Tuesday September 19, 2017

Jerry Before Seinfeld is streaming on Netflix.  More below.

Vulture offers up some highlights from Jerry Before Seinfeld.

Looks like Meghan McCain is heading to The View.  She'd replace Jedediah Bila.

Not a lot of people tuned in to watch the Emmys on Sunday.  This year’s awards viewership tied last year’s record low of 11.4 million viewers.

Gearing up for season 35 of Survivor.

It still makes me sad when the subject of an episode of Intervention leaves treatment early.

A new trailer has been released for Netflix's The Punisher.

I really enjoyed the second season of Amazon's One Mississippi.  I felt a bit short changed that it was only six episodes.

"Less than two weeks after returning to Fox Business Network from suspension after an investigation over claims of sexual harassment,  the host of Making Money With Charles Payne has been accused today of rape in a new lawsuit."

"Scripps Lifestyle Studios, the digital arm of mega-popular cable channels Food Network and HGTV parent Scripps Networks Interactive, is launching a food-focused digital brand called Genius Kitchen as it looks to build a fanbase of cooking enthusiasts who aren’t watching traditional pay-TV. Genius Kitchen’s first show, GK Now, is a weekly program hosted by YouTube stars Akilah Hughes and Mike Lockyer, who will take a comedic look at food, pop culture and other topics of interest to the platform’s target audience of 21 to 35-year-olds who grew up online. Genius Kitchen will also tap into Scripps’ library of more than 500,000 recipes, allowing fans to get instant recipes delivered to their devices. Senior Vice President of Digital Brand Creative at Scripps Networks, Rich Lacy, will oversee the new outlet’s content development. A small sample of content will be available soon at GeniusKitchen.com, with more coming in October."  Shoot me if I ever watch a second of this nonsense.

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Per The Los Angeles Times, "[f]rom variety hours to talk shows to dedicated specials, stand-up comedy on television is just about as old as television. Millions (I am guesstimating) who have never seen a comic work a nightclub or theater have seen dozens upon dozens of them on TV. Some of these people decide to become comedians themselves.

"'When I was a kid and a comedian came on TV, I would just freeze and stare at them,' Jerry Seinfeld remembers in Jerry Before Seinfeld, a dedicated special premiering Tuesday on Netflix, which has been investing heavily in stand-up comedy, big-name and littler-name alike. Jerry Before Seinfeld is the first expression of a deal ($100 million is the bruited figure) that also brings the network past and future episodes of Seinfeld's drive-talk-and-drink series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

"Its long history with the medium notwithstanding, stand-up doesn't always work on the screen. There are wrong ways to film it — poor camera placements or post-production varnishes that can alienate the viewer, that kill a sense of shared space and spontaneity every comic seeks to create. There is nothing television can do to make a bad comic funny, but it can make a good performance feel inert. I approach such programs hopefully, with trepidation. I want to laugh, but know I might not.

"I laughed a lot during Jerry Before Seinfeld, in which Seinfeld returns to the stage of the Comic Strip, the New York comedy club he worked for no money and many hamburgers while getting his act together in the 1970s. Much – most? – of the material he performs here predates the series that took his name and magnified it: Seinfeld, which translated a comic's obsession with life's illogical annoyances into a world-conquering situation comedy.

"The South Pacific paradise isles of Fiji flaunt a unique culture, incredible beauty and an awesome holiday vibe. They offer some pretty incredible resorts, too — especially the handful located on their very own private islands. Fiji Airways makes...

"It's an interesting and novel approach for a comedian, something like when singers in their later years — Frank Sinatra or Joni Mitchell or Elvis Costello – revisit songs recorded in younger ones to find different shadings in a different register. Experience seasons innocence. Seinfeld's new attack on his early material has a different music and energy. (Archival clips await online for comparison.) The young man bemused by the absurdities of civilization comes on now like a comic equivalent of an Old Testament Prophet, harsher and hoarser and invigorated with age.

"'I grew up in the Sixties,' Seinfeld tells the crowd, going on in an increasingly mocking tone, 'and I see a lot of beautiful young people here tonight enjoying your life of infinite potential and opportunity because you're young and your life is still ahead of you and it's all gonna to happen. Let me tell you little punks something.' And he does.

"With documentary interludes recalling the comic's early life; it's like a compact version of an autobiographical one-man show. Here is Seinfeld on the steps of his childhood home, surrounded by childish things. Here he is sitting in 57th Street and Madison Avenue, where he used to eat lunch in the days he worked a construction, or destruction, job a couple of blocks away; here he is in the middle of what looks like a West Village residential street, sitting in a sea of legal-pad pages containing every good joke he's written 'from 1975 till this morning.'

"'I only had one joke that worked, which I'm going to do for you right now. And if you ever think you yourself might someday want to do comedy, this is not the way you do it. Don't ever say, "I'm going to do a joke now."' It's a joke about left-handedness. His second good joke, about a roller coaster in the South Bronx, he tells too.

"Seinfeld recalls his parents coming to see him work for the first time, pointing out just where they sat. 'For whatever reason I was very embarrassed around my parents to show them this part of my personality…. It was like my little gay closet moment. "I'm a funny person and I don't want to be ashamed of it anymore, and I want to lead a funny lifestyle now. I want to be with other funny people. I want to have breakfast at 2 in the afternoon."'

"The stand-up material is a mix of reminiscence and more abstract ideas, like, 'I always like that whatever goes on in the world, it somehow exactly fits the number of pages that they're using in the paper that day.' (You can tell that's an old joke.) Wondering if a stun gun could be adjusted 'so you were just taken aback.' Picturing clothes as 'waiting all the time. … Everything you're not wearing right now is hoping to get picked tomorrow,' but that 'socks hate their lives' and are always looking to escape.

"'To feel that your sense of humor is actually being validated,' says the comedian, 'that is the only validation I think I've ever really cared about as a human being. But I didn't ever really care about whether they liked me or not … it was, "Do they like the material?"'

"'I wasn't really planning on getting anywhere doing this, by the way,' he admits. But stuff happened."

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Per Variety, "[a] new documentary chronicling the life and career of George Michael will air on Showtime this fall.

George Michael: Freedom centers on the formative period in the musician’s life, leading up to and following the making of his album Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1. The film also follows his subsequent, infamous High Court battle with his record label that followed, while also getting personal about the death of his partner, Anselmo Feleppa. Filmed before Michael’s death in 2016, the documentary is narrated by the singer, who was heavily involved in making the film that serves as his final work.

"The feature also includes the original five supermodels from his Freedom! ’90 video — Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford, Tatjana Patitz, and Linda Evangelista — who discuss their experiences on making the music video. Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Ricky Gervais, Nile Rodgers, Mark Ronson, Tracey Emin, Liam Gallagher, Mary J. Blige, Jean Paul Gaultier, James Corden, and Tony Bennett are also interviewed.

"Produced by Sony Music Entertainment UK, George Michael: Freedom was directed by George Michael and David Austin, and produced by Lisa Johnson and David Austin. Austin also serves as executive producer.

George Michael: Freedom premieres Saturday, Oct. 21 at 9 p.m. on Showtime.

"Watch a first look at the documentary here." 

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I highly highly recommend checking out last week's season premiere of South Park, which is still cranking away so 21 seasons in.  Per EW, "[l]et’s hope the production team behind South Park has their cyber security up to date. The Comedy Central series is going to tackle North Korea in Wednesday’s episode.

"Details about the episode are scarce — which is usually the case for the series whose creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone craft each week’s entry until the last possible minute.

"The title is Put It Down. Comedy Central teases that 'North Korea takes aim at South Park' in the episode.

"Yet the rest of the tease and promo clip are not about North Korea, seemingly, but about how 'when Tweek is caught in the middle of a petty conflict, it drives his relationship with Craig to the brink.'

"Usually, South Park episodes have an 'A' storyline and a 'B' storyline. We’ve asked Comedy Central for more details and will update if we get them. Previously, the South Park team tackled North Korea its feature film, Team America: World Police. Last week’s South Park 21st season premiere went after white supremacists in an episode that wrecked havoc with viewers’ Alexa units.

"Mocking North Korea has seemed a bit more perilous lately following the 2014 hack of Sony Pictures, where a group demanded the studio pull the comedy film The Interview, which mocked North Korean leader Kim Jong Un."

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From Buzzfeed: "Blessed be the fruit: The Handmaid's Tale, one of several favorites in the Emmys' highly competitive best drama category, took home the top honor on Sunday night — and now Hulu is the first streaming service ever to win an Emmy in a best series category.

"Before this year, Hulu had received two Emmy nominations: one for writing on its election special Triumph, and another for visual effects for its limited series 11.22.63.

"In July, The Handmaid's Tale received 13 Emmy nominations, and at Sunday's ceremony, the show dominated. In addition to Outstanding Drama Series, the show won Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Elisabeth Moss), Outstanding Supporting Actress (Ann Dowd), Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series (Reed Morano), and Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series (Bruce Miller). At the Creative Arts Emmys last weekend, The Handmaid's Tale won for production design and cinematography. And Alexis Bledel — who will be a series regular in the show's second season — won Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series, bringing the show's final tally to eight wins.

"The Handmaid's Tale sweep for Hulu was a shocking turn of events for a relatively new player in the Emmys and in quality scripted content.

"The dystopian drama premiered on Hulu in April, and was seen as incredibly timely in this political climate, despite being based on Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel. The story of June (Moss), renamed Offred by the show's oppressive society of Gilead, reflected many Americans' current anxieties about eroding rights (of women, of minority groups), a looming threat of war, religious intolerance, and environmental threats.

"None of the show's winners delivered political speeches Sunday night, but The Handmaid's Tale creator, Bruce Miller, closed the show by saying, 'Go home, get to work, we have a lot of things to fight for.'

"In the Emmys press room, executive producer Warren Littlefield said, 'Our partners at Hulu are fearless. They took a very controversial book and said they wanted to do it. Each and every day they encourage us to go for it, and that kind of support for all of us as artists is exceptional.'

"Hulu's rival streaming service, Netflix, has been in the Emmys game since 2013, after the inaugural season of House of Cards, when it first began its full-court press into original content. That year, Netflix got 14 nominations, breaking into the major categories immediately, with nominations for Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (for Kevin Spacey), and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Robin Wright). Jason Bateman was also nominated that year for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for the Arrested Development reboot. Even the horror thriller Hemlock Grove got two nominations (for its main title theme and visual effects). Netflix has increased its nominations total every year since, drawing 91 in 2017 (second only to HBO's 111), and has spent millions to do so, launching campaigns this year for all of its shows. Netflix famously has had a $6 billion budget for original content in 2017.

"Yet Netflix has not been able to break through in the Outstanding Drama Series or Outstanding Comedy Series categories, despite having two strong contenders this year, with The Crown and Stranger Things. Along with The Handmaid's Tale and NBC's This Is Us, those four series were thought to be the main contenders in the drama category.

"As the Emmys reflect, television's delivery system stayed the same for its entire existence — and then it changed quickly. The first non-network show to win an Emmy in a best series category was in 2001 when HBO's Sex and the City won Outstanding Comedy Series. Next was The Sopranos (also HBO, obviously) in 2004 for Outstanding Drama Series. The Sopranos won again in 2007, which was then followed by Mad Men's four-year run in that category — the AMC drama was the first basic cable show to win an Emmy in a best series category. After that, Showtime's Homeland won in 2012, and then AMC's Breaking Bad then won twice, in 2013 and 2014. Since Breaking Bad's two wins, and since ABC's Modern Familyended its five-season streak in Outstanding Comedy Series in 2015, HBO has swept both series categories, with Veep and Game of Thrones winning last year and the year before.

"Whether Hulu's win will open the floodgates for streaming services to command the Emmys as they do original television content remains to be seen. (Amazon is a player here as well.) After all, next year, Game of Thrones will once again be eligible for Outstanding Drama Series."

All that I was unable to make it past episode 4.

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From Vulture: "Jen Kirkman has now entered the tense back-and-forth between Tig Notaro and Louis C.K. over a One Mississippi scene about sexual harassment in the workplace. In One Mississippi’s second season, a young female employee has to stand alone with her male boss in his office, as he begins touching himself under his desk. It’s a scene eerily reminiscent of an old Gawker blind item about a male comedian forcing younger female comedians to watch him masturbate, which was, at the time, thought to be about Louis C.K. As Tig Notaro promoted the show, she asked that C.K., who has an executive producer credit on her show although the two haven’t spoken in some time, address allegations that he had behaved inappropriately with women in the industry. (C.K. responded to Notaro’s comments by saying that he’s not sure why Notaro is talking about this.) One of those women was Jen Kirkman, who alluded to an inappropriate exchange with a comedian she toured with: 'This guy didn’t rape me, but he made a certain difficult decision to go on tour with him really hard,' she said on her podcast, I Seem Funin a now-deleted episode. 'Because I knew if I did, I’d be getting more of the same weird treatment I’d been getting from him.'

"Now, Kirkman has responded to Notaro’s comments, and further clarified what she meant back in 2015 on her podcast. Kirkman told the Village Voice that she’s friends with Notaro, but isn’t sure why the One Mississippi star is bringing this up. Per the Village Voice:

“'There are rumors out there that Louis takes his dick out at women. He has never done that to me,' Kirkman asserts. 'I never said he did, I never implied that he did.' She continues, 'What I said was, when you hear rumors about someone, and they ask you to go on the road with them, this is what being a woman in comedy is like — imagine if there’s always a chance of rain over your head but [with] men, there isn’t. So you go, "Should I leave the house with an umbrella, or not?”'

"Kirkman said she’s not sure if the rumors about Louis C.K. are true, but that she deleted the podcast episode because she felt her meaning was misunderstood. 'Sometimes there’s nothing there. I think this might be a case of there’s nothing there,' Kirkman told the Voice. 'If I’m wrong, I’m wrong, and if any women want to come forward and say what he’s done, I’ll totally back them, because I believe women. But I just don’t know any.'”