Wednesday March 15, 2017

The series finale of Workaholics airs tonight.  What a great run.  Sad to see this one go.

Unanswered questions after last night's season finale of This Is Us.

Still very much enjoying Crashing.  Pete Holmes is fantastic.

Rachel Maddow unveiled Donald Trump's tax returns last night on MSNBC.  "Maddow said it showed that Trump reported over $150 million in income that year and paid $5.3 million in federal income tax and $31 million in alternative minimum tax. Many questions were left unanswered, including the sources of his income."  More below.

And here's the response from The White House.

The President called it . . . "fake news."

Season 3 of Ballers will premiere on Sunday, July 23rd at 10:00pm. Insecure’s season 2 debut will air right after Ballers at 10:30pm.

The cast of season 29 of The Amazing Race for those interested.

Amy Schumer's most recent Netflix special continues to rake in negative reviews.

T.J. Miller says that the Uber driver suing him for an alleged assault and battery in December is trying to extort him.

A&E has ordered up another 10 episodes of Leah Remini's Scientology series.

The Ringer ranked all of the Bachelors because it must have been a slow news day over there.

Kal Penn shared some of the racist scripts he received early on in his career.

It's time for Nick and Vanessa to go away forever, starting . . . now.

Heath Ledger will be the next subject of Spike’s I Am documentary series. Who knew there were any previous "subjects."  Through interviews with members of his inner circle, I Am: Heath Ledger will chronicle the Australian actor’s movie career, according to People magazine.

Per The Hollywood Reporter, "Dave Chappelle is making quite an entrance on Netflix.

"The streaming giant will begin streaming not one but two of Chappelle's stand-up specials Tuesday, March 21. 

"The two hourlong specials, filmed in Austin in 2015 and Los Angeles in 2016, respectively, are part of the comic's three-special deal with Netflix which includes a third, yet-to-be-filmed special for the streamer. Chappelle is currently on the road touring in preparation for the third special, which will film sometime this year.

"In addition to the release date, Netflix also on Tuesday unveiled a trailer for the first two specials. In the video, Chappelle covers everything from ISIS to O.J. Simpson.

"The specials, titled, Dave Chappelle: Deep in the Heart of Texas and Dave Chappelle: The Age of Spin, both hail from the former Comedy Central star's personal collection and were self-financed by Chappelle. The specials, both directed by Stan Lathan, mark his first in 12 years."

From TheWrap, "MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow dropped a bombshell on Tuesday night, tweeting in the early evening that she would reveal President Trump’s tax returns – specifically his 2005 1040 long form – during her show.

"Going against decades of tradition, Trump refused to release his tax information during the 2016 presidential election, despite calls to do so from Democrats, the media, a Whitehouse.gov petition, and even members of his own party. So, if every journalist, political operative and voter wanted to see the document, how did Maddow obtain it?

“'We got this document today from a Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist, who is better on financial matters than almost anybody else in the business. His name is David Cay Johnston,' Maddow told viewers.

"Johnston was in studio with Maddow, ready to break down his findings.

“'It came in the mail,' he said. 'There is absolutely nothing improper about journalists, if you haven’t solicited something, getting it over the transom.'

"Johnston went on to imply that President Trump himself could have leaked the tax return.

“'Donald Trump has, over the years, leaked all sorts of things. The very sleazy girl-on-girl pictures of the First Lady in the New York Post may have come from Donald. The front pages of the state tax returns that were sent to the New York Times and the New York daily News last fall may have come from Donald,' Johnston said. 'Donald has a long history of leaking material about himself when he thinks it is in his interest.'

"Johnston said Trump 'creates his own reality' and feels the possibility of Trump leaking the documents himself has to be considered."

The President of the United States ladies and gentlemen.

Per Variety, "'what the hell are you doing, Jack?'

"Excellent question. It gets asked twice during the episode — and it could have been asked again and again throughout the heartbreaker of a finale.

Spoiler alert: Do not read until you’ve watched the season finale of This Is Us, titled Moonshadow.

"In this episode — written by Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger (who’ve been elevated to co-showrunners for the second season), and directed by Ken Olin — we see a far darker side of Jack (Milo Ventimiglia). Whether in the distant past, before he met Rebecca (Mandy Moore), or in the ’90s, as a frustrated husband, he’s not the “perfect” character we’ve been idolizing all season long.

"This is a man who drinks. Who fights. Who nearly commits robbery. Jack, what the hell are you doing?

"Creator Dan Fogelman warned Variety that the finale was going to get dark, and indeed it did. The tension that had been building between Jack and Rebecca exploded in a massive, punch-to-the-gut fight — and ended with Rebecca telling Jack to pack his bags. 'I think you should go stay with Miguel for a while,' she tells him. 'Give us some air.'

"But before he walks out the door, in true This Is Us fashion, he leaves her with one helluva heartbreaking speech: 'You’re not just my great love story. You’re my big break and my love story. And I know it may not feel like it right now, but it’s just getting started.'

"At least we did get some glimpses of hope: As Jack delivered his speech, promising that their kids were going to be OK, too, we saw Kate planning a singing career, Kevin pursuing a meeting with the director (with Sophie standing by) — and most poignant of all, Randall telling Beth he wants to adopt a baby.

"So is this the beginning of the end for Jack and Rebecca? Or can this marriage be saved? Here, creator Dan Fogelman breaks down the finale — and what it means for Season 2. 'I’m excited to see people react to it,' he says. 'I’m excited to see audiences engage with it. It’ll be interesting.'

Well, you can’t say you didn’t warn us. You went dark.

I think hopefully for everybody it feels real. Even the best marriages have bumps in them. Every time we’ve gone into this storyline with Milo and Mandy, these characters in this timeline, it’s the reality of a long marriage that’s withstood a lot of different things in a lot of different stories in a lot of different time periods. I think it’s important that we’re going to leave the audience wondering and thinking and expose them to that side of the marriage as well. That’s always been part of the plan since the inception.

That moment when Rebecca wakes up the morning after the fight, looks outside her bedroom and realizes he wasn’t sleeping there broke my heart.

I know. Breaks my heart, too. I don’t even remember if that was in the initial script or that was something the director suggested. There’s also the moment at the end when you think you want Mandy to stop him (from walking out), for him to stop himself. It’s a marriage at a crossroads.

So where does this leave them? He gives a wonderfully impassioned speech about how she’s the love of his life. Does it win her over?

That’s the question on the table that will carry people over through the off-season. What’s next for these two? Is this a bump in the road? I think that’s the question of the show. There’s always been the dark times. Certainly this is one of them. But we operate from a place of optimism. The lines at the end and Mandy’s reaction to them, to me, if I’m an audience member, it’s a cliffhanger but there’s also a bit of hope. I think that would be a fair and comfortable place for the audience to be.

If my math is right, we’ve got to be getting closer to Jack’s death. Are they together when Jack dies?

I think that’s the question to be asking. I can’t give you the answer. But that is the question.

We’re seeing a Jack in the past that’s very different than the Jack we’ve come to know. 

The plan has always been that with Jack, we’ve created a bit of a modern-day superhero as a father and as a husband. Having seen glimpses of his background, that doesn’t necessarily grow out of nowhere. It comes from somewhere and there’s something that formed him. It would be overly simplified to say he’s always been exactly like this. In watching him at his most troubling time as a young man we still see the Jack and the good guy that he’s always been at his core. But we evolve as human beings. When we’re first meeting Jack as a 36-year-old guy with his children, he’s a different guy than he was a decade ago. He’s just back from war and having this tough spell and this tough upbringing. There’s part of us that we bury and this moment comes out a little bit. And we got a glimpse of it. We’ll get that eventually from all of our characters.

Should we give credit to Rebecca for saving him from himself, from committing a crime?

That’s the idea. It’s this sliding doors moment. I don’t think any of Jack’s behavior in his past is naturally inherent to him. He’s a good guy who’s just in a bad place. And is sick of having his a– handed to him by the world. He’s about to make this bad decision, probably the worst decision he’s ever made. And it’s almost as if destiny has put in front of him the woman who changes everything, who literally stops him in his tracks. I’ve always referred to Jack’s death as the hinge on which this entire family swings. For Jack, meeting Rebecca was probably the moment his life swung on. I think she saves him.

You said earlier that the season ended on a cliffhanger that set up an optimistic future. While that might not be true for Jack and Rebecca, that’s certainly true for the kids.

I was just speaking to Sterling about how interesting that storyline is going to be to explore for him and for Beth and their whole family. Even in the midst of that cliffhanger for Jack and Rebecca, the focal point of that final episode, we also have these final moments that are moving forward that are really exciting to write for, these uplifting things. Whether it be Randall and Beth going on this quest to maybe adopt a child, and Kate starting up this singing career and Kevin having these opportunities in his acting life, being in a position to what he’s hoping to accomplish in his romantic life. That’s where we’re going to pick up in season two. We’ll continue with those storylines.

And maybe Rebecca’s heart will melt?

I think yes. There’s a deep, deep gestating love between those two. Even though they had a monster fight, even though the fight churned up deep-seated character stuff, one fight is not necessarily going to be the end all and be all. It’s not like we’re going to come back in season 2 and they’re going to be divorced and dropping the kids off for the weekend. We’re not going that quick and that far. I think it’s fair to say there’s a journey ahead for these two, regardless of how they ended."

According to The New York Post, "[d]on’t sweat it, Richard Simmons fans!

"The famous fitness guru isn’t missing — he is just taking much needed 'time for himself,' his older brother said in a new interview.

"Lenny Simmons said the Sweatin’ to the Oldies instructor is enjoying some much needed R&R away from the limelight, amid mounting rumors that he’s gone AWOL.

“'I would just hope people [can] be a little bit more respectful and realize that he’s worked hard and he still loves people — but he needs some time for himself,' Lenny told ET Tuesday.

"Lenny insisted he talked to Richard last Sunday, as he does every week, and that he’s 'doing great.'

“'He was asking about our renovations to our home. And we had just gone to see the Broadway musical, Beautiful,’ Lenny said. 'We talk every Sunday. He calls me and we have a great conversation and then he talks to my wife. He probably talks to my wife longer than he talks to me.'

"The frizzy-haired aerobics expert, 68, hasn’t been seen in public in more than three years, sparking rumors that he’s missing — or being held hostage in his Los Angeles home by a housekeeper.

"But Lenny insisted the housekeeper, Teresa Reveles, is a 'very lovely lady.'

“'She has been a good friend of my brother for over 20 some-odd years,' he said. 'It stresses me to hear that people think that she is holding him hostage or that she is mean. She isn’t. She is a very nice person.'

"Simmons’ longtime friend and former masseuse Mauro Oliveira made the hostage-taking accusation in a popular podcast by Dan Taberski.

"Simmons’ rep, Tom Estey, told Us Weekly that the accusation is a 'complete load of crap.'

"Last year, Simmons told ET that rumors of his disappearance were 'very hurtful' and insisted that he was just taking it easy following a knee replacement.

“'I am not kidnapped,' Richard said by phone. 'No one should be worried about me … The people that surround me are wonderful people who take great care of me.'”

"To many younger viewers, the 30-minute sitcom with commercials seems as outdated as having to actually be at home at a certain time to watch something. That generation is speaking by putting their eyeballs elsewhere, with many opting for YouTube videos and Netflix originals over old school cable subscriptions. So why not try a 30-second version?

"Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, a production company owned by actor Seth Green, Matthew Senreich, Eric Towner and John ‘Harv’ Harvatine IV, recently launched Blark and Son — a puppet-based animation show that 'airs' on Instagram with self-contained episodes of about half-a-minute in length.

“'We saw that there could be a show that’s engineered for the guy waiting in line at Chipotle,' Adam Aseraf, the show’s executive producer, told TheWrap. 'The person trying to get away from Thanksgiving dinner.'

"Creator Ben Bayouth voices Blark, a crusty but devoted single dad who he describes as “the type of guy who has his gun under the table,' while Chris Mintz-Plasse (best known as McLovin from Superbad) plays the yet-nameless son, a 'Reddit, video gamer, stay in my comfortable chair type.'

"Bayouth said the show taps into 'that universal quality of what it’s like being a 12-year-old,' around the age when one starts locking the door to prevent Dad from barging in. The odd-couple father and son dynamic is an established sitcom premise, but hasn’t necessarily been done on social video platforms like Instagram, which veers more toward 'look at me' videos than storytelling.

“'I was frustrated with the content on Instagram,' Bayouth told TheWrap. 'These giant influencers just talking to the camera and they have a huge audience.'

"He said he wanted to use the medium to do something with actual writing involved, 'not just a dude pointing a camera at his face.'

"New Blark and Son episodes are uploaded every Monday and Friday. There’s also a Facebook page, but Instagram is its primary home. That’s right in line with its target audience of tweens and millennials, many of whom don’t subscribe to a traditional pay-TV outlet. And befitting an internet native show, Blark and Son takes on an unfortunate staple of online culture."

Per Independent, "[n]ew Netflix drama Dark looks like it could emulate the success achieved by sleeper hit Stranger Things last summer.

"However, going by the first trailer, it seems as if this German-language series will be targeted squarely at adults as opposed to the aforementioned nostalgia-laden series.

"Like Stranger Things, it tells the story of a child gone missing, an event which '...sets four families on a frantic hunt for answers [that] unearth a small town’s sins and secrets.'

"At first glance, it looks as if the series will be a straightforward crime tale, however the trailer's final line suggest things may be more mind-bending than first thought.

      “'The question isn't who kidnapped the children,' the voiceover can be heard saying. 'But when?' 

      "Dark is currently being shot in suburban Berlin and will debut on the streaming service this winter, a few months after the October release date of Stranger Things season two."