Wednesday May 3, 2017

I watched the first episode of The Handmaid's Tale.  It's fine.  Didn't have me rushing to press play on episode 2 if that's any indication.

It's already been renewed for a 2nd season.

Hulu has also secured the rights to This Is Us and Atlanta.

Alec Baldwin has been cast as CIA Director George Tenet in Hulu’s The Looming Tower.  I still can't get enough of his schtick on Match Game.  I can't explain it.

More from Hulu: "Hulu’s long-awaited live streaming service is finally ready for prime time: It’s up today offering more than 50 channels for $39.99 a month, CEO Mike Hopkins disclosed at the company’s Newfront presentation this morning. They’re calling it: Hulu With Live TV (Beta). Scripps Networks channels including HGTV, Travel Channel and Food Network made the cut in what’s expected to be one of the more popular virtual pay TV offerings — competing with AT&T’s DirecTV Now, Dish Network’s Sling TV, and Google’s YouTube TV. Other major programmers including AMC Networks, Discovery Communications, and Viacom are not in the initial offering. Hulu previously announced it will have services from its owners — Disney, Fox, Comcast’s NBCUniversal, and Time Warner — as well as CBS and A+E Networks."

A review of Master of None which will be released next Friday.

Wishing a speedy recovery to Jeannie Gaffigan who underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor.

Andy Cohen's Then and Now premieres tonight on Bravo.  "In each episode, host and executive producer Andy Cohen, alongside his newsmaker and celebrity guests, will dive into some of the biggest moments making headlines today and take a look back at a handful of iconic years in popular culture to ask, 'How did we get here?!' From how the 90's Spice Girl phenomenon relates to today's women empowerment movement, to an interesting correlation between WrestleMania and politics, the series will explore epic moments from our collective zeitgeist to examine how they've played a critical role in today's culture. As a former producer at CBS News (1990-2000) and current expert of all things pop culture, Cohen brings first-hand experience for many of the key events featured in the series and gets never-before-heard insider stories from his guests who had a front row seat to era-defining milestones."  Riveting!

"The Good Fight is expanding for season two. CBS All Access has upped the episode order for the legal drama to 13 episodes, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. The series, which marks the streamer's first foray into original scripted programming, was renewed in March for a second season that will premiere in 2018."

It would take approximately 9.5 days to "binge watch" The Simpsons.  And 12 days to knock out Law & Order: SVU.  Click here to see how long it would take to binge some of your other favorite long-running shows.

The Walking Dead's Josh McDermott had to delete his social media accounts after receiving death threats?  It's a scripted show.  People know that, right?

The Deadwood movie script has been written.

Joe Piscopo will NOT be running for Governor of New Jersey.

"Hulu has picked up a pair of dramas to seriesMarvel’s Runaways, from Gossip Girl creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, and The First (working title), about the first human mission to Mars, which was created and written by House Of Cards creator Beau Willimon. Marvel’s Runaways was originally ordered to pilot with backup scripts, while The First is a straight-to-series order.

"The streaming service made the announcements today at its upfront session in Manhattan.

"Marvel’s Runaways, based on the comics created by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona, is the story of six diverse teenagers who can barely stand one another but who must unite against a common foe: their parents. It stars Rhenzy Feliz as Alex Wilder, a loud-and-proud nerd who spends much of his free time playing video games; Lyrica Okano as Nico Minoru, a tough, angst-ridden budding Wiccan; Virginia Gardner as Karolina Dean, who, underneath her veneer of privilege and perfection, is experiencing a newfound eagerness to explore her identity; Ariela Barer as Gert Yorkes, a purple-haired, riot grrrl; Gregg Sulkin as Chase Stein, a high school heartthrob many write off as a dumb jock but who  exhibits flashes of untapped brilliance in engineering; and Allegra Acosta as the eternally peppy Molly Hernandez, the youngest and most innocent of the group. Read more details of the lead characters here.

"A co-production with ABC Signature Studios. Marvel’s Runaways is executive produced by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage Gossip Girl, along with Marvel Head of Television Jeph Loeb and Jim Chory.

"The First, executive produced by Beau Willimon and his producing partner Jordan Tappis, explores the challenges of taking the first steps toward interplanetary colonization in the near future.

“'It’s a story about the human spirit,' said Willimon. 'About our indomitable need to reach for unknown horizons. About people working toward the greatest pioneering achievement in human history. And about the cost of that vision, the danger and sacrifice – emotional, psychological, and physical – that’s required to achieve it. How ordinary, imperfect people band together and overcome a myriad of obstacles to grasp the extraordinary.'”

"American Idol has only been off the air a year, but seems it's still the hottest property out there, because we've learned ABC has now made an offer to buy the show.

"Sources at ABC and Fremantle -- the company that produces the show -- tell TMZ the network contacted Fremantle last week and made the bid. We're told the network wanted to reboot the show for a March 2018 premiere.

"We're also told ABC inquired about making Ryan Seacrest the host, but even last week the network knew it was on the verge of signing Ryan as co-host of Live with Kelly Ripa. As a result, we're told ABC asked if the show could be shot in New York, which is now Ryan's home base. Our sources say Fremantle made it clear ... NYC was a no-go. The show will be shot in L.A.

"We're told Ryan hasn't been approached by ABC about hosting the show and our ABC sources say it's virtually out of the question, given his commitment to Live.

"TMZ broke the story ... NBC and FOX were in a bidding war a few months ago to get the show, but Fremantle stopped negotiating because of squabbling with CORE, co-owner of A.I.

"Our sources say Fremantle is going back to CORE to see if they can agree to negotiate with ABC, and go back to NBC and FOX."

From Uproxx, "[a]s long and storied as Norm Macdonald‘s comedy career is, the Saturday Night Live alum has only done two stand-up specials. The first, Me Doing Standup, came to life in 2011. And the second? Inexplicably titled Hitler’s Dog, Gossip & Trickery, the new hour is set to drop Tuesday, May 9th exclusively on Netflix as a part of the streaming giant’s latest cavalcade of original programming from some of the greatest stand-ups working today. To commemorate the occasion, the outlet dropped a first, short trailer previewing Macdonald’s thoughts on airport security.

“'I was in the airport and the guys were asking me about my I.D.,' he quips. 'It occurred to me that I.D. is a strange abbreviation because "I" is short for "I," and then "D" is short for "dentification.”'

"It’s an utterly silly joke without the weight of other comics’ heavy, current events-infused material, which is precisely what longtime fans of Macdonald have come to expect. Of course, the trailer’s debut wouldn’t be complete without its happening in the midst of the comedian’s latest controversy — his angry tweets about Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, which was adapted for television by Amazon. Considering his penchant for live-tweeting commentary on everything from politics to sports, it’ll be interesting to see if he addresses the medium in Hitler’s Dog, Gossip & Trickery."

"Netflix comedy Game Over, Man” has added Jere Burns to the cast, TheWrap has learned exclusively.

"The film is set after a telethon is hijacked at The Stanford Hotel, and three unlikely losers must find a way to escape the hotel without being executed by terrorists. The title is a callback to the phrase uttered by Bill Paxton’s stressed-out Marine character in the 1986 sci-fi classic Aliens.

Workaholics creators Adam Devine, Anders Holm, Blake Anderson and Kyle Newacheck developed the project together and Seth Rogen is producing.

"Holm wrote the script while Newacheck will direct. Devine, Holm and Anderson will also star in the film.

"Burns will play Mr. Duncan, the father of Darren (Holm) and Joel (Anderson) who is not amused when his sons and their friend Alexxx (Devine) rope he and his wife into watching a presentation on a cockamamie get-rich plan. What he really wants is for his sons to find a real job and move out of his house."

All in.  I've met Jere.  Couldn't be a nicer guy.

Per Recode, "[b]ack in October — in the midst of what ended up being one of the NFL’s worst stretches for TV ratings in years — CBS CEO Les Moonves sat puzzled onstage in front of an audience of tech and media executives in downtown San Francisco.

"Moonves, whose company pays more than $1 billion per year to broadcast NFL games, including Thursday Night Football, was asked why the country’s most popular sport was suddenly taking an NFL linebacker-sized hit to its TV ratings.

"Moonves ticked off a number of possible explanations: Suspensions to star players; the rise of fantasy-football-focused shows, like the NFL’s RedZone channel; and Donald Trump.

"Then he suggested a possibility that, unlike the others, couldn’t be chalked up to a one-off blip.

“'Have they sliced it and diced it too much?' Moonves asked, referring to the league’s many content distribution deals. 'Is there too much product out there? I really don’t know.'

"Moonves voiced what many in the industry have started to consider — ratings might be down because there’s simply too much football.

"That stands in stark contrast to where the NFL is headed. The league wants to sell more content than ever, and it is finding new ways to get NFL games onto the internet through partners who are clamoring to get their hands on TV-quality content to distribute on much smaller screens.

"It’s a strategy that should help the NFL grow its revenues, but it might also come at the expense of its media partners. In other words: the pie could get bigger, but everyone will get a slightly smaller slice.

"NFL football is still the most valuable TV product on the market, which means that traditional networks like NBC and CBS, cable networks like ESPN and Fox Sports 1, and even digital players like Twitter and Amazon are all clamoring for a piece of that pie.

"Cable companies need the NFL to stopgap subscribers cutting the cord. Digital players need it to become more like TV, and in turn, gain access to lucrative TV advertising budgets.

"It’s a cushy position for the NFL to be in. The league, which generated about $7 billion from TV rights deals alone in 2016, has most of its TV contracts locked up for at least five more years.

"But not all of the NFL’s rights are locked up that long. The broadcast rights for one of the league’s prime-time games, Thursday Night Football, expire after this season. The league will be looking for a new deal, and it could get creative.

"How the NFL chooses to slice those rights, and who it offers those slices to, will offer a glimpse into how the world’s most valuable television property thinks about the future of TV. And whether we actually have too much football.

"To understand the NFL’s thinking when it comes to carving up its content rights, you need to understand the League’s 'tri-cast' distribution model, a strategy the NFL started promoting for the first time in early 2016 for its Thursday Night Football rights package.

"The simple premise behind the model is that NFL games should be watchable in three places: On broadcast television via NBC and CBS; on the league’s cable television channel, NFL Network; and via the internet, either streamed for free on Twitter or as part of Amazon’s Prime subscription offering.

"This digital element is the new part. NFL fans have been able to stream games before, but only through the league’s existing TV partners.

"Now the NFL is bringing in new digital-only players, though it’s still in the 'learning phase' when it comes to delivering games to people over the internet, says Vishal Shah, the NFL’s senior vice president for digital media.

"In 2016, Twitter was the NFL’s first major partner in this endeavor, paying just $10 million to stream 10 of the league’s Thursday Night Football games, a fraction of the $450 million the league made in TV broadcast rights from CBS and NBC for the same games.

"This season, the NFL says it will 'learn' from Amazon, which paid $50 million for those same 10 Thursday Night Football games — again, the ones that CBS and NBC are paying the league $450 million to broadcast on traditional television.

"There’s a simple reason for the steep discount: Digital audiences are a fraction of the TV audience. Even though the NFL’s Thursday Night Football TV ratings were down 9 percent in 2016, the games still brought in an average of nearly 15 million viewers per week on CBS this season, according to Nielsen.

"During Week 6 of the season, when the San Diego Chargers beat the Denver Broncos, digital streams across Twitter, the NFL and CBS averaged just 369,000 viewers combined. The next week, when the Chicago Bears played the Green Bay Packers, that average was just 341,000 viewers.

"In other words, people still watch football on TV much more than over the internet. By a wide, wide margin. And the NFL knows that.

"Twitter’s audience was small despite streaming games for free to anyone online — you didn’t even need a Twitter account.

"Now the league will see if NFL games perform any better behind a paywall. Amazon Prime has at least 66 million subscribers, and though that’s smaller than Twitter’s overall audience, Prime subscribers are paying customers who expect some kind of high-quality content in exchange for their $99 annual fee.

"Even so, CBS and NBC are fully distributed networks available in more than 100 million U.S. homes. They’re also known for producing big-time live sports. Amazon is not.

"So why is the NFL bothering with digital alternatives when television still dominates? These internet partnerships are a way for the league to make a little more cash now, test a number of new distribution models and, most importantly, set up a scenario down the line in which internet giants like Facebook and Amazon are bidding on the League’s distribution rights against existing partners like NBC and CBS.

"More bidders ultimately means more money for the NFL. At least that’s the hope.

“'I think certainly they’ll be viable bidders even sooner than a lot of people anticipate,' Shah said when asked whether the league expects its digital distribution partners, like Amazon and Twitter, to ultimately bid for larger TV-style packages. 'All the partners and all the bidders have shown an interest in developing long term relationships. I do think they will be a meaningful sort of option, even in the short term.'

"Amazon is hopeful NFL games can help lure in new Prime customers, especially in international markets like Australia and New Zealand where Amazon Prime video distribution is still new.

"Amazon, unlike Twitter, seems less interested in recouping its $50 million from the NFL in the form of advertising revenue, and more interested in using the games as a way to promote its own original shows coming out in the fall. 'We already knew we were going to be doing a lot of marketing around this time, and the combination of doing this deal with the NFL and kicking off a lot of this marketing made sense to us,' Blackburn said.

"If Amazon’s strategy plays out, it could be a possible bidder for even bigger packages down the line.

"The question is whether a digital partner like Amazon or Twitter can handle the kind of distribution the NFL expects from its TV partners. Based on the league’s previous experiments, the answer is a definite no. Not yet, at least.

"There’s an easy solution for those who believe the NFL has too much football: Eliminate Thursday Night Football, the only batch of NFL games that aren’t already locked into a long-term TV contract.

"Many players don’t like the games, and those worried that the NFL has gotten too violent believe the Thursday games — which usually give players just a few days to prepare both physically and mentally — are dispensable.

“They’ve expanded the number of windows, but the schedule formula hasn’t changed,' explained one high-ranking TV executive. 'If you expand the number of windows but don’t do anything to create more national-quality games, then you are stretching the inventory pretty thin.'”

Per Buzzfeed, "[a]fter months of excitement [?], this week, Black-ish is finally airing the backdoor pilot for its possible spinoff, centering on the eldest Johnson child, Zoey (Yara Shahidi).

"On Wednesday night’s episode, Zoey attend[ed] orientation at the fictional Southern California University and face some more issues with Dre (Anthony Anderson) not being able to let go of his favorite child.

"It’s been widely reported that the episode features Trevor Jackson as Zoey's love interest and Matt Walsh and Chris Parnell as administrators at the college. But in an exclusive clip we see Zoey is not the only Black-ish regular making a move to the spinoff...

"Charlie’s (Deon Cole) coming along for the ride! Apparently, he's been an adjunct professor this whole time.

"In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Cole said Black-ish showrunner Kenya Barris called him and asked him what he thought about being a part of the special episode.

“'If Kenya thinks it, then I'm down for it,' the actor said. 'Whatever he wants to do, I'm there. I've always supported him. I call him my sensei and whatever he sees fit, man, if it's doable, I'm all down for it.'

"Cole didn’t go into Black-ish expecting Charlie would be a fan favorite, but he's excited about the extra work the spinoff would bring. 'Maybe you’ll see more of him… But the way that it's been has been amazing, so if it ain't broke don't fix it,' he said.

"As for whether or not Charlie’s constantly forgotten son, Eustace (Christopher Griffin), will make an appearance in the spinoff as well, Cole laughed and said, 'If you see Eustace, let me know.'”

Per The New York Post, "Scheana Shay had fork over $50,000 to ex-husband Michael Shay in the divorce settlement but has no idea where the money eventually ended up.

“'He wasn’t a person who was ever really good with money,' the Vanderpump Rules beauty explained on Monday’s installment of The Tomorrow Show.

“'It was very amicable and as much as I didn’t want to give $50,000 to a person with a drug problem, he deserved it for just being a part of the show for so long and my life and my story, and I’m like, look, I’m not trying to like cut you out and leave you high and dry.'

"Scheana, 31, and Michael finalized their divorce after pulling the plug on their two-year marriage last November. TMZ reported Scheana got to keep two cars, a 2016 Ford Explorer and a 2009 Nissan, as well as a bank account with $1,000 and a retirement fund worth $31,000. She was required to pay $50,000 to cover the balance of their assets.

"While Scheana said Michael agreed to the amount, she also suggested ways to preserve the cash.

“'I was just like, I recommend that you put $10,000 into like SEP-IRA, start a retirement account or something that you know you can start getting interest on, and he was like, yeah, that’s a great idea, I doubt he did that,' she said.

"Michael’s addiction to painkillers was exposed on the fourth season of Vanderpump Rules, as he and Scheana navigated their first year of marriage. She later alleged he purchased pills behind her back.

“'Like he said on the reunion, he’s been using it for his business. So, whether that’s buying studio equipment, signing artists, going on tour and paying everyone, I don’t know, but I hope he’s doing something useful with it and just wasting it like he wasted a lot of mine,' Scheana continued.

"Michael blasted the show during last month’s reunion for labeling him a druggie, also taking shots at his former spouse for moving on to boyfriend Robert Valletta rather quickly. Scheana dismissed rumors the men were ever close pals.

“'Rob and Shay were never friends,' Scheana confirmed. 'People keep — well they’re like, ‘oh you’re bragging about dating his buddy, I’m like, his buddy? No mine.'

"Scheana has been dating Amber Valletta’s brother since January."