The Walking Dead returns on Sunday. More below.
AMC has renewed Lodge 49 for a 2nd season.
Season 2 of Big Mouth is now streaming on Netflix. I plan to watch all of it before Monday.
Docuseries Dancing Queen is also available to stream on Netflix.
Season 3 of The Man In The High Castle is now available on Amazon. More below.
Two high-level Nickelodeon executives, EVP’s Bronwen O'Keefe and Lee Ann Chmielewski-Larsen, have been quietly let go from the Viacom network group. I’ve worked with Bronwen, she’s fantastic and will certainly land on her feet.
“Mike ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino isn’t ready for life behind bars. ‘Honestly we don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow…so hopefully everything is going to be fine,’ Nicole ‘Snooki’ Polizzi said on SiriusXM’s The Jenny McCarthy Show on Thursday. ‘We’ve been hanging out all week and you can tell the days are coming quicker and he’s getting more nervous. We’re just trying to be there for him, just hang out with him, make him smile a little bit, but it’s terrifying for him.’ Sorrentino, 35, pled guilty to tax evasion in January and agreed to a deal that could put him behind bars for up to five years. His brother Marc Sorrentiono is facing up to three years in prison for aiding him. He was previously scheduled for sentencing on Sept. 7, but is now due in court Friday.”
Justin Long will recur on The Conners as Darlene’s new love interest.
I think it’s time for Chrissy Teigen to fade into oblivion.
“Andrew Dice Clay wants to leave the movie industry on a high note — preferably one sung by Lady Gagain A Star Is Born. ‘I don’t know if I want to be on a set of any kind after that,’ Clay, 61, told Page Six. The comedy legend had an acting renaissance in recent years with critically acclaimed turns in Woody Allen‘s Blue Jasmine, Martin Scorsese‘s Vinyl and now the Bradley Cooper-directed third remake of the 1937 classic. ‘I have a good record now between Woody Allen, Scorsese, Warner Bros. and this bigger-than-life movie,’ he said. Clay was particularly impressed with Cooper’s directing, especially considering it was the Oscar-nominated actor’s first time behind a camera.”
Per The Hollywood Reporter, “NBC is looking again to Lorne Michaels for its next scripted comedy.
“The Saturday Night Live mastermind is teaming with Meg Ryan for a scripted comedy in development at the network in which she would star.
“Called The Obsolescents, it takes place in a New Jersey suburb where the facade of peace and civility is disrupted by the shocking death of a longtime township council member.
“Andrew Gottlieb (Fuller House, Us & Them) will pen the script and exec produce the project, which landed a script commitment at the network. Michaels will exec produce the Universal TV comedy via his studio-based Broadway Video banner. The company's Andrew Singer will also exec produce alongside Ryan.
“This is Michaels' second script sale this development season and joins NBC's Saving Larry. Kenan Thompson is attached to star in the latter and would leave SNL should it move to series.
“If Ryan were to star in The Obsolescents, it would be her first TV series-regular role in decades. Her feature credits include When Harry Met Sally, You've Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle and The Women, among several others.”
“As The Walking Dead prepares to lurch forward into a new era without leading man Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, fans are understandably left wondering what to expect next from the AMC drama. In that regard, the man who created Rick in the first place — Robert Kirkman, who launched the Walking Dead comic book series 15 years ago in October 2003 — was on hand Thursday at New York Comic Con to address concerns about the future of television's No. 1 zombie thriller.
“Just one problem with that: Kirkman's first remarks on the matter. ‘Don't ask me about Andrew Lincoln's exit. It's very heartbreaking to me and I'm sick of talking about it,’ he said. ‘But it's going to be cool! Just trust me. I'm going to miss that guy.’
"‘Just kidding,’ he quickly added, ‘you can ask me about it.’
“The free-wheeling panel, moderated by Kirkman himself and fueled by back-and-forth with audience members, quickly hopped into the future of the Walking Dead franchise. One audience member asked how the major changes between the comic and show — including losing Lincoln, the allegedly forbidden topic — would impact the planned ending for Kirkman's illustrated series. The creator quickly downplayed how the loss of Rick will influence his future comic book plans.
"‘It's a deep bench on the Walking Dead show,’ he said. ‘I know we're all upset over the loss of Carl and equally upset over what's going to happen with Rick. But we all still love Michonne, Carol and all the other characters. Negan's still around. There's a lot of great stuff coming. Those changes, while they bring us further from the comic, aren't going to limit us from adapting stories from the comic. You're still getting the Whisperers this season, and it's spectacular. There are some creepy, intense moments coming from the comic. There's a lot to be excited about.’
“Kirkman also downplayed his involvement in how the show plans to handle Lincoln's exit, instead giving the lion's share of the credit to showrunner Angela Kang and chief content officer Scott M. Gimple for controlling the day-to-day aspects.
"‘They consult with me and talk about plans, but for the most part, I let them handle it,’ he said. ‘There are always meetings before the seasons [about what's adapted from the comics], and I'm completely on board with what's happening. As far as the day-to-day stuff? I'm comfortably sitting at home taking credit.’
“In terms of the Walking Dead comic books, Kirkman remains the person pulling all of the strings, to the point that he knows exactly what fate will befall Rick Grimes eventually — and as far as that goes...
"‘I know exactly how Rick Grimes dies in the comic book,’ he revealed. ‘It's possible there will be some differences between the comic and the show. One of those is the death in the comic could happen in the next issue, or could happen 10 years from now. I could change my mind.’
“Speaking of changing minds, Kirkman provided some insight on a character to keep an eye on after Lincoln's looming departure: Judith Grimes, Rick's young daughter, who died long ago in the comic books but has remained ever-present on television since season three. Kirkman joked that he has long advocated for the death of Judith on the show.
"‘When you see season nine, you will be happy that no one listened to me,’ he said. ‘There's some very good stuff coming up with Judith. I was wrong to want to kill her every season from season three on.’
“Whether or not Rick Grimes dies on the show, Kirkman reflected on many of the characters who have died in the comic book and on the TV series over the years.
"‘I regret killing all of them, because I do miss them,’ he said. ‘I don't like to play favorites but I would have loved to tell more stories with Andrea, Glenn and Tyreese. I really enjoyed writing Axel way back in the day. But I don't really regret it. They were all important parts of the story. It's much easier killing characters in the comic than the show, because there isn't a human being who doesn't get to hang out with you anymore.’
“Kirkman then addressed the fate of someone who may or may not still be alive on the show: Heath, the survivor played by Corey Hawkins. The actor left the series in season six, when he was cast in the lead role of the since canceled 24: Legacy. According to Kirkman, plans are still in the works to bring Heath back into the mix, even though they are very far from finalized.
"‘We're hoping to get him back to tell that story,’ he said. ‘There are definitely plans in place there. It's complicated. But we'll eventually show his skeleton if we have to. Just kidding!’
“Not a character death, but potentially the death of another project: the Walking Dead video game series from Telltale Games. The company announced its closure in September, leaving many to wonder if the final installments of the game will ever see the light of day. For his part, Kirkman seemed less concerned about the future of Clementine, the protagonist voiced by Melissa Hutchison.
"‘Stay tuned,’ he said. ‘Everybody involved is trying to make sure Clementine's story is told. It's an unfortunate situation. Hopefully we'll come out of it in a positive way. I'm not concerned at the moment about telling it in comic book form. I'm hopeful the game gets finished.’
“Some other news from outside of the Walking Dead world: the end of Outcast, one of Kirkman's long-running comics, which will draw to a close starting with the final 12 issues kicking off this December. The news of Outcast ending follows the cancellation of the Cinemax series of the same name.
"‘It was a victim of reshuffling at Cinemax,’ Kirkman said, explaining the show's cancellation. ‘They held it for a year. There was restructuring. There were logistics where we lost contracts with actors and couldn't go into production on season three. It was a victim of circumstance. It was a huge hit, internationally.’ He added that it's not impossible Outcast could return in another form eventually, potentially as a feature film.
“Kirkman also spoke about Invincible, his fan-favorite superhero comic book series that first launched in 2003, the same year Walking Dead arrived; Invincible wrapped its comic book run earlier in 2018. There are plans for a live-action film adaptation from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, for which Kirkman provided an update: "Things are moving along nicely. You will hear more soon I think. Things are looking very good. I'm in constant contact with Seth and Evan. They know what they're doing. They're doing amazing work. We hope we'll be sharing that work with you very soon. It's going to be bloody."
"‘It's coming along very well,’ he said. ‘It does take a bit of time, which is why we haven't talked about the release date or shown anything. I'm very hopeful we're going to do a big rollout at Comic-Con next year. We're doing some really great stuff from the comic. We're bringing new elements in to a certain extent. It's going to be a kick-ass cartoon: very mature, an hourlong drama in animation form. It's going to be unique. I'm really excited.’
“As for the content of both the film and the TV series, Kirkman told fans of Invincible to expect just as much violence as what's contained in the visceral comic books: ‘Possibly more than you've seen in the comic. Some of the stuff is coming and I'm thinking, “Ooh! What are we doing?"‘“
Per Collider, “In Season 3 of Amazon’s Emmy-winning drama series The Man in the High Castle, the story takes place in a world where oppressive governments brutally invade intimate aspects of their citizens’ personal lives, nuclear war is a looming threat, and torch-wielding Nazis march in the streets. The only thing separating the fantastic adaptation of Philip K. Dick‘s alternate history novel from our current reality is the fact that, in this tale, the Axis powers won World War II and people who can freely travel between alternate, parallel universes exist; everything else is a subtle and nuanced criticism of the pervasive evils of man against mankind, and a celebration of the hopeful optimism and rebellion that springs up from the most unexpected places.
“Viewers have plenty of choices of dystopian stories to choose from today, but The Man in the High Castle stands apart by focusing on hope and humanity rather than existential despair and shock value. Sure, awful things still happen, and brutal deaths and shocking reveals are a certainty this season, but they serve to illustrate the characters’ will to survive, to fight back, or even the lengths to which they’ll go to serve an ideal. What The Man in the High Castle does best in this regard is to develop characters on all sides of the central conflict who exist in gray areas of morality, with most of them sliding back and forth along the spectrum of morality as each difficult decision forces their hand. It’s a relatively slow-burn of a drama punctuated by a staccato of action and intrigue and spectacle, but with so many irons in the fire, Season 3 handles each and every plot point remarkably well.
“To catch you up on just what those plot points are and where they factor in, the Season 3 premiere has a solid recap that takes up the first few minutes; a more in-depth video recap can be found here. I’ll sum them up here, so our spoiler warning still holds for folks who haven’t watched the first two seasons; however, the Season 3 review itself will be spoiler-free.
“For the most part, the story takes place in one of three cities or regions: There’s San Francisco, under the control of the Japanese Empire, with Trade Minister Nobusuke Tagomi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) and Kempeitai Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido (Joel de la Fuente) vying for control of the region by diplomatic and brutally oppressive means, respectively, while attempting to navigate a tenuous alliance with the Reich; there’s New York City (with some time spent in Berlin) as the central hold of the Greater Nazi Reich, overseen in part by Obergruppenführer John Smith (Rufus Sewell) who’s investigating the Resistance movement while rapidly rising through the ranks and occasionally mentoring the young Joe Blake (Luke Kleintank); and there’s Denver, Colorado, square in the middle of the neutral zone where protagonist Juliana Crain (Alexa Davalos) and her revolving circle of allies attempt to rebel on two fronts.
“This core cast is phenomenal. Tagomi knows that there is a better way forward, as glimpsed by his visions of parallel worlds, and he seeks a peaceful resolution to all conflicts, but is not afraid to take up arms against those who would harm him and those close to him. Kido is ruthless and rigid in his role, but Season 3 continues to develop his slightly softer side in rare moments when the Chief Inspector lets his guard down. Smith, haunted by the ghost of his martyred son in myriad ways, deals with trouble at home with compassion and a stern hand at times, while also ferreting out plots to undermine and betray him, and snuffing out internal threats in devious ways. (His arc this season might be my favorite, if only because his increasing sense of unease with the Reich and its ambitions is counterbalanced against his own rocketing rise through the ranks of the system itself.) Blake finds himself at the mercy of the Reich’s leadership and is put to the test in a number of heartbreaking ways that are meant to steel his resolve and prove his loyalty. And then there’s Juliana, a lynch pin in the show itself and in the internal mythology. Enemies and allies at all levels of seniority and proximity to both the Resistance and the governments’ attempts to quash it revolve around her; Juliana often uses them for her own means, whatever they might be, but this is done as a matter of emotional or practical necessity rather than deception. People gravitate towards Juliana because she is vital to both the Resistance movement carried on by the good people of her world and to the worlds-conquering plans of the Reich, and the ultimate destination on her journey may just be teased this season.
“The supporting cast is just as incredible across the board. The standout addition this season is Jason O’Mara‘s Wyatt Price, a somewhat shady fella who’s so charming it’s impossible not to just go along with whatever scheme he’s currently pulling. You’ll have to watch and see just where his loyalties lie by the season’s end, but the ride is very worth it. DJ Qualls and Brennan Brown continue to delight as the “comic relief” of the piece with the Odd Couple of Ed McCarthy and Robert Childan, a duo who find themselves drawn back into the heart of the Resistance in unexpected ways. Smith’s wife Helen (Chelah Horsdal) gets to play an amazing arc that puts her at odds with members of her own family and, by extension, the upper echelon of Nazi society and the Reich’s top brass. Bella Heathcote‘s well-connected and fabulously fashion-forward Nicole Dörmer gets to play a pivotal part in the Reich’s plan this season, crossing paths with reporter Thelma Harris (Laura Mennell) and ‘Nazi Mad Men’ Minster of Propaganda Billy Turner (Giles Panton), while also honoring the legacy of her fellow Lebensborn, like Blake himself. And of course, Stephen Root and Ann Magnuson are fantastic as Hawthorne and Caroline Abendsen, the mysterious “keepers of the keys” who have the arcane knowledge of the filmstrips showing alternate universes and maybe even the key to travel between worlds themselves. That’s a dangerous secret to have, because while the Resistance may be able to use the movies to win people to their cause, the Nazis are hell-bent on conquering these other worlds by any means necessary.
“While I could wax poetic about the cast all day, I think it’s important to touch on some other relevant things that this season of The Man in the High Castle incorporates. The first is the use of media as a weapon, on both sides of the divide. For the Reich, Dörmer, Turner, and Harris work together to boost the popularity of their regime and inspire a new generation of little Nazis to devote themselves to their führer, even if they have to use the death of a leader’s children to do so. On the other side, a mysterious artist has been creating Resistance propaganda that has caught on with rebels across the country; though the minimalist art is open to interpretation, it’s increasingly held up as a symbol of rebellion, which puts the artist in the cross-hairs once the local governments catch wind of it. (This is a nice additional visual bit of propaganda alongside the Man in the High Castle’s movies themselves.)
“In addition to the use of the “fourth estate” as a storytelling device in this season, The Man in the High Castle also does not shy away from taboos and prejudices that are prevalent in our own world still today. Characters have same-sex relationships, and while some may find true love and solace, others are punished for what is seen as perversion under the conservative governments. Interracial couples, physical deformities or maladies, and even the simple quality of being Jewish are all punishable offenses in this world, with the cost often being the ultimate one. Themes of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder are also explored this season, mostly centering on the Smith family after the loss of their son; John’s nightmares are particularly brutal and unforgettable, as much for the character as they are for the viewer.
“Season 3 also does a solid job of closing off questions from the first two seasons while asking new ones, many of which come about in the season finale. Viewers, be assured that you will get closure as to the fate of Frank Frink (Rupert Evans) and Juliana’s sister Trudy (Conor Leslie), along with some hard details on just who can travel between parallel worlds and how. The expert editing keeps the pace up as the story dashes from place to place, but there are moments where this work really shines, particularly when acting as a way to juxtapose life in the Reich vs life in the Resistance. There’s something for everyone this season, and though it’s a slow-burn drama compared to some shows on TV today, the 10-episode watch is well worth your time.
“Literally my only gripe with this show is how dark it is. I don’t mean thematically, I mean visually. It’s so dang dark that, even with my monitor/TV settings turned up to full brightness, it’s nigh impossible to make out the sets or the characters at times. And when I say “at times” I mean, in a majority of the running time. This is unfortunate, more so since it’s become a weird trend in “prestige” drama TV. I get the use of heavy shadow or dim lighting to set the mood, hide a reveal, or even more practically to hide some unfinished sets or visual effects that aren’t up to snuff, but The Man in the High Castle can’t hide behind any of those excuses. The sets are fantastic, the production value is off the charts, and the cast is both very attractive and super-talented; please let viewers actually see the hard work of the cast and crew so they can enjoy it by more than the few lumens cast by single dim light bulb.”
From TheWrap: “Shonda Rhimes and Matt Reeves will develop a feature film as well as a TV universe for Netflix based on Blake Crouch’s book Recursion, Netflix announced Thursday.
“Recursion, which will be published on June 11, 2019, follows a brilliant female scientist who invents a powerful technology that allows people to reinvent their visceral memories. It gives people the chance to rewrite their entire lives — but of course, with the technology comes certain dangers.
“‘Projects like this are why I came to Netflix,’ said Rhimes in a statement. ‘The opportunity to explore a multi-genre universe in innovative ways is extremely exciting. Matt and Blake both have the tremendous ability to build compelling characters and imaginative landscapes and I am thrilled to work alongside them.’
“Reeves added, ‘Blake’s mind-bending novel presents an incredible opportunity to explore its expansive narrative simultaneously through both film and television. Netflix is uniquely suited for this ambitious undertaking and I can’t imagine a more exciting partner than the astonishingly talented Shonda Rhimes whose work I have admired for years.’
“Crouch is a New York Times bestselling author, having written the book Dark Matter, for which he also wrote the script for Sony. He is best known for his Wayward Pines trilogy, which was also adapted in a 2015 television series of the same name.
“Last year, Rhimes brought her Shondaland production company (founded also by her producing partner Betsy Beers) to Netflix under a multi-year deal. Also earlier this year, it was announced Netflix would get an exclusive first-look at any feature films directed and/or produced by Reeves under his production company, 6th and Idaho.”
“SoulPancake, the production company founded by Rainn Wilson, has struck a content partnership with Tastemade, the digital media brand behind the low-budget cooking show Struggle Meals and the bite-sized food show Tiny Kitchen.
“As part of a multi-project agreement, they will produce original programming for distribution across multiple platforms. The slate of unscripted projects include the matchmaker series Board of Dating; a couples survivalist show Wild Therapy, and a show that transports people to a new life in a new city, called Move Today.
“Two of the shows, Board of Dating and Move Today, will be piloted to the companies’ combined online audience of more than 35 million. Board of Dating premieres today on Facebook Watch and the SoulPancake YouTube channel, and the pilot for Move Today airs on Nov. 1 on the Tastemade Home Facebook Page and the SoulPancake YouTube channel. Additional details on Wild Therapy to be announced at a later date.
“They plan to do a short incubation to build audience for these shows before pitching the networks with the full pilots. SoulPancake will use the data, analytics and audience insights from digital distribution to help pitch the shows for television. It’s had success using this approach in the past, moving its audience between digital and TV, as it did with shows like Kid President, SoulPancake on OWN and My Last Dayson The CW.
“‘We are excited to work with Tastemade on projects we know will resonate with both of our core audiences,’ says Sarah North, SoulPancake’s head of television said in a statement. ‘Our strong track record of moving audiences between our digital and linear TV projects, along with Tastemade’s strength in programming and our combined reach, creates an ideal co-production partnership.’
“Tastemade’s head of programming, Oren Katzeff, said he was looking forward to developing programming with SoulPancake.
“‘Both companies have a deep passion for producing high quality, engaging and entertaining content and we look forward to telling new and memorable stories together,’ Katzeff said.”