Wednesday April 12, 2017

A really good oral history of Scandal, which includes this nugget: ABC wanted Connie Britton to play Olivia Pope.

Season 2 of DIY's Stone House Revival premieres tonight.  Check it out.

"MTV is putting a new spin on Fear Factor. The younger-skewing Viacom network has revived Fear Factor with an order for a 12-episode reboot to be hosted and exec produced by Ludacris, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. The revival, which will premiere Tuesday, May 30, at 10 p.m., is the first project to stem from a new overall deal MTV inked with Ludacris. The new incarnation will flip the script on its targeted Generation Z audience and instead of gross-out challenges (like eating worms), will be more playful with the hope of providing a cathartic tension release along the way. The newly designed stunts are geared at tapping into visceral fears of today's anxious youth — such as couch surfing at 300 feet and waterlogging personal cellphones. Inspired by urban legends, scary movies and online videos from the zeitgeist, contestants will be pushed beyond their comfort zones where their body's physiological responses will take over. Each hourlong episode will feature eight contestants pairing up in four teams of two — think siblings, college rivalries, roommates, best friends, co-workers and exes — and facing off for a cash prize."

A look at tonight's episode of Are You The One? Second Chances.  Looks like Hayden wants to quit.  Bye.

David Letterman went into a depression over a sex scandal?

What we know about season 7 of Homeland.  I gave up on this one ages ago.

A sneak peek at season 3 of Broadchurch.

I hope this United Airlines catastrophe never goes away and they end up having to shut down. I keep thinking what I would have done and continue to conclude that I'd have ended up bloodied and beaten as well.

Why they showed the graphic suicide during the final episode of season 1 of 13 Reasons Why.

Viewership of The Walking Dead was down this past season.  Is AMC panicking

Clay Adler, who starred on MTV’s Newport Harbor: The Real Orange County reality series, has died. He was 27.

"In a themed stunt that shouldn’t really surprise anyone, #WeedWeek is coming to the Viceland Network, starting 4/17 and ending (yup!) on 4/20. In an effort to reach new and bloodshot eyeballs, the network is bringing back two of their flagship series — Weediquette with Krishna Andavolu, and recent James Beard Award-nominee Bong Appetit with Abdullah Saeed — as well as a special 4/20 episode of Action Bronson’s F*ck, That’s Delicious. To celebrate/generate buzz, they’ve also launched a new hotline you can call while, uh, taking an elevation break, and discuss a range of topics you suddenly have a lot of profound thoughts on: Press 2 for the 'Question of the Week' (this week it’s climate change); Press 3 to discuss Tax Season; Press 4 to discuss Marijuana in general;  or you can just press '0' and ramble on about something 'hopeful.'”  Here's the number: (646) 851-0347.

A little something I helped put together: "New York-based independent production company MY Entertainment is teaming up with NBA All-Star and style icon Tyson Chandler (pictured) to develop a new reality television series taking viewers behind-the-scenes into the exciting world of fashion in sports.

"Chandler, whose style off the court has landed him in the pages of top fashion magazines and front row at designer fashion shows, will serve as an executive producer and make appearances on the show, which will focus on his design stylist and fashion consultant, Browne Andrews.

"In the series, Andrews will take viewers into his inner circle of top stylists to provide an up-close and inside look at the high pressures of keeping their NBA clients in the fashion spotlight.

“'An NBA World Champion and consistently named one of the league’s most fashionable players, Tyson Chandler is the perfect partner for this show,' said Michael Yudin, president of MY Entertainment, in a statement. 'The entrance and exit to games has become a virtual runway for NBA stars. We are thrilled to work with Tyson and influential stylist and fashion director, Browne Andrews to bring people into the exciting, fast paced and high-pressure world of top stylists trying to deliver a fashion win for their superstar clients.'

"Joe Townley, COO at MY Entertainment, and David Auerbach, SVP at MY Entertainment, will serve as executive producers for the show along with Chandler."

Per Deadline, "USA Network is gearing up for summer with premiere dates for new drama The Sinner and family game show Big Star Little Star and season premieres of Shooter, Suits, Queen of the South and Playing House.

"Here are more details about the summer premieres, with descriptions provided by the network:

SERIES PREMIERES

THE SINNER – Series premiere Wednesday, August 2 at 10/9c
Starring and executive produced by Jessica Biel, The Sinner follows a young mother who, when overcome by an inexplicable fit of rage, commits a startling act of violence and to her horror, has no idea why. Detective Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman) finds himself obsessed with uncovering the woman’s buried motive. Based on Petra Hammesfahr’s book of the same name, the eight-episode crime thriller’s driving force is not the “who” or the “what” — but the “why.” The series was created by showrunner and executive producer Derek Simonds with Charlie Gogolak also serving as executive producer. For Iron Ocean, Biel and Michelle Purple serve as executive producers. Antonio Campos executive produced and directed the pilot. The series is from Universal Cable Productions.

BIG STAR LITTLE STAR – Series premiere Wednesday, May 31 at 9/8c
Hosted by five-time Emmy nominee and Critics’ Choice winner Cat Deeley, Big Star Little Star is a fun-loving celebrity family game show which pairs stars with their kids as they playfully test their knowledge of one another. All in good fun to win money for their chosen charities, each episode will feature three famous families as they reveal the most hilarious behind-the-scenes moments about their real lives. Big Star Little Star is produced by ITV Entertainment based on the format by 12 Yard Productions.

RETURNING SERIES

QUEEN OF THE SOUTH – Season 2 premieres Thursday, June 8 at 10/9c
Inspired by the global best-selling novel “La Reina Del Sur” by internationally acclaimed author Arturo Pérez-Reverte, Season 2 follows the journey of Teresa Mendoza (Alice Braga) and the sacrifices she must make not only to survive, but to make it to the top of the drug world. Where will she draw the line when her moral code and her destiny are at odds?

PLAYING HOUSE – Season 3 premieres Friday, June 23 at 11/10c (entire season on VOD June 24)
Childhood best friends Maggie Caruso (Lennon Parham) and Emma Crawford (Jessica St. Clair) have shared countless adventures raising Maggie’s daughter Charlotte together. This season, however, they’re faced with their biggest challenge yet.

SUITS – Season 7 premieres Wednesday, July 12 at 9/8c
Now that Mike (Patrick J. Adams) is officially recognized as a lawyer and has accepted Harvey’s (Gabriel Macht) offer to return to the firm, Season 7 will see the team back together again at Pearson Specter Litt — each dealing with their own struggles as they adjust to a new world order without Jessica (Gina Torres). The series’ 100th episode will debut during Season 7, on August 30.

SHOOTER – Season 2 premieres Tuesday, July 18 at 10/9c
Based on the best-selling novels by Stephen Hunter and the 2007 Paramount film starring Mark Wahlberg, Season 2 of Shooter follows the journey of Bob Lee Swagger (Ryan Phillippe), a highly decorated veteran who must confront a nemesis from his past in order to return to a life of normalcy."

The only meaningful takeaway here is that you should mark your calendars for July 12.

From TheWrap, "[f]ans of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul know the episode titles are packed with meaning, and so was the one for Monday’s Saul Season 3 premiere: Mabel references Jimmy McGill’s favorite childhood book, The Adventures of Mabel, by Harry Thurston Peck — an author whose life parallels Jimmy’s in some ways.

"Written in 1896 — Jimmy’s copy originally belonged to his late grandmother — The Adventures of Mabel tells the story of a five-year old girl that begins with her saving the King of All Lizards. As a reward, she is given the ability to talk to animals, which triggers the rest of her encounters in the book.

"But what’s more interesting about this book’s appearance in the McGill library is the story behind it. Peck originally published the book under the pen name Rafford Pyke. Then, he used the literary journal The Bookman, which he edited,  to publish a glowing review of The Adventures of Mabel, not disclaiming his rather obvious conflict of interest.

“'We could wish no better book to be found in the stockings of the youngsters on Christmas morning,' the review concludes after praising Pyke’s 'delicious' illustrations and the 'fresh spirit and insight' of his prose. “And we submit the proposition to Santa Claus with our profound respect.”

"Unfortunately for Mr. Peck/Mr. Pyke, his shady dealings went beyond just deceitful reviews, and ultimately they caught up with him. In 1910, reports surfaced that Peck had been in an affair with a former secretary around the time he divorced his first wife and married another woman. Though the love letters the spurned secretary produced were never proven to be from Peck, the rumors that he might have been schmoozing with three women at once were enough to cost him his job as a professor at Columbia and get him blackballed in the academic and literary community.

"Four years later, he shot himself.

"Better Call Saul, of course, tells the story of how well-meaning Jimmy McGill becomes Saul Goodman, the shady criminal lawyer we meet in Breaking Bad.

"We don’t yet know if Jimmy’s descent from life as Saul Goodman, Walter White’s lawyer and consigliere, to Gene, a deadbeat Cinnabon manager in Omaha, will be enough to push him to one day end it all. But the parallel between McGill and Peck is clear, with both men using fake identities for fraudulent purposes, and ultimately suffering a turn for the worst."

Per The Hollywood Reporter, "James Corden's Carpool Karaoke is returning to primetime.

"The hugely popular Late Late Show segment will be the subject of a second primetime special set to air in May.

"The hourlong telecast will feature a new Carpool Karaoke segment, toddlerography as well as highlight Corden's favorite clips from his CBS late-night show. 

"Featured guests and additional details will be announced closer to the special's May 22nd airdate. 

"This comes roughly a year after the first Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special, which featured special guest Jennifer Lopez. The special drew 0.9 rating among adults 18-49 in live numbers and won an Emmy for outstanding variety special.

"The 2017 edition also comes as Apple TV, in conjunction with producer CBS TV Studios, prepares to launch a Carpool Karaoke TV series that will feature a revolving group of guest hosts in place of Corden.

"Corden's other popular Late Late Show segment, Drop the Mic, is also getting its own series on TBS later this year.

"Carpool Karaoke isn't the only late night segment getting the primetime treatment. NBC is set to roll out several Weekend Update specials based on the long-running Saturday Night Live segment in August.

"The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special 2017 airs Monday, May 22 at 10 p.m. on CBS."

Per Decider, "[i]t may seem hard to believe, but it’s been almost 20 years since Jenna Elfman first got TV viewers’ attention as free-spirited yoga instructor Dharma Finkelstein in Dharma & Greg, which debuted in the fall of 1997. It wasn’t Elfman’s first series; in 1996, she was on the short-lived sitcom Townies. But as Dharma, Elfman showed what she was capable of when given the right material. She won a Golden Globe in 1999 for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Comedy or Musical, and also picked up 3 Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series during the show’s five season run.

"But since the Chuck Lorre sitcom ended in 2002, Elfman hasn’t been able to catch a break. Not only has a burgeoning film career gone south – I’ve got two words for you: Krippendorf’s Tribe – but every series in which she’s been cast has been a failure, both critically and with audiences.

"Including the recently-debuted Imaginary Mary, Elfman has top-lined five series since playing Dharma. And it looks like her post-Dharma streak won’t be broken with her latest series; reviews have been dismal and its first airing in its regular Tuesday slot only attracted about 3.5 million viewers.

"So what’s gone wrong for Elfman? Here are a few factors to consider:

She's being miscast.

In a couple of her failed sitcoms, 2006’s Courting Alex and 2009’s Accidentally on Purpose, she plays hard-charging career women who have to deal with issues in their personal lives – in the former show, a father (Dabney Coleman) who wants her to settle down with the “right” man and in the latter, a pregnancy that was the result of a one-night-stand. It felt like, in both sitcoms, writers seemed to go against the type Elfman had set on D&G; instead of quirky, they thought she could play a more straightforward role and have her comedic skills make up the personality difference.

“I think she’s talented and can be funny and charming, though she’s talented in such a precise, narrow range of dry adorability that she has to be cast JUST right,” says Phillip Deyss-Nugent, who has written for Uproxx, The AV Club and Critics at Large. In her two most recent attempts, 2012’s 1600 Penn and 2014’s Growing Up Fisher, she plays harried and overwhelmed mothers, both of which didn’t fit her, either. Even as the First Lady in 1600 Penn, she seemed out of place trying to keep things together as her kids seemed to have their run of the White House. While we can see Elfman being a great mom to her two IRL children, that experience just didn’t come across in her performance.

She's picking bad shows.

If there is a trend about most of Elfman’s shows, is that their networks didn’t have a ton of confidence in them; four of Elfman’s five post-D&G sitcoms debuted in midseason. None of the shows have been outright bad, per se, but they have been disappointing and/or unmemorable.

For instance, despite the presence of Josh Gad in the cast and the writers’ room, 1600 Penn was stunningly unfunny. And Growing Up Fisher was boosted by the gruff presence of J.K. Simmons, who was coming off his Oscar-winning performance in Whiplash. While that show was funny at times — Simmons and Elfman played divorced parents trying to find their way as single parents — it still never resonated with audiences.

“I thought both shows seemed plausible, from a distance, until you tried to watch them, and she was far from the most talented performer on either of them, though now I can’t remember a single thing she did on either show,” says Deyss-Nugent.

Imaginary Mary comes closer to taking advantage of Elfman’s talents; even though her character of Alice is a hard-charging owner of a PR agency who had a crappy family life as a kid, Adam F. Goldberg, David Guarascio and Patrick Osborne have written her as just awkward enough to not know how to handle being in a relationship with Ben (Stephen Schneider), who has three kids.

The show had potential to be a decent comedy about a person in her 40s dealing with having an instant family when the idea of family is foreign to her, but it’s pretty much derailed by the presence of the title character (voiced by Rachel Dratch), the childhood imaginary friend Alice dredges back up to help her cope. The CGI furball adds nothing except unfunny snark that makes the show more of a wall of noise than anything else. ABC knew it likely had a dud, considering it reduced the episode order from 13 to 9 and waited until late March to debut it.

She's not working with Chuck Lorre.

Let’s face facts: some showrunners just know how to write for certain actors. Just ask all of the folks who are making a mint on The Big Bang Theory or the person who shines up Allison Janney’s Emmys from Mom; Lorre isn’t the current king of sitcoms for nothing. He and his team know how to use the talents of the people they have instead of trying to shoehorn people into the roles they’ve written.

“Apparently one of [Lorre’s] other career accomplishments is that he’s seemingly the only one capable of writing a long-running sitcom for Jenna Elfman,” jokes Harris.

People still remember Dharma.

This is why Elfman keeps getting shows, 15 years after her hit sitcom ended. Fans of Dharma & Greg, which stayed in syndication and on cable for a number of years after its original run, recall how original Elfman’s performance was. Some of those fans have have landed their own TV series, or are network executives who fell in love with her when they were teenagers; either way, they think they’re the ones who can recapture the magic.

“She still looks remarkably similar to the way she looked when she was doing Dharma & Greg, and a lot of people watched it, which means that they still recognize her immediately,” says Harris. “I’m sure that instant recognition factor goes a long way.”

So, like that pitcher who loses 20 games on a bad team because he’s too good to take out of the rotation, Jenna Elfman and her fans should take solace in the fact that, after two decades, she’s still good enough to keep getting jobs. Just needs the right job to come along. Does she need to play a middle-aged version of Dharma? Absolutely not. But if she can play someone as intriguing as Alice in Imaginary Mary without being dragged down by a distracting cartoon co-star, it’ll be a good start."