Wednesday March 22, 2017

Two new Dave Chappelle specials are now streaming on Netflix.  Here's another review before you dive in.

I watched both specials last night and they are fantastic.  Chappelle is as good as he's ever been and I cannot more highly recommend checking both hours out if you're a fan, or if you just like to laugh.

"Shark Tank‘s frequent 'guest shark' venture capitalist Chris Sacca will make his acting debut in ABC’s untitled Start Up comedy pilot (formerly known as Start Up). Sacca will guest star as himself in the single-camera pilot, based on Alex Blumberg’s Gimlet Media podcast Start Up whose first season chronicled the launch of Gimlet. The role will likely turn into recurring if the project is picked up to series. Sacca is an actual investor in Gimlet Media. Written by Matt Tarses and toplined by Scrubs star Zach Braff who also directs, the comedy is about all the things that happen — the good, the bad and the ugly — when Alex (Braff), a guy in his mid-30s with a wife and two kids, makes the crazy decision to quit his good job and dive into the brave new world of starting a business."  It is impossible for me to be more all in on this show.  I hope it delivers and goes to series.

Trevor Noah defended Tomi Lahren.

Cat Deeley is a class act. More on her below.

What we know about season 4 of Black Mirror.

Fox premieres Shots Fired tonight.  Described as a miniseries about an expert investigator who digs into a series of racially charged shootings in a small Tennessee town.  Here's a review, and it's not a very positive one.

Uproxx examines the appeal of the Missing Richard Simmons podcast.  My sense is that this is not an opinion only shared by the author of this piece: "I wish Taberski had just cut the B.S. and been more honest: He pursued Richard Simmons not for Simmons’ sake but his own. The only point of telling this story — and, in spite of everything, Taberski is unquestionably a skilled storyteller — is furthering Taberski’s career. In that regard, Missing Richard Simmons is an unmitigated success, and I actually don’t think that’s some great sin. It simply means that Taberski is not a friend, but rather just another journalist."

Vulture has an in depth interview with Jenny Slate.

Things aren't all peaches and cream at Funny or Die.

"The ongoing legal dispute between Scott and Deirdre Gurney and ITV was back this week in front of the California Superior Court in Los Angeles, where the Gurneys won a temporary injunction that puts them back in charge of Gurney Productions, the company they founded more than a decade ago, and were later fired from amid allegations of fraud.  But Monday’s (March 21) court decision was swiftly put on hold as the same judge issued a stay of the ruling pending an appeal of the injunction by ITV. That means, the couple will have to wait to see if they get their jobs back. No court date for the appeal has yet been set."

Last week Chuck Berry died and now Chuck Barris has passed.  R.I.P.

Lifetime announced a handful of new projects at their upfronts yesterday.  Amongst them:

This Time Next Year
Hosted by five-time Emmy nominee Cat Deeley, This Time Next Year follows the emotional journeys of ordinary people as they embark on extraordinary missions to change their lives, over the course of one year. Each transformation will be revealed on screen in a matter of moments, as participants enter one door and emerge from another in an instantaneous, ‘time-travel’ style format, revealing a brand new version of themselves. From reconstructive surgeries to heartwarming reunions, infertility to weight loss, no hurdle is too big for the brave individuals who have chosen to take control of their lives on This Time Next Year. Only after they reappear will viewers learn how, and if, they have achieved their goals. Based on the hit UK Format by Twofour, This Time Next Year is produced for Lifetime by Twofour America. Executive producers include Bernie Schaeffer, Laurie Girion, Melanie Leach and Andrew Mackenzie. Mariana Flynn, Mary Donahue and David Hillman executive produce for Lifetime.

Model Moms (working title)
Former model and television personality Yolanda Hadid (Real Housewives of Beverly Hills) knows what it takes to be a big name in the modeling business as the mother agent to fashion’s “IT” girls Gigi and Bella, and model son Anwar. Model Moms brings Yolanda and her expertise to the forefront as she coaches aspiring teen models to succeed on and off the catwalk. Yolanda, along with her trusted team of experts, will put the girls and their “momagers” through an intensive eight-week training program, focused on the physical, mental and emotional wellness that it takes to build a sustainable brand. With a $5,000 weekly prize on the line to put towards their future careers, only one girl will be left standing to win a management contract with Yolanda’s company and the potential opportunity to be represented by IMG Models in New York. Model Moms is produced by Hudsun Media for Lifetime. Michael Rourke, Sean Rankine and Yolanda Hadid executive produce. Lifetime’s Mariana Flynn, Mary Donahue, Mioshi Hill and Colleen Conway Grogan also executive produce.

I guess this is what happens when your attempt at a lifestyle network (FYI) falls flat on its face? "A+E Networks is reviving another unscripted hit.

"The award-winning Biography franchise is being revived with an order for more than 40 hours of programming, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.

"After five years off the air, Biography will return this spring with a new look and feel, and with a new emphasis on digital content including videos and photos. For the first time, the Biography franchise will air across the various A+E Networks. 

"Upcoming Biography titles include the two-hour projects The Notorious Life of Biggie Smalls for A&E, The End of America: Putin's Master Plan on History and David Koresh and the Siege of Waco for A&E.

"Biography will also expand into miniseries with Who Killed Tupac?, a six-hour telecast for A&E; and Gotti & Son, a four-hour broadcast for A&E.

“'Groundbreaking nonfiction programming has always been a cornerstone of A+E Networks, dating back to the earliest days of the multiple Emmy Award-winning series Biography,' said  A&E and Lifetime executive vp and general manager Rob Sharenow. 'A+E’s new incarnation of the gold standard in the industry will focus on the most meaningful moments in our culture from some of the most accomplished nonfiction storytellers of our time.'

"Biography dates back to 1961, when each half-hour episode was narrated by 60 Minutes' Mike Wallace. That version ran until 1963, before a brief revival aired on CBS in 1979. A&E revived the docuseries in 1987. That version went on to garner two Emmys and spawned several popular cable docuseries (Behind the MusicE's True Hollywood Story) as well as its own network, The Biography Channel. The channel, however, was replaced by FYI in 2014.

"Biography is one of two unscripted reboots at A+E Networks. A&E is also bringing back the true crime docuseries Cold Case Files, with new narrator Danny Glover."

Here is a bit more intel on the minds of those at A+E and how it's trying to reposition itself as a publisher: "A&E Networks quietly hired 'editors-in-chief' earlier this year. The cabler, whose channels include Lifetime and History, isn't launching a magazine, but it does want to operate more like a publisher. And during this year's upfront, A&E Networks wants advertisers to view the company less as a collection of TV businesses and more as storytellers.

"The company, which makes its pitch to advertisers and agencies on Tuesday night, is focusing its efforts on creating culturally relevant brands, starting with its Lifetime and History networks. There has been a shift internally to refocus on a clear target audience and mission so that the networks become more like voices in the broader conversation than standard TV properties, said Amanda Hill, chief marketing officer, A&E Networks.

"To do that, its editors-in-chief and their teams are creating thematic content areas, such as 'Women in Tech' at Lifetime, designed to imitate the channels of digital publishers.

"'Most TV brands are a result of what our shows are,' said Peter Olsen, exec VP-national ad sales, A&E Networks. 'Print brands in the digital space have more of a voice and intimacy with their audience. It has always been shows first and brands second, we are trying to flip that.'

"In January, A&E Networks tapped Lea Goldman, the former editorial director of Refinery29 and executive editor of Hearst's Marie Claire, to lead its editorial efforts at Lifetime and FYI, and brought in Tiffanie Darke, former News U.K. creative content director, to oversee the A&E and History channels. They are charged with creating an editorial strategy for the brands on-air and across digital and social platforms.

"For History, this means doubling down on the idea of knowledge, with a mission to raise collective intelligence. 'Knowledge really means something right now,' Ms. Hill said. 'It has become far too easy to become not smart.'

"And at Lifetime, the goal is to be the brand that understands women better than anyone and tell stories of possibility, she said. In recent years, Lifetime has predominantly aired loud reality programs, such as Dance Moms and Bring It, known more for drama than particularly representing women.

"Lifetime will turn toward showcasing women who traditionally have not had a platform to tell their stories, focus on championing different types of role models and celebrate diversity and womanhood, Ms. Hill said.

"As part of the refresh, A&E Networks will also be updating logos and on-air graphics of its networks.

"Traditionally, A&E Networks has created content for brands tied to a specific show or talent. The company is now offering marketers the opportunity to buy into these themes.

"There is an editorial calendar in place, but the plan is to respond quickly to current events and pop culture, Mr. Olsen said, adding that at times advertisers won't know exactly what they are getting until it happens. This means marketers could make more of an investment in A&E Networks' brands than specific content.

"'If something were to happen tomorrow, for us to create or movie or show around it would take six months,' Mr. Olsen said. 'We can't claim to be a relevant company if it takes six months for us to respond.'

"As the pay-TV industry shifts towards skinnier cable bundles and a la carte subscriptions, the idea is to create a brand that can stand alone in the new distribution landscape, separate from any one channel, Mr. Olsen said."

From Uproxx: "Lindsay Lohan is back, bitches — or at least that’s what she says in the teaser for her new prank reality series, The Anti-Social Network. 'I love social media, I am social media,' she continues, explaining, 'And everybody knows you should never leave your phone laying around, especially near me.' Heyoo, if this were five or six years ago, I would make a timely joke about the Mean Girls star’s legal troubles, but this is 2017 and Lohan has since turned over a new leaf.

"See, the premise behind The Anti-Social Network is that Lohan will effectively hijack an unknowing person’s phone for 24 hours, and with the help from a friend… hijinks ensue? Such as Charlie, the victim in the teaser, who gets sent to pose as a nude art model and then to perform onstage at a standup comedy club. It’s unclear how Lindsay Lohan is able to make these things happen just by accessing a person’s social media, so for now you can just use your imagination.

"Apparently Lohan is still in the process of shopping the series around to networks which is why the teaser doesn’t tell you where and when you can watch, but you’d have to imagine someplace like Freeform, TruTV, or even Crackle would be quick to jump on this.

"If the series does make it to air, this will be Lohan’s first time back on the small screen since her 2014 OWN docuseries, Lindsay, and prior to that she appeared in the 2012 Lifetime biopic, Liz & Dick."

Per TheWrap, "MGM is teaming up with Snapchat parent Snap Inc. to develop 'Shows' — or as the disappearing messaging-turned-camera company calls them, 'TV-like mobile video content' — for its Discover platform.

"Snapchat Shows are original, 4-5 minute, scripted or unscripted stand-alone programs shot vertically with Snapchat’s preferred orientation in mind. They include both old and new IP and cover a variety of genres, from documentaries to reality TV to dramas.

"Snap has agreed on content deals with NBC, ESPN, the NFL, Turner, ABC, the BBC, A+E Networks and Discovery Networks in recent months, all of whom are either already producing Shows or developing them. The MGM deal is Snap’s first with a full-fledged studio.

“'The team at Snap is thinking about mobile TV differently than anyone else in this space,' Barry Poznick, MGM’s president of unscripted television, said in a statement. 'They are innovators, and it presents us with a unique opportunity to flex our development and production muscle in a whole new way. We are excited to create content for their vast and hard to reach audience that consumes entertainment in a very specific fashion.'”

“MGM has an incredible pool of talent — from producers and directors to writers — that we’re excited to tap into as we join forces to develop Shows,” Nick Bell, Snap Inc.’s vice president of content, said in the statement. “Partnering with a studio of their caliber opens up a lot of possibilities for the future of Shows on Snapchat.”

Per Uproxx, "[c]rime has been good to Netflix. Well, maybe not in the piracy sense, but the streaming giant has managed to claim ownership of the bulk of our free time thanks to true crime offeringsbehind bars dramedies and superhero fare. Jeff Garlin is counting being hungry for his upcoming addition to Netflix’s murder-friendly slate of shows. Heck, he’s stuck that element right into the title.

"The trailer for Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie has arrived and it features a much more soft-spoken Garlin than Curb or Goldbergs fans might be used to seeing. Handsome, which Garlin wrote and directed, focuses on homicide detective Gene Handsome (Garlin) and the gulf between his ability to solve mysteries versus solving his own personal problems. A severed head on the lawn? Inconvenient. Chatting with the next door neighbors? That’s a bit more tricky.

“'As a detective there’s no greater skill that you can hone than your intuition,' explains our hero detective off the top. 'If you can’t trust your gut, you might as well be in parking enforcement.'

"Arriving on Netflix on May 5, Handsome comes equipped with a not to shabby supporting cast. Natasha Lyonne, Amy Sedaris, Christine Woods, Steven Weber, Eddie Pepitone and Leah Remini all co-star. As is customary with these sorts of things, we’ve nestled the trailer above for your viewing pleasure."