Wednesday May 22, 2019

Ellen has signed on for 3 more years of The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

The final season of Orange is The New Black will be available to stream on Netflix on July 26. More below.

Season finales are aplenty tonight including: Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., My Last Days, Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists, SEAL Team, Whiskey Cavalier, and Brockmire.

I tried to watch Tuca & Bertie on Netflix. Unless you’re in an altered state of mind, I don’t expect that you’re going to love this show. I was not in said state of mind and struggled to get through an episode.

“Oscar- and Emmy-winning actress Holly Hunter is joining the Season 2 cast of HBO’s drama series Succession in a recurring role. Created by Jesse Armstrong (In the Loop) and executive produced by The Big Short‘s Adam McKay, Season 2 of Succession follows the Roy family as they struggle to retain control of their empire, and while the future looks increasingly uncertain, it is the past that threatens ultimately to destroy them. Hunter will play Rhea Jarrell, the politically savvy CEO of a rival media conglomerate.”

A scripted miniseries on Tiger Woods, based on Jeff Benedict’s book about pro golfer is in development at Brent Montgomery’s Wheelhouse Entertainment. Benedict reached a deal with Montgomery to set up a joint venture at WHE, with “Tiger Woods” as the first project that Benedict and Wheelhouse will take to market. The book, which Benedict co-authored with “60 Minutes” correspondent Armen Keteyian, was published last year and became a New York Times bestseller. The book begins with Woods’ 2009 car accident and subsequent martial infidelity that began the once-dominant golfer’s career downturn, which included numerous back injuries as well. During Woods’ early career, he appeared in prime position to supplant Jack Nicklaus as the record-holder for the most major tournament victories.”

The Hills alum Lo Bosworth is dating a guy who was once on Shark Tank, we’re told. The 2000s reality star was at an event over the weekend with Jimmy DeCicco, co-creator of organic energy drink Kitu Super Coffee, which was featured on the hit ABC show last year. DeCicco and his two brothers, who are also his business partners, didn’t land an investment from the show’s sharks, but their company has been a hit regardless. The couple — who appear to have been dating about four months — were at something called the High-Performance Lifestyle Training Retreat at the Ainsworth.”

And here’s the newest trailer for The Hills reboot.

10 show suggestions to fill your Game of Thrones void.

Artie Lange was arrested Tuesday in Essex County, New Jersey, for violating the terms of his drug rehabilitation program. He is currently being held at Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark.”


From Variety:: “YouTube could be the key to Will Smith finally earning a Primetime Emmy nomination — or win.

“The superstar Formerly Known as the Fresh Prince has been nominated for two Academy Awards, five Golden Globes and one Screen Actors Guild Award, and has won four Grammys (out of eight nominations). Yet a Primetime Emmy nomination has so far eluded Smith.

“That’s despite Smith’s long-running stint as the star of the hit 1990s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Smith’s other TV credits include executive producing UPN’s All of Us. But neither of those even got him a primetime nod. Smith technically was nominated in 1992 for a Daytime Emmy Award, in the outstanding special class program category for his part in the special NBA All-Star Stay in School Jam, but that’s it.

“One explanation is obvious: After Fresh Prince, Smith mostly turned his attention to film. His Oscar noms came in 2002, for Ali, and 2007, for The Pursuit of Happyness, both in the lead actor category.

“Smith, however, has recently branched out into the online world, and YouTube is hoping that a viral stunt performed by the rapper-turned-actor will finally get him some Emmy attention.

“YouTube is submitting Will Smith: The Jump in the outstanding short form nonfiction or reality series category. Originally billed by YouTube as a special, the streaming platform is repackaging it as a series to make it eligible for Emmy consideration. The Jump featured Smith as he bungee jumped out of a helicopter over the Grand Canyon to mark his 50th birthday.

“The specific video of Smith’s jump on Sept. 25 now boasts nearly 20 million views — including more than 17.5 million that came within the first 48 hours. Smith also used the livestream to raise awareness and solicit donations for international advocacy group Global Citizens and its education campaigns. The stunt came about after YouTube creators Yes Theory challenged Smith to bungee jump from a helicopter.

“According to YouTube, Will Smith: The Jump is eligible for the short-form series Emmy nomination because it was cut up into eight episodes, ranging from two minutes and 36 seconds to 24 minutes and 16 seconds. Here’s how YouTube says the show now breaks down:

Episode 1: Why I’m Jumping into the Grand Canyon (Total Run Time: 7:38)
Episode 2: My First Time Bungee Jumping (TRT: 4:04)
Episode 3: The Jump (TRT: 8:35)
Episode 4: Will Smith Reacts to Celebrity Birthday Wishes (TRT: 2:36)
Episode 5: Will Smith Reacts to his 50th Birthday Bungee Jump (TRT: 4:31)
Episode 7: Will Smith’s Terrifying POV of the Helicopter Bungee Jump (TRT: 4:18)
Episode 8: My Family Thought I Was Crazy (TRT: 24:16)

“Smith is also an executive producer on YouTube’s Cobra Kai Season 2, which is submitting in the outstanding comedy series category. Other submissions for that show include lead actor in a comedy (Ralph Macchio and William Zabka), supporting actor in a comedy (Martin Kove) and writing for a comedy (creators Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg).

“YouTube will also be submitting Step Up: High Water in outstanding choreography for scripted programming. Impulse will be submitted in drama series categories including outstanding drama, lead actress (Maddie Hasson), supporting actor (David James Elliott) and supporting actress (Missi Pyle).

Wayne submissions include comedy series, lead comedy actor (Mark McKenna), supporting comedy actress (Ciara Bravo), supporting comedy actor (Mike O’Malley, Dean Winters) and guest comedy actress (Michaela Watkins, Abigail Spencer). Charlie Sanders and Jordan Peele’s Weird City will submit for best comedy, as well as supporting comedy actor (LeVar Burton), guest comedy actor (Ed O’Neill, Michael Cera, Dylan O’Brien) and guest comedy actress (Awkwafina, Laverne Cox, Yvette Nicole Brown). And unscripted show Best Shot will be submitted for reality directing.

“Smith, meanwhile, will have some competition in the short form nonfiction or reality series category from another YouTube entry: Kevin Hart. The comedian’s series Kevin Hart: What the Fit is also being submitted in the category.”


Per Vulture, “[t]he most predictable thing about the Game of Thrones finale was the rage that consumed Twitter as soon as it was over. At least in my timeline, everyone immediately started laying waste to the ending as if they were Drogon unleashing hellfire on the people of King’s Landing. Phrases like ‘I wasted eight years of my life’ and ‘ruined the whole series’ were common refrains. So was the word ‘sucked.’

“In general, TV critics and writers have not been much warmer. The Rotten Tomatoes scores went from fresh for the first three episodes of the season to a trio of splats; more than half of the included critics gave the finale a negative review.

“‘Game of Thrones itself unwittingly became the victim of an ironic and agonizingly protracted Game of Thrones ending,’ wrote our Matt Zoller Seitz.

“‘Tonally odd, logically strained, and emotionally thin, The Iron Throne felt like the first draft of a finale,’ said Spencer Kornhaber in a roundtable discussion about the episode for The Atlantic.

“‘The kindest thing I can say about the Games of Thrones series finale,’ offered Time critic Judy Berman, ‘is that it might have satisfied Plato.’ Even Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is super pissed-off.

“The disappointment and outright resentment about the end of Game of Thrones feels bigger and sounds louder than anything we’ve heard about a TV finale in years, because there hasn’t been a show this big and loud in years. Game of Thrones became a phenomenon on par with Star Wars or TheLord of the Rings. On Sunday night, 19.3 million people tuned in to find out how it would end. It even inspired its own brand of Oreos. Oreos, for God’s sake!

“The last time a TV finale spawned backlash this strong, in volume and sheer force of opinion, was nine years ago when Lost ended. There are a lot of similarities between the two shows in terms of what’s driving the complaints, specifically frustrations with holes in logic and/or unanswered questions. On Game of Thrones, if Bran can see all things, why didn’t he see what Daenerys was going to do in King’s Landing and warn Jon so she could be stopped? What is the point of being all-knowing if you don’t share your knowledge? And while we’re at it, what is the point of the Night’s Watch now that the Night King and White Walkers are dead? And why did Drogon melt the Iron Throne instead of burning Jon Snow to death for killing Daenerys? (Symbolism. The answer to that question is symbolism.)

“These are good questions, and reminiscent of what drove viewers nuts after Lost aired its last episode. (Walt, like Bran Stark, was a young man who seemed to have special powers. But why?! I still want to know.) Lost fans were even more confused about some of the basics than Game of Thrones fans were, leading to extended arguments about whether everyone on the island was really in purgatory the whole time. (They were not in purgatory. Lost co-creators Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse had always said they were not in purgatory. Here’s Lindelof, four years after the finale, once again explaining that it was not purgatory. But I guarantee you that at some point, when this show comes up in casual conversation, some random acquaintance will say to me, ‘Wait, they were all in purgatory, right?’)

“Others accused both Game of Thrones and Lost of getting too hokey. The former, for some, got too cornball with its meta Song of Ice and Fire book and that Brienne moment where she finished writing Jaime’s history, one of too many instances where that warrior of a woman was defined by her relationship to the Kingslayer. Lost, which reunited all the Oceanic 815 survivors in a multi-faith afterlife church, was even more explicitly sentimental in its conclusion, though that didn’t seem particularly out of character for the series.

“In the finales of both shows, heroes with the initials J.S. — Jon Snow and Jack Shepherd — were reunited with their furry friends after making sacrifices for the greater good. Everyone could agree, at least, that the direwolf and the dog were great. But just as soon as Lost wrapped things up on a Sunday night back in May 2010, people were screaming that they had been robbed of the ending they deserved.

“For shows that are so ambitious and serialized and epic in scope, it’s difficult to create a finale that’s going to please everyone. Not impossible, but certainly difficult. I would argue that Game of Thrones had an easier shot at pulling that off because they the show was being made on HBO in 2019, a time when creators — especially guys who sparked a pop-culture phenomenon the way David Benioff and D.B. Weiss helped to do — are given a lot more artistic freedom than Lindelof and Cuse would have had working in network television in the 2000s. Lost was also created with no blueprint, as opposed to a book series to build upon, and the demand to produce far more episodes of television than Game of Thrones had to create. (There were 121 of the former, and 73 of the latter.)

“What I’m saying is that, if forced to choose, I would pick the Lost finale as the better of the two, despite its flaws, although, full disclosure, I was always more emotionally invested in that series than I ever was in Game of Thrones. But my larger point is that neither of them are the unmitigated disaster that some people have made them out to be. The most egregious error that Game of Thrones made in its closing stretch was mishandling Daenerys Targaryen’s arc: While she had committed violent acts in the past, it was extremely important to persuade the audience that, despite the promises she had made about how she would handle the attack on King’s Landing, she would suddenly snap and wipe out thousands of innocent people. Despite Emilia Clarke’s best efforts, the show failed to trace that emotional journey in a way that made us believe that, at this stage, she would engage in such unnecessary mass murder.

“That all happened in the penultimate episode, so to enjoy the finale, you had to accept that flaw and try to appreciate what the show was still doing well, which is not an easy thing to do. That said, there was plenty left to admire. Peter Dinklage, the actor given the most to do in The Iron Throne, was superb. Benioff and Weiss, who had never co-directed an episode before now, made some striking visual choices, including that all-timer of Daenerys striding forward as the wings of Drogo unfurled behind her. The moment when Jon stabs Dany was a shock, and up until the second that Bran was named Lord of the Six Kingdoms, I had no idea what was going to happen next. Truly terrible television doesn’t deliver that much good stuff. Great television with noticeable flaws does, though.

“You may not agree with me. And that’s more than fine. Many of the criticisms about The Iron Throne are perfectly valid. My concern about the rabid nature of the anti–Game of Thrones finale movement, which echoes the Lost backlash, is that it overemphasizes the importance of an ending. Everyone wants stories they enjoy to solidly land all their wheels on the runway and glide to a satisfying stop. But the last moment is not the only one that matters. If you enjoyed most of Game of Thrones up until this past season, then you didn’t waste eight years of your life watching it. It just didn’t end the way you wanted it to. Frankly, that is not a TV show’s job.

“A TV show’s job is to move you and transport you and make you believe in the world and characters it has built. Game of Thrones definitely struggled on that last front in its eighth season, but that shouldn’t negate what it accomplished and how enthralling it was for so many years.

“The same is true for Lost, which has become synonymous with the term ‘bad finale’ in the nine years since it signed off, which is simply not fair. For starters, if you go back and look at some of the reviews, you may be surprised to learn that many are not nearly as scathing as you might expect given the finale’s reputation. (One example from James Poniewozik, now of the New York Times, but then writing for Time: ‘The End’ was an epic, stirring two and a half hours of television, full of heart and commitment, that was true to Lost’s characters as we knew them from season one.’)

“More to the point, it’s inadequate to judge an entire TV show on its last episodes. To consider shows like Lost or Game of Thrones — both of which raised the bar for the scope and scale of television storytelling — solely on the quality of their finales is like assessing the value of a Shakespeare play based on its last page or the quality of Anna Karenina solely on the part where Anna throws herself in front of the train. (‘Too depressing. No stars.’) Both of these shows were larger in terms of storytelling — we’re talking the number of characters, the backstories, the special effects, the budgets — than anything else on the air when they debuted. To reduce either one to a bad finale or a bad season is, well, reductive, especially for series that are so deliberately sprawling.

“That’s another thing: Our view of how effectively a piece of pop culture achieves what it’s set out to achieve can shift, positively or negatively, as time progresses. But we’re so conditioned to have knee-jerk responses to every blessed thing that we form quick opinions, and then, sometimes, we stubbornly cling to them. When those opinions harden into an overall reputation, that doesn’t fully capture what a show meant or what it did.

“By all means, keep talking about what you loved or hated about Game of Thrones. But also, try letting a finale sit in your brain and heart for a while — even, like, two minutes — and see if you feel any differently. You may hate it even more the longer you process it. Or you might recognize something of value that tempers your tilt toward the negative.

“At the end of The Iron Throne, when Jon asks Tyrion if he thinks they were right to kill Daenerys, Tyrion responds: ‘Ask me again in ten years.’ That’s good advice when it comes to series finales, too. Did I like the last episode of Games of Thrones? I had very low expectations, so yes, it was better than I thought it would be. But do me a favor: Ask me again in ten years.”


Per The Hollywood Reporter, “Allen Hughes has reached a deal with the estate of Tupac Shakur that will grant him full access to all of the late rap icon's recordings and writings — part of his plan to direct and executive produce a five-part docuseries on Shakur.

“While there's not yet an outlet set for the project, this is the first time the Shakur Estate has offered its full cooperation on such an endeavor. Hughes, a prolific writer, director and producer, last helmed HBO's much-lauded docuseries The Defiant Ones, which chronicled the careers of and partnership between Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre. It won a Grammy and also received five Emmy nominations.

“Shakur was murdered in 1996 in Las Vegas at the age of 25. His brief but prolific career remains a point of public fascination, as he has sold 75 million records worldwide to date.

“The deal grants the filmmakers access to recordings both released and unreleased, as well as Shakur's poetry and other writing.

“Hughes will direct the as-yet untitled project, with Lasse Järvi and Charles D. King joining as executive producers. It will be produced under the Interscope Films and MACRO shingles.”


From The Hollywood Reporter: “Orange Is the New Black will be following a free woman when it returns.

“Jenji Kohan's Netflix prison dramedy, from Lionsgate Television, has released a first look at the seventh and final season — which will debut all 13 episodes July 26 on Netflix — and among the photos for the final episodes of the Emmy-winning series is a glimpse at Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) on the outside. Wednesday's news also came with a video announcement from the cast.

“In a game-changing twist that ended last season, Piper was set free on early release thanks to a prison-privatization oversight. Despite having five months left on her sentence, the white inmate was pushed to the top of Litchfield Penitentiary's release pile, her fortune standing in stark contrast to the fates of many of the other less-privileged prisoners. In the final moments of the extended season six finale — after marrying Alex Vause (Laura Prepon), who still has four years left on her sentence, in a celebratory prison sendoff — Piper gains her freedom back for the first time since season one.

“In the final season description from Netflix, the ladies of Litchfield will be coming to terms with the fact that prison has changed them forever. Taystee’s (Danielle Brooks) friendship with Cindy (Adrienne C. Moore) still hangs in the balance as her life sentence looms, Gloria (Selenis Leyva) and her kitchen staff are confronted by the hard truth of [the corporation that owns Litchfield] Polycon’s newest profit stream, while others chase drugs or dreams and grapple with the reality of their place in this world. Piper struggles with life on the outside, while life in the maximum security prison she left behind — as corrupt and unjust as ever — goes on. 

“Though Piper leaves Litchfield a completely altered person, her future looks bright when compared with that of Taystee, who was sentenced to life in prison for a murder she didn't commit, and Blanca Flores (Laura Gomez), who is now facing deportation and a transfer to the for-profit prison's new immigration detention center.

"‘Both Taystee and Blanca have treacherous, devastating roads ahead of them, whereas Piper, given her privilege, has a comparatively easy transition back,’ Schilling had told The Hollywood Reporter about Piper winning the Polycon lottery in the finale cliff-hanger. ‘It feels as though if you are a white person, particularly a white person with money and financial means, that the law doesn’t touch you. And conversely, people are punished for being poor, as opposed to being punished for any kind of crime. There are parallels between a black or brown person committing a crime and a white person committing the exact same crime, and the disparity in sentencing is remarkable. It’s incredibly important to bring that to light and I’m glad that we’re having a chance to talk about that through the show, and particularly through that dynamic with the Piper-Taystee parallel. Seeing how their two paths contrast each other so darkly really hits the message home. And now that Litchfield is a privatized detention center, [the Blanca storyline] is happening: There are massive corporations that are making huge amounts of money off of detaining immigrants, and they’re making huge amounts of money off of imprisoned people.’

“Executive producer Tara Herrmann had told THR that OITNB planned to follow Piper's life on the outside just as much as it did on the inside, and that their star's post-prison journey would help to shine a light on how difficult re-entry into society can be. Aleida Diaz (played by Elizabeth Rodriguez) is also on the outside and has returned to selling drugs in order to make enough money to pull her younger children from foster care — echoing how Taystee violated her probation and returned to Litchfield back in season one.

"‘There’s no comparison to Piper going back and maybe struggling while having food, a home, a network that supports her and having access to work, basically because she is white,’ Schilling had added to THR after the season six finale. ‘It’s a vitally important part of this entire arc of seeing this white woman enter the system and then leave the system. It has to include the disparity of re-entry. And now more than ever, as I think these conversations about privilege are being had and are much more present in popular culture, there’s even more room for us to examine it in depth.’

“When it comes to her season seven arc, viewers should take note of the final line of season six dialogue as a tip-off about where the Piper-centered show plans to go. As her brother asks, ‘So what are you going to do next?’ a look of dread washes over Piper's face.

“Since the Netflix series is based on the true story of Piper Kerman, her post-prison story could provide hints about OITNB's Piper. After serving 13 months of her 15-month sentence in a minimum security prison, Kerman wrote her memoir of the same name, inspired the Netflix TV show and continues to be an activist for prison reform. Midway through OITNB's sixth season, Piper the character suggested she might write a memoir to "expose" the system. Kerman remains a consultant on OITNB, but the Netflix series has significantly veered from her memoir since season two. Piper's release could provide an opportunity for the two stories to meet up once again.

“Meanwhile, the first-look photos also provide a peek at some of the rest of the starring ensemble back in Max. After spending five seasons on the minimum security grounds at Litchfield, the riot of season five sent a core group of prisoners down the hill to the maximum security prison. Season six separated the main ensemble out into warring cell blocks until the finale united all the surviving women through a peaceful game of kickball. 

“One of the photos reveals that Lorna Morello (Yael Stone) is indeed OK. After going into a worrisome early labor in the finale, the inmate is seen standing in line with Red (Kate Mulgrew), Nicky Nichols (Natasha Lyonne), Flaca Gonzales (Jackie Cruz) and Gloria. Though Lorna is smiling, the rest of the inmates have concerned looks on their faces as they are flanked by returning guards (Nick Dillenburg and Josh Segarra).

“In one of OITNB's more devastating turns, Daya Diaz (Dascha Polanco) developed a heroin addiction when faced with her life sentence for the murder of C.O. Humphrey (who was actually killed by Kukudio, who is now dead). Daya, now dealing drugs with girlfriend Daddy (Vicci Martinez), is seen shaking hands with Taystee in the prison courtyard. 

“Alex, meanwhile, is shown sneakily with a cellphone in her hand. Before finding out about Piper's early release, Alex made a deal to be second in command with her block's gang. Now that boss is deceased and perhaps Alex is taking over the reins; she was last shown tearing up her grad school application. ‘[Alex] basically falls on the sword to make sure that Piper gets out, because she knows that's what Piper wants,’ Prepon had told THR of Alex's goal of keeping Piper out of trouble so she could finish her sentence. ‘Alex sees the reality of the situation and knows how much more time she's in there for. I think in the back of her mind, she knows she's going to have to do some things to survive that aren't going to lend itself to taking classes. And it's unfortunate. Alex is really smart, but it's just one of those realistic things where, especially now with Piper gone, she's going to have to survive.’

“Other photos show Pennsatucky (Taryn Manning) taking classes of her own at Litchfield, presumably turning over a new leaf after leaving CO Coates (James McMenamin) behind during her brief escape; Nicky is seen leaning on chosen mother Red in a van; and Suzanne Warren (Uzo Aduba), after spending much of season six digressing without the support of her prison family, is shown having a happy embrace. 

“And the cast video announcement hints to viewers that Maritza Ramos (Danielle Guerrero) could be making a return in the final season for a Flaritza reunion. Martiza, best friend to Flaca, was sent to a separate prison after the riot and the character was absent for all of season six. The video, posted Wednesday, sees the main castmembers singing the OITNB theme song — Regina Spektor's You've Got Time — around the final season set and Guerrero is among the group. The video also calls out Lea DeLaria's Big Boo, who appeared only briefly in season six, and Constance Shulman's Yoga Jones.

“After six seasons of awards and critical acclaim, prescient political storylines, and becoming a platform for timely topics from prison reform and institutional racism to human rights, Kohan and Netflix announced in October that the already renewed seventh season would be the series' last. OITNB has been a staple drama for the streamer since helping to launch Netflix into the scripted originals business when it premiered in 2013.

“When production wrapped in February, the cast and crew took to social media to honor the show from the final days on set. When speaking to THR before filming the last two episodes, Lyonne promised a ‘satisfying’ ending; Brooks warned of "surprises"; and Schilling said the end is coming at the right time culturally: ‘I feel like we’ve told the stories, and I don’t feel like any stone is left unturned. I think [the show] did what it came to do. And now, in the Trump era, there are new stories to tell.’"

Tuesday May 21, 2019

19.3M tuned in for the Game of Thrones series finale on Sunday, the most viewers for a single-episode in HBO’s history. Here’s how the show’s final and most watched season did over its 6-episode run:

Episode 1: Winterfell – 17.4M
Episode 2: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms – 15.9M
Episode 3: The Long Night – 17.8M
Episode 4: The Last of the Starks – 17.2M
Episode 5: The Bells – 18.4M
Episode 6: The Iron Throne – 19.3M

A trailer for season 3 of Stranger Things, which will be available to stream on Netflix on July 4.

CBS announced that Big Brother  will return for a two-night premiere on June 25 and 26. As is always the case with this summer treat, it will air three times a week: After its first Sunday airing on June 30, it will start airing on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays beginning July 10.

CBS premieres Blood & Treasure tonight. “Blood & Treasure  is a globe-trotting action-adventure drama about a brilliant antiquities expert and a cunning art thief who team up to catch a ruthless terrorist who funds his attacks through stolen treasure. Danny McNamara is a former FBI agent specializing in stolen art and antiquities. Lexi Vaziri is a resourceful art thief who is haunted by the tragic loss of her father, which she blames on Danny. When terrorist Karim Farouk absconds with a priceless artifact and kidnaps Danny's mentor Dr. Anna Castillo, Danny recruits Lexi to help him bring Farouk to justice and rescue Anna. As they chase down Farouk, they encounter unscrupulous individuals who may either be useful allies or dangerous enemies, including Aiden Shaw, an arms dealer who acts solely in his self-interest, and Simon Hardwick, an expert at procuring pilfered artifacts. Danny and Lexi are assisted by Father Chuck, a childhood friend of Danny's who works at the Vatican Foreign Ministry in Rome. Their hunt draws the attention of Interpol agent Gwen Karlsson, who wants Farouk brought to justice, but won't allow Danny and Lexi to break international laws in the process. As they crisscross the world hunting their target, Danny and Lexi unexpectedly find themselves at the center of a 2,000-year-old battle for the cradle of civilization.”

The Voice crowns another winner tonight who will likely fade away never to be heard from again along with the rest of the series’ “winners.”

AMC has canceled Humans.

Facebook Watch’s revival ofThe Real World will debut on June 13.

On that note, “MTV and Facebook are teaming up to stream three full seasons of The Real World on Facebook Watch, the social media giant’s video platform. Starting [yester]day, The Real World season 16, 17, and 28 will be available on MTV’s The Real World show page, Facebook announced Monday morning. The three seasons, which were voted on and selected by fans of the show, will lead up to the premiere of MTV’s Facebook Watch version of the show, which will launch on June 13. The upcoming season will follow seven strangers who come together at a house in Atlanta, Georgia as every moment of their lives is taped.”

“Anxious for the return of Black Mirror (and all the paranoia that comes with it)? Allow Netflix to tide you over with new details for Season 5. The streamer has unveiled titles, synopses and individual trailers for the three new episodes that will drop on Wednesday, June 5.”


Bran the Broken (Isaac Hempstead Wright) penned the following for The Hollywood Reporter: “It would be hard to overstate just how important a part of my life Game of Thrones has been. Practically every key life event I have ever experienced is in some way connected to my time on Thrones. Having finally reached this milestone in TV history and my own personal history, I am looking back on these unique and formative years of my life.

“I come from a family with no experience in the acting world. My mum and dad are teachers, and my step-dad runs a printing company — not exactly very Hollywood. As a child I was fond of make-believe games, and so it made sense to join a drama group. After a brief stint trying to make it in my local football team (it is fair to say the Premier League won’t be calling any time soon), I traded Saturdays outside in the cold for the warm environs of my local drama club. (The ultimate irony is that for the next ten years, I would be spending weeks on end in cold, muddy fields.)

“My drama teacher noticed that I might have the makings of a child actor — patience, enthusiasm, an ability to listen well — and suggested I go forward for auditions. My parents were skeptical of the whole idea of child acting and so were keen not to let it become too much of a focus, hence I was allowed to do six auditions, with my final one being for an HBO pilot called Game of Thrones. After I got the part, we were presented with a 30-page contract which would sign 6 years of my life away. None of us knew what to do or how to react. At the time, there were conversations between my parents about whether this was something they should let their 10-year-old do. Sending your child to work hasn’t been very fashionable since the Victorian times. Looking back now and knowing what an extraordinary chance I was given, it makes me feel slightly sick to think of how I would feel now had we decided not to do it. It is truly one of those pivotal moments in one’s life that will alter its entire course.

“One thing I am grateful for is the fact that I was around adults, in a working environment, from a very young age. I think I was quite a mature kid anyway, but being in a world where you have genuine responsibilities, and are a direct part of something which the whole world will analyze intricately, makes you acutely aware of how you need to behave. I had to grow up very quickly, and sometimes I feel as though I have lived a life's worth of experience already, despite only being at the start of mine.

“Becoming a teenager on the show was strange. Your teenage years are difficult enough without the added complication of being on the world's biggest television show. The Game of Thrones community feels like a family, and so I found myself getting frustrated when I effectively watched my older siblings getting to go out and grow up while I was still being chaperoned by my mother.

“The phenomenon of Thrones is not something I am ever likely to experience again in my life. The level of hysteria and speculation around it is unprecedented. When we shot those final scenes of the Starks on the bay in King's Landing, we were told not to leave our hotel room in Croatia for fear of giving something away. When we got into the cars to go to set, we were smothered in blankets to obscure our faces and costumes. HBO also booked out every single room with a possible view of what we were shooting so that nobody could take any covert photographs. We were also accompanied by a top security guard who arranged every move we made as though we were secret service agents on some mission abroad. Sometimes you had to remind yourself that this is only a TV show.

“As I sit and write this now, I realize my very last week on the Game of Thrones set was exactly a year ago. We spent five days shooting in Seville for the Dragonpit scene, which was a fairly spectacular way to wrap up our time on the show. Several other actors who were not even in the scene were flown over to throw paparazzi off the scent, and they were pretty grateful for their free holiday while we shot under the unrelenting sun.

“One thing I can say about Thrones with confidence is that I have never, ever been in a comfortable temperature. In Belfast, my days were plagued with sodden, muddy feet and biting winds, and then in studios (and sunny Spain) I would overheat swaddled in my myriad cloaks and furs. Thankfully, we had nifty inventions called cool suits which pumped ice water around cables pressed against our skin. You could always tell when an actor was making use of their cool bag; you would find them slumped in a corner with a glazed expression over their eyes, sitting in rapture at the relief from the blistering heat.

“The first day of the Dragonpit scene was all my coverage. I can remember being slightly unnerved by this: it was a mammoth scene (around 10 minutes of dialogue between us all) and I'd hoped to have a bit more time to play it out and get a feel for it with everyone else. Before long though I got into the swing of things, and at the end of the day Joe Dempsie, who plays Gendry, complimented my performance and I was reassured. We then returned to the hotel, where there were crowds the likes of which I'd never experienced before. Masses of people were screaming and shouting and pressing their faces against the car window hoping to catch a glimpse of one us. It was like being one of the Beatles at the height of Beatlemania; I must say I am glad it is not something I have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

“When it came to the very final shot, it all dawned on me. This was to be the death of my character; it would be the last time I would ever breathe life into him, the last time I would sit in my costume on a Game of Thrones set and think about what it feels like to be Bran. That was something I had done as a regular fixture of my life since the age of 10, and so it felt very sad to be saying farewell. What was nice about that final shot was that it was a very long wide, and so we needn't have run through the whole 10 minutes of dialogue — but we did. Our microphones were off and nobody will ever hear those performances, but for me, it felt like a wonderful last opportunity to really be Bran. The camera was so far away you could hardly see it and we had a rare chance to act directly across from one another with no machinery or lighting in the way, as if we were on stage. It was a very special goodbye to my character.

“After ‘cut’ was yelled for the last time, David and Dan came and presented us with our wrap gifts as well as delivering us each a speech. They said some incredibly kind things to me that I shall never forget, and as they said their final words and it was clear the day was done, I lost my composure. It all became a bit of a blubbering mess as we bid farewell to people we'd worked with for a decade of our lives — people who had known me almost as intimately as an uncle or aunt would, seeing me grow up year by year and become the person I am today. It was overwhelming.

“I can remember walking back to base from set that beautiful Spanish evening instead of taking the car. The sun was just setting, and as I walked through ancient Roman ruins in the dying sun, I thought about how this empire was now at its end. This great monolith in my life that had been a yearly source of fun and familiarity was to be no more. I would no longer have an excuse to spend weeks around these great friends of mine. I would no longer be splitting my time between home and my second home of Belfast. It was a moment that was quite impossible to have imagined ever happening when I first embarked on this unique journey all those years before. It was very poignant, and final.

“But upon returning to the hotel feeling slightly somber, I spent some time outside chatting with and signing for the fans who had patiently waited outside all day. Any sense of sadness disappeared, because I realized that, while this journey may have been over for me, it was far from over for the world. It drove home to me the reason we do what we do, the reason we sit out in the heat in strange costumes saying made-up words: people love to watch Game of Thrones. People adore the thing I have been a very small part of, and that is something very special indeed. Game of Thrones will stick around for many years; new people will discover it, others will rewatch it, and so it will go on. Bran may have been ‘dead’ to me at that point, but he lives on in the intangible realm of the televisual world and in the hearts and minds of fans worldwide. And that, no matter how sad I may have found it leaving the show, is a feeling so profound that I couldn't possibly be sad for long.

“As for me, I am thrilled with the way the show ends. At the beginning of the show, Bran is a disabled 10-year-old with slim chances of surviving in this harsh universe. He will never be the warrior who comes in on horseback and saves the day, but he is resilient. He survives attempted murder more times than I can count; he journeys with only a handful of other people to one of the most dangerous and northerly points on the map, and he returns one of the most powerful characters in Westeros. I find it an extraordinary character arc to see him go from a vulnerable character totally dependent on others to the one person who holds all the keys to understanding the world. Bran becoming king is a victory for the still and considered people of this world, who too often get side-lined by the commotion of those who are louder and more reactionary. He doesn't shout to make himself heard, but instead waits and chooses his words and actions very carefully. In that, I think Bran presents a valuable reminder to us all in this day and age where sensationalism is rife and anybody can voice an opinion to millions, to sit and consider things a little more carefully.

“The ending of the show has been dramatic and unexpected. Witnessing Dany descend into primal anger is hard indeed, and I can see why people took it to heart. But Thrones is at its best when it does things that hurt us — Hodor's death, for example — and episodes five and six of the final season are no different. There is perhaps no harder scene to watch than when Jon kills the woman he loves in the hope that it might save the kingdom. It is an impossibly difficult decision to make, and the jury is out on whether it was the right thing to do — and we will never know.

“In that lies the cleverness of Thrones: nothing is tied up neatly, and we are instead forced to ponder what the fate of this once great kingdom will be after everything has gone so wrong. Nothing sums it up better than Tyrion's line to Jon Snow when asked if he had done the right thing, which I have been covertly using in interview questions to answer how I feel about the years I have given to Thrones: ‘Ask me in ten years.’

“Life doesn’t have neat, happy endings; it is ambiguous and ultimately inconsequential. To end Game of Thrones with uncertainty is perhaps the most honest way to end a story so vast and complex — and that uncertainty is what we all feel as we begin our life after Thrones.”


Game of Thrones, the HBO drama series that David Benioff and Dan Weiss adapted from and then grew beyond George R.R. Martin's novels, came to an end Sunday night after 73 movie-scale episodes spanning eight groundbreaking seasons of television — but, unlike the Iron Throne and so many of the characters who fought over it, the show itself lives on, at least for the next few months, as a contender for the 2019 Emmys.

Thrones has been a favorite of the TV Academy throughout its run, garnering a total of 128 nominations, more than any other scripted show in history, 47 of which it wound up winning. Among that tally are best drama series nominations for all seven of its previous seasons, the three most recent of which — coming in 2015, 2016 and 2018 — resulted in wins. And in 2015, Thrones established a new record for most Emmy wins for a series in a single year, with 12.

“But a danger of making a show that builds toward the answer of one question, above all else, is that viewers may not like that answer, and, having invested a great deal of time and emotion in the journey to that point, may react very negatively. Just ask the creators of Lost or Dexter.

“We now know that 13.6 million viewers tuned in to the Thrones series finale, or 19.3 million if you count replays and early streaming, both HBO records. And, based on post-show polling, social media chatter and opinion pieces, it appears that very few of the people who tuned in are content with how everything turned out.

“The entire eighth season of the show has taken flack. Five of its six episodes are among the show's six most-watched episodes ever, but that may not be a good thing, considering that more than one million fans have signed a petition calling for HBO to remake the season ‘with competent writers.’

Thrones is not a show that people watched dispassionately — the oversight of a water bottle for a flicker of a scene nearly broke the Internet, to say nothing of the revelation about which character won the 'game.'

“Now, at a fraught moment for HBO — the cabler has endured an exodus of executives in the wake of its acquisition by AT&T and in the face of Netflix's ascendance, just as Thrones and the Emmy-winning comedy series Veep are ending their runs — comes a once-unthinkable question: could the final season of Thrones actually lose best drama series at the 71st Emmys on Sept. 22?

“Apart from reservations from fans, there is further cause for concern. Reviews for the season have been mixed leaning poor, with many critics arguing that the show's resolution felt rushed, perhaps because Benioff and Weiss wanted the show's final two seasons to consist of fewer episodes than the previous six. TV Guide, for instance, wrote, ‘The final season of Game of Thrones has largely turned into an unstoppable dumpster fire because of the writers' ongoing mistreatment of women and rushed writing that mistakes foreshadowing for character development.’

The New York Times, for its part, opined that the finale was ‘plagued by the same incoherence that has inspired abundant Twitter rage this season and at least one effigial petition,’ while also knocking the "weird pacing that has marred much of the past two seasons" and lamenting that ‘over the past couple of seasons, at least, the series became something different from what most of us signed up for.’

“It added, ‘The things that established Game of Thrones as a phenomenon — the epic scale, the shocking twists — began to work against it. Plot swerves got more abrupt as the writers tried to stay ahead of the obsessive audience — without the benefit of a blueprint, once the show surpassed the books — and story was sacrificed at the altar of spectacle as the series strove to top itself over and over. And it's partly because Benioff and Weiss failed to anticipate the ways in which dramatically abbreviating the last two seasons would exacerbate all of the above.’ So that could be a problem.

“Moreover, no show — drama or comedy — has ever won a series prize at the Emmys for as few as six episodes, the minimum number for which a show is eligible. (Thrones set a record low last year when it won for just seven.) And, furthermore, only nine shows — just four of them dramas — have ever won a series award for a final season: drama Playhouse 90 in 1960; comedy The Dick Van Dyke Show in 1966; comedy My World and Welcome to It, which won for its one and only season before being canceled due to poor ratings, in 1970; drama Upstairs, Downstairs in 1977; comedy The Mary Tyler Moore Show in 1977; comedy Barney Miller, the only final-season winner that had never even been series-nominated before, in 1982; comedy Everybody Loves Raymond in 2005; drama The Sopranos in 2007; and drama Breaking Bad in 2014.

“Logic dictates that this is because most series, if they were good enough to win an Emmy, wouldn't be ending; many prefer wearing out their welcome over going out on top (see: Modern Family). And it is striking to note that even beloved classics that ended in a way that was widely embraced, such as Mad Men, came up short for a top prize.

“On the flip side, though, there appears to be no clear alternative to Thrones around which large numbers of TV Academy members are uniting. Likely fellow nominees like NBC's This Is Us, BBC America's Killing Eve and AMC's Better Call Saul certainly have passionate backers, but none generate the magnitude of viewership or chatter that Thrones mustered in this era of Peak— but fragmented — TV. Even if they did, none of them would generate anywhere near the number of total noms that Thrones will deservedly receive — its craft and technical work is second to none in the history of the medium — which, upon being announced on July 16, will only fuel the notion that the show can't be beaten.

“In short, despite Thrones' various hiccups, it remains hard to imagine anything ultimately coming between the show and a fourth drama series Emmy, which would tie it with Hill Street BluesL.A. LawThe West Wing and Mad Men for the most wins in the category's history. Thrones, not unlike the final installment in The Lord of the Ringsfilm trilogy, will, in all likelihood, be recognized as much for the scale of the whole series' ambition and impact as its most recent achievement. And, at the end of the day, as a certain three-eyed raven could tell you, a win is a win.”

The real impetus behind me posting this article was the fine use of the word “opined.” Kudos.

George R.R. Martin offered his thoughts on the GoT finale on his blog: “The last night, the last show.   After eight epic seasons, HBO’s GAME OF THRONES series has come to an end.

It is hard to believe it is over, if truth be told.   The years have gone past in the blink of an eye.  Can it really have been more than a decade since my manager Vince Gerardis set up a meeting at the Palm in LA, and I sat down for the first time with David Benioff and D.B. Weiss for a lunch that lasted well past dinner?  I asked them if they knew who Jon Snow’s mother was.   Fortunately, they did.

That was how it started.  It ended last night.

I had no clue, that afternoon at the Palm, that I was about to embark on a journey that would change my life.   I had optioned books and stories for television and film before.  Some had even been made   There was no way to know that this one was going to be different, that this pilot would not only be shot,  but would go on to become the most successful show in the history of HBO, win a record number of Emmy Awards, become the most popular (and most pirated) show in the world, and transform a group of talented but largely unknown actors into major celebrities and stars.   Even less did I imagine that I would somehow become a celebrity as well… and if truth be told, I’m still not sure how that happened.

It has been a wild ride, to say the least.

I want to thank people, but there are so many.   There were forty-two cast members at the season eight premiere in New York City, and that wasn’t even all of them.   And the crew, though less visible than the cast, were no less important.  We had some amazing people working on this show, as all those Emmys bear witness.   David & Dan assembled a championship team.   The directors were incredible as well.   I should start naming names, but then I’d miss someone, there were so many.   But I do need to mention David Benioff, Dan Weiss, Bryan Cogman (the third head of the dragon, as I said in the recent VANITY FAIR piece about him), and of course the great team at HBO, headed by Richard Plepler.   Any other network, and GAME OF THRONES would not have been what it became.  Most other networks, this series never gets made at all.

I could go on and on… and have, as I’ve been writing this post in my head… but there’s really too much to say.   Parting is such sweet sorrow, the Bard wrote.  In the weeks and months to come, I may post about some of my favorite moments from the making of this show… now and again, when I am feeling nostalgic… but just now, there are so many memories, and no time to do them all justice.

Let me say this much — last night was an ending, but it was also a beginning.   Nobody is retiring any time soon.   David and Dan are going on to STAR WARS and other projects beyond that.   Amazon scooped up Bryan Cogman, and put him to work on developing shows of his own, as well as helping out on their big Tolkien project.   Our brilliant cast has scattered to the four winds, but you’ll be seeing a lot of them in the years to come, in all manner of television shows and movies.   Our directors are keeping busy as well.   I suspect that you have not seen the last of Westeros on your television sets either, but I guess that all depends on how some of these successor shows turn out.

And me?  I’m still here, and I’m still busy.    As a producer, I’ve got five shows in development at HBO (some having nothing whatsoever to do with the world of Westeros), two at Hulu, one on the History Channel.   I’m involved with a number of feature projects, some based upon my own stories and books, some on material created by others.   There are these short films I am hoping to make, adaptations of classic stories by one of the most brilliant, quirky, and original writers our genre has ever produced.   I’ve consulted on a video game out of Japan.   And then there’s Meow Wolf…

And I’m writing.   Winter is coming, I told you, long ago… and so it is.   THE WINDS OF WINTER is very late, I know, I know, but it will be done.  I won’t say when, I’ve tried that before, only to burn you all and jinx myself… but I will finish it, and then will come A DREAM OF SPRING.

How will it all end? I hear people asking.   The same ending as the show?  Different?

Well… yes.  And no.  And yes.   And no.   And yes.   And no.   And yes.

I am working in a very different medium than David and Dan, never forget.   They had six hours for this final season.   I expect these last two books of mine will fill 3000 manuscript pages between them before I’m done… and if more pages and chapters and scenes are needed, I’ll add them.   And of course the butterfly effect will be at work as well; those of you who follow this Not A Blog will know that I’ve been talking about that since season one.   There are characters who never made it onto the screen at all, and others who died in the show but still live in the books… so if nothing else, the readers will learn what happened to Jeyne Poole, Lady Stoneheart, Penny and her pig, Skahaz Shavepate, Arianne Martell, Darkstar, Victarion Greyjoy, Ser Garlan the Gallant, Aegon VI, and a myriad of other characters both great and small that viewers of the show never had the chance to meet.   And yes, there will be unicorns… of a sort…

Book or show, which will be the “real” ending?   It’s a silly question.   How many children did Scarlett O’Hara have?

How about this?  I’ll write it.   You read it.  Then everyone can make up their own mind, and argue about it on the internet.”


Per TheWrap, “[a]s Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors attempt[ed] to sweep the NBA Western Conference Finals on Monday night, the director of Curry’s new Facebook Watch series Stephen vs. the Game is hoping to score a Sports Emmy win at the 40th awards ceremony in New York City.

“Gotham Chopra and his Religion of Sports team have been nominated for four Sports Emmys for their prior series, Tom vs. Time and Shut Up and Dribble.

“Their latest Versus on Watch documentary delivers unique insight into the personal and professional life of three-time NBA champion and reigning Finals MVP Curry, who has recently taken inspiration from another sports legend — Tom Brady.

TheWrap caught up with Chopra ahead of the Sports Emmys to talk Tom vs. Time, Stephen vs. the Game and an obscure Death Match wrestler named Cannonball, who gets hit in the face with cheese graters:

Was Stephen vs. the Game a natural progression for the Facebook Watch series?
Working with Facebook is super fun, and while it is one of the biggest media companies in the world, Tom vs. Time was one of the first pieces of long-term content that they’d partnered on. The autonomy we were given made it a great experience, and we’ve had the same sort of ride with Stephen vs. the Game.

We’ve talked about the similarities between the two, but how does Curry’s mindset differ to that of Brady?
One of the biggest differences is that although Tom has publicly talked about playing into his mid 40s, he is still closer to the end of his career than the beginning, so there is an evaluation of his legacy and body of work as everyone tries to understand what this will mean in the context of sports history.

While Steph is 10 years in and trying for a fourth championship, he is still in the middle of his career. He doesn’t think too much about legacy or what his place is in the history of the game. He is just very focused on the here and now. Every time I ask him a question of legacy, he just stares at me blankly — he is not in that place and doesn’t think about it.

Despite their huge sporting success, both Tom and Steph are great family guys, which is a side of them we don’t often get to see. 
I feel like there is old adage that athletes or people who attain greatness are so focused on their craft that it impacts the rest of their lives — that their relationships aren’t great, their marriages are flawed, they have problems with their parents or kids. Tom and Steph are examples of the opposite. They need balance, tranquility and strong foundations in their lives. They’ve both had that with their parents and siblings growing up, and that’s part of their success on the field and the court. I’ve gotten to see it a lot with Steph the past year. When he is dropping the kids at school or spending time with them, he is not checking his phone and not thinking about basketball. He is focused on being a dad, which is very important to him. When he is at home, he needs to be present so that when he goes to play, he can be present there.

As a father yourself, was that important to you when picking who was going to be the subject of the second series?
They play for two teams that are competitive at the highest level and they’re both great guys with strong families, and easy to work with so that was definitely attractive. While I am huge sports fan, sports is the backdrop to the series and these are well-rounded people who not only want to succeed at the highest level, but they want to contribute and for their jobs to mean something. It is relatable for me, as I’m fortunate to be close with my family as well.

Is there anything you learned about Steph that truly surprised you while making the series?
Steph is the real deal, most people think he is a good guy and have heard about his faith … he’s genuinely that guy and is very put together. When you watch him play, you would think he is like a robot because there is this effortlessness on the court, his game is like a ballet. But then you go to his house … Steph and Ayesha have three little girls, their parents are around — it is chaos, controlled chaos, but still chaos!

What is next for the series, will there be another season of Steph vs. the Game or will you focus on a different athlete?
We have a great partnership with Facebook and this is essentially a franchise at this point … we will wait to find the right athlete and when we do, we’ll go for it. Facebook looks at who is already on their platform, who has huge followings, who is really engaged in their communities. Then the question of “are they the best of the best?” We set the bar high with Tom and Steph so it needs to be someone in that sports and cultural cachet. Meanwhile, we have all our other Religion of Sports shows and the “Why Sports Matter” podcast, so there is plenty for me to do once this one is put to bed.”

This article has been condensed.

Monday May 20, 2019

Seems like I’m in the minority of those satisfied by last night’s Game of Thrones finale. I think it’s a very tall task to wrap a show like this up in a way that will appease everyone, but at the end of the day, enough was resolved IMHO.

Here’s what critics are saying.

And here’s a more detailed explanation as to why it was impossible to satisfy everyone, according to one writer.

Obviously many questions remain unanswered. Here are some of them.

Barry left us with another cliffhanger. Not sure how I feel about that one.

18M people tuned in for the finale of The Big Bang Theory last Thursday.

Dirty John is moving from Bravo to USA for season 2.

Someone named Laine Hardy won American Idol last night.

James Corden is in advanced talks on a new multi-year deal with CBS that will keep him at the helm of The Late Late Show as host and executive producer. Sources said Corden’s camp has been in deal talks with CBS for some time. The previous deal that Corden inked when he came to the network from the U.K. in 2014 was set to expire at the end of the upcoming 2019-20 television season. Corden’s new contract is sure to come with a significant raise for the host at a time when top talent is commanding massive paydays for TV projects. Corden came in on the low end of the late-night TV pay scale as he was a largely unknown personality from the U.K. at the time. He was believed to have started out at around $4 million-$5 million a year but his Late Late Show salary has climbed since then with the success of the show. Late Late Show has earned Emmy nominations for talk-variety show for the past three years.”

A review of the upcoming Netflix series What/If.

Netflix has announced the return of its long-running documentary series Chef’s Table and new episodes of Somebody Feed Phil, featuring Phil Rosenthal. They join the new The Chef Show with Jon Favreau and Chef Roy Choi on the Netflix menu, the latter show announced.”


Per The Ringer, “[s]ince Aegon the Conqueror established Westerosi power in the hands of a single ruler 300-plus years ago, most of the continent’s kings have collected descriptive sobriquets. Some were flattering, from Jaehaerys the Wise to Daeron the Good; more were bitter and distasteful, from Maegor the Cruel and Aegon the Usurper to Aegon the Unworthy and Aerys the Mad.

“The last king in Game of Thrones followed that Targaryen pattern, after several interim rulers without. Bran the Broken, the first Stark king of the continent, gained control midway through the series finale—yet in a final hour that saw otherwise fitting, emotionally touching endings for his Stark relatives, the close of the new king’s arc was the most baffling moment.

“Bran’s rise from broken Bran to Bran the Broken—an inversion of words that makes all the difference—makes perhaps the most sense from a raven’s-eye view, when considering the totality of his character progression. The Thrones pilot climaxed with Bran’s fall from a tower, courtesy of Jaime Lannister’s friendly shove, as the boy who sought knighthood lost the use of his legs instead. His subsequent development into not just a knight but a king, the king, works for a story that tries to subvert traditional tropes and expectations.

“And in a meta sense, in a story that at the end especially tried to say something meaningful about stories themselves, this development fits too. Why is that the case? Here, I’ll let Tyrion explain (in a council meeting that came across as hasty and contrived and rather silly, in some respects, but that’s not the point here):

“What unites people? Armies? Gold? Flags? Stories. There’s nothing in the world more powerful than a good story. Nothing can stop it. No enemy can defeat it. And who has a better story than Bran the Broken? The boy who fell from a high tower and lived. He knew he’d never walk again, so he learned to fly. He crossed beyond the Wall, a crippled boy, and became the Three-Eyed Raven. He is our memory, the keeper of all our stories. The wars, weddings, births, massacres, famines. Our triumphs, our defeats, our past. Who better to lead us into the future?”

“Given that showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss reportedly discussed the broad concluding plot points with author George R.R. Martin more than a half-decade ago, it would now be a safe bet that in Martin’s mind, too, Bran becomes king at the end of his series of books. There, too, Bran’s rise fits: He was the first book’s first point-of-view character (the introductory prologue aside), and his POV chapters in the show’s later books, though not as numerous as those of a Tyrion or Jon Snow, are some of the novels’ most affecting and magical.

“But it’s in the show’s treatment of Bran between his becoming the Three-Eyed Raven and his becoming Westerosi king that the arc flickers and dims. The future king spent an entire season sidelined, as he reached the predecessor Three-Eyed Raven’s hovel beyond the Wall and the show pressed pause on his story line. Notably, he is the only major character to miss an entire season after being introduced.

“When he does return, the show uses him more as a key for plot conveyance (most notably, through learning Jon’s true parentage) than a real character himself. His personality effectively disappears—see: his awkward reunion with Sansa; his awkward goodbye with Meera Reed—and he becomes more meme than man. As Ben Lindbergh wrote for The Ringer about Bran earlier this season, the character’s default stare ‘could detract from the drama and turn pivotal plot lines and a serious character into comic relief.’

“The purpose of Bran’s position as the Three-Eyed Raven, moreover, is only shallowly explained, which seems important when the basis for his assumption of the throne rests on his ostensible role as storyteller. Earlier in Season 8, Bran tells the assembled war council at Winterfell that the Night King wants to kill him because he is the world’s memory. But his predecessor lived isolated from the world, huddled in a cave far beyond the Wall, not sharing that memory with any living human. He’s not the first Three-Eyed Raven, either, Bran reveals, but rather just the latest in a long line of memory holders, The Giver–style. How can we square one Three-Eyed Raven who lives apart from humans and one who rules them, and assume they fulfill the same strategic function?

“Martin also famously believes that the quality of a king’s character does not determine his success as a ruler. The unexplained nature of Bran’s powers as applied to his new post seems strange in this light too. Why, for instance, does Bran even need a master of whisperers, which he asks about in his one small council meeting in the finale? He can see everything, and hear all the whispers! And what does it even mean for the realm when its king can see the future, and apparently knew his own future all this time already? As he says in the finale, he traveled south only because he knew his destiny; how long has Bran known, and did any other characters have agency and choice along the way?

“More importantly, for a show that has disregarded or downplayed so many elements of the fantasy genre since surpassing Martin’s books, the turn to the character most connected to those very fantasy elements at the end underwhelms. If Bran were to become king, why cut him from a full season of the show? Why reduce his personality? Why cut short the yin to his magical yang, the Night King, and ignore a possibility at his personality, too? Why resolve the White Walker plot so suddenly? Why give Bran so little to do during that fight? Remember, during the Battle of Winterfell, Bran tells Theon, ‘I’m going to go now,’ scouts via ravens for a brief moment, and then does nothing for the rest of the episode. Perhaps this was a nod to Bran’s ability to see the future, the idea being that he knew the humans’ plan would work already—but is that inaction a model for his reign? If so, the implications are far from compelling in a show about power.

“The show wasn’t always just about fantasy, and it wasn’t just about political power. It was a blend of the two, and in that sense, Bran as king brings the two threads together—the character with the most fantasy power gaining the most political power, too. Yet because the exploration of those two sides of the story has grown so imbalanced, in Season 8 particularly, that fusion falls forced and flat.

“None of this criticism is to say, again, that Bran’s ultimate fate is wrong or against the spirit of the story. But it seems underdeveloped specifically in a show that hasn’t known what to do with this magical character for seasons on end. Like much of Season 8, it works more in the moment than it does as the endpoint to a series of connected moments; in this case, every vote from the assembled high lords and ladies for Bran’s rule contrasts sharply with every uncomfortable syllable he uttered to Meera’s heartbroken face last season, since which Bran has exhibited no real signs of social growth or tact.

“Bran might well make a strong king for Westeros. The wonder of stories isn’t just their past but their unexplored futures, the dreams of unwritten plot that will never come—the march of Jon and the free folk to the far north, the sail of Arya on her direwolf-branded ships to the west. The realm broke the wheel with Bran the Broken, and the whole world might be better for it. But the storytelling that led to that point was ultimately broken, too. Bran the Broken, indeed.”


One more GoT take from The Ringer, whose coverage has been beyond great: “Finales, traditionally, are when television series show their cards, or at least force viewers to internalize what may have been apparent for some time. Mad Men was not a damning indictment of capitalism; it was a fairly earnest account of one man’s ability to find self-actualization inside it. The Sopranos was not your mother’s gangster story; it was maddeningly ambiguous to the end, withholding even the catharsis of a shootout. Television is a medium defined by its possibilities, keeping as many open for as long as possible in a show’s quest to sustain itself. A finale’s job is to foreclose those possibilities forever, turning a dynamic story into a fixed object.

“Conclusion is risky, but in the case of Game of Thrones, it was also tantalizing. Mere days before Sunday’s final episode, it was still reasonable to wonder exactly what this story about power, legacy, justice, and governance was attempting to say about any of these things. With Daenerys Targaryen a confirmed, if not convincing, despot, would Thrones double down on the futility of building a better world? Or would it veer in the opposite direction, contradicting many of its early lessons on the limits of idealism by echoing the late Varys’s endorsement of Jon? Until the very last moment, Thrones toyed with both extremes: the unrelenting cynicism it always flirted with, and the conventional heroism it once eschewed.

“In the end, the show landed somewhere in the middle. The most definitive takeaway from The Iron Throne, written and directed by showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, is that Thrones was the Starks’ saga all along. The direwolf sigil now flies all over the world, from Bran the Broken’s seat in King’s Landing to Sansa’s independent queendom in the North to Jon’s happy self-exile beyond the Wall to Arya’s travels in the West. The series ends with a montage of the siblings embarking on their respective journeys, their unimaginable pain mercifully transmuted into well-deserved new beginnings. Game of Thrones built a following on its epic scope, yet it exited the most intimate and pathos-friendly of family dramas, like This Is Us with genocide and CGI.

“But The Iron Throne also offered some firmer verdicts on Thrones’ more abstract ideas. The Starks may have gotten the narrative last word. The thematic one, however, fell to Tyrion Lannister—unsurprisingly, considering his close ties to the show’s more conceptual streak. It was the Imp who proposed the system of government that would replace the Iron Throne, helpfully and symbolically melted down by Drogon to avenge the death of his mother, driven mad by and eventually slain due to her desire for it. Westeros, minus the North, will no longer have dynasties; in their place, a council of noblemen and women will select whoever is best fitted to the task, starting with Bran.

“Considering how much time earlier seasons of Thrones dedicated to powerful people pursuing their own self-interest over the common good, the idea that future lords and ladies can even be trusted to back the best candidate is more than a little out of character. For the most part, however, this political vision fits well enough. It’s not democracy, a concept invented out of whole cloth by Samwell Tarly and laughed out of existence within minutes. But it’s more democratic than what came before, or what could come from Dany using the means of her oppressors to replace the world order with one and the same. Game of Thrones isn’t nihilistic—it’s incrementalistic. And its version of a fairy-tale ending involves a small council bickering about boats.

“Eventually, Thrones hit on a conclusion that was in keeping with its core identity. Unfortunately, finales never stand alone. Television shows are cumulative, and their climaxes can’t be separated from the relatively mundane plotting that makes them possible. Many have criticized late-period Thrones for cutting corners en route to its endgame. In theory, The Iron Throne presented an opportunity to justify this breakneck pace. In practice, it demonstrated its cost. Plenty of developments in The Iron Throne landed. They just could have landed much deeper if they’d been preceded by a more meticulous set-up.

“Take the pivotal confrontation between Daenerys and Jon Snow. Ironically, eliminating a Targaryen conqueror and the seat of her house’s power along with her is exactly the kind of wheel-breaking Dany claimed she always wanted. It’s a poetic end to her story, and a sharp illustration of Thrones wariness toward the corrupting influence of power. But the character’s decision to slaughter thousands, which eventually spurs Jon to kill her, never squared with the principled, politically aware person we knew until mere episodes ago. Nor did the romance between her and Jon ever get time to develop. Consequently, her demise feels both overdetermined and underdeveloped: legible in the big picture, disjointed in the moment-to-moment storytelling.

“Tyrion and his master plan for the realm suffered similarly. Once, and apparently still, the soul of the show, Tyrion’s been dealt a dirty hand for the last five seasons. His character arc may have been motivated by a need to make Dany’s victory less than inevitable, but he hasn’t been allowed to act as a true voice of reason in ages, making his sudden return to the post—in both the show’s eyes and other characters’—unconvincing. Why would this group of people suddenly listen to a man arguably responsible for the destruction of a city, not to mention the death of a dragon and the loss of several battles? Why would they trust him to administer a country, based on little more than Bran’s endorsement? Speaking of Bran: Is he really such a wise choice to rule mankind, considering he’s not exactly a man anymore? What’s positioned as a redemption instead reads as a spontaneous reversal, not based so much on the events of The Iron Throne as on what came before them.

“Otherwise sound outcomes undermined by messy preambles only proliferate from there. What does Jon’s return to the North mean, given that the show hasn’t bothered to establish where the free folk stand after the fall of the Wall? Who’s the ‘new prince of Dorne,’ besides a warm body to contribute to the Six Kingdoms’ newfound sense of unity? Have we ever known Arya to be an explorer for exploring’s sake, as opposed to a means of getting back to her family? The problem with valuing results over process is that process informs the results, particularly on a show as obsessed with minutiae as Thrones.

“Plenty of The Iron Throne was authentically satisfying. The sight of Sansa being hailed as Queen of the North was a balm, as was that of Tyrion and Bronn interacting as true peers, not coworkers or adversaries. Much of it, however, visibly strained to satisfy, an instinct that feels antithetical to Thrones’ erstwhile ethos. The effort also could have been unnecessary, if earlier installments had more organically facilitated what The Iron Throne has to push. Ironically, Thrones scramble to the finish line made the finish less of a reward.”


Per Variety, “Comedy Central’s The Daily Show With Trevor Noah may have finally found a way to get its correspondents some Emmy love. In a first, the late-night show is submitting its team of on-air contributors in the comedy guest actor and guest actress categories.

“Competing for a nomination in the outstanding guest actor in a comedy series category will be Ronny Chieng, Michael Kosta, Roy Wood Jr. and Jaboukie Young-White. And in the hunt for an outstanding guest actress in a comedy series nod will be the show’s Desi Lydic and Dulcé Sloan.

“It might seem unusual to submit that group as “guest” performers, given that they’re permanent members of The Daily Show team. But because they’re all only seen occasionally on the show, not every night, they fit the guidelines.

“Specifically, the Television Academy’s Emmy rules stipulate that ‘performers on variety sketch series may enter in lead, supporting or guest comedy categories, however, only performers appearing in less than 50% of the eligible episodes are able to enter in the guest categories. Sketch performers on variety talk series will be considered by petition on a case-by-case basis.’

“And indeed, none of the Daily Show correspondents appear in more than 50% of the show’s annual run.

“This is the first year Comedy Central has submitted its Daily Show correspondents, and it comes after the network asked the Academy to review their performances. The org agreed that the performances qualified as guest actor and actress.

“The 50% rule was established in 2015 to resolve the debate over who might be considered a ‘guest.’ The category had become confusing, as nominees — and often winners — landed a slot despite appearing in almost every episode of a TV show, all because they had been contractually given a “guest star” credit. (John Lithgow, for example, won the drama guest actor Emmy in 2010 for Dexter, despite appearing in every episode of that season.)

“Since the TV Academy opened the door to allow variety sketch performers to compete in regular acting categories, Saturday Night Live has done quite well in the guest performers categories — but those nominees have been guest hosts.

“Now, this could open the door to more variety talk show contenders — many of which similarly feature occasional contributors — to do the same thing.

“Other categories The Daily Show is submitting contenders in this year include variety talk series; variety talk series writing; character voice-over performance, motion design; variety picture editing; multi-camera series or special makeup (non-prosthetic); variety series lighting design/direction; variety, nonfiction or reality costumes; technical direction, camerawork, video control; variety series or special sound mixing; interactive program and main title design.

“Also, the show’s Behind the Scenes (The Daily Show With Trevor Noah) will be submitted in the short form variety series category.”


Per Vulture, “[t]he fifth episode of Barry’s second season came out of nowhere, like a frenzied grade-schooler thirsty for a taste of blood. To set the scene, if you didn’t watch when it first aired in late April: Hapless hit man Barry (Bill Hader) is tasked by a cuckolded cop with murdering the guy schtupping his wife, which doesn’t sit all that well with Barry’s newly adopted pacifist leanings. As an alternative, he goes to the stud’s house with the intention of scaring him off, but, to put it mildly, things do not go as planned.

“From that premise, ronnie/lily morphs into something self-contained, violently surreal, and wholly unique. After failing to convince Ronnie (Daniel Bernhardt) to skip town, Barry engages the guy — who, to Barry’s great misfortune, turns out to be a world-class tae kwon do master — in brute hand-to-hand combat that fills most of the episode. Until, that is, the story abruptly shifts focus to pit Barry against Ronnie’s kid daughter, Lily (Jessie Giacomazzi), a borderline-feral cherub with a Terminator’s staunch refusal to die.

“‘We’d been talking about doing an entire episode where a hit goes wrong.’ Barry showrunner Alec Berg said. ‘We had this idea that Barry and the guy he’s trying to kill would be on opposite sides of a wall, and the whole episode would just be them talking, and then Barry kills the guy. We never quite found a place for that, but we always wanted to do something like that — one episode that felt like its own thing, done in real time.’

“Inspired by Moonlighting’s legendary Atomic Shakespeare episode, in which the cast enacted Taming of the Shrew in a boy’s imagination, Berg and co-showrunner/episode director Bill Hader decided to make that ‘something’ happen for the second season of their HBO comedy. They toyed around with pacing, letting segments of Barry’s drag-out battle against Ronnie and Lily stretch past the length of a normal scene. ‘You know Space Mountain at Disneyland?’ Berg said. ‘There’s a cool thing that happens at the end of that ride, where there are, like, seven right turns in a row and then a sudden left turn. It always works, to get people into a certain rhythm and then throw them off of it.’

“The episode’s standout MVP is Giacomazzi, whose shocking turn as Lily lifts the footage into a rarefied register of the chillingly uncanny. Without any dialogue to humanize her, she delivers a performance that straddles the line of human and beast. ‘They told me that she was like a wild mongoose, like a weird crazy animal,’ Giacomazzi told Vulture over the phone, between two of the many auditions that she’s lined up since her big episode aired. ‘I imagined my own father dying, and I’d get really upset. I could turn into an animal, attacking everything in sight, let out my inner monster a little.’

“She breaks through the limits of realism as the episode lurches into its second act, which sees Lily defying gravity in her all-out assault on Barry. ‘I was on a wire connected to a harness,’ said Giacomazzi, who’s also done stunts on Westworld. ‘People would pull the wire to make me rise up or float to the side or things like that. They’d yank it, and I’d get launched right at Bill Hader, try to stab him in the air. It was definitely fun!’

“In the episode’s most unsettling moment, Lily scurries up a tree with the dexterity of a demonically possessed squirrel and perches on top of a garage, leaving Barry and his accomplice Fuchs (Stephen Root) dumbfounded. Giacomazzi explained how she was able to go all girl-from–The Ring on ’em: ‘We had a big green tree that they could use CGI to make it look like a normal tree. I was in a harness attached to a crane, and they put these rock-climbing handles on it, so I could climb up with no trouble. With the harness still on, they’d lift me right over to the top of the roof and put me down really gently.’

“After regrouping on the roof, Lily sneaks up on Barry and Fuchs as they hide in their getaway vehicle. She quietly slips into the back seat, then waits for the perfect moment to strike in the most horrifying fashion: Lily leaps forward and bites into Fuchs’s cheek, her eyes vacant as she sinks her incisors into the grown man’s flesh. Of course, the reality of the scene was much less bloody. ‘They put prosthetics on his face, the same skin color, and it popped out a little so I’d know where to bite down on,’ Giacomazzi said. ‘I would crawl in through the window, hide in the car, and then pop out just right to hold on to that spot, and not his actual face.’

“Giacomazzi talks nonchalantly about her time pretending to attempt homicide; she mostly remembers joking around with Hader, and everyone taking extra-special care to be sure she was okay after each stunt. To Giacomazzi, making one of the year’s best TV episodes was little more than structured, hyperviolent playtime.

“‘They told me the scream should sound like a dinosaur, pterodactyl if I could do that,’ she said, with the matter-of-factness of a seasoned pro. ‘I did it a few times. Then I got used to it.’”

Friday May 17, 2019

Game of Thrones comes to a close on Sunday with another 80-minute episode. If you didn’t know the series was coming to an end, just crawl back under your rock . . . and color me jealous for your complete obliviousness.

Here are 40 times Game of Thrones foreshadowed Daenerys' Mad Queen transformation.

How will HBO move forward after its crown jewel is gone? If history tells us anything, they will be JUST fine.

Catch-22 is now available to stream on Hulu. The streamer has made all 6 episodes available now.

Season 2 of Fleabag is now available to stream on Amazon.

Season 3 of Nailed It! is now available on Netflix.

As are season 2 of The Rain and season 2 of White Gold, neither of which I’ve ever seen.

Tan France (Queer Eye) and designer/model Alexa Chung will host Netflix’s Next In Fashion, a competition that pits designers in a battle to become the next big thing. No date has been set for the launch, but season one will have ten episodes. Next in Fashion begins with eighteen designers who face challenges centering on a different trend or design style that has influenced the way the entire world dresses. Judges, including stylist Elizabeth Stewart and Instagram fashion guru Eva Chen are among judges who will evaluate their creations. More guest judges will be announced. The winner will receive a $250,000 prize and an opportunity to debut their collection with luxury fashion retailer Net-a-Porter. Next in Fashion is created and produced by theoldschool and is executive produced by Robin Ashbrook and Yasmin Shackleton with co-executive producer Adam Cooper.”

American Idol wraps up its current season on Sunday.

Ditto for HBO’s Barry.

Season 6 of The Blacklist closes out tonight as well.

I was very satisfied with the series finale of The Big Bang Theory. This was a show I have watched since the pilot aired and I feel they wrapped it up quite nicely.

Here’s everything that was wrapped up, explained. I’m just happy they got that elevator fixed, finally.

And here is an interview with showrunner Steve Holland about last night’s final BBT episode.

Chuck Lorre talks about that last scene here.

South Side, a new scripted comedy set at a rental store in the South Side of Chicago, will premiere on Comedy Central on July 24. “South Side follows two friends who just graduated from community college and are ready to take over the world. But until they do, they’re stuck working at Rent-T-Own. Shot on location in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood, the show offers an authentic look into what life on the South Side is all about.”

Verve has signed the WGA’s new Code of Conduct, the biggest win yet in the guild’s campaign to ‘divide and conquer’ the agency business. Verve is not a member of the Association of Talent Agents, but its signing makes it the biggest lit agency to sign the code so far. It also opens the door to other mid-level agencies to follow suit. Sources say several other mid-sized agencies have been in talks with the guild, including at least one that is a member of the ATA. Verve’s signing makes it the 70th agency to sign the code, only one of which, Pantheon, is an ATA member. Even so, that just a fraction of the 234 agencies that had been franchised by the guild before it implemented its new code. So far, the ATA’s other 112 member agencies – including the Big 4 packaging agencies – have refused to sign.” I’ve never heard of Verve, so I’m not sure how monumental this is, but it is something.

Amazon has canceled The Tick.

Amazon Studios has picked up to series YA drama pilot Panic, from writer Lauren Oliver based on her best-selling book and producers Joe Roth and Jeff Kirschenbaum. Ramping up a YA slate was one of the first major programming initiatives of Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke after she joined the company last year. The company greenlighted three YA drama pilots, Panic, College and The Wilds. Of the other two, College is not going forward, while The Wilds remains in contention. Written and created by Oliver based on her novel published by HarperCollins, Panic centers on a small town in America where every year the graduating seniors engage in a competition they believe is their one chance to escape. But this year, the rules have changed — and they must decide how much they are willing to risk in order to get out. ‘Panic tells a story aimed at young adults, but anyone would be pulled in by the compelling characters and high-stakes drama brought to life by Lauren Oliver,’ Salke said. ‘She is a rare talent in her ability to capture this generation so authentically.’ Panic stars Olivia Welch as Heather, Mike Faist as Dodge, Ray Nicholson as Ra, and Will Chase as Sheriff Kean.”

Ronnie Magro-Ortiz (Jersey Shore) had liposuction to resurrect his six-pack?!

11 Veep storylines we never got to see.

Steve Kroft is leaving 60 Minutes. He’s been with the show since 1989. His last show will air on Sunday, however, a special celebrating is 50 year career is in the works.

Behind the scenes drama at the BH90210 revival?


Per Inverse (and thanks to my sister for sending), “[i]n Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen set out to “break the wheel” and free Westeros from the tyranny of an endless parade of selfish kings. But as we race headfirst towards the series finale this Sunday, it looks like Game of ThronesSeason 8, Episode 6 could instead keep the wheel turning like usual. An intriguing new theory suggests that history will repeat itself in the finale this Sunday as the remaining characters play out the same conflict that set the story in motion in the first place: Robert’s Rebellion.

Warning: Possible spoilers for the Game of Thrones series finale below.

“First, a quick Westeros history lesson. Robert’s Rebellion took place roughly 20 years before the events of Game of Thrones. It was a civil war in which an alliance of Starks (led by Ned) and Baratheons (led by Robert) took down King Aerys II Targaryen (aka the Mad King) with an assist from the Lannisters after Jaime renounced his position as Kingsguard and stabbed Aerys in the back, literally.

“Ok, so we know that’s a lot to remember, but there’s one more important detail: The rebellion began because Prince Rhaegar Targaryen (the Mad King’s son) allegedly kidnapped Ned’s sister, Lyanna Stark, who was supposed to marry Robert. Lyanna ended up dying under mysterious circumstances. Then, Robert became king and married Cersei Lannister instead, and the rest is HBO’s Game of Thrones.

“Got it? Great. Now here’s how the story of Robert’s Rebellion could repeat itself in the Game of Thrones series finale. Step one already happened in Episode 5 when Daenerys Targaryen burned down the entire city of King’s Landing (just like her Mad King father wanted to do) and became the Mad Queen, but in Episode 6, she could go even further.

“It’s not hard to imagine that Dany could aim her newfound rage at another Stark in the next episode, accusing Sansa Stark of treason and arresting her. In response, the remaining Starks (Jon Snow, Arya, and maybe Bran) would likely rebel against their new queen. That’s where the Baratheons come in.

“King Robert is long dead, but in Season 8, Episode 4, Daenerys officially proclaimed Robert’s bastard son, Gendry, to be a true Baratheon and Lord of the Stormlands, a kingdom just south of the Westeros capital that was traditionally ruled by House Baratheon. Gendry may owe Dany a favor, but if she goes Mad Queen and tries to kill Sansa, we have a feeling he’ll side with the Starks in open rebellion.

“The only missing piece of the puzzle is a Lannister to deliver the killing blow. In Robert’s Rebellion, that was Jaime, who was essentially working as private security for King Aerys at the time. Jaime might be dead, but his brother, Tyrion, is still alive. More importantly, he’s Dany’s most trusted advisor, putting him in the perfect position to stab her in the back if it comes to it.

“Finally, if history truly does repeat itself, Gendry will end up on the Iron Throne to become King of Westeros. Of course, that assumes Jon will decline his rightful claim to the throne, but as he’s stated before, he has no interest in ruling.

“Confused? I know that was a lot, so here’s a quick and dirty breakdown:

A ‘mad’ Targaryen was in charge: Aerys → Daenerys
A Stark is taken prisoner: Lyanna Stark is “stolen” → Dany accuses Sansa of treason
The Starks and Baratheons team up to rebel: Ned + Robert → Jon/Arya + Gendry
A Lannister will betray the ruler to deal the finishing blow: Jaime → Tyrion
A Baratheon ends up on the Iron Throne: Robert → Gendry

“As redditor u/nzjamesk points out, this theory even makes sense if Daenerys directs her rage at Jon instead of Sansa: ‘It also works if you switch Sansa and Jon so the genetic parentage pattern holds. Lyanna is mother to Jon so perhaps Jon will be executed at the opening of Episode 6. Then Sansa (Ned Stark’s biological daughter) will join with Gendry to fight the war, and go back North to become warden(ess) of the North.’

“With all the steps laid out, it almost seems inevitable that the Game of Thronesfinale will follow this structure. The only problem, as one fan on Reddit points out, is that this may be too much plot for a single episode. But with Season 8’s rapid pacing and an 80-minute runtime for Episode 6, it could definitely still happen.

“At the very least, this theory gives Gendry Baratheon a much more satisfying ending than the one Game of Thrones Season 8 currently has lined up for him. What sounds better: Getting rejected by Arya and disappearing forever, or leading a rebellion against the Mad Queen and taking the Iron Throne?”


From The Ringer: “There’s no one explanation for how Game of Thrones became a culture-spanning phenomenon. Slipping into the microscopic gap between the Golden Age of Television and Peak TV, HBO’s fantasy epic earned an investment of resources from its network that would have been unthinkable previously for such a budget-conscious medium. Primed by group analyses of phenomena like The Sopranos, audiences gave the show their sustained focus and thought, a school of TV-watching still new enough for disciples to be disarmed by Thrones signature reversals. And in the culture at large, Thrones arrived at a time when genre storytelling was shifting from the margins to the center. The series premiered just three years after Iron Man inaugurated the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and will air its final installment as Avengers: Endgame maintains a weekslong stranglehold on the international box office.

“But the simplest factor in Thrones’ success is also the most important. Quite simply, Game of Thrones is a good and influential TV show because it’s based on good and influential source material: George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, the five-volume-and-counting saga that first originated the Stark and Lannister clans back in 1996. Since Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss bypassed Martin’s original material circa Season 6, the relationship between books and show has complicated. My colleague Ben Lindbergh declared Martin the ‘real winner’ of Thrones much-maligned seventh season, vindicated even in his writer’s block by the creative choices being made on his behalf. (In theory, A Song of Ice and Fire will have two final volumes, bringing the total to seven; Martin has not published a new entry since A Dance With Dragons in 2011.) Having once so masterfully adapted Martin’s vision to the screen, Benioff and Weiss began encountering a much more public version of his same difficulties in bringing their shared story to a close.

“With its cast of thousands, dense mythology, and intercontinental scope, A Song of Ice and Fire is an awkward fit for the screen indeed. Yet what the current split in regard between books and show tends to obscure is that this very awkwardness was once a boon, not a handicap. Nor is A Song of Ice and Fire as distinct from television as this dichotomy tends to imply. Game of Thrones exists, by its nature, in conversation with the books. From their beginning, however, the books themselves were in conversation with TV. Keeping this origin story in mind, Game of Thrones struggles as it comes to a close this Sunday are less a divergence than the closing of a full circle. A Song of Ice and Fire was an explicit reaction against television, which made its adaptation inherently subversive TV. And what some have interpreted as Game of Thrones shedding the qualities that once made it exceptional is, in fact, a capitulation to its format. Game of Thrones may be the biggest television show of all time, but at the end, it couldn’t transcend television.

“From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s—right around the time A Game of Thrones was published—Martin lived in the belly of the beast. Like many novelists before him, Martin went Hollywood, writing for the first revival of The Twilight Zone and serving as a writer-producer on CBS’s Beauty and the Beast. When he tried to launch some of his own projects, Martin quickly ran up against the limitations of an industry he was decades too early to disrupt. ‘The theme of that whole period for me was, I would always turn in my first draft to whatever network or studio or producer I was working for and the reaction was inevitably, “George, this is great. It’s terrific, it’s a wonderful read, thanks. But it’s three times our budget. We can’t possibly make it. It’s too big and it’s too expensive,”’ Martin toldThe New York Times in 2011, ahead of Thrones premiere.

“Enter the written word. ‘When I returned to prose, which had been my first love, in the ’90s,’ Martin continued, ‘I said I’m going to do something that is just as big as I want to do. I can have all the special effects I want. I can have a cast of characters that numbers in the hundreds. I can have giant battle scenes. Everything you can’t do in television and film, of course you can do in prose because you’re everything there.’ Martin subsequently took full advantage of the freedoms experience had taught him to appreciate. Without a time slot, he populated Westeros with noble houses served by smaller houses served by peasants protected by sacred orders. Without budgets, he plunged the continent into a five-front war. And without actor contracts, he killed his main character and several of his potential replacements, egos and agents be damned.

“Ironically, such blatant defiance of television’s institutional norms makes for inherently interesting television. To its credit, Game of Thrones didn’t change the core characteristics of A Song of Ice and Fire to make them more palatable to TV. Instead, it was TV itself that was changed. Never before had a show baited and switched its audience about the very concept of a protagonist; never before had a show included hourlong battles with the financial demands of a feature film; never before had a show carried such an overwhelming mass of detailed lore that it could single-handedly support its own explainer industry. Part of what Thrones legions of fans have responded to is old-school craftsmanship, in the form of great performances and richly outlined characters. Much of the appeal, however, was novelty: Viewers weren’t used to feeling the disorientation that came with Ned Stark’s beheading or Jaime Lannister’s gradual redemption, so they stuck around for more.

“The sheer feat of translating these subversions, and balancing them with the practicalities necessary to create an actual television show, ought not to be understated. Whatever criticisms they’ve faced for their relatively original storytelling, Benioff and Weiss proved themselves to be master adaptors. Without Martin’s device of limited third-person, point-of-view chapters, which could transform a character from caricature to de facto narrator in an instant, Game of Thrones capably planted the seeds of the Lannister twins’ nuance much earlier on. Without pages’ worth of raw exposition, Thrones re-created the feeling of Westeros as a place buckling under the weight of its own history, haunted by the phantom pains of a war decades in the past. This accomplishment alone places Thrones in the pantheon of series that fundamentally altered audiences’ expectations of TV.

“A cruel paradox of Thrones later seasons, then, is that the show effectively trained its fan base to hold it to the same logical, methodical, unsentimental standard as the earlier seasons and books did fantasy tropes. A decade ago, A Song of Ice and Fire so effectively commented on sword-and-sorcery mainstays it changed how some readers saw the genre; now, Game of Thrones has preemptively taught its viewership to reject the shortcuts and workarounds it’s taken on the way to Sunday’s conclusion. Because many of the flaws in Thrones’home stretch aren’t unique to Thrones. They’re products of typical TV logic—exactly the kind Thrones initially rejected, and can no longer resist.

“Notoriously, seasons 7 and 8 of Thrones have been condensed down to just seven and six episodes apiece, as opposed to the show’s usual 10. This decision, which Benioff and Weiss have taken full responsibility for in interviews, made itself felt immediately—and detrimentally—in the rhythm of the show. Journeys that once took entire seasons, and yielded pivotal bonds between unlikely character pairs such as Jaime and Brienne or Arya and the Hound, suddenly took less than an episode. Key scenes, like Jon Snow disclosing his Targaryen ancestry to his adopted siblings or a potentially fruitful conversation between Tyrion Lannister and Bran Stark, were skipped over entirely. Major plot developments, including Jorah Mormont’s recovery from greyscale and Viserion’s transformation into an ice dragon, were practically handwaved.

“For a story where structure and substance are as tightly interlinked as Thrones’, these logistical considerations quickly took a toll on characters and themes. The most recent example of Thrones newfound speed undercutting its former methodology is also the most controversial: the rapidly manifested, unconvincingly indiscriminate genocidal tendencies of one Daenerys Targaryen. Longtime observers’ understandable impulse was to contrast such hasty pivots with Thrones earlier world-building. Yet it’s equally revealing, and useful, to point out how similar Thrones has become to more familiar forms of television as it is to point out how dissimilar it’s become from itself. Even if Thrones’ impending deadline is self-imposed, hurtling toward a destination determined by outside circumstances is classically TV. The lead got a better opportunity, so they need to be written out of the show; the network canceled the series, so every loose end needs to be tied up on someone else’s schedule. In theory, Thrones enjoys unlimited resources to destroy fictional cities and animate undead armies. By running short on time and taking obvious steps to overcome this shortcoming, however, Thrones has found itself in the same strained, resourceful state as countless shows before it.

“Not all of Thrones’ concessions to television’s unspoken bylaws are purely logistical. One of the books’ defining trademarks is a rigid obedience to the demands of the story over the wishes of the reader. Like its epic scale, this principle was an antidote to ratings-ruled TV, whose audience had the power to demand to be catered to and could vote with their remotes if they weren’t. Thrones’ ubiquity has been long since secured, but its final seasons have been marked by the kind of fan service, wish fulfillment, and endgame-driven decision-making its earlier iteration scrupulously avoided. Potential fatalities, including those of virtually every major character in a battle we were later told eliminated half its combatants, were miraculously avoided. Popular pairings, like Brienne and Tormund’s one-sided flirtation, were forced to the point of outliving their initial charm. Fairy-tale-like happy endings were seemingly provided (though Sam’s paternal bliss or Tormund’s riding off into the sunset could well be undone in the finale). Certain conflicts, like Varys’s betrayal of Dany in favor of Jon, occurred not because of past events, but because they needed to in order to justify future ones.

Thrones remains a powerhouse, and the achievements of its foundational first half will endure. But just as Thrones heroes have found that they can’t overcome the sins of their ancestors—madness on Dany’s part, honor-bound naivete on Jon’s—Thrones itself has run up against the precedents it once upended. Game of Thrones has an awareness, and wariness, of its form built in from the jump. Sometimes, though, one’s natural instincts take over, especially in the absence of an author’s guiding hand. The long arc of serialized television bends, inexorably, toward itself.”

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From The Hollywood Reporter: “AMC is getting into the episodic anthology game.

“The cable network has ordered six episodes of a show that mixes science fiction and romance. It comes from Black Mirror writer Will Bridges, who won an Emmy for the show's USS Callister installment and writer and actor Brett Goldstein (Hoff the Record, SuperBob). It's based on their 2013 short film For Life and will explore what it means when everyone can find their soulmate.

“‘This is AMC’s first foray into non-serialized storytelling, and we’re trying to do so in the boldest way possible,’ said David Madden, president of programming for AMC Networks and AMC Studios. ‘The show explores how technological innovation can impact the most delicate matters of the heart, and each episode will turn personal life choices into high-stakes drama. It’s a fresh yet relatable idea, portrayed through wildly entertaining tales with unexpected twists, humor and meaningful emotion. Will and Brett are immensely talented creators, and we are thrilled to have these new and observant voices on AMC.’

“AMC has done seasonal anthologies, including its current series The Terror and the upcoming Dispatches From Elsewhere from Jason Segel, but the Bridges/Goldstein show will be the cabler's first where the cast changes out episode to episode. 

“The untitled series is set 15 years in the future, when science makes a discovery that changes the lives of everyone on the planet — a way for people to find their soulmate. Each episode will tell the story of a different couple and explore the cost of finding true love, with each one different in tone and featuring a spectrum of characters and relationships.

“‘I'm thrilled to be working on this show with AMC,’ said Bridges. ‘To get the opportunity to expand on the short film Brett and I made and tell new stories about how messed up love can make a person is something we're both very grateful for and extremely excited about.’

“Added Goldstein, ‘I am extremely excited and honored to make our show about soulmates with AMC, the network responsible for at least two of my favorite shows, one of which I definitely watched legally.’

“Bridges and Goldstein will executive produce the series with Jolyon Symonds through Fearless Minds, a Banijay Group company. AMC Studios is producing.”


Per Variety, “The Bachelorette is back for its 15th season with a new leading lady: Hannah Brown, otherwise known as Hannah B.

“Brown was first introduced to audiences as a contestant on the most recent season of The Bachelor with star Colton Underwood, and she was seen as a dark horse for The Bachelorette.

“Although the season just premiered this past Monday, the full season wrapped shooting this week, meaning Brown’s journey for love has come to an end. Viewers will watch her season play out over the next couple of months, but ABC’s reality chief, Rob Mills, teases that Brown is truly torn over who to choose. ‘What you’re going to find is the decision she makes goes right down to the very last minute,’ Mills tells Variety.

“The supertease shown at the end of Monday’s premiere episode promises a dramatic season filled with crying, screaming, fighting, an ambulance, one contestant calling another contestant a ‘psychopath’ and a lot of kissing. In fact, the promo footage of the season shows that Brown is not shy about expressing her sexuality, which Mills says was embraced by the network.

“Here, Rob Mills talks to Variety about Season 15, how The Bachelor franchise evolves, in regards to sexuality and diversity — and whether there are plans to cast a black Bachelor anytime soon:

Hannah B. is the first Bachelorette chosen who was not in the Top 4 on The Bachelor. What made her so special that you knew she had to be the leading lady?

It’s not like The Bachelorette has to be in the Top 4. We’ve met with others in the past. We also met with Hannah G. and Taysia and Demi, who was a wildcard, and Caelynn. And then Hannah came in and I think because she really thought she was a dark horse and didn’t have much of a chance, she came in with nothing to lose — that’s not to say the other girls were politicking or anything, but with her, she was just herself. There was no nervousness. Like, “I’ll take the meeting, but I’m sure it’s not going to be me.” The other four we met with were also phenomenal, which is why we’re so happy we have “Bachelor In Paradise,” so that we don’t have to say goodbye to these people. But there was just something about Hannah. She came in and there was just something so different about her and we knew she’d make a great “Bachelorette.”

What exactly was it about Hannah that you knew she’d make a great Bachelorette?

She said herself “I’m the hot mess express,” and she really is — she just owns the fact that she is a bit uncomfortable in her own skin and she is goofy and can be a little crazy, but she also is someone who really wants to settle down and she’s in a point in her life where she’s ready to find that right partner, so everything just came together with her.

How would you describe Hannah as The Bachelorette?

I would describe her as someone who is true to herself, honest and someone who really grew as a woman. You see her being really independent and owning who she is. She’s somebody who threw her whole heart into it and was really strong. If somebody came on that wasn’t there for the right reasons, she really handled it herself — she didn’t wait for Chris Harrison or producers to handle a situation for her. Everything she did was what she wanted to do, which was great, but also just fun and funny.

[I would describe her as awkward and lame.]

In the supertease that was shown at the end of the season premiere, Hannah says, “I have had sex and Jesus still loves me.” It appears that she feels judged by the men for expressing her sexuality. What is that about?

She’s a southern girl and I think maybe some guys had preconceived notions and thought she would be what they would see in their mind as “proper” or someone who shouldn’t have a physical relationship unless it’s just with them or the person she’s marrying, and she basically says no — she says it perfectly: “I had sex and Jesus still loves me.” Being a strong independent woman, she basically says that no matter who she marries, her husband is going to accept that, or else he’s not going to be her husband.

Are you concerned about the reaction to that storyline? Obviously, the topic of having sex before marriage is a big discussion that is far bigger than The Bachelor.

I’m very curious how that’s going to be received, but I think she’s a great, strong, independent “Bachelorette,” and I hope that Bachelor Nation is going to get behind her and cheer for her.

Is intimacy a big part of this season?

Like we saw in Colton’s season, the topic of sexuality and physicality is addressed head-on. Certainly, we brought it up on Andi’s [Dorfman] season where Nick [Viall] said that they had made love on the fantasy suite. It kicked down a door that yes, physical relationships are part of this show. It’s just a part of the show. I think you’ll see that Hannah is very physically affectionate — that doesn’t mean sex necessary — but she believes that physical chemistry is part of it. You’ll see, even just with her kissing, it’s very sensual, which is great because she’s forming these connections with these guys.

From the teaser of the season, it looks like Hannah is torn at the end. Is this a season where the lead falls in love with multiple contestants?

She definitely falls in love with numerous people. She’s somebody who is very passionate and she has a massive heart. She’s open to everyone and everything. With Hannah, she really was considering everything. I think she dated a certain type of guy before this, and I think she realized that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and she really explored multiple connections with many guys. She is someone who believes that there is room in your heart to love more than one person. So yes, she absolutely does fall in love with multiple men.

So then, how does that impact the drama of this season? In recent seasons, we’ve seen leads who are torn over multiple people at the end of their seasons and then make a last-minute decision — and even change their minds.

That’s right. We’ll see how it pans out. But what was so amazing is that the guys this season are all so smitten and in love with her. It’s impossible not to fall in love with her. She’s just so funny and winning and charming and honest to herself and stunningly beautiful. So, the guys were super competitive — and not with each other, but just over her. Usually, you see the guys fighting because they just don’t like each other personally. Here, it is much more about Hannah. They are so over the moon about Hannah.

You can see that in the promo for the season. The guys appear to be extremely competitive and aggressive.

They’re very aggressive. You’ll see one guy manipulate time with Hannah. In the second week, there is a guy who doesn’t get a date so he shows up at a group date, which turns everyone off. And there is another guy, Luke P., who almost immediately falls head over heels with Hannah — this is a guy who is completely in love with Hannah, but also has some DNA of Chad [Johnson].

If you’re comparing anyone to “Bad Chad,” I’m guessing it’s safe to assume that Luke P. is a contestant to keep an eye on?

I would say he’s the one that everyone is going to be talking about. He’s the one who is called a “psychopath” in the teaser. There are shades of Chad there. But I don’t want to call him a “villain,” because I don’t know that we necessarily have villains anymore — there are a lot more shades of gray. Whether he’s in love with Hannah or not, he believes he’s in love with her, almost from the very beginning. So he’s not necessarily a bad guy, but he is a controversial guy.

Are there any other contestants to look out for?

I would keep an eye on Jed, the songwriter, because I think there’s always a red flag that comes up with a guy who’s a singer because there’s the question of is he there for fame? But he’s somebody that I think people are really going to fall in love with. I think Mike is somebody that everybody loves and is one of our all-time great contestants — funny, charming, a great smile, very sweet. He has a moment with her that is so heartfelt that people are going to just fall in love with him, but he’s also a guy that isn’t afraid to call it out like he sees it. We also have John Paul Jones, who never goes by anything but John Paul Jones. And then there’s Cam, who is going to stir things up very early with the guys in the house.

How about Matteo? He’s getting a lot of attention because he’s a sperm donor who has fathered 114 children. Was that an issue for Hannah?

No. What you’ll see with Hannah is she is really open to everything. I think she really feels that if people want to have a child and this is a way that it can help them, that’s the way that she views it. And he is fantastic. He actually knows some of these kids. It’s not like he just donated his sperm and moved on. When you look at him, you’ll understand why they chose him as a sperm donor because he’s very good looking, he’s funny, smart and charming. He’s a great character this season.

There is an ambulance in the promos, which is becoming familiar imagery on The Bachelor”franchise. Is this actually going to be a serious injury or hospital visit, or is it going to turn out to be a moment viewers think was overblown through editing and promotion?

The hospital visits, I’d say, are fairly warranted. I think we see more injuries on “The Bachelorette” because they do more physical dates like boxing and that stuff. There’s a rugby date that turns very violent and physical.

You said that Hannah is open to everything. Was that helpful in casting her suitors, in regards to diversity, given that she doesn’t have a “type?”

What the show has done really well is adding diversity and it happened gradually. I don’t think you hear about it as much as you did before when it was like, “They put in one or two people to check a box.” Now, it isn’t that. Mike, who I just mentioned as one of our best contestants, isn’t someone that you say, “He’s a great African American cast member” — no, he is one of the greatest cast members this season. The show has done a great job of really including more people, and it really helps with casting. Some of these leads say that they’re really serious about wanting to bring on more diverse cast members that they want to legitimately be their suitors. This isn’t like they’re just going to be there for a couple of nights. We want to make sure that the lead is someone who is open to all different types of people because it just makes the show more interesting, so I think that we’ve stepped up our efforts in the past few years, and now, we have people applying for the show who wouldn’t have in the past.

The entire franchise has only had one lead of color with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay, but The Bachelor still has not had a black lead. Each season casts its lead from the pool of contestants from a season before. Do you think you’ve set up the right cast this season to finally cast a black Bachelor?

Look, I think the last several years, that’s been the case. With Bachelorette, that was the case with Rachel. And I think last year with Wills [Reid], that was somebody who was under consideration. This season, absolutely we are going to have some guys who will be considered for Bachelor.

Is there a specific discussion happening behind the scenes about making it a goal to put a black Bachelor in place?

I think it’s always something we’re thinking about that we’ve got to do this. It’s been too long. But it’s not like, “Okay, let’s put these people in to make them The Bachelor” because still, at the end of the day, you want the best cast, and I think that’s what we have here. Obviously, we are going to want to consider an African American Bachelor at some point, so that is always under consideration, but they will have to be on Bachelorette for reasons other than that — obviously you can potentially be the person that The Bachelorette chooses.

Rachel Lindsay recently said that when she filmed the reunion, which just aired, she was “sad” to look around the room and see no one else who looked like her. What do you think about her comments about the franchise’s lack of diversity?

On one hand, obviously I know what she means. Yes? Is she the only diverse Bachelorette at that point? Yes, absolutely. But on the other hand, she never mentioned that when she was The Bachelorette. It made me sad because you always want all the cast members to be happy and have a good experience, and I think for the most part, that is how Rachel feels. But obviously, she had that reaction when she got there.

What can you tease about how Hannah’s season ends?

This could be a situation where one of the guys gets out of the limo to head out to get his heart broken, and all of a sudden, she says, “No, no, no, I’m sorry, he’s the one.” You could see her changing her mind at the last minute. She really is that in love with these last few contestants, and she’s torn over it.

You’ve wrapped filming Hannah’s season, in terms of the planned episodes, but will you continue filming, like you have in the past few seasons, just incase she changes her mind, like Arie Luyendyk Jr?

Of course. Absolutely. No matter what, we’re going to progress this from now until late July or early August when the finale airs because we learned that this thing needs to live after “The Bachelorette” or “Bachelor” fantasy and exist in real life. I think you find some compelling stuff there. What we saw with Arie and Becca [Kufrin] was really riveting. I think of how Colton’s season ended, and that made it go to this next level in terms of honesty and how we morphed into much more real life. And even if it’s just mundane stuff, you can see how they live as a couple. What we’re seeing now is that people are just fascinated with Colton and Cassie and what they’re doing in their everyday life.

Colton and Cassie’s season ended without a proposal and they’re still not engaged, but they’re happily together. Do you think that could be a formula the show follows again, meaning there does not have to be a proposal on the final episode?

Oh, absolutely.

Thursday May 16, 2019

The series finale of The Big Bang Theory airs tonight. The show has been among the top 3 most-watched series on television for the last 7 years, earning 10 Emmy wins, including four consecutive Best Actor in a Comedy wins for star Jim Parsons. More below.

Other season finales airing tonight:

Grey’s Anatomy
Station 19
For The People
Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Law & Order SVU
Young Sheldon
Busy Tonight
(series finale)

Could not be less satisfied with the outcome of last night’s Survivor finale. SPOILER ALERT….obviously I was rooting for Devens, but I just thought it should have been Gavin all day long over Chris. Just because he stepped up and took one of the biggest gamble’s in the show’s history, he was not competing in the game for the vast majority of the season. Another example of recency bias? SMH.

Here’s what runner-up Gavin Whitson had to say about last night’s finale. “I have been thinking about it a lot. And, to be honest with you, I’m sticking to my guns. I’m proud of the game I played. I think every decision I made got me to where I am. The one thing that might have got me a couple extra votes in the end is if Chris wouldn’t have went to fire. If I could have made fire, you know, and I beat Rick, then I believe I win the game. You know, because other than that, I made it 39 days without receiving a single vote and that’s because of the social game that I played. So I don’t have any regrets. I’m still leaving with a full heart. It’s just a matter of that one opportunity I think I missed out on is what cost me a million bucks.”

As you know by now, “Rick Devens did not win Survivor: Edge of Extinction. But he still won a fair chunk of change anyway. Rick got taken out at the final four when final challenge winner Chris gave up his immunity to take on the fan favorite in the fire-making contest. But the disappointment of not making it to the end was replaced during the reunion show by the shock and glee of being presented with $100,000 from pop superstar (and Survivor super-fan) Sia.”

Here are the trailers for CBS’ new series.

Here’s a real truth….with networks taking successful shows in-house and effectively bouncing production companies out of the equation (e.g., The Masked Singer), the panic button is quietly being pushed across the industry. Essentially, networks, who “buy” shows in the most simplistic sense, have more power and control than they have ever had, and as that power continues to expand (meaning they produce shows in-house), what does this mean for production companies? It’s still TBD, but I would very much expect that we hear more and more about this in the not too distant future.

Netflix will soon have to make do with fewer shows from The CW.  The two companies have not renewed their licensing agreement, which expired this spring, meaning that new shows from the broadcaster will no longer automatically begin streaming on Netflix at the end of their seasons.  The CW and Netflix have long had a symbiotic relationship. Mark Pedowitz, president of CW, hailed their first subscription streaming pact, struck in 2011 amid an uncertain time for the fledgling broadcast network, as a "landmark" deal. When the companies renewed the deal in 2016, they agreed to make full seasons available for streaming just eight days after a show's season finale. Since then, Netflix has been the streaming home for such shows as The FlashArrowSupergirlJane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.  Netflix has been helpful in getting certain CW shows made and seen. The streamer bought international first-run rights for Riverdale in the type of co-licensing deal that Netflix exec Bela Bajaria has noted has ‘afforded certain shows to go straight to series and increased production value because we come in early to partner.’ The streaming arrangement also has been key to boosting viewership Riverdale, which saw a 60 percent uptick in live viewership between its first and second seasons after it streamed on Netflix. The ending of the deal doesn't mean all those shows will immediately disappear. Shows that premiered during the 2018/2019 television season will also continue to stream on Netflix throughout their lifetime, and Netflix will continue to have the subscription streaming rights to current shows like RiverdaleThe Flash and Dynasty. Netflix also will have the option of bidding on the streaming rights for individual shows like the upcoming Nancy Drew and Katy Keen series.”

TNT has released a trailer for its upcoming series Chasing The Cure.

The Situation had some friendly faces visit him earlier this week in the “clink.”


Per Variety, “[n]ever let be said that Bill Prady wasted his chance to explore the awkwardness of his life as a young adult.

“The co-creator of Warner Bros. TV’s The Big Bang Theory”mined his experiences working as a computer programmer in the early 1980s to launch the powerhouse CBS sitcom that bows out Thursday after 12 seasons. For Prady, the finale represents the end of an era, in more ways than one.

“‘Big Bang began as the story of me in my early 20s, when I was in the computer business in New York and failing at romantic relationships,’ Prady tells Variety. ‘It’s the story of that time in my life and I knew I’d get one shot to tell those stories. I don’t think I get to come back and re-explore that time again. For me, [the finale] winds up the chance I had to talk about what that time was like.’

“Chuck Lorre, Big Bang co-creator, says bringing the show to a close with episode No. 279, was as heart-wrenching as it gets for a roomful of comedy scribes. The story and teleplay are credited to the show’s core writing and producing team for Season 12. In addition to Lorre and Prady, the credited scribes on episode titled The Change Constant are Steve Holland, Steven Molaro, Dave Goetsch, Eric Kaplan, Maria Ferrari, Andy Gordon, Anthony Del Broccolo, Tara Hernandez, Jeremy Howe and Adam Faberman.

“‘When we wrote the last episode we all lost it. Everybody kind of broke down — it was really emotional. It was very hard to write the words “fade out — end of series,”’ Lorre says.

“The reality of Big Bang having called it a wrap hasn’t set in yet for Prady — and it probably won’t for some months. At this time of year, the show was typically in hiatus mode anyway.

“‘This feels normal. You finish the season, you have some time off, you go to lunch with friends you haven’t seen all year,’ Prady says. ‘It won’t really set in until later in the summer.’

“For most of its run, Big Bang has been primetime’s most-watched comedy series. The show has generated an estimated $1 billion and counting in syndication. To date it has collected 10 Emmy Awards, including four lead comedy actor trophies for Jim Parsons. A big factor in the show’s success that no one could have predicted was the timing of the 2007-2008 writers strike that shut down production on so many primetime series in late 2007. Big Bang had just premiered that September and had completed eight episodes before the strike hit.

“‘CBS ran those eight episodes over and over again,’ Lorre recalls. ‘I didn’t understand it then but they were allowing the audience to binge those eight episodes.’

“Prady says the downtime from the labor action was put to good use. ‘Somehow we magically learned a bit about the show by getting that kind of weird break that normally doesn’t happen in the first year,’ he says. ‘We had that odd interregnum that let us think a lot about it.’

“But the most significant achievement over the show’s long run was the depth of the love and friendships it inspired among the dedicated group of people who plied their trade on Stage 25 on the Warner Bros. lot.

“‘It’s one of those shows where everybody who worked on it loved it. Everybody was looking at every point to see what they could do to make the thing better,’ Prady says. ‘Every special effect and every camera shot and every page of the script — everybody was truly interested in contributing. These things don’t work if a handful of people are trying to carry the energy. They work when you have dolly grips pitching story ideas. There’s a level you only get to when you have emotional buy-in from everybody who works on it.’

“Lorre calls the show a ‘perfect ensemble’ with a core clutch of actors who had the skills to grow with beloved characters over time. Parsons and co-stars Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, and in later seasons Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch, were so good the writers were encouraged to take their biggest swings, secure in the knowledge that the thesps could make it work.

“‘We were very fortunate in that each character in the show is portrayed by the absolute greatest actor we could have hoped for,’ Lorre says. ‘The other factor is the characters were allowed to evolve over time. They didn’t remain the same. Had that not happened the show would’ve gotten stale and ended a long time ago.’

“Lorre points to the emotional journey of Parsons’ Sheldon Cooper, a genius theoretical physicist who was beyond neurotic around most other people, particularly women as an example: ‘He couldn’t touch people when we started the show. Now he’s a married man with a Nobel Prize and a group of friends he loves and he loves them in return.’

“Bialik’s Amy Farrah Fowler became a fan favorite early on after she joined the show as a love interest for Sheldon. But that interest took seasons to bear fruit, by design. ‘The slowness of the relationship added to the poignancy. It gave it roots,’ Lorre says.

“For Prady, Sheldon and Galecki’s Leonard Hofstadter represented two extremes of his social impulses during his own early adulthood. Cuoco’s next-door neighbor Penny was the intriguing glimpse of the ‘regular world’ that seemed so out of reach at the time.

“‘Sheldon connects to that part of me that was afraid of the world and liked to retreat into Star Trek’and comic books and not the world that has Pennys in it,’ Prady says. ‘For me, that was always the sweet spot of exploring that struggle of whether or not you belong in the world. Remember, the big question in the pilot is whether or not Sheldon and Leonard can make a new friend when Penny moves in next door.’

“Prady and Lorre are also quick to credit the influence of two Steves — Molaro and Holland — who held the reins as showrunners. Molaro took over from Lorre and Prady in Season 6. Holland has steered the ship for the past two seasons. Director Mark Cendrowski added an indelible stamp to some 244 of the show’s 279 installments, including the finale. (For Prady, Cendrowski also offered the fringe benefit of being a fellow rabid fan of the Detroit Tigers.)

“‘They brought their own sensibilities to the show,’ Lorre says. ‘They made it much deeper and richer when they took over than it would have been had it been me holding on to it. I would have run out of gas and it would have become redundant and formulaic. They breathed a lot of life into it.’

“Prady echoes that sentiment: ‘One of the lessons I learned from Chuck was that the project is more important than ego. The goal is to make the best show you can. And at some point you have to realize that the best person to run this production isn’t me.’

“Molaro was a ‘strong voice’ in the writers room from the first season, and it gradually became apparent he was the one to take the baton from Lorre and Prady. According to Prady, ‘he started to be the voice that became the show’s compass — and it was all based on what he wanted to see on this show he loved.’

“Lorre also adds that Holland’s stewardship is why the show comes to a close on a high note. ‘We would not have had the finale we have without Steve Holland. He had a vision and it just felt like the right thing to do. I’m so proud of it,” Lorre says. “It feels not like a finale so much as a transition. Life goes on. We’re leaving them, they’re not leaving us. We’re not blowing the show up at the end. We’re just moving away.’

“With the benefit of hindsight, Lorre recalls a moment he shared with director Jim Burrows during the filming of the pilot — actually, the second Big Bang pilot produced after CBS passed on the first iteration — when he knew there was greatness special brewing in this den of geeks.

“‘It was a scene with Johnny, Jim and Kaley. Jim Burrows looked over at me with a big grin on his face. I smiled back,’ says Lorre. ‘What was unspoken between us was that this is really working — beyond our expectations. That’s when I became convinced there was something really extraordinary happening here.’”


From Vulture: “We’ve but one final chapter left to go in the television adaptation of the song of ice and fire, and as Game of Thrones prepares to present us with its dream of spring, there are still plenty of tinfoil-behatted theories out there that the show could still bring to life.

“Sure, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss haven’t exactly proved themselves to be the fan-servicing type (unless you were on the hype train for Cleganebowl), but that doesn’t mean people who’ve long watched the series don’t have a few potentially feasible, often contradictory thoughts of their own about how it should all end. So we’ve dug in deep, combing superfans’ favorite hangout spots to give you the dish on what may still come to fruition in the series finale of the biggest show on television, and some thoughts on the likelihood of each:

The White Walkers aren’t dead

Several Reddit sleuths and their brethren believe that the White Walkers are not finished yet, given how many factors about their existence are still unknown to us. And while there’s reason to believe the magical, existential threat of broody icy boys may be in the wings for a different reason (more on that below), an 11th-hour reemergence of this magnitude doesn’t feel totally right for the story both George R.R. Martin and Benioff and Weiss have been telling. But that doesn’t mean the idea of the Night King is over and done with yet …

Jon Snow becomes the new Night King

Am I slightly more obsessed with this theory than most on the internet? Sure, yes, I will accept that assessment. But, truly, would anything be more heartbreaking or sense-making than this sad, stoic, silent type being turned into the eternally quiet big bad of future times? It would be a beautifully brutal way for this show to go out.

There’s another secret dragon egg somewhere

This one is born from a couple different fan theories based on history, prophecy, and desperation for something grander than what ol’ Winterfell got. Essentially, several folks believe that there may be a dragon — not a hot spring — that lives under Winterfell to keep it warm. Unreliable claims from history also state there may be a stash of eggs there, somewhere, but all of this is hearsay. It all sounds like something out of one of Old Nan’s stories, but even given her impressive track record, this one still seems like a probable no. But speaking of secret Targaryen things …

Tyrion is a secret Targaryen (and that will put him on the throne)

One of the most hotly considered theories out there is that Tyrion is not actually a Lannister, but a secret Targaryen, born out of the rumor that his mother was raped on her wedding night to Tywin by the Mad King Aerys (which would actually give the twins more Targaryen potential, but we digress). It’s an idea that’s been around for as long as the books have existed, but will it be realized on the TV series? Almost certainly not. And after all that Dany’s done, and her father before her, it seems unlikely that any Targaryen — secret or otherwise — would be widely accepted as a fair and just ruler by anyone in the Seven Kingdoms. Sorry, Jon Snow obsessors! Sometimes a name is a curse!

Bran will warg into a dragon

Honestly … this one feels legit, and it would be pretty cool. The old Three-Eyed Raven told Bran he would never walk again, but he would fly — and sure, Bran’s already flown inside the heads of a bunch of pesky ravens. But what if he also meant that Bran would warg into Drogon to do something epic, like melt down the Iron Throne to nothing? We haven’t seen much of Bran’s warging this season, so it feels like its time is due. Which leads to another appealing theory …

Arya will do one more face swap

Why have Arya learn how to trade faces with someone if not to use it to some dramatic effect in the series finale? This fan theory feels primed to happen, particularly when we have the pesky question of “Who’s going to kill Daenerys Targaryen?” just lying around unanswered. My money would be on Arya wearing Grey Worm’s face in order to get close to Dany. (And no, let’s not even consider the idea that Arya might kill Jon Snow to do this, how dare you put that potentiality out into the universe!)

Arya will kill Daenerys

Eyes of brown (Frey), eyes of blue (Night King), and eyes of green — all eyes that Melisandre foretold Arya would close forever. With the other green-eyed options out of the way (the Lannisters, the other long-standing theory), it feels inevitable that Arya ends up murdering the Mad Queen in order to save the realm.

No, wait, Jon Snow will kill Daenerys

The only potential hiccup in that previous theory? That it would be really, really tragic if Jon Snow ended up having to be the one to kill Daenerys, and therefore VERY Game of Thrones. He’s so noble and honest and worried about doing what’s right, and now he’s seen just how mad and ruthless Dany can be, so it feels like the most Thronesian way to end it all: Dany being betrayed, yet again, by another man she loves. (Which was also part of a prophecy for her in the books that has not really been explored in the series.)

Gendry takes the crown

When you look at the names of some of the most important castles in Westeros, what do you see? Random nonsense for some, sure, but also potential telegraphs about the story’s future. After all, where did the Night King die? At Winterfell, where the house words are “Winter is coming.” Where did Dany go mad? When she and Drogon literally landed … at King’s Landing. Where could all this nonsense find its closure? What about Storm’s End, seat of House Baratheon? Feels rather poetic and fitting, doesn’t it? There have been plenty of ignorant but beloved rulers in Westeros’s history. And who’s more ignorant and lovable than Gendry, the one trueborn son to Robert Baratheon who’s still standing?

No, Bran ends up as king!

Nothing about this theory makes sense: He’s not really even a human anymore, he’s never shown any regard for the throne, and he also has, quite literally, all the answers to all things through all time. Therefore … everything about this ending makes absolute sense? Listen, I don’t know anything anymore. It’s been a long six weeks.

Sansa will rule the North

This one also feels pretty destined to happen — at least in the series, if not in the books. Sansa Stark is arguably the smartest person on the show. She’s grown up from a naïve little girl into a strong, no-nonsense, beyond capable woman. She’s a thoughtful, smart, and considerate ruler who can be ruthless, to a point, out of protection of her pack. It would be great to see her rule somewhere since she’ll never end up on the Iron Throne. (Sorry!) Sansa Stark, lady of Winterfell, the queen/warden of the North. Has a nice ring to it.

The Iron Throne gets demolished

If the world is just and good, the ruling wheel will be shattered and chaos’s ladder burned, and what better way to do that than to set fire to the entity that embodies that? If there’s any justice in the game of thrones — and that is certainly still up for debate — that big ol’ spiky chair has got to go.”


Per The Hollywood Reporter, “Boston Rob Mariano and Sandra Diaz-Twine guard the way to Boston Rob Mariano and Sandra Diaz-Twine. It's an odd sentence, sure, but far less surreal than the reality: on the Island of the Idols in the middle of Fiji's Mamanuca Islands chain, there's a beach with two gigantic statues standing on either side of the jungle's open mouth — statues that are the spitting images of Rob and Sandra, two of the most legendary Survivor winners in the CBS reality series' history, with a combined 211 days between them (117 from Rob, 94 from Sandra), as well as three Sole Survivor titles. Sandra is only too happy to remind you which of the two owns the additional crown.

“In Survivor: Island of the Idols, the 39th edition of the landmark reality franchise, Boston Rob and Sandra are back to add 39 more days to their tally, though they have no shot at another title — unless you want to add ‘coach,’ ‘mentor,’ ‘idol’ and ‘veritable Survivor god’ to their expansive list, Daenerys Targaryen style. (Too soon?) The former Survivor champions are the central components of the fall-debuting season's twist, in which 20 new castaways will slug it out for the million-dollar prize, all while accumulating opportunities to glean practical and strategic survival skills from Rob and Sandra. Think of it like Ghost Island, except instead of a bunch of cursed relics and haunted bamboo, players are dealing with two walking, talking, taunting Survivor legends. 

“For now, how about a close-up on Rob and Sandra themselves? THR visited the Fiji filming location of Island of the Idols in March, spotting the two Survivor winners in the wild on their second day out in the bush. Make no mistake: the two-time queen and the Redemption Island conqueror are both roughing it out in the jungle this season, even if they aren't competing in the game. On this particular morning, after spending a hot and muggy first evening in an uncomfortable corner of the island, Rob and Sandra are hard at work cleaning out a new area where they plan to build the most expansive shelter in Survivor history. (The new location is a bit further afield from the massive statues built in their likeness, which might be a good thing; the sight is as surreal to Rob and Sandra as it will be to any of their upcoming guests.) Their ambitions are as big as the multi-tiered structure they hope to build, but they have all the time in the world and none of the stress of getting voted out to see it through. Then again, they do have some other snakes and rats to worry about — especially snakes.

“Ahead, enjoy a slice of life from Rob and Sandra's first full morning on Survivor: Island of the Idols, in which they describe why they signed onto the season, what they hope to accomplish in their new roles as mentors, their hopes for their sprawling shelter, what it's like to share a beach together for the first time since Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains aired almost ten years and 20 seasons ago, and more:

Welcome back to Survivor. What are you doing out here?

Sandra Diaz-Twine: I only came because Rob was coming.

Boston Rob Mariano: I always said I wouldn't come back to Survivor unless it was some kind of unique experience that made sense. When Jeff pitched us the idea of us coming back as coaches or mentors, it rang true. I said, "Why not?"

Did you find out about each other coming out before you came out here?

Boston Rob: Yeah, I knew Sandra was going to be out here.

Sandra: Jeff told me he was talking to Rob, but Rob had not made a decision yet. I was waiting to see what he was going to do.

And so you called Rob to tell him, "What are you thinking? Let's do this!"

Sandra: No, it wasn't like that. We actually met for the first time in LA when we did the 3-D [modeling for the Island of the Idols' Rob and Sandra statues].

Boston Rob: They told us they were making totems of us. I didn't realize it was going to be a 25-foot statue.

It must be a giant ego boost, walking out here and seeing a giant bust of yourselves.

Sandra: Rob said, "Sandra, you know you've made it when you have a totem on Survivor."

It's the closest thing to Survivor Mt. Rushmore.

Sandra: If you don't have a totem yet? You still have to put in work.

How was the first day for you two? 

Sandra: It was good!

Boston Rob: It was good. We fell right back into it. 

Sandra: You went fishing…

Boston Rob: The camp-life stuff that we're used to doing was easy. Sleeping on the bamboo after ten years? Not so easy. But we'll get used to it. We know how to do things now. We're going to move our camp over here. We started building our camp [closer to the beach]. It's not going to work out. Just this morning, we found a better place. We have big plans. We're going to build two decks. We're clearing the space right now. 

Sandra: We want more air. At night, we don't have any air [down by the beach]. It's hot, sweaty and muggy. You toss and you turn. Here, you have a breeze. We're going to have a second level with a star-gazing net where you can sleep and gaze up at the stars. Seriously!

Boston Rob: We've been working on different ideas for things. We're going to make the best shelter they've ever had on this show. We have 39 days, and they can't vote us out. We have a lot of time out here.

What's your idea for how the shelter will look when all is said and done?

Boston Rob: Multiple levels. Star-gazing net. It's going to have a trap-door with a ladder going up to the second floor. There's going to be a wraparound deck with the porch. It's your basic Survivor shelter.

Sandra: And a rope-bed. We don't want no more bamboo.

Do you have a timeline? When's the rope-bed going to be ready?

Sandra: It's going to be one of the first things, right?

Boston Rob: Yeah, within the first week. I was thinking of building a rope-swing, too, to go with the bed.

Sandra: Will you swing me? 

Boston Rob: We're talking about ziplines, too. I don't know. Might be tough.

You're going to put your visitors to work on this project, right? Free labor and all.

Boston Rob: The main premise is they're coming over here. It's called the Island of the Idols. Think of it like a Survivor boot camp or training camp, where they can come over and they can learn any kind of skill that they need. Any lesson, they can come and learn it over here. We can do anything, you know? We've been here over 200 days between the two of us. We can make a fire like that. We can teach them how to fish. We have everything that they would need to learn how to do any skill that it takes to survive out here.

Sandra: And we're planning on counting these 39 days [in our total].

We're looking at this as the fourth and fifth time out for you, right?

Boston Rob: That's the thing. We're walking the walk. We're talking the talk, but we're out here doing it. It's not like we're going back to a hotel.

Was that important for you, in your decision to come out here?

Sandra: It had to be organic. That was the first thing Rob said: "It has to be organic. It has to be real."

Boston Rob: I just want the experience, you know? Which is kind of sick, but I like it!

Sandra: You miss it after so many years. When I got voted off of [Survivor: Game Changers], I was like, "I'm never going to do this shit again." But here I am.

How's your food situation?

Sandra: We have four chickens. We have coconuts. We have a papaya tree. Rob caught a fish yesterday.

Boston Rob: We killed a snake yesterday. There was a six-foot sea snake.

Sandra: I wanted to eat it. I didn't know it was poisonous. I found out it's poisonous.

Boston Rob: It's the only snake in the world there's no anti-venom for.

Can you hang it up on your shelter like a decorative trophy?

Boston Rob: No. I hate snakes. 

Sandra: We had to bury it. It was after our chickens.

Was there a funeral?

Boston Rob: There was. (Laughs.)

Sandra: We buried him out on the beach. He has a plot. 

Was there a eulogy?

Sandra: No, but we said, "It was either you or the chickens. We chose the chickens. So sorry we came onto your island and it had to be you." Rob dug a hole with the shovel, stuck it in there, filled it up and put a stone and a stick.

Are you envisioning an expansive graveyard? How many more dead sea snakes?

Boston Rob: Hopefully no more.

Sandra: Rob doesn't like snakes. He couldn't sleep all night [after that]. That's why we're moving. 

Boston Rob: Off to higher ground!

With the boot camp, what's something you're hoping to teach these new players in the next 39 days?

Boston Rob: I think the lessons will progress as the days go by. At the beginning, it might be basic. We're going to teach you how to learn to catch a fish. I'll teach you how to start a fire. But by day 30 or 35, they might come to us with strategy questions and game theory and numbers, and we can help them with that. But we're not going to talk about that in the beginning. It's not going to help them in the beginning. The lessons we teach will, number one, depend on the person who comes and what they need. Number two, it'll depend on where we are in the game.

How are you going to do with each other out here? You have a whole lot of time and nothing but each other for company.

Boston Rob: I'm fine with Sandra! I have no issues. We get along good. I get her sense of humor and her sarcasm, and she gets mine. 

Sandra: I give him space when he needs it. We live in the snug, but we're not snuggling.

Boston Rob: Separate beds.

Sandra: He stays on his, I stay on mine.”


I really didn’t want to mention her again, but this is too good to skim over: “Constance Wu has garnered a reputation of being so difficult, she’s being dubbed ‘the most hated person’ on her ABC show and is upstaging Jennifer Lopez and Cardi B in the diva department on their new movie Hustlers.

Crazy Rich Asians star Wu tweeted, ‘F–king hell’ Friday when her ABC sitcom Fresh Off the Boat was picked up for a sixth season — later explaining she was upset because she had a role lined up that she’ll have to pass on.

“Wu’s team is now pleading with her to ‘find some humility,’ we’re told. The FOTB source said her Twitter snit fit was apt:’“Constance is the most hated person on set. She is rude to everybody, but most of all the crew.’

“An insider from the set of Hustlers said that while the actresses get along well, behind the scenes Wu is a way bigger diva than her more famous co-stars J.Lo and Cardi.

“Wu ‘is a pain in the f–king ass. She just won’t agree to do anything,’ the source said. ‘She refuses to do interviews, she won’t have visitors on her sets. It’s like a cliché. She is very talented — but all signs are pointing to a difficult diva.’

“A third insider who worked with Wu added, ‘She’s a total piece of work. She thinks it’s OK to treat people badly and say out loud whatever comes to her. She’s the new Katherine Heigl, and if she’s not careful, her movie career will go in the same direction — downhill.’

“Yet another source on the set of Crazy Rich Asians added that Wu ‘was standoffish and arrived to talk to reporters in a separate van from the cast, who came together. It was clear they didn’t socialize . . . She was icy cold, leaving it to Henry Golding to charm everyone.’ At a screening last summer, Wu rolled her eyes when co-star Michelle Yeoh spoke.

“Wu’s reps didn’t comment, but her team is begging her to be gracious, we’re told.

“After Jimmy Kimmel slammed her at the upfronts (‘Only on ABC is getting your show picked up the worst thing that can happen to you’), an insider said ‘she was told to find some humility. She was humiliated at the upfronts; everyone laughed at her.’”