Friday October 19, 2018

Season 2 of Making A Murderer is now available to stream on Netflix. Here’s a review.

So is season 1 of Wanderlust, a review of which is below.

The next installment of Top Chef bows on December 6. This season features 15 new chefs from cities across the U.S., competing in Louisville, Lexington and Lake Cumberland before going to China for the finale.

A new season of Barefoot Contessa premieres on Sunday on Food Network.

And another installment of 90 Day Fiance begins on Sunday on TLC.

Lena Dunham’s three-year-old newsletter-website The Lenny Letter has been shut down. I didn’t even know it was a thing.

Rihanna turned down an offer to perform at halftime of the Super Bowl because she supports Colin Kaepernick. And just like that a seat opens up for her on my shipping container. You’re right next to Chrissy Teigen hun.

“Renovation expert Jonathan Knight, best known as a member of the Grammy®-nominated boy band New Kids on the Block, will take fans step-by-step when he restores a centuries-old New England farmhouse in a new HGTV pilot, Farmhouse Fixer. The episode will feature Jonathan—who has renovated more than 200 houses over 20 years—as he preserves the farmhouse’s historic charm and adds a modern layout with high-end amenities. The pilot is slated to air in 2019. ‘Old farmhouses are American treasures,” said Jonathan. “Most have been in the same family for 200 years and have never been renovated. And they’re disappearing fast. If we don’t save them, they’re going to be gone.’”

Ok, I have a myriad of problems with this. First of all HGTV, enough with the D-List celeb shows, no one f’ing cares that some NKOTB has been or a no name Boyz II Men dude is rehabbing a home(s). Second, if you (Discovery) thing something like this is “buzzworthy” which is all you’re looking for (so I’m told), I’d go to dictionary.com and make sure you have an understanding of what that word means versus what you’re trying to do. Buying the Brady Bunch house was a “gimmick.” Gimmicks are passing fads that fade quickly. They are tricks. Stay the course, cut the shit with your Sunday premieres of Hawaii Life, Bahamas Life, and Caribbean Life, and get back to what people actually want to watch.

The Goldbergs slipped to a new series low on Wednesday night, coming in at a 1.1 rating in adults 18-49 and 4.9 million viewers. Show is still an A+ for me.

Netflix has canceled Rev Run’s All About The Washingtons.

The Haunting of Hill House is apparently scaring the crap out of people. I have zero interest.

Murphy Brown just added several guest stars to appear on the CBS revival, including Katie Couric and Bette Midler, who appeared on the sitcom’s original run. Brooke Shields, John Larroquette and Peter Gallagher are also set to appear. Midler will reprise her role as Caprice Morton, previously known as Caprice Feldman, Murphy’s former secretary. Now, though, Caprice has a surprising new connection to Murphy, making her, if possible, even more entitled and unbearable. Midler will appear in the Thursday, Nov. 8, episode.”

American Idol rivals Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken will reunite on Broadway for a limited engagement holiday show of Christmas songs and comedy sketches. Ruben & Clay’s Christmas Show begins performances Friday, Dec. 7, at Broadway’s Imperial Theatre, with an official opening set for Dec. 11 and a closing night on Dec. 30. The show – full title: Ruben & Clay’s First Annual Christmas Carol Family Fun Pageant Spectacular Reunion Show – was announced today on ABC’s The View. The production will mark the first reunion of Studdard and Aiken on a national stage since their Idol finale in 2003. (Studdard won). Portions of the show’s proceeds will go to the National Inclusion Project, an organization devoted to the inclusion of children with disabilities in community and education programs.”

“HBO will present the television broadcast premiere of Gemma Atwal’s feature-length documentary Stolen Daughters: Kidnapped By Boko Haram on Monday, Oct. 22. Produced in partnership with BBC2 and ARTE France, the 75-minute film provides exclusive access into the 82 girls who were freed after suffering at the hands of extremist group Boko Haram. The film also follows their lives in the Nigerian capital of Abuja over the year following their release. The film examines how the women are adapting to life after their harrowing experience and how the Nigerian government is handling their re-entry into society. Stolen Daughters, which premieres Oct. 22 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on HBO, also chronicles the girls’ reunions with family who they have not seen since they were kidnapped, as well as them processing their traumatic ordeal through schooling and counselling.”

The 3rd season of IFC’s Brockmire has landed a bunch guest stars former MLB 3B George Brett, sportscaster Bob Costas, Richard Kind, Linda Lavin, Tawny Newsome, Martha Plimpton, J.K. Simmons and Christine Woods. If for some reason you don’t watch this show, you should.

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Per Deadline, “HBO has greenlighted for production I Know This Much Is True, a six-episode limited drama series based on Wally Lamb’s bestselling book. The project hails from Mark Ruffalo, who stars in a dual role and executive produces; Derek Cianfrance (The Place Beyond the Pines); and FilmNation Entertainment.

“I Know This Much Is True has been a priority for HBO, which fast-tracked development on the limited series last fall.

“Written, directed and executive produced by Cianfrance, the family saga follows the parallel lives of identical twin brothers Dominick and Thomas Birdsey, both played by Ruffalo, in an epic story of betrayal, sacrifice and forgiveness set against the backdrop of 20th century America.

“Ruffalo executive produces with Lamb, FilmNation Entertainment’s Ben Browning and Glen Basner, along with Gregg Fienberg and Anya Epstein. Lynette Howell Taylor and Jamie Patricof co-executive produce.

“Ruffalo is a three-time Oscar-nominee, Tony nominee and Emmy winner. He most recently starred as the Hulk in Thor: Ragnarok, the third installment in that Marvel superhero franchise; he also appears as the character in the Avengers movies. At HBO, Ruffalo executive produced The Normal Heart, which won the Emmy for Outstanding TV Movie in 2014.

“Cianfrance’s credits include The Place Beyond the Pines, starring Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper and Eva Mendes, and Blue Valentine, starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams.

“Lamb is the author of six bestselling novels: I’ll Take You There, We Are Water, Wishin’ and Hopin’, The Hour I First Believed, I Know This Much Is True, and She’s Come Undone. Lamb also edited Couldn’t Keep It to Myself and I’ll Fly Away.

“Indie film company FilmNation is behind Oscar-winning Arrival and breakout box office hit The Big Sick.”

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Per Vulture, “Wanderlust begins with a longtime married couple in the throes of bad sex that doesn’t end well. Joy (Toni Collette) was recently in a bicycling accident and hasn’t been in the mood for a while. Alan (Steven Mackintosh) thinks she’s just making excuses and is actually no longer attracted to him. Later in that first episode, after each has a sexual encounter outside their marriage, Joy proposes something: What if they try seeing other people — purely for physical reasons — but remain happily married to each other? They can maintain a stable relationship, keep their family unit together, and still get some on the side. It’s a marital fantasy, but maybe they can make it work?

“The first two or three episodes of Wanderlust, which first aired on the BBC and debuts Friday on Netflix, do indeed have the appeal of fantasy. We get to watch a lot of sex scenes involving a pair of attractive people rediscovering the excitement of intimacy with someone new. Then we get to watch more sex scenes as Joy and Alan come home from their evenings out and discover that their extracurricular activities are making them hornier for each other than they’ve been in years. But that’s not the only form of soft porn that Wanderlust has to offer. This show will satisfy those with a fashion fetish — once she starts ‘dating’ again, Joy reveals a wardrobe filled with lovely goldenrod-velvet blazers and form-fitting dresses — and those easily seduced by food. (There’s a mouthwatering sequence that involves a roasted turkey, and another in which Joy devours a quartet of fresh muffins as if she’s on a mission from the baked-good gods.) Even those who get aroused by the idea of a backyard bungalow that doubles as a home office will find Wanderlust satisfying. (Hi, my name is Jen, and my kink is a kickass she shed.)

“But don’t make the mistake of thinking that Wanderlust is a pure romp that provides nothing more than a steamy sneak peek into open relationships. This is a legitimate drama, which means that everything is much more complicated than that, especially for Joy, a therapist who has some buried psychological issues of her own to confront. In the six episodes written by Nick Payne (The Sense of an Ending) — Wanderlust consists of only six episodes, a very manageable binge! — the seemingly put-together layers of Joy are slowly peeled away, a process mirrored by Collette, whose performance is all happy smiles and positive rhetoric until her character is forced to become truly vulnerable. In the fifth installment, a two-hander bottle episode that consists almost entirely of a session between Joy and her own therapist, played by Sophie Okonedo, we finally get to the roots of Joy’s issues, which are revealed in a raw back-and-forth filled with long pauses, hesitant dips into Joy’s memory bank, and a cathartic expression of sorrow and guilt. Wanderlust is worth watching solely to see the gifted and luminous Collette do her thing.

“Wanderlust also makes an admirable effort to subvert gender stereotypes. While we might expect a heterosexual man in an open relationship to start coming on to any sentient being with a vagina, Alan immediately gets involved with Claire (Zawe Ashton), a fellow teacher at his private school who understands the parameters of the relationship, but, like Alan, falls harder than she should. And even though society tells us that women tend to be guided by their hearts rather than libidos, it’s Joy who finds herself drawn to multiple men and playing the field with a seemingly more carefree attitude than her husband.

“Even though this is an hour-long drama, there are also some genuinely funny moments in the series, including an ’80s-themed school fundraiser where Alan, dressed as Adam Ant, and Claire, as Prince, double date with Joy as Madonna, who is accompanied by her boy toy, Marc (Dylan Edwards), who decks himself out like Indiana Jones. When Adam and Joy get into a major argument afterward while still in costume, their words are deadly serious. But the shots of a tired Adam Ant and Like a Virgin–era Madonna shouting at each other give the scene an amusing poignancy.

“There are definitely elements of the series that strain the limits of believability. The idea that Alan and Joy would think it’s a good idea for them to double date with their respective partners, which happens more than once, is odd, especially since they both seem sensible enough to realize that their alternate love lives should probably remain separate. The ease with which they both find people to share beds with also seems a little implausible, but it’s an implausibility that is typical of this genre. Every time I watch a show like this one or The Affair, I always think: Is it really this easy to find people to engage in adultery with? Maybe it is, but I am sure some people who have a hard time dating would beg to differ.

“While Joy and Alan are certainly the primary focus, Wanderlust also spends time tracking the love lives of their three young-adult children: the recently dumped Laura (Celeste Dring), who inadvertently gets involved with Jason (Royce Pierreson), one of her mother’s patients; Naomi (Emma D’Arcy), a lesbian who awakens feelings in Rita (Anastasia Hille), a neighbor and friend of Joy and Alan; and Tom (Joe Hurst), a high-schooler who finds himself in a love triangle that’s basically Some Kind of Wonderful redux. In all three of these subplots, the beats are predictable enough to gauge exactly where things are going long before they get there.

“Perhaps Payne included them to make a point about how relationship patterns are established when we’re young, and how instinctive it is for anyone at any stage of life to seek comfort, escapism, and a sense of identity in other people. Ultimately, though, Wanderlust is about the long-married couple at its center. More specifically, it’s about Joy, a woman who is still trying to figure out how to grasp and hold onto the emotion that’s highlighted right there in her own first name.”

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From The Hollywood Reporter: “In the final season of Netflix's House of Cards, Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) will have many challenges ahead as the first female president in the world of the political thriller. And one of them is the ghost of her late husband, Frank Underwood.

“The character, formerly played by Kevin Spacey, was written out of the show after the actor and executive producer was fired following sexual assault allegations. Production on the forthcoming sixth and final season of the Netflix drama was shut down so the story could be reworked to send Frank six feet under. Ahead of its Nov. 2 return, Netflix has already confirmed that Frank is indeed dead (following the events of the book on which the series is based). The political drama will not waste any time in revealing Frank's fate.

"‘We didn’t want to be coy about it and we didn’t want to run away from it,’ co-showrunner Melissa James Gibson explained Wednesday during The Hollywood Reporter's TV Talks series at New York's 92nd Street Y, where she was joined by executive producer Frank Pugliese and stars Robin Wright and Michael Kelly for a discussion after a screening of the season six premiere.

"‘It would have been a big mistake to in any way pretend that the character didn’t exist or to erase the character somehow,’ she added of confronting Spacey's departure. ‘Our way forward — the way we figured out the way forward — was basically to dig into the DNA of the show and honor the seeds of it and figure out what made sense as the next step.’

“The next step is the legacy of President Claire Underwood, a storyline that had been set up in the season five finale that aired nearly six months before Spacey's ultimate dismissal from the series. Last season, Claire moved into the White House after exiling her husband, Frank, and ended the finale with two, series-defining words spoken directly to the camera.

"‘Claire this season, there’s a lot of reckoning. She’s reckoning with her past with Francis and setting her own course and her own terms — which was happening anyway,’ Gibson said of Claire's rise and Frank's fall. ‘This has been an organic progression. Season five ended with her looking into the camera and saying, “My turn.”’

“As Pugliese explains, that statement set up a certain level of expectations that the House of Cards team had planned to deliver on, even before Spacey's firing. ‘We actually made a promise to the audience that that’s what we would explore,’ he said. ‘So, yes, we had to do another version of what this last season would be. But it was always about her turn.’

“After years of Machiavellian levels of manipulation, scheming and murder between them, the House of Cards endgame was clear. ‘When we started on the show we talked about the fact that the core of the show was about a marriage. That’s always been there,’ said Pugliese. ‘And during the course of the marriage, they’re exploring their relationship, the ups and downs of it, and within that there is the ascension of Claire Underwood while Frank descends in a way. And that was going to happen no matter what.’

“Adding of the rewrite, ‘So yes, there were specifics and we had to regroup and write quickly and we just went for it. But that was always there. That it was about her turn and it was about a character ascending while the other was going down.’

“Throughout the season, Claire will face a culturally and politically timely uphill battle in Washington, D.C., and in the eyes of Americans as the first female president. And with Frank's departure, her foes will multiply. ‘All the characters are stepping forward to fill the power void left in Francis’ wake," says Gibson. "The world of the show has been very destabilized.’

“Producers Media Rights Capital shut down production on the Baltimore-set series in November 2017, extended the hiatus and didn't resume until January. Ahead of the shut down, the season was almost entirely written, sources had told THR, and until the announcement was eventually made, it wasn't always clear that the final season would go on, or that the hundreds of below-the-line crew who count on income from the series would have jobs.

“Wright — also an executive producer and director on the series — and co-star Kelly (Doug Stamper) each shed some light on the behind-the-scenes fight to keep the show going. ‘It was very important to give the people what they deserve. Where you think, “OK, we are closing this out.” This is six years,’ said Wright, recalling the emotions on set when shooting the series finale. ‘[There were] so many tears that last night.’

“Kelly added, ‘This was Netflix’s first original streaming show. We have to finish this show. For the crew that we’ve been with for six years. That we know all their families now and we’re good friends with these people. To wrap it all up and to bring it to a conclusion was so important to all of us.’

“Wright also returned to the director's chair for the series finale, a job that the panel agreed was a fitting one, given her elevation both on and off-camera for the show's final run. The star, who also directed last season's finale, said that ‘having to keep my mouth shut for the last 15 years as an actor, where you are bursting at the seams’ is what initially inspired to direct.

"‘It was so correct that Robin was the one to direct the finale, and she did such an incredible job, as always,’ said Gibson. ‘It’s really a privilege to watch her shift hats so seamlessly. It was really beautiful because the last scene that we shot was the last scene of the series, so it felt like a play that way. We really ended at the end of the story.’

“Pugliese added, ‘It seemed so right and copacetic that Robin was directing the last episode, and even the last scene. There is a collaborative aspect to [making a series finale], but we did take our lead also from Robin because there was a sense of responsibility to the story, to the crew, to the audience, to the characters, to the work that had been done over five years.’

“House of Cards, created by Beau Willimon, played a pivotal role in putting Netflix on the map with scripted originals when it launched in 2013. Now, with Orange Is the New Black also ending next year, the streamer will be saying farewell to two of its brand-defining hits.

“Instead of feeling pressure to end the series, Pugliese said the finale was instead an ‘acknowledgement of that responsibility’ of what the cast and crew had been through. The intent was ‘to try to finish this thing with integrity and true to the DNA of the show, true to the story we‘ve been telling, true to the truths we were experiencing together as artists and as people on that set,’ he said.

“And the way the cast and crew collectively responded to making the final season happen is something Pugliese says he will take with him for what comes next. ‘The collective approach to how to work on every season and how important that was for this season as a response to how to deal with adversity or whatever comes your way,’ he explained, ‘that together, head down, “Let’s make our response the best work we possibly can” being the only response. That is something I hope I take to every other job that I do after this. It’s something I learned and something I take away, and something I feel fortunate I got to experience.’

“The panel, as is to be expected, could not go into detail about just how House of Cards will end so as not to spoil the show. Pugliese said that while there was always an ‘idea’ of what the end should look like, there was never a specific ending planned until they sat down to map out the final eight episodes.

"‘These two really know our characters at such a deep level, so they were crucial,’ Gibson said of collaborating with Wright and Kelly off-camera during many conversations. ‘We talked a lot — a lot — about figuring out the right way and all the permutations for how this thing should end that hopefully felt true to each one of their characters.’

“Wright described the ending as ‘moving and generous and so macabre and so dark.’

"‘The show is about the battle for position of power, all the way around. So, who wins?’ she said. ‘And I will say that it’s so beautifully macabre. It’s really beautiful.’

“Kelly added, ‘What she’s saying is it’s very House of Cards.’ To which she replied, ‘It’s so House of Cards. It’s going to shock the shit out of you, basically.’

“As for what that will mean for Claire's fate in the end, the actress who plays her shared advice she received from executive producer David Fincher, who directed the pilot, during season one that helped shape how she views her character's evolution.

"‘I wanted to build my own character. But I didn't really know [Claire] outside of this template idea that she was Lady Macbeth and Francis was Richard The III. I said [to Fincher], “Can you just give me something that I can chew on?"‘ Wright recalled. Fincher responded by telling her: ‘You as Claire are a bust. You’re that marble bust that sits in the Capitol and you are kind of an anonymous bust. You could be that president or that leader, you’re not quite sure who she is. And then slowly, as these seasons unveil, her veneer will start to crack and you’ll see the human inside her.’

“Pugliese said much of what Fincher set up in the early episodes is what he and Gibson toyed with in the final hours. ‘There’s so much stuff that Fincher laid out in that first season that became opportunities for us in this last season to depart from, to break with, to play with, to finally try to reverse,’ he said. ‘And so the minute Claire Underwood decides to separate herself from Francis, or whatever arrangement or relationship she had with Francis, she’s forced to actually try to define herself to us[, the audience]. It becomes a great opportunity for the drama and for dramatizing it.’

“Gibson closed, ‘I think of Claire as Lady Macbeth and Macbeth, I think she’s got both, which is endlessly interesting.’"

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Per Deadline, “In summer 2015, CBS was facing a rare Entertainment President opening when Nina Tassler informed her longtime boss, CBS Corp CEO Les Moonves, of her intention to leave. Moonves reached out to one of the star executives within the company, then-Showtime president David Nevins, who was not interested.

“Instead, Nevins leveraged his position to sign a new contract that made him CEO of Showtime. He sensed the upside potential at the pay cable network, one of the biggest profit centers for CBS Corp, and led the company’s expansion into streaming with the Showtime OTT platform, which also launched in summer 2015.

“A little more than three years later, Nevins received another, bigger job offer from the CBS Corp CEO — this time from Moonves’ interim successor Joe Ianniello — and this time he said yes. Today, Nevins was announced as chief creative officer at CBS Corp.

“The promotion had been rumored since the day Ianniello, a regarded business executive with no creative background, was named acting CEO in the wake of Moonves’ ouster. But the real conversations reportedly did not start until a couple of weeks ago.

“Nevins is not leaving Showtime, where he is being given yet another promotion, to chairman. Instead, he is adding oversight of the CBS network’s entertainment division he once considered running, as well as CBS TV Studios, Showtime and, in conjunction with CBS Interactive, programming for CBS All Access. He also is replacing Moonves in overseeing CBS’ interest in The CW, a joint venture between CBS Corp and Warner Bros Entertainment.

“Moonves was a rare TV executive who came up through the creative ranks and kept that role even after he became CEO of a media conglom. Nevins is now taking on that role, but made it clear in the announcement today he will rely on the current top executives at the divisions he oversees. They are all expected to continue in their current positions, including CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl and CBS TV Studios president David Stapf, who will now report to Nevins. He is not expected to micromanage every programming decision at CBS, CBS TV Studios and CBS All Access, but rather serve as a sounding board for the executives on the bigger ones.

“‘We have great strength in the creative leadership across the Company’s content divisions, and I am excited to get to work with the talented teams that run CBS’ programming services,’ Nevins said in his quote.

“Nevins’ latest promotion at Showtime and greatly expanded responsibilities at CBS Corp will likely mean more promotions for his senior team at the premium network. After his elevation to CEO, Nevins named Gary Levine as President of Programming and last year brought in Jana Winograde as President of Business Operations, West Coast. The two already had stepped up in a major way, handling day-to-day oversight of programming, business, production and distribution for the network.

“Today’s announcement marks another turn in the career trajectory of Nevins that seems to tie together every step he had taken before.

“Early on, he was on a path to a broadcast entertainment president job with his back-to-back gigs as SVP Primetime Series at NBC and EVP Programming and N2 programming executive at Fox. But he instead switched to the production side of the business as president of 20th Century Fox TV-based Imagine TV. After an eight-year stint at a studio, he returned to the network side but opted to go to pay cable as Showtime entertainment president, later expanding into streaming with the Showtime OTT platform.

“Now he is getting to oversee programming in all of these areas: broadcast (CBS), pay cable (Showtime), studio/production (CBS TV Studios) and VOD (CBS All Access). And, judging by the reaction to Nevins’ promotion today, the highest step in the corporate ladder, CEO of a major media company, may not be out of reach either.”