Monday November 27, 2017

Here's the trailer for Fox's new singing competition The Four, with judges Sean Combs, DJ Khaled, Meghan Trainor and Charlie Walk.  Looks really stupid.

I watched season 3 of Red Oaks.  I remain a huge fan of this show and highly recommend it.  It's a very very easy watch.  6 x30 and you can rip through em.

I also checked out a couple of Amazon pilots, specifically:

Sea Oak -- Genre-bending comedy Sea Oak features Aunt Bernie, a meek, working-class woman who dies tragically in a home invasion. Compelled by sheer force of dissatisfaction, she comes back from the dead full of rage, determined to get the life she never had.  She proceeds to inflict a range of demands on her immediate family who live in a low-end subsidized hellhole of a housing complex called Sea Oak. Sea Oak is created by George Saunders, 2017 Man Booker Prize winner for Lincoln In The Bardo.

Love You More -- Karen Best has a big life. She's a big girl with a big personality and a big love of Chardonnay, which occasionally, causes her to make some big mistakes with men. But the biggest thing about Karen is her big heart, a heart she uses to excel at her job as a counselor at a group home for young adults with Down syndrome located in an old brownstone in New York City.

Both are fun pilots, just not sure how they'd fare over a full season(s).

I'm done with Showtime's White Famous.  The show is garbage.

"His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle."  Mazel tov.

House of Cards is still on hiatus.

Leah Remini claims Scientology and the LAPD are in cahoots and that's why Danny Masterson isn't behind bars. "Remini says she knew of another woman who claims to have been raped by Masterson. This unnamed woman alleges she was raped by Masterson at a house party in 2003, and that she was escorted to the residence by none other than the actor’s publicist, Jenni Weinman. She filed a police report in 2004 that read, in part: “SUSP (acquaintance) sexually assaulted the victim while she was passed out. The victim woke up while the suspect was having sex with her and struggled with him. The suspect choked the victim until she passed out.” But according to Ortega 'that investigation was closed when witnesses—who were Scientologists—contradicted the victim’s testimony.' (A Scientologist who rats out another Scientologist can be branded a “suppressive person,” and thus subjected to harsh interrogations or expulsion.) . . . "According to Remini, the broader problem when it comes to the cases of Shelly Miscavige and Danny Masterson are the close ties between the Church of Scientology and the LAPD’s Hollywood division. 'The captain of that department, Cory Palka, goes to the Scientology Celebrity Centre often. There are pictures of him hanging at Celebrity Centre,' she says."

More allegations against Charlie Rose.

"Netflix has released a trailer for the Black Mirror season-four episode directed by Jodie Foster.   Entitled Arkangel, the episode stars Rosemarie DeWitt as a mother whose child goes missing at the neighborhood playground. Thankfully, her daughter reappears, but she then turns to technology to make sure such a terrifying mishap never happens again."

"ABC is adding a new twist for Dancing With the Stars.The network announced that it will air what appears to be a shortened mini-season of its reality staple in the spring. The next all-live season will feature all athletes. The list of its 10 participants — off from its standard 13 — will be announced at a later date. Two-time Emmy winner Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews will return as hosts. The athletes will perform choreographed routines that will be judged by a panel of ballroom experts as well as by viewer votes."  I already feel bad for the athletes who agree to sign up for this one.  Happily, I have nothing to do with it.

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From Variety: "Industry veterans are struggling to wrap their heads around a notion that would have seemed laughable a year ago: Rupert Murdoch, a seller?

"The heightened level of activity around the possible sale of some big 21st Century Fox assets is forcing Hollywood to confront the harsh reality of what some are calling the 'FAANG' effect: Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google have plowed into the content and distribution business and are reinventing it on their own terms.

"The tech giants are fearsome competitors not only because they have far more ready cash than traditional media players to invest in the hunt for audiences. Facebook, Apple and Amazon in particular operate in fundamentally different businesses from NBC, HBO, Paramount Pictures, Comcast and the like. They have balance sheets enormous enough to make spending a few billion dollars a year on content a loss leader to fuel other strategic and financial goals — such as selling iPhones or Amazon Prime memberships, or keeping pop culture-loving consumers tethered to a social-media platform.

"Netflix can spend $7 billion a year on content because its platform allows it to amortize those costs among 104 million-plus subscribers worldwide the moment a program goes live on its global platform. Amazon can write a $250 million check for rights to develop a series based on the Lord of the Rings books — without seeing so much as a pitch for a fresh take on the property — because it doesn’t need to turn a profit on the productions. It only needs to make sure that those who come for Gandalf and Gollum stick around to buy books and baby clothes after the credits roll.

"Through his storied career, Murdoch has proved his ability to see around corners. If he’s considering overtures from Disney, Comcast, Sony and others to scoop up the 20th Century Fox film and TV studios, prime cable networks and valuable international TV platforms, the assumption is he must be seeing the five horsemen of the digital apocalypse gaining on him.

"Another surprise that surfaced over the past month is adding to the growing sense of panic among CEOs of traditional entertainment and media firms: The Justice Dept.’s plan to fight the AT&T-Time Warner merger means that bulking up through acquisitions in the face of the FAANG threat may not be an option, at least while Donald Trump is in office.

“'The traditional content business is really challenged,' said Greg Maffei, CEO of John Malone’s Liberty Media. 'The idea that they’re going to block consolidation is crazy.'

"The subject of how old media is weathering the disruption wrought by the digital giants was a prime topic of discussion last week at Liberty’s annual investor day presentation in New York. Malone, an architect of the cable service industry, said it was essentially game over for the old guard to catch up with Netflix. Only Amazon, a company with such reach and ad muscle that he likened it to a 'Death Star,' has a shot, he said.

"Maffei noted the perfect storm of the arms race in content costs, the boom in supply and the limitations on business models that were etched in the era of silent movies and I Love Lucy as the reasons the disruptors are at the gates.

"Netflix has quickly trained a generation of coveted young consumers to favor on-demand access to programs rather than showing up at the appointed time to watch live linear telecasts. Meanwhile, established networks are still grappling with how to join the streaming scene without cutting into profits derived from their biggest customers, MVPDs and advertisers.

“'I think the linear video channels are in a tough spot,' Maffei said. 'I think the overall content business has got a challenge ahead.  … You’ve seen something like a five [times] increase in the content, and I don’t see how you monetize that. Combine that with the fact that you have new entrants — people like Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook — who have different video monetization methods. That puts a lot of pressure on traditional content companies.'

"Hollywood’s big advantage during the decade or so since the tech world has been steadily advancing into content has been its hold on the means of production — the creative talent and the development infrastructure that bring movies and TV shows to life. After all, quality content is not the same as a toaster or a motherboard that can be mass-produced on an assembly line.

"But five years ago, Netflix barreled into the talent marketplace with House of Cards and hasn’t looked back. Of late, the streaming giant is positioning itself to function as a studio and distributor as it sets lucrative overall production pacts with über-showrunners such as Shonda Rhimes and Jenji Kohan.

"The only counterattack, in the view of many biz watchers, is for the largest content providers and distributors to grab market share through acquisitions and to become more global as fast as their feet can take them overseas. 'Scale' is the buzzword of choice for Big Media at present. 21st Century Fox’s assets are prized by suitors including Disney and Comcast precisely because the Murdochs planted the Fox flag in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Australia long before most of their competitors.

"Laura Martin, media analyst with Needham & Co., sees consolidation among the traditional content giants as long overdue. She predicts movement toward some combination of Disney and Fox, or Disney and Time Warner, or CBS and Viacom (again) in the near future, assuming the feds don’t stand in the way.

“'What the government is missing is that the content players must be larger,' Martin told CNBC on Nov. 17. 'It’s not about AT&T competing with Comcast. It’s AT&T competing with Apple, Facebook, Google, all of whom are spending billions of dollars. Those are the [rivals] that these content companies must compete against going forward. They need to get larger,' she said. 'We are finally going to get the consolidation in content that is long overdue.'

"Considered in this context, 21st Century Fox as a takeover target doesn’t seem so far-fetched. But it’s still a tough adjustment for long-timers at the Century City studio.

"Fox insiders are described to have been shell-shocked by the swirl of headlines about suitors reaching out to 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch for very preliminary 'What if?' discussions. The news of the budding courtships came as a surprise even to senior leaders. As of late last week, there had been no formal communication from the corporate level to staffers on the possibility of sale, nor has Fox commented publicly on the overtures.

“'If there was ever a company you thought would be stable in its ownership, it’s this one,' said a 20th Century Fox veteran. The Murdochs have a tight grip on the company through their control of nearly 40% of voting shares.

"There is speculation that the family would move to recombine the Fox broadcast network and TV stations, Fox News and Fox Sports operations — which are not believed to be part of any sale scenario — with the publishing assets held by News Corp.

"21st Century Fox was carved out as a separate entity from News Corp. in 2013. There is also speculation that the Murdochs might use the proceeds from selling off big pieces of 21st Century Fox to take an enlarged News Corp. private.

"But the discussions have been so preliminary that there’s no clarity on how any deal might be structured. For Disney and Comcast, the chance to buy out Fox’s share of Hulu (in which Disney, Comcast and Time Warner are also investors) would surely be a strategic play as both companies look to move deeper into the OTT subscription arena. Suitors such as Sony Pictures
and telco giant Verizon might be interested in different assets.

"The sale chatter around Fox is expected to spread to other studio conglomerates seen as ripe for the picking, a list that includes Lionsgate, MGM and Viacom. The even more intriguing question is whether a cash-rich company like Apple or Google will turn the tables and go after a Disney or a Comcast.

"At a moment when a gambler like Rupert Murdoch is preparing to fold some of his cards after a lifetime of empire-building, it’s anyone’s guess who will be left with the winning hand."

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Per Deadline, "[a]s it steps up from Carpool Karaoke and Planet of the Apps and deepens its well of original content, Apple will grow its investment in video from current levels of about $500 million to $4.2 billion in 2022, according to a projection by VC firm Loup Ventures.

"The report, by former longtime Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, predicts that Amazon will top both Apple and current leader Netflix by spending $8.3 billion by 2022, an average annual growth rate. But Apple is on the steepest trajectory as it looks to rebrand its subscription music streaming service and combine it with video over the next two to three years, according to Munster, a veteran tracker of Apple. It will grow spending from this year’s level nearly nine-fold in five years, an annual growth rate of 54%.

“'Apple cares about original content because it will grow its services business,' Munster wrote. In calendar 2017, services revenue will be 14% of total revenue, but will grow by percentages in the high teens in coming years, more than double the growth rate in hardware (sales of iPhones, iPods and the like).

"Building from a current base of 30 million Apple Music subscribers, a video-powered Apple SVOD service would instantly leapfrog Hulu, the No. 3 SVOD player, which Munster estimates to have between 12 million and 15 million subscribers. Helping Apple execute the push into video are Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, who were lured away from Sony earlier this year in a splashy hire.

"Unlike its SVOD rivals, Munster looks for Apple to “steer clear” of licensed content, a la Amazon’s deals with CBS and others for Prime windows or Netflix’s nine-figure outlays for syndicated workhorses like Seinfeld and Friends."

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From TVLine: "Jake Johnson really did not want New Girl to end with last season’s Nick-Jess elevator smooch. So when series creator Liz Meriwether invited the cast to reach out directly to Fox co-chairmen Dana Walden and Gary Newman to plead their case for a final, abbreviated seventh season, he jumped at the chance.

“'I was one of [cast members] that wrote them and asked for more,' Johnson tells TVLine, before recounting the specific appeal he made to Walden and Newman. 'I said, "I don’t think you gave us enough time to finish the show the right way. And I would really appreciate — and I think the fans would appreciate — a final goodbye to these characters.”'

"Johnson concluded his plea by noting how rare it is for a series to have such a loyal and passionate fan base. 'I’ve done a lot of projects — and some of the projects have fans and some don’t,' he shares 'And to be on a television show that actually has a group of people who care [is special].'

"Walden and Newman ultimately agreed to bring New Girl back for an eight-episode farewell season. And they also signed off on Meriwether & Co.’s big, bold twist: The premiere will pick up four years after the events of the Season 6 finale.

“'I think it’s cool to do a time jump,' Johnson says. 'I think we we were running in circles a little bit, so I think jumping forward [is smart]. Everyone is a little further along [with their lives].'

"New Girl Season 7 is slated to kick off this spring."

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Per PEOPLE, "Stassi Schroeder is facing backlash after she allegedly criticized the #metoo campaign on her podcast Friday.

"A number of sponsors have pulled their support for Schroeder’s Straight Up with Stassi after several people on Twitter alerted them to the Vanderpump Rules star’s alleged comments.

"The 29-year-old reality star has since deleted the episode titled 'Are we on a male witch hunt?' which included her friend Jennifer Hoffner, co-founder of the lifestyle and beauty blog Pucker & Pout.

"During the podcast, listeners allege she made comments about those who have accused men of assault or harassment.

"Many listeners took to Twitter to voice their disgust, writing that the star had mocked those who have been assaulted and the #metoo campaign.

"PEOPLE has reached to representatives for the star but have yet to receive comment."