Monday August 28, 2017

A couple of shows to avoid: Disjoined on Netflix and WE tv's Love Blows.  Disjointed is tragically bad.  Both Chuck Lorre and Netflix should be embarrassed.  Love Blows is likely something you've never heard of, nor would you have unless I pointed it out, but it's a matchmaking show that takes place in Chicago and has me ashamed to say I hail from the same city.  You're welcome.

On the heels of Mayweather-McGregor, a new gigantic multi-year agreement has been announced to make ESPN the home of Top Rank in the U.S. and Canada. The new partnership will have ESPN televising live fights on the flagship as well as ESPN Deportes, and the ESPN app. They will also stream fights and other Top Rank content on the recently announced ESPN-branded direct-to-consumer streaming service BAMTech, and deliver select pay-per-view fight events. 

TLC has renewed Who Do You Think You Are?

"Marvel is once again collaborating with ABC for a new 'Jessica Jones-esque' female-focused show. Speaking at the Edinburgh International Television festival, Marvel Television's Karim Zreik teased that the studio had an aim "to target different audiences", with another superhero show like Jessica Jones, reported Digital Spy. Another genre that the studio is planning to explore more is comedy."

I like the new redesigned Hulu app.

On that note, "The CW Network and Hulu appear to be in a friendlier place than they were around this time last year. The network, co-owned by CBS and Warner Bros., says today that “in the coming months” it will offer its live streams to subscribers of Hulu with Live TV. In addition, these subscribers will “soon” be able to watch episodes of current season series on-demand. That’s a change from last year. Hulu — then just an on-demand service — wanted more than it was getting from its CW agreement, which only covered next-day access to the most recent 'rolling five' episodes of CW series. CW stopped supplying its new programming, promoting instead the availability of recent episodes for streaming on the network’s own free app."

A sneak peek at the TV version of Heathers.

Minnie Driver is returning to Will & Grace.

 

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, "Ryan Murphy knows viewers have anxiety about the politics in the upcoming election-themed season of his FX anthology American Horror Story: Cult — and that's entirely the point of the season.

"'The election is the jumping-off point of the show, but it's really about the rise of a cult of personality,' the showrunner told reporters Friday following a press screening of the first three episodes of season seven.

"This season of the FX drama has been described as a 'true American horror story,' with Murphy noting it would tackle the 'national conversation and both the euphoria and the fear' surrounding the election. But it will not feature a single point of view, the noted Democrat has said in the past about season seven of his game-changing drama. AHS regulars Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters star as Ally Mayfair-Richards and Kai Anderson, respectively. Paulson's character, who is married to Ivy Mayfair-Richards (played by franchise newcomer Alison Pill), suffers from multiple phobias, including coulrophobia, or a fear of clowns. The first three episodes, which were screened for reporters Friday, revealed that the election serves as a trigger for Paulson's Ally.

"Cult opens on election night 2016 and features the reaction from Clinton supporters (a lesbian couple played by Paulson and Pill), as well as the Trump camp (Peters, who this season plays cult leaders Kai, Charles Manson, David Koresh, Andy Warhol and Jim Jones). Murphy repeatedly stressed that "pro or con, everyone can relate to the feelings" portrayed on the show on election night. 'Part of being an artist is being able to write about the world you live in. But we've tried very careful to be fair,' he noted. 'We're not burning people in effigy or anything extreme.'

"In crafting season seven, Murphy explained that he was originally drawn to the idea of cults and had tried for many seasons before to explore the world of Manson. However, in designing this season and the facing challenges of exploring Manson, he quickly realized that the presidential election would instead serve as a better entry point to the story he wanted to explore. 'We're trying to understand how someone who is very charismatic in the culture can rise up and become a leader. We're not going to say we hate Trump,' said Murphy. 'What did Trump tap into? We're interested in his rise and how that happened.'

"The showrunner — who also has American Crime Story and Feud at FX, as well as Fox's upcoming 9-1-1procedural and other shows in the works — ultimately hopes that Cult starts a conversation about what's going on in America today. 'Everybody lost their shit after the election, and people are still losing their shit, and there is no real discussion, and everyone is still at each other throats,' he said. 'The world we're living in is ridiculous, so a sense of humor is needed.'

"Murphy, who remains plugged into the social media conversation surrounding Cult, had some advice to viewers who have said they plan to check out of the franchise because of its political theme this year. 'The great thing about a TV set is it can be turned on and off, if people don't feel like they're going to learn anything from it,' he said.

"'I do think politics has become entertainment, in a weird way,' Murphy said, noting that the discussion in the show's writers room after the election shifted to focus almost entirely on politics, versus the more lighthearted banter (like Bravo programming, he joked) before November.

"The Cult cast also includes Teen Wolf alum Colton Haynes (who plays a police officer), Scream Queens grad Billie Lourd (who has ties to Peters' character) and Lena Dunham, who guest-stars as Valerie Solanas, aka the woman who shot Andy Warhol. Billy on the Street's Billy Eichner recurs; Adina Porter, Cheyenne Jackson (who will play a therapist), Frances Conroy, Mare Winningham and Emma Roberts round out the cast. As for AHS original leading lady Jessica Lange, Murphy said he's "sure she will come back to the show" one day (with the same being true for other stars, like Kathy Bates, who are taking this season off).

"FX pulled out all of the stops for marketing the season. For the last six weeks, the studio has dropped a series of clues — including character sketches and names, clips, images and eventually the trailer — through an extensive interactive online campaign. A real-life activation in Philadelphia and the title reveal at Comic-Con have also played into the promotional fun.

"American Horror Story: Cult premieres Sept. 5 on FX and will consist of 11 episodes."

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From Variety: "In his latest movie, Marjorie Prime, Jon Hamm plays a hologram who gives tender therapeutic advice to the aging lady he was once married to (it’s complicated), and if that doesn’t strike you as exciting, you’re not alone. The movie is a precious indie bauble that has already whiffed at the specialty box office. Hamm is crafty and spry in it; you might say — as some have — that it’s an adventurous role for him, in the same way that playing a violent sociopath with choppy shaved hair in Baby Driver was an adventurous role for him. These characters aren’t what we “expect” from Jon Hamm, so they make it look like he’s in there, trying on audacious things and working it. The question is: Why does Jon Hamm now look like he’s trying so hard?

"I think what I’m asking is: Why isn’t Jon Hamm a movie star? It’s an awkward question to pose, because we all know the entertainment industry doesn’t mint movie stars the way it once used to. It now mints franchises that are bigger than any one star. Beyond that, Jon Hamm’s image as an actor rests on a television series that, as much as any series in the history of the medium, proved that television could vibrate with an artistic electricity heady and bold enough to rival that of any contemporary movie. To presume that Hamm, after Mad Men (which ended in 2014), should have “graduated” to the movies may sound like outdated or even patronizing thinking.

"Yet let’s be honest: If you compare him to the two other greatest actors of the new golden age of television, Bryan Cranston and the late James Gandolfini, Hamm, on Mad Men, had a tall-dark-and-handsome sharky elegance combined with a glamorous film-noir danger that made him seem, uniquely, like the 21st-century version of a classic movie star (think Robert Mitchum with a touch of Gregory Peck).

"His look alone — the inky perfect hair, the thrusting chin and reluctant smile, the killer eyes that could melt or freeze you — was worthy of 007. Beyond that, Hamm inhabited Don Draper’s slithery soul in a way that invited the audience into a fascinating complicity with him. Over those years, I read a lot of great Mad Men recaps, but a blind spot shared by more than a few of them was the tendency to judge Don’s sins from on high, and to presume that the show viewed his hungry and often illicit soul with that same moralistic detachment. I’d argue that the ambiguous glory of Mad Men”was how much it submerged the audience in Don’s point-of-view, and it was Hamm’s sonorous force as an actor that allowed that.

"It’s that force that’s been waiting to be unleashed, to find a role — a great role — ever since the show ended. We now inhabit a culture so fickle that there are those who would write off Hamm as a one-hit wonder. (I expect to read a comment to that effect within 10 minutes of this column being posted.) But I don’t buy it. Hamm will be a true star again. In the years since Mad Men, however, it’s become more and more apparent why he’s fumbling around in movies that aren’t worthy of him.

"He is, for one, a grown-up actor in a universe that’s increasingly kiddiefied; almost surely, he would have done better several decades ago. Yet Hamm’s biggest sticking point in terms of casting is tied to the very quality that made him so enthralling on Mad Men: He’s a victim of Intellectual Actor Syndrome. For all his swarthy allure, he’s an intensely brainy and articulate actor who leads, in spirit, from the neck up, and whose excitement and danger reside in his thoughts. That requires a script that can channel, through words, the actor’s energized quality of mind. Without it, he comes off as a ghost of himself.

"Hamm seemed to get off to a good start on the big screen, giving an ace performance as the FBI Special Agent on the tail of the Fenway Park heist plotters in Ben Affleck’s The Town, which was released in 2010, during the height of Mad Men mania. But in the cause of 'stretching,' he has made a number of bad choices, taking on roles that detracted from his mystique — like the part of Allen Ginsberg’s defense attorney in Howl (not a bad role, but the movie was too scrubby and earnest), or the fish-out-of-water sports agent who journeys to India to find a superstar pitcher in Disney’s innocuously inspirational Million Dollar Arm. There’s a value to not being overexposed, and Hamm, by saying yes to routine movies like these, made himself seem common, a gun-for-hire, part of the general scenery. I realize that actors have to work, but if the roles you choose end up dulling your brand, then they may not be worth the price.

"Hamm has begun to seem like a supporting guy on the fringes, when what he really needs is a daring part that places him at the dead center of the action, a role built around his cutthroat fluency. Sure, you can’t cast somebody who looks like Jon Hamm as just anybody, but off the top of my head, I can think of any number of characters that he’d be perfect for.

"It’s easy to imagine him taking on the Henry Fonda role of the U.S. president who goes through the negotiation of his life in a remake of Fail Safe (1964), Sidney Lumet’s great countdown-to-oblivion thriller, tailored to these neo-nuclear times. Or playing the shady hero of one of Woody Allen’s serious dramas about an ordinary man caught in a dark web of his own devising (Match Point, Crimes and Misdemeanors). And while some will surely say that Hamm, at 46, is too old for the part, I say: Cast him as Superman! Why not have the Man of Steel be a man instead of an overgrown pin-up, especially given that Henry Cavill has about one-ten-thousandth the charisma?

"You should never give up the hope that Hollywood will make a romantic comedy for adults, and wouldn’t it be enticing to see Hamm star in one of them opposite an actress like Cate Blanchett? The sparks, and wit, could fly. Can Hamm sing and dance? He’s been brilliantly funny, and shown an effortless light touch, on Saturday Night Live, so I’m betting that he might have the talent to hold down a contempo post-La La Land musical. And there’s a juicy biopic that should really have his name on it: a movie about the wild, sordid, besotted life — especially the later years — of Errol Flynn. (There’s a Flynn movie in the works, but it’s an 'action-adventure' that takes off from an episode in Flynn’s youth, leaving room for a much deeper dive into who he was as a star.) Also, this will probably sound insane, but I think Hamm would be an inspired choice to play Frank Zappa.

"How do you land a role of ambition and audacity and white-hot buzz? After Mad Men, Jon Hamm should have had the world eating out of his hand. In the three years since, he has squandered some of that capital, but even so, there has to be a daring director out there — David O. Russell? Kathryn Bigelow? Paul Thomas Anderson? — who would kill to create a perfect role for him.

"A character like Don Draper is, of course, a tough act to follow, and Hamm may be doing all he can to shake himself free of it, in the same way that Sean Connery, in the ’70s, went to elaborate lengths to shake himself free of James Bond. But Hamm would now do well to ponder the very qualities in himself that Don Draper brought out: the adman showmanship, the hound-dog cunning, the hint of mercilessness held behind a witty façade of civility. You can only play Don once, but Hamm, going forward, shouldn’t feel like he has to run from him. If he does, that may be an actor running from himself."

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Per CNET, "David Hasselhoff wants to bring back Knight Rider, even though today's highly automated automobiles mean that talking '80s supercar KITT no longer looks quite so kitted-out. 

"'The first thing I'd say to KITT', Hasselhoff said, 'is "Hey KITT, all the cars can talk now!"'

"The Knight Rider and Baywatch star experienced modern motoring firsthand a few years back when he visited Google and piloted of one of the company's self-driving cars. Meanwhile, Hasselhoff has long wanted to re-launch the iconic turbo-boosted adventure series somewhere it could benefit from another modern innovation: binge watching.  

"'Anywhere you can watch four episodes in a row', he said when I ask him where a new Knight Rider could find a home. 'I don't want to wait until next week!'

"The irrepressible star spoke to me over the phone from LA as he promotes his new movie, Killing Hasselhoff. This highly disposable comedy flick features an inexplicably decent cast of comic talents like Ken JeongJim JefferiesRhys Darby and Jon Lovitz, hamming it up as lowlifes plotting to win a celebrity death pool by offing the Hoff. But they haven't counted on Hasselhoff's invincible longevity -- something that's true in real life, too. 

"It feels odd when interviewing a star about a new film for the conversation to turn back to the hits of decades back. But when it's Hasselhoff, he can't seem to help it. He romps through his own history in Killing Hasselhoff, squeezing exuberantly into both his red Baywatch lifeguard outfit and the Knight Rider robotic car. It seems even when he makes new films and TV shows, he turns back the clock to his heyday.

"In fact, Hasselhoff is so '80s, his favourite TV show right now is The Americans, a show set in that very decade.

"Hasselhoff loves to binge-watch shows, sometimes finding himself buying episodes repeatedly in his impatience to catch up to the latest installment.

"'I like the way television has gotten deep and cool', he said. 'Great actors, and everyone's working. It's a great time for all of us because for the longest time it was all reality-driven crap -- and the reality's not real.'

"This seems an unusual comment for someone whose latter-day career revolves around playing himself. He's appeared as himself (or an approximation thereof) in everything from The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie to The West Wing, not to mention his own reality-sitcom Hoff the Record and a bizarre short film scripted by artificial intelligence dubbed Hoffbot."

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Courtesy of InTouch, "[i]t seems like there's always someone either screaming or crying within five minutes of every scene in Bravo's Real Housewives series. And with so much drama and emotion at all times, it's hard to imagine the cameras are rolling documentary style without any kind of outside influence.

"But are the shows scripted? Well, that's a whole other story — and one that might be a little more complicated to answer than you'd expected. We looked into the reality shows to see whether or not there's actually any 'reality' in them, and the evidence is pretty compelling.

"Need more proof? A reality TV producer held an anonymous AMA — also known as an 'Ask Me Anything' Q&A — in the Bravo Real Housewives subreddit on reddit. And they answered everything fans wanted to know about story lines, legal issues on set (like drug use and alcohol abuse), and working with difficult talent on all kinds of reality shows.

"When it came to the Housewives, they explained, 'Each housewife is assigned to their own story producer, whose only job is to develop her storyline. So they conspire to create plot points, image, etc... Each story producer's housewife is their responsibility. If the housewife has a breakdown at 2am and wants to quit the show, or is pissed about her edit, she calls her story producer. The story producer has to pretend to be their bestie and gain their trust, but they are also in charge of creating exciting TV, and will influence their housewife to walk into set ups.'

"Plus, all those casual lunches out where the housewives just conveniently forget to invite one of their friends have to be meticulously planned in advance for filming schedules. 'To shoot anywhere that is not their privately owned home, you have to get permission from the owner and get a film permit [weeks before]... So anything at a restaurant or public space needs to be set up way in advance.' Guess that invitation didn't get lost in the mail after all.

"But at the end of the day Real Housewives producer Rahel Tennione said it best to Business Insider: 'As a reality producer, you're dealing with real people with their own minds that have their own images that they want to control or they want to be seen. We don't always know what we're going to get.'

"As much as you plan ahead, and for all of the drama you create, the housewives are ultimately their own people with their own agendas for being on the show. And while you can write a scene, reshoot certain moments, and carefully edit everything, at the end of the day, only the housewives themselves can control what crazy words come out of their mouths."