Wednesday October 25, 2017

What you need to know about the new characters on Stranger Things.  More below.

Adam F. Goldberg talks about The Goldbergs.

Mandy Moore talks about how she met her fiance on Instagram.

Feature-length documentary Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated has drawn over seven million views on Lovato’s YouTube channel since its October 17 debut.   What am I missing here?

Rest in peace Benson.

Netflix has renewed Big Mouth for a 2nd season.

"The Kardashians just re-signed with E! network and are pocketing $30 million a season ... for 5 seasons, which comes to $150 million, TMZ has confirmed. Sources familiar with the deal tell us E! made an overall deal with the famous fam ... in TV lingo, the Kardashians were re-signed for 5 cycles -- each cycle is a season. The contract is a package deal ... E! is paying for all services rendered by the Kardashians. It's a bump from their 2015 contract, in which they got $20 mil a cycle for 5 cycles -- total $100 mil. Our sources say the Kardashian deal is structured so that the family decides how to split up the money amongst themselves. The deal takes the Kardashians into 2019."

"The dominos continue to fall at Amazon Studios. Following the exits of studio head Roy Price and head of comedy and drama Joe Lewis, Amazon Studios’ head of unscripted programming Conrad Riggs also has been let go, Deadline has learned. We hear that the reality TV vet will likely get some sort of parachute from the Jeff Bezos-run online retail giant, but nothing like the producer deal Lewis received as a part of his executive exit yesterday. There had been a lot of rumblings Riggs too was on shaky ground, with sources in TV circles complaining about his management style. While Riggs played a key role in bringing Jeremy Clarkson’s expensive Grand Tour to Amazon, a show that was able to establish itself, there have been few other projects shepherded by Riggs that got traction. The series Riggs and his team created and oversaw include All or Nothing: A Season With the Arizona Cardinals; Eat the World, with Emeril Lagasse; Novak, a docuseries following the life of tennis star Novak Djokovic; and American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story. Amazon just launched Lore, based on the praised podcast about true life scary stories."

"Colin Kaepernick has inked a book deal worth just over $1 million with Random House imprint One World, Page Six has exclusively learned. One World’s headed by book world superstar Chris Jackson, who also publishes Jay-Z and Ta-Nehisi Coates. He launched One World last year. Ex-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Kaepernick launched the current movement of NFL players protesting during the national anthem, and he’s recently filed a controversial collusion grievance against league owners. He’s still looking for a job in the NFL after opting out of his 49ers contract earlier this year."  If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it . . . . 

Some things you might not have known about MTV's Jersey Shore.  A couple of my favorites: (1) Jersey Shore was originally pitched as a competition show about who could live the most "guido" lifestyle. There were even going to be elimination-style challenges relating to fist-bumping and tanning. (2) While the cast was filming in Italy, MTV decided to greenlight another season. So, without the cast's knowledge, MTV negotiated the deals with their agents and lawyers. Producers were worried that if they told the cast before the deals were done, they would rebel. And since they were all contained in the Florence house with no access to the outside world, it was easy to go behind their backs.

"A+E Networks will debut Save It or Sell It, a new unscripted one-hour special about struggling small businesses, on November 5, the network said today. The special follows hosts Robert Hirsch and Eric Casaburi as they assist various small businesses, diagnosing problems, planning renovations and soliciting potential buyers through a blind bidding process. Save It Or Sell It airs Sunday, November 5 at 11 pm on A&E, followed by premieres across A+E Networks’ 'enthusiast' programming blocks on History, A&E and FYI. In addition to assisting the businesses, Casaburi and Hirsch compete to convince the owners to either sell or save the businesses. The concept for Save It or Sell It was an original idea developed in collaboration with Tongal client Tom Duncan, CEO of Positec Tool Corporation. Tongal will develop digital content to support the series and leverage its network to cast new businesses for future episodes."  I know Tom Duncan, congrats to him!

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"Happy Stranger Things week! The Netflix series finally returns for its second installment on Friday with the bigger, scarier, very cinematically named Stranger Things 2.

"The series opens during the week of Halloween in 1984 and finds the core group of kids — Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Will (Noah Schnapp), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) — all dressed as the Ghostbusters.

"In order to use those costumes, though, Things creators Ross and Matt Duffer had to actually have a conversation with the film’s director Ivan Reitman and star/co-writer Dan Aykroyd. 'We got to talk to Ivan Reitman on the phone because he and Dan Aykroyd had to approve it,' says Matt Duffer.

"The Duffer Brothers are huge film fans so this was a work call but also a massive thrill. '[Reitman] said it was flattering,' says Matt Duffer. 'He read the scripts. He had seen the first season or at least had heard of it or pretended like he had. But they were really into being part of the show. Then they sent us all these Ghostbusters toys at the end of the shoot. That’s one of my top 5 most worn-out VHS tapes.'"

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These stories are getting very very very old and tiring.  "An upcoming Top Chef episode featuring celebrity chef John Besh is currently under scrutiny after 25 current and former female employees alleged they were sexually harassed by male bosses and colleagues while working for his Besh Restaurant Group.

"Bravo is currently 'evaluating' the upcoming episode in which Besh appeared, a network spokesperson tells The Hollywood Reporter. The New Orleans-based chef filmed one challenge for the episode, which is currently in post-production and is scheduled to air later in the season. The upcoming 15th season kicks off on Dec. 7.

"The Times Picayune published the allegations Saturday following an eight-month investigation. In addition to accusing male bosses of verbal and sexual assault, several of the women interview said individuals at the company tried to leverage positions of authority for sex. In a statement to the paper, Besh acknowledged he had carried on what he claimed to be a consensual sexual relationship with an employee. However, the employee in question claimed in a letter to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said she felt pressured.

"Besh acknowledged a sexual relationship with an employee, telling the Times Picayune that it was consensual, despite the employee's assertions in a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that she felt pressured.

"In the wake of the allegations, Harrah's New Orleans Casino has cut ties with Besh and said it will rename his steak restaurant in the casino. It was announced on Monday that he was stepping down from management at his restaurant group.

"Besh had appeared on Top Chef several times and competed on Top Chef Masters in 2009. Since his rise to fame in the culinary world, he had also hosted several TV shows including Chef John Besh's New Orleans and Chef John Besh's Family Table both on PBS, and Spike's Hungry Investors. He also competed on The Next Iron Chef and served as a judge on Food Network Challenge. He has also authored several cookbooks.

"Behs [sic] is just the latest famous figure to be hit by sexual harassment allegations, following longtime movie producer Harvey Weinstein, director James Toback, former Fox News head Roger Ailes, former Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly and comedian Bill Cosby, among others."

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Per Variety, "[i]t’s hard to imagine who exactly the audience for Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television is. Or maybe it’s the opposite: It’s very easy to imagine the audience that might be interested in a highly self-referential TV show; it’s for people who live and work in the world of TV already. It’s just difficult to imagine that such a niche audience might be a viable market for a new comedy series. But this is television in 2017, as Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television will never stop reminding you, with charming bemusement. Somehow even this gets an eight-episode order. 

"For all of its self-deprecation (and platform deprecation), Ryan Hansen Solves Crime on Television is a sturdy little half-hour, with a procedural template that promises a neatly tied off case at the end of each episode. Each episode follows actor Ryan Hansen — that guy from Veronica Mars and Party Down — as he shadows LAPD detective Jessica Mathers (Samira Wiley, wonderful as always), a no-nonsense cop with a distinct lack of respect for Ryan’s constant social media preening. Ryan and Jessica are filming a TV show, sort of. Except that no one they talk to believes that YouTube Red is a real thing, and Ryan keeps interrupting his own show to deliver a line differently, or suggest a sound effect for post. When the audience meets Ryan’s family, they’re on the set of a multi-camera sitcom — with a live audience, and a nosy neighbor played by Jon Cryer. There was disagreement, Ryan explains, over whether Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television should be single- or multi-cam. So they’re just doing both.

"The comedy requires the audience to be very aware of the conventions of a mediated screen experience — whether that is what it feels like to watch videos on your phone, or the recognizable beats of any crime procedural. It’s casting for a specific audience, to be sure. But if you are a member of that audience, Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television offers a welcome, sharp awareness of what it’s like to have so many videos competing for your attention.

"It would have been simpler, perhaps, if Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television had opted to be a parody reality show — either in the mockumentary style of The Office or the satire of Rock of Love. Instead the characters conveniently 'forget' or 'remember' there’s a camera present, which is at times a little confusing. But this is a blurred distinction that seems thematically appropriate, too. Ryan seems always unsure of who he is if there’s not a camera capturing him from some angle. In one inspired scene in the premiere, he takes a selfie of himself holding a gun — with a phone that has his own picture on the case, presumably from some other selfie he took from some other phone. Jessica, meanwhile, has no interest in viewer satisfaction; when she accidentally stumbles into Ryan’s family’s multi-cam studio, she reflexively pulls her gun on the studio audience.

"The show wouldn’t work at all without Hansen’s specific combination of good cheer and self-delusion, and to his credit, he executes it beautifully. In that curious blend only available to Hollywood wannabes, he’s both totally unself-conscious and totally too self-conscious, at the same time. He’s a mensch in auditions and intolerably self-absorbed otherwise. Jessica’s fed up with him, of course, but after working a few cases together, she discovers that Ryan’s set of insights is a useful one, especially in the industry-driven mean streets of Los Angeles. And if the spine of this show is a tried-and-true formula — that of an unlikely pair solving crimes together, and slowly coming to appreciate each other in the process — then regardless of platform, distribution, or device, YouTube Red has found a home for a classic TV formula."

I might have to subscribe to YouTube Red. . . .Per Uproxx, "[i]f you were asked by a friend to go see a dead body, you’d probably have a few questions, including 'Why are you asking me this,' and, 'Why do you know about this?' However, if that friend happened to be actor Rob Huebel, you’d probably still be asking those questions. But would it make you more inclined to shrug off those reservations and take him up on his offer?

"Though everyone’s answer would likely vary, that’s the premise for the new web series Do You Want To See A Dead Body?, premiering November 15th on YouTube Red. Based on Huebel’s Funny Or Die shorts, and riffing its premise from Stand By Me, each installment of the web series pairs Huebel off with the likes of Adam Scott, Danny Pudi, Alexandra Daddario, and Terry Crews (among others) as he entices them with an offer to go see a dead body. Along the way, their quests get sidetracked by everything from quicksand to nude beaches, because no one ever said going corpse-watching was going to be easy.

"While the trailer showcases a kind of unchecked, off-the-cuff comic sensibility, Huebel told us earlier this year that the show itself is scripted, with him and his guest stars all playing themselves, but does tend to rely on their real-life comic rapport. It’s also one of a handful of original offerings by YouTube Red, YouTube’s foray into the ever-growing streaming wars that currently offers a variety of original content, including full-length films, documentaries, educational programming, and scripted series.

"Do You Want To See A Dead Body premieres November 15th on YouTube Red."

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Per Vulture, "Amazon is deepening its ties with Funny or Die, signing a deal to finance and distribute original short-form content from the comedy powerhouse. Following a summer partnership on FOD’s Justin Long web mini-series, The Real Stephen Blatt, Amazon will now fund production of three FOD comedy shorts set to bow exclusively on Amazon Prime Video next month, Vulture has learned. While audiences will stream the shorts on the same service that gives them One Mississippi and Transparent, the Amazon-FOD team-up is the result of an entirely different — and less well-known — unit of the Seattle-based digital giant.

"FOD is getting its content to Amazon Prime Video subscribers by partnering with Amazon Video Direct, a YouTube-like platform launched in mid-2016 that lets filmmakers and studios self-distribute their wares via Amazon’s various video services. Some AVD content is made available to Prime Video members as part of their subscription; other programming can be rented or purchased by Amazon customers the same way a digital copy of, say, Get Out can be accessed. Until now, AVD hasn’t paid for any content in advance: Individuals and companies — including FOD — have been compensated based on either viewership or how much money they generate in subscription and rental fees. For example, when distributor FilmRise acquired the rights to Grace Under Fire, A Different World, and a number of titles from the Carsey-Werner sitcom library, it decided to make them available to Prime Video customers via AVD. Amazon was able to offer customers a slew of classic TV at zero upfront cost.

"So why start spending money for content, as AVD is now doing with this new deal? “Funny Or Die has become one of the top AVD partners in total streams and driving new Prime Video customers,” AVD chief Eric Orme tells Vulture via email. In addition to strong viewership for the Long series, Stephen Blatt, he says FOD’s Between Two Ferns “was one of the most watched AVD shows on Prime Video in the U.S. over the summer.” Because of that early success, Orme says, “teaming up with FOD to produce original content is a natural extension of the existing relationship.”

"For its part, FOD is able to use AVD and Amazon Prime Video as yet another way to expand the footprint of its content beyond its own website. Earlier this month, the company launched FODTV, a night of short-form programming on cable’s IFC (whose parent company, AMC Networks, is a minority investor in FOD). FOD has also gotten into half-hour programming with shows like IFC’s Brockmire, Netflix’s American Vandal, and Hulu’s Sarah Silverman showcase, I Love You, America. The new Amazon deal is smaller in scale than those other efforts. For now, it covers just three short films: Lovebirds, from writer-director Ahamed Weinberg; The Jury, written and directed by Anna Kerrigan; and Soojung Dreams of Fiji, a documentary satire written by S.J. Son and directed by Hye Yun Park. (As part of an earlier agreement, AVD will continue to premiere — but not finance — a number of FOD titles exclusively through mid-2018.)

"But while the AVD agreement is relatively low-key, it does have advantages for a studio like FOD. For one thing, AVD is completely hands-off in the development and production process: Unlike a show produced directly for Amazon Prime Video (or, say, Netflix), there’s no development exec from the streaming network giving notes. What’s more, FOD execs believe the AVD deal will let the company showcase up-and-coming talent whose projects are distinct from 'the hypertopical content you will often find on our social channels,' as FOD vice-president of partner content Brian Toombs puts it. In addition, he says, these shorts are 'elevated by being hosted in the [Amazon] Prime environment. [It] gives the creative talent a different type of exposure for their work, being included among studio films and television shows. Just because it is short form doesn’t mean it can’t look and feel filmic.' The first of the FOD shorts produced under the new deal will premiere on November 10."