Rest in peace Tom Petty.
Paramount Network and Paramount Television have tapped Girls Trip co-writer Tracy Oliver to write First Wives Club, a half-hour TV series based on the 1996 movie. A First Wives Club reboot was originally developed and picked up to pilot by TV Land last year with a different writer. Terrific.
ABC trots out new episodes of The Middle, Fresh Off The Boat, black-ish, The Mayor and Kevin (Probably) Saves The World tonight.
"Elena Davies of Big Brother 19 stopped by The Morning Breath and gave the inside scoop about what living in the house was really like. The Texas native confirmed that there are in fact no locks on the bathrooms and that there are cameras in the stalls at the Big Brother house. Even worse, people often accidentally walk in on you while you’re using the toilet. Elena revealed that Jason Dent opened the bathroom door on her 'at least four times.' Mark Jansen, Elena’s boyfriend, was walked in on at least once a day while he was pooping. Does no one knock on doors on Big Brother?!"
"Negan made quite the entrance in the season 6 finale of The Walking Dead, and then spent season 7 terrorizing our heroes. But actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan tells EW that we’re going to see more sides to the big bad in season 8, which premieres Oct. 22 on AMC. 'We’re going to start seeing slivers of who this guy is beyond the brutality that we saw in season 7,' says Morgan. 'The most fascinating stuff that I’ve got to do this year is seeing behind the leather jacket.'
"Not that he’ll be that different. 'He’s still going to be a big f—ing dick,' the star says with a laugh. We spoke to Morgan to get some scoop on what to expect coming up, and while looking into the future, he expressed a desire to also dig deeper into Negan’s past:
We’ve seen Negan when he’s firmly in power and in charge. But what kind of Negan are we going to see now in the throws of war, when the kids in the schoolyard start standing up to the bully?
Well, you know, I don’t look at it quite the same way. I don’t know that Negan really sees himself as the bully in this circumstance. I think what’s interesting about this year — for me and for Negan — is that we’re going to start seeing slivers of who this guy is beyond the brutality that we saw in season 7.
My favorite episode last year was where I got to do some stuff with Chandler Riggs [who plays Carl], where you can start to see little glimpses of Negan and who he is as a man and not just this guy swinging a big bat around. We’re going to find some more things about Negan, which I think are fascinating. I think the audience is going to really kind of dig it too.
But you don’t see him as a bully?
Negan doesn’t see himself as a big bully. I think he wants to be in charge certainly, and that’s not going to go away. That’s probably never going to go away until someone kills him. Hopefully that won’t happen any time soon, but Rick is definitely a thorn in his side and one that he is going to deal with. That being said, he’s going to do it with a sense of humor that only he has, but we’re going to start to learn some stuff about Negan. I think that’s been kind of the most fun I’ve had.
The most fascinating stuff that I’ve got to do this year is seeing behind the leather jacket a little bit. And we’ll find more. We’re finding more all the time, but I think the writers and [showrunner Scott M. Gimple] have, have a plan for Negan, and I’m really liking how it’s playing out thus far.
The episode with Negan and Carl was my favorite of last season as well.
Yeah, and I love that dynamic. I really do. It’s all about kind of seeing behind the curtain with Negan. I think the introduction to him was so kind of brutal. It was sort of hard to see around that and I think as season 8 goes, as we find out more about Negan and how he runs things — yeah, there’s a brutality to it certainly, but there’s also stuff that will make you laugh. He’s a funny guy. But in there, there could be a little bit of a heart. It’s not shriveled up and totally black yet, and that’s the stuff that I am finding that I kind of latch onto. I told you this a long time ago, that if I ever go into playing Negan like I’m the big bad villain, then that’s just so one-note and not fun to play.
Well, he’s certainly colorful.
I have to be careful because the writers have so much fun with Negan and his dialogue that I have to be very careful in kind of tampering that dialogue in places to keep it open to other interpretations, because everybody wants him to be this big bad but I just can’t play him like that. I refuse to, and there’s more to him than that. This year Gimple and I are on a mission to find him in there.
And you know, I always am hoping that, at some point, we do a backstory episode for Negan, because it’s an amazing story. I don’t know that that’s going to happen this year, but we are going to see enough of him and he talks quite a bit, as you know. So he’s going to reveal some of himself to the audience this year, which is going to be awesome. It’s going to be fascinating. [pauses] Of course, he’s still going to be a big f—ing dick!
You buried the lede!
That’s it! I mean, you know, he does things in his own special way and it’s very dicky.
We saw him come in so brutal and charismatic — all personality-driven — but what we saw in that finale was some of his strategic skills too in the way that he turned Jadis and the Scavengers over to his side. I thought that was really interesting because now he’s in a war and it’s ultimately going to come down to strategy.
Absolutely! And Negan is smart. He is a good chess player in this world. Obviously Rick is going to surprise him a little bit, but usually Negan is going to be a step ahead, even when you don’t think he is. He’s starting to figure out that Rick is maybe more unpredictable than he had anticipated and he’s not breaking as easily. Negan respects Rick in a way that he has never respected another human in this time of apocalypse, and that says something.
At this point, I have no doubt that Negan would just assume Rick be buried under six feet of dirt. But there’s a certain amount of respect there because, you know, Rick is Rick. In another lifetime, in another world, these two would hang out and be friends, but in this world, that’s just not going to happen and Rick is a thorn in his side.
And Negan likes that game of cat and mouse a bit, doesn’t he?
I think Negan enjoys the whole challenge of it all. He’s gotten a little bit lazy in this world and now we’ve got this guy that’s out causing all sorts of f—ing havoc in his world and making Negan kind of feel alive for the first time in a while. But Negan, more than anything, is a leader that wants to use people in the best way possible. He looks at everyone as a resource and he wants to save people and he has said it time and time again.
So we’ll see what’s going to happen with these two because something’s going to happen this year. I mean, it’s going to get ugly before it gets better and I’m excited to see how it plays out. But I’ll tell you this, obviously we’re going to be in for a ride this year. Last year was a lot of emotional turmoil. This year it’s going to be more kind of visceral action, which I think the audience deserves after last year."
Per Uproxx, "[t]here’s always been a certain mojo about Leon Black that marked him as more than a mere man. But now it’s official: he’s a lifestyle. The quick-talking freeloader broke out as a fan-favorite supporting character on Curb Your Enthusiasm, and now the man who brings him to life — actor and comedian J.B. Smoove has committed his character’s infinite wisdom to paper. The Book of Leon collects the deadbeat’s many koans into one convenient tome, a timely accompaniment to the long-awaited new season of Curb. Whether on screen or page, Leon’s always talking a mile a minute (much of that mile peppered with offhand cuss-words), and Smoove never even breaks a swear keeping up.
"Smoove sat down with us to discuss his 'imaginary friend,' the philosophy of wearing sunglasses indoors, and the Zen state of total oneness he attains before letting Leon loose:
I couldn’t help but notice you’re wearing sunglasses indoors. I feel like that’s sort of becoming a lost art.
Oh, hell yeah. All you gotta do is get some sunglasses you can see out of, but they can’t see the fuck in. The difference between taking ’em off and wearing ’em is so minimal that you ain’t gonna walk into a fuckin’ wall in a dark-ass club. But it gives you class, a little style going on. But your ass ain’t blind in the darkness. Try those transition glasses. Shit turns black.
Leon was a pretty philosophical guy to begin with, even before the book organized it all.
I honestly and intentionally wanted this book to feel like Leon Black wrote a book, like, to capture his voice. At first, I was gonna write a J.B. Smoove book, just a regular-ass crazy book about shit that I do and that I’ve been involved in and whatever, but I thought I’d do a Leon book instead.
What caused you to change your mind?
We had already started working on the J.B. Smoove book, but then on set one day I said, “Goddamn, I think I want to do a Leon book.” And Larry David said, “You know what? You’re so full of shit, you ought to take all your bullshit and put it in a book.” I had thought about doing it, but I didn’t think I could. When you deal with networks, you don’t really own the character. You can’t make any fuckin’ money off the character. I had to go through HBO and do this, and at the same time, they wanted the new episodes. But getting to do the book as Leon, that made it even more fire. Every time I wrote, I’d get my do-rag on, put some long-ass socks on, all that shit, long robe and chain on, and I channeled his fucking brain. And I didn’t sit there like, ‘Hmm? Hmm?’ The first shit that came in my brain, I would spew it out, just like I do with Larry. It sounds stream of consciousness. I didn’t want it to sound so polished and written-written-written, because that wouldn’t be Leon! And I wanted it to come across a certain way for the audiobook.
It’s really for the audiobook.
It’s written for the audio, yeah. I wanted it to feel like you’re Larry, and I’m talking to your ass. That would give it a genuine feeling. When I was reading for that audiobook, I was laughing my ass off at myself! I love a good audiobook. I like reading, but to hear it? The way I’m talking to you? I’m really trying to help your ass.
Through your life, have you found that people are often trying to get at the secret of your essence?
Always, but I’m very open to giving that up. What the fuck you gonna do, hold onto shit? I give people advice all they want. And let me say this: motherfuckers can catch up to you, but their ass can’t pass you. That’s all it is. It’s cool if they catch you, but as long as they don’t pass your ass, you good! Nothing to fuckin’ worry about with them coattails. I don’t mind healthy competition, I don’t mind people doing their dizzle. That’s what Leon would say, it’s a particular way of thinking. Because there’s some Leon in J.B., but no J.B. in Leon.
How do you mean?
Leon’s a different kind of dude. I know how to turn my class up, and I know how to get ill if I’ve gotta get ill. I draw from that for Leon, but Leon cannot go all the way here. Leon’s a very specific sort of character who everyone knows, like, every neighborhood has a dude like Leon. He ain’t a bad guy, he’s just a guy who knows how to get one over and say the right shit. He knows how to tap some ass, he’s got a certain kind of lady he deals with, he knows what lady to go after. Knows how to push the right buttons. He doesn’t have any negativity in his body, because he doesn’t have the time. He’s always on the hustle. He loves a good slice of pizza, a Big Gulp, shit like that! It makes a great fucking day. Simple-ass pleasures that somehow coincide with reality, and how he lives his goddamn life.
He’s a mooch, and still you can’t help but have love for that kind of guy.
Cause he’s entertaining, and he’ll show up, and he gives a fuck about you. Larry brings shit to Leon all the time, and not just because! He really appreciates Leon’s take on a situation. He’s aggressively confident in everything that he says.
Back when the show was first airing, some friends and I took up the Leon-ism of “get in that ass!” as our life mantra.
You know the first time we did that bit, Larry had never heard that term, “get in that ass.” Never heard the expression! So his face was like [bafflement face]. I explained to him a little bit more before the next take, and by the third time we did it, he was crying. Shit was fuckin’ bananas!
Have you expanded the Larry David vocabulary much over the years?
Oh, so much, man. And him using it, I start to scream laughing, because it’s hard for white people to pull it off. In the new one, Larry tries to say he’s lampin’ to Jimmy Kimmel, and Jimmy’s like, “Why’re you talking like that?” It’s for moments like that, teaching Larry lampin’, that I try to be conscious of who Leon is. That’s where I get the little words, like when he says he’s gonna “crudi-take” the crudité, it’s silly as fuck.
It really does just pop into your head?
I really have to go into a scene empty-headed, because what that allows me to do is really be in that moment. If you think about it too hard, you can’t do it freely. They say when you’re boxing, the person that gets mad is the person who loses. Because then, you’re not loose or free enough to put it all together. All you gotta do is listen when other people are speaking, very intently. Larry will say something, and I’m listening for an angle, one key word, that’s all it takes to get the direction for the scene. In the first new episode, Larry says his assistant’s got constipation, and I immediately started thinking of all the shit I could do with that. “I did a hot dog eating contest constipated! I did a porno constipated!” He’s full of shit, but that’s confidence!
Athletes will talk about their pregame routine — how do you get in the zone for Leon?
I’ll get my wardrobe, they’ll give me three options and I’ll pick the wildest shit they got, like, “What’s gonna make the most sense today?” Leon’s on them high-waisted joints, lime-colored tank top, every type of do-rag, goofy-ass sneakers.
I think of the look as “pimp, but broke.”
Exactly — eclectic, cool, but fucked up. Very Goodwill-ish. That pulls the character together for me. And honestly, I go fuckin’ blank. You know how many times I watched Curb and realize I don’t remember any of that shit? You remember when Leon says he and Larry are LEGO, they’re interlocked together? Where the fuckin’ LEGO? I don’t remember saying anything about LEGO! None of that, “black belt in fucking,” you get possessed. You start to think as that character. End of the day, I’m driving home and talking to my wife in the car, she’ll talk about Leon in the third person. She’ll say, “How was your day? What’d Leon say today?” And I think fuck, I’m Leon! but I answer, “Baby, Leon’s a fuckin’ fool.” We talk about him like he’s a Snuffleupagus or some shit. He’s my imaginary friend."
Per The Hollywood Reporter, "[w]"hen viewers were first introduced to Billy Eichner's character on American Horror Story: Cult, his gay was showing — according to his wife.
On the seventh season of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk's FX horror anthology, Eichner joins the franchise as Harrison Wilton, a fitness trainer turned beekeeper with more than a few deep, dark secrets. His wife Meadow (played by Leslie Grossman) married Harrison, her gay best friend, because she doesn't care to be touched after getting skin cancer. In return, Harrison has one night of the week to go out and do whatever he pleases.
"The gun-toting pair's politics seemed muddy and their reasoning for moving into the neighborhood was mysterious, but their initial scenes provided moments of levity amid a dark post-election set season. But the revealing fourth episode, which aired on Sept. 26, allowed Eichner to peel back the layers of his character — one that serves as a stark departure from any of his past comedic roles.
";I’m known for doing comedy and even though I know I have certain skills, the world hasn’t seen me on camera in a more dramatic or serious role,' the host of Billy on the Street tells The Hollywood Reporter of his dramatic mid-season shift. 'If there was someone out there who had a vision and who could potentially see me in a different type of role, and be willing to give me the opportunity to venture off into new creative territory, I knew that Ryan Murphy might be one of those people.'
"Eichner says he first met Murphy three years ago at a pre-Emmys party in Los Angeles and was stunned to find out that the admiration was mutual. The pair kept in touch and Eichner, who was a theater major in college and has a stage history of doing musicals and plays, confessed to the showrunner that he had merely stumbled into comedy and was interested in drama. Flash to Murphy putting together his ensemble for Cult and a new marriage was born.
"In the comedy realm, Eichner was used to playing bold, confident and slightly delusional characters. In addition to hosting his fast-paced game show Billy on the Street — which newly parted ways with TruTV and is looking for a new home — he also stars on Hulu's Difficult People, playing a struggling comedian.
"'With Harrison, there is some crossover in the first couple of episodes with the Billy persona that people know,' says Eichner, referencing his and Grossman's banter. 'But from the fourth episode on, it quickly starts to veer away from that. We start to depart pretty intensely from where the character began.'
"After beginning the season on 2016 election night, the fourth episode flashed back to election day to reveal to the audience how the cult that is newly terrorizing the divided town came to be. Led by mastermind Kai Anderson (Evan Peters), viewers learned that Harrison was indoctrinated into the rising cult after murdering his boss at the behest of Kai, who easily pushed his buttons and promised him salvation.
"'Harrison is much more lost, afraid and down on his luck than any character I've ever played. He doesn't have a sense of humor about himself or the world,' says Eichner. The murder scene took place in the gym where Harrison works, the trainer gradually succumbing to Kai's manipulations during workout sessions. 'Harrison has a lot of masculinity issues. Although he’s gay, he’s in this awkward, kind of archaic marriage relationship with his best friend, which is obviously very dysfunctional to say the least. In so many ways, this character called on me to find parts of myself and bring them to the surface that are not necessarily personality traits that I have, and go to a very vulnerable, emotionally raw place.'
"Over the course of the season, Peters will embody multiple cult leaders, in addition to his fictional character Kai, and the daunting task required the actor to stay somewhat true to character during filming. In turn, Eichner says he also leaned into method acting in order to fully let his guard down during the tense gym scenes, which included a locker room masturbation scene but even more demanding emotionally intimate moments.
"'It’s one thing to be vulnerable, it’s another thing to put yourself in a place where you believe that Harrison can be manipulated and preyed upon by Kai to this very extreme, violent degree,' he says of Harrison representing the portion of the country who have felt ignored and partly became responsible for the result of the 2016 election. 'To be such an open wound and so malleable was an incredible challenge as an actor.'
"For Eichner, the role came along just in time. After two years at TruTV, his Emmy-nominated Billy on the Street, which first began as video segments in 2004, is now a free agent. The current plan is to shift gears to find the show a new home and although Eichner says it "isn't going away," he had been looking to expand his resume.
"'I’m very lucky because I was looking to start branching out from the types of roles that people were getting to know me for and ones I was getting used to doing,' he says. Eichner also co-owns the rights to Billy on the Street, along with producers Funny or Die. 'We are transitioning and it is going to evolve as it always has. I can't announce all the details yet, but the way we distribute it is going to change. I really want to meet the people who are watching me, where they are. We are taking all that into account and we're finding a new situation.'
"Despite the dark and twisted plot on Cult, Eichner also found a new home with the AHS family, bonding off-camera with the cast and team. Though he put his 'blood, sweat and tears' into Billy on the Street over the years, Cult was liberating in a different way. 'If you could go back in time and speak to me in my early 20s, I just wanted to be an actor,' he says. 'I never though about improv or standup and I certainly never thought about running up to people on the street.'
"That's not to say that Eichner doesn't find comedy in Cult. As intended, the season is darkly comedic as it satirizes both the left and right, proving Murphy's earlier words that the 11-episode cycle is not only for a liberal audience. Amid the jump scares and the gore of the psychological thriller, the season is also, frankly, meant to be funny.
"'This season more than anything is a really dark and twisted satire of everyone on the political spectrum,' Eichner says. 'From manipulative, dangerous, racist, misogynistic, homophobic assholes like Trump and the people he surrounds himself with, we explore the way someone like that can brainwash and exploit the ignorant and vulnerable people for his own personal gain with Evan’s character Kai.'
"But in addition to relating that to other historically famous cult leaders like Charles Manson, David Korseh and Jim Jones — all to be embodied by Peters — Cult also satirizes diehard liberals.
"'I’m a diehard liberal and I hate Trump and I would do anything to have him impeached, et cetera et cetera,' says Eichner. 'At the same time, no one’s perfect. We all have our own internal hypocrisies. You can argue that it was the infighting among Democrats and liberals which brought us to this place, because we were out there assuming Trump could never win and overestimating the intelligence of the electorate, meanwhile fighting against ourselves about Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein. We’re satirizing that too — our own hypersensitivity, internal hypocrisy and biases.'
"Not only does Sarah Paulson's leading character, Ally, argue with her wife (Alison Pill) because she secretly voted for Green Party candidate Stein, but one scene between Ally and Kai also sticks out as a perfect representation of Eichner's point. After the election, Ally, who suffers from a multitude of phobias, snowballs into an unmanageable paranoia and adds bars to the entryways of her home. Kai, who is campaigning for city council, knocks on her door and questions her own hypocrisy.
"'That is one of my favorite scenes. Ally is going on and on that she wants to build bridges and not walls and Kai says, 'Then why do you have bars on all of your doors and windows? What are you so scared of?"' recalls Eichner of the scene. 'It’s much different when it starts affecting you and your family. We’re shining a light on all of that and how it's a lot for people to handle right now. We’re all a bunch of bleeding-heart liberals making this show, as far as I know. But we are looking to dive into the identity politics of it all, in addition to entertaining people and taking them on a wild ride. There’s a lot to absorb, depending on what the viewer brings and is open to taking away.'"
Netflix's Ted Sarandos penned an article for Variety: "No comedian wants to be called the voice of his or her generation, but it is undeniable that Aziz Ansari is the voice of his. His is perhaps the first generation to think the internet is more important than television and for whom the internet is at the center of everything they do; dating, eating, transportation, self-expression, friendship. Aziz is not concerned with New York versus L.A. or airline food, but don’t get him started on texting protocols and online dating profiles. He talks the language of a generation who lives online.
"Aziz has no time for the conventions of television because TV is not his God, and in a world that revolves around being online, the conventions of television are not so sacred. In the latest season of “Master of None,” he and Alan Yang delivered an episode with nearly 9 minutes of silence, one in black and white, one almost entirely in Italian and one that had none of the main cast members on-screen. How is this kind of disregard for the very form of television comedy repaid? With back-to-back writing Emmys, of course.
“Master of None is almost nothing like the show that he pitched to us. It is better. He is better. Confidence is not the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of the character traits of a comedian, but Aziz is confident in every aspect of his work, and at least on the surface, it would seem in life too. He knows his material, he knows his audience and he knows how to connect his material and his audience with a remarkable hit rate. With his track record, there are no ideas from Aziz that I can dismiss without long consideration. Being right and being funny are sometimes in conflict, but not for Aziz. He is right about when to go for the laugh and when to go for heartstrings and does both like a 'master.'”