Wednesday March 7, 2018

"Discovery Communications said it has formally closed its $14.6B acquisition of Scripps Networks Interactive, creating a powerhouse of unscripted programming that CEO David Zaslav says will dominate the space it calls 'real-life entertainment.' The new company will be known as Discovery Inc. Under its umbrella are cable networks such as Discovery, Food Network, HGTV, ID and TLC, plus the sports network Eurosport and a stake in digital content generator Group Nine Media."

Mike Judge explains why T.J. Miller left Silicon Valley.

Pop has renewed Schitt's Creek for a 5th season.

Crosby Braverman may have found his next full time gig.

Meet the cast of Souther Charm: New Orleans.

"Few actors have classier resumes than Margo Martindale. The three-time Emmy winner has not one, but two critically acclaimed series returning this month, beginning with Season 2 of Amazon’s Sneaky Pete, which drops all 10 episodes on Friday. Martindale junkies will then get their next fix on Wednesday, March 28, when FX’s The Americans kicks off its sixth and final season. On Pete, Martindale plays Audrey Bernhardt, the matriarch of a family that has unwittingly invited conman Marius Josipovic (Giovanni Ribisi) into their home, believing him to be their estranged grandson named — you guessed it! — Pete. The series reunites her with former Justified boss Graham Yost, who came on board as showrunner after the pilot. She describes it as the happiest of coincidences. Pete‘s second season is a big one for Audrey, who is struggling to move on following the accidental murder of Det. Winslow, the dirty cop who went after Pete—err, Marius, during Season 1. The confidence man, meanwhile, is forced to go looking for Audrey’s estranged daughter Maggie (aka the real Pete’s mother, played by Twin Peaks‘ Jane Adams) after two goons show up claiming she stole $11 million from their mysterious employer."

The premiere of Hard Sun is available to stream on Hulu.

Stephen Colbert has booked James Comey as a guest.  He will appear on The Late Show on April 17. Get your popcorn ready.

Becca Kufrin is the next Bachelorette after getting dogged by Arie.

"Two weeks after Amazon Studios announced that Emmy winner Jeffrey Tambor would not be returning to play lead Maura Pfefferman on Transparent following sexual harassment claims lodged by two colleagues, The Hollywood Reporter has learned that production on the Jill Soloway comedy has been scheduled to begin at the end of the year, possibly in December. That would mean that the critical favorite will not air in 2018. (The series had been slated to resume production and air this year before Tambor’s dismissal.)"

Jennifer Lawrence called Lala Kent the c-word?

"Subscribers to Hulu sometimes use the streaming-video site to watch movies. Now they can use certain ads on the service to buy movie tickets. You might call it a commercial interruption interruption: In recent days, some Hulu users have been served a video trailer for the Warner Brothers movie Tomb Raider that asks them to use their remote to order tickets if they’d like to see the film in a nearby movie theater. Viewers can toggle to a new page to check out showtimes, see the format in which the movie will be shown, and find the closest movie house.They can then offer their email address to get a link sent to their phones allowing them to pay for tickets."

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"Since walking away as a Saturday Night Live cast member in 2013, Bill Hader has bounced around doing a bunch of things: showing off his dramatic chops in the indie The Skeleton Twins, playing the leading man in Trainwreck, doing a lot of voiceover work (Inside Out, "Sausage Party, The Angry Birds Movie, The BFG), and contributing to the voice of BB-8 for The Force Awakens.

"Now he's returning to television for the HBO series, Barry (series premieres March 25), which he said was inspired by the years of anxiety he battled with while on SNL.

"Cocreating the series with Alec Berg (Silicon Valley executive producer), Hader plays the title character, a former Marine who is now a hitman completely burnt out and in a midlife crisis. While on a job in Los Angeles, Barry suddenly finds acceptance when he mistakenly becomes part of a local theater class while tailing his target. Now Barry has to try to find a way to continue his passion (acting) while continuing his day job as a hitman. The show also marks the first time Hader has ever directed, as he helmed the first three episodes.

"Business Insider sat down with Hader last month to talk about how he channeled his fears on SNL — or, as he put it, 'the thing that you're good at is destroying you' — into a creative way to tell a hitman story, if he has received any residuals for voicing BB-8, and what it was like watching Tom Cruise become Les Grossman on the set of Tropic Thunder:

Was it harder to convince HBO of the Barry storyline or that you could play a hitman convincingly?

[Laughs] I think it was maybe both. To be honest, HBO was really open. They didn't need a lot of convincing. I had a meeting with them and said, "I want to do a show," and they said, "We'd love to do something with you." And they had seen The Skeleton Twins, and they liked my performance and saw that I wanted to branch out and do more than just sketch comedy. I think if Alec and I came in and pitched a broad comedy idea they wouldn't have been as interested. However, you say hitman and it conjures up images of a guy in a skinny tie with two 45s.

But you take that idea of an outsider looking for a community and then bring in the whole arch of a guy dealing with a dead-end job. The kicker is, though, it just happens to be the job he hates is being a hitman.

That's exactly what it is. We thought what's the thing that we could relate to and just copy-paste hitman into it.

So why a hitman?

I totally pulled it out of thin air, I'm going to be totally honest. Alec and I worked on an idea for a month and a half and it just wasn't jelling.

What was that?

I can't remember, it was based on a guy I knew back home in Oklahoma and it was much more a weird guy in the Midwest. It was more in tune with the shows you see now that are led by comedians. This show is his daily life and daily struggles. And then we hit this place where it had no narrative pull, and I like things like that. Where each episode ends and you go, "What's going to happen next?" And it didn't have big stakes. That got us thinking, the biggest stakes are life and death. And I just said, "Well, why don't I play a hitman?" And Alec was like, "Ugh, I hate that word."

But if it's Jason Statham saying, "Why don't I play a hitman?" it's like, seen that before, but you saying it makes things interesting.

Yeah, because I said, "It's me." I remember going to HBO saying, "OK, it's me as a hitman — but me." And they laughed and we pitched what essentially the pilot was, beat for beat. How art can heal a person. I love reading, I love music, to me these aren't recreational, they fulfill my life. So we made it as the thing this guy is good at is hurting him.

And is it true the show also gave you an outlet to explore some of the anxieties you went through performing on Saturday Night Live?

100%. That was the thing, at "SNL" the anxiety was so high. The longer I was on the show the better I was getting at the show but my anxiety didn't go down. It was actually going up. So, again, the thing that you're good at is destroying you.

Did you throw any specific experiences you dealt with on "SNL" into "Barry"?

I do have a stage-fright thing, it's gotten better. That was in the pilot a little. The closest thing in the pilot is when Barry goes to the bar with the theater class. I remember when I first got to "SNL" I was suddenly getting to hang out with Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers and Rachel Dratch, and Tina Fey, and Chris Parnell, all these people that I admired. And I would be at a bar with them and I felt very out of place. I have to work with them and they are all geniuses and I don't feel equipped.

You direct the first three episodes of the season, did that just happen by accident?

I wanted to direct. I said I wanted to direct the pilot and that was kind of a big thing. HBO came back and said, "We want to do this pilot," and I went, "Cool, I want to direct it." And they went, "Huh, well, have you directed before?" And I was. like, "No. But I've been on a lot of sets." And they were like, "Hmm." And I think the only reason they let me direct it was because Alec would be there and he's directed a ton of stuff for them. It was a thing I wanted to do my whole life. Before I wanted to be an actor. My heroes were all filmmakers. So getting a chance to do that was amazing.

You've said you watched a lot of true crime shows and movies to prepare for this, was that for a visual style or story?

More story. It's so hard because you just don't want to make it a TV show about other TV shows or movies.

You did not want to end up down the "Get Shorty" road.

Yeah. It's so easy to end up there. And that's not to disparage Elmore Leonard or "Get Shorty." I remember we were out in the desert shooting a scene and I turn to Alec and I go, "We're doing 'Breaking Bad' right now." And he's like, "Yeah, I was thinking about that." We're thinking, hitman that wants to be an actor, chemistry teacher who wants to be a drug dealer, we were like "Fu--! How did we not see this?" But, I love "Breaking Bad" so it seeps in no matter what.

Gonna change it up a little before we're done. Did you do any BB-8 stuff for The Last Jedi?

No, no, no. That was really funny. That is J.J. Abrams being a really nice guy. That is him saying, "Oh, I know you like Star Wars, do you want to come in and do the thing?" But anybody could do that, what I did. It's a Peter Frampton talk box with an app J.J. had.

I read once in an interview you did that you were kind of shocked to run into Tom Cruise at the premiere of "Tropic Thunder" because when you worked with him on the movie he was Les Grossman the whole time. Did you mean he was in character the whole time?

No. He wasn't Method or anything like that. It was just easy to talk to him because he was in that makeup. We're talking about "Risky Business" and I'm asking him questions about "Eyes Wide Shut" and he was so cool and so nice, but he was dressed as Les Grossman. But then seeing him at the premiere and he's like, "Hey, man" and I'm, like, "Jesus, you're Tom Cruise!" and I got star struck because I finally was next to him without makeup.

Did you come up with any bits on the fly on set for Tom to do as Les?

No. That was him and [screenwriter] Justin Theroux and [director] Ben Stiller. I was off to the side. I was just laughing at it all. I would improvise little things. I was just always trying to get him to yell at me. I would come up with stupid things to get him to get mad. I basically did an impersonation of an executive from Paramount that me and Ben know. Ben just liked the energy of me being this weird, calm guy and Les being this raging dude. But I don't think you can do Les Grossman right now. [Laughs] You would be in jail. It just seems he was a dying breed and hopefully dying in prison. [Laughs]

This interview has been condensed.

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, "Amazon is diving head first into the animated space.

"The retailer/streaming service has handed out a straight-to-series order for Undone, its first half-hour animated comedy series.

"Undone, which will premiere worldwide in 2019, explores the nature of reality through its central character, Alma (voiced by Rosa Salazar, the upcoming Alita: Battle Angel). After getting into a near-fatal car crash, Alma discovers she has a new relationship with time and uses the ability to find out the truth about her father's death. Angelique Cabral (Life in Pieces) voices Alma's younger sister.

"The series was co-created by BoJack Horseman creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg and recent WGA Award winner Kate Purdy (BoJack). Michael Eisner's Tornante Company will produce the series, which is in pre-production. The deal extends Eisner's relationship with Bob-Waksberg, with whom he also exec produces Netflix's recently ordered animated series Tuca and Bertie. Tornante's Noel Bright and Steven A. Cohen (BoJack) as well as Tommy Pallotta will exec produce alongside Bob-Waksberg and Purdy. Dutch artist Hisko Hulsing (Montage of Heck) will oversee the production design and direct a team of animators in the Netherlands. Animation will be done by Dutch co-producer and Amsterdam-based studio Submarine and Austin-based studio Minnow Mountain.

"'We’re delighted to greenlight our first animated half-hour series,' said Sharon Yguado, head of scripted series at Amazon Studios. 'Kate and Raphael are dynamic and creative forces, and I know they will create an amazing series for us. I can’t wait for our customers to see it in 2019.'

"Undone is the first animated half-hour series picked up by Amazon, which is utilizing talent from Netflix hit BoJack to make a run at the streaming giant. Amazon has had experience in animation before, but it was targeted primarily at children, with series including Creative Galaxy, Danger & Eggs and Niko and the Sword of Light, among others.

"The Amazon order comes as Netflix continues to ramp up its animated offerings with Tuca and Bertie, a straight-to-series order from BoJack's Lisa Hanawalt, Bob-Waksberg and Eisner's Tornante, with Tiffany Haddish set to star. Netflix's animated roster also includes Big Mouth, F Is for Family and Castlevania, among other youth-oriented fare."

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Per Variety, "[a]re we caught in a time loop? is a question you might ask yourself, upon turning on ABC’s American Idol for the debut of the show’s 16th season. In 2016, Fox gave the show a grand goodbye tour; a year later, ABC made a multi-million dollar deal for the franchise. It’s hard to term something a revival when it was gone for barely a year, but anyway, here we are. American Idol is back, and whether you like it or not, it’s ready to present to you the fresh-faced young American singers who want a chance to make it in Hollywood.

"The new Idol is, of course, quite similar to the old Idol. But it is clearly Disneyified. The new season emphasizes the upbeat aspects of the competition and glosses over the heartbreak, as if the production is implicitly apologizing for the mechanics of reality television. When clearly awful contestants come in, most of the snark is left implied — as if the audience is being left to comment at home in their best Simon Cowell impression. The reality show sound effects — whatever those silly stingers and beats are — still prompt the viewer to feel one way or another about what’s happening on-screen.

"But this is a decidedly less mean American Idol. The two-hour premiere begins with a schmaltzy montage about how music is what binds Americans together — which frankly doesn’t feel true, but sounds amazing. And in case you forgot about the corporate overlords, Mickey and Minnie Mouse mascots make an appearance in the two-hour premiere, during the auditions at Disneyland, in a bit of cross-promotion that we have come to expect from ABC.

"Though there isn’t a Cowell among them, the judges’ panel makes passable competition for the judges on NBC’s The Voice, which is now the reigning singing competition in the land. Katy Perry, the first judge who signed onto the revival, is —pardon me — the dark horse of the group; sincere, tuned into the listeners, and surprisingly natural, for one of the biggest pop stars in the world. She demonstrates an ability to soothe the contestants and even flirt with them a little, in a way that appears to put them at ease. In one lovely audition, she gets up and slow dances with a contestant as he sings a Frank Sinatra number.

"Lionel Richie is the other powerhouse; Perry, seated in the center, frequently turns to him as the voice of reason on the panel, and in turn, Richie often is asking his co-judges to pipe down so they can hear the contestants sing. Bryan is mostly there to be rugged and banter with Perry, but not necessarily in a bad way. The panel is so averse to delivering criticism that sometimes they fall silent; then Perry and Bryan turn and look expectantly at Richie, who is tasked with delivering the most adult spin on 'absolutely no, never' possible. It’s unclear how sustainable this approach is — not least because of the paychecks pulled by all three and Seacrest, combined — but for now, anyway, it’s charming.

"Overall, the new version of the show holds together well enough. American Idol’s episodes have always felt twice as long as they need to be, and the production’s mini-narratives for contestants, like so much unscripted television, still leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth. But upon seeing these bright and enthusiastic kids, it’s hard not to feel their excitement. Not all of the contestants are young, the ones that are display an adorable and maybe terrifying comfort with the apparatus of the reality TV machine; one, a sock collector, brings a novelty pair for each judge, tailored to their interests. (Katy gets laser-eyed rainbow kittens.) But no matter how much the production tries, there’s no glossing over how overtly manipulative any reality show is. This Disneyified American Idol has a steep path ahead."

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From Esquire: "You probably still haven't recovered the deadly robot dog hunters in Black Mirror Season Four, but the acclaimed sci-fi anthology has already announced its return to Netflix.

"Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror will officially return for a fifth season, as Netflix announced on Twitter with the tagline, 'The future will be brighter than ever.'

"While the tweet didn't give any additional details about a premiere date, it's safe to assume it will return near the end of 2018, when other seasons have dropped on Netflix. As for who will be joining this fifth season, we're not sure what actors are on board yet, but Brooker has been steadily getting more and more high profile names in individual episodes.

"Booker also been taking more risks. Season Four's feature-length USS Callister was a chilling look inside toxic fandom with a Star Trek satire. The creator has also been vocal about trying some less depressing stuff after the Emmy-winning Season Three episode San Junipero, a love story that spanned decades inside a virtual reality paradise.

"As Brooker said of San Junipero ahead of Season Four:

"I would say that because it was a departure in tone—the fact that it had an upbeat ending was a way of me resetting what I thought the scripts were—and the fact that that worked definitely had some bearing on where my head is at, script-wise. Looking at the world, it's hard to know quite how to react because the situation keeps changing every 15 minutes and you don't know what mindset people are going to be in come when we release the season. So it's had some bearing. We decide the order of episodes after we finish shooting. When something like that lands really well—and people love or hate all the episodes—but since that one resonated so much, you don't want to hit the same bell again, even though it's tempting. We have to be unpredictable with the show. We're kind of back to doing more different things again."

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Per Digital Spy, "Sharon and Rob's high-octane sexual shenanigans in Catastrophe may have once involved sex in a park, but Sharon Horgan has said that season four of the hit Channel 4 show will focus on the reality of sex lives in long-term relationships.

"The actress and show's co-creator ruminated that many couples find it difficult to admit that the sexual side of their relationship has fallen adrift after a while and that they turn more into 'partnership-friendship things.'

"Speaking to Elle UK, Horgan said: 'Is anyone in a long-term relationship actually having sex?'

"'I've definitely had some friends in couples who really go at it. But generally, long-term relationships seem to form into kind of partnership-friendship things.'

"'You don't want to admit to yourself that you don't have an active sexual relationship. People keep that under wraps.'

"Horgan revealed that she and Rob Delaney would be including this relationship issue in their new series, adding: 'We're writing the fourth season of Catastrophe at the moment, and that's a big part of it.'

"Last year's season 3 finale saw Sharon struggling to cope with the death of her father, and Rob relapsing with his alcoholism. Rob crashed his car after driving drunk, and admitted to Sharon that he wouldn't pass a breathalyser test.

"It also paid tribute to Carrie Fisher, who had guest starred as Rob's brilliantly wry and sardonic mother Mia, after the Hollywood legend's death in December 2016."

"It's believed that series 4 will reference Mia's death.

"Meanwhile, Horgan currently stars in comedy movie Game Night alongside Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman and Kyle Chandler."