Thursday September 19, 2019

When did Cliff become a horrific game player on BB? He had done pretty well all season, but these late season deals he’s trying to make are laughable and he’ll undoubtedly be joining the jury house this evening.

Karma is a REAL bitch Laurel. Good riddance.

ABC airs The Last Days of Phil Hartman tonight.

The revival of Aaron McGruder's animated series The Boondocks has found a home at HBO Max. The WarnerMedia streaming platform has ordered two "reimagined" seasons — 24 episodes in all — of the show. It's set to premiere in fall 2020 with a 50-minute special. All 55 previous episodes of The Boondocks will be available on HBO Max when the service launches in the spring. ‘The Boondocks was a revolutionary series that sparked conversations on hot button issues and brought dark subjects into the light with episodes like The Trial of Robert Kelly, The Fundraiser and The Story of Gangstalicious,' said Kevin Reilly, chief content officer for HBO Max and president of TBS, TNT and TruTV. ‘Aaron is a gifted visionary whose unique style of storytelling is a welcome voice, and we are elated the Freemans are making their thugnificent comeback on HBO Max.’"

Just in case you’re keepings score, here are the current streaming service costs:

HBO Now $14.99
Netflix $12.99
Hulu $11.99
Showtime $10.99
CBS $9.99
Prime $8.99
Starz $8.99
Disney+ $6.99
AppleTV+ $4.99
Peacock $TBD

Total cost: $90.91/month

Here’s a trailer for upcoming Netflix series Raising Dion. “A young boy struggling to control his newfound powers. A single mom fighting the odds to keep her son safe. Secrets, conspiracies, mysteries, all dangerously swarming around one family... Raising Dion launches October 4th, only on Netflix.”

“Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who played the good-looking yet incorrigible Zack in NBC’s beloved Saved by the Bell series, said he was never approached to take part in the show’s forthcoming TV sequel, which will reprise roles from Mario Lopez and and Elizabeth Berkley. ‘I read it in the trades just like everybody else this morning,’ Gosselaar told Variety on the Mixed-ish premiere red carpet Monday night. ‘Honestly, I was never approached. I woke up to the news this morning with a kind of ‘huh’ response.’ Although he said he would definitely consider reprising the lovable character (‘I’ve always been interested, of course,’ he said), he does understand why NBC never reached out. Gosselaar now stars in Mixed-ish on ABC, which poses competition against NBCUniversal’s newly named streaming service Peacock.”

Quibi has put in development Toys, based on James Patterson’s bestselling novel, from Melinda Hsu Taylor (Nancy Drew, Vampire Diaries, Lost), Peter Lenkov’s 101st Street Entertainment, James Patterson Entertainment and CBS TV Studios, where Lenkov is under an overall deal. Adapted by Hsu Taylor, Toys is set in the near future. When generations of DNA enhancements have resulted in a class conflict between genetic Elites and unaltered Basics, action-adventure Toys follows the journey of a young woman who finds herself, and her heart, caught between the two worlds.”

I want to be crystal clear about something as I see all of these Colin Kaepernick articles popping up. IF he had the talent to be a starting NFL QB, he would be. It’s not about him being blackballed or the league boycotting him, it’s that he’s simply not good enough to play. The NFL has forgiven convicted felons, rapists and those convicted of manslaughter and offered them 2nd and 3rd chances because the talent was undeniable. Kaepernick protested in silence and didn’t commit a crime, he’s just not capable of being under center in the NFL in 2019.

florida-gators.png

Per Deadline, “HBO Sports’ acclaimed reality franchise is going to school for the first time with 24/7 College Football, a four-part docuseries narrated by Ray Donovan‘s Liev Schreiber that kicks off October 2 on HBO.

“The inaugural episode will follow the Florida Gators, followed by visits with the Penn State Nittany Lions, Arizona State Sun Devils and Washington State Cougars. All happen to be undefeated in the young season and ranked in the national top 25.

24/7 College Football will document the lives of the four head coaches — Florida’s Dan Mullen, Penn State’s James Franklin, Arizona State’s Herm Edwards and Washington State’s Mike Leach — players, assistant coaches and more over one week during the regular season. The series will air over four consecutive weeks in October, starting with  the Gators.

“‘For many years, we have been enamored with the storylines and unrivaled traditions of college football, and we’re excited for the opportunity to expand the 24/7 franchise into the realm of college sports,’ said Rick Bernstein, executive producer of HBO Sports. ‘Viewers will feel the tremendous electricity of some of the best atmospheres in the country, and see the meticulous preparation and challenges facing these programs in the build-up to gameday and during the game action.’

“The new series is a collaboration between HBO Sports and Lucky 27 Media and Sport & Story. Heading up the production team for HBO Sports is VP/senior producer Bentley Weiner, who has overseen the boxing, hockey, golf and NASCAR installments of the 24/7 franchise. Zac Reeder of Lucky 27 Media helped develop the concept of the college football series and will serve as an executive producer along with Sport & Story’s Bo Mattingly.

“Since its launch in 2007, the 24/7 franchise has scored 18 Sports Emmys over seven seasons.”

maxresdefault.jpg

From TheWrap: “AT&T is considering parting ways with DirecTV, either spinning the company off or selling it outright, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

“According to the report [subscription required], which cited people familiar with the matter, AT&T is considering multiple options including spinning DirecTV off into a separate public company or combining its assets with rival satellite TV provider Dish Network. The WSJ said that AT&T may ultimately decide to keep DirecTV, which it bought in 2015 for $49 billion.

“The report comes a week after Elliott Management Corporation, which said that it now manages $3.2 billion worth of AT&T shares, wrote a lengthy letter to the telecom and media giant’s board of directors outlining what Elliott called AT&T’s ‘long-term underperformance.’ In the letter, Elliott went particularly hard against AT&T’s 2014 purchase of satellite TV provider DirecTV and argued that AT&T bought a declining asset. ‘The pay TV ecosystem has been under immense pressure since the deal closed,’ the letter read. ‘Unfortunately, it has become clear that AT&T acquired DirecTV at the absolute peak of the linear TV market.’

“On Sept. 13, a group of AT&T investors filed a class action lawsuit against the AT&T, accusing senior leadership of fabricating thousands of customer accounts for its DirecTV Now streaming service, and issuing misleading statements about the health of the streaming product. In a statement, AT&T said it ‘plans to fight these baseless claims in court.’

“The poor performance of DirecTV Now (now called AT&T Now) was cited in Elliott’s Sept. 9 letter. Elliot pointed out its subscriber losses in the last three quarters. The streaming service had 1.9 million in the third quarter of 2018, but is now at 1.3 million as of Q2 in 2019.

“A potential merger with Dish would likely be blocked by regulators, AT&T’s CFO John Stephens said during an investor conference last week. ‘From a regulatory perspective, it hasn’t been successful and I don’t know that there is any change in that regulatory perspective,’ he said. ‘I understand the industrial logic, but quite frankly it’s been tried and has been rejected.’

“In 2001, Dish’s former parent company EchoStar attempted to merge with DirecTV’s former owner, Hughes Electronics. That deal was blocked on antitrust grounds by regulators, who argued it would leave too many rural Americans with only one single pay-TV option.”

Crackle has announced a new series from executive producer Ashton Kutcher.

Going From Broke takes a hard look at the nation’s student-loan crisis — and gives millennials a chance to dig themselves out of massive debt.

“The series debuts exclusively on the free streaming service on Oct. 17. From Matador Content and Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, Going From Broke is hosted by Chegg CEO Dan Rosensweig and features financial expert Danetha Doe. The pair go one-on-one with young people living in Los Angeles to help them change their habits, gain financial confidence and become CEO of their own lives. And yes, Kutcher will make an appearance in an episode. Watch an exclusive trailer above.

“The 10-episode, half-hour series will also feature insights and advice from experts including personal finance journalist Jean Chatzky and bestselling author and podcast reporter Farnoosh Torabi.

“‘We couldn’t be more pleased to be partnering with Ashton on a project that addresses such a serious issue in our country. This Crackle original series, Going From Broke, isn’t just entertainment; it also provides real tools and takeaway for viewers,’ said William J. Rouhana Jr., Chairman and CEO of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment. ‘We’re excited to premiere the series on Crackle since it’s a completely free, ad-supported platform available to stream on any device. It’s the perfect place to reach viewers who may also be saddled with debt and watching every dime they have. It’s the right message on the right platform at the right time.’

“‘The student debt crisis in America is devastating to young people and their families,’ Rosensweig said. ‘We need real solutions, in real time, to end the vicious cycle of debt and get hardworking young people on the road to financial freedom. My hope is that the stories in this show shine a light on the crippling impact debt and financial instability has on our kids, our future workforce and our economy.’

Going From Broke is executive produced by Kutcher, Rouhana and Michael Winter for Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment. Todd Lubin, Jay Peterson, Joel Relampagos and Jerry Carita also serve as executive producers for Matador Content.

“Going From Broke premieres Oct. 17 on Crackle.”

Congrats to Michael et al. See how it works when Chicken Soup for the Soul buys a distribution channel like Crackle and also owns Ashton Kutcher’s A+? Expect to see more deals like this on the horizon.

maxresdefault.jpg

Per Vulture, “NBC’s storied ‘Must-See TV’ Thursday lineup has seen various iterations over the decades. While the network’s marketing execs didn’t actually coin the phrase until 1993, sitcom triumphs from the 1980s — The Cosby Show, CheersFamily Ties — have retroactively become part of the Peacock pantheon. Likewise, although 21st-century Thursday shows such as The Office, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, and Community never reached a broad audience in the way their predecessors did, they’ll very likely be remembered in the same paragraph (if not the same sentence) as their ancestors. And then there is that one NBC Thursday lineup from the past three decades that stands apart— the One Must-See TV Lineup to Rule Them All. It’s the schedule NBC birthed in the fall of 1994, when established blockbuster Seinfeld was married with newcomers Friends and ER. Almost literally overnight, the TV world changed: Superstars were born, network fortunes changed. NBC, which had established a tradition of both qualitative and commercial success a decade earlier, transformed into an unstoppable Thursday juggernaut. It became immune, at least on one night, to whatever rivals threw at it. And after finishing in third place the season before, it suddenly found itself challenging ABC for the overall Nielsen crown, particular with younger viewers.

“Things are much different for NBC on Thursday nights now, of course. The Peacock long ago surrendered its ratings crown to CBS, which has dominated the night in recent years with mass-appeal half-hours such as Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, Young Sheldon, and Mom. At one point five years ago, the situation on the yuks front grew so dire that NBC began the fall season without a single returning comedy on Thursday night, the first time that had happened in three decades. NBC’s Thursday fortunes have improved since then. Superstore launched in 2015, with The Good Place following a year later. Neither show is a ratings smash, but they’re both critical hits with solid core audiences, particularly among younger viewers. While NBC doesn’t use Must-See TV in its marketing anymore — the new branding is “Comedy Starts Here” — the network is still leaning in to the idea that Thursday is the home of some of its best shows, particularly comedies.

“That’s because the halo of that 1994 schedule still hangs over the network. When this story was first published back in 2014, ahead of the 20th anniversary of the debuts of Friends and ER, Vulture decided to find out how that most epic of Thursday schedules came together. When did NBC execs know Friends and ER might be worthy of Thursday berths? How did they make the gutsy decision to shift two very successful Thursday comedies, Frasier and Wings, to Tuesdays in order to make room for the newcomers? And why did they decide to make another big move just a year later? For the answers, we got together with former NBC Entertainment president Warren Littlefield (who had just won an Emmy for his role as exec producer of FX’s Fargo and would go on to produce Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale) and former Peacock scheduling guru Preston Beckman (who was then at Fox Networks Group and is now a consultant). Ahead of the 25th anniversary of that storied NBC lineup, here’s a look back at the edited and annotated transcript of our nearly 90-minute conversation with the two men.

Before they were megahits, Friends and ER started out like most TV shows back then (and even now): one of a couple dozen projects lucky enough to film pilot episodes in consideration for a spot on a network’s schedule. Of the two, ER had the bigger auspices: It was based on a novel by superstar author Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park), and Steven Spielberg was attached as a producer. The creators of Friends, meanwhile, were best known for their work on HBO’s Dream On (at a time when pay-cable shows didn’t have the same cachet they do now). 

How early in the development process did you start thinking Friends and ER might be worth scheduling on Thursday?

Warren Littlefield: I would say that both of them were targeted to go into Thursday night. With Friends, as we went through the casting process, we got more and more excited. Not because there were any household, super-well-known star names. We just thought, Man, this is a fun, attractive cast. And then Jimmy Burrows signed on [to direct]. Going into screenings, there was a certain patina, a hope to it. There was a feeling that if we did it right, this belonged on Thursday night. That was very much kind of a goal, and a target.

Preston Beckman: But honestly, before we even considered Friends for Thursday, we had a bigger decision, which was whether to split up Thursday. I don’t think the the big focus, at least in terms of the comedies, was on Friends. It was — you know, are we gonna make this move?

Right. You were heading into fall 1994 with a 10 p.m. opening, since L.A. Law was wrapping its run. But your Thursday comedy block was working pretty much perfectly: Mad About You, Wings, Seinfeld, Frasier. 

Littlefield: That’s your Must-See TV lineup.

Exactly. Anyone looking at that schedule now, or even then, would say …

Littlefield: Don’t mess with this.

Beckman: We started off believing that that’s what we were gonna do. Just leave Thursday night — at least the comedies — as is.

Littlefield: But the feeling was, this is how we become the No. 1 network. That if we don’t get into Tuesday night, then we’re gonna get blocked out. The only comedy competition on Tuesday night was from ABC. And so that’s why we took that risk.

Once you opened up two comedy slots on Thursday, it then came down to whether Friends should fill one of those two holes, and if so, whether it should air at 8:30 p.m. behind Mad About You, or at 9:30 p.m. behind Seinfeld. You also had Dabney Coleman returning to TV in Madman of the People, and also headed to Thursday. How did you decide which show went where?

Beckman: The reality was, Friends was a mediocre-testing pilot.

Littlefield: It was a “high weak” in the testing.  Seinfeld was absolutely disastrous. Weak, weak on all levels. But Friends was a high weak, because there was a bubbling young-adult 18-to-34-year-old audience that got its sensibility. And so, it wasn’t considered, like, a full-on 18-to-49 show. They found it moderately funny, [with an] attractive, young cast. But it was really — it wasn’t overly emotionally involving. And there wasn’t a single star that jumped out. It was, by definition, what we set out to do: an ensemble. Madman just felt a little more adult. We thought, Well, it’ll play a little older, and we’ll put it a little later. And Friends will play younger. And, you know, being sandwiched between Mad About You and Seinfeld, that was a pretty great opportunity.

Beckman: Madman of the People was a higher-testing pilot. It’s that simple. It’s really that simple. We liked FriendsFriends was actually liked more [by NBC execs] than the testing indicated. But, you know, in the real world, we don’t know what we have a lot of the time. We didn’t know what we had with Friends. We didn’t know what we had with Seinfeld. You don’t know. If we knew, we would probably be gazillionaires now, and Warren would not be freezing his ass up in Calgary.

Was it an easier call to schedule ER at 10 p.m. on Thursday?

Littlefield: We didn’t have many choices.

L.A. Law was over, and you had to find something to replace it.

Littlefield: You know, Steven [Bochco, executive producer of L.A. Law] said to me, “Hey, I can give you another half-season.” But I just thought it was time.

What were the possibilities for the slot?

Littlefield: We had done an experiment with a Robin Williams episode of Homicide and played that on Thursday. And as powerful and as wonderful as that was, it didn’t seem like Homicide was destined to be the show that could hold up on Thursday. And we had probably placed a Law & Order there a couple times. But Law & Order was doing very, very nicely, holding up our Wednesday.

Beckman: Law & Order was also a show we didn’t feel was really a young-appealing show. It was more 25-to-54.

So that left ER.

Beckman: ER just — you know, it had an attractive cast. It had George Clooney about to explode. It just felt younger.

Littlefield: And it was more exciting.

Beckman: Also, I will say this. With ER, I think we knew what we had. ER was like — we gotta be out of our minds not to put this Thursday at 10.

Littlefield: That’s true.

By mid-May, just before NBC officially unveiled its new lineup to advertisers, industry trades were already reporting its bold scheduling ploys. “In what would be a stunning move … Peacock web officials have talked about shifting Frasier to Tuesday opposite Roseanne — a development that would surely bring howls of protest from the show’s supplier, Paramount Network TV,” Variety reported at the time. “Several observers questioned the merit of putting a year-old hit against one of TV’s most resilient sitcoms.” NBC also made it known that it would schedule ER in the L.A. Law time slot, even though there had already been buzz, CBS was eyeing Thursdays at 10 for Chicago Hope. Initially, ABC and CBS didn’t react to NBC’s shuffle: The Alphabet announced a new schedule with Roseanne still on Tuesdays, while the Eye went ahead and put Hope against ER. And then came the four-month wait until September.

After you saw your competitors’ schedules, did you worry at all about whether you had made the right moves? Any second thoughts over the summer, particularly when ABC decided to replace Roseanne with Home Improvement on Tuesdays opposite Frasier?

Littlefield: We were confident. We were very confident. [With ER], we had a research document that confirmed our greatest hopes and dreams — five legitimate series stars in this pilot, record-breaking testing versus most every drama that was tested previously. We ran a 60-second spot in the finale of LA Law, and the reaction from the audience, because we were monitoring them — the reaction to that spot was basically, Get the fuck out of my way. When can I see this show? I can’t wait. I mean, it was that powerful.

And so we looked at Chicago Hope, and we said, “You know, that’s not a bad show. However, it ain’t ER.”  We just had such great confidence as we lived with the decision. And each week, the intent-to-view data that was coming in continued to give us more confidence.

Beckman: I remember sitting next to you at the TV Critics Association press tour, when John Wells and the group did their TCA session. And I turned to you after the end of the session and I said, “I’ve never heard a producer or a showrunner talk like that.” I mean, I was so impressed with him.

Littlefield: Yes. Yes.

Beckman: Just how he envisioned the show. I mean, all the years I’d been in the business, if there was ever a slam dunk … God could have done a talk show [opposite ER]. It didn’t matter. I remember showing Chicago Hope and ER to my wife. She didn’t know which network they were on. Afterwards, I said, “Well, which one would you watch?” And she didn’t even say. She looked at me and she said, “Are you even kidding me?” One show was these young, idealistic doctors in a struggling inner-city hospital, with multiple stories going on in that pilot. Then the other was this pristine, squeaky-clean hospital with these high-paid doctors separating conjoined twins. Come on. What are people gonna watch?

Littlefield: The other thing that came out of test audiences is, they perceived ER to be an action hour. That’s what they called it. Because of the camera work. I mean, the density to the storytelling, the active use of the camera. It was very, very innovative — and the audience gobbled it up. They were saying, “Well, it’s not really a medical drama. It’s an action hour.” And we just kind of smiled: Okay.

What were you thinking about Friends over the summer? As you noted, the pilot hadn’t tested all that well. And there were some other Gen X–targeted sitcoms announced by the other networks: Wild Oats, The Boys Are Back …

Beckman: Friends and Wild Oats kind of got lumped together during the summer: “Gee, these two networks made the same show.” They weren’t going head to head, but it was kind of like ER [and] Chicago Hope.

Littlefield: They put Wild Oats on Sunday night, after Married With Children. It was, you know — not a very good pilot. And it died quickly.

Friends definitely suffered from being lumped in with those other youth comedies. USA Today’s Matt Roush was particularly harsh: “NBC’s Friends and Fox’s sex-crazed Wild Oats pander to Generation X singles. Reality Bites with gingivitis.” So the buzz headed into fall wasn’t great, certainly not compared to how quickly the show exploded with audiences.

Littlefield: It wasn’t a perfect pilot. It was a young cast. They needed more time together to jell. But I would say first, for us, internally, six scripts in, we were like, “Wow. This is really absolutely heartfelt, emotional, compelling. And, by the way, it’s pretty funny.” And then, as we started to shoot those episodes, we said, “You know, this thing is bubbling. We could feel that.”

Beckman: By episode two or three, it was like, Wow. This is funny. It very quickly topped the pilot. Very quickly.

Littlefield: It’s what most pilots are supposed to be. Potential — when you get in business with the right people, that potential is realized. ERThe Cosby ShowGolden Girls — they were anomalies. They were fully realized in a pilot. It’s just so rare in a broadcast life that that kind of quality is achieved in a pilot. Mostly, you’re saying, “Where does the series go? Who am I in business with? What is the potential, and do we bet on this?” And with Friends, the execution of the series was the fulfillment of that bet.

As much confidence as Littlefield and Beckman had in their new lineup, and whatever the advance word from critics, both shows still had to face the judgement of viewers. While ER would end up spending its entire 15-year run in the 10 p.m. Thursday slot, the show’s very first episode actually aired on Monday, September 19 as a two-hour NBC movie. Four days later, on September 22, Friends finally premiered at 8:30 p.m Thursday, along with the second installment of ER.

Why did you choose to run the ER pilot on a Monday rather than Thursday?

Littlefield: It was a two-hour premiere. And we [in the entertainment division] were not allowed to play anything on Thursday night that would cut into the comedies, even repeats of the comedies. Finance wouldn’t let us.

Beckman: And it was premiere week. It would have preempted the premiere of Seinfeld.

Littlefield: That would have been financially painful. But we still had a Monday movie, so ER went in against a unbelievable [Lions versus Cowboys] Monday Night Football game. I had seen the ER pilot probably 26 times. And that night, I’m going back and forth between ER and the NFL. And I’m like, “We’re screwed. We’re dead. This is — this is Dallas, America’s team. It’s a nail-biting game. It’s going right down to the final seconds. With my luck, it’ll go to overtime. So it doesn’t matter what time zone you’re in. We’re screwed.” And we woke up the next day, and it was like, “These look like they’re pretty good numbersPer Nielsen, the ER movie averaged a 17.6 rating, or percentage of TV homes; the football game, which did in fact go into overtime and thus aired at least a portion of ER on both the East and West Coasts, did a 19.6. For the week, Monday Night Football ranked fourth overall, while the ER special came in at No. 7. And FYI, for ratings completists, the night before ER bowed, a Sunday Chicago Hope preview on CBS notched a 16 rating..”

Beckman: It did really well. And you know, we had a regular Monday movie then. So it wasn’t like we put this on Monday night without a history of having solid numbers, even against Monday Night FootballNBC’s Monday-movie franchise ended the 1994–95 season as TV’s No. 19 show overall; football was No. 5., with female-oriented movies.

It was a logical place for it.

Beckman: Oh, yeah.

Then came Thursday. Back then, network execs and journalists would call in to a ratings hotline for numbers early in the day. That Friday morning, how did you find out how Friends and ER did?

Beckman: When I came out [to Los Angeles] in ’91, things weren’t going all that well. So I kind of stayed in the habit of not looking at ratings until I got to the office. Because I was always afraid if I called up for them, I’d go back to bed and just not want to go work. So I got to the office. And I remember — it looked like I was opening up a deck of cards. I’d just go down the column. And Friends did okay. I think it did better than we expected; it did fine. Seinfeld was freaking huge. Madman dropped off some kind of acceptable number. But the key number, really, for me, wasn’t Friends. It was ER versus Chicago Hope.

Littlefield: Unlike Preston, I couldn’t wait. I got the numbersHere’s how NBC’s five Thursday shows did that first week of the season: Mad About You averaged a 15.6 household rating. Friends dipped a tad to a 14.7. Seinfeld surged, notching a 21.9 rating, while Madman of the People fell to a 16.0. At 10 p.m., ER scored a 16.3 in its first Thursday outing, easily defeating Chicago Hope (11.1). For the night, NBC’s Must-See lineup dominated with an average 16.8 rating, far ahead of second-place CBS (11.3) and equal to the combined ratings for ABC (8.7) and Fox (8.1). Littlefield couldn’t contain his excitement that first week: “If we keep this up, we’ll have to add staff to count the money,” he told the New York Times’ Bill Carter.) at 6 a.m. Mad About You continued to be everything we wanted it to be. Friends was glass-half-full. We expected that there would be a little drop-off; there was some drop-off. It wasn’t terrible. It wasn’t great. It was in the range of acceptability — but by no means [did we] jump for joy. Seinfeld was, yet again, a resounding tower of strength. Madman of the People was okay. And then ER was very satisfying. It was, Okay. You know what? We hoped and believed we would win this. We felt strongly that we would.

Beckman: And we beat Chicago Hope. There were a lot of people who didn’t think we could beat Chicago Hope.

What happened the next week?

Beckman: They both shot in different directionsWeek two, ER climbed to a 17.6, while Hope collapsed to a 9.6, also finishing behind ABC’s 9.9 rating for PrimeTime Live.. Chicago Hope took a big dip. And we just blew ‘em out of the water. It was like, Holy shit.

Littlefield: The second week, literally chills went up my spine.

Beckman: The gap between the two shows was scary. And scary good for us. I remember looking at that number …

Littlefield: … and it was over for them.

After ER crushed Hope in their second week opposite each other, CBS execs threw in the towel. As late New York Newsday TV columnist Marvin Kittman colorfully described the fallout, Hope, which “looked like it was run over by a truck” was “now in ICU.” After just two scalpel-to-scalpel showdowns, CBS shifted Hope back an hour to 9 p.m. Thursday, subbing in Connie Chung’s Eye to Eye news mag (and thus making it even easier for ER to gain momentum.) Hope didn’t float opposite Seinfeld, either, and was pulled in the middle of the November sweeps, returning in a new time slot — Mondays at 10 — in January 1995. (It ended up lasting six seasons and won multiple Emmys.)

With Hope gone, ER built up even more momentum at 10 p.m, regularly attracting more than 40 percent of all TV viewers by the end of its first season. There was nothing left to do but enjoy the ratings, the acclaim, and the huge profits. Friends, too, was picking up steam at 8:30 p.m. After initially losing a bit of its Mad About You lead-in, it started building upon the 8 p.m. show. Beckman and Littlefield saw an opportunity. Friends seemed destined not just to be a hit, but an anchor.

While you never again moved ER from 10 p.m. Thursday, you obviously shifted Friends. And not just to 8 p.m., where we all remember it. In February of 1995, it got the 9:30 p.m. slot behind Seinfeld. 

Beckman: When we were at TCA in January, we had already decided we were gonna do it. Our scheduling grids reflected that. I remember at the TCA party, somebody introduced me to Courteney Cox. She knew who I was, and of course, she immediately started in with me. She said, “Oh, you know, you should put us behind Seinfeld.” And I said to her, “Well, that’s what we’re gonna do.” She kind of looked at me like she thought I was bullshitting her. And I’ll never forget, I looked at her — she was there with her boyfriend then, Michael Keaton — and I innocently said, “Well, if you wanna come to my car, I’ll show you the grids.” As soon as I said it, I looked at her and I said, “I’m sorry, I really — I really didn’t mean [it like] that.”

What was the thinking behind the shift to 9:30? 

Littlefield: We had seen the episodes. We had so much belief in Friends: The more we shot, the more we watched, the more we believed. And we knew that the future for the show was it was gonna go to Thursday at 8. It was gonna be that kind of cornerstone — Thursday at 8. Seinfeld would be 9 o’clock, ER at 10. That was the future we were looking at. And therefore, it was like, So, what’s the greatest thing you can now do to ensure as great a number of people come to Friends as we’re planting it for next season? Sandwich it between Seinfeld and ER. I don’t think we had many debates about that one, Pres. We were like, “Undeniable. Let’s do it.”

Beckman: Warren’s right. Remember, this was the era of our imperialist march through the schedule with comedy. [Laughs.] And I think we had also already decided we were gonna move Mad About You to Sunday night the next fall.

Littlefield: Yes, we did. Sunday at 8.

Was putting Friends behind Seinfeld a way to be doubly certain the show had the goods before you put it in a lead-off slot the next season?

Beckman: No. We knew.

Littlefield: There was no second guessing.

Even if Friends made sense at 8 p.m., it was still pretty ballsy that you were even thinking about moving Mad About You off the night. You had just airlifted Frasier and Wings from Thursday to Tuesday, and it worked. You then more than made up for it on Thursdays with Friends and ER. You wanted to shake things up again? 

Beckman: We were like, “We’re just gonna conquer!” We were just gonna conquer the schedule with comedy.

So replacing seaQuest, which had been airing Sundays at 8, with Mad About You gave you another sitcom block. 

Littlefield: We got up to 18 comedies. And we were a business. We were not a nonprofit company. We wanted to use that asset [Mad] to help open up and build another front and become a destination for advertisers as well. The older the show gets, the less you’re able to move it. There was still real strength left in Mad About You. We may have accelerated its decline by the move. But comedies help keep the schedule young. They repeat well. And the highest-viewed hour in television was Sunday night at 8. Mad About You had the strength to go over into one of the most competitive time periods in network television, in that era and still today. It went in, turned on the lights, and established a strong young-adult presence for us. We also thought Friends had the strength to go into 8 o’clock and stay there. And on that guess we were right. It never moved again.

And you would dominate on Thursdays well into the next decade.

Littlefield: These three pillars were in place on the night that guaranteed — no matter how bad we could screw up in the 8:30 or 9:30 time period, those three shows were bulletproof. Regardless of what a local station was doing leading in [at 7:30 p.m.], Friends was a destination. Regardless of what was happening at 8:30, Seinfeld was a destination. The same for ER. And so, through the height of the Must-See years, 75 million Americans were watching at least some of Thursday night on NBC. If you didn’t, you absolutely felt left out. You just didn’t want to show up at work the next day if you couldn’t talk about what was on NBC the night before. It was the place to be in the television universe. And it just was the last time that one network had the best of the best, and everybody wanted to be there.”

Wednesday September 18, 2019

In the series’ penultimate episode, Mike helps Harvey get over a personal loss, while an attempt to take down Faye doesn’t go according to plan. #SUITS

“Penultimate episode.” Sigh.

The season 1 finale of Pearson airs tonight.

The most important POV of the summer takes place tonight as well.

FX airs the season premiere of American Horror Story: 1984 tonight.

Some guy named “Pilot Pete” will be the next Bachelor.

Kiefer Sutherland and Boyd Holbrook are set to star in Quibi’s The Fugitive, a new take on the 1993 Harrison Ford film which was based on the 1960s TV series of the same name, from Scorpion creator Nick Santora, Thunder Road Films, 3 Arts Entertainment and Warner Bros. TV.”

Netflix has ordered a 2nd season of Family Reunion.

Comcast is offering its internet-only customers free access to Xfinity Flex, its streaming-centric gateway to 10,000-plus movies and TV shows. The service used to cost $5 a month. The company said these customers will also get Peacock, the newly named streaming offering powered by NBCUniversal.”

Dick Wolf may be the only producer on the planet who can top Big Bang Theory's eye-popping five-year, multibillion-dollar streaming and syndication deal with WarnerMedia, announced Sept. 17.  The Hollywood Reporter has learned that the prolific producer and executives at Comcast, his home of nearly three decades, are in early discussions for a mass licensing deal that, if Wolf has his way, could include the complete catalog of Law & Order and spinoffs SVU and Criminal Intent; his three Chicago shows; potentially CBS' FBI as well as New York Undercover; and unscripted shows like Cold Justice. That's 72 seasons and 1,568 total hours of content — plus a possible green light for the updated New York Undercover, which is drawing interest after ABC's pass in May. Factor in unscripted and those rare one-and-done Law & Order spinoffs, and there's another 150 episodes of crime-focused programming ready to be streamed. Sources say NBCUniversal's newly named Peacock is among the outlets eyeing what is sure to be one of the most complex and richest library deals ever, as other potential bidders have begun to surface. Those include WarnerMedia-backed HBO Max, the new streaming home of said billion-dollar-plus Big Bang library, with others likely to emerge as the shopping process continues.”

“HBO has cast another former Los Angeles Lakers player for its drama pilot based on the franchise’s 1980s Showtime era. DeVaughn Nixon has joined the project, where he will play Norm Nixon, who is his father. The elder Nixon played six seasons for the Lakers as a point guard, winning two of the franchise’s five championships during the decade. He was traded to the then-San Diego Clippers in 1983 (the franchise would relocate to Los Angeles in 1984).”

Matt Jones will reprise his role as Badger in the Breaking Bad movie.

Timothy Olyphant has joined the cast of season 4 of Fargo.

Netflix an October 29 premiere date for Arsenio Hall‘s new stand up special entitled Smart & Classy.

“A Jersey Shore star turned-Staten Island EMT was hounded for sex and groped by one of her supervisors — and pestered by another boss about how many guys she’d slept with on the hit MTV show, she alleges in a new federal lawsuit. Angelina Pivarnick, 33, claims Lt. Jonathan Schechter sexually harassed her while she was at the EMS’ Rossville Station on Staten Island in 2017 and 2018 — and that she was punished when she spoke up, according to her complaint filed Monday in Brooklyn federal court.”

rexfeatures_10237468ae.jpg

From The Hollywood Reporter: “Netflix will put human faces to the immigration debate with a documentary series called Living Undocumented.

“The series, which premieres Oct. 2 and counts Selena Gomez among its executive producers, follows eight families who agreed to let film crews chronicle their lives as they faced potential deportation. Their stories range from harrowing to hopeful and illuminate and humanize the complex U.S. immigration system, while the families endure in their quest to pursue the American dream.

“Along with Gomez, Eli Holzman and Aaron Saidman executive produce via Industrial Media's Intellectual Property Corp. Mandy Teefey, Anna Chai and Sean O'Grady also exec produce; Saidman and Chai co-direct the series.

"‘I chose to produce this series, Living Undocumented, because over the past few years, the word 'immigrant' has seemingly become a negative word,’ said Gomez. ‘My hope is that the series can shed light on what it's like to live in this country as an undocumented immigrant firsthand, from the courageous people who have chosen to share their stories.’

“Added Saidman, ‘Living Undocumented is designed to illuminate one of the most important issues of our time. But rather than discussing this issue with only statistics and policy debates, we wanted viewers to hear directly from the immigrants themselves, in their own words, with all the power and emotion that these stories reflect.’

Living Undocumented joins a roster of docuseries at Netflix that includes Our Planet, Chef's Table, Diagnosis, Ugly Delicious and Explained, among others.”

hero_landscape_641256f5-56ce-4727-b873-852a6ae8c41b.jpg

Per Variety, “[a]s one of TV’s most popular shows of the past 20 years, The Big Bang Theory was sure to command a huge price when the streaming rights were finally shopped in a red-hot market for iconic comedies with large libraries.

“But Big Bang Theory wasn’t shopped widely on the open market before the streaming pact with HBO Max and the four-year cable extension with TBS was announced early Tuesday morning. The reason is because of a provision in the original megabucks syndication deal that TBS set with Big Bang back in 2010.

“Even 10 years ago, that agreement anticipated that streaming services could compete with cable channels for rerun rights. The deal granted TBS a number of years of exclusivity for the show, barring Big Bang producer Warner Bros. TV from selling the streaming or on-demand rights separate from the cable deal. TBS’ window of exclusivity on the show was extended by nearly a year for every season that Big Bang stayed in first-run production for CBS. Once the show ended its CBS run last May, the end of TBS’ exclusivity window was set at 2024.

“To have Big Bang rights ready for the spring 2020 launch of HBO Max, TBS needed to give up that exclusivity right and get something in return. Although TBS, HBO Max and Warner Bros. TV are all in the same family, the dealmaking was arm’s length and scrutinized by representatives for co-creators and profit participants Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady. To make the deal work for all sides — profit participants included — WarnerMedia stepped up with a big number to secure the various rights. It’s unclear exactly how TBS was compensated for giving up its rights but it ends up with an extension through 2028 on the cable rights that otherwise would have ended in 2024.

“A WarnerMedia representative declined to comment.

“Because of TBS’ rights, it was not feasible for WarnerMedia to shop the show widely to outside buyers. The common parent company — and common executive leadership for TBS and HBO Max in WarnerMedia Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt — for all three players helped ease the process. But there’s no way WarnerMedia could have lowballed the price for Big Bang because the profit participants would have swiftly gone to court howling about self-dealing claims.

“In the end, industry sources said WarnerMedia committed about $600 million over five years for Big Bang rights across HBO Max and TBS. The show is prized because it has yet to be exploited in the streaming market, but at the same time there’s no certainty that it will be a binge-worthy hit as a streaming offering. However, the show has a sterling track record as the pillar of TBS’ schedule ever since the show made its syndication debut on TBS and local TV stations in 2011.

“Tuesday’s Big Bang news comes on the heels of other megabucks streaming deals for contemporary classic comedies. Earlier this week Netflix committed an estimated $500 million for the Seinfeld archive. HBO Max committed about $425 million to reclaim the streaming rights to Friends from Netflix. NBCUniversal’s nascent Peacock service, also set to bow next spring, is said to have committed $500 million to relocate The Office from Netflix staring in 2021.”

preview.jpg

20 questions with Silicon Valley’s Thomas Middleditch: “Q1: The real Silicon Valley has changed drastically since Silicon Valley debuted on HBO in 2014. Would it be a different show if it were starting now?

MIDDLEDITCH: I really don’t know, but I do wonder if this show has had anything to do with the consciousness of that. Season six will deal with privacy issues: Richard is pushing a new, decentralized internet where no one tracks or sells user data.

Q2: The show has been nominated for a best comedy Emmy for the five preceding seasons but has never won. You’ve been nominated for best actor once. As you head into the final season, does it seem like Silicon Valley has always been HBO’s bridesmaid?

MIDDLEDITCH: I always figured the most I would get would be a nomination. Even if you’ve told yourself that this is all stupid, when you lose you’re like, “I shouldn’t be bummed, but I am quite sad about it.” I’m sure HBO would rather have the show go on for a few more seasons, but our showrunners are like, “No, this is the story.”

Q3: With Silicon Valley, Veep and Game of Thrones each having their swan songs this year, is anyone at HBO thinking, 'Shit, we’re losing all our great shows'?

MIDDLEDITCH: The TV landscape in general is figuring out how to compete in the new world of television. Players like Netflix have forced everyone to reinvent themselves. I don’t think anyone is panicked—I mean, they’re cleaning house with Game of Thrones, but HBO is a prestige network. In the end, a network has to have just one good thing that people watch in order to get awards.

Q4: Having left Facebook and Twitter, you’re presumably not a fan of Mark Zuckerberg or Jack Dorsey. Do you agree with Elizabeth Warren and other presidential hopefuls who want to break up Facebook, Amazon and other tech giants?

MIDDLEDITCH: It’s a great idea. And no, I’m not a huge fan of Zuckerberg and Dorsey, but I don’t like to slight them either. Without selling user data, it’s not a viable business. And I still have Instagram. Also, I was never really good at Twitter, to be honest.

Q5: Do you have a fear of the unknown, post–Silicon Valley?

MIDDLEDITCH: Of course I do. When something is successful, you’re like, Okay, how do we figure out how to keep it going a little longer? There are 4 million shows; we’re definitely not the biggest, but people watch us, which is nice. It’s a challenge when you’re involved in something to make the decision to end it. It’s hard to shoot Old Yeller—not that we’re Old Yeller, because that would imply we’re a sick dog. It’s more like crawling into your best friend’s window and murdering them. It’s hard to do that when you don’t know what comes afterward. Even if everyone who’s involved in the show is guaranteed work, will it be the same type of work?

Q6: Has your role in this year’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters changed your standing in Hollywood?

MIDDLEDITCH: I think so. Unless you’re ordained as an attractive teen, it’s hard to get crazy fame right out of the gate. I would love to do big movies all the time or work with great filmmakers; I would love to star on Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series and transform as the Riddler in a new Batman. I don’t think about it analytically, though, because it makes you feel as though you’ve taken a bath in oil. I just try to do good work so that when I have early-onset Alzheimer’s and I’m looking at my IMDb page and my wife tells me, “That’s you,” I can register that I did some cool shit.

Q7: You and one of the Godzilla writers visited a swingers club with your partners during production. Are you and Mollie, your wife of four years, familiar with the swinging scene?

MIDDLEDITCH: I don’t know how much I can say, because I don’t want my wife to be mad at me. Only after I got married was I like, “Mollie, I’m sorry, but we have to get nontraditional here.” To her credit, instead of saying “Fuck you, I’m out,” she was like, “Let’s figure this out.” To be honest, swinging has saved our marriage. We have different speeds, and we argue over it constantly, but it’s better than feeling unheard and alone and that you have to scurry in the shadows. By the way, it’s now called being “part of the lifestyle.” The term swinging is old.

Q8: Is being “part of the lifestyle” something you’ve always been interested in?

MIDDLEDITCH: Absolutely not. I self-deprecatingly call myself a pervert, but that’s not what it is. I just like it. I’m sexual. I’d always thought I was a romantic and that when I fall in love, that stuff fades away. It does for some years—enough to be like, “I should get married, and I’ll be different.” But it’s part of me. If that’s part of your being and it feels important to you, find a way to explore it, because repression sucks.

Q9: Do you have any advice for couples who may be exploring that lifestyle?

MIDDLEDITCH: For anything sexual—whether in terms of the sex act or identity or kink—you want to know where the walls of the box are. Mollie and I have created our own rules, and compared to most of the people we’ve met who do this kind of shit, our rules are strict. We’re not off on our own; we’re together, a unit. It’s a perpetual state of management and communication, to the point where it’s like, “All right, we’ve got to stop. Chill.” I’m gas, and she’s brakes. This is actually the premise for a comedy series we’re writing together.

Q10: How do you identify?

MIDDLEDITCH: Pretty vanilla, probably cis-hetero. Even if I’ve witnessed situations that may not be for me, I want to witness them anyway. I’m of the mentality “We’re only here once.” I don’t believe in reincarnation or an afterlife, any of that shit. If I look around, I actually see a lot of shit that makes me sad about the world. This is a positive way of connecting with people and experiencing things on a very selfish level.

I’ve also been to some weird parties that were very Eyes Wide Shut, from which I walked away thinking, I don’t need it, but I’m glad I saw that. I’ve seen some dicks, I’ve seen some butts, I’ve seen some tits. It’s weird—I’ve totally gotten to the point where I can see a dick and just be like, “Nice hog, buddy.” [laughs] And it’s not weird. “Man, I’m jealous. Good stuff.” I’d like to have gone to the Playboy Mansion, just to have the knowledge. Myself and a lot of other people who start on this journey don’t know where they’re at in it. They’re going, “I think I just need a thing to happen. All I know is, this particular situation is hard.” I love my wife like I’ve never loved anyone before. With two people who feel that way about each other, how do you go down that road? It’s tough. Bring a therapist along for the ride.

Q11: Are you concerned that speaking about this publicly could inadvertently make you a face of the lifestyle?

MIDDLEDITCH: I would be honored to be the face of something. I don’t give a fuck, but my wife is more private, so I have to juggle that. I don’t think I would ever be the face of a full-tilt, your-body-is-my-body lifestyle. The perception is that you open up that door and it’s Eyes Wide Shut, which isn’t necessarily the case. You can go to that party, of course. You pay the fee, you’ll go. [laughs] My mantra is, How can I explore this with a 1960s, peace-and-love, full-understanding, everyone’s-connected-and-feels-good kind of way? Not every corner is explored, but you have to be patient. I battle my own needs. Sometimes I’m a ravenous little monster, and how do I calm that down?

Q12: Are you comfortable with your body?

MIDDLEDITCH: I am, but I’m 37 now, and there are moments lately when I’ve been having body-image issues. Not many people talk about it being okay for a guy to want to feel sexy. Typically it’s “Get fucking swole!” No, I want to look in the mirror and know that I have some semblance of a jaw line and feel confident. No one really talks about the fact that guys don’t always feel that. It’s okay for boys to want to feel pretty.

Q13: You’ve said that you first had the experience of fans wanting to sleep with you as a Second City improv performer on cruise ships. Has that sort of attention increased?

MIDDLEDITCH: Personally, that’s one of the trickier elements of it all, because Mollie doesn’t get that and yet she has to witness it. I’m like, “Come on, what about this chick who’s obviously really into me?” And Mollie will say, “Yeah, she’s into you. Where do I fit in?” That question comes up. There’s a lot of negotiation, and adding fame sometimes makes it easier and sometimes complicates things.

That’s the forever-changing landscape in our relationship, because it’s about everybody feeling safe. The internet is a possibility for meeting people, but Instagram fucks up marriages. If your partner brings this very forward person from Instagram to you, you’ll be like, “Do you guys have a thing?” Whereas if your partner bumps into someone and they start a conversation, it all happens in front of you. It’s a game of inches on a minefield to try to predict who’s going to feel safe. My first concern is Mollie. Anything that happens has to be run by the queen.

Q14: You’re a fan of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. Explain that show’s greatness to people who hate on it or who’ve never seen it.

MIDDLEDITCH: The fun of it is thinking, What would I do? I always think about how utterly difficult it would be for me to survive in that house with all those alphas. Not that I’m not an alpha. I don’t perceive myself as a beta or a submissive little bitch—or whatever the fuck betas are supposed to be. But who am I going to joke around with? Even though I know I’m funny and cool, would that person even look at me when compared to all the boneheads? My wife’s like, “I think you’d fucking get voted off first,” and I’m like, “Me too.” [laughs]

Q15: A 2018 Hollywood Reporter cover story featured the cast of Silicon Valley with the headline Triumph of the Beta Male, which led to a rant by Alex Jones about modern masculinity. How does it feel to piss off Jones?

MIDDLEDITCH: Hilarious. I shot guns with him and my friend at this ranch in Texas maybe six years ago. This was before InfoWars got big, and I didn’t really know who he was. If I hadn’t later learned that he constantly spews awful nonsense, I would have been like, “That guy was super nice.” It made me think, Does he really believe all that shit? Because if he’s really saying all that just to sell protein powder, he’s a diabolical motherfucker. I’m so glad YouTube removed him. There should be more accountability. I don’t want to censor everybody, but I want to fucking censor some.

Q16: You were bullied growing up and have dealt with depression over the years. Is there still pain in that?

MIDDLEDITCH: It’s all part of the path. There were things that were painful, for sure, but I’d rather have that happen versus me being the aggressor. I was catching up with a hometown friend, and she said, “You were really mean to me when I was a kid.” I was like, “I didn’t even know—I’m so sorry. If only you knew I had a crush on you the whole time.”

Q17: How have success and fame changed the way you cope with those emotions?

MIDDLEDITCH: Success has changed everything. Fame is something that guarantees change, even if I don’t have Pirates of the Caribbean fame like Orlando Bloom. But there’s no way to go through fame without it changing you. It’s more about how you respond to it and how elastic you are—if you’re able to go back to who you really are. Fame becomes dangerous only when you start believing the hype and believing you’re a special person above the normal tier of people. And that’s hard to avoid because of all the times you get to go to the front of the line. It’s difficult not to think, Oh, I am totally special.

Q18: How does fame affect friendships? You and your former co-star T.J. Miller were once close, right?

MIDDLEDITCH: Everyone reacts differently to fame. It’s a shame. T.J. is very funny. Whatever he’s doing or whatever he wants to do, I wish him success. I’m not going to get into whatever happened. We just stopped seeing eye-to-eye. I’m not the only one he doesn’t see eye-to-eye with.

Q19: You’re in Zombieland: Double Tap, out in October. Do you have the skills to survive a zombie apocalypse?

MIDDLEDITCH: I’m an instrument-rated private pilot. I’d been wanting to fly since I was 14 or 15 years old, when I got into military history and aviation and PC flight simulators. So if you have a bunker in Montana, save me a bed. I’ll get you there.

Q20: Do you think the public knows the real you?

MIDDLEDITCH: Look, I play a ton of video games, but there are other parts of me. There’s going to hockey games and flying airplanes. There’s a bit of a hippie in me, because I was raised in Nelson, British Columbia, a hippie town. As much as I enjoy spending an entire weekend playing computer games, I also like to take mushrooms and drink rainwater off a tree. It’s all important.

alien-stock-festival-area-51-1182617-640x320.jpg

Per Realscreen, “Travel Channel has greenlit two new UFO-centric specials, timed to coincide with the upcoming Alienstock festival in Rachel, Nevada, where UFO aficionados have been planning the alien celebration along with a viral #StormArea51 event, a campaign to expose government secrets at the famed Area 51, long thought to hold evidence of human contact with aliens.

“The first project is the the one-off special Storming Area 51, part of Discovery’s ‘instamentary’ strand which covers cases making headlines within weeks of the initial incident. The special will follow the UFO Bros (Joe and Emmett Hayes; pictured) as they pack up their RV and road trip from Northern California to Nevada to explore all things Area 51.

“The brothers will meet with various experts to discuss alien life and the history of Area 51. Guests include filmmaker Jeremy Corbell, Penn State professor Greg Eghigian, Mutual UFO Network investigator Earl Anderson, UFO eye-witness Shawn Johnson and former government employee Rick Doty.

Storming Area 51 is produced for Travel Channel by Anomaly Entertainment. For Anomaly Entertainment, Matt Kelly and Mike Sorensen are executive producers. Chris Pizzi, Bennett Webber and John Gunn also serve as executive producers. For Travel Channel, Angela Freedman and Vaibhav Bhatt are executive producers, Julie Meisner Eagle is VP of production and development, Matthew Butler is GM and Henry Schleiff is group president of Investigation Discovery, Travel Channel, American Heroes Channel and Destination America.

“The special airs Sept. 29 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Travel Channel.

“Elsewhere, Travel Channel will produce live digital coverage of Alienstock and the ostensible storming of Area 51 as a series of Facebook Live events hosted by veteran of live paranormal experiences James McDaniel. The live coverage will roll out throughout the day on Sept. 20 on Travel Channel’s Facebook page.

“‘The event surrounding Storming Area 51 is one of the most talked-about experiences this year and, of course, Travel Channel will be there for our unique perspective on the that moment and its fascinating history through the lens of our alien experts, The UFO Bros,’ said Matthew Butler, general manager of Travel Channel, in a statement. ‘We can’t wait to share their enthusiasm for all things alien as they bring our audience along for this once-in-a-lifetime road trip to the ultimate alien community celebration.’”

Tuesday September 17, 2019

Biggest news of the day IMHO: “After losing The Office and Friends, Netflix has stepped up to secure the SVOD rights to another classic NBC comedy series. The streamer, which had emerged as the main contender for the Seinfeld library, has struck a deal with distributor Sony Pictures Television to become the global exclusive streaming home for the entire Seinfeld collection beginning in 2021, when the series’ domestic pact with Hulu expires, for five years. This is the first time Seinfeld will be available on Netflix and the first time that all 180 episodes will be on one service globally and in 4K. Seinfeld made its streaming debut with the Hulu deal. Internationally, it is streaming on Amazon in a number of territories; that will all be consolidated on Netflix under the new deal.”

The Hollywood Reporter that the new Seinfeld streaming deal is worth more than $500 million and covers global rights. By comparison, The Office and Friends moved to NBC's streaming platform and HBO Max, respectively, for similar valuations that only covered domestic. The deal, sources stress, was competitive with Netflix beating out rich offers from the likes of Amazon, NBC's streamer, HBO Max, Hulu and CBS All Access.”

The season finale of Bachelor In Paradise airs tonight.

A new season of Tosh.O premieres tonight on Comedy Central.

HBO Max landed the first-ever U.S. streaming rights to all 12 seasons of The Big Bang Theory. That’s 279 episodes available for subscribers when the service launches in spring 2020.”

“NBCUniversal’s newly named Peacock streaming service will feature several original series, the company said Tuesday, including a pair of reboots from the vaults: a newly unveiled Saved By the Bell with original castmembers including Elizabeth Berkley and Mario Lopez, and Punky Brewster, which returns original star Soleil Moon Frye as a grown-up version of her former character. The titles were unveiled along with several other original offerings set for the April 2020-launching service this morning including a rebooted Battlestar Galactica that will be executive produced by Mr. Robot‘s and Homecoming‘s EP Sam Esmail. All the reboots originated from NBCU-created series and will be part of the 15,000 hours of content expected at launch spanning original and library titles along with movies from the NBCU family.” More below.

Here’s the trailer for season 3 of Big Mouth, which will be available on Netflix on October 4.

Shane Gillis will not be joining Saturday Night Live after all. Here’s the statement from via Lorne Michaels’ spokesperson: “After talking with Shane Gillis, we have decided that he will not be joining SNL. We want SNL to have a variety of voices and points of view within the show, and we hired Shane on the strength of his talent as comedian and his impressive audition for SNL. We were not aware of his prior remarks that have surfaced over the past few days. The language he used is offensive, hurtful and unacceptable. We are sorry that we did not see these clips earlier, and that our vetting process was not up to our standard.”

Out of the dozens of summer broadcast shows, only one* was up in ratings from last year: The Bachelorette, will you accept this rose? With a 2.1 rating among adults 18-49 vs. a 2.0 last summer, The Bachelorette is up 5% year over year. Those ratings include a week of delayed viewing for each episode. A two-year high for the dating competition’s recent season finale sealed that claim. That asterisk above wasn’t a typo, by the way. The Monday episodes of ABC’s Bachelor in Paradise are technically up 6% year over year at this point in the summer, according to Nielsen’s ‘most current’ ratings. ‘Most current’ numbers count a week of delayed viewing for each episode — but the delayed-viewing numbers for a few Summer 2019 Bachelor in Paradise episodes are not yet available.”

Alex Trebek has resumed chemotherapy.

GettyImages-1080026040.jpg

From The Hollywood Reporter: “Justin Theroux is headed for Apple.

The Leftovers grad has been tapped to star in the tech giant's adaptation of Mosquito Coast. The series, from Luther's Neil Cross, is based on the 1981 novel by Paul Theroux — Justin's uncle.

Mosquito Coast follows an idealist who uproots his family to Latin America. Cross and Tom Bissell will pen the first episode, with the former attached to serve as showrunner. Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) will also exec produce and direct the pilot and subsequent episodes. The series hails from Fremantle and exec producers Alan Gasmer, Peter Jaysen and Bob Bookman. An episode count and premiere window has not yet been determined.

Mosquito Coast is the latest acting role for Theroux, whose credits include Netflix's Maniac, The District and Disney+'s upcoming live-action take on Lady and the Tramp (he will voice the Tramp). Additionally, Theroux exec produced ABC's Live In Front of a Studio Audience alongside Norman Lear and Jimmy Kimmel. He will return for the two follow-up live events that are currently in the works for the broadcaster.

“For Cross' part, Mosquito Coast marks his latest TV foray following BBC's Luther, Hard Son and NBC's Crossbones. He is in postproduction on feature Escape From New York.

Mosquito Coast was subsequently turned into a 1986 feature starring Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren and River Phoenix.

“Apple is set to launch originals on Nov. 1 with a slate of originals including Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon drama The Morning Show at a price of $5 per month. Other originals will launch in the months that follow as the iPhone-maker slowly but surely builds a library of star-studded originals from many of the industry's top creators.”

nbc-universal-streaming.jpg

Details about each NBCU streaming service project follow. (All are straight-to-series orders unless designated otherwise):

RUTHERFORD FALLS (scripted comedy)
Logline: Ed Helms portrays Nathan Rutherford, the eponymous denizen of a small New England town, who is having difficulty facing the inevitable changes to his way of life.
Cast: Ed Helms
Team: W/EP/co-creators: Ed Helms, Mike Schur,  Sierra Ornelas (Brooklyn Nine-Nine); EP David Miner, Mike Falbo
Studio: Universal Television, Fremulon, 3 Arts Entertainment, Pacific Electric Picture Company

THE AMBER RUFFIN SHOW (unscripted comedy)
Logline: Each week The Amber Ruffin Show will showcase Amber's signature smart-and-silly take on the week. A late-night show with just the good parts - the comedy.
Team: W Jenny Hagel; EP Seth Meyers, Mike Shoemaker
Studio: Universal Television

STRAIGHT TALK (comedy pilot)
Logline: Examines what happens when two opposing ideologies are forced into an odd coupling. The main characters will be challenged by one another, making the moral lines at which they once stood harder to define. Jada Pinkett Smith stars.
Team: W/creator: Kara Brown (In the Dark, Grownish); D/EP Rashida Jones; T/EP Jada Pinkett Smith; EP: Joy Gorman (Anonymous Content), Deniese Davis (Color Creative)
Studio: Universal Television & Anonymous Content

PUNKY BREWSTER (comedy pilot)
Logline: In this multicamera/hybrid continuation of the iconic '80s sitcom about a bright young girl raised by a foster dad, Punky is now a single mother of three trying to get her life back on track when she meets a young girl who reminds her a lot of her younger self. Soleil Moon Frye reprises the role that made her famous.
Team: W/EP Steve and Jim Amogida; EP/T Soleil Moon Frye; EP Tim Pastore, Jimmy Fox (All3Media America/Main Event Media), David Duclon; D/EP Jonathan Judge
Studio: UCP, Universal Television

DR. DEATH (drama)
Logline: Based on Wonderly’s hit podcast of the same name, Dr. Death tells the terrifying true story of Dr. Christopher Duntsch (Jamie Dornan), a rising star in the Dallas medical community. Young, charismatic and ostensibly brilliant, Dr. Duntsch was building a flourishing neurosurgery practice when everything suddenly changed. Patients entered his operating room for complex but routine spinal surgeries and left permanently maimed or dead. As victims piled up, two fellow physicians, neurosurgeon Robert Henderson (Alec Baldwin) and vascular surgeon Randall Kirby (Christian Slater), set out to stop him. Dr. Death explores the twisted mind of a sociopath and the gross negligence of the system designed to protect the most defenseless among us.
Team: W/EP Patrick Macmanus (Happy); EP Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, Steve Tisch (Escape Artists); Hernan Lopez, Marshall Lewy (Wondery)
Studio: UCP

ANGELYNE (limited drama series)
Logline: A limited series based on The Hollywood Reporter  feature that explored the identity of L.A.’s mysterious billboard bombshell. Shameless grad Emmy Rossum will star as Angelyne.
Team: EP Emmy Rossum (Composition 8), Sam Esmail (EsmailCorp), Chad Hamilton (Anonymous Content), Lucy Tcherniak, Allison Miller; Consultant: The Hollywood Reporter's award-winning senior writer Gary Baum
Studio: UCP

BRAVE NEW WORLD (drama)
Logline: Based on Aldous Huxley’s groundbreaking 1932 novel, the drama imagines a utopian society that has achieved peace and stability through the prohibition of monogamy, privacy, money, family and history itself.
Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Jessica Brown Findlay, Harry Lloyd, Kylie Bunbury, Hannah John-Kamen, Sen Mitsuji, Joseph Morgan, Nina Sosanya, Demi Moore
Team: W/EP/showrunner David Wiener (Homecoming); EP Grant Morrison,  Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey (Amblin Television); EP/D: Owen Harris; EP (first episode): Brian Taylor
Studio: UCP

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (drama)
Logline: Battlestar Galactica returns to television with Sam Esmail producing.
Team: EP Sam Esmail, Chad Hamilton
Studio: UCP

ONE OF US IS LYING (drama pilot)
Logline: Based on Karen M. McManus’ New York Times best-selling novel of the same name, One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into
detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has
something to hide.
Team: W Erica Saleh (Instinct); Producers: John Sacchi and Matt Groesch (5 More Minutes Productions)
Studio: UCP

PSYCH 2: LASSIE COME HOME (TV movie)
Logline: Santa Barbara police chief Carlton Lassiter is ambushed on the job and left for dead. In a vintage Psych-style Hitchcockian nod, he begins to see impossible happenings around his recovery clinic. Shawn and Gus return to Lassie’s side in Santa Barbara and are forced to navigate the personal, the professional, and possibly the supernatural. Separated from their new lives in San Francisco, our heroes find themselves unwelcome in their old stomping grounds as they secretly untangle a twisted case without the benefit of the police, their loved ones, or the quality sourdough bakeries of the Bay Area. What they uncover will change the course of their relationships forever.
Cast: James Roday, Dulé Hill, Maggie Lawson, Kirsten Nelson, Corbin Bernsen and Tim Omundson
Team: W/D/EP Steve Franks; W/EP James Roday; W Andy Berman; EP Chris Henzie, Dulé Hill
Studio: UCP, Thruline Entertainment

SAVED BY THE BELL (comedy)
Logline: When California Gov. Zack Morris (the role memorably played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar) gets into hot water for closing too many low-income high schools, he proposes they send the affected students to the highest performing schools in the state – including Bayside High. The influx of new students gives the over privileged Bayside kids a much needed and hilarious dose of reality.
Cast: Mario Lopez, Elizabeth Berkley
Team: W/EP Tracey Wigfield; EP Peter Engel, Franco Bairo; P Lopez, Berkley
Studio: Universal Television

WHO WROTE THAT (docuseries)
Logline: Offers a behind the scenes look at Saturday Night Live's most important writers.
Team: W/EP Andy Breckman & Susan Morrison; D Brett Hodge; EP Lorne Michaels, Andrew Singer, Erin Doyle, Erik Howard (Broadway Video); Howard Klein (3 Arts), Derik Murray, Brian Gersh (Network Entertainment); AP Eddie Michaels (Broadway Video)
Studio: Universal Television”

Coveteur_Sophie_Turner_008-homepage-1280x720.jpg

Per Deadline, “Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones, Dark Phoenix) and Corey Hawkins (BlacKkKlansman, Straight Outta Compton) are set to star in the Quibi thriller Survive from EMH Consulting Group, Inc and Gunpowder & Sky.

“Directed by Mark Pellington (Arlington Road, Mothman Prophecies) and based on the novel by Richard Abate, Survive follows Jane (Turner) whose plane crashes on a remote snow-covered mountain and she, along with Paul (Hawkins), the only remaining survivor must pull themselves out of the wreckage and fight for their lives. Together they embark on a harrowing journey out of the wilderness, battling brutal conditions and personal traumas.

“‘After reading the script, it was clear that we’d need to find the right artist to take on the lead role in Survive and we couldn’t be happier than to have Sophie starring who brings a high caliber of talent to the table,’ said Van Toffler, CEO of Gunpowder & Sky. ‘I’m also thrilled to be making a movie with Mark Pellington who had the office next to me at MTV in the 80s and has grown to be an exceptional director.’

“‘I couldn’t be more honored to portray the role of Jane in Survive for Quibi,’ said Turner. ‘She’s a complex character fighting against the odds to not only save her life, but to also find her own source of strength and courage. I only hope this can impact anyone struggling with self-worth to understand they are braver than they know and to seek the support they need’

Survive has been greenlit for Quibi and is currently in production. Richard Abate and Jeremy Ungar adapted the novel. Cary Granat, Ed Jones and Richard Abate are producers. Executive Producers are Van Toffler, Floris Bauer and Barry Barclay for Gunpowder & Sky.

“Turner received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for playing Sansa Stark in the eighth and final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones. She can be seen in the forthcoming crime thriller Heavy alongside Daniel Zovatto.

“Hawkins is currently in production on Jon M. Chu’s film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning musical In The Heights. He also stars in Michael Bay’s upcoming Netflix action thriller 6 Underground, opposite Ben Hardy, Ryan Reynolds, and Melanie Laurent.”

In what direction is this network going?? I’m not going to lie, I will likely check it out, but STILL. “Paramount Network has set an Oct. 15 premiere date and released a trailer for Battle of the Fittest Couples, which, from the looks of the clip, is precisely what it sounds like.

Hosted by former Bachelorette JoJo Fletcher and former NFL quarterback Jordan Rodgers – a real life couple – the new series pits “ripped couples” against other similarly jacked duos in contests of physical and mental toughness. The “swolemates” – the show’s word (Google “swole” if you must) – are pushed to limits, form alliances and judged in part on how they work as a team.

One couple ultimately will be named Fittest Couple, their bank account getting $100,000 fitter.

“We love working out as a couple, through doing so, we have learned so much about each other, and it has strengthened our relationship,” says Fletcher, with Rodgers adding, “Not only is this a physical competition, but it’s about partnership and our goal is to have every couple leave this competition stronger both emotionally and physically.”

The format: Twelve couples will battle their way through each episode of physical and mental challenges, with the week’s losing duo put up for elimination and the winning couple choosing another couple to battle the losers in the “Rage Cage.” The prevailing couple stays, the other gets sent home.

The series is a 51 Minds Production with Christian Sarabia, Nicole Elliott, Keith Geller, and Steve Kaufman serving as Executive Producers. Paramount Network’s Tori Socha is the series’ executive in charge of production.

Battle of the Fittest Couples premieres Tuesday, October 15 at 11:00 p.m. ET/PT on the Paramount Network.”.

The-Good-Place-Season-4-Netflix.jpg

Per EW, “Welcome! Everything is final.

“Just a time-knife’s throw from Ponzu Scheme, the stars of The Good Place have gathered outside a familiar frozen-yogurt shop to film one of their last-ever group scenes. It’s hotter than Hades (hmmm) on the Universal Studios lot, but a figurative chill fills the air as the cameras roll on yet another loaded goodbye for the series finale of NBC’s ambitious afterlife comedy. ‘I can tell you’re sad,’ dopey, pre-successful Jacksonville DJ Jason (Manny Jacinto) observes of Team Cockroach. ‘You have the same look on your faces that my teachers did whenever I raised my hand in class.’

“Creator and finale writer-director Mike Schur minds the minutiae, readjusting trays of oysters and a bong while tweaking punchlines involving ‘concussion sauce’ and ‘younger bodies.’ ‘There’s a lot of endings,’ he teases of the finale, ‘and there’s a lot of resolution to a lot of the characters’ stories in certain ways.’ 

“Schur certainly won’t reveal the fates awaiting our scrappy in-limbo souls—reforming dirtbag Eleanor (Kristen Bell), overanxious ethics professor Chidi (William Jackson Harper), self-consumed socialite Tahani (Jameela Jamil), and Jason—or humanized Bad Place architect Michael (Ted Danson) and ever-evolving database Janet (D’Arcy Carden). But there are scads of colorful clues on set: a mini football field; people in matching outfits; a hybrid tanning booth/karaoke machine (leisure activity? torture device?). Oh, and Shakespeare has done something dramatic that’s the talk of…wherever this is.

“We can’t disclose what the fork is going on, but it’s a cosmic swirl of joy, melancholy, loopiness, poignancy, and the profound. Some actors do battle with moistening tear ducts. ‘We’re supersensitive right now,’ mock-warns Jacinto. Says Carden: ‘We’ve been trying to keep the tears inside of our eyes.’

“Even the genial general of the show (make that: of TV) is feeling the sting. ‘It’s like, “Oh wait, we may be acting sorrow, but it’s creeping in here,”’ offers Danson. ‘But there’s also a great deal of satisfaction and pride in being part of this chapter book about morality and farts.’ Adds Jamil: ‘I’m f—ing overwhelmed. I’m in denial. I may never leave and just walk the lot like a ghost. I’ll dress up as Tahani and haunt tourists.’

“However you cope with loss, prepare to bid farewell to one of TV’s most inventive com­edies — one thoughtful enough to explore the pursuit and value of goodness; one brave enough to feature giant toads, a bagel shop named From Schmear to Eternity, and references to Kierke­gaard and Hume. Only 14 chapters remain in this underdog series that toiled in overnight-ratings purgatory, built a dedicated audience online, charmed critics, won a Peabody, and recently nabbed five Emmy nominations. (It also mic-dropped one of the mightiest mind-melting finales of the new century when Eleanor deduced that she and her beleaguered companions were actually in the Bad Place, not the Good Place.) But before retirement (not the soul-disintegrating punishment facing Michael), a final test awaits (besides the can humans evolve? experiment): concluding this paradigm-shifting adventure on a heavenly note. “This will be worth it,” declares Bell. “It will give you a lot of feelings — and one is a strong sense of satisfaction. Not only will the ending be worth it, you’ll understand why the whole thing was worth it.”

“Schur says the decision to end the series after four seasons ‘felt right’ and ‘fell into place’ once the writers decided to have Judge Gen (guest star Maya Rudolph) allow the Soul Squad a redo on Earth at the end of season 2. An early exit from No Exit-ville was arguably necessitated by design, as this show burns through plot faster than Eleanor through shrimp. Ever since Schur moved up Michael’s ‘discovery’ about Eleanor — something that would seem like the logical ending of season 1 — to about the halfway point of the season, story speed doubled, ‘which means four seasons became eight seasons,’ explains the creator. ‘I think that’s about right. The goal has been to chew through story and accelerate things twice as fast as the old system of network TV suggested.’

“This fearlessness was something that he learned in the writers’ room of The Office when Greg Daniels (with whom he would eventually create Parks and Recreation) decided to advance the Jim and Pam’s Will-they-or-won’t-they? relationship. ‘It was among the many great lessons that Greg Daniels taught me,’ notes Schur. ‘Sometimes the best thing to do is to just plow headlong into the scary thing and trust that you’ll be able to keep up the drama and the intrigue of the show. And in this case, we applied that lesson to literally every single aspect of the show.’ Not that the news was easy for all to digest. ‘It’s the best-worst feeling in the world to be a part of something you love that’s ending,’ says Bell, adding that it’s ‘so meaningful and impactful because the entire last season is such a lesson, a gift.’ Shares Danson: ‘I was slightly stunned— you rarely get canceled by your creator. But it had so much integrity.’

“That’s one quality the Soul Squad aims to imbue in the new test subjects for this not-so-modest experiment that could save Team Cockroach (plus all of humanity) from eternal torture via butthole spiders and spastic dentistry. When we left off eight months ago, Michael and the team showed Judge Gen that the points system for determining entrance into paradise had gone to hell — somewhat literally — and pitched a grand and desperate test to settle the score. Season 3’s finale unveiled the first two subjects — Chidi’s neuroscientist ex Simone (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) and Tahani’s gossip-blogger foe John (Brandon Scott Jones) — and now viewers will meet the other two human guinea pigs, also chosen by Bad Place boss Shawn (Marc Evan Jackson): a pleasant-ish Norwegian and a fourth soul who are ‘more abstract in the ways they are designed to drive everyone crazy,’ hints Schur. Once test subjects themselves, the members of the Soul Squad face great challenges in mentoring this foursome, with Eleanor doubly taxed; this former lone wolf must lead the operation and tolerate the pain of spending quality time with memory-wiped beau Chidi, who is now what Schur calls ‘an ethical sleeper agent.’ 

“Also in this ambitious and bonkers fourth season (which begins Sept. 26): a new version of Janet; visits to old-school locales; returns of old friends/fiends; surprise guests (‘I really couldn’t believe who I was standing next to on the screen throughout the season,’ teases Jamil); a secret-spilling baby elephant made of pure light; and an episode modeled after a John le Carré mystery. ‘When we were told [about season 4], we had no idea,’ says Harper with a chuckle. ‘There’s no way anyone’s going to conceive where we’re going with this.’ ‘It’s like a board game,’ adds Carden. ‘Not Monopoly. More Candy Land vibes.’ Bell chooses a different analogy: life (not the board game). ‘It is frustrating, requires effort, hilarious at times, and in the end is really meaningful,’ she explains. ‘And over too soon.’ 

“As for that End, the cast found the capper to this comedy to be unexpectedly powerful and poignant. ‘It’s completion of our journeys in a way that I find satisfying, hopeful, and goes beyond our conventional understanding of storytelling,’ declares Harper. Jacinto was compelled to action. ‘After I read the finale, the first thing I did was call my parents,’ shares Jacinto. ‘I just needed to see them after that.’ And Jamil just needed a moment to fully embrace it. ‘I raged against the ending ever so briefly when I first read it,’ she admits. ‘I wasn’t ready for it, emotionally. But then, as the brilliance of it — the complete correctness of it — washed over me, I started to accept it.’

“How the audience will respond is both final frontier and great unknown, but rest assured that one of comedy’s brightest and most humane creators strove to answer those giant-picture questions that the series has been asking. ‘We didn’t pull any punches,’ he says. ‘This show explicitly laid itself out like a book, in that we call every episode a chapter and it feels like an old-timey serial in the way that novels [were] published in magazines, one chapter at a time. That’s true to the way that the show was meant to feel, and the way we were creating it. But it also means it’s like, “All right, a–holes, whaddaya got? What’s the final chapter of the book?” So it definitely feels like a tall order.’ Fans aren’t asking for much—just a finale that unmasks the secrets of the universe, redefines the human condition, takes the Jaguars to the Super Bowl, and explains how to rig one of those dope shrimp-dispensing soda fountains.”

Monday September 16, 2019

A Little Late With Lilly Singh premieres tonight on NBC.

Netflix has canceled No Good Nick.

Game of Thrones won 10 Creative Arts Emmy Awards this past weekend.

Here's the complete list of winners.

I’m torn on what the right call was as between sending Tommy or Michie home after seeing what transpired last night. Michie is lying and manipulative so I would have liked to have seen Tommy stay. However, I think that the truth will come out very quickly via Tommy now that he’s in the jury house and that despite the strong “resume” that Michie can present on finale night (presuming he makes it there), he’ll have lost enough votes that he won’t stand a chance. Cliff and Nicole, IMHO, would be best served taking him for that reason. I think in terms of odds to win if before the jury, it would go Nicole, Cliff, Holly, Michie, in that order.

Can someone explain why ANYONE cares about or watches The Masked Singer?

Jenny Slate has a date with Netflix. The actress and comedian’s first original comedy special for the streamer, titled Jenny Slate: Stage Fright, is set to drop next month. The special will give viewers an inside look at the Saturday Night Live alum’s world, including clips of her childhood and interviews with her family, interspersed with her stand-up set. Slate will share will share details on her visit to a midnight Catholic Mass and the ghosts that haunted her childhood home. She also discuss overcoming stage fright. Fans may recall Slate served as a cast member on SNL for Season 35, from 2009 to 2010. After being let go from the NBC sketch comedy series, Slate she developed stage fright as she figured out what was next.”

“Minutes after winning guest actress in a comedy series at the Creative Arts Emmys on Sunday night, Jane Lynch revealed that she will soon be moving from Amazon to Netflix for a new project. The actress, who is currently featured on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, told the backstage press room that she had recently sold a show to Netflix with Cyndi Lauper but didn't know ‘if I can even talk about it.’” The suspense is just killing us Jane!

“Endeavor Group Holdings has priced its initial public offering at $30 to $32 per share, with 19,354,839 Class A shares hitting the market, a move that would raise up to $712 million. The offering values to company at about $8 billion. The details were disclosed in an amended S-1 filed Monday with the SEC. Endeavor intends to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol ‘EDR.’”

Matthew Broderick goes from Hollywood’s favorite high school truant to a positive principal in Netflix’s upcoming dramedy Daybreak. And the Ferris Bueller’s Day Off references don’t end there, as the official trailer released Monday morning showed. Star Colin Ford, who plays 17-year-old hero, Josh Wheeler, closes out the action-filled teaser with this drop-the-mic line honoring the 1986 John Hughes classic: ‘And you thought we weren’t going to have any fun with the apocalypse, shame on you.’”

“Actress, singer and producer Hailee Steinfeld is set to release a new single entitled Afterlife on Sept. 19, a track she created for her upcoming Apple TV Plus series, Dickinson. ‘This is a song I’m incredibly proud of, and I feel like after embodying this character, I have a more fearless approach to my writing,’ Steinfeld shared at the Tribeca TV Festival in New York City on Saturday Night. Dickinson, a period piece about Emily Dickinson with a modern, comedic twist, is Steinfeld’s first-ever full time television series, and with it she experienced another big first by unveiling the show at the event: Dickinson is the first Apple TV Plus series to debut to the public, and it did so well-ahead of the Nov. 1 launch of the new streaming service. Series creator and showrunner Alena Smith described Dickinson as a ‘crazy psychedelic version of the 1850s.’”

71xnB1AeHWL._RI_.jpg

From The Ringer: “With apologies to Tom Wambsgans, ever since the Waystar cruise line malpractice and subsequent cover-up was introduced early in Succession’s first season, the other shoe—i.e., some type of public reckoning—was always destined to drop. That the cruise line fiasco finally bubbled its way to the surface on Sunday night, just as Logan was trying to finalize a deal to acquire Pierce, is a quintessentially tragicomic Succession twist, one that now forces Waystar to find a new lifeline in the face of Sandy and Stewy’s attempted corporate takeover. But bringing up cruises at an inopportune time for the Roys isn’t an attempt to break new storytelling ground—it’s just a helpful reminder that every detail matters, and that every set-up has a payoff. For instance: We almost definitely haven’t heard the last of Kendall’s Chappaquiddick-like incident from last season’s finale, either.

“But from a narrative perspective, a more pressing matter has largely fallen out of focus this season: Logan Roy’s health. His brain hemorrhage was the inciting incident of the series—a moment that saw his children (sometimes literally) wrestle for power and Waystar go into full-blown panic mode. As Kendall laid out in the beautifully titled second episode, Shit Show at the Fuck Factory, once Logan is rushed to the hospital: ‘The socioeconomic health of multiple continents is dependent on his well-being.’ That’s overly dramatic, sure, but Disney would probably go into a similar tailspin if, heaven forbid, something serious happened to Bob Iger.

“The running joke of the hospitalization episode was that, despite the Roy kids’ repeated assurances that their father’s health was the foremost thing on their minds, the question of who would succeed Logan if he were to die was all anybody could talk about. (Tom also thought it’d be the perfect time to propose to Shiv, because he’s nothing if not completely daft and misguidedly romantic.) Though Kendall ultimately agreed to take over with Roman as his COO, the euphoria was immediately hamstrung by the reveal that the company was roughly $3 billion in debt—and, you know, their dad was still on the brink of death, not the best mood-setter. In any event, the actual succession scenario ended up being temporary. Logan came back—earlier than he probably should’ve, considering he urinated in Kendall’s office—and Waystar returned to its morally dubious status quo.

“As Logan has slowly but surely regained his strength, the specter of his physical and mental state has receded. Instead, he’s been operating closer to his peak awfulness, a state that’s provided us with one of this season’s biggest highlights—Boar on the Floor, a ludicrous display of Logan’s power and the ways he loves to humiliate people with it. Rewatch the scene and tell me he’s not absolutely Feeling Himself:

“But no matter what he believes, Logan is not an indestructible force—and the cracks have begun to show once again. Before forcing Tom, Cousin Greg, and Karl to grovel for sausages in Hungary, Logan’s doctor briefly expresses concern about his chest pain and his general overexertion. (Logan, staying on brand, tells the doctor to fuck off.) And in Argestes, Logan appears discombobulated before a meeting with Rhea Jarrell and Nan Pierce, and later, not long after the cruise line exposé drops, he vomits in a restaurant full of people.

“Now, people puke for non-life-threatening reasons all the time—and as Kendall and several others point out, Logan could have just been suffering from altitude sickness. Whether the incident was stress-induced, altitude-related, or something more indicative of Logan’s deteriorating condition is, at this point in the season, entirely speculative. But his health will be a recurring theme: This show is titled Succession for a reason. You have to figure that at some point in the show’s run, Logan will kick the bucket—and the ensuing fracas over who assumes control of the Waystar empire won’t be unlike last season, when his children and corporate underlings jockeyed for power in that hospital.

“If it were to happen in the show’s immediate future, who would stand the best chance of taking over? Technically, Gerri is in line to run the company via official paperwork, but Logan has repeatedly undermined that legitimacy by insisting she’s a stopgap until he chooses a real successor. But if Logan were to die before he felt comfortable formally picking one of his children—even though Shiv is obviously the only capable Roy!—Gerri would suddenly wield more power than anyone in the show. Roman floats the idea that he and Gerri form their own alliance with his father’s health in mind—he thinks they complement each other’s strengths; that is, [clears throat] when he’s not masturbating in her bathroom. Though Gerri and Roman seem to have one of the show’s only genuine bonds, Roman’s decision to ally with her is a strategic move as much as a sentimental one—if and when the day comes that everyone in Logan’s orbit is reduced to fighting for a chance to sit on the throne.

“Elsewhere, even if Logan were to die, that wouldn’t necessarily mean poor Kendall would be freed from his subservient hellscape. Sketchy security dudes aside, Logan isn’t the only key player who knows about his son’s indiscretion in the English countryside: Marcia is also in the loop, along with her little-seen son. Marcia’s true motives remain one of Succession’s biggest X factors—especially after she displayed some animosity toward her husband in Tern Haven. If she were as interested in Waystar and its riches as everyone else, she would have the ammo to ensure Kendall stays by her side, if only as a means of self-preservation.

“As for Shiv? It’d make sense for her to ally with Tom—even though he’s a doof, he’s still a man on the inside running one of Waystar’s biggest divisions while she hangs around the fringes. The closer she’s able to get into Logan’s inner circle, the better it would be for her in the event of his sudden passing. No one else is worth considering as a legit contender. As I put down my glass of hyperdecanted wine, I also refuse to give serious thought to Connor (the White House awaits!), and the only future I want for dear Frank is as the host of an NPR show with listeners who will appreciate all of his Shakespeare references.

“The day that Waystar does fall into someone else’s hands—and it will happen, provided Succession doesn’t jump into some weird Peter Thiel wormhole in which Logan tries to cheat death with the blood of able-bodied youths—will be an inflection point for the company’s long-term future. The real-life precedent for businesses that lose their founders is pretty grim: At the very least, Waystar should expect a dip in sales and some layoffs. (And unsurprisingly, the Roys would not be the first billionaire siblings to turn against one another after their father’s death.) But it’s not like Logan has been a model of consistency since the start of the series: His biggest executive decisions have been to invest in local papers and attempt to acquire a rival media conglomerate for the delicate price of $25 billion. He also approved of gutting the digital media site Vaulter, which seemed predicated less on what they could provide and more about rubbing it in Kendall’s face as punishment for trying to betray him (again!).

“It might be a little macabre to consider all the possibilities around someone dying, but (a) Logan is a fictional character and (b) he’s so goddamn evil I may be rooting for it. His health is one of the biggest cards Succession still holds in its sleeve: a moment that could hang over the series for the next couple of episodes, or possibly seasons. When it does happen, though, Logan’s death will be a double-edged sword—not just for Waystar’s future, but his children and closest corporate confidants. Things will get messy, and trying to guess who’ll take the Waystar reins is about as useless as the time we all tried to predict who’d sit on the Iron Throne. (Wait, is Connor the show’s equivalent to Bran?!) That is, if there even is a company to take over when that day comes. Really, with so much uncertainty, there’s only one prediction I feel confident making: Logan Roy’s inevitable funeral episode will be an all-timer.”

wp2238353.jpg

Per The Hollywood Reporter, “Lupita Nyong'o has signed on to star in a limited series for HBO Max. Her Black Panther co-star, Danai Gurira, will serve as showrunner.

“The WarnerMedia streaming service has given a straight-to-series order to Americanah, based on the best-selling novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The 10-episode series tells the story of a woman (Nyong'o) born in Nigeria who leaves for America and her extraordinary experiences with love, heartache, adversity and self-discovery.

“The project will be the first role in an American TV series for Oscar-winner Nyong'o, who starred in Jordan Peele's Us earlier this year and reprises her role as Maz Kanata in Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, due in theaters in December.

“‘Americanah has sparked a cultural phenomenon and is revered by fans around the world. It has affected me deeply as one of the most moving, socially relevant and romantic stories of our time,’ said Sarah Aubrey, head of original content at HBO Max. ‘With exceptional talent like Lupita and Danai in front of and behind the camera, this series will give viewers a uniquely heartfelt and unforgettable experience.’

“Gurira, a Tony-nominated playwright (Eclipsed), will take on her first showrunning job with the series. The Walking Dead actress, who's set to leave the AMC hit after its upcoming 10th season, said she's "honored" to adapt the book.

"‘Through Americanah, Chimamanda brought the African female voice into mainstream consciousness in an unprecedented way,’ said Gurira. ‘It is intellectually incisive, indicting, yet full of humor, and riddled with humanity. She makes unheard voices familiar, universal and yet palpably specific. I am honored to bring her incredible novel to life on the screen. I’m thrilled to collaborate once again with Lupita, who brings her astounding ability as a performer and producer shepherding this project, along with HBO Max's unbridled enthusiasm to bring this groundbreaking narrative to the TV audience.’

“Added Nyong'o, ‘Americanah has been a passion project for me since I read Chimamanda’s beautiful novel in 2013. It's a tale that is simultaneously timely and timeless. HBO Max is the perfect partner to bring this profound and celebrated story to life, and I’m thrilled that Danai will bring to the project her intelligence, wit and understanding of the stories and the worlds of Americanah.’

“Gurira and Nyong'o (via her Eba Productions) executive produce the series along with Plan B Entertainment, Andrea Calderwood for Potboiler Television, Didi Rea and Danielle Del for D2 Productions and Nancy Won.

Americanah joins a list of scripted original series on HBO Max that includes a Gossip Girl reboot, drama The Flight Attendant, starring Kaley Cuoco, neo-noir drama Tokyo Vice and comedic anthology Love Life, starring Anna Kendrick. The streaming service is slated to launch in spring 2020 with library content including Friends, Game of Thrones and series and movies from all of WarnerMedia's properties.”

drewandzooeyDiptych-(1).jpg

“On Friday, PEOPLE confirmed that Zooey Deschanel had moved on with HGTV star Jonathan Scott

“Zooey Deschanel stepped out solo on Saturday, just one day after news broke of her romance with Property Brothers star Jonathan Scott.

“Deschanel, who announced her split from husband Jacob Pechenik on Sept. 6, was seen picking up dinner in Manhattan Beach, California, on Saturday.

“The actress, 39, wore a wine-colored top and dark pants as she carried a pizza box and two bags in her arms.

“On Friday, PEOPLE confirmed Deschanel had moved on with the HGTV star, 41. ‘It’s new, but they are having a lot of fun together,’ a source said about the mother of two’s relationship with Scott.

“An insider close to Scott said he and Deschanel first when they filmed an episode of Carpool Karaoke.

“One day after the news of the actress’ new romance, Pechenik spoke out about the current state of his relationship with his ex.

“‘Everything is amicable and we have two beautiful children together,’ Pechenik told HollywoodLife. ‘We’ve been raising them and we’re going to continue to raise them, and take great care of get them… I’m happy.’

“Deschanel and Pechenik had been separated for months, according to a source, before announcing the news.

“‘After much discussion and a long period of contemplation we have decided we are better off as friends, business partners and co-parents rather than life partners,’ a rep for the couple told PEOPLE in a joint statement. ‘We remain committed to our business, our values and most of all our children. Thank you for respecting our privacy at this time.’”

the-good-place-season-4-netflix-release-schedule.jpg

Per Deadline, “NBC’s The Good Place is offering up its own version of the Bardo in advance of its final season: The Selection, a six-episode digital series that will serve as a storytelling bridge between the end of season 3 and its fourth and final season, which bows Thursday, Sept. 26 at 9 PM ET/PT.

“All six episodes of the digital series are available by downloading the NBC App.

“The series features demon Shawn (Marc Evan Jackson) and his cohorts as they decide which deceased humans to send to Michael’s (Ted Danson) newly formed afterlife neighborhood to thwart his benevolent plan. The series is written by the staff that creates The Good Place series.

“The critically hailed The Good Place premiered on September 19, 2016 on NBC, focused on Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) who wakes up in the afterlife and confronts her past through a gracious guide, Michael (played by Ted Danson). However, Eleanor did not live a righteous life, so if this is heaven, she realizes she was sent there by mistake. Dramaedy ensues, infused with questions of ethics, as Eleanor and her fellow afterlife residents need a plan, particularly as things take an unexpected twist.

“Here are the digital series titles and descriptions:

The Selection, Part 1: The Mission

Shawn and his demon cohorts plot to destroy Michael’s new neighborhood. Shawn gets the demons briefed on their mission.

‘The Selection, Part 2: The Candidates

Shawn’s demon ding-dongs pitch their human choices for Michael’s new neighborhood.

The Selection, Part 3: The Takeout Order

Shawn’s demon ash-holes try to decide what to eat. Maybe some sludge from the inside of shoes that you don’t wear socks with?

The Selection, Part 4: The Storm Out

Tensions rise as the demons try to select the right “human fart bombs” for Michael’s new neighborhood. Glenn feels Shawn is being too mean.

The Selection, Part 5: The Talk

In a demon-to-demon chat with Glenn, Shawn is inspired to rethink the way he forks with Michael’s new neighborhood.

The Selection, Part 6: The Solution

When Shawn takes aim on a more personal attack on the humans, Glenn has some reservations.”

Friday September 13, 2019

A new season of The Ranch is now streaming on Netflix.

You can also watch Tall Girl on Netflix. “After years of slouching through life, 6-foot-1 teen Jodi resolves to conquer her insecurities and gets caught up in a high school love triangle.”

As well as a new season of The Chef Show.

Amazon has released Undone. “Undone is a half-hour, genre-bending, animated dramedy that explores the elastic nature of reality through its central character, Alma, a twenty-eight-year-old living in San Antonio, Texas. After getting into a car accident and nearly dying, Alma finds she has a new relationship to time. She develops this new ability in order to find out the truth about her father’s death.

Or perhaps you might enjoy Unbelievable on Netflix. “Inspired by real events, a teen reports and eventually recants her reported rape, while two female detectives, states away, investigate evidence that could reveal the truth. Based on The Marshall Project and ProPublica Pulitzer Prize-winning article, An Unbelievable Story of Rape, written by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong, and the This American Life radio episode, Anatomy of Doubt, with episodes directed by Oscar nominees Susannah Grant and Lisa Cholodenko, "Unbelievable" is a story of unspeakable trauma, unwavering tenacity, and astounding resilience. Showrunner Susannah Grant executive produces the series, from CBS Television Studios, along with Sarah Timberman, Carl Beverly, Lisa Cholodenko, Ayelet Waldman, Michael Chabon, Katie Couric, Richard Tofel, Neil Barsky, Robyn Semien, and Marie.”

Here is a little more on how Unbelievable came to be.

The Alec Baldwin roast will air on Comedy Central on Sunday night.

Comedy Central has ordered 3 additional seasons of South Park.

OWN has ordered a 5th season of Queen Sugar.

The story behind Reese Witherspoon's brown hair in The Morning Show.

Adam Carolla says Larry David told him Curb Your Enthusiasm will return in January.

Rest in peace Eddie Money.

Kristin Cavallari is gearing up for Season 3 of her E! show, Very Cavallari, but she still hasn’t watched the first season of The Hills reboot. ‘I haven’t seen it and I hate saying that,’ Cavallari, who starred on the original version of the MTV show, told Page Six while promoting her collaboration with Daltile during New York Fashion Week. ‘I really want to see it. I haven’t seen a TV show in months. I can’t tell you the last TV show I saw,’ she said. ‘It’s only because I don’t watch any TV. I don’t have a TV in my bedroom. That’s the only time I can watch TV, at night, after my kids go to bed. So I will see it at some point. Maybe on a plane ride I can binge watch it or something.’”

game-of-thrones-prequel-filming-00.jpg

From Deadline: “Hold your dragons, Game of Thrones fans, another prequel of the hugely popular fantasy series is eyeing a green light. I’ve learned that HBO is close to giving a pilot order to a GoT prequel from author and GoT co-executive producer George R.R. Martin and Colony co-creator/exec producer Ryan Condal, which is set 300 years before the events in Game of Thrones and tracks the beginning of the end for House Targaryen. The network declined comment.

“Created by Martin and Condal and written by Condal, I hear the project is based on the Fire & Blood book by Martin and has been in the works at HBO since last fall.

“According to sources, the Condal/Martin project is not a sixth GoT prequel. I hear it represents a brand new take on a world originally tackled by Bryan Cogman in one of the five GoT prequel scripts commissioned by HBO in 2017. Former GoT co-executive producer Cogman confirmed in April that his prequel idea was not going forward.

“In typical Martin fashion, the author had been dropping clues about the House Targaryen prequel project all along. ‘We have had five different Game of Thrones successor shows in development at HBO, and three of them are still moving forward nicely,’ he wrote on his blog in May.

“One of the three is the untitled prequel, written by Jane Goldman and starring Naomi Watts, which shot a pilot this summer. The project, now in post-production and awaiting word whether it will get a pickup, chronicles the world’s descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour.

“‘Two other shows remain in the script stage, but are edging closer,’ Martin wrote in May. ‘What are they about? I cannot say. But maybe some of you should pick up a copy of Fire & Blood and come up with your own theories.’

“Coincidentally — or not — a large image of the Fire & Blood cover was featured just above this section in the same blog post with a note about the book’s success, having just re-entered New York Times’ Top 10 bestseller list where it had previously spent more than three months. ‘You can’t keep a good dragon down,’ Martin wrote about the feat.

“Named after House Targaryen’s words, Fire & Blood’s first volume was published last November with the tagline, ‘300 Years Before a Game of Thrones, Dragons Ruled Westeros.’ The Targaryen history book, a companion to Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire saga, goes back to a time when House Targaryen — the only family of dragonlords to survive the Doom of Valyria — took up residence on Dragonstone.

Fire & Blood starts off with Aegon the Conqueror, creator of the Iron Throne, and goes on to recount the generations of Targaryens who fought to hold the throne, all the way up to the civil war, known as the Dance of the Dragons, that nearly tore their dynasty apart. The war will be a significant part of the TV adaptation, I hear.

Game of Thrones, which is based on A Song of Ice and Fire, featured a couple of surviving Targaryens, including Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), Viserys Targaryen (Harry Lloyd), and Jon Snow (Kit Harington).

“At TCA in July, HBO Programming President Casey Bloys would not comment on the status of the other GoT prequels besides the Watts pilot, but did not rule out the possibility for another GoT offshoot to get a green light by the end of the year. ‘It’s something I would not comment on,’ he said.

“Just days before, Game of Thrones had landed a whopping 32 Emmy nominations for its final season, breaking yet another Emmy record, for most nominations in a single year. The show, a three-time Outstanding Drama Series Emmy winner, also holds the Emmy record for most overall wins, 47 and counting, most wins in a single year, 12, and most total nominations for a scripted series, 161.

“Beyond critical acclaim, GoT was a rare cultural juggernaut, with more than 45 million people tuning in for its final episodes.

“‘We are proud to have been the home for it, it’s been a great show for us,’ Bloys said after the GoT finale in May.

“A month earlier, Bob Greenblatt, chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-to-Consumer, addressed the possibility of putting multiple GoT- themed shows on the air in light of the original series’ enormous global success.

“‘It’s a double-edged sword,’ he told Deadline. ‘We’re having conversations about how do we smartly continue the Game of Thrones universe, but we have to be really thoughtful about not killing the golden goose and not putting on shows that aren’t up to that quality level, and how many is too many.’

“Bloys echoed his sentiment.

“‘I think Game of Thrones is a fantastic property but I don’t want to just be the home of prequels and sequels and all that stuff,’ he said. ‘I think you want to be really careful about how you do it.’”

10B42375_5117_4BA4_9D61_FA7A6661FDC6.0.jpeg

Per The Hollywood Reporter, “HBO Max has ordered its first two unscripted series, picking up competition shows from the producers of Queer Eye and The Amazing Race.

“The two shows, voguing competition Legendary and design contest The Greatest Space, join 10 scripted series already ordered for the WarnerMedia streaming platform, set to launch in spring 2020. HBO Max also has several pilots and feature films in development, in addition to library shows including Friends and Game of Thrones.

"‘Unscripted programming will be an incredibly important component of our HBO Max originals, and this is just the beginning of our venture into this space,’ said Sarah Aubrey, head of original content at HBO Max. ‘These two initial shows will transport audiences to underground worlds and take them on visually stunning, exotic adventures, equaled only by the compelling stories of each contestant. We couldn't have more accomplished teams behind both of these shows. From the innovative and award-winning storytellers at both Scout and Bertram van Munster’s New Media Collective, we are reimagining the unscripted competition genre.’

“Legendary, from Scout Productions (Queer Eye), will feature 10 voguing houses (a la the ball culture in FX's Pose) competing for a cash prize, with each episode showcasing a themed ball from start to finish. Each house will have five young performers and a house "parent," and they'll compete in a round-robin format over 10 episodes

“Scout's David Collins, Michael Williams and Rob Eric executive produce with Renata Lombardo and Shant Tutunjian.

“The Greatest Space, also set for 10 episodes, will feature two-person design teams traveling around the world to transform empty rooms — be they bedrooms, ballrooms or tree houses — into spectacular spaces. They'll face challenges along the way that will force them to lift directly from some of the most audacious and ambitious rooms all over the globe.

“The show comes from New Media Collective and Scout Productions, with NMC's Bertram van Munster, Elise Doganieri and Mark Dziak (The Amazing Race) executive producing with Scout's Collins, Williams and Eric.”

190912-bowen-yang-official-ew-211p_598903c3eacd9d7958678ba03834be8f.jpg

Meet Saturday Night Live‘s new cast additions for its upcoming 45th season. Chloe Fineman, Shane Gillis and Bowen Yang have been tapped as new featured players on NBC’s venerable late-night sketch comedy program.

“Yang joined SNL as a staff writer last season and is co-host of the Las Culturistas podcast. The promotion of Yang, son of Chinese immigrants, marks a milestone for representation on the program where he will be the first full-time East Asian cast member. (SNL alum Fred Armisen is a quarter Japanese, and fellow former SNL-er. Rob Schneider is a quarter Filipino.)

“The deficiency, which led to SNL production designer Akira Yoshimura being recruited to play Asian Star Trek character Sulu in a 2017 Star Trek skit featuring Chris Pine, was addressed on the show by then-new cast member Melissa Villaseñor in a sketch about the 2016 Vice-Presidential debate. ‘Hello, I’m the new Hispanic cast member,’ she said in the skit, ‘and I’ll be playing Asian moderator Elaine Quijano. Because baby steps.’

“In addition to Armisen and Schneider, SNL’s cast previously included Nasim Pedrad who is of Iranian descent.

“Fineman was a New Face at the 2018 Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal and has been a regular performer at the Groundlings.

“Gillis was recently recognized as a New Face at the 2019 Just for Laughs Festival.

“The cast additions follow the news that SNL mainstay Leslie Jones is leaving after five seasons. Fineman, Gillis and Yang will join returning veteran SNL cast members Kate McKinnon, who is returning for an eighth season, along with the rest of the troupe, led by McKinnon and fellow veterans Kenan Thompson, Aidy Bryant and Cecily Strong.

“Season 45 of SNL premieres on September 28 with Woody Harrelson, in his fourth appearance as host, and musical guest Billie Eilish."

Saturday Night Live is produced in association with Broadway Video. The creator and executive producer is Lorne Michaels.”

john_mulaney_accepting_emmys_0.jpg

From Esquire: “Alex, one of eight child actors sitting in a circle with John Mulaney, has a grand unified theory about blooper reels that he would like to share right this second. ‘Before I see a movie, I always watch the blooper reels,’ he explains. ‘If that movie has no fun moments, like, so that means they didn’t even have fun doing it? So then I’m not gonna watch the movie.’ Mulaney’s eyebrows fly upward—Alex’s logic is a touch cockeyed but impressive. ‘That’s brilliant!’ he says.

“After his hit Netflix special Kid Gorgeous, Mulaney is trying something different with his next project: a children's variety show. Partially inspired by Sesame Street, Mulaney says it will be ‘modular, fast-paced. Bizarrely paced,’ he says. ‘They’ll cut to a kid who blows up a balloon, draws a smiley face on it, and pops it. Like, ‘Great, love it, moving on!’ ‘

“It’s a Tuesday afternoon in July, and he and the actors—ages eight to twelve—are gathered in a fluorescent-lit rehearsal space in Manhattan’s Theater District, here to rehearse his next, as-of-yet-untitled comedy special. A couple years ago, on the same block, he starred with his friend Nick Kroll in a hit Broadway show they cowrote, Oh, Hello, portraying two grumpy, corduroy-sporting septuagenarian weirdos partial to cocaine, casual misogyny, and Steely Dan. Last year, five blocks north, Mulaney did seven straight sold-out stand-up shows at Radio City Music Hall; footage from one of those shows became his third special, Kid Gorgeous. Whereas that one, released by Netflix, was a watchmaker- tight hour of jokes, he’s trying something new this time: a children’s variety show. And these children have a lot to say about bloopers. ‘I think they should have blooper reels at the end of scary movies so people can go home and not feel terrified,’ another kid interjects. ‘Right,’ Mulaney says, nodding. ‘A catharsis of sorts.’ He scans the circle. ‘This whole special,” he tells the kids, “is going to be a blooper reel.’

“Mulaney, thirty-seven, is modeling the new special on the entertainment he loved growing up: 3-2-1 Contact, the eighties-era PBS after-school classic; Really Rosie, a 1980 musical by Maurice Sendak and Carole King; and, of course, Sesame Street. ‘It’s been on TV how many—fifty years?’ Mulaney tells me later. He’s been rewatching old episodes recently, in thrall to their elastic approach to narrative. “It’s modular, fast-paced. Bizarrely paced,” he says. ‘They’ll cut to a kid who blows up a balloon, draws a smiley face on it, and pops it. Like, “Great, love it, moving on!”’ With the new show,he wants to make something that will appeal to kids and adults alike. His thinking is twofold. ‘It’s something I’d like to watch,’ he says. ‘And I don’t wanna do anything anyone else is doing.’

“Mulaney doesn’t have to do anything he doesn’t want to: A decade into his career, he’s at the height of his powers, with a string of successes to show for it. Kid Gorgeous won an Emmy—his second. His first came halfway into his five-season stint, beginning in 2008, as a writer on Saturday Night Live,during which time he and Bill Hader created the absurdist nightlife correspondent Stefon. Last year, Mulaney signed a multispecial deal with Netflix and, in something like a victory lap, returned to SNL to host. This past March, he hosted again. Among comedians, he’s esteemed across generations: David Letterman has called Mulaney ‘the future of comedy.’ Jerry Seinfeld has said, ‘He really knows his way around the comedy arts.’ Pete Davidson has ranked him in his top five, alongside Eddie Murphy and Dave Chappelle.

“This fall, Mulaney and Davidson will head out on a tour—a shared bill that grew out of their offstage friendship. Mulaney invites Davidson to Steely Dan concerts, whereas ‘Pete invites me over while he gets a tattoo,’ Mulaney says. ‘Like, “Yo, I’m getting tatted at my house. You want to come over and we watch Back to School?”’ One time, Mulaney hung out with Davidson and his then girlfriend Ariana Grande. ‘We watched a movie together,’ he says. ‘Eighth Grade. Bo Burnham.’ He speaks of the tour with the tenderness of an older brother: ‘I knew Pete loved stand-up more than anything and wanted to get out there.’

“But first, the kids’ variety show. In the rehearsal space, it’s time to practice a musical number. A kid named Suri—braided ponytail, colorful printed leggings—launches into a duet with Mulaney. It starts with her repeatedly asking him, over ambling piano accompaniment, to ‘play Restaurant’ with her, where she’s the proprietor and he’s a customer. ‘Won’t you please play Restauraaaant?’ she begs. Mulaney demurs with a singsongy reply. She begs some more till he assents, asking, ‘Hi, can I come into your restaurant?’ The song cuts off and the smile drops from Suri’s face. ‘I’m sorry,’ she says. ‘We’re closed for a private event.’

“Everyone laughs. Mulaney apologizes for his singing, which could be politely described as pitch challenged. Suri is encouraging. ‘You try,’ she tells him. ‘You try.

“‘Suri, it’s not gonna get even a tiny bit better,’ he says. ‘It might get worse.’

“Mulaney is at the height of his powers, having won Emmys for Kid Gorgeous and as a writer on Saturday Night Live where he and Bill Hader created the absurdist nightlife correspondent Stefon.

“The maître d’ has no idea who John Mulaney is. He scrolls through the reservation list, frowning. ‘John Morane?’ he asks. ‘I might be?’ says Mulaney. Rehearsals for the upcoming special have wrapped for the day, and he’s trying to squeeze in a quick bite at a nearby brasserie. As if on cue, a woman approaches. ‘I’m a huge fan!’ she tells Mulaney. The maître d’ looks at her, then at the clean-cut, unassuming guy with the enormous backpack whom she’s praising. ‘We have a table for you,’ he announces.

“Mulaney places a spartan order: French- onion soup, tap water, bread. ‘Food is a nuisance,’ he says, eating with astonishing slowness—maybe one slurp per minute—almost to illustrate the point. After this he’s due at a writing session to tinker with the new show’s script. In one sketch, he tells me, ‘A kid does a book report on A Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion, thinking it was a magic book: “Unlike 1001 Marvelous Magic Tricks to Amaze Your Friends, this is a gripping memoir of grief from one of the greatest writers of her generation!”’ Mulaney pauses. ‘Someone said to me, “You know you mention Joan Didion three times in this special, right?”’ He shakes his head. ‘We probably have to cut one of those.’

In the world of stand-up, where nothing’s valorized quite like edginess, Mulaney relishes his squareness to an almost defiant degree. The better part of a decade ago, when he was still honing his style in the comedy clubs, Mulaney saw a sea of dudes on stages and in crowds dressed the same way he was, in flannel shirts and jeans. So he began wearing tailored suits onstage and inflecting his delivery with the retro tones and cadences of a fifties TV announcer absolutely crushing an Ovaltine ad. He ignored the trend toward confessional, morally knotty, often filthy humor—pioneered by Richard Pryor, repopularized by Louis C. K.—and dug instead into a finely observed silliness that he aimed at all manner of unlikely subjects: the strictures of his upper-middle-class upbringing, the oedipal weirdness of Back to the Future, the sublime preposterousness of Ice-T’s dialogue on Law & Order: SVU. Mulaney fills his jokes with evocative details and deft turns of phrase. He cares deeply about what you might call joke math, tweaking and deleting to get phrasings just right. ‘It’s not “I was so tired that blah blah blah,”’ he says. ‘You want “I collapsed.”’ What’s consistent throughout is his disregard for what’s popular. ‘I’ve never been relevant,” Mulaney says, “so I’m not worried about feeling irrelevant.’

“Like Jerry Seinfeld, one of his biggest influences, Mulaney is obsessed with finding the humor in the quotidian and the banal. He’s never funnier, as far as he’s concerned, than when he gets ‘exasperated about things you shouldn’t get that upset about.’ Trying out new bits, he knows he’s onto something when it feels like ‘having a crush. When you can’t stop thinking about, like, “Why do they do that on House Hunters?” and your take on it is as strong as something written by Robespierre.’ (It takes a unique mind to draw a line between HGTV and the French Revolution.) At one point, out of nowhere, he brings up an obscure poster, depicting a blond woman holding a gyro, that he’s seen hanging for years in restaurants across New York—a sight most of us might clock once, if at all, and then never give a second thought. ‘I can think about that poster for so much longer than I can think about sex and politics,’ Mulaney says.

“He is deeply uninterested in political material. At a moment when politics feels impossible to ignore, the furthest into Washington he’s ventured is an extended Kid Gorgeous run in which he likens the president—whom he doesn’t name—to a horse set loose in a hospital. (‘It’s never happened before; no one knows what the horse is going to do next, least of all the horse. He’s never been in a hospital before; he’s as confused as you are.’) Mulaney has donated extravagantly to liberal and Left politicians—many thousands of dollars, including at least $1,250 to Bernie Sanders during the 2016 primaries—but keeps such concerns out of his act. ‘I have a problem with “Comedians are really brave and we need them now more than ever,”’ he tells me. ‘It’s like, we’re not congressmen. We’re court jesters.’

“The tricky thing for Mulaney, as a joke purist, is how to come off in his comedy as appealingly out of time without coming off as boorishly out of step or blithely out of touch. His early sets included miscalculations on this score—jokes about the confusing (to him) aesthetics of drag queens and the implicit funniness (to him) of “midgets”; over-the-top impressions of black characters (and one of a mariachi band)—that he’s gotten much better at avoiding. When it comes to the charge among some comedians that so-called PC puritanism is threatening the profession, Mulaney says, ‘My friend Max Silvestri puts it this way: “Why is everyone freaking out about adapting?” As a comedian, you constantly step on your ego to go, “I’d like to be a better comedian.”’

“The second time Mulaney hosted SNL, this past March, he ended his monologue with a virtuoso imitation of an old-timey police siren. He sustained the sound for a long twelve seconds, then likened it to the dying moan of ‘an old gay cat.’ Given the care that he lavishes on every syllable, I ask whether any word besides gay would have worked there. In part I’m curious on the level of pure joke math. Beyond that, though, Mulaney’s career ascent has coincided with a moment of increased skepticism toward straight white men in comedy, and I wonder how that’s entered into his thinking when he sculpts a joke these days.

“‘It would be totally dishonest to say it hasn’t,’ he says. ‘I’m a privileged white man who has not had to deal with anything a marginal group deals with. So me saying, “No, that word works better” is, I don’t know. . . .’ He tries to make the case for it: ‘If the world were 1,000 percent different and no one had ever been marginalized? In a vacuum, yes, it was a good word. It’s a detail. A description of something. I tried it on many audiences, and I will trust the audience.’ Rather than end there, though, he gets into a back-and-forth with himself about when a detail earns a laugh and when it invokes an easy stereotype. '‘Let’s think about this for a second,” he says. ‘I’ve always tried to describe things that I actually saw once. I’m like, “This person came up to me and I will tell you what they said to me.” But I’m open to criticism of that.’ He laughs, looking to find his way back out of the weeds. ‘We’re not a good breed, the white man. We can be trained well, but . . .’ He stops to gather his thoughts. His willingness to evolve, he continues, manifests ‘less in what you see onstage and more in what you don’t.’

“In November 2017, The New York Times reported that several female comedians had accused Louis C. K. of inappropriate sexual behavior. At the time, Mulaney and C. K. shared a manager, Dave Becky, who, it was alleged, used his industry power over the years to suppress several of those accusers’ stories. Mulaney quietly fired him, having concluded that Becky was dishonest with him about his role in the scandal. Mulaney doesn’t want to discuss it further on the record. Speaking to Vulture about C. K. and Becky this past March, he said, ‘Women’s opinions matter, and mine does not.’

“Mulaney and Davidson had a touching moment on SNL after Davidson's public struggle with mental health. ‘Pete and I came up with that bit together, but in my head, I was like, “I hope this is a cathartic thing for him.” However it came to be, I was very glad it was there.’

“In January, Mulaney appeared with Pete Davidson on SNL’s Weekend Update to make fun of Clint Eastwood’s The Mule. Early in the bit, Davidson, who has grappled publicly with mental-health issues, alluded to a note he posted to Instagram last year in which he threatened suicide. On live TV, Mulaney turned to him, and with genuine emotion said, ‘Pete, look at me, look me in the eye. You are loved by many, and we’re glad you’re okay.’

“I ask about this moment a couple days after the rehearsal, over lunch at Russ & Daughters, a gourmet Jewish café that’s like the Willy Wonka factory of kippered herring. (‘Please don’t print this if it sounds wrong, but I so identify with the Jewish people,’ he says.) ‘I tell him I love him all the time,’ Mulaney says of Davidson. ‘I have a lot of friends who are like Italian grandmothers, just like, “How are you? I love you!”’ He pauses. ‘Pete and I came up with that bit together, but in my head, I was like, “I hope this is a cathartic thing for him.” However it came to be, I was very glad it was there.’ The Mule routine may have looked like the straitlaced older brother addressing his wayward sibling. But Mulaney’s relationship to self-destructive behavior is more complex: He spent the entirety of his teens and the early part of his twenties as an addict, spiraling out of control. He began drinking at thirteen—initially, he says, to deal with the awkwardness of adolescence, and then to excess, because ‘alcohol is addictive,’ he says, and he didn’t want to stop. ‘I drank for attention,’ he tells me. ‘I was really outgoing, and then at twelve, I wasn’t. I didn’t know how to act. And then I was drinking, and I was hilarious again.’ Drugs soon followed. ‘I never liked smoking pot. Then I tried cocaine, and I loved it. I wasn’t a good athlete, so maybe it was some young male thing of This is the physical feat I can do. Three Vicodin and a tequila and I’m still standing. Who’s the athlete now?’ When Mulaney was a teenager, his parents sent him to a psychiatrist, who told him that he was one part nice kid, one part ‘gorilla that wants to kill the other half.’

“He spent his childhood in Chicago, raised Catholic by two lawyer parents along with his three siblings, Carolyn, Chip, and Claire. (Claire, his younger sister, also wrote for SNL.) When Mulaney was four, tragedy befell the family: His mother, Ellen, gave birth to a third son, Peter, who, as Mulaney puts it now, ‘never came home from the hospital.’ He says, ‘I didn’t feel like we were growing up in a house where something had been shattered, if that makes sense. We’d go to his cemetery every year. It was not, like, “You don’t mention that.” But there was a tightness in the air.’

“Mulaney was a self-described weird kid with a mile-wide theatrical streak. ‘We were a good, uptight family, in a fifties way,’ he recalls. ‘There was a lot of fun and love. But a strictness. My parents were a tight unit, like Walter Becker and Donald Fagen,’ of Steely Dan. ‘You couldn’t play one off the other. I said something once, like, “Mom sucks!” And my dad said”—Mulaney’s voice hits a stentorian register— ‘“That’s my wife.” And I went to a very strict Jesuit high school, so there was always this, like, “Young man, your tie is not straightened.”’ He found that strictness asphyxiating. Mulaney’s father, a corporate attorney also named Chip, plays a prominent role in his son’s jokes, appearing as a steely enigma under whose weight the young Mulaney squirmed and rebelled. ‘I remember once I said, “Yeah,” and he turned to me and said, “The word is yes,’” Mulaney tells me.

“He attended Georgetown University, his parents’ alma mater, where he joined an improv group that included fellow comedians Mike Birbiglia, Jacqueline Novak, and Nick Kroll. After graduating, Mulaney went out on tour as an MC and opener for Birbiglia. Later, he landed a Comedy Central job that eventually led to a writing gig on Demetri Martin’s cerebral-absurdist series, Important Things. In 2008, SNL hired Mulaney as a writer, a job he loved—’writing for Fred Armisen is like writing a song for Jimi Hendrix.’ He left in 2012 and landed an irresistible deal to write, produce, and star on his own sitcom.

“Back then, the dominant style for smart TV comedy was the handheld, laugh-track-free, fifty-jokes-a-minute, single-camera format exemplified by The Office and 30 Rock. Mulaney wanted no part of that. He opted instead for a multicamera sitcom indebted to I Love Lucy and Seinfeld. When Mulaney, as it was called, debuted on Fox in the fall of 2014, the ratings were bad, the reviews abysmal. The network killed it after one truncated season. When I suggest to Mulaney that the show ‘struggled’ for survival, he grins and rejects the euphemism. ‘We didn’t “struggle”,’ he replies. ‘We were a clay pigeon shot out of the sky immediately.

“Mulaney wrote, produced, and starred in his own short-lived sitcom, Mulaney in 2014, which was canceled after one season. ‘There’s a benefit to failure,’ he’s said. ‘It gives you an existential “Who cares?”’

“His foray into network sitcoms did teach him an important lesson. ‘There’s a benefit to failure,’ he’s said. ‘It gives you an existential “Who cares?”’ Or as he expresses it now, ‘Sometimes you need to say, “Fuck the audience.”’”

This article has been condensed.