Monday February 26, 2018

I'm more than halfway through Seven Seconds on Netflix and am VERY much enjoying it. As I get deeper in, I'm sure you'll be hearing a lot for for me on this one.  More below.

That was a tough return for The Walking Dead, and not because Rick had to bury Carl.  It was incredibly boring and they REALLY need to pick things back up, quickly.  

If Rick died, that might make things interesting.  And he just may.

[CelebrityBig Brother crowned a winner last night.  Here's to hoping they don't bring this one back for another turn.

A new season of The Voice premieres tonight on NBC.  Zzzzzzzzzzzz.

Immediately thereafter, NBC drops the premiere or Good Girls, a show about three suburban moms — played by Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), Retta (Parks and Recreation) and Mae Whitman (Parenthood) — who rob a grocery store when they become desperate to make ends meet.  Riveting, I know.

Season 3 of UnREAL begins this evening.

CBS premieres Living Biblically tonight.  Per CBS, here's the skinny on this one: "Chip Curry is a modern day man at a crossroads in his life, who decides to live strictly in accordance with the Bible. A film critic for a New York Newspaper and a soon-to-be father, Chip wants to be a better man following the loss of his best friend. He decides to put his slightly obsessive temperament to use and start living his life 100% by the Bible to find direction. His smart, pregnant wife, Leslie, while both skeptical and entertained by her husband’s new passion, supports him completely. Knowing he’ll need some practical advice, Chip forms a 'God Squad' with Father Gene, a Catholic Priest who helps Chip translate the rules of the Bible to a modern world; and Father Gene’s best friend, easygoing Rabbi Gil Ableman, who respects Chip’s chutzpah and is glad to serve as a sounding board when they meet at their local bar. At Chip’s newspaper, he finds support from his no-nonsense boss, Ms. Meadows, who knows Chip’s self-penned story will sell newspapers, and his co-worker and friend, Vince, who is quick with a reality check and likes to wind Chip up for his own amusement. As he begins his sincere spiritual journey toward a more moral life with the help of his wife and friends, Chip wonders if he’ll be able to take a page – or every page – out of the Good Book, and if the effect will be of Biblical proportions."

AMC unveils miniseries McMafia tonight.  "AMC’s groundbreaking new international thriller McMafia is an eight-part series created by Hossein Amini (Drive, Wings of the Dove, Two Faces, Snow White and the Huntsman) and James Watkins (The Woman in Black, Black Mirror) and inspired by Misha Glenny’s best-selling book of the same name. The series charts Alex Godman’s (James Norton) journey as he is drawn deeper and deeper into the world of organized crime. As the English-raised son of Russian exiles with a mafia history, Alex has spent his life trying to escape the shadow of that criminal past, building his own legitimate business and forging a life with his girlfriend Rebecca (Juliet Rylance). But when his family’s past returns to threaten them, Alex is forced to confront his values to protect those he loves. What starts out as a story of survival and revenge becomes an epic tale of a man’s struggle against the lures of corruption in the modern world and in himself. McMafia is impressive and intimate, glamorous and gritty, global in scale, and forensic in detail. Additional cast members include David Strathairn (Semiyon Kleiman), Faye Marsay (Katya Godman), Aleksey Serebryakov (Dmitri Godman), Mariya Shukshina (Oksana Godman) and Merab Ninidze (Vadim Kalyagin). McMafia is co-produced by the BBC, AMC and Cuba Pictures, in association with Twickenham Studios, and distributed internationally by BBC Worldwide."

A West Virginia judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by coal company Murray Energy against John Oliver. A segment of Oliver's show made fun of Murray Energy's CEO Robert Murray, saying he looked like a “geriatric Dr. Evil.”  The court in West Virginia, ruled last week that Murray’s company failed to state a claim.

Not so lucky was Bachelor alum Chris Soules.

Can you identify a real Shark Tank product from a fake one?

"Ellen Digital Ventures, a joint initiative between Ellen DeGeneres and Warner Bros. Digital Networks, has hired Michael Riley as General Manager. Riley will head the strategic vision and management of EDV with full financial responsibility – including all owned and operated sites, all related social media activity from The Ellen DeGeneres Show, EDV's digital content studio, and digital games business. I've been on a few calls with Michael."  VERY bright guy and I wish him the best.

"We as a society are dead-set on wringing every last word from author Stephen King, like he’s a horror-writing orange with a fun Twitter presence, for use in TV or film. To whit, Deadline reports that King’s The Bone Church has been acquired for development as a television series. First published in Playboy in 2009, a version of the narrative poem was included in the author’s anthology The Bazaar of Bad DreamsThe Bone Church was reportedly acquired by producer Chris Long and David Ayer, most recently the director of Bright and Suicide Squad. King’s Bone Church details the journey of members of an ill-fated jungle expedition, who brave the dangers of the wild only to find themselves faced with, with any luck, a wildly popular limited series on Netflix."

Amazon has renewed Lore.

Kevin Smith revealed he almost died of a massive heart attack.

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, "[t]he #MeToo movement is moving to the small screen.

"During a stop at women's workspace The Wing in New York City on Friday, Jennifer Lawrence — speaking to The Wing co-founder Audrey Gelman promoting her new film for 20th Century Fox — let it slip that she has partnered with former E! News anchor Catt Sadler on a series project. When asked to elaborate, the Red Sparrow star declined further comment, offering only, 'I wasn't supposed to announce that but I am.'

"Sadler did not respond to requests for comment, but The Hollywood Reporter did track down sources with knowledge about what the two are plotting. THR has reached out to Lawrence's rep.

"One source says Lawrence and Sadler are developing a series inspired by #MeToo, Time's Up and gender wage gap conversations in Hollywood. Further, the source continued that the pair are looking to take a deep dive into issues facing women today and have brought Stephanie Soechtig into the mix to direct. Soechtig is a documentary director known for exploring America's gun violence epidemic and its problem with obesity on such films as Under the Gun and Fed Up. Gun was narrated by Katie Couric.

"The team is looking to fast track the docu-series once they secure a distributor or formally partner with a production company. 

"When THR caught up with Sadler in January, the veteran entertainment anchor mentioned that the two had become close. 'Jennifer Lawrence has become a friend of mine — really, a hero of mine,' Sadler told THR, during an interview discussing her exit from E! after discovering she made far less money than her male colleague Jason Kennedy. 'Long before my own experiences, her voice has been an empowering one and one I've always admired. To have her in my corner is hard to put into words, to be honest.'

"Sadler did mention as she moved forward in her career, she was looking to branch out from delivering pop culture news, and that could include a documentary-style project. 'In this weird sense, I feel like I have an obligation to do work and represent the many voices who don't have an audience. Between #MeToo, Time's Up and the general climate right now, I would prefer to use my voice in a way that could create content that has never been made before,' she said at the time. But she's not turning her back on her resume completely. Up next, she'll team with Vanity Fair's Mike Hogan to host the mag's livestream from the carpet outside its iconic Vanity Fair Oscar party on March 4. 

"Lawrence, meanwhile, has been an outspoken voice in the fight for equal pay in Hollywood. She penned an essay for Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner's Lenny in 2015addressing her own battles with making equal money to her male co-stars. 'When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with dicks, I didn’t get mad at Sony. I got mad at myself,' she wrote. 'I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early.'"

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Per Variety, "[t]he cast of Seven Seconds shared the difficulties that accompany tackling a story about the killing of a young, black man.

"At the premiere in Beverly Hills, Calif., star Regina King said the heavy emotions she displays in each of the 10 episodes was a challenge. 'As an actor, having to carry that much grief every day was a lot,' she said. In the series, King plays the mother of a boy who is killed by a police officer during a hit-and-run accident.

"King said she met with a mother whose son had been murdered by police to understand the role. 'It’s hard for me still to even wrap my mind around how she could still speak with joy,' King said. 'She definitely shared the rollercoaster that your emotions take you through. All I could do is hopefully honor her with my performance.' 

"While the interaction gave King a starting point for her role, she said it was also very difficult because she has a son. 'When you have some of those days that are more emotional than others, those were the days I found myself calling my son just to check in.'

"In the show, Beau Knapp plays the officer responsible for the crime. He also discussed the emotional difficulties in becoming his character. 'Just living with the material for six months and how heavy, disgusting some of it is in ways (was challenging),' he said. 'Just saying these words and believing them.'

"Creator Veena Sud said the writers spoke to mothers who lost their sons to police violence as well as prosecutors, civil litigators who worked with police killings of mostly black and brown clientele, patrol cops, and homicide detectives to write an accurate portrayal.

“'It was really, really important to me that I got to see the human stories behind the headlines,' Sud said.

"Russell Hornsby plays King’s husband and the father of the boy involved in the accident. He said the structure of the show allows the audience to see why and how the characters made certain decisions instead of focusing on a whodunit plot.

“'I think this is the first time on film that I’ve had an opportunity to feel three-dimensionally,' he said about his character, Isaiah. 'This character is not stock. He’s not an archetype. He’s a father grieving, living, trying his best to love in spite of things.'

"Even though audiences might expect to immediately dislike the characters who try to cover up the crime, Hornsby said viewers will be able to empathize with everyone. 'Once you go through all 10 (character’s accounts), you understand the why,' he explained. 'You may not agree with it, but you get it.'”

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Ahead of the season finale [of Celebrity Big Brother], The Hollywood Reporter called up host Julie Chen and executive producer Allison Grodner to see whether or not fans may be seeing this celebrity spinoff again, who may be winning the game and what viewers should expect to see from the upcoming season 20 of Big Brother:

Looking back at the season as a whole did it work the way you thought it would? What were the biggest surprises for you?

Allison Grodner: The best surprise for us was that these people went in the house and embraced the game, the way of being in the Big Brother environment, and really took to it quite quickly. We were all pleasantly surprised that it feels as much like Big Brother as it does with such a short schedule and with a group of celebrities. 

Julie Chen: It succeeded my expectations. I knew when we got Omarosa that there was going to be built-in intrigue and interest off the bat, but we didn't know how much she was going to say [about her time in the White House.] I was shocked when they were asking the deputy press secretary in a White House briefing about Big Brother. That was an, "Oh, my God" moment for me. I'm thinking I'm a daughter of immigrants and the show I'm working on is being brought up at a White House press briefing. Only in America. 

This season two players asked to be voted out of the game during a live show. What was your reaction to that?  

Grodner: It's not our favorite gameplay. In another round of this we would discourage that more in some way. Both of those Monday live shows were awesome episodes of television and to have the live eviction go the way they did, they were set up to be such amazing evictions that it was unfortunate that it happened that way. 

Chen: It disappointed me, but it didn't surprise me. We knew that might happen because they're celebrities. $250,000 doesn't change these people's lives. It's not like regular Big Brother where life changing money is on the line. Some of these people could have used this money more than others, but nobody desperately needed it. We knew there was a chance we were going to get people going, "I'm out!"

Is this timeline of having five players in the finale something you always had planned?

Grodner: We knew that if we went in with this many celebrities and didn't have anyone out right quit on us that this is the scenario that would most likely happen. We cast what we did because we didn't know how a celebrity cast would take to the Big Brother environment. And we fully expected we would have at least one person walk out. As it happened, they didn't walk out. They waited until they got on the chopping block on eviction night and then asked to be voted out. It happened differently than we expected. So, there you have it. Five people in the finale, which will give us an anything can happen scenario. It's going to be fast and furious. 

Who was your favorite exit interview this season?

Chen: Brandi was the most surprising because she was very honest, grounded and wasn't flustered. A lot of people get flustered and I get PR answers from them and they want to put their best foot forward. Whereas Brandi is the type of person who is used to becoming famous by not putting her best foot forward. She wasn't even really going to behave sitting there with me. She was polite, but she wasn't being a phony about her feelings and I appreciated that. And Metta crying, that really stood out. That was the most touching. I enjoyed that one because he was very human and relatable. 

Omarosa was the biggest draw this season. Out of everything she has said about her time in the White House what did you find the most shocking?

Chen: Getting billed for peanuts on Air Force One (laughs). But that's just silliness where I'm like, "Wait, what?!" But it was really surprising that she doesn't seem that bitter against Donald Trump. She seems more bitter against his inner circle. She painted out this picture of how she couldn't get any respect or have her opinions or voice heard because it was an all white boys club. Not only is it an all boy's club, it's an all white boy's club. And she didn't lump Trump into that. She said at times Trump would say, "Well, what does Omarosa have to say about it?" He seemed to at times still rely on her and respect her views. I think at the end of the day she would go back to work for him if he personally asked her too. She doesn't like John Kelly and others who have his ear. 

Do you think Omarosa was being genuine with her actions inside the house? Were viewers introduced to the real Omarosa on the show?

Chen: I do. What we saw in the house is that she is multi-faceted. We all are. What we saw is the real Omarosa and that she can charm you until the sun comes up and then if it serves her she can turn on you on a dime. You always have to watch your back with her. That being said she is fascinating to watch. She is magnetic. 

Grodner: It's an interesting platform for her. She has been seen as one way this whole time and has been a part of reality shows that are edited. It's really hard to hide who you are 24/7. If you're turning into the live feeds you're going to see someone who is three dimensional. That was interesting for people who had formed preconceived notions of who Omarosa really is. 

What were the challenges in airing Omarosa's Trump storyline along with the full game of Big Brother?

Grodner: When will we ever have someone go right from the White House into the Big Brother house? It was important for us to include that in the storyline because people wanted to see it. 

On premiere night, when she randomly got safety, was that rigged?

Grodner: My response to it is absolutely, 100 percent, it was random. Everyone here saw what happened behind-the-scenes. No one in the house questioned it, which should be a clue to everyone. They know what happened and they know it was absolutely random. 

What was your reaction when it happened?

Grodner: It was funny. Even I hit my head on the table. I thought, "Of course everyone out there in the Twitterverse is going to think that we set this up to keep Omarosa in the house." I swear to you we did not. People will believe what they want to believe, but you can ask any of these contestants. We do everything on this show to make sure it is as fair as absolutely possible.

Julie, viewers were really entertained by you mocking her asthma with a fake cough.

Chen: I don't know what you're talking about! I had a tickle in my throat. (Laughs.) When we first played back the tape of what was going on in the episode to the studio the whole studio was laughing and grumbling. Even they thought she was faking. So I thought, "OK, it's universal. She's such a bad actress. Everyone knows." She couldn't pull that one off. 

Omarosa has a history of being combative in interviews. How do you predict your interview with her will go?

Chen: She's smart. She knows if she's nice and charming to me it could only potentially help her. 

What are the chances that Celebrity Big Brother is coming back? Who would you want to have join next season's cast?

Chen: There's a good chance, maybe an 80 percent chance. The only problem is when do we do it and how many nights. It does take up a lot of primetime real estate. People I would like to see on it, I have to say maybe NeNe Leakes. I'd love to see Anthony Scaramucci or Sean Spicer do it.

Was Scaramucci a contender for this current season?

Chen: We formally asked him and he turned it down. But now he will see the attention Omarosa got. 

Who do you predict sitting in the final two on finale night?

Chen: It could be Ross and Marissa. I don't think Mark will be there. It could be Ari though. 

Grodner: Ross is in a really good spot. The question now is will he be caught? Ari as well has a good shot. 

Most of the jury will vote on the winner after being able to see everything that has happened this season. Do you foresee a bitter jury?

Grodner: I don't know. We haven't had this happen since season two and three. It wasn't an option for us to do a sequestered jury so it will be interesting to see how this will play into the vote.

Did you talk about other ways the winner could be picked? Was an "America's Vote" discussed?

Grodner: No. We really felt like this is Big Brother and Big Brother is played with the houseguests. To keep the integrity of the show we though this was about the houseguests and their game and that they would ultimately get to vote for who would win. 

Who has your vote for America's Favorite Houseguest?

Chen: Definitely Ross. He's so funny and loveable. He's smart, he's sharp, witty and quick. 

Grodner: Usually by the end of the summer there are some people that the audience has decided they don't want to see anymore, (laughs.) What's nice about this group is that there is no one who is truly hateable. 

Viewers have pointed out that there was more gameplay in these three weeks than the entire duration of season 19. Do you agree?

Grodner: (Laughs!) There has been a lot gameplay and that is attributed to how this cast embraced the Big Brother game and how competitive they really are. 

This upcoming summer will be the show's milestone 20th season. What do you want to see and what don't you want to see?

Chen: I want to see a whole new bunch of people. I don't want to see veterans come back. I would love to start out with 20 brand new people. Could you imagine 10 women and 10 men? That's a lot of story to follow. 

Grodner: I can't tell you at this moment, but we're really looking forward to having a season that stands out and makes it worthy of 20. 

Shannon Elizabeth said she would do a regular season of the show. Would you want to see that?

Chen: I'd like to see Shannon Elizabeth in it this summer. I wouldn't consider her a veteran because she only played the celebrity version and it was only a couple of weeks for her. I really would love to see her play the game not as a celebrity, but as a true gamer that we all know she is. 

Grodner: That would be amazing. Shannon is a really good competitor and loves this game and it would be great to see what she would do in a season where she has more time to work. If you have the time that the summer cast has to really turn things around and to have other things happen it would be interesting to see what she could do.

Would anyone else in this season do well in a summer season?

Grodner: They all would except for maybe Metta. It would be interesting to find out who would be open to it."

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Per TVLine, "[i]n the wake of Carl’s demise in Sunday’s midseason premiere of The Walking Dead, that’s the question that doesn’t beg so much as demand to be answered. Why — especially since Robert Kirkman’s comic-book series has so much more story left to tell for Rick’s son — did the teen have to join Glenn, Abraham, Sasha, Beth and so many others on the AMC drama’s long list of casualties? Here with an explanation for TVLine is showrunner Scott Gimple:

OK, walk me through the decision to veer again from the comics and kill Carl.
We wanted to tell a version of the comic story that kept emotions similar to what you’d get when reading the [source material] but in different ways, so that the comic-book-reading audience didn’t expect what was going to happen. We plan to do that moving forward as well — sometimes pulling moments from the book in sort of verbatim ways and sometimes in ways that are very different, with the goal of heightening the message in some way. Carl’s death fell into that [category]. This in many ways is sort of the ending of an era for The Walking Dead and the starting of a new one.

Mm-hmm. But why Carl?
He needed to be the person who pushed the world in a certain direction, who put out a certain message. That message might even be denied, but we wanted it to have the incredible weight of coming from this young hero in the most serious of circumstances. And [his demise] can show that this world is still the world of The Walking Dead, where these things happen. It couldn’t have had more gravity [if it had happened to another character].

So, Carl’s dying wish was for everybody to just get along and tell the Saviors, “Bygones.” How on earth is Rick supposed to sell that notion to, say, Glenn’s widow?
I’ll just say that it isn’t a slam-dunk that Rick can just accept the vision that Carl has. Other people may need to try and sell him on it.

Even if Rick gets on board, Negan doesn’t strike me as the type to bury the hatchet unless it’s in someone’s head.
Yeah, not after what happened. [The AHK alliance] messed the Sanctuary up good! And even if Negan really did want to jump into [a cease-fire], he is someone who is very conscious of optics… and his image, so that makes it harder for him to make a deal with the wrong people… or who are maybe looked upon as the wrong people.

What was with that last shot of Rick under the tree? Had he hurt himself deliberately, or was that blood just a side effect of having buried Carl?
Those are great questions that I probably shouldn’t answer. But I will say there are answers to that coming. There’s a great deal of meaning on that shot."