A few things whilst we were away:
Ashley (The Challenge) is a savage.
That was arguably one of the craziest Tribal Council’s I’ve ever seen. An idol nullifier was correctly played.
If you are not watching Escape from Dannemora on HBO, you should. You must.
Same goes for Patriot Act on Netflix. The most recent episode on Supreme was great.
ABC has canceled Take Two.
Netflix has renewed Ugly Delicious for a 2nd season.
I did not like the premiere of Dirty John. More on it below, but perhaps I’m jaded because I listened to the podcast?
The Ringer asks if Dirty John can live up to Homecoming (both podcast adaptations). I’m saying there is no chance. These adaptations are “a sign of what’s to come, with a long list of imminent follow-ups that promise to turn this blip into a steady stream: Wondery also produced Dr. Death, which is currently in development at Universal Cable Productions, the studio that oversaw Homecoming and is working on adaptations of Alice Isn’t Dead, a haunting paranormal mystery, and Bronzeville, a realist social drama set in 1940s Chicago. FX has optioned the rights to Welcome to Night Vale, the popular mock-news show from a deeply strange desert community; Jessica Biel will star in Limetown for Facebook Watch. These are glossy, big-budget, often faithful works of storytelling, the result of a symbiotic relationship that feels like it’s just getting started.”
“Whoopi Goldberg is set to adapt Romanian gameshow Win Your Country! in the U.S. after optioning the format from Small World IFT. Goldberg’s One Hoe Productions has teamed with Red Arrow-backed Wahlburgers producer 44 Blue Productions to develop a U.S. remake of the show with Ellen’s Game of Games co-exec producer Noah Bonnett lined up as showrunner. The series is a studio-based game show where contestants win big if they can prove they really know their country. Originally produced by Romania’s Zucchero Media for TVR2, the show sees players compete over three rounds, battling it out state by state, region by region, or city by city. Each contestant starts with a chosen territory and must ‘conquer’ neighboring regions by answering a series of questions about that specific territory. Only then will they be able to make it to the next level where a cat-and-mouse game ensues and the remaining opponents try to reach each other’s territory first, leaving just one to battle for the prize money in the final round.”
Per Variety, “WarnerMedia and AT&T had hoped that Friday’s live pay per view event featuring golf rivals Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson would be a showcase of the enlarged company’s multiplatform programming capabilities.
“Instead, the event may prove to be a PR and business debacle. A technical snafu in the streaming function via Turner’s Bleacher Report sports website forced the company to drop the paywall and offer a free live stream to ensure that those who paid $20 for the event would be able to see it at the start time of 3:10 p.m. ET.
“‘We experienced some technical issues on (Bleacher Report) Live that temporarily impacted user access to The Match,’ Turner said in a statement. ‘We’ve taken a number of steps to resolve the matter, with our main priority being the delivery of content to those that have purchased the PPV event.’
“Fans who paid for the event are undoubtedly none too happy to learn that it wound up being available for free. Mickelson ultimately prevailed in what Golf Week called ‘a 22-hole thriller.’ Comcast upped the pressure on Turner to issue refunds by vowing to give a $19.99 credit to all those that have purchased the PPV event.
“‘Comcast will proactively issue a $19.99 credit to any Xfinity TV customer who purchased The Match pay-per-view event,’ the cable giant said. ‘We hope Turner and Bleacher Report will do the same given that the event was made available by them for free on The Bleacher Report website.’
“The Match was billed as golf’s first PPV event, with Woods and Mickelson playing 18 holes for a winner-takes-all $9 million purse. The two planned to make a number of side bets to raise the stakes and donate those additional dollars to charity.
“The event was sold as a streaming offering via Bleacher Report and as a traditional PPV telecast offered via AT&T’s DirecTV and other MVPDs including Comcast, Charter, Cox and Altice. There were no problems with the PPV delivery of the event by the linear distributors. Turner hoped to use the made-for-TV event to promote Bleacher Report Live as a source of live streaming sports programming.
“It’s understood that Turner executives realized that a technical problem at the point-of-purchase stage on the Bleacher Report platform threatened to make the live stream unavailable for those who bought the event directly through the Turner site. That led to the decision to take down the paywall, lest the paying customers become irate at missing the start of the event.
“It’s unclear whether Turner will be forced to issue some form of compensation to those who paid for The Match, held at MGM Resorts International’s Shadow Creek course.
“A Turner rep declined to comment beyond the statement. Sales figures for The Match won’t be available until next week.
“Turner is hardly the first traditional media player to experience growing pains in expanding its distribution infrastructure to include streaming, particularly for events that attract large crowds. CBS has in the past suffered with glitches in offering the Grammy Awards live via its CBS All Access platform. HBO had trouble with the HBO Go service last year on the night of the Game of Thrones season premiere.”
From Vulture: “Alexandra Cunningham had never written for TV when the late Steven Bochco tapped her to write an NYPD Blue script back in 2001. Things went well for the Juilliard School playwriting fellow, even though the first draft she turned in was 85 pages long. ‘He called me and said he had to talk to me because this is unshootable,’ Cunningham recalled with a laugh. ‘I was like, Really? I had no idea. At the time, there really weren’t very many playwrights working in television. Steven was at the forefront of that.’
“Seventeen years later, Cunningham is the creator and showrunner of Bravo’sDirty John, based on the L.A. Times true crime series and hit podcast that registered over 10 million downloads in its first 10 weeks. Dirty John is the story of self-made millionaire and entrepreneur Debra Newell, who meets John Meehan on a dating app and embarks on a whirlwind romance with him, not realizing he is diabolically conning her every step of the way and has a sordid past. The series, which premieres Sunday, stars Connie Britton as Debra, Eric Bana as John, Juno Temple and Julia Garner as Debra’s daughters Veronica and Terra, and Jean Smart as Debra’s mother, Arlane.
“Cunningham spoke with Vulture about adapting the podcast for TV, the unused material L.A. Times journalist Chris Goffard provided from his investigation, why Debra Newell’s horrific experience is relevant to all women, and what she wants to do for the second season of the anthology series:
You read the L.A. Times series before you listened to the podcast. Tell me how you got involved with making it into a TV show.
I discovered it through procrastination, just like so many wonderful things are discovered when you’re supposed to be doing something else. The great thing about coming to the podcast through the [L.A. Times] articles was that the articles had embedded photos and videos. So when I listened to the podcast, I already knew what everyone looked like, and so my mind just went wild building this world while I was listening and populating it with the people that I’d seen. When I saw the first picture of Debra, I was like, Whoever does this should cast Connie Britton because you got to have amazing hair to play somebody in Orange County.
Around this time last year, I was going to take a vacation and then my agents — who also represent the L.A. Times — called and said, “Have you ever heard of Dirty John? Would you be interested in making it into a TV show? We’re asking you first.” I have no idea how I got that lucky, but I was like, “Yes, do not speak to anyone else. I’m diving on this with both feet.”
What made you think this story could be a good TV show?
Besides the spine of it — the innocent victim and the manipulating, machinating con man — and the true-crime element, I’m a woman of a certain age. I’m not going to say what that age is. But I’m a woman in society today and I’m a mother. And I always turned over concepts in my mind about why women don’t listen to their intuition. Years and years ago, I read The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker, and basically his mission statement in that book was that you’re an animal, so why don’t you listen to your body and your psyche when it’s telling you that you’re in danger? When it comes to women, his thesis was: You don’t do it because society tells you that if you do, people will think you’re a bitch. Would you rather have that or would you rather be dead in an empty elevator? And that struck me so hard.
Debra is a truly kind and innocent person, the kind you definitely don’t run into in Hollywood—somebody who really takes people and what they say and do at face value. She truly sees the best in people and this man weaponized that against her. I also think that her upbringing taught her a certain way of being with a man and what is important in those relationships. I think all of those things went into making her someone that John Meehan was very excited to meet. So all of that — and The Gift of Fear, and wondering why [de Becker] is still right all these years later, and also just being fascinated by all the specifics of Debra’s situation that resonated both generally and specially with my own psyche as a woman and a mom today in the world — I just felt like there were a lot of great opportunities to tell a fun, twisted fairytale story.
The story really addresses a lot of important societal issues: the #MeToo movement, online dating, the corruptive quality of social media.
Whoever embedded photos of the matching selfies of John Meehan and Debra Newell in the original L.A. Times articles was genius. You have John showing his abs with the phone covering his face and then you can see behind him that the living room is full of garbage because that was just the kind of person he was. And then Debra just looking so beautiful and hopeful. These are people over a certain age. At least one of them is playing a game she doesn’t understand. And that’s relevant too. We’re all fascinated with how fast technology is moving, but we’re all playing a game we don’t understand unless we work in data retrieval or technology advancement. We’re all just babes in the woods.
Debra’s been married four times when she meets John and she’s still so hopeful about love. That’s the thing about her.
Elizabeth Taylor said that she felt like every man she fell in love with she had to marry because that’s what you do. It’s the Prince Charming and the white horse of it all. And I do think that that’s how Debra viewed it also. I wish I could have stopped her from that because I don’t think it’s a thing that she’s happy to look back on. But that’s what she did.
Debra Newell has four children. Why aren’t they all reflected in the TV show?
She has an older daughter and an older son. While they obviously were involved in this experience, they did not want to participate in talking to Chris [Goffard] about it for the original story. Our non-writing executive producer, Richard Suckle, was in constant contact with the family, and that includes the older children as well.
Honestly, the only reason we made a composite of the two of them is because I felt that it was very important that Debra have grandchildren. In her dating life prior to John, she was made to feel embarrassed. If you have grandchildren, that means you’re above a certain age. It was just another thing to be judged about, as a woman out there trying to find romance. And John, as far as she knew, found that to be a feature, not a bug. He just thought she was a wonderful mother and grandmother, and what adorable grandchildren, and Yes, let’s have them over, and I’m gonna play Santa Claus. It was just another strand to the web, honestly. So I didn’t want to not have her be a grandmother, but I definitely wanted to make sure that I respected the older children’s wish to not be in the show.
Why did you think of Eric Bana to play John?
The first time I ever saw Eric was in the movie Chopper, which I think was maybe the first time anybody outside of Australia knew who he was. That was based on a true story, too — there’s a famous Australian criminal named Mark “Chopper” Reed. And you know, he’s a raconteur. He cracks jokes and he’s killed people and he’s very scary. And Eric just exploded in that part. It was like, Who is this guy? He’s funny and he’s scary and he’s chilling.
As soon as we had Connie and we had Jeff Reiner, our amazing director, we started having that John conversation. I was like, I don’t know if this is gonna sound crazy or not, but … Eric Bana. Luckily, we met with him and he had listened to the podcast, and he was ready to go. And it, honestly, has been one of the joys of my life. He’s perfect. When I pitched Eric on joining the series, I said, “I don’t ever want to try to explain why John is the way he is.” And Eric said, “I don’t need to explain it.” He does such an incredible job that I don’t think anybody’s even gonna be asking themselves that question because we know you can’t. It’s what the Orange County deputy district attorney who opens the podcast says: “Some people’s brains just have green worms.” That might be what we’re dealing with. Green worm brain.
Chris Goffard had 500 pages of material that didn’t make it into the series or podcast. Was that overwhelming to go through?
I’m just fascinated by true crime. If somebody dumps a folder in front of me that’s full of police reports and restraining orders, I’m going to read all of this. And then I’m gonna read it again. There’s just something about feeling like you’re diving into the middle of the details of experiences where the stakes are that high. I guess part of it is curiosity. So I just relished the opportunity. It was like 100 extra podcast episodes. Give it all to me!
Did you end up using a lot of it?
I did, actually. One of the things that the podcast obviously couldn’t do is be in John’s point of view. There a lot of questions that I can answer about what John was doing while none of the characters of our story have eyes on him.And so, in that sense, I was very excited to get my hands on all the extra material to answer a lot of questions for myself.
Will there be an episode told from John’s point of view?
Yes. We are not in his point of view at all until, suddenly, we’re completely in his point of view. I was very doctrinaire and fascist in the writers’ room about point of view because, for better or worse, the season was wrapped around the person who is telling [each] part of the story. In episode three, Tonia is telling that story. That’s the story as it happened to Tonia. It’s not John’s experience with Tonia. It’s her looking at him as she realizes that he is not who she thought he was at all.
And we have an episode that’s the point of view of John’s sisters. He has two sisters in real life that we put together into one sister just for simplification. But this is happening to her. This is her brother who she loves, who she grew up with, who she has hopes for, who she keeps trying to help, and then the wool falls from her eyes as well. And so, it was inherent to me to not leven those experiences with anyone else’s point of view, especially John’s. Until it’s his turn, he doesn’t get a turn. But then when he gets a turn, it’s a really big turn. And from that point on, all bets are off. It’s from everyone’s point of view.
Let’s talk about Julia Garner and Juno Temple, because they’re both spectacular in their roles as Debra’s daughters.
Let’s talk about them for the rest of the day.
Julia’s done such great work on a few shows recently, and she transforms herself here.
I had no idea that she was gonna do that voice until the very first time we rolled on her. Julia isn’t imitating Terra, but she’s giving you that flavor while making it her own. The first day she opened her mouth, I think it might have been the scene where Terra and Jimmy show up on Thanksgiving and find John lugging the mattress, and I just thought she was incredible. The voice just put the cherry on the sundae.
And Juno is a badass as Veronica.
Juno is baby Judi Dench to me. The only limit on what Juno can do is what Juno wants to do, frankly. She made me laugh every single time she shot a scene. And that, secretly, was in my top three things about writing the show: writing Veronica’s voice knowing what Juno would do. Jacquelyn [Newell] in real life, who I completely admire, and Veronica in the show, is the person that says the thing. I don’t say the thing except in an empty room when I get home. She believes in total honesty, which I just think is amazing. She’s just a no-bullshit person.
She totally had me with, “Are you delivering a package?”
I know! I tried to imagine what that character would think when she saw that outfit for a date to impress her mother. It was like, How many cracks can I come up with for Juno? That one definitely made me laugh.
Have you chosen the story for season two yet?
We started having conversations about it at a time that really felt too early, and we haven’t talked about it since then. But I am very interested in the second season featuring a woman in the John Meehan role, for want of a better way to put it. I like getting into the psychology of a woman.
One of the things I’m playing with is, in the Dirty John live podcast episode, the moderator asked whether the Internet made it easier for trolling for victims, which is the understatement of the century. And the detective said, “Yeah, you get to meet hundreds of people at the same time and they have no idea that any of the others exists. It’s not like meeting one person at a time in the Penny Saver.” And the deputy district attorney Matt Murphy went, “Excuse me, I just tried a murder case where the woman met the man in the Penny Saver and murdered him. Sometimes you get married, sometimes you get murdered.” Which was just such an amazing thing! I was talking to him at our premiere event last night and I told him, “I’m interested in talking about Nanette Johnson. She hired her ex-NFL player boyfriend to kill her wealthy, blood centrifuge inventor boyfriend.” That kind of mindset is a completely different kind of manipulation coming from a woman of men. I don’t necessarily need the second season to mirror the first season, but I find that psychology interesting. I know I want it to be a woman.”
Per Yahoo!, “Hulu is now worth $9.26 billion — the value the Walt Disney Co. assigned the streaming service in a recent regulatory filing.
“Disney laid out the valuation of Hulu as part of an SEC filing today, in which it provides a trove of details about its planned merger with 21st Century Fox in a deal valued at $71.3 billion. (Today’s financial data dump is artfully timed to fall after the market closes and on the eve of national holiday, in a PR strategy to discourage close inspection.)
“The Burbank entertainment giant will gain a controlling 60% interest in the streaming service once the transaction closes next year.
“Disney goes through some complex calculations about how it arrived at its Hulu valuation, which is higher than the $9 billion at which it was pegged in April but lower than some analysts had guessed.
“The service has appreciated in value since Time Warner bought a 10% stake in Hulu for $583 million in 2016; at that point, its value was pegged at less than $6 billion. The other venture partners, Comcast and Fox, each own 30% interest in the company.
“Disney says its current 30% stake in Hulu is worth $2.425 billion.
“Once the Fox acquisition is completed, the Disney says its interest in the streaming service would rise to $6.1 billion — a sum that includes a $1.25 billion bump for gaining control, according to the filing.
“Hulu, which is available in the U.S. and Japan, has attracted 20 million subscribers. It’s dwarfed by Netflix, with its $114.3 billion market valuation and 137 million global subscribers.”
Per Variety, “Daytime talk show veteran Jerry Springer is moving into a new arena next year as the star of Judge Jerry, a syndicated court show to be distributed by NBCUniversal Television Distribution.
“Word of the plan to launch Judge Jerry in fall 2019 comes nearly six months after production stopped on Jerry Springer Show in June. Springer, the former mayor of Cincinnati, hosted the talk show for 27 years.
“The new hourlong strip is expected to be picked up by many of the same stations that carry the talk show, also from NBCUniversal. Judge Jerry has been sold to stations covering 75% of U.S. TV households.
”’Judge Jerry will merge Jerry’s talent for connecting with people, his incredibly relatable and funny personality and his legal training and governing experience to bring viewers a more entertaining court show,’ said Tracie Wilson, exec VP of creative affairs for NBCUniversal Television Distribution. ‘We are so happy to continue our fantastic partnership with Jerry, who is a proven TV icon with a dedicated and broad fan base.’
“Judge Jerry is described as a traditional court show with Springer presiding over legal disputes. NBCUniversal promises Springer will ‘render a verdict with a fair yet firm hand and always leave litigants with a dose of classic Springer wisdom.’
“The new series is an effort to NBCUniversal to capitalize on Springer’s popularity in a new format that may not be as much of a turn-off to major advertisers. Jerry Springer Show at its peak in the late 1990s earned a reputation for raunchy, sexually charged topics and frequent violent outbursts from guests. The show has toned down the volume of hair-pulling and chair-throwing in recent years but the sleazy stigma has persisted.
“‘For the first time in my life, I am going to be called honorable,’ Springer said. ‘My career is coming full circle and I finally get to put my law degree to use after all these years.’
“Jerry Springer Show in 1999 briefly de-throned The Oprah Winfrey Show as daytime TV’s top-rated talk show. After being elected mayor of Cincinnati at the age of 33, Springer began his TV career in 1991 as a talk show host for Cincinnati’s WLWT-TV. The show was picked up for national distribution the following year. NBCUniversal acquired Jerry Springer Show, the Maury talker hosted by Maury Povich and other syndie series in 1998 when it bought Multimedia Entertainment.
“Springer started out as a topical talker in the Phil Donahue mold, but he turned to racier material to stand out from the pack. The show’s viewership has dropped off significantly in recent years, averaging about 1.7 million viewers in its 2017-18 final season of original production. But reruns of Jerry Springer Show are still airing this season in syndication and on the CW’s daytime lineup. With 4,000 episodes in the can, NBCUniversal has enough material to keep the show going even without fresh installments while leveraging Springer’s popularity with a new format.
“Judge Jerry will be taped before a live audience at NBCUniversal’s Stamford Media Center facility in Stamford, Conn. There’s no word on producers for the show.”