuPone. ‘What would have been surprising was if they had asked me to sing Let’s Get It On.’)

“The only question that remains is whether or not Woodall will continue to be so hands-on with music now that her work responsibilities have increased exponentially. ‘Here’s the thing I’ll tell you,’ she says. ‘I will never give up my creative. It brings me joy. I don’t see a world where moving away from that would help the company,’ she adds. ‘Or help my own soul.’”

Friday September 27, 2019

Jennifer Lopez and Shakira will headline the Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show.

I tested out a couple of new shows last night. I’ll return for week 2 of both The Unicorn (CBS) and Sunnyside (NBC).

Ryan Murphy’s The Politician is now available on Netflix. More below.

A new season of SNL kicks off tomorrow.

Sunday’s premieres include:

Shark Tank (ABC)
The Simpsons (Fox)
Bless The Harts (Fox, series premiere)
Bob’s Burgers (Fox)
Family Guy (Fox)
God Friended Me (CBS)
NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS)
Robot Chicken (Adult Swim)

Showtime has renewed On Becoming A God In Central Florida.

Amazon has ordered a 3rd season of Absentia.

“A year after his last deal expired, Modern Family co-creator Steve Levitan has decided to remain at his home of the past two years 20th TV and has signed a new overall deal with the Disney-owned studio. The deal, which sources say is for five years and a total of $125 million, will see Levitan continue to serve as co-showrunner (alongside fellow co-creator Chris Lloyd) on the final season of ABC's award-winning comedy as well as create, develop and direct new projects for the studio he has called home for nearly two decades.”

Endeavor has pulled its IPO, one day before it was set to start trading on the stock market, a spokesman for the company confirmed. ‘Endeavor will continue to evaluate the timing for the proposed offering as market conditions develop,’ the company wrote in a press release. Endeavor’s decision to delay its long-in-the-works IPO signals they were expecting a weak reaction from Wall Street. The company has a lot of debt on its books since the acquisitions of IMG and UFC in the last few years. Conventional thinking in the investor community has been that Endeavor would need to go public to get out from under that debt. Investor insiders say that Endeavor may have overvalued what it thought the company would trade at when it opened on Friday. On Thursday morning, there were already signs Endeavor was losing confidence. The company lowered its expected share price and reduced the volume of shares it’s making available. The entertainment and talent management company lowered the estimates on the share price to $26-$27 a share, down from a previous estimate $30-$32 per share, while reducing the number of shares for sale to 15 million, from 19.4 million. Endeavor, led by CEO Ari Emanuel and executive chairman Patrick Whitesell, was set to begin trading Friday on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker EDR.” What a shame.

Aubrey O’Day claimed an American Airlines flight attendant forced her to remove her shirt in public and turn it inside out because he ‘didn’t like’ it. The former Danity Kane singer, 35, blasted the airline on Twitter Thursday, writing, ‘never have I flown & had the steward treat me like a punished lil child in timeout the entire flight.. including making me undress in front of the entire plane because he didn’t like my shirt & made me turn inside out in order to fly.’ O’Day further alleged that she had to expose her body to nearby passengers while turning her shirt inside out — or else face getting removed from the flight. ‘I was SHOCKED,’ she responded to a sympathetic follower. ‘I literally had to have my breasts in a bra out in front of everyone around me in order to not get kicked off. The girl next to me held up her blanket cuz she felt bad.’”

The first ever Patriot Awards will live stream live Fox Nation on November 6. The awards honor “Americans who dedicate themselves to their communities with inspirational acts of courage and patriotism” and takes place at the Duke Energy Center of Arts – Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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Per Vulture, “[w]ith The Good Place, creator Mike Schur sought to make a show about what it means to be a good person. But by inventing a sitcom about ethics and putting it on the air these past four years, Schur unwittingly cemented the show’s legacy as the quintessential series of the Trump era.

“I realize that the fourth and final season literally just began, so perhaps it seems premature to discuss the show’s legacy. But wherever the story winds up going in these last 13 episodes, four of which I’ve already seen, The Good Place has consistently tapped into a public curiosity and concern about whether integrity still matters in a country where Donald Trump can run for president, take office, and seemingly get away with doing whatever he wants. (At least until this week, anyway.) The NBC series has accomplished all of that without ever being an overtly political show. Actually, the fact that it isn’t an overtly political show is part of the reason why it’s so effective.

“Many good shows (and a couple so-so ones) have tackled Trump’s America in a more direct way. The Good Fight, Roseanne before it turned into The Conners, Our Cartoon President, Saturday Night Live, and of course all the political talk shows, from Last Week With John Oliver to Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, have addressed the president and the ramifications of his conduct in the Oval Office. That kind of television certainly has its place, but it’s sometimes so specific that it has a preaching-to-the-choir effect. I also wonder whether, years from now, some of those shows will still resonate. The Good Place is much more subtle. It’s an inviting, funny work of escapism that makes viewers comfortable enough to consider deep philosophical questions at a time when considering them is vital, but often obscured by a barrage of news alerts and tweets. It’s not outright about Trump’s America, but it does capture, on a subconscious level, what is so troublesome about living in Trump’s America.

“Of course, The Good Place does sometimes comment on the current political climate, even if it’s by accident. This week’s season premiere gave off that vibe more than once, perhaps most glaringly when Shawn (Marc Evan Jackson), the leader of Team Bad Place, said it would be cheating to make Chidi become the fourth subject in a competitive experiment with Team (Fake) Good Place, who are trying to prove that humans are capable of rising to their better selves. ‘Chidi can’t be part of the experiment,’ Shawn objected, despite having just sent a demon in disguise to sabotage the same experiment. ‘They already know that he can improve … that’s cheating.’

“‘How is that cheating?’ Kristen Bell’s Eleanor asked. ‘You’re just accusing us of doing what you actually did.’ This episode was written months ago, but the idea of an unethical character accusing someone else of doing what he actually did was extra rich against the backdrop of an impeachment inquiry in which Trump has been accusing Joe Biden of corrupt behavior while seemingly engaging in tons of it himself.

“Other moments in A Girl From Arizona”could also be interpreted as riffs on the current moment. There was the introduction of Brent (Ben Koldyke), a subject in the experiment who happens to be a rich white man with a load of gripes about PC culture run amok. (‘By the way, I’m the furthest thing from racist,’ he made sure to note. ‘My dentist was a black woman.’) Despite his enthusiasm for golf, Brent doesn’t come across as an exact Trump surrogate, but he certainly seems like someone who would have been friends with Brett Kavanaugh, PJ, and Squi in high school. And then, there was the scene that cut back and forth between Michael, Eleanor, Shawn, and his demons. ‘There is no problem we can’t solve!’ declared Michael. Cut to Shawn: ‘There is no problem we can’t create!’ Two parties working at cross-purposes, with one trying to resolve issues only to see their work potentially undone by the other? That doesn’t echo contemporary politics at all.

“I’ll admit that some of these connections are probably not intentional. Schur, who expresses plenty of political opinions on his Twitter feed, was adamant at this summer’s Television Critics Association press tour that he keeps that sort of discussion to a minimum within The Good Place writers’ room. ‘We try to avoid all Trump bullshit, frankly,’ he said. ‘I was like, “We can’t function as a show if all we’re doing is talking about this.” So we have appointed times where we discuss current events and what’s going on — and then we work. And we’ve tried to keep the ethics that our characters are discussing and the ethics of modern-day America [separate].’

“What’s remarkable is that the ethical concerns of The Good Place still dovetail with what’s happening in modern-day America. The show debuted on NBC in 2016, a week before the first presidential debate, and its first season finale aired the night before Trump’s inauguration. Over the course of that season, Eleanor Shellstrop, a woman who had been a real heel in life, got into the Good Place because of what initially appeared to be an error. But the season’s big twist was that Eleanor, along with her friends Chidi, Tahani, and Jason didn’t land in the Good Place by accident. They were actually in the Bad Place the whole time. Michael (Ted Danson), the guy in charge, was really a demon. That shock — that a place so seemingly wonderful was actually the worst — may not have meant to reflect how many Americans felt when they realized our country was capable of electing Donald Trump. But it absolutely did, and so did the sense of determination that Eleanor showed in the face of Michael’s unconscionable behavior, a determination that she’s exhibited time and time again ever since.

“In an essay published on Splitsider after that finale, Stephanie Palumbo expressed these same ideas. ‘Whether Schur wrote it with Trump in mind or not, the timing couldn’t have been more appropriate,’ she wrote. ‘Eleanor’s strength, optimism, and resolve against the embodiment of evil are instructive. She reads the book What We Owe to Each Other, about our ethical obligations to others, throughout the series, and her words and actions advocate collaboration and solidarity. She provides a model of what people are capable of, even when under attack.’

“For those who feel under attack by the Trump presidency, The Good Place serves not only as a respite from distressing headlines and asinine tweets, but a sitcom beacon reminding us that decency matters and that anyone is capable of it. Season two in particular — which, for the record, ended the same week that Trump delivered his first State of the Union address — served that function by showing that even Michael, a demon, could learn to be compassionate.

“From there, season three highlighted the inequities in the Good Place’s scoring system and why it’s so challenging for a human to live ethically in a world where corruption is baked into its core. In the episode Book of Dougs, Michael brought his concerns about that system to the Committee, a group of decision-makers who planned to take action, but warned that their work will slowly unfold over hundreds of years. ‘We have rules, procedures,’ said one of the Committee members. ‘We can’t just do stuff.’ That prompted this response from Michael: ‘Just so you know, the whole time you’re doing this, the bad guys are continuing to torture everyone who ends up in the Bad Place. Which is everyone!’ In Trump-era parlance, Michael’s urgency echoed what some Americans may have felt about the president, while the Committee could be seen as a stand-in for Democratic Party leaders reluctant to start impeachment proceedings. In broader terms, the Committee also symbolized how bureaucracy can be ineffective in moments of crisis, which was a perfect note to strike given that “Book of Dougs” aired in the midst of a federal government shutdown.

“Again and again, The Good Place has been moving on parallel tracks with our political reality. Our desire, as viewers, to believe that the main characters on The Good Place will triumph in the face of evil mirrors the desire to see the same thing happen in our presidential politics. In terms of world-building, The Good Place was partially inspired by Lost, a show that, in my view, was the ultimate post-9/11 television series. Just as The Good Place doesn’t explicitly wrestle with politics, Lost didn’t talk about 9/11 at all. But in its premise and themes — a tragedy involving a plane, the attempt to regain normalcy after major trauma, the wariness of people who seem different — Lost yanked at threads that were also winding their way through the public consciousness. The Good Place has been doing the same thing. Which, as in the case of Lost, puts a lot of pressure on the show to pull off a satisfying finale.

The Good Place is beginning its last lap right as the impeachment effort heats up. The show’s final episode will air in early 2020, a year when the Trump era could come to an end by election or impeachment. As many Americans look to the upcoming months, they are crossing their fingers that rightness and integrity will prevail. As a series with an optimistic heart, The Good Place will likely end on a note that reinforces a belief in, well, goodness. Whatever happens on this wonderful, unpredictable brain twister of a sitcom will not predict what’s going to happen in the real world, even if it unintentionally reflects current events. But as it comes to an end, I feel sure The Good Place will do one thing that it’s always done: It will give us intelligent, hilarious television that also gives us hope.”

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From The Atlantic: “The Politician is the first show to emerge from Murphy’s $300 million, five-year deal with Netflix, which is why it’s surprising that the first season feels so derivative. In some moments, it comes across like a tribute to Wes Anderson, all Rushmore eccentricity and meticulous aesthetics. Gwyneth Paltrow, Margot Tenenbaum herself, plays Georgina Hobart, Payton’s mother, who wears jewel-toned caftans and is conducting a wistful love affair with her horse trainer (played, absurdly, by Martina Navratilova). Bob Balaban (Moonrise KingdomThe Grand Budapest Hotel) is Payton’s father, who collects first editions and tries to leap to his death from a window above a $6 million Chippendale commode when he discovers Georgina’s infidelity. Julia Schlaepfer plays Alice, Payton’s girlfriend, a kind of Margot-lite with a severe blond bob and countless cashmere twinsets. (‘I’m reducing,’ Alice says when offered a cupcake, as if she were a silent-era Gloria Swanson instead of a 2019 high-school senior.) There are pastel colors and lunk-like twins (Payton’s brothers, Martin and Luther); there’s also a pervasive sense of anachronistic whimsy.

“This being a Ryan Murphy series, though, there’s also a defiant kind of glibness, a reluctance to make space for emotional candor or psychological depth or even Andersonian melancholy. Suicide, murder, Munchausen by proxy, the violent impulses underlying toxic masculinity—all of these subjects exist at eye level, but when you scratch the surface, there’s nothing underneath. Characters state, rather than embody, their motivations. “I’m not a good person,” Payton confesses to his school principal in one scene. “That’s my flaw. I’m ambitious, I’m political, I’m conniving.” He’s other things, too, Platt’s soulful performance makes clear, but the show rarely gives him the space to reveal what they might be.

“The subplots contain other elements of cultural imitation. Jessica Lange plays a grotesque grandmother inflicting unnecessary medical treatments on her granddaughter Infinity (Zoey Deutch) in exchange for free Olive Garden meals and trips to Busch Gardens, in a story that visually apes that of Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose. (Lange’s performance, complete with dubious West Virginia accent, is high Grand Guignol compared with Patricia Arquette’s Emmy-winning turn as Dee Dee in Hulu’s The Act.) A story line in which Payton gets close to someone only for things to end in tragedy has thematic ties to the musical that made Platt famous and scored him a Tony, Dear Evan Hansen.

“Some of these scenes are more fun to watch than others. Platt, as an actor, is all heart, which makes his casting as the possibly sociopathic Payton seem like a strange choice. In reality, though, Platt is what holds The Politician together: His rubberized, animated face, his toothy smile, and his patrician manner humanize a character who otherwise could be disastrously robotic. Payton knew from the age of 7, he explains in his Harvard admissions interview, that he was going to be the American president one day. Virtually every word written for him involves a reiteration of this goal, and the necessity of everyone falling in line around it. ‘Do not screw with my dream!’ he shouts. ‘I’m on a singular path … I will win at all costs. I know what my future’s going to be and I know how to get there. And I will not be stopped.’

“This is ambition by diktat rather than design. The Politician hardly tries to untangle Payton’s motivations, or to sketch even in broad strokes the particular anxieties that compel Gen Z kids to overachieve. The fact that Payton was originally the only son of a cocktail waitress before being adopted by Georgina is mentioned in the opening scene, then never explored again. In fairness, Paltrow is resplendent as Georgina, and her scenes with Platt are among the few in which the show reaches for connection. “You were alone in the world,” Georgina tells him adoringly. ‘And I suppose I felt that way about myself.’ Payton’s ambiguously sexualized relationship with River (David Corenswet), his friend and Mandarin tutor, is also absorbing, in that it offers glimpses of Payton with his guard down—a person living in the moment rather than propelling himself relentlessly forward.

“Tonally, though, The Politician curdles. The absurdist comedy of Payton’s life at home jars awkwardly with the political drama of his campaign. And the breeziness with which Murphy and his co-writers, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan, tackle marital infidelity and fluid teenage sexuality feels uncomfortably irreverent when it comes to more somber subjects such as suicide and addiction. One episode follows a male student as he goes about his day on campus; when he punches one campaign staffer in the face and shoves another, those acts of violence are treated as nothing more than physical comedy. As with what feels like every Ryan Murphy show, murder crops up with the inevitability of daisies in springtime.

“What’s lamentable is that Payton—his insecurity, his ambition, his mercurialism—feels tailor-made for psychological storytelling. For the entirety of his career in television, Murphy has demanded screen time for people whose stories rarely get told: trans women of color, differently abled characters, same-sex couples. But Payton’s story as a wealthy white teenager empowered by his own self-delusion is too familiar a tale to be so lightly drawn. The last of the eight episodes released Friday spell out where Season 2 is going, and introduce no less than Judith Light as a New York state senator and Bette Midler as her chief of staff. The change in location feels welcome, but the plot developments suggest that the show will remain rooted in melodrama, slick and sumptuous and insubstantial as ever.”

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Per EW, “[h]ave you ever seen someone so unhappy to win $500,000? Jackson Michie achieved his dream of winning Big Brother and the half-million dollars (and confetti) that came with it. But he was hit with allegations of bullying and questions of possible racism just moments before walking out of the house, putting the new champion into a stunned state when he was greeted by Julie Chen.

“We caught up with the winner shortly after, and asked him about the dueling emotions inside him after being confronted with so much good and bad news. We also asked him some burning game questions like how he thinks he would have done in the end against Nicole, if his big lie about Tommy was his best move, what would have happened had he and Holly not gotten back together, and if he was really sneaking snacks in the shower. Read on for answers!

First off, congratulations on winning Big Brother.
Thank you. I appreciate it.

I have to say though, that was a very, very subdued reaction when you walked out of that house with your confetti. Was that a reaction to those bombshells you just heard from Ovi and David and Kemi?
Yeah, so there’s a lot of things that you don’t hear in the house, and hearing that on the spot when you’re trying to rally votes for half a million is a lot to take in. But also it was a lot of shock in the sense that you couldn’t tell I’m wearing the same clothes that I moved in in.

I didn’t pack according to finale night because I didn’t know if I would actually make it, so a lot of it was shock from the questions, shock from actually winning and staying true to my goal of seeing confetti. But nonetheless, it was a lot of excitement on the inside. It was a lot to handle. I just made half a million for a summer. That’s a pretty good take.

Let’s get into what went down with the vote at the end. Once you knew it was you against Holly for the million dollars, did you know you pretty much had it in the bag?
Not at all. We played two very different games. As much as we were together, we were very separate. And her social game was impeccable. And there’s a reason why she avoided the block as long as she did. She had great personal relationships with everyone that was in jury and I necessarily didn’t. I think every single person that left was pretty pissed off with me. So a lot of that went through my head. And I knew that it would be going one of two ways in terms of votes. So I was just hoping that it would go my way. And luckily it did.

When you heard that question from the jury saying, “Hey, we didn’t like the way you are talking to and about women,” were you thinking, “Uh oh, I may be in some trouble here”?
No, because I know who I am and I know who I’m not, and I respect women more than anything. I’m very abrasive and I have a lot of energy and passion in everything I say and do. And I’m that way towards everyone. And is it right? No. I know that I need to work on it and tone it down in a lot of areas, but I don’t see race or gender or anyone when I’m having a conversation. And if someone upsets me, they upset me the same way that a guy would.

And I know that it’s not right, but it has never been anything about demoralizing or being condescending to women, honestly. And it was hard hearing that because I’m an only child and I’m a mama’s boy at heart and I love my mom to death, but I know who I am. And I truly do respect women. I hate that someone may think that out there.

But were you worried at all from a vote perspective that that might hurt you?
Potentially, yes. And it was a conversation that I’ve had on a couple of occasions this summer with other houseguests and I tried to clarify, with Kat in particular. And there’s a lot of conversations that her and I have had where we’ve made up. We’re very brother and sister-esque in a sense that we will bicker and go back and forth. But I was confident in my ability to handle these questions and my responses to them. And the votes lined up with it accordingly.

Here’s the half million dollar question for me. When you get to the end and the decision you had to make. You win the final HOH. If you thought, “Listen, I’m doing jury math in my head. I think I probably maybe have a better chance of winning against Nicole.” If you had thought that, would you have brought her instead?
Picking between Nicole and Holly is one of the most difficult decisions that I’ve made all season. They truly are my two favorite people in this house. But Holly and I have been in this thing together and she’s never turned her back on me, and I never thought that I could win more over one or the other. I think they have very different but very respectful games and it’s very different from mine. So it was a crap shoot between us three. But I had to stay loyal the one person that was always a little to me, and the girl that I’m in love with, and that was Holly.

So even if you thought, “Hey, me against Holly might be dicey on the vote, but I think I can beat Nicole,” would you have still brought Holly?
Absolutely. I still would have brought Holly. I’d rather lose to her than take what could be received as an easy way out. But I don’t think Nicole is an easy way out. I think I have just as good a chance of winning or losing to either them. And it honestly came down to loyalty and it was a game decision. And Holly’s never turned her back on me. So she might’ve had a better chance of beating me. Nicole might’ve had a better chance of beating me. I’ll never know because I wasn’t sitting next to her. But the decision I made, it was about returning the favor.

How do you think you’d do against Nicole, Jackson? How do you think that shakes out? I know you’ve thought about it.
I truly think that her and I have such drastically different gameplays. And she was the underdog in this season. And she won important competitions when she needed to. And I think her personal relationships in combination with her social gameplay and her ability to win when it ultimately came down to it and to survive the block early on in the game and make it this far is commendable and worth a vote. And I truly think that she could beat me in swing five votes very easily.

For me, your move of the game was lying about how Tommy said he had told you about the plan to throw the HOH and that he was really after Cliff. Do you agree that was your best game move?
I would say that and my decision with Christie and Sis on my HOH. That week of HOH got a very important and crucial part of multiple people’s alliances out. It also allowed me to get a final four deal. But in terms of getting to the final chairs, the most pivotal moment was keeping Holly and I together. Going into the final four when Cliff and Nicole had the two soul votes to split us up. That might’ve been a half a million dollar move.

And you talk about keeping you and Holly together. It’s interesting, because obviously you guys had the showmance. But it was sort of an off again, on again thing for a little bit. If that connection had become permanently severed, how do you think that impacts your game? Are you still sitting there at the end as the winner?
It doesn’t affect my game. Holly and I both said regardless of whatever happens on a personal level, our games will never be affected. We started this thing out in an alliance together. We connected because we saw eye to eye on a lot of different things. And our personal level, it came after that. But our game was very separate. The decisions I made was not better for her game and vice versa. So for me, whether we were together or not, whether we are together outside of this house or not, was never going to come into play with our game and what we had to do.

Cliff voted for you, but he threatened to not vote for you and maybe even turn the jury against you if you did not keep your word and take him to the final three instead of Holly. Were you swayed at all by that?
He did. And no, it concerned me because it was a very legitimate threat. It was something I thought was possible. But at the end of the day, I’d rather take the gamble and call him on his bluff. He respects game, and I know that. And he is one of the best players in this house. And I don’t think that he, if it came down to it, would ultimately do that to me. So I know it was more than likely strategy, and as his vote shows, it was. But I had to call him on his bluff, and luckily it paid out.

Were you shocked that he actually thought you would get rid of Holly instead of him?
Cliff was making a lot of deals at the end of this game, and I don’t blame him. But fatigue sets in on all us, and it wasn’t naive in the sense that I am a man of my word, and when I shake someone’s hand, I do mean it. However, my loyalty is only given to those when it is reciprocated. And his wavering, and mainly Nicole’s wavering on keeping Holly, severed that for me.

So at that point I realized I was playing a bad game of Big Brother I didn’t want to play. I didn’t want to have to lie. I didn’t want to have to go back on words, but I would do it. And I would adapt to my environment to survive. And that’s exactly what I did. So I don’t think it was naive of him. However, I don’t think he also saw that he sort of went back on his word, because I know he wanted to keep Holly.

But he didn’t see it from my side where even when I was asking him to vote separately from Nicole, he refused to do it. So unfortunately, as much as it was more Nicole’s decision to try and keep Tommy, because she won the HOH and was guaranteed safety, Cliff was the other half of that.

You were put in that one America’s choice competition earlier on where you felt like it was because America didn’t like you and the other two people they put there. And then the Zingbot comes in and calls you a pompous douchebag. Did that stuff bother you or were you able to brush that off? On a personal level, did any of that stuff get to you?
I’ll be honest, I’m used to, in real life, people disliking me more than liking me. And most of the times it is because they have never gotten to know me. And this is a TV show and there’s a lot more to me than what you’ll see on an hour, three nights a week. There’s 168 hours in a week, and out of that a hundred maybe … and 115 minutes of it is social. So out of my 24 years on this earth I’ve dealt with a lot of animosity and I’m okay with it.

I know who I am. I know who I’m not. And everything I did was for this game to get me to the final two chairs. So it crossed my mind. It definitely weighed on me. And in that house, we have no distractions, so it can get to you. But it ultimately was not going to be the reason why I started spiraling. I took a lick on the chin and kept on going forward.

All right, were you sneaking snacks in the shower when you were Have-Not on slop? Come clean with me. Were you sneaking snacks?
I really wasn’t. I wasn’t. I respect this game too much. At no point would I ever think that I deserved something over anybody else. I really, really wasn’t. I volunteered to be a Have-Not. I wanted to get that experience of Big Brother. I volunteered to go up on the block as a pawn. I threw a rogue vote. Everything that I did was to make sure that if I walked out of these doors, I gave it my all and I played Big Brother to the best of my ability. And that includes being punished. That includes eating slop for a week. And I like to eat. And at no point did I ever even consider going back on that.

What are you going to do with the money?
Well, I have no car. I’m not sure where my apartment is, and as of right now, my employment is this check. So I got to start working on some things, but it’s for my family. I need to take care of a few expenses on my end. But a lot of saving, a lot of investing, and this is not a fun night for me. I might splurge on a trip with Holly, but that might come out a change of scenery.

But for me, a lot of this money is setting myself up for success. Very much like in this game I’m looking long term. It’s as Zingbot said, chess not checkers. And there’s a lot of ways that this $500,000 can go, and I’ll be damned if I let it go down the toilet the way that a lot of money goes into some people’s lives and out of it just as quick.

You mentioned a trip with Holly. She mentioned the same thing to me. What’s your future with Holly outside of this house?
Holly is easy one of the best things that happened to me. She had a great head on her shoulders. And in that house with no distractions people bicker. I’ve had arguments with just about everybody in that house, and that’s part of it. But I really do have the utmost respect for her. I want for us to be able to live life together after this week. Ironically enough, we’re in the same city. So it won’t be hard.

But I’ve always said, she said it too, whether we are in a relationship or not, it will not change the fact that we will both be in each other’s lives. She’s a great girl, and if we don’t end up together and she gets new boyfriend, sorry dude, but I will be one of her best friends. And same for me. So it’s part of the deal.

I know you’re a self-proclaimed mama’s boy. How nice was it to see your mother again?
I saw mama’s big ole dimples and I gave her a big hug and I couldn’t be more proud. She is an incredible woman. And I hope that I made her proud. They both worked very hard to raise me into the man I am. And in a house with 24/7 surveillance, it is easy and very frequent to come across in a way that’s not ideal. But that’s part of the experience I signed up for. And I hope at the end of the day, after it’s all said and done, that I’ve made them proud and that I put the best foot forward.”

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Per The New York Post, “Artie Lange wants to apologize to Howard Stern.

“Lange was Stern’s sidekick on his blockbuster radio shows from 2001 until 2009, when Lange’s increasingly out-of-control drug habit forced Stern to take him off the air.

“Now, in an episode of the AftershockXL YouTube show, out Wednesday but shown to Page Six, Lange says he not only forgives the King of All Media — but he wants to say sorry.

“‘I feel terrible. I’m going to call him one of these days,’ Lange, who’s eight months sober, told hosts Steve Grillo and Jesse Nash.

“Lange said that, after reading some of Stern’s recent interviews, it ‘sounds like Howard has some guilt about firing me or whatever.’

“‘There should be no guilt on Howard’s part. Howard did nothing wrong. All Howard did was try to help me,’ Lange said. ‘I love him so much. It’s a shame that anyone in my life would feel any guilt. I f–ked up.’

“He said he’s spoken to Stern on the phone since leaving the show, but hasn’t been able to apologize.

“In May, Stern told the New York Times that he ‘loves’ Lange but ‘we’ve lost touch, and that’s my doing.’

“He added that he doesn’t like to talk about Lange because ‘I don’t want to do anything that would rock his boat.’

“The show will air on the BattleChats YouTube page.