Friday September 29, 2017

I'm pleasantly surprised to see that NBC has renewed Marlon for a 2nd season.  Evidently I'm NOT the only person who watched this show.

Curb Your Enthusiasm makes its triumphant returns for its 9th season on Sunday.  More below.

Season 15 of Family Guy premieres Sunday.

A new season of Hell's Kitchen premieres tonight.  How is that still a thing?

A new season of Saturday Night Live returns tomorrow.

Shark Tank is new on Sunday night as well with a 2-hour premiere.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus has announced that she is battling breast cancer.  Speedy recovery.

How Will & Grace impacted marriage equality.

New photos from season 2 of Stranger Things.  More below.

"truTV announced the hour-long documentary The Problem with Apu will premiere Nov. 19 at 10 p.m. Hosted by comedian Hari Kondabolu, the show will address his long-standing conflict with Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, the Indian convenience store owner from The Simpsons. The documentary will also feature Aziz Ansari, Kal Penn, Whoopi Goldberg, W. Kamau Bell, Aasif Mandvi, Hasan Minhaj, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Aparna Nancherla and more to explore the problem of racial stereotyping that faces South Asians."

"The curtain may be closing on one of Hollywood’s most storied production studios — CBS Television City — where such legendary entertainers as Jack Benny, Judy Garland and the cast of All in the Family performed for millions of viewers. Broadcast giant CBS Corp. is pondering the sale of its historic studio complex in the Fairfax district, once known for its state-of-the-art television production, as the Los Angeles construction boom propels developers in search of new places to build."

"Kevin Hart is giving new life to his most iconic stand-up skits and experiences with Stories With KevTheWrap can exclusively announce. The new digital series features audio of Hart’s classic routines, with Woody McClain (The New Edition Story) acting them out as Hart. McClain created the project and also executive produces. It premieres Sept. 29 on Laugh Out Loud Network, the streaming video service from Hart and Lionsgate."

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From Vanity Fair: "Curb Your Enthusiasm is finally coming back to television, thank God, although there’s a pretty good chance that God would just as soon not be involved. Six years ago, in 2011, the show finished its eighth season amid rumors that its life was over because creator, star, and raison d’être Larry David had had enough. As we should have remembered at the time, though, the only thing predictable about Larry David is his unpredictability. Season 9 debuts on HBO on Sunday.

"When I interviewed David recently for my podcast, Origins, I asked him what made him bring the show back after so much time away. His answer was matter-of-fact: 'I do not know. I just wanted to do it again. A lot of people kept asking me . . . I thought, yes, I suppose I should do this.' But he became more declarative and revealing when I asked him if he missed doing the series. 'Yeah, I did, I missed it . . . ’cause nothing else really gives me as much satisfaction as doing this.'

"For Larry David to even use the word 'satisfaction' seems like headline-making news. So the operative question becomes this: what lies behind the unpredictable scheduling of the show?

"Curb Your Enthusiasm premiered on HBO in October 2000; it’s had eight seasons over 17 years, making it not just a statistical outlier in television history, but something of a marvel in terms of its creators’ ability to turn out a comedy that was both critically praised and fan-adored, albeit a tad tardy in starting new seasons. The fact that the tardiness stretched to six years between seasons eight and nine may in part be explained by one of the major misperceptions about Curb: that it is an 'easy' show to do, because unlike virtually all other sitcoms, it is not scripted. People hear that, and imagine cast members in front of cameras spitting jokes off the tops of their heads with little regard for story or any other narrative niceties.

"In reality, it’s a lot trickier than that—and therein lies a reason for David’s hesitancy between seasons. Curb may be one of the most intricately plotted TV comedies in recent memory, with only Seinfeld—which David co-created—serving as a useful comparison.

"Each episode and every season of Curb are the results of a meticulously plotted architecture David has banged out with writers like Alec Berg, David Mandel, Jeff Schaffer, and many other collaborators through the years. The outlines they generate are among the keys to the show’s success. There is a narrative at work; there are story plot points; and sometimes, there are even specific lines or words that need to be said for purposes of moving the story further along or filling in backstory details.

"When David decides to move forward with another season, the work is something of a misery sandwich—for him, especially. The most difficult phase comes at the beginning—when all the detailed plotting occurs—and then again at the end, when David and the episode’s director trudge into the editing room to labor over footage.

"There’s plenty to review. Outlines provide structure, but everything else is improvised, thereby giving the cast a ton of freedom within those finite boundaries. An actor may get a cursory description of what the scene should be about or involve; it’s a bit like saying you can drive from New York to Miami by whatever route you choose. Just make it funny.

"And since there are often multiple takes of the same scene, David, the director, and their editor often face more creative decisions than usual. Bob Weide, one of the show’s guiding forces in its early years, would often be in the editing room with David even on episodes he didn’t direct, and considered a season of Curb to be a calendar yearlong expedition.

"However, everything in between the outlining and the editing is practically a love fest, a riot in the happiest sense. It helps, immeasurably, that the cast is filled with comic talents like Richard Lewis, Susie Essman, Bob Einstein, JB Smoove, Jeff Garlin, and of course, Larry David, who began his career as a stand-up comic even though he was more of stand-up rebel. No surprise there either. Cheryl Hines, who played Larry’s wife and ex-wife on the show, was also a member of the Groundlings comedy group, and her improv training has been one of those gifts that keeps on you-know.

"There is virtually no prep, nor is it encouraged—but because so many cast members knew each other before the show began, with some friendships extending back several decades, there’s many a time cameras stop rolling because the actors, David especially, are cracking up. This isn’t just mutual admiration; it’s because no one knows one another’s lines in advance, and occasional appearances to the contrary, actors are just human.

"The show has remained enormously popular despite the fact that the “Larry David” played in Curb by Larry David has never been a contender for Mr. Congeniality. In fact, you might say David has done everything he could to finish last. But for every cringe-worthy moment his character puts us through, there is redemption in the real David’s refusal to pander to the audience—and, more importantly, his implicit or explicit rejection of the norms that reign in an increasingly sociopolitically correct world.

"Curb may not appear on the surface to be an “author’s statement,” or a comedy aiming for weighty contemporary relevance. But it achieves that whether aiming to or not. In many ways, Curb anticipated our new national paradox: the one in which standards of civility at the national level and throughout all areas of our political world seem more inconsistent and divisive than ever, while we are increasingly expected to abide by standards of speech and action that seem to shift on a by-the-tweet basis. While David is not a misanthrope, he never seems quite at home among his contemporaries or anyone else whose path he might cross. The “Larry David” of Curb refuses to adhere to the shifting pressures of polite society. In fact, he takes pleasure in ignoring them and shoving them back in people’s faces.

"It’s why David suggests to the rabbi it’s a tad askew to say his relative died tragically on 9/11, even though it was the result of a bike accident way up in midtown; and helps a young girl deal with having her period at his house by yelling out instructions on how to use a tampon; and feels free, postcoital, to let almost everyone know he has a pubic hair caught in his throat. No one can tell Larry what is proper, decent, or otherwise.

"These are qualities that David’s audience respects, admires, and in some cases probably wishes they could emulate. They frequently prove hilarious—particularly because it seems he has the most unique responses to concerning himself with the everyday aggravations of everyday life. And the fact that David frequently has the brilliant JB Smoove standing by these fires with a can of kerosene at the ready makes Larry’s malfeasance even more wonderful.

"Both Larry Davids love golf, but it’s hard to imagine the real one recklessly running off to a golf resort and retiring. Several cast members have said they believe the upcoming season is the show’s best, and that David seemed happier than ever during production. Thus many of them are already hoping for a Season 10, even if it should wind up being years away. Who knows with L.D.? Those hopeful souls may indeed have to curb their enthusiasm, but they’ll do so only with the greatest reluctance."

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From EW: "When Stranger Things 2 premieres Oct. 27 on Netflix, fans are in for a bit of a shock for the first minutes.

"The opening of the 'sequel' takes place in a completely different city than the main location of Hawkins, Indiana… and that’s all we can say.

“'I liked opening the show in a place not in Hawkins, in an urban environment,' teases Matt Duffer. 'I want people thinking maybe they’ve clicked on the show and then, boom, you realize "Oh now we’re still in it." But it’s all about broadening, and expanding our world.'

"Adds his co-creator and brother Ross, 'We have all these different threads and you don’t see how possibly all these things could come together and then slowly but surely they all play an integral role in the story this season.'

"This week’s Entertainment Weekly features exclusive new details on the return of Stranger Things, including why the Duffer brothers want to consider it a sequel to the widely popular first season (instead of simply season 2). 'When we started describing it as a sequel, Netflix was like, "Don’t do that, because sequels are known to be bad,”' says Matt. 'I was like, "Yes, but what about T2 and Aliens and Toy Story 2 and Godfather II?”'"

He adds, “The good news is that a lot of what we wanted to see or what we responded to, that seems to be what the audience responded to. Like we fell in love with Gaten [Matarazzo], and there were aspects, like Barb [played in season 1 by Shannon Purser], we were already planning to deal with. It felt like there was a nice alignment between what we wanted to see and what other people wanted to see.”

Stranger Things 2 is back on Oct. 27.

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Per Deadline, "Amazon has set up three high-profile drama series for development: Ringworld, based on Larry Niven’s classic science fiction book; Lazarus, based on the comic book by Greg Rucka (Jessica Jones); and Snow Crash, based on Neal Stephenson’s cult novel.

"The streaming platform has been ramping up its slate with new projects as part of a programming strategy overhaul in search of big, buzzy shows. A major emphasis has been put on fast-tracking big-scope genre drama series in the mold of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, with Sharon Tal, brought in earlier this year as Head Of Event Series, tasked with spearheading efforts. The deals for Ringworld, Lazarus and Snow Crash are part of that push.

"Ringworld, a co-production with MGM, is based on Niven’s science fiction book series from the 1970s and tells the story of Louis Gridley Wu, a bored man celebrating his 200th birthday in a technologically advanced, future Earth. Upon being offered one of the open positions on a voyage, he joins a young woman and two aliens to explore Ringworld, the remote artificial ring beyond 'Known Space.' The books cover their thrilling journey as they attempt to fulfill their original mission to uncover the mysteries of Ring.

"Syfy previously developed the books as a four-hour miniseries with William S. Todman Jr. and Edward Milstein as exec producers. A bit of trivia — Ringworld was part of the same 2013 Syfy longform development slate as an adaptation Philip K. Dick’s The Man In The High Castle, which also didn’t go forward at Syfy but went on to become Amazon’s flagship drama series.

"Written by Rucka based on his comic book, Lazarus is set in an alternative near future where the world has been divided among 16 rival families, who run their territories in a feudal system. Each family has allies and enemies among the other families. To crush uprisings and fight wars, most families have a Lazarus: a one-person kill squad.

"Rucka executive produces with Michael Lark (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) and Angela Cheng Caplan.

"Snow Crash, a co-production with Paramount TV, is a one-hour science fiction drama based on Stephenson’s novel, which is set in futuristic America. In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzo’s CosoNostra Pizza Inc., but in the Metaverse he’s a warrior prince. Plunging headlong into the enigma of a new computer virus that’s striking down hackers everywhere, he races along the neon-lit streets on a search-and-destroy mission for the shadowy virtual villain.

"Snow Crash is executive produced by Joe Cornish (Ant-Man) and Kennedy Marshall Company’s Frank Marshall (Back to the Future, Raiders of the Lost Ark)."

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Per The Guardian, "'KATHY GRIFFIN BEHEADS PRESIDENT TRUMP'. So shrieked the headline to a story posted on scurrilous gossip site TMZ on 30 May of this year. Griffin, best known for a standup act in which she acts as a showbusiness tattletale recounting mortifying run-ins with more famous celebrities backstage (her most famous targets include Cher, Josh Groban, Ryan Seacrest and Céline Dion), was pictured brandishing a blood-spattered Donald Trump mask looking like a recruiter for a Beverly Hills branch of Isis.

"Fallout from the photograph was swift. The 45th president tweeted his displeasure ('Kathy Griffin should be ashamed of herself … Sick!') and noted that his son Barron was having a hard time dealing with the image. The First Lady added that someone who would pose for such a photograph must be mentally ill.

"Griffin explains that the offending snap was taken in about 20 minutes at the end of day-long photoshoot. 'I took a picture that you or any one of your friends could make,' she explains. “' put it online and was under federal investigation for conspiracy to assassinate the President of the United States of America. I didn’t do anything wrong. It’s insane and I truly believe if it happened to me it could happen to you.'

"Her professional standing was dealt a number of blows. She was speedily axed from her regular job of co-presenting CNN’s New Year’s Eve show with long-time friend Anderson Cooper. An upcoming live tour was cancelled due to death threats. The Secret Service opened an investigation into Griffin’s motives in posing for such an inflammatory picture. The flame-haired comic was assailed by outraged tweets from political and showbusiness luminaries affiliated with both sides of the ideological divide. 'I was vilified by everyone,' says Griffin in her characteristic manic rasp. 'I was vilified by Chelsea fucking Clinton. I was vilified by my friend Don Cheadle. I was vilified by people I’d had at my fucking home. Nobody had my back. It happened so fast. I didn’t see it coming.'

"That it happened to Kathy Griffin at all is ironic. Prior to the Trump decapitation, the most controversial moment in her career was her 2007 Emmy acceptance speech for her reality sitcom, My Life on the D-List, when she reacted to the previous procession of celebrities dedicating their awards to their buddy, Jesus, with a jubilant 'No one had less to do with this award than Jesus. Suck it, Jesus. This award is my god now.'

"While Griffin is politically engaged on a personal level – 'I’m a resister. I still go to every march in the world'– politics is not what built the $10.5m Los Angeles home that is situated next door to Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s residence. If the name Kathy Griffin was notable in any way to the pop culture consumers of the 1990s, it was either because of a small role in Eminem’s The Real Slim Shady video or a slightly larger one as Brooke Shields’s inappropriate, loudmouth sidekick in the unfondly recalled sitcom Suddenly Susan.

"At the same time Griffin was honing her standup persona (Sandra Bernhard and Garfield leafing through The National Enquirer) at comedy clubs, including the Groundlings theatre where, in 1992, she started Hot Cup of Talk with fellow comics Margaret Cho and Janeane Garofalo. Her set evolved to include bits where she would play video clips capturing the likes of Julia Roberts and Mariah Carey at their most deluded and least relatable ('I love Mariah Carey. Remember the breakdown? I love the breakdown'). She comments: 'Hollywood is like high school: the celebrities I make fun of are pretty much the mean cheerleaders in school.'

"Griffin may share a following and a similarly pugnacious delivery with her friend and mentor Joan Rivers, but Rivers spent much of her stage life dispensing advice on ensnaring men, while Griffin treats straight males with a mixture of disinterest and disbelief. ('Are you a gay man?' she asks me at one point. When I own up to identifying as a straight man, she utters a revolted, 'Ugghh. Who’s the publisher of this fucking fishwrap? What are you doing giving me a fucking straight for this interview?') Mocking celebrity obliviousness propelled Griffin into the mainstream. In 2005, her cable show My Life on the D-List catalogued the daily indignities of being on the periphery of fame, while also dealing with the dissolution of her marriage, the death of her father, and displaying the occasional fragility of her self-esteem.

"American comedy in 2017 is synonymous with being loudly anti-Trump. Saturday Night Live’s ratings have never been higher. Bill Maher and John Oliver both just saw their Trump-excoriating current affairs comedy shows renewed until 2020. Late night is filled with highly rated left-wing Trump bashers such as Samantha Bee, Trevor Noah and Seth Meyers. I go through this list with Griffin to illustrate all the people more likely than her to have detonated such a far-reaching explosion. I bring up the name of Stephen Colbert, who started the year with TV experts predicting the day and date of his likely dismissal and is going to end it crowned King Of Late Night. 'Fuck Stephen Colbert!' she bellows. 'He has the whole power of CBS behind him. Bill Maher frickin’ dropped the n-word and then was back at work four days later with full support of HBO. I was on the no-fly zone for fuck’s sake!'

"Returning to a woe-is-me theme she knows that I know is partly material she’s getting in shape for her act and partly genuine indignation, she thunders on. 'I’m not a CNN employee. I work there for one night when [network head] Jeff Zucker says, "I’m going to pay you a hundredth of what I pay Anderson Cooper and I’m going to limit your jokes so even though you have to co-write the whole four and half hours, you can only have three Trump jokes,”' she says. 'This is the head of a global news organisation censoring a comedian on the very night he’s hired that comedian to be as outrageous as possible with their very stoic tentpole star with steely blue eyes.'

"Griffin’s reference is to now former friend Anderson Cooper, who denounced her Trump picture. I suggest that Cooper wanted to be seen as being titillated by her comedy while still maintaining a detachment. “That’s the story of my life, honey,” she drawls. “They want to suck the comedy out of me and then they want to detach.”

"Griffin doesn’t even pause for breath when asked why, among the plethora of comics trading in potentially treasonous material, she was the one to take the fall. 'Fifty-six-year-old female,' she says bluntly. 'I will not be convinced this was not a straight-up case of sexism and ageism. I really think Trump went for me because I was an easy target.'

"Recently, Hillary Clinton spoke about the dichotomy between Griffin’s treatment and hers during the presidential race. 'We recently had this big kerfuffle – this condemnation of Kathy Griffin – for the picture she had of herself holding a head of Trump like a play on Perseus holding the head of Medusa,' she said on the With Her podcast. 'They were selling T-shirts and mugs at the Republican [National] Convention with Trump holding my head. Nobody said a word. Not a word!'

"On 3 June, Griffin, shaken by the onslaught of disapproval, held a press conference during which she apologised for the picture and mumbled, 'I don’t think I will have a career after this.' She has subsequently announced a world tour – 'I have to go to Reykjavik to get a laugh!' – whose official poster features her holding a globe in the same way she posed when clutching the Trump head. So, is that apology still applicable?

“'All my comedian friends were mad that I apologised at all, but having performed in two war zones, I thought this is a narrow apology because the thing people think was depicted I understand,' she says. 'Rosie O’Donnell, the pre-eminent expert on being terrorised by Donald Trump, said, "What if Daniel Pearl’s [US journalist who was beheaded by terrorists] mother sees the photo?" So I totally get it. But in light of everything Trump and the administration have done since, I 100% withdraw my apology.'

"Griffin says that it was hypocritical that she was singled out, considering all the things Trump has been responsible for. 'I will openly accuse the President of the United States of human rights violations,' she adds. 'You know, my whole life and career has been championing the rights of women, gay folk and disenfranchised folk. This administration is a fucking nightmare for us.'

"Beyond the death threats, beyond the damage to her reputation, beyond the irreparable damage done to cherished personal relationships, one consequence of that fateful photo session wounds Griffin most deeply. 'I was the face of Squatty Potty,' she wails, referring to her endorsement of a popular US toilet stool designed to enhance bowel posture. 'Squatty Potty is an organisation run by two married gay guys who hired me for a commercial which they wrote that said, 'Kathy Griffin Is Full of Shit.' They put me on the front page of their website and it said, 'Kathy Griffin, Queen of Poop.' And then those two gay guys go on Fox News and they say, "Kathy Griffin ruined our business!”'

"Griffin cackles at the loss of her Squatty Potty millions but then turns sombre. She mentions other celebrities such as Johnny Depp, Snoop Dogg and Bill Maher who have taken a vocal anti-Trump stance. 'This will not follow them the rest of their careers,' she says. 'I’m the only one who had to do the perp walk. I’m going to have to figure my way out of this and I’m going to have to do it one joke at a time.'”

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"Will & Grace is getting a taste of New Girl.

"Series star Max Greenfield is set to guest-star in an upcoming episode of the NBC revival, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

"The Emmy-nominated actor will appear in the same episode as returning guest and fan-favorite Leslie Jordan, best known for his role as Karen's frenemy Beverley Leslie.

"No details are available on Greenfield's role or the episode.

"Other guest stars for the revival include Jane Lynch, Andrew Rannells and Kyle Bornheimer, as well as returning actors Harry Connick Jr., Bobby Cannavale and Minnie Driver.

"Jordan's return comes after he was the one to prematurely spilled the beans on the revival, saying it was 'absolutely' happening, on a radio show in late December 2016, just weeks before the show was officially ordered by NBC. It has since been expanded to a 16-episode first season as well as a 13-episode second season.

"Despite his series-regular role on New Girl — which will return sometime midseason for an eight-episode seventh and final season — Greenfield has appeared on a multitude of other shows, including American Horror Story, the upcoming American Crime Story: Versace and The Mindy Project."

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"One of the oddest characters was introduced on The Walking Dead in the show's seventh season when Pollyanna McIntosh marched into frame as Jadis. When the clothes, bangs, and junkyard home weren't enough to make the character standout, the writers decided to make Jadis speak with only shortened sentences and unique word choices.

"According to McIntosh, the word choices are a tactic used by Jadis to intimidate possible threats. The actress revealed as much during ComicBook.com's visit to the set of The Walking Dead's 100th episode.

"'It's a bit unnerving, you know, which seems to be very much her game,' McIntosh said. 'Her manipulation is strong and that's always a really solid place to start as an actor, you know. Not how it's delivered but what is being delivered and what you want from the other person.'

"Despite the odd choices in dialogue, McIntosh had no trouble picking up Jadis' methods of speaking.

"'It's really weird to describe how you deal with dialogue as an actor without sounding like a pretentious wanker,' McIntosh joked. 'But the honest truth is that as soon as I got the script for the audition, I was surprised by how natural it felt to me to speak that way. Because she is so minimalist with everything, and her people are, and you know nothing is wasted. So it made sense to me already, and she's very precise about what she wants your response to be.

"And yet I love the way she kind of goes, 'Alright. We'll do that then. Let's see how that goes down.' You know? So I like the weirdness of the language. I like how it keeps them both cohesive as a group and also the way it keeps a distance from outsiders so that that weirdness is useful because nobody really knows what she's up to or why she's speaking like that."