Wednesday October 31, 2018

Naomi Watts has signed on the star in the Game of Thrones prequel. More below.

This is unfathomable to me. “The world of Chrisley Knows Best is expanding. USA Network has renewed its flagship reality docuseries Chrisley Knows Best for a seventh season and greenlit a 16-episode spinoff Growing Up Chrisley, both for premiere in 2019. The spinoff will center on Chase and Savannah Chrisley as they road trip from Nashville to Los Angeles and attempt to break out on their own in the big city. Season 7 of Chrisley Knows Best will continue to follow Todd Chrisley and his family throughout its 26-episode order. The back-half of Chrisley Knows Best Season 6 will premiere November 28 at 9/8c, with two back-to-back episodes.”

Netflix has renewed BoJack Horseman for a 6th season.

Netflix has also renewed Paradise PD for a 2nd season.

“Discovery is looking to capitalize on the promise of its Scripps Networks Interactive acquisition through a plan to revive the home makeover series While You Were Out with separate episodes of the show tailored for TLC and HGTV audiences. The series is billed as the first crossover series among Discovery networks following its $14 billion purchase of the parent company of HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel and other lifestyle cablers. Those brands are now being integrated into the Discovery fold alongside TLC, Animal Planet, OWN, Science, Velocity and other outlets. While You Were Out will blend designer stars from past and present TLC and HGTV shows in a competition format. The series will air at the same time on both networks when it premieres next year. ‘This is an idea I used to dream about, but we couldn’t do it before our companies came together,’ Kathleen Finch, Discovery’s chief lifestyle brands officer, told Variety.”

Well that’s just sad Kathleen. You’re rebooting a show and using not ONE of the people who starred in the original. Call the show something else then because this is not a revival of WYWO, it’s a cheap attempt at buzz. Mission accomplished.

Mel Robbins, the best-selling author behind 5 Second Rule, is getting her own syndicated daytime talk show. Producers Sony Pictures Television announced Tuesday that it is teaming with Tribune Broadcasting on the untitled syndicated show. The series has been sold in more than 31 percent of the country and will debut on Tribune-owned stations in the fall of 2019. Mindy Borman, a Daytime Emmy winner for her work on The Dr. Oz Show, will serve as executive producer on the daytime talk show, which is described as a classic talk format with a modern reinvention.”

Suzanne Somers’ opinion matters to someone?

Michael Lewis’ latest book The Fifth Risk has been acquired by Barack and Michelle Obama under their Netflix production deal for a possible series which would be geared towards helping people better understand the inner workings of the government. 

I’m ready for Mindy Kaling’s next endeavor.

IFC unveiled five new original comedies in development: Almost Asian, executive produced by Margaret Cho, chronicles the life of a mixed-race millennial; Annika Erotica follows a young pastor harboring a secret passion for writing erotic novels; the adventure comedy Art Thieves is about self-proclaimed Robin Hoods of the art world; Beth, focuses on a happily-agoraphobic man’s uneasy journey back to the outside world; and the satirical and politically provocative sketch comedy The Middle Passage. The projects join the previously announced series in development How to Rig an Election and NGO.”

Investigation Discovery is heading to Murdertown for its latest true-crime doc. The U.S. cable network has ordered a six-part crime series about murders in small towns from British producer Britespark Films. Welcome To Murdertown follows the baffling murder mysteries where it’s not just one person who’s hiding something – it’s everybody. From small towns and tight-lipped communities to tight-knit families, investigators must penetrate a wall of silence to crack the case. The documentary series focuses on cold cases that have come up against a wall of silence from these communities before decades later, a witness helps to solve the case. Premiering on Tuesday, November 13, the series was shot across the U.S. including in Idaho and Texas and includes some drama reconstructions shot in Cape Town, South Africa.”

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Debra Winger, who plays the Bennett family matriarch on The Ranch, may be leaving the Netflix comedy ahead of Season 4.

“During an appearance on Tuesday’s Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen after-show, the Academy Award-nominated actress hinted that her days on the Ashton Kutcher sitcom were numbered. She also indicated that show has been renewed for a fourth season (aka Parts 7 and 8).

“‘It’s back,’ she said when asked if the show was returning. ‘There are 20 new ones being shot. I may or may not be in them.’

“Though credited on every episode as a series regular, Winger has typically only appeared in half of every season, with the character frequently leaving town and handing the keys to her bar over to son Rooster. This, of course, won’t be an option moving forward, seeing as Rooster’s portrayer, Danny Masterson, was fired by Netflix last December following multiple rape accusations. Masterson made his final appearance in last June’s Part 5 finale, in which Rooster was held at gunpoint by ex-con Nick, who told him to take his belongings and disappear… or else. A premiere date for Part 6 (aka the back half of Season 3) has not yet been announced.

“If Winger is indeed out at The Ranch, that leaves the Netflix comedy with just two original series regulars: Kutcher (who plays Colt) and Sam Elliott (Beau). Elisha Cuthbert, who plays Colt’s wife Abby, wasn’t promoted to series regular until Season 2.

“In addition to her role on The Ranch, Winger stars in Season 2 of the Amazon series Patriot (releasing on Friday, Nov. 9).”

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Per EW, “We’ve already revealed some behind-the-scenes secrets about what went down on Andrew Lincoln’s last day on set of The Walking Dead, but we have another key witness with stories to share as well. Norman Reedus, who has been battling zombies alongside Lincoln for nine seasons — while also engaging in an epic prank war for almost as long — has some incredible memories from that final day of filming.

“From tickling Lincoln’s feet during his final scene to taking in an emotional goodbye speech, Reedus says it was a day to remember, and now the actor brings us up to speed on what actually went down. He also talks about adjusting to LAA (Life After Andy) and the bloody and bizarre souvenir he kept in his trailer to remind him of his missing partner in both crime and grime:

So I was lucky enough to be there for Andrew Lincoln’s last day. Tell me what that was like for you.
In true Andrew Lincoln form, he was spectacular. The very last scene that we shot, he’s supposed to smile. He was supposed to smile, and it was a close-up. So I kept sneaking in and tickling his feet and making him smile on this one line. And I thought it was funny. And he liked it. He kept asking me to keep doing it. So the last scene that he shot on this show, I’m below camera tickling his feet.

And then he had some words for the cast and crew, didn’t he?
Yeah, he got up and he gave a little speech to the crew, and asked us to keep the fight going. And this show’s not over. To honor Andy, we still fight the good fight on this show, and try to tell the best stories we can, and give it 1,000 percent in his honor, as well as all the other people that have been on the show. But he asked us to do that. And he believes in us, and he believes in the show, and he believes in the stories. And he was like, “Don’t you dare f—ing slow down one second.”

He got up, and before the speech a lot of people pulled out their cell phones and wanted to record it. And he held up a hand and he said, “Everyone, please put your phones away.” He’s like, “Just, can you put them down?” He goes, “This is for us. This is our time. This is our moment here. This isn’t a social media moment, this is for us. This is what we fight for every day, and this is our family.” And I thought that was such a cool thing to do.

Everybody understood it, and everybody got it, and it felt so right. And that’s the kinda guy that guy is. He’s not in it for the likes, and he’s not in it for the followers, and he’s not in it for the look-at-me-whatever-I’m-doing. He’s in it for the real stuff, which is why he says he needs to quit the show and be with his kids, ’cause he’s been away for almost a decade, you gotta let him do it. That’s real life stuff. And that’s the kinda guy he is. And honestly, I’ll have that guy’s back forever.

Was it weird at first after he left and you guys kept rolling? And has it been weird with him not being there?
Dude, it’s been weird as f—, I won’t lie. I still send him scripts. When no one’s looking, I email him scripts, and he gives me notes still to this day. It was weird, I have to tell you.

The weirdest part for me was the day after he was gone, and I came to set to work, and it was kind of a quiet day on set. Not because everybody was in mourning, it was just because I wasn’t really working with many people. There wasn’t really many people there. And then we worked in the morning, and it’s all hard work, and then we go out to lunch. And I always take my lunch back to the trailer because it’s so hot outside that I have to have air conditioning or I’m gonna pass out. So I take my lunch back to the trailer, and I’m just kinda sitting there quietly for a good 45 minutes. ’Cause I’ve never not had lunch in my trailer with him in nine years. We always get my lunch and go back to my trailer, the two of us. So I just kinda sat there quietly, like, where the f— is Andy right now?

That was the hardest part for me. It’s all healed itself, but I have to say eating lunch by myself in my trailer was really, really weird. It made me really depressed. In my trailer right now, one of the chairs in there is covered in blood and it’s from Andy Lincoln’s last day. He had somebody’s blood all over him, and he left my chair covered in blood. And I still won’t let the cleaning guys clean off that chair, because that bloody chair reminds me of Andy every day. The whole trailer’s really clean except for one chair that’s covered in blood.”

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Per The Ringer, “With Game of Thrones’ first prequel series officially a go at HBO, it was only a matter of time before we learned who’d be helming the follow-up to one of the biggest phenomenons in television history. On Tuesday afternoon, Variety reported that Naomi Watts has officially signed on. Not much is known about her character yet, but her role in the prequel—which, according to HBO, will take place 10,000 years before the events of Game of Thrones, during the Age of Heroes and the Long Night—is being described as a ‘charismatic socialite hiding a dark secret.’

“A two-time Oscar nominee, Watts provides a ton of star wattage (I’m so sorry) not afforded to the original series, whose cast was initially composed of mostly relative newcomers like Kit Harington, Richard Madden, Maisie Williams, and Sophie Turner—who over the past eight years have all become household names in their own right—and longtime character actors like Peter Dinklage and Sean Bean.

“Watts, who is best known for her work on Mulholland Dr.Twin Peaks: The Return, King Kong, and her Oscar-nominated turns in The Impossible and 21 Grams, couldn’t be coming to the project at a better time, after having a recent run that can only be described as rough. In 2016, she starred in the critically panned horror movie Shut In and played the villain in Allegiant, part of the most forgettable franchise from Hollywood’s YA dystopia phase. In 2017, she led the Netflix original drama series Gypsy, which was quickly cancelled. And worst of all, she starred in The Book of Henry, widely regarded as one of the worst movies of 2017. The Game of Thrones prequel doesn’t automatically confirm a return to form—we can’t say for sure whether it’s going to be a total mess—but combined with the news that Watts will play Gretchen Carlson in Showtime’s forthcoming Roger Ailes–focused limited series, the actress appears to be leading herself toward a much-deserved renaissance. I mean, there’s no way this stuff can be worse than The Book of Henry, right?

“Now, about her character, the ‘charismatic socialite hiding a dark secret.’ Given the secrecy surrounding the prequel itself, making any guesses as to whom exactly she might play is wildly speculative at best. But given Watts’s blonde hair (which again, is not a lot to go off of) and the brief character description, there’s a slight chance she could be connected to Lann the Clever, the legendary hero who helped build House Lannister.

“Provided the prequel series focuses on ancient heroes from George R.R. Martin’s text—and the fact that the descriptions of characters like Lann the Clever and Bran the Builder from Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels are intentionally over the top, because that’s how mythmaking works—Watts’s character could be a fascinating entry point into one of that time period’s most iconic heroes. Whoever she plays will certainly be interesting in her own right; and at the very least, the potential connection to House Lannister and the presence of a “dark secret” conjures vibes of Cersei, if you’re into that sort of thing. (Maybe Cersei’s impressive tolerance for wine is hereditary.)

“All told, there’s still a lot we don’t know about this prequel series; it doesn’t even have a title yet. But Watts leading the cast means that Game of Thrones will continue to have a strong pull even as the original series culminates next year. My mind is already racing with possibilities—mostly the nonexistent chance that Watts will open the door for David Lynch to direct an episode of Game of Thrones.”

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From Vulture: “When the star of a popular TV series gets forced out in a scandal, can the show go on? Netflix’s House of Cards and ABC’s Roseanne are the latest programs to face this conundrum. Kevin Spacey, who played the devilish, fourth-wall-breaking President Francis Underwood in five seasons of Cards, was fired after revelations of decades of sexual misconduct. Roseanne Barr — who had devolved over the decades from a left-wing celebrity of working-class origins into a Pizzagate-hawking tinfoil-hatter — posted a racist tweet and was instantly cut loose. Both series have returned after producers devised ways to keep things going. The results are fascinating — even though both shows end up being mainly about the void left by the loss of their star, and neither entirely overcomes the feeling that it exists to salvage an investment.

“The newly named The Conners picks up with Roseanne having died of an opioid overdose. This fact is initially hidden from her family as well as viewers. We’re led to think it was a heart attack, until Roseanne’s sister Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) gets a call from a friend in the coroner’s office who delivers the hard truth: Roseanne OD’d on painkillers she was continuing to take for a knee injury. The news sends Roseanne’s husband, Dan (John Goodman — shockingly slimmed down), into a frenzy of vigilantism, stalking the neighbor who gave Roseanne the drugs (Mary Steenburgen, a walking raw nerve), until he realizes other neighbors were giving her opioids, too, as part of a makeshift drug-sharing arrangement that’s taken the place of a proper way to wade through the morass of America’s health-care system.

“As attempts to save a seemingly unsalvageable show go, this one’s not bad. And it rekindles the promise of the original rebooted Roseanne, which was advertised as a series that would use sitcom tropes to examine the national red-state–blue-state divide but mostly delivered Fox News talking points disguised as one-liners and was no more empathetic toward Democrats than the Jon Stewart–era The Daily Show was toward Republicans. Showrunners Bruce Helford, Bruce Rasmussen, and Dave Caplan get closer to devising a place where left- and right-wing views of reality can be reconciled. The opioid crisis affects everyone, as does the country’s convoluted, profit-driven health-care system, and although the premiere of The Conners stops just when it was getting rhetorically warmed up, it feels like a decent start. And if it turns out that The Conners was just another example of a network throwing good money after bad, at least it gives world-class character actors like Goodman, Steenburgen, Metcalf, and Sara Gilbert a weekly showcase.

“House of Cards already had the dramatic architecture in place to cope with losing its star. In the most recent season, former First Lady Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) ran for vice-president on the same ticket as her husband. The Underwoods beat the Republican opposition and were sworn in but still had to worry about being investigated for their crimes, which included several murders. Frank resigned, assuming Claire would be sworn in as his replacement and pardon him, allowing them to continue to run the country together, her from the Oval Office, him from the private sector à la one of his major nemeses, billionaire Raymond Tusk (Gerald McRaney). But Claire was reluctant because of the political damage it would cause her. The season ended on a cliffhanger, with Claire declining to mention the pardon in her first presidential speech. The final scene found Claire in the Oval Office, inspecting an American flag that Frank had burned with one of his cigarettes while letting her husband’s repeated calls go to voice-mail, then looking straight into the camera and declaring ‘My turn’ — claiming the privilege of direct address that had mainly been invoked by Frank.

“It’s Claire’s turn, all right. Season six starts with Frank having already expired off-camera. There’s no visual evidence that he existed. We don’t see Frank in TV news footage about the administration, and in official photographs of Claire attending his open-casket funeral, we see close-ups of her face and close-ups of her hands touching Frank’s, but no shots of his face. This might be a behind-the-scenes solution to Netflix not wanting to pay Spacey for continued use of his likeness, scandal or no scandal; but it still has an unnerving subliminal effect on the viewer, making it seem as if Spacey/Frank had been scalpeled out of the drama like a tumor. The exact circumstances of Frank’s demise are kept vague here. This is partly because there’s an official story (he died in his sleep next to Claire) that the public suspects might not be the real one (a corrupt ex-president croaks right after his wife is sworn in?). But there’s also a canny dramatic reason for the coyness. Showrunners Frank Pugliese and Melissa James Gibson treat Spacey’s abrupt, involuntary departure as an excuse to build a season-long mystery.

“At the same time, they’ve created an uncharacteristically self-aware and self-critical (for House of Cards) commentary on what it means to fire the star of a male-centered series and replace him with a woman who has endured fallout from another man’s scandals in real life (Wright was once married to Sean Penn) yet still managed to define herself on her own terms. Wright, who was always the show’s secret superweapon anyway, seizes the spotlight as if by divine right, changing the energy of the entire piece. Where Frank was a straightforward portrait of extroverted, lip-licking evil, Claire is a Mona Lisa whose smile might be a precursor to a death sentence. When Claire tells another character what Frank’s last words were, we assume that she’s lying, because House of Cards is a show filled with habitual liars; but because it’s the circumspect Claire doing the talking rather than the blabbermouth Frank controlling the series’ direct-address mechanism, we must content ourselves with the possibility that we’ll never know what Frank said, if indeed he said anything, or if he died of natural causes or was sneakily murdered, like the writer Tom Yates (Paul Sparks), whom Claire poisoned during sex in season five.

“The world naturally measures Claire’s leadership style against her husband’s. A lot of the subplots revolve around established and new characters trying to hold Claire to whatever arrangement they had with Frank and learning that the solid ground they thought they were standing on has turned to quicksand. This is explored most elegantly through Claire’s relationship with former White House chief of staff Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) and battles against siblings Annette and Bill Shepherd (Diane Lane and Greg Kinnear), a couple of tech billionaires turned right-wing influencers. These and many other characters are forced to redefine their expectations after realizing that Claire has no intention of ruling as her husband did. Bill Shepherd, in particular, becomes a lightning rod for anyone who still misses Spacey despite knowing why he was fired. Scathingly portraying Bill as one of those aw-shucks Republican billionaires who dress in plaid shirts and hunting vests and constantly offer unsolicited lectures about history and gripes about social programs and big cities, Kinnear seemingly models his voice on Henry Fonda’s; but the character is a sexist through and through, treating every woman, but Claire especially, with condescension and failing to appreciate the danger he’s in. Other characters, particularly Republican senators and members of the military, hate dealing with Claire because she’s a woman who doesn’t rule with the usual macho swagger they’re all familiar with. They consider her unqualified to wield power despite her decades-long front-row seat courtesy of Frank. They’re in for a nasty shock.

“‘No one should ever feel unsafe in her own home,’ Claire calmly confides to the audience, making it sound as much like a promise as a threat.”

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One more review of Amazon’s Homecoming: “It’s weird to think about, really. It’s 2018, we have more shows than ever, available on more outlets than ever, and there’s still a lack of truly interesting television. A lot of that is a result of copycats and imitators flooding the zone, which is why you have a bunch of law enforcement procedurals on the networks and a bunch of bleak series about morally conflicted jerks on cable. It’s one of the things I like and appreciate most about Homecoming. It has mysteries and things to say and about a dozen tricks up its sleeve to help it drive home its mysteries and things to say. It is nothing if not consistently interesting.

“But we’ll get to that soon enough. First, some background. Homecoming is a new Amazon series that is based on a scripted podcast of the same name, a star-studded work of fiction created by Eli Horowitz and Micah Bloomberg, who also serve as writers for the show. It follows a therapist named Heidi Bergman (Julia Roberts) across two timelines as she and others attempt to figure out what really happened — in general, and with one specific patient, Walter Cruz (Stephan James) — in a shady private Tampa facility that allegedly helped veterans living with PTSD and re-acclimating to civilian life. There are twists and surprising reveals and shady conglomerates and, well, none of this sounds all that revolutionary yet, does it? It sounds like Maniac meets Westworld with Julia Roberts, which is still something I would watch.

“What makes it so interesting is the execution. All 10 of the episodes — each clocking in at or around a refreshing 30 minutes — are directed by Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail and, man, is that guy good at what he does. There are long slow zooms and shifts in perspective and a lot of the fancy tricks you’ve seen him pull off with Mr. Robot. Characters are framed off to the side or pushed up against the top or bottom of the screen. The two timelines are filmed in different aspect ratios, one more standard and one almost like a cell phone screen. It all serves two purposes as you’re watching at home: One, it makes even the slower moments of the plot feel interesting; two, it throws you off-balance just enough for the reveals to knock you over.

“The best example of this is the conversations. A conversation is just two people talking. The words they’re saying carry the weight. But in Esmail’s hands, with edits and changing camera angles and a series of musical cues that rule super hard (technical term), those suckers sizzle. Some of the tensest moments of the entire series take place in Heidi’s office when she’s having what seems to be a pleasant conversation with Walter. There are split-screen phone calls with her and her hard-charging boss that almost need to be watched twice to pick up on everything. Esmail is doing things no one else on television is doing and it’s a blast to watch.

“I don’t mean to poo-poo the performances here. Julia Roberts is terrific as Heidi in all of her forms, from confident to skeptical to utterly confused. She fills up the whole screen whenever she’s on it, which doesn’t always work when movie stars come to television. Like, she’s Julia Roberts and someone gave her a big meaty role, a kind of “what if Erin Brockovich was depressed and wore baggy sweaters” performance. She has a lot to do and most of the on-screen action is on her shoulders. Of course she’s good.

“Bobby Cannavale plays her boss, Colin. Bobby Cannavale was born to play dudes like Colin. Brash, overconfident, slimy, overbearing, fast-talking, all of it. He’s so good at playing this character that I both hope and fear he gets stuck playing them forever (hope, for me, because it’s fun to watch; fear, for him, because I imagine he’d like to do other things at some point). Shea Whigham plays the Department of Defense investigator tasked with looking into the whole thing and he nails the bureaucratic impotence of a mid-level government employee. Sissy Spacek plays Heidi’s mom and I said “Whoa, it’s Sissy Spacek” when I saw her. All good things.

“The plot spins itself out deliberately but not slowly. The 30-minute episodes help with that. Morsels of information are served one at a time, never more, each one answering one question while raising about a dozen more, and then boom, the episode is over. It’s a “leave you wanting more” approach that makes the show feel frantic and tense even as it drips plot points, as opposed to Amazon’s other big fancy star-studded prestige drama from earlier this month, The Romanoffs, with its 70-90 minute episodes that feel bloated and indulgent. Shorter isn’t always better but a densely packed half-hour is sure more enjoyable than a sprawling hour and a half.

“The result is a super-bingeable, addictive, quality drama, one that’s not quite like anything else I’ve seen in a while. I watched the entire season in two sittings. I might watch it again to see if there are things I missed or that were teased out in little ways that will be more profound with complete knowledge of the facts. I might watch the ending six more times for clues. Maybe I’ll just zip to the part where Julia Roberts dresses down an annoying coworker by saying “Shut your wet little mouth and go back to your toys” because that was awesome. I don’t know. What I do know is that I liked Homecoming very much and Sam Esmail should direct as many things as he can.”

Homecoming premieres on Amazon Prime on Friday.