Monday October 30, 2017

Thank you to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros for last night's epic and historic game.

Somehow, I finished season 2 of season 2 of Stranger Things.  It's a good show.  They did an excellent job stringing it together.  Almost each episode ends with a cliffhanger that entices you JUST enough to hit play on the next episode.  I just wish the hype train would have slowed down a bit as I think that it has taken expectations to an unattainable level.  More below.

Is Sean Astin wearing a fat suit in season 2?

Charlie Heaton has a secret love child? More on him below.

If you have already watched season 2, here are some things you might have missed.

Fitz wants to keep talking about sexual harassment?  

Superior Donuts returns tonight.  That's still a thing, huh?

Jersey Shore star Deena Cortese and her longtime boyfriend Christopher Buckner are married.The pair, who got engaged last year during a trip to Mexico, tied the knot Saturday at Laurita Winery in New Egypt, New Jersey. Mazel tov.

On that note, "MTV is bringing back another signature unscripted franchise, lining up an offshoot from blockbuster hit Jersey Shore. The Viacom network has reteamed with Jersey Shore creator/executive producer SallyAnn Salsano and her 495 Productions for MTV Floribama Shore, an eight-episode reality series, which will premiere on Nov. 27 at 10 PM. Here is the first teaser for Floribama Shore, set in the Florida Panhandle along the beach that stretches all the way to Alabama, which features Jersey Shore‘s signature duck phone passing the baton to an alligator phone as the Shore franchise moves south." 

This Is Us star Justin Hartley and actress Chrishell Stause married in an intimate and emotional outdoor ceremony Saturday evening, PEOPLE exclusively confirms.

NBC has terminated Mark Halperin.

Kevin Spacey is a sexual offender.

And in response, he came out as gay.

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[Warning: Full spoilers for season two of Stranger Things are ahead.]

"Unless you live in a toxic shadow dimension without access to Netflix, then you're already well aware that the full second season of Stranger Things has arrived — and for the people who took the day off from work in order to consume it in its entirety, season two has already come and gone.

:Of course, the number of individuals willing and able to binge through all nine episodes of season two midway through premiere day are few and far between. In the very likely event that you haven't finished the season yet, do yourself a favor: bookmark this page, and get out of here. Go finish the season. Truck through all nine episodes, and once the final credits start to roll, come on back. We're about to dig into the last scene of season two in full form with Matt and Ross Duffer, the twin brothers responsible for creating and maintaining Stranger Things, which means this is a place you should avoid until your latest journey through the Upside Down is complete.

:Unlike the first season of the series, which set up numerous different cliffhangers — including Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) still showing symptoms from his time in the Upside Down — the second season ends in a much more straightforward manner, with only one true cliffhanger in sight.

:Season two culminates in the full party converging upon Hawkins High to celebrate the Snow Ball, a holiday-themed dance. It's easily one of the happiest moments of the series to date, as Will, Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) all hit the dance floor to sway along with a slow song — with partners including Nancy (Natalia Dyer), Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and newcomer Max (Sadie Sink) in Dustin, Mike and Lucas' cases, respectively. The joyful moment is well-earned, as the kids have survived another Upside Down nightmare, with Will fully free from his relationship to the Mind Flayer, the nickname the boys give to the Shadow in the Sky that temporarily turned Will into a spy ...

... except the sky isn't shadow-free for long. The very final image of the season sees the camera flipping upside down until the viewer is in the Upside Down. Here, in this phantom universe, the Mind Flayer stands strong, towering over the school, its next moves completely unknown.

"Below, the Duffer Brothers explain why they wanted to end season two on an uplifting note with the lone exception of that disturbing final image, as well as why viewers should expect the full nature of the Upside Down to remain somewhat enigmatic all the way through the final episodes of the series:

What appealed to you about closing season two on a happy note, final shot notwithstanding? 

Matt Duffer: We always had this ending in mind. Within less than a week of working on season two, we knew we would end at the Snow Ball. We decided Nancy was going to dance with Dustin. It gave us an endgame. It gave us something to aim toward. You can get lost in the desert of the season. We always had the Snow Ball there, and we always had it written up on the board as something we wanted to get to. Very much like season one, we wanted to give the story a sense of closure. In that sense it feels like its own thing — its own sequel with its own beginning, middle and end. Hopefully, it's satisfying on that level. Last year, we had a lot of little cliffhangers at the end of the season. We didn't want to do that again. We didn't want to box ourselves in for season three. We wanted to be able to start season three on a very clean slate. It felt totally unnecessary, when we had the Snow Ball. Once we had the Snow Ball, we didn't know [if we wanted to do] anything else as an ending. 

There's the final shot of the season: the Mind Flayer looming large over the school in the Upside Down. What did you want viewers to get from this image? Clearly it's a sign that there's still trouble on the horizon, but should viewers interpret it as trouble being even closer than we realize?

Ross Duffer: Yeah, we don't end it on a totally happy note, do we? (Laughs.) There were discussions about that, but then we went, "Nah, we have to hint at what's to come." The hope we wanted people to get out of it is that this thing [is still out there]. They've shut the door on the Mind Flayer, but not only is it still there in the Upside Down, it's very much aware of the kids, and particularly Eleven. It had not encountered her and her powers until that final episode. Now, it knows that she's out there. We wanted to end on a little bit of an ominous note on that level.

Structurally, season two takes place a year after season one. Given that we see the Mind Flayer looming over the school at the end of season two, should we expect a similar time jump between seasons — or is this an indication that we might hop back into the action a little bit faster than usual?

Matt Duffer: Even if we wanted to hop into the action faster, we couldn't. Our kids are aging. We can only write and produce the show so fast. They're going to be almost a year older by the time we start shooting season three. It provides certain challenges. You can't start right after season two ended. It forces you to do a time jump. But what I like is that it makes you evolve the show. It forces the show to evolve and change, because the kids are changing. Even if we wanted it to be static and we wanted to continually recycle the same storyline — and we don't — we would be unable to, just because the kids are changing. It's cool, though. The audience is going to be able to watch these kids come of age every year. The closest example is Harry Potter. Watching those kids and actors grow up in front of the camera was, to me, very powerful. I mean, I wasn't a kid when I experienced that, and I can only imagine if you were a kid and you were their age, it would have been even more powerful. That's what I'm excited about. It's a long way of saying that yeah, we're going to do a time jump.

The rules and nature of the Upside Down remain enigmatic even after season two. Yes, we know the world is expanding, and yes, we know there are now "Demodogs" in the mix. But a lot of it remains held close to the vest. Do you view the nature of the Upside Down as end-game material? Will it be a slower burn getting those answers on the show? Can you envision a scenario where we don't ever fully understand its true nature by the end of the series?

Ross Duffer: It's a balancing act. If you tell too much, it loses a little bit of that mystery. We obviously will shed more light on it moving forward, but we want to do it a little bit at a time. Even at the end, I don't think we're going to answer all of those questions, and I don't think we even necessarily need to. We're telling this story from the point of view of very human characters. There's no way they can ever truly fully understand this place. We have our Upside Down document which describes its rules and its mythology in quite a bit of detail, but I think we're just going to slowly parse that out, and maybe not even fully use all of it. Our favorite thing to do on this show is that these characters, especially the kids, are able to make these leaps about the Mind Flayer and how it operates and what it wants, but they're just basing this off of games that they've played. They don't really know for sure. There's really no way for them to fully understand it. In real life, you wouldn't be able to fully understand this entity from another place. You could never fully understand its motivations. That, to us, is scarier than knowing exactly what it wants.

As Mike and the others grow up, if they are our lens into the Upside Down, will our view of this universe mature accordingly?

Matt Duffer: I don't know. That's pretty cool, though. (Laughs.) Yeah, I like that!"

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From Mashable: "Hidden among the cacophony of time jumps, sniping of Savior guards, and motivational speeches, you probably missed one key moment in the Season 8 premiere of The Walking Dead.

"Sure, you saw Rick looking distraught, muttering something about mercy and wrath, but that line could easily get lost with all the other crap going on. Many viewers were left to wonder when, exactly, that scene was taking place, and what it all really meant.

"But the comics can once again can shed some light on what the hell is going on with this show. (Spoilers for the comic books, and potentially the show, ahead.)

"At the end of the All Out War comics storyline that this season will surely follow, Rick and his army defeat the Saviors. 

"After Rick suggests that the various communities involved in the war begin to work together instead of fighting, Negan realizes that he's completely in the wrong with everything that's gone on between the groups. He finally understands that people can coexist peacefully instead of trying to constantly dominate each other. He finally sees things Rick's way.

"Then Rick cuts Negan's throat.

"It's not quite enough to kill him, though. Negan fights Rick to the ground, then passes out. Rick insists that Negan's life be saved, despite the objections of Carl, Andrea, and pretty much everyone around him. They instead put him in a makeshift prison, intending to keep him there for life. 

"This appears to be the moment displayed on the show, when Rick echoes Siddiq's words earlier in the premiere, whispering, 'My mercy prevails over my wrath.' 

"Taking Rick's red-rimmed eyes and shakiness at face value, if that flash-forward does follow on from Rick taking down Negan, the show version of Rick seems to grapple with this choice a little more than his comic counterpart does — but that's in line with what the show's been doing. Book Rick tends to be just a little more level-headed at times, while Andrew Lincoln's version of the character can be a little more emotional. 

"So if this is indeed the same moment, that means Rick isn't going to follow through with the one thing he's been claiming he'll do — kill Negan. Hopefully what happens in the next 15 episodes of the series will justify this radical shift in Rick's plan, and this decision doesn't jar the audience too much.

"But if you thought the discord and heated conversations following the cliffhanger from Season 6 were bad, get ready for a whole new issue to fight about with other fans. Comic readers are still arguing over Rick's decision to let Negan live, because yes, he's still alive in the books.

"Is this bat-wielding murderer worthy of redemption? Definitely not. But it appears that our hero is going to give him another chance anyway."

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Per The Guardian, "America’s enthusiasm for Larry David appears to be wearing pretty, pretty thin. The return of his long-running comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm earlier this month met with a mixed reception. Some critics praised the show’s taboo-breaking approach. Others lamented its decline. Writing in the Guardian, Phil Harrison said Curb was beginning to resemble a 'fourth-rate Benny Hill'.

"At the heart of the debate is whether a show about the travails of a privileged white man who operates without a filter has lost its appeal in America in 2017, a place where, in the words of New Yorker, 'it feels as if all of public life is its own grim kind of cringe comedy.'

"David took six years to consider whether to revive Curb, a project that started as an inventive stand-up special for HBO in 1999 and blossomed into a second hit for the man who found success as the co-creator of Seinfeld. It was the controversial ending of that show which gave him pause about reanimating Curb for a ninth season.

“'I got so much grief from the Seinfeld finale, which a lot of people intensely disliked, that I no longer feel a need to wrap things up,' he said in a 2014 Grantland interview. 'I wouldn’t say I’m mad about it, but it taught me a lesson that if I ever did another show, I wasn’t gonna wrap it up.'

"But he did decide to come back, and this season’s story arc – in which David receives a death threat from the ayatollah after writing a musical called Fatwa – has been called a 'throwback in a bad way'

"Ratings have been good but not startling. Curb managed 1.54 million viewers in the US on its debut, a dip of around 25% on the season eight finale. That’s quite a way off the mainstream appeal of Modern Family (which pulls in around 7 million viewers) but noticeably better than Emmys favourite Veep (580,000).

"It has not all been bad for David. Many have praised his decision to keep the show controversial and to include a diverse cast which does not attempt to talk down to its audience but instead assumes it’s in on the joke.

"Kenny Herzog, a TV critic who recaps Curb for New York magazine’s Vulture, said the reception of the ninth season revealed more about the contemporary debate around political correctness than David’s comedy itself: 'If you over-think it you’re going to end up making a show that … doesn’t have anything to say and doesn’t have any balls.'

“'It is inevitable that the return of the show wasn’t going to have the luxury of standing on its legacy and its merits,' he said. 'It was going to have to rise to a new standard that a lot of people have about being delicate towards certain subjects and people, even when you’re being funny.'

"The problem may be what the show is saying. Larry’s relationship with Leon Black – his layabout housemate, played by JB Smoove – has become a focal point for critics. Some say a lazy black character reiterates racist stereotypes. Others say the character is knowingly cartoonish and has endeared David to black America.

"There is an argument that it’s not David who has changed, but his audience. In the time Curb has been off screen there has been a change in public opinion about political correctness. Vocal, student-led movements and social groups such as Black Lives Matter now challenge how power works in all parts of American society, including comedy.

"David’s long-time collaborator Jerry Seinfeld has been one of the loudest voices shouting down opponents of offensive jokes and comedy.

"In 2015, asked by ESPN why some comics no longer perform on university campuses, he said: 'They just want to use these words: "That’s racist;" "That’s sexist;" "That’s prejudice." They don’t even know what the fuck they’re talking about.'    

"Larry David is as insensitive as ever in the show’s ninth season, and his approach to life makes him the perfect character to navigate questions of identity in 2017

“'I have no interest in gender or race or anything like that. But everyone else is kind of, with their calculating – is this the exact right mix? I think that to me it’s anti-comedy. It’s more about PC-nonsense.'

"Herzog sees that societal shift – on what is deemed funny and what is wantonly offensive – as the core of the debate around Curb’s lost appeal.

“'There might be people first coming to the show just based on its reputation having never seen it, and they may be in their 20s or late teens and have come of age in an era of self-conscious political correctness,' he said. 'They can be surprised at how confrontational the show is.'

"The other major change has come in the White House, where Donald Trump’s presidency has ushered in an era where, as the New Yorker put it: 'Unbridled egotism and rampant hairsplitting rule the airwaves; the unrivalled callousness of a rich, old, out-of-touch white guy is a daily fixture.'

"That landscape has made the show’s premise harder to swallow for some, but Herzog points out that it is people like Trump that the show is lampooning.

“'You’ve got to pick your allies and pick your adversaries and I don’t think Larry David is really on the wrong side,' he said. 'They’re on the right side of progressivism and you’ve got to have a sense of humour. If you find any of the new series offensive that means you need to go back and find the entire show offensive.'"

Per EW, "[w]ith the American Idol reboot preparing to launch at its new ABC home, Fox is once again throwing its hat in the ring of singing-competition shows with The Four. The catch is that this series starts where most others end: the final four.

"A quartet of talented singers who nailed auditions in front of music industry experts will have to defend their coveted spot week after week as they are challenged by new singers determined to take their place. Think of it as a cross between the end of American Idol and the knockout rounds from The Voice. If any of the original four are outperformed by their new challengers, they will be sent home and replaced.

"Here’s another fun twist: Those challengers could be literally anybody. Amateur singers or fans watching at home on the couch can submit their own audition tapes to be judged not by industry experts, but by America through a vote. If the existing four singers best the challengers each week, by the end of the season they will all face off against one another to win the ultimate prize: the judges panel shepherding the victor to stardom, à la Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.

"The Four was created by Armoza Formats and is produced by ITV Entertainment. Becca Walker, David Friedman, David George, Adam Sher, David Eilenberg, Moshiko Cohen, Elwin Vizetelly de Groot, and Nehama Cohen are set as executive producers.

"The Four is slated to debut in 2018. In the meantime, check out the short teaser above."

Hard pass.

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Per Deadline, "[a] UK newspaper is reporting that Charlie Heaton, one of the stars of Netflix supernatural series Stranger Things, was denied access to the US and missed the second season premiere because traces of cocaine were found in his luggage.

"The Sun claimed the 23-year-old actor, who plays Jonathon Byers on the series, was caught by drug-sniffing dogs at LAX. Border officials then allegedly found traces of white powder on his personal items. The Sun cited an anonymous source who claimed there was a 'very small amount” of what was confirmed to be cocaine.'

"Heaton was sent back to the UK, forcing him to miss the Stranger Things Season 2 premiere last night. He was not arrested, according to the newspaper, but was detained at the airport and then put back on a plane to London.

"Netflix would not comment on the alleged incident or on Heaton’s future on Stranger Things."

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From the Nothing To Lose department: "Kathy Griffin got social media buzzing Saturday when she said Andy Cohen offered her cocaine before getting in front of the cameras for his Bravo show, Watch What Happens Live.

“'I am completely stunned by this story. It is 100% false and totally made up,' Cohen tweeted. A Bravo spokesperson followed that up, saying, 'This is  completely false and we are not going to credit it with any more attention.'

"The controversial comedian has appeared on the Cohen-hosted and produced late-night talk show twice in the 10 years it’s been on Bravo and, Griffin says, both times he asked her if she wanted to 'do blow' with him.

“'Right before we went live, Andy Cohen privately asked me in an office in Embassy Row — which is the production company that does that s–t show — if I wanted to do blow,' Griffin said in a lengthy Twitter video which bashes both Cohen and TMZ founder Harvey Levin.

“'You guys know I’m no prude but I’m like, kind of a straight edge — I thought he was kidding the first time,' she went on. 'Just so you know, Jimmy Kimmel or Seth Meyers never asked me to do blow before going on their show. No one from The View has ever asked me to do blow before a show.'

"And, according to Griffin, she got the same invitation the second time she did his show.

“'Same thing,' she said. 'That’s why I don’t do that show, and I don’t know why he gets away with that.'”

Here's what Griffin had to say about Harvey Levin.