Friday February 16, 2018

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver returns to HBO for an all new season on Sunday.  Hallelujah!

Here is the link to Ronan Farrow's New Yorker piece about the infidelities of Donald Trump and what was done to keep them under wraps.

Jimmy Kimmel should run for office.

"More than three months after first being accused of sexual harassment on the set of Transparent, Jeffrey Tambor is now officially off the Amazon series. While it remains unclear whether the upcoming fifth season of the Emmy-winning Jill Soloway-created show will be its last, it is clear that Tambor will not be part of the new season."

Michael Ian Black has some opinions on gun control and the underlying issues.  Don't we all?

Bradley Whitford has joined the cast of season 2 of The Handmaid's Tale.

Apple Music has renewed Carpool Karaoke for a 2nd season.

Cody and Jessica from Big Brother 19 are engaged?!?!

"2 Broke Girls‘ Kat Dennings will play another penniless provocateur in the ABC comedy pilot How May We Hate You?TVLine has confirmed. The workplace comedy — penned by Brooklyn Nine-Nine scribe Justin Noble — finds the actress playing a guest services associate at a high-end resort who is heavily in debt. Casting continues for the series’ co-lead Gabe, who’s described as Ellie’s BFF and colleague at the resort."

"The majority of people with visual disabilities watch four or more hours of television per day, which is almost as much as the general public, a new survey by Comcast and the American Foundation for the Blind found. That’s compared to a Nielsen study from 2016 that found the average person watched about five hours of television per day."

Model renderings of some of your favorite television kitchens.

Jennifer Aniston is single once again.

"The producers of RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars sued an anonymous leaker on Thursday who has been giving away spoilers from the show on social media. World of Wonder Productions is seeking to unmask the person behind RealityTVLeaks, who operates accounts on Instagram and Twitter. According to the suit, the account-holder has obtained video of the show before it airs, and posts clips and still images on Reddit, as well as on social media. The images reveal the contestants’ outfits, and the account sometimes gives away which contestant will be eliminated. World of Wonder has issued takedown notices for copyright violation, but the user set their Instagram account to “private” to make the infringement harder to track, the suit states. Last week, Instagram apparently suspended the account."

Per The Hollywood Reporter, "Daniel and Johnny are facing off — again.

"YouTube on Thursday released the first footage of its forthcoming Karate Kid TV sequel, Cobra Kai.

"Three decades after The Karate Kid, original stars Ralph Macchio and William Zabka return to the dojo in the 10-episode straight-to-series follow-up for subscription service YouTube Red. 

"The series, scheduled to bow this year, is set 30 years after the events of the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament and revolves around a down-and-out Johnny, who, seeking redemption, reopens the infamous Cobra Kai dojo. It reignites his rivalry with a now-successful Daniel, who has been struggling to maintain balance in his life without the guidance of his mentor, Mr. Miyagi (the late Pat Morita). The half-hour comedy follows the duo addressing demons from their past and present frustrations — through (what else?) karate.

"Josh Heald (Hot Tub Time Machine), Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (Harold and Kumar) penned the script and exec produce. Macchio and Zabka will co-exec produce. Will Smith's Sony Pictures Television Studios-based Overbrook Entertainment will exec produce with James Lassiter and Caleeb Pinkett overseeing for the company. 

"A premiere date has not yet been determined."

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Per Vulture, "[h]alfway through its second season, HBO’s Crashing continues to present an intimate window into the insular, communal tribalism of New York’s stand-up comedy scene. In the hands of creator/star Pete Holmes and executive producer Judd Apatow, those struggles manifest through equally generous helpings of joy and pathos: Holmes plays a dramatized and more naïve version of himself, drifting among fellow comics while looking for a place to crash, someone to eat with, or pieces of advice about comedy, fidelity, and God.

"His first mentor in the series is comedian Artie Lange, who, in season one, taught Holmes much about the business before he started using hard drugs again and disappeared. Like most stories on the show, it parallels the actor’s reality: Lange has struggled with addiction since that episode aired in early 2017, with a string of heroin-related arrests and medical emergencies. Last month, in his first interview since cleaning up, Lange told the Daily Beast that Apatow saved his life.

"This Sunday night’s episode of Crashing, Artie, co-written by Apatow and Holmes, portrays what it’s like for Lange to live with his disease with a frankness seldom seen on television. Earlier this week, Apatow and Holmes spoke to Vulture about working with Lange, how he showed up to act out his own painful experiences, and what it means to portray addiction with honesty and artfulness:

You have a very special episode airing this weekend. How does it feel to put it out into the world?
Judd Apatow
: We talked to Artie when we were shooting the show last summer and said, you know, we have an opportunity to talk about his struggles in a way that would be honest, and allow him to let people know how painful it is to have to deal with this type of addiction. He recently had some health issues and went to rehab and is doing well right now, but I think it’s very hard for him. I said, “I think it’s important to tell people you don’t wanna have this happen to you, and to stay away from this at all costs.” Artie was very brave about being willing to address this creatively.

Pete Holmes: Yeah, that was my experience too. Judd, who’s obviously very brave and smart, said, “Let’s deal with this very uncomfortable issue,” and then the first thing we did was talk to Artie about it. Artie, who’s also very brave and artistic, was totally onboard. I was super happy that he wanted to get as real and as raw as the episode gets because both he and I experienced that, in dramatizing it, there’s almost something therapeutic about it, seeing his life from an outside perspective. It’s almost like role-play.

We have this conversation on camera that we want to have, and have had, off camera. That was Judd’s beautiful instinct, to bring that thing that’s supposed to be taboo, something you’re not supposed to talk about, into the show to get the message out.

Crashing seems to serve as a vessel for comedians to tell these stories about themselves. It’s a standard for transparency not unlike the recovery process.
PH
: Yeah, totally. Judd and I are invested, obviously, as friends of Artie. But also people that watch him — that’s Artie’s wonderful presence on camera. You care about this person, are invested in him and his story. It’s a unique opportunity to tell the full picture, and hopefully have people get something out of it.

Therapists often talk about the “mascot” in an addictive relationship, someone who resorts to comedy in order to put a lighthearted Band-Aid on issues that might require something else. Is there something particular about the mind of a comedian that pairs with addiction?
JA
: I don’t know if it’s connected. Comedians like to be open about their struggles, and I think that you can have this disease of addiction and still be a creative, kind, giving person. We love Artie and he’s been a great friend to us. I feel this is a great way for him to give back to people. He said to us, “I wish I could take back that day when I first tried heroin. I would do anything if I could have that day not happen.” Collaborating on this episode with us was his way of warning others. We all care about him so much and have so enjoyed working with him, because it’s been a fantastic experience. He’s been very reliable on our set, he takes the work very seriously, and he’s not afraid to look inward for stories and comedy.

PH: One of the jokes we have on set is, I told Artie he should name his next book Consummate Professional, because everyone will think he’s joking. Our experience was [that] he was so onboard for Crashing and never messed anything up for us, only added value. What’s interesting here — the artistry of Artie is, when he was talking about his addiction in a book, on [Howard] Stern, or his own podcast, it’s different from playing a scene where he is low.

We’re asking more of him, and I think you get more of that experience by seeing him act it out. He’s such a wonderful actor, and the reason he’s a wonderful actor is because he’s willing to not just talk vulnerably, but act vulnerably. We had to do that scene over and over, and in between each scene Artie and I would just hug each other. I’m such a sensitive person that I told Artie, “We’re fighting, but you know I love you,” because it felt so real and the things we were saying were getting harsher and harsher. The final cut ended up being not so harsh, but we were going lots of interesting places because he’s such a courageous performer.

That vulnerability is clear in the scene where Artie explains his problems with AA’s requirement to surrender to a higher power. It’s as if his acceptance of that higher power isn’t compatible with his comedic pragmatism or bluntness. 
PH
: On our show, Artie is always playing the ghost of comedy future. He’s always showing Pete that there really is a lot of real suffering, pain, and loss, and to be careful. But in that moment when they’re eating pizza, even though Artie could be saying, “You’re crazy, your problems aren’t as bad as mine,” they actually find solidarity. Though it’s less extreme, Pete’s crisis of faith is given respect by Artie, even though Artie’s story could trump anybody’s because his story has so many sad notes to it.

I don’t have much to say about the higher-power thing now, other than that it seems to help people. You could strip mysticism or spirituality or theology out of it and just look at the gray-matter psychology of it. People have higher success rates even when they even just imagine something outside of themselves that’s rooting for them. So it seems to work for people. My theology might be a little more complicated, I’m not sure, but when it comes to stuff like addiction I’m like, “Whatever works, whatever helps.”

Judd, your body of work has looked at addiction before. The last season of Love, particularly with Mickey’s character, and the Doc & Darryl documentary. Through years of addressing addiction creatively, what wisdom could you bring to this episode? 
JA
: I don’t know if I have much wisdom. I try to be there for people, let them know I love them and that I’m there to support them. Part of what the episode is about is that usually that only gets you so far. The person who has a problem has to make the choice to make a change, and you can’t force that will upon them as much as you wish you could.

PH: Something I’ve seen Judd do time and time again is use his influence and the respect that people have for him to directly and actively love and try to help people. I see it all the time, and I hope you don’t mind me saying — Judd is an advocate for a lot of people and a lot of causes, and I’ve seen [it] firsthand. Season one on the set, it was just a thing you never talked about. Judd, in this very loving way, used the respect that Artie has for Judd to help him, to talk about what’s going on. These are those moments when nobody knows what to say, and sometimes it takes a body of work and a heart like Judd’s to go, “I’ll be the guy that talks about it, and I’ll be the guy to get Artie to talk about it.” Because not talking about it doesn’t help at all. These types of things fester and grow in shadows.

It’s been inspiring to me personally, and professionally, to watch Judd. He doesn’t use his influence to have people bring him sliced meats and a goblet of espresso. He’s actually on the ground trying to help Artie, as a friend, and as somebody that we are making a show with.

The comedy tribe.
PH
: Totally! And I’m not just saying this to promote the show, but that’s what Crashing is about. So it’s funny to be making a show about Artie helping Pete. Everybody talks about comedy being backstabby, competitive, and ugly — and there are elements of that, for sure. But there’s also this beautiful side to it where people do help each other. We’re making a show about Artie helping me while Judd is doing his best to help everybody. Judd is certainly helping me, and we’re all trying to help Artie. There’s a beautiful side to it, and that’s one of the things I like to get out there — that it’s not all just showbiz jerks clawing their way to the top. There’s a lot of heart to this community, and one of the things we’ve succeeded in this show is capturing that camaraderie, that repartee that they have.

The episode also does a really tasteful job at reframing addiction as a mental-health conversation. Artie has that line, “It’s a physical thing, it’s not an emotional thing,” that really packs a lot into one sentence. 
JA
: Well, part of it is, this is about his perspective on it. It’s up to the audience to decide what is a rationalization, what is accurate, where he’s fooling himself.

You’re reporting, not editorializing.
JA
: Yeah, it was all done in collaboration with Artie. All the scenes we conceived with him, a lot of it was written in improvisations with him, and we wanted him to feel like it was saying exactly what Artie wanted to say.

PH: Right. He was super generous. When we [asked], “What might you say that might not be true to get somebody off your back?” For Artie to be able to split himself in that way, and re-create it … it really is one of the more interesting episodes because there are moments [when] we leave it unspoken. Was that true? When he said this, was that real, not real?

That’s how it is being close to someone who’s an addict. I’ve lost friends to heroin, and it’s refreshing to see these conversations in work that’s also digestible as entertainment.
PH
: I’ve lost friends as well, and it’s the sort of thing that’s just not funny. It never was funny, but it’s become urgent. There’s a real need to talk about it, because there are all sorts of different ways that people get involved in this stuff. It’s not all just going to the park to score. It can be more subtle. The more we can talk about it, the better."

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"TNT has ordered the drama Deadlier than the Male to series, Variety has confirmed.

"The series will star Lily Rabe, Amy Brenneman and Hamish Linklater. It centers on a trio of characters each with a mysterious and troubling past, including Emma (Rabe), a young woman who once looked into the eyes of a dangerous killer; John (Linklater), a former serial predator desperate to find redemption; and Mary (Brenneman), a grieving mother obsessed with finding her missing daughter.

"Harriet Warner created and wrote the series and will executive produce alongside Bruna Papandrea and Casey Haver of Papandera’s Made Up Stories. Houda Benyamina directed the pilot. Made Up Stories will co-produce with Turner’s Studio T.

"Warner is a consulting producer on the TNT drama The Alienist and also served as a writer on shows like Call the Midwife and Waterloo Road. Made Up Stories, formed in January 2017, is currently producing and co-financing The Nightingale, a period thriller from acclaimed filmmaker Jennifer Kent (The Babadook). Prior to Made Up Stories, Papandrea launched and partnered with Reese Witherspoon in the production banner Pacific Standard, where the pair produced the hit movies Wild and Gone Girl, as well as executive-produced the HBO limited series Big Little Lies.

“'I couldn’t be more thrilled for Made Up Stories first TV series to have such incredible women behind and in front of the camera.' Papandrea said. 'Harriet Warner is a sublime talent. Houda Benyamina is a filmmaking force to be reckoned with and it has already been an amazing experience collaborating with this great cast and the incredible team at TNT.'”

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"It’s been 10 years since Breaking Bad premiered on AMC, changing the template of television dramas and launching star Bryan Cranston into the show-business stratosphere.

“'Without question I owe the career I’m enjoying now to Breaking Bad,’ says Cranston, 61, on the phone from London, where he’s starring in a National Theatre production of Paddy Chayefsky’s Network. 'There’s no question that’s what turned the dial for me completely.'

"Cranston won three consecutive Emmys (and four overall) on Breaking Bad as Walter White, the cancer-stricken high school chemistry teacher secretly cooking (and selling) crystal meth to provide for his wife and two children — leading him down a dark, ultimately murderous path in the New Mexico desert. Series creator Vince Gilligan likened Walter’s five-season journey as 'The story about a man who transforms himself from Mr. Chips into Scarface,' and viewers agreed: Breaking Bad became a pop-culture touchstone, with catchphrases ('Let’s cook,' 'I am the one who knocks') and Walter White’s indelible 'Heisenberg' getup (glasses, goatee and pork pie hat). The series finale snared 10.3 million viewers in September 2013 — 10 times the viewership for its 2008 premiere. A spinoff, Better Call Saul, premiered on AMC in 2015 and is heading into its fourth season.

“'Vince Gilligan was able to tap into a sensibility of the country that was ready for a story like this,' says Cranston. 'When Vince said, "I intend to turn this good man into a bad man," I thought about it and said, "Vince, has that ever been done before?" I don’t think so.'

“'And that’s what so unique [about Breaking Bad],' he says. 'When you think back, all the characters in TV history … by and large they were the same person, whether it was Archie Bunker or Thomas Magnum or Ross and Rachel or Tony Soprano — they were who they were. As Walter said in the pilot episode, ‘Chemistry is all about change.’ You’re going to meet a very different man by the end of the series, and that’s what made it so remarkable, and that’s just what got under the skin of people. You found them initially sympathizing with Walter White — and, at the end, hating him and realizing he became this despicable person.'

“'It was groundbreaking. We had a policy to show restraint, to make it cinematic. To follow that kind of traditional television ethos was not part of our vocabulary,' he says. 'We wanted low, wide angles, [to] see the vistas, the landscapes, feel the dust and dirt, add the music to it, feel the heat, see the heat rise from the surface. We didn’t always need to see a closeup of the characters; we knew these people by the second season and beyond. So the edict throughout the directing corps was to be more cinematic with it, and the writers were solid and the entire group stayed with us, primarily, throughout the entire run.'

“'It was brilliant, yet I would say that we owe a debt of gratitude to The Shield and The Sopranos and The Wire — very adventurous, dangerous, eclectic, interesting, honest and uncomfortable shows.'

“'Vince Gilligan gave me the opportunity to be Walter White and I will forever be grateful to him,' he says. 'The success of the show gave me the opportunity to do other things. I told people, ‘I know why I got offered the starring role in a Broadway play — because of Breaking Bad. I’m not delusional but that’s the way this business works.'

“'I suppose if I were to reflect on it … with the tremendous success of Breaking Bad my career started changing because instead of hearing about a movie and going in to audition, I was not starting to get offers to do things,' he says. 'It was like, "This is nice, this is different." It was a great experience and now I’m still riding this wave and I don’t know how long it’s going to take until I hit the shore — but I’ll stay on the board as long as I can.'”

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Per Vulture, "[l]ike Freaks and GeeksThe GoldbergsStranger Things, and a host of others before it, Everything Sucks!, the new Netflix series co-created by Ben York Jones and Michael Mohan, is a portrait of adolescence that revels in throwbacks. This time, the era of choice is the mid-1990s — 1996, specifically — and Everything Sucks! makes sure that we never forget it.

"The kids in Everything Sucks! brood to music by Tori Amos and Oasis. They play with slap bracelets and use VCRs plugged into non-flat-screen televisions. They dress like No Doubt–era Gwen Stefani and paste magazine pictures of Scott Wolf from Party of Five into collages. When they’re trying to seem really 'cool,' they show up to drama club gatherings with a six-pack of Zima. There are times when the show plays like a moving-picture version of one of those BuzzFeed listicles about 25 Things That Only ’90s Kids Understand.

"But as tempting as it is to dismiss Everything Sucks! as nothing more than a thinly veiled excuse to revisit a time when Beavis and Butt-Head jokes were of the moment, this series slowly proves itself to be something more than that. The ten episodes of Everything Sucks!, all dropping Friday, have more than their share of bugs: dialogue that sounds more scripted than anything actual teenagers would say, then or now; barely developed supporting characters; and a tendency to incorporate music choices that are so on the nose, they are more painful than an infected piercing. (The last episode actually uses The Freshmen by the Verve Pipe to illustrate a personal epiphany experienced by — how did you know? — a high-school freshman.)

"But it also is so sincere and sensitive in its treatment of its young characters — especially the two main ones, Luke (Jahi Di’Allo Winston) and Kate (Peyton Kennedy) — as well as their respective single parents, played by Patch Darragh and Claudine Nako, that it succeeds in making you care deeply about what happens to them. On more than one occasion, Everything Sucks! illustrates the parallel insecurities and joys in the lives of the kids and their adult counterparts in incredibly touching ways, all the more so because the characters don’t realize they’re all going through the same thing. This show has an innate understanding of how the emotions first encountered in childhood still percolate beneath the surface long after we’ve officially grown up.

"The first character Everything Sucks! introduces is Luke O’Neil (Winston, who previously co-starred in AMC’s Feed the Beast and portrayed a young Ralph Tresvant in The New Edition Story). Luke is a ninth-grader being raised by a working single mother (Nako) and eager to join the A.V. Club at Boring High School, located in Boring, Oregon. (In an effort to further highlight how tedious and embarrassing high school life can be, the school’s mascot is the Beaver.) Once he becomes part of the A.V. squad, he meets Kate Messner (Kennedy, a former regular on the kids’ show Odd Squad) and immediately develops a crush, not realizing that (1) she’s the daughter of Boring High School principal Ken Messner (Darragh), a widower and glaringly decent man, and (2) she’s also gay.

"It’s understandable that Luke is unaware of Kate’s sexual orientation, since she can barely bring herself to say the word 'lesbian' out loud. Much of the season focuses on Kate’s struggle to reconcile her feelings with her fears of how she’ll be perceived if she comes out publicly. Luke, on the other hand, seems to think they can somehow be boyfriend and girlfriend while she figures all of this out, which, as you might imagine, causes its own set of problems. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to either of them, their parents start to develop a connection of their own.

"O’Neil and Kennedy are crucial to making Everything Sucks! work, and they both rise to the challenge. It helps that they both look the right ages and are so completely natural onscreen. (That ability is heightened by the fact that some of the young actors who play their friends aren’t quite as skilled in this regard.) Kennedy carries herself with so much ingrained self-doubt that there’s rarely a moment when you don’t want to give her a mood-boosting hug. With her deep-set, childlike eyes and an expression that perpetually suggests she wishes she had access to an invisibility cloak, she’s so recognizably adolescent, it makes your heart hurt. O’Neil has to swing between funny and gregarious in certain moments, and completely lost and heartbroken in others, and proves he has the range to do all of that effectively. As a ’90s kid might say, they are all that and a bag of chips. Same goes for Nako and Darragh, who lean into their characters’ respective goofiness and practicality, but never too hard.

"Even though that foursome functions as the core of Everything Sucks!, the show, to its detriment, insists on being a broader ensemble in the mode of Freaks and Geeks. It spends a fair amount of time with Luke’s nerdy buddies, McQuaid (Rio Mangini) and Tyler (Quinn Liebling), as well as drama-club king Oliver (Elijah Stevenson, channeling the aesthetic of Basketball Diaries–era Leonardo DiCaprio) and queen Emaline (Sydney Sweeney). But for the most part, it never makes these characters seem like more than stock sketches of actual people. (Emaline, who has her own struggle with female identity, is a notable exception.) The series also has a habit of putting its characters into unrealistic, sitcom-style situations that don’t make a lot of sense. Would a high-school principal — especially one as seemingly responsible and mild-mannered as Ken — really decide to smoke weed for the first time on school grounds, with another parent, even if it was after-hours? I feel like that’s a no, but Everything Sucks! goes for it anyway. Its insistence on exploring Luke’s feelings about his estranged father via a bunch of videotapes of his dad talking to the camera is also too hokey to fully accept.

"Even with its flaws, Everything Sucks! is worth the journey, proving with each episode that it, and life, really does get better. You can criticize the show for going overboard on the ’90s kitsch, but as I finished this series while simultaneously tracking breaking news about the dreadful school shooting in Florida, it seemed completely understandable to wish we could go back to a time before cell phones and 9/11 and, yes, Columbine. However unintentionally, Everything Sucks! plays like a portrait of the mostly innocent 'before' that we took for granted, until the “after” that we’re living in now came along."