“Kathie Lee Gifford, who has co-anchored TODAY’s fourth hour with Hoda Kotb for the past decade, is retiring from the program, she announced Tuesday. ‘It's an exciting time for me and I'm thrilled about all the projects that are coming up, but it's also hard,’ she said, breaking the ‘bittersweet’ news. ‘I've been in this business for 120 years and never worked with a more beautiful group of people who just give, give, give every day.’"
“Award-winning fashion designer John Varvatos and music legend Iggy Pop are teaming to bring a bit of rebellion to TV. The pair will serve as executive producers of Punk, a four-part docuseries that has been greenlit by Epix. Varvatos will partner with filmmaker Derik Murray’s Network Entertainment to produce the quintessential story of punk which is currently in production and is set to premiere on Epix on March 11, 2019. Murray will also produce the docuseries which will be directed by Jesse James Miller. The docuseries will feature original, exclusive interviews with America’s punk pioneers and the UK’s most notorious bands. In addition to being EP, Iggy Pop will lend his voice to the Punk narrative alongside Johnny Rotten (Sex Pistols/Public Image Ltd./PiL), Marky Ramone (Ramones), Debbie Harry and Chris Stein (Blondie), Duff McKagan (Guns N’ Roses), Wayne Kramer (MC5), Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys/Alternative Tentacles), Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Dave Grohl (Nirvana/Foo Fighters), as well as industry legends Danny Fields (Elektra Records), Legs McNeil (Please Kill Me/Punk Magazine), filmmaker Penelope Spheeris (The Decline of Western Civilization, Wayne’s World) and others.”
“Congrats to the inaugural winner of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s new Carol Burnett Award, who also happens to be Carol Burnett. After announcing plans for a special new award to honor achievement in television before releasing the 2019 Golden Globes nominations last week, the association has revealed the details of how the new award works. The first Carol Burnett Award will be given to its namesake, the legendary comedian and star of the Carol Burnett Show, Carol Burnett, at the Globes ceremony on January 6. It’s something of a counterpart to the Cecil B. DeMille Award, which is typically given for achievement in film. Future Carol Burnett Award recipients who are not Burnett herself ‘will be chosen based on their body of work and the lasting impact that their television career achievements have had on both the industry and audiences.’”
This made me laugh and will make zero sense to you unless you watched last night’s episode of Vanderpump Rules: “Before we get into what happens this week on the world’s least funny workplace comedy, I really need to tip my hat to the invisible forces behind this episode of Vanderpump Rules, because they really went out of their way to make this episode entertaining. First there’s the flashback of Stassi putting together Jax’s engagement party, presented like the end of a heist movie, where we get to see exactly how she put together such a crazy plan. Balloons, Lisa Vanderpump, and Hooters by Postmates — how did she ever do that and still escape getting caught by the police? Finally all is revealed. Then there’s the editor superimposing Jax’s face over James’s while he’s doing his devilish impersonation of Jax. And finally, the pièce de résistance: When Scheana No Tea No Shay suggests that the SUR staff, dressed up in electric neon ’80s fashion for their annual Gay Pride blowout, look like a retro sitcom, the editors create a fake show called OverSURved, complete with a credits sequence worthy of It’s a Living, Too Many Cooks, or at least the ’80s-sitcom episode of Mr. Robot. The aspect ratio is even reduced to a square format to match how Full House looks when you watch it on Netflix when you’re at home sick with the flu (which is the only time you’re allowed to watch it as an adult without children). This is sincere dedication to advancing the reality-television arts and sciences and I am here for all sorts of tomfoolery. That means fooling around with the Toms, right?”
One more MMM interview for completeness. Per Vulture, “In season one of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Michael Zegen’s character Joel Maisel begins as the loutish, cheating husband who unintentionally puts Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) on her path to comedy fame. He’s briefly, partially redeemed at the end of the first season after he watches her perform a set and recognizes her originality and talent. But Joel is not always popular, either within the series or among a subset of Mrs. Maisel viewers who are frustrated that the show’s second season continues to follow Joel’s story rather than dedicating itself entirely to Midge.
“Before the premiere of season two, Zegen talked to Vulture about his own view of Joel’s character, whether Joel and Midge should ever get back together, and whether Joel deserves to be forgiven. This interview contains a few gentle spoilers for the first half of season two, and also lifts the veil on whether Zegen is actually a great bowler. (He is not.)
Joel’s a fascinating side story that happens throughout this show.
Mm-hmm. I think so. Some people don’t, but I think so.
You think some people don’t?
I know some people don’t. They write about it!
What do you find interesting about him as a character?
Part of me thinks he’s the realest character on the show. And that’s not to say anything against anybody else, because I think everybody is fantastic. But I think he’s got many layers to him. You know, he’s sort of made out to be the villain in the first season up until the end. And he was sort of redeemed a little bit. Now, in the second season, I think he’s humanized even a little more.
One thing I’m curious about is how much Joel is or is not changing in this second season. Do you feel like he’s trying to change?
I mean, everything’s happened in such a short period of time, I don’t think there’s going to be huge, sweeping changes to the character, you know what I mean? And I think that’s real, too. He’s flawed, and I love that they explore the fact that he’s flawed. He’s still trying to find something that he’s good at. I mean, he’s not good at stand-up; he hated his job at the plastics company. So the reason I say that he’s the realest character is because he doesn’t know what he wants. I’ve been fortunate in my life that I’ve always known what I wanted, I’ve always wanted to be an actor since I was a little kid, but I have friends who are my age who don’t know what they want. So that’s why I feel like it’s so real.
In the second season, Joel starts picking up the pieces of his parents’ clothing business. Do you think that makes him happy? Is it just a stopgap?
You know, this is in a time where they didn’t have internet or really a lot of stuff on TV, so what’s his alternative? What’s he going to do? He cares about his parents obviously, and the factory is going under, so it’s his responsibility, and he takes it upon himself to take charge. Whether or not that’s his career path, I don’t know. But at least it gives him something to do in the meantime.
So you don’t think Joel wants to become his father, at the end of the day?
I don’t think so.
What is that clothing-factory set like? It’s so beautiful and busy. Where is it?
There are two places. There’s one in Brooklyn, which is real. Martin Greenfield — he’s a clothing manufacturer; he designs suits. He’s designed suits for presidents; he actually designed suits for Boardwalk Empire, which is the other show that I did. And the funny thing is that most of the extras who are in those scenes are actual employees of the factory.
Yeah! And then they built a section of the factory on one of the soundstages, in Brooklyn, at Steiner Studios.
When you’re there filming, are the extras behind you actually making clothes in real time?
Kind of, yeah? I think so? I don’t think they’re making actual clothing people are going to be wearing. Perhaps they are? To be honest, I don’t really know. But you know there are, like, those steamers, and they’re pressing things over and over again. They’re not really making stuff, probably, but it looks like they are. And hopefully they’re getting paid more than they would normally. But they seem to enjoy it!
What kind of direction were you given from the beginning about how to play Joel and who he is? One of the interesting things about him is that his job is really to define what Midge isn’t going to be anymore. Was that ever frustrating?
No, I embraced playing this antagonist. Playing a villain is the most fun you can have being an actor. And to be honest, I didn’t know that they were going to try to redeem him in the end. I thought he was supposed to be the villain. Especially in the first episode, because that’s really all I had to go by. Going into it, I embraced the part of the villain. And there’s a scene in episode three, I think, where he says to Midge, “I’ve decided I want to give it another go.” And I was like, “Aww, man, the audience is going to hate him.” But I love that! I was like, “Yeah, this is going to be fun!” But then little by little … and it wasn’t something that they took me aside and were like, “Hey, he’s not going to be the villain forever.” It wasn’t anything like that. You just go script to script and kind of evolve along as you play the character from scene to scene. You just kind of go with it. The beauty is that the writing is so wonderful, and clearly Amy [Sherman-Palladino] and Dan [Palladino] had an idea for the arc of the character. They didn’t share it with me. And to be honest, I sort of appreciate that. I don’t need them to tell me anything, or what’s going to happen. I like being surprised.
Do you think he and Midge are going to get back together eventually? Do you want that to happen?
I don’t know! I don’t think right now they should get back together. I think he cheated on her, and he needs to pay the price for that. A lot of people say to me, “Oh, I hope you and Midge get back together,” and I’m always shocked by that. Because if somebody did that to me, I’d be pretty pissed off! I don’t know if I’d be able to forgive that person. It hasn’t happened to me, knock on wood, but I don’t know if I would be able to forgive and forget. So I’m always surprised when people tell me, “Oh, I’m rooting for you guys.” It’s like, really? But on the other hand, they did get married at a very young age, they met at a young age, they had kids at a young age, so I guess part of it is understandable in a way? But, not really.
So I don’t know if they should get back together. Maybe someday. Maybe someday down the line they’ll both grow up, or at least he’ll grow up. But I think by that point she’ll be too big for him.
Yeah, the show seems to be going in this direction where she’s on one track and he’s kind of left without knowing what to do. Do you think about that when you think about playing him?
Yeah, whether it’s her career or whether she starts dating other people, I think there’s going to be that jealousy factor, and there’s more of that in season two, especially in the second half.
Joel gives a speech about forgiveness when he’s standing next to Zachary Levi’s character Benjamin, watching the fireworks. Do you think we’re supposed to understand Joel as regretting the cheating, in that moment?
Yes, I think he’s always wished it didn’t happen. He regrets it immensely. He’s the reason why she’s on this career path; if he hadn’t cheated on her, she’d still be at home taking care of the kids. Well, they don’t really take good care of their kids.
They really don’t.
But he was the catalyst for this whole show, for the most part. So, yeah, I think he regrets it immensely.
Do you think he’s hoping he can be forgiven? I’m so curious about how frustrating it must be for him to be left behind.
I think he knows it’s impossible for him to be forgiven. I don’t think he’s forgiven himself.
The whole Catskills set is so impressive — there’s a whole scene where you have to be bowling. Did you have to practice to make that work?
Well, they have this thing called CGI. [Laughs.] It’s funny because they actually did set it up so the pins would fall down at the same time — they pull the string and the pins would all fall down. But I had to get it sort of down the middle. And I did take a bowling lesson. I mean, I’d bowled at birthday parties, but I wanted to learn proper form, so I did have a lesson from a friend. But we were doing the scene, and it was a very old bowling alley. It was at the resort, and I think they knew it was there; that’s why they wrote the scene. But it was such an old bowling alley that the wood was warped, so it was almost impossible to get it down the middle. So they actually did CGI. Which I didn’t know! I was doing ADR [rerecording dialogue post-shooting], and I had to add a line to that scene, and as I was watching I was like, “Whoa, did I get that?” And they were like, “No, no, no, they CGI’d that.””
Per TheWrap, “Big Sean, Machine Gun Kelly and Leslie Grace are just some of the celebrity guests that will be part of Thrillist’s new digital series InstaChef. The six-episode show, which takes a closer look at chefs who drive most of their business through Instagram, joins three other projects as part of Thrillist’s first-ever content slate.
“InstaChef will be hosted by Cliff Skighwalker, a foodie and local DJ, who will visit people who make a living by cooking food in their house, post what they’re making on Instagram and then sell it to customers who stop by. The first episode is already available for viewing on IGTV, YouTube and Facebook Watch and features the American rapper Timothy Delaghetto. Delaghetto and Skighwalker take on Philly’s underground food scene where they munch on cheesesteaks, Philly-style egg rolls and seafood french fries.
“Joining InstaChef as part of Thrillist’s winter slate is Gate Keepers, a series that seeks out city locals who know everything one should do, eat and drink when visiting their city; Somm to go, which follows sommelier and champagne expert Ariel Arce as she attempts to find the right wine to pair with a variety of fast food; and The List Show (working title), where comedian Mekki Leeper reinterprets an existing Thrillist editorial list with his own comedic style in a new animated format.
“Gate Keepers is already available for viewing, while Somm to Go and The List Show are expected to premiere sometime in Q1 2019.
“‘Thrillist continues to prioritize developing quality video programming so that we can offer our audience more touchpoints of what they’ve known to trust and expect from us in food, drink, travel and entertainment content,’ Thrillist president Ocean MacAdams said in a statement. ‘Our new slate marks the next step in our brand’s evolution to becoming a truly multi-platform distributed media company. We couldn’t be more excited to bring fresh new talent and series — as well as re-up one of our top performing series of 2018 — to fans across platforms.’
“This winter, Thrillist is also bringing back Eat Seeker, Late Checkout and Really Dough? for another season. To date, Late Checkout has amassed nearly 100 million views and averages nearly 7 million video views per episode, according to the company.
“Overall, Thrillist — which originally started as a newsletter subscription 14 years ago — reaches an average of 75 million Americans every month, according to Nielsen Digital Content Ratings. In December 2016, the company joined forces with NowThis, The Dodo and Seeker to form Group Nine Media — which has become a global top 10 publisher.”
Per Deadline, “HBO has greenlighted Gorilla and the Bird, a new limited series from Jean-Marc Vallée, the director/executive producer behind the network’s Big Little Lies and Sharp Objects. Vallée is set to direct and executive produce the project, based on Zack McDermott’s book Gorilla and the Bird: A Memoir of Madness and a Mother’s Love. It hails from Vallée’s crazyrose, Channing Tatum’s Free Association and Marc Turtletaub and Peter Saraf’s Big Beach, and will be an HBO-Big Beach co-production.
“Written by Demolition scribe Bryan Sipe, who will serve as executive producer/showrunner, Gorilla and the Bird is described as an inspirational tale of a mother’s unconditional love for her bipolar son. It follows Zack (the Gorilla) as he fights to regain his sanity after a devastating psychotic break, turning to the only person who didn’t give up on him – his mother (The Bird). Once a highly successful public defender for The Legal Aid Society of New York, Zach’s sudden illness takes him on a harrowing journey of delusions and antisocial behavior, leading to his eventual arrest and commitment to Bellevue Hospital.
“Vallée and Nathan Ross executive produce for crazyrose; Tatum, Reid Carolin and Peter Kiernan executive produce for Free Association; Robin Schwartz, Turtletaub and Saraf executive produce for Big Beach. McDermott serves as co-executive producer.
“Gorilla and the Bird reunites Vallée and Sipe who worked together on the 2015 feature Demolition, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, which was directed by Vallée and written by Sipe.
“Tatum’s Free Association teamed with Big Beach to option McDermott’s Gorilla and the Bird and tapped Sipe to pen the adaptation at the time of the book’s release. The memoir, published by Little Brown Publishing Company in September 2017, chronicles McDermott’s personal battle with bipolar disorder, which affects nearly 6 million Americans and usually presents itself in patients during their mid-twenties, the same age that it affected McDermott.
“Vallée’s involvement likely clinched the order by HBO. The Canadian director, producer, and editor has been instrumental in the success of two previous limited series for the premium network based on books, the first season of Big Little Lies, which started as a longform project, and the Amy Adams starrer Sharp Objects. He executive produced and directed all episodes of both, winning two Emmy Awards for BLL. Vallée and Ross formed their production company, crazyrose, and have been in development on a film on John Lennon and Yoko Ono for Universal.”
Per Variety, “Former Blink-182 member Tom DeLonge left the hugely successful band in 2015 in part to explore other opportunities, including his interest in aliens and the paranormal. His passion resulted in the acclaimed graphic novel, Strange Times, which is now being turned into a series for TBS.
“The series, which Variety can exclusively announce is being put into development, will be written and executive produced by Aaron Karo. DeLonge, The Cartel’s Stan Spry and Jeff Holland and Strike Entertainment’s Russell Binder will serve as executive producers.
“DeLonge, who played guitar in Blink and fronted his own band, Angels and Airwaves, spoke with Variety about the new series and his long-term plans for Strange Times:
Did you always see Strange Times as having crossover potential into other mediums?
Yes, absolutely. This is a dream I’ve had for over 10 years and it’s finally a reality. All the stories and themes I work on are meant to be shared through multiple mediums and on different platforms — film, TV, books, music and so on. “Strange Times” began as an interactive website where people shared weird, paranormal stories — a lot of them with credible evidence. That helped inspire the story behind the graphic novel and also a prose novel that I published. This is exactly what my company To The Stars Academy of Arts and Science does. We hope to create something that could be described as sort of a “science fiction Disney,” where our entertainment franchises are worlds that are inspired and informed by our own next-generation science division.
Is there one character of the five kids you most identify with?
The gang of characters in the story is based on the tribe of degenerate skateboarders that I grew up with — right around the same time I started my band Blink-182. The story is also set in that same town. Charlie, the main character, is a bit of myself. A boy searching for answers, trying to find a way out of suburbia, but laughing with his ridiculous, irreverent friends along the way.
What musicians would you like to see contribute to a soundtrack?
I would love to see some of my favorite punk rock bands like the Descendents, the Queers, and Bad Religion, all of which were part of the soundtrack to my life at that time. But I can also see a great new wave band like New Order, Depeche Mode and The Cure.
What would be the ideal theme song for the show?
Probably Suburban Home by the Descendents.
Looking at the success ofStranger Things,” could this become a franchise and would you want it to be one?
Absolutely, I don’t like working on one-offs. One reason I created To The Stars was to be able to build dynamic and rich worlds for everyone — whether you’re visual and prefer graphic novels and film or an avid reader who likes to pore over every detail and imagine the world on your own.
Many musicians interested in multiple art forms say it invigorates their music. Is that the case for you?
Yes, when I started my other band, Angels & Airwaves, the only way I could fully explore other parts of my musical sensibility was to envision large cinematic landscapes. I became obsessed with the blending of multimedia and music. We produced our first feature “Love” a few years back with our double-album of the same name. Variety actually compared it to Kubrick’s “2001.” We laughed when we read it, because we’re so small compared to something like that, but it was incredible and we were so honored to even be considered in the same space.”