Monday November 19, 2018

Netflix has very wisely renewed Big Mouth for a 3rd season.

ABC has renewed Agents of SHIELD for a 7th season.

I finished Bodyguard on Netflix and could not more highly recommend it.

Season 2 of Showtime’s SMILF will premiere on January 20.

House of Cards, in the sixth and final season of Netflix’s political thriller, is off to a slower start than its penultimate run last year. Netflix released all eight episodes of season 6 on Nov. 2, starring Robin Wright as President Claire Underwood, who navigates new political machinations and scandals — as well as demons from her past. Notably, the last season of House of Cards is missing previous star Kevin Spacey after the disgraced actor was dismissed from the show. In the first seven days of its availability, the season 6 premiere episode received an average minute audience of 2.9 million U.S. viewers compared with 4.4 million for season 5’s first episode over the same time period (May 30-June 5 2017), according to Nielsen’s SVOD Content Ratings measurement service. For all eight episodes of HOC 6 in the first week of release, the average minute audience was 1.5 million U.S. viewers, a drop from 1.9 million for season 5’s 13 episodes.” I get it. I’m struggling to get through the final season myself.

Really Bill Maher?

A strange shrine to Danny DeVito.

Supergirl has cast Jon Cryer to play Lex Luthor.

“True Blood creator Alan Ball revisited his supernatural series 10 years after its debut with a special screening of the pilot episode, during which he revealed when now-husband and wife Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin first got together; Benedict Cumberbatch, Jennifer Lawrence and other A-listers who read for the series (but ultimately weren't cast); and more secrets from the series.”

Don’t fret, Joe and Kendall are still a couple.

Diddy has broken his silence following the passing of Kim Porter.

Disney's entertainment suites are being reshuffled. ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey is exiting her role at the Disney-owned broadcast network. In her place, Freeform head of originals Karey Burke has been promoted and will now serve as ABC Entertainment president. Dungey will stay on through a transition period as Burke takes over the position. In her new role, Burke will be charged with overseeing development, programming, casting, marketing, business affairs and scheduling for all ABC primetime and late-night programming. After the $72 billion Disney-Fox deal is completed, as is expected early next year, Burke will report to incoming Disney TV Studios chairman Dana Walden. Burke's replacement at Freeform will be announced at a later date.”

Where did Maggie go? The popular theory wins the day: she went off to work with Georgie (Jayne Atkinson), the community builder who has long been trying to recruit Maggie into her fold. Her exact whereabouts are unknown, except for the fact that Maggie is ‘some place far,’ helping with the construction of a new community. Early in the episode, Jesus reveals the following status update on Maggie: ‘She's good. Happy.’"

“A group of hopeless nerd-dorks get together on a regular basis to discuss life, love, liquor, and debate all manner of geeky stuff. The series recently found its way to Seed&Spark, where you can view all 11 short episodes of this amusing comedy series.”

Jordin Sparks is hosting her first holiday special, in partnership with digital media and entertainment company Kin, that will air on Food Network Canada Dec.1. In “How to Holiday With Jordin Sparks, the Season Six American Idol winner will be joined by some of Canada’s biggest digital lifestyle creators from Kin’s influencer community, including Yolanda Gampp of How to Cake It, Sara Lynn Cauchon of The Domestic Geek, Cheryl Torrenueva of Simply Cher Cher, Matt Basile of Fidel Gastro, and Lauren Toyota of Hot for Food. The guests have a collective global following of more than 10 million fans and will produce, film and edit their own segments, executive produced and developed by Kin. The special will also include a multi-platform integration with Kellogg’s Rice Krispies. Developed by Corus Tempo for Food Network Canada and Kin, Gampp will kick things off with a toy castle made entirely of Rice Krispies. Further, for every Canadian viewer who creates their own toy-shaped Rice Krispies treat and posts it to or on social media using the #TreatsForToys hashtag, Kellogg will donate $20 to the Salvation Army to buy a real toy for a child in need, up to a maximum of $30,000.” Hard hard pass.

This year’s White House Correspondents' Association will not be emceed by a comic as has been the case for years. Instead, historian Ron Chernow will be the featured speaker. Sounds like a real hootenanny.


From Variety: “In the offices of MSNBC, Rachel Maddow is known for the meticulous preparation she puts into the network’s signature primetime program, The Rachel Maddow Show. Somehow, she has found time to take on two other projects that don’t have much to do with her daily showcase.

“At the end of October, Maddow and MSNBC launched Bag Man, the host’s first podcast series. The seven-episode serial tackles the story of former Vice President Spiro Agnew, who stepped down from the post after pleading no contest to tax evasion, and has topped recent podcast charts on iTunes. This Sunday at 9 p.m., Maddow will launch a documentary special, Betrayal, that looks at the darker side of the 1968 election and how then-candidate Richard Nixon seemed willing to collude with a foreign government to win it.

“Grappling with the extra work can be difficult, but Maddow felt each project had value  – and might even resonate within the current news cycle. ‘My show affords me a lot of freedom to do long segments and to unspool a lot of historical context if I feel that’s what’s needed to explain the day’s news.  Both these stories needed a few months of dedicated production time, though, and I wanted to be free to let them stand on their own as historical exposition, without having to overtly tie it into the existing news cycle,’ Maddow says via an email exchange. ‘I mean, with both stories — the parallels to controversies in today’s politics are as clear as the nose on your face, but I think viewers and listeners can make those connections on their own.’

“Even with the all-consuming duties of her weekday program, there’s reason to pursue extras.’The news cycle for the last two and a half years has been all consuming,’ says Cory Gnazzo, executive producer of The Rachel Maddow Show in an interview. He has worked with the host for more than a decade. The new projects ‘represent a way to give us an outlet to do something a little bit different and not feel like we have to take up real estate in the show to do it.’

“The appeal of both projects, says Maddow, came from discovering new details and having assumptions challenged. ‘Compared to Nixon, I had assumed that Agnew was somewhat of a lesser figure in terms of personality, charisma, devotional following, ideological punch — that couldn’t have been more wrong,’ she says. ‘All those mistaken assumptions made me interested to learn the real story; and the more I learned the real story, the more amazed I was that the Agnew saga doesn’t loom larger in our popular understanding of White House scandals. Especially now, in the Trump era. If you’re looking for a modern political thriller about a hard confrontation between law enforcement and politicians at the pinnacle of government, this one is hard-boiled and ready to go. The podcast is seven episodes — but honestly the details and Agnew-adjacent history is so interesting, we could have done about thirty more. If there’s ever a job-opening for a full time storyteller about the life and legacy of Spiro T. Agnew, I might apply.’

“Maddow’s team has teamed up with others to get the work done. Bag Man is supervised by Mike Yarvitz, a former producer on her program who came to her with the concept and secured her involvement.

“Maddow hails from radio – indeed, one of her earliest jobs was working at a local Massachusetts station, and her TV program follows some of the cadences of a radio format – but a podcast is not the same thing. ‘This is a new thing for her,’ says Gnazzo, though her MSNBC program is itself available in podcast form. ‘These podcasts go through so many iterations, so many edits. Things look good on paper and read very well, and you hear it and it doesn’t quite work. She has been very involved in that – rejiggering things, moving things around, cutting this, telling the story in a different way. It sounds different when you are hearing it with your own ears.’

“This weekend’s documentary also taps outside help. ‘The staff of our show is involved in them, but it’s not just the staff of our show,’ says Gnazzo. ‘There’s no way we could do it all.’ Peter Schnall is executive producer.

“But the color and detail in the extra work can be  hard to ignore. ‘I had always known the vague concerns and accusations about the Vietnam war being strung out for domestic political advantage, but when I saw and heard the smoking-gun evidence that we’ve now got access to, I almost couldn’t believe it. I mean, there’s literally something called an X File here.  There’s a president on tape anguishing over what to do about the fact that he believes his presidential successor has just committed treason,’ Maddow says. ‘It’s wild.’

“The anchor has taken on outside projects in the past. There was a two-hour documentary in 2010 that sifted through 45 hours of interview audiotapes of domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh during his stay in prison. And there was a 2017 special report that investigated the background of Christopher Steele, whose memos signaled that Russia exerted undue influence on the 2016 elections in the U.S.

“Maddow and her producers have long demonstrated interest in stories they feel have not been covered as much as they should, and that guideline extends to whether host and staff feel they should take on something extra, Gnazzo suggested. ‘We’d love to do other projects, but what we have to come up with are great ideas,’ he said. ‘We are not going to do it just to do it.’

“The love of a good story can prod a journalist to ignore the demands of telling it. ‘I have loved working on both these projects.  But no, I have no time to do them at all,’ says Maddow. ‘I am a husk of my former self. I’m planning to sleep for all of 2019. Or maybe 2020. As soon as I’m caught up with everything, I’ll sleep!’”


Per Yahoo!, “[t]he battle regarding the quality of Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) original programs is ongoing between bulls, who claim the company has a long list of award-winning fare among its programs (it does) -- and bears, who claim that while Netflix admittedly has some gems, the streamer also has a much longer list of what can only be described as drivel (also true). Both views have their merits, but as a longtime Netflix customer and shareholder, I tend to agree more with the former than the later.

“Fortunately, the folks over at industry specialist Streaming Observer have compiled some figures in a pair of reports to help separate the facts from the opinions. If you want a black-and-white answer to the quality question, however, you'll likely be disappointed. The answer is somewhat nuanced -- and complicated.

“In a report released this month, Streaming Observer compared Netflix offerings with the top 250 television shows as rated by users of IMDb -- the Internet Movie Database -- which was acquired by in 1998. 

“It's important to note that Netflix still offers plenty of licensed content on its streaming service, and that comes into play here. Of the top 250 programs as rated by IMDb, 28% or 69 of those programs can be seen on Netflix. This includes such time-honored favorites as Planet EarthBreaking Bad, and The Twilight Zone. Paring that list down even further, viewers can find 18 Netflix original series among the top 250. Some of the company's biggest hits make the list, including Black MirrorStranger Things, and The Haunting of Hill House.

Streaming Observer noted that this ‘is an impressive accomplishment for a platform that has only been producing original content for about 5 years.’ While it seems like a fairly solid showing, it doesn't tell the whole story.

“Another measure of quality is ratings on aggregation sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. In a separate report, Streaming Observer compiled data from both sites to determine which streaming services and pay TV networks were getting the most bang for their buck in terms of quality.

“There are only five points separating the first seven spots on the list, so it isn't as if Netflix had a horrible showing. This data merely indicates that by this gauge of audience interest, it scores slightly lower than some competitors. Streaming Observer also pointed out that Netflix's score of 70 had slipped slightly from the 73.6 it got in last year's survey.

“Since these two reports come to slightly different conclusions, I reached out to Streaming Observer and asked if it could comment on the seeming disparity of the findings.

"‘Netflix has definitely had some hits. Stranger ThingsHouse of CardsOzarkDaredevil...the list goes on,’ said Chris Brantner, Streaming Observer's founder. ‘That being said, it's worth noting that the company now has around 700 original series. So having 18 in the top 250 doesn't necessarily mean the company has a good batting average. It could be argued that there's a lot more quality than quantity.’

“Netflix is likely aware that there's room for improvement. In recent months the company has gone on something of a cancellation spree. Orange Is the New Black and House of Cards have been among the platform's signature shows, but Netflix has announced that each program will be retiring after its next season. While a number of Marvel series remain, like Daredevil and Jessica Jones, Netflix gave the ax to Iron Fist and Luke Cage, effectively putting an end to The Defenders as well.

“These cancellations free up Netflix to focus on higher-quality fare like the Alfonso Cuaron-helmed RomaThe Ballad of Buster Scruggs, directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, and Martin Scorsese's long-awaited mobster drama The Irishman. Each of these productions is expected to make its way around the awards-show circuit, a hint that Netflix is seeking to up its game in terms of quality.

“Netflix recently topped 137 million streaming subscribers across the globe, with more joining every month. Ultimately, its goal is to have something for everyone, so not every show needs to be a smash hit. One advantage to producing so many shows, however, is that it gets more than its fair share of winners, enough to continue attracting viewers willing to fork over $8 per month. Netflix made history earlier this year when it beat out HBO for the largest number of Emmy nominations, breaking a 17-year streak. It then tied HBO for total Emmy awards at 23 for the year, marking the first time a streaming service had topped the list.

“Having more award-winning original content would surely help Netflix attract additional subscribers, but it will also help improve its batting average and reputation for quality.”


Per Deadline, “Netflix has ordered new docuseries The Innocent Man, based on John Grisham’s best-selling book about two Oklahoma murders, for a December 14 premiere on the internet TV network.

“Innocent Man is a story that gained national attention thanks to Grisham’s best-selling non-fiction book, The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town. The Netflix six-part documentary series based on it focuses on two murders that shook the small town of Ada, Oklahoma, in the 1980s — and the controversial chain of events that followed.

“Directed by Clay Tweel (Finders Keepers, Gleason, Out of Omaha), The Innocent Man features interviews with victims’ friends and families, Ada residents, attorneys, journalists, and others involved in the cases. (Grisham appears, as does attorney Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project).

“Developed as a documentary series by Tweel and Ross Dinerstein, it blends new footage with archival video and photos. The series is produced by Maura Anderson and Shannon Riggs. Executive producers are John Grisham, David Gernert, Tweel and Dinerstein.

“‘As a filmmaker, I often find that the best stories are the ones we tell ourselves,’ Tweel said. ‘But what surprised me was the extent to which that idea also permeates the criminal justice system. By re-examining these old cases, I hope that viewers will identify the biases involved, even their own.’

“Grisham called the documentary ‘gripping, compelling, and ultimately just as heartbreaking as the book. Though I know the story well, I can’t wait to watch it again.’”


Per The Hollywood Reporter, “Fox continues to ramp up its animation slate.

“With two new series already lined up for the 2019-20 broadcast season, the network has handed out a script order for a potential third. The network has handed out a script order for Buffalo Wings, a half-hour animated comedy from the creators behind TV Land-turned-Paramount Network's Nobodies.

“Buffalo Wings revolves around two Canadian brothers who do not follow the rest of their flock when they fly south. When their hypothesis is wrong and they almost freeze to death, they must take refuge in Buffalo, N.Y., where they begin to live life as immigrant refugees. This series explores what it is to be a refugee and to fall in love with this country while pursuing the ‘American Dream’ from every possible angle.

“Nobodies trio Hugh Davidson, Rachel Ramras and Larry Dorf will pen the script and exec produce the comedy, which hails from 20th Century Fox Television.

Buffalo Wings arrives five months after Paramount Network canceled Nobodies — which was inspired by the lives of writers-stars Davidson, Dorf and Ramras — after two seasons. (The comedy originated on TV Land but moved to Paramount Network for its second season.)

“For Fox, Buffalo Wings arrives as the network has picked up two new animated comedies to series for the 2019-20 broadcast season: Emily Spivey-created Bless the Harts and Amy Poehler-produced DuncanvilleThose will join a roster of Fox animation hits including Bob's Burgers, The Simpsons and Family Guy on the network's schedule next season (provided new deals for all three series can be worked out once the network and studio split is finalized as part of the Disney pact).

“The script deal arrives as adult animated comedies remain in high demand. Produced for a fraction of the price of a live-action drama, in success, an animated comedy can become a multi-billion-dollar franchise (a la The Simpsons, Family Guy) and recent hits Bob's Burgers and Rick and Morty, among others.”

As a fan of Nobodies, I hope this gets a series order.


From Vulture: “Former co-stars and dear friends Adam Pally and Casey Wilson were upfront about their Vulture Fest LA event being a casual kickback sort of thing, going so far as to title the show Adam Pally and Casey Wilson: An Excuse to Hang Out: An Evening of Music, Comedy, and Friendship. Were this freewheeling, baptism-by-fire approach to entertaining not immediately clear from the moment Pally brought out a large bottle of tequila for the audience to enjoy, the crowd likely caught on by the time Wilson pulled out a prescription bottle to take a mood stabilizer in front of the audience.

“The already comically slapdash show only went further off the rails when the two brought out guests Chelsea Devantez and Yassir Lester, both former co-stars and friends of the hosts. Taking advantage of the projector-connected laptop on stage, Lester pulled up an already infamous clip from the 2018 Shorty Awards in which Pally spent ten minutes insulting the awards from the presenter’s podium. Despite Pally’s protests, the video was played in its near entirety, with occasional pauses so that he might add color commentary and additional details.

“Pally revealed that singer Betty Who, who dragged him away from the mic mid-rant, was not actually sent by Shortys Awards producers, but rather a drunk observer who took it upon herself to intervene. (If you’re wondering why Betty Who was at the Shorty Awards, she was presenting the In Memoriam segment.) Pally remarked that as they got offstage, security guards quickly pulled Who away and he was suddenly surrounded by the Queer Eye guys, who briefly made him feel like a hero before a second security detail showed up to escort Pally and his wife out of the building. Talk about a happy ending.”