ABC has ordered three additional scripts each for new series A Million Little Things, The Rookie and The Kids Are Alright, along with Splitting Up Together.
I’m back in on The Walking Dead. Episodes 2 and 3 were significantly better than the season premiere despite what the ratings might tell you. “While overall viewership was up 2% to 5 million on October 21, the live + same day results among adults 18-49 were a declining 1.94. Against a season low Sunday Night Football, that stumble took the once far and away highest-rated show on TV among the key demo down 3% from the previous series low of October 14’s “The Bridge” episode. The 18-49 result also saw a fall of 50% from what the Greg Nicotero- directed third episode of Season 8 snagged back on November 5, 2017.”
On the flip side, I’m done with HBO’s Camping. Show is terrible, not enjoyable to watch in any way, shape or form, and not something on which I recommend wasting one second of your time.
“Ellen DeGeneres has responded to a comedian who said that she originally created a ‘new game’ that DeGeneres played on her show Monday. DeGeneres trotted out a game with guest Sarah Silverman that she dubbed Tinder Live, in which DeGeneres played matchmaker with Silverman and did some live swiping of some celebrity hotties. Comedian Lane Moore, who has hosted her own show called Tinder Live for nearly five years, told DeGeneres on Twitter that it has a Wikipedia page and has been featured in The New York Times. ‘I had no idea, but you’re clearly brilliant. Now I do have an idea, and I’ll go and watch,’ DeGeneres tweeted in response to Moore.” More on Silverman below.
Adam Sandler’s new Netflix stand up special is now available to stream.
If you’re interested in what teens are currently, eating, drinking, watching, buying, etc, click here.
“Guillermo del Toro is set to make his animated feature film directing debut. Del Toro has received the green light from Netflix to film Pinocchio, a stop motion musical version of the classic children’s tale about a puppet who wants to be a real live boy. He will write and produce the film in addition to directing it. The film will be set in Italy during the 1930s, a particularly fraught historical moment and a time when Fascism was on the rise and Benito Mussolini was consolidating control of the country. Production on Pinocchio will begin this fall.”
Amy Schumer is pregnant. When will she just go away?
“Last year, Comedy Central ordered a one-hour sketch-comedy special from former Daily Show correspondent and upcoming Netflix host Hasan Minhaj’s sketch group Goatface, and now it has a premiere date and trailer. Minhaj is joined by fellow Goatface members Asaf Ali (Wrecked), Fahim Anwar (Superior Donuts), and Aristotle Athiras (director of Fahim Anwar and Tom Arnold’s recent stand-up specials) in the special, which includes sketches and both individual and ensemble stand-up performances covering topics like ‘sneaker hype to over-the-top ’90s R&B lyricism; the unique trials and tribulations of being brown in America from “Starbucks names” to Islamophobia; and personal experiences with overbearing parents, witnessing the miracle of childbirth, and much more.’ The group originally formed Goatface back in 2011 and rose to popularity in part thanks to their YouTube channel.”
“‘I don’t know if I’m going to regret saying this,’ [NOTE: YOU WILL!] Silverman said. ‘I’ve known Louis forever, I’m not making excuses for him, so please don’t take this that way. We are peers. We are equals. When we were kids, and he asked if he could masturbate in front of me, sometimes I’d go, “F— yeah I want to see that!” … It’s not analogous to the other women that are talking about what he did to them. He could offer me nothing. We were only just friends. So sometimes, yeah, I wanted to see it, it was amazing. Sometimes I would say, “F—ing no, gross,” and we got pizza.’
“Silverman used the story as part of her explanation for why she believed C.K. didn’t understand the implications of his actions, pointing to his sudden fame and his inability to grapple with the newfound power that came with it.
“‘I’m not saying what he did was okay. I’m just saying at a certain point, when he became influential, not even famous, but influential in the world of comedy, it changes,’ she said, echoing past statements in which she addressed the scandal. ‘He felt like he was the same person, but the dynamic was different and it was not okay.’
“‘I’m not saying everyone should embrace Louis again,’ the comedian continued. ‘I believe he has remorse. I just want him to talk about it on stage. He’s going to have to find his way or not find his way.’
“Last year, Silverman’s sister Laura Silverman also tweeted that C.K. masturbated in front of her approximately 20 times during a cross country trip before he was famous. However, she also clarified that she did not view the act as criminal: ‘After that, it’s was Louis C.K., on a cross country trip before he was famous. About 20 times. Not criminal. But compulsive, rude & gross,’ she wrote.
“Sarah Silverman has addressed the sexual misconduct allegations waged against C.K. in the past, saying she was conflicted about the situation.
“‘He wielded his power with women in f—ed up ways, sometimes to the point where they left comedy entirely,’ she said. ‘I could couch this with heartwarming stories of our friendship and what a great dad he is, but that’s totally irrelevant, isn’t it? Yes, it is. It’s a real mindf—, because I love Louis. But Louis did these things. Both of those statements are true. So I just keep asking myself, “Can you love someone who did bad things? Can you still love them?”’”
From EW: “The best way to test any director is to give them a scene where two people talk in a room. We’ve bred a generation of technocrat filmmakers, skilled in peddling expensive set pieces and you-are-there viscerality. Consider, like, Damien Chazelle’s First Man, all meticulous drumbeat editing, camerawork so fluid it’s biological, a rippling soundtrack that deserves to be called an ‘audioscape.’ It’s the definition of “meticulous,” and it’s set in a meticulous version of the 1960s where nobody ever says anything interesting. Meanwhile, there have never been so many auteurs with so many profound ideas about how to make fighting look realcool. But capturing the fine art of conversation requires a bigger bag of tricks, or the kind of skill set we shouldn’t have to consider old-fashioned.
“Before working on Amazon Prime’s Homecoming, Sam Esmail created Mr. Robot, and turned the USA network drama into a showcase for his stylistic evolution. He’s directed 25 of its 32-so-far episodes. The show’s had ups, downs, secret parents, solid karaoke. But watching Esmail develop his sensibility has been one of the great cinephiliac joys this TV decade. Last year he high-watered with a mesmerizing realtime action hour, a stealth-mode adventure through an apocalyptic office building shot in a phonily captivating single-take.
“Homecoming is something else. The series hums with paranoia and jangly-nerve thrills, with a Roboty distrust of practically everything. Its debut season runs ten episodes, and Esmail directs the living hell out of all of them. But the material, adapted by creators Micah Bloomberg and Eli Horowitz from their own hit podcast, is essentially a sequence of one-on-one conversations, different interrogators asking different questions to people who’d don’t want to give any answers. Homecoming is a mystery, one that’s nigh-impossible to discuss without spoiling the fun. And Esmail finds visual strategies brainteasing you towards perpetual uneasiness. Dialogue flows in eerie close-ups, with occasional god’s-eye-view overhead shots. A job interview gets filmed like a Satanic inquisition. Whenever two people talk to each other, one person is lying, and that’s an optimistic estimate.
“The series begins with army veteran Walter Cruz (Stephan James) walking into the office of Heidi Bergman (Julia Roberts), a counselor who works for Homecoming, a company dedicated to helping soldiers readjust from traumatic experiences. They speak about Walter’s days at war. Their conversation is medicinal, maybe. Or maybe not. The Homecoming facility is brand new, a corporate office complex reconstructed into a rehab dorm. Heidi’s coworker Craig (Alex Karpovsky) has the soldiers role-playing improv games. Heidi’s boss Colin (Bobby Cannavale) calls her hourly, demanding elusive data. Esmail films their phoners in split screen, their voices audio-fuzzed like we’re hearing a recording of their conversation. (Who else is listening?)
“Something very strange is happening. Or rather: ‘Was happening.’ The first episode flashes forward to another timeline, a dark future for Heidi’s professional prospects. Now she’s a waitress in a crab shack-looking diner next to the world’s grittiest marina.
“At Homecoming, Heidi presented as a white-collarized executive citizen, her desk OCD clean. How’d she wind up pouring coffee back in her hometown? That’s one question Thomas Carrasco (Shea Whigham), a Department of Defense employee, might want to ask her. Carrasco shows up to the diner on an official inquiry about Homecoming, dropping the name ‘Walter Cruz.’ Heidi brushes him off. (What’s she hiding? Who’s she hiding it from?) In the flashforward, the aspect ratio shifts from rectangular widescreen into skinny-square Academy ratio. The drama motivates the gimmickry: The screen squeezes Heidi like walls closing in.
“The headline news here is that Roberts is doing a TV show, although ‘What is TV anymore?’ and ‘What have movies become?’ are questions that must torment any movie star minted into fame before cinematic universes and True Detective. Initially, Roberts actually has the least showy part in Homecoming. Cannavale makes an exuberant huckster, the kind of cad who’s either selling you stolen watches or collateralized debt obligations. James (soon to be seen in the buzzy If Beale Street Could Talk) makes Walter our entry-point everyguy, chatty in a sad way, spinning tall tales about weird days in war zones.
“And Whigham delivers one of the year’s best TV performances. He’s been a great supporting actor in a little bit of everything, the Marvel universe and the Furious universe, tough enough to play some kind of law enforcement in Fargo and Narcos, genial enough to play the nicest dude in Vice Principals. Certain elements of the twisty plot nearly turn Homecoming into the long-overdue Shea Whigham star vehicle, though one marvel of his performance is how calm it is, how palpably he renders thoughtful confusion and clerk-ish obsession.
“Roberts reveals herself more as Homecoming deepens our understanding of Heidi’s curious position. It’s very nearly a dual role, with a lot of ambiguous seemses asterisking her every move. Past Heidi seems to unfurl her company’s mysterious plot. Future Heidi seems to be hiding from enigmas we can’t quite grasp. (Both Heidis wear the same terrible wig, with frumpcore bangs that seem targeted toward normalizing Roberts’ star power.) Behind her cool exterior, Heidi is desperate, a last-chancer who feels just about left behind by the world. Roberts catches weird strains of hopefulness and malevolence, and even that weird-sounding dissonance doesn’t come close to what the later episodes require her to do. It turns into her most interesting role in a long time, quieter in its devastation than anything she’s played since 2004’s acidic Closer.
“This is one of those shows where you realize immediately that a lot of truth is getting held back. It’s also the kind of show where, once all the questions are answered, some truths are more convincing than others. But Homecoming finds a good balance between deepening characters and double-reverse cliffhangers. Alongside the deepening paranoia, there are playful tonal shifts, flirtation, clever song choices, bird humor. We’re miles from the terminal bleakness of recent TV mysteries like HBO’s mournful Sharp Objects or Netflix’s grimmest-Germans-ever Dark. And every Homecoming episode’s roughly half an hour, a carb-free runtime that feels especially gratifying after recent trends in unedited streaming slogs.
“Amazon has already ordered a second season. I mean it as a huge compliment that, after watching the season finale, I have absolutely no goddamn idea what the hell season 2 could possibly look like. Some of the later plot turns feel contrived, narrative dominoes collapsing together with too-easy simplicity. There’s an important revelation requiring one character to randomly spot another character in a window across a courtyard. But there’s also serious purpose hiding here. The tale Horowitz and Bloomberg unspool ripples with anger over public-private malfeasance, satiric fear of our dystopian present, straightforward sadness over how society treats our emotionally wounded warriors. I assume some or all of that was present in the original podcast, which I’ve not listened to.
“What I know is that Esmail has worked with the creators to reconceive their audio adventure as a visual delight, full of smart performances and lingering unease. For all its Hitchcock-y camera angles and Lost-y double-reverse plot twists, Homecoming is an all-too human freakout. One of the scariest single images I’ve seen on TV this year is just a late-season close-up on James’ smiling face.”
Per TechCrunch, “Netflix’s commitment to growing its original content collection will see the company again returning to debt markets to raise more financing, the company announced today. According a release published to its investors site, Netflix says it plans to raise $2 billion to help fund new content, including “content acquisitions, production and development, capital expenditures, investments, working capital and potential acquisitions and strategic transactions.”
“The funds will be raised in the form of senior unsecured notes, denominated in U.S. dollars and euros, it said.
“This debt offering is the sixth time in under four years that Netflix is raising $1 billion or more through bonds, noted Variety, which was among the first to report the news. As of September 30, Netflix’s long-term debt had reached $8.34 billion, up 71% from $4.89 billion in the year ago quarter, it said during its last earnings, Variety’s report also noted.
“Netflix recently explained during its Q3 2018 earnings that it needs to continue to invest in original programming in order to remain competitive.
“‘We recognize we are making huge cash investments in content, and we want to assure our investors that we have the same high confidence in the underlying economics as our cash investments in the past. These investments we see as very likely to help us to keep our revenue and operating profits growing for a very long time ahead,’ the letter to shareholders read.
“Netflix also pointed to the increasing competition in the industry as one of the reasons why original content investment was so critical, adding that it didn’t only compete with linear TV, YouTube, gaming, social media, DVDs and pay-per-view, but with a number of new and upcoming streaming services, as well.
“‘Content companies such as WarnerMedia and Disney/Fox are moving to self-distribute their own content; tech firms like Apple, Amazon and others are investing in premium content to enhance their distribution platforms,’ the letter also stated. ‘Amid these massive competitors on both sides, plus traditional media firms, our job is to make Netflix stand out so that when consumers have free time, they choose to spend it with our service,’ it had said.”
From Realscreen: “In television, it is often the first big hit from a genre that not only becomes the benchmark of success for all the similar programs to emerge in its wake, but also sets the creative template for those shows. For the unscripted music competition genre, outside of the debut of The Voice in 2011, it has been practically impossible for a series to crawl out from under the shadow of Idol, and establish itself as a unique global property.
“NBCUniversal is hoping its upcoming unscripted series and format, Songland, will do just that, thanks not only to the star power involved — the series is exec produced by Eurythmics co-founder and producer Dave Stewart, Maroon 5 frontman and The Voice alumni Adam Levine, OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder, The Voice showrunner Audrey Morrissey and director Ivan Dudynsky — but to its focus on songwriters, the behind-the-scenes creators that Morrissey refers to as “the unseen creative force that is powering everything.”
“‘While working on The Voice I was astonished by how much of my personal time was spent sitting with the judges considering songs,’ recalls Morrissey, just prior to an unveiling of the format for the international press during MIPCOM in Cannes. ‘Not that you ever run out of songs, but you found yourself reaching for the same songs all the time. It was about this time that I’d met Dave [Stewart], and he told me that he really wanted to do a show about songwriters.’
“‘But the immediate next consideration was that we couldn’t really do a documentary that would just follow people around while they’re writing,’ she adds. ‘We had to create some sort of format and make it interesting, because the process is insanely interesting. So much of the work in the long time spent developing this was about how do we capture this very organic process within a framework that we can replicate time and again anywhere around the world.’
“‘I’ve been asked to be in a couple of songwriting shows that were pretty much about watching people writing songs and I would always say that wasn’t going to work,’ offers Stewart, who, with Eurythmics partner Annie Lennox, wrote such massive hits as Sweet Dreams (are Made of This) and Here Comes the Rain Again, among many others. ‘For me, I might wake up bolt upright and scribble things down and then the next day get the chorus. Or it can be that the whole song comes out in one go.’
“With Songland, fledgling songwriters perform their works in front of a judging panel comprised of three major music industry figures, who then dissect the song and lend their own perspectives on how it could be transformed into a hit. Once the songwriters are each paired with the producers on the panel, they will revamp the songs and then present them to a major recording artist, who will then select the winner and record his or her own version of the song.
“‘As a TV viewer, you’ll get to say, “Oh, that’s how it happens,”’ says Stewart. ‘You can see how quickly a song can turn upside down in the process, but it’s only a little bit [of the process] – it’s not like watching someone knit or watching paint dry.’
“Those judges include Tedder — who, besides fronting his own band has crafted huge hits as a writer and producer for Adele, Beyonce and Taylor Swift, among others — as well as singer/songwriters Ester Dean and Shane McAnally. American singer-songwriter Charlie Puth will be the featured artist in the first episode.
“With the songwriters each being charismatic performers in their own right, the program features plenty of performance for those who flock to Idol and The Voice for that reason, but also delves into the inherent drama of the recording process — when the song that a writer has labored over for months, sometimes years, is given over to a producer and potentially radically transformed before its release.
“‘Any time I have to tell someone what this is, there isn’t a show that I can point to and call it a new iteration,’ says Tedder. ‘It’s not a new iteration of The Voice, or Idol, or any of those shows. It has more in common with something on the Food Network. The difference is that with the Food Network, you can’t taste the food, but here, you can experience the song.’
“Winning songs from each episode will be made available via all the major digital music retail platforms and streamers, according to the team. Tedder, who has also appeared on The Voice, maintains, ‘This will launch more artists than any other show combined, because the star of the show, even though we play a part in it, is the song.’
“Songland will make its 11-episode debut in 2019, via NBC’s in-house unscripted production arm, Universal Television Alternative Studio.”
From Variety: “A series that was built around the chemistry between two actors — and that had been building toward a climactic showdown — is suddenly a solo act. And while the sixth and final season of House of Cards is as mixed a bag as the thrilling but uneven Netflix drama has yet produced, the good news is that Robin Wright is up to the task of anchoring the show.
“After all, since the earliest episodes, Wright has been the not-so-secret weapon of House of Cards, playing a character whose astringent refusal to yield to emotion balanced the more ornate performance of Kevin Spacey as her ambitious but weaker-willed husband. It was a well-tuned duet in which she did all the calibration, constructing a careful performance around his Shakespearean floridity.
“With Spacey now fired from the show due to allegations of past sexual misconduct, Wright is on her own. And the spotlight suits her. Serving as president, her Claire Underwood practically relishes her personal unpopularity both among the American public and in an administration devoid of allies; that no one respects her outside the White House or trusts her inside it gives her room to make massive swings without concerning herself with likability. The clever thing “House of Cards” does early in its sixth season is not to cover for Frank Underwood’s absence but to use it to emphasize the fundamental isolation in Claire’s character, the chilly desire to alienate others so that, human contact having been taken out of the equation, things can get accomplished.
“All of these are notes Wright has played before, but perpetually in reaction to Spacey. Indeed, we gain new insights into Claire from Wright’s work this season, so much so that occasional flashbacks and heavy-handed insertions of backstory feel unnecessary in light of Wright telling us more with a glance. While it’s not the endgame that was planned, seeing her have the space to give a performance whose crystalline quality isn’t swamped by the vastly more over-the-top Spacey — including getting to deliver the trademark monologues to camera — is a thrill for long-suffering fans of the franchise.
“But House of Cards has always preferred situation to character. (Spacey’s performance was so huge in part in order to stand up to a plot that could flatten subtler work.) And soon enough, crises strike, especially the meddling of Annette and Bill Shepherd (Diane Lane and Greg Kinnear), a pair of archconservative siblings meant to evoke the Koch brothers if their line to the president were even more direct and complicated by personal history. They emerge as characters we’d never met, but claim they’re owed a debt by Frank, one that Claire is forced to pay. Even as the solo lead of the show, Claire is still struggling to break through. Even as Frank Underwood is gone — dead, with no small amount of ambiguity around how and where he died — he hangs over the story, with old plotlines (some reaching back across seasons and testing fans’ memory) and new ones referring endlessly to the late president.
“Obviously, Frank’s death is a big deal in this universe. But it feels at times like the series, scrambling to come up with a plot for a final season without its first-billed lead, never quite escapes his gravitational pull. The show, one that’s wildly changed narrative course many times even without pragmatic real-world reasons at stake, seems surprisingly confused about how to reboot. “House of Cards” didn’t need to scorn its own history in order to create a satisfying conclusion, but fans have a right to expect it to be fleeter-footed in giving them a tale worth caring about post-Frank, which would have called for meaningfully moving past him. In the moments when Claire is allowed not just the camera but the story, House of Cards is a ride; when the past is relitigated and the specter of Frank rears up once more, it feels like that worst thing a binge-able drama can be: a trudge. This drama, on which we’ve learned anything can happen, should be far less bound to its own past.”
Season 6 is available to stream on November 2.