Wednesday April 11, 2018

Bruce Willis is the next in line to be roasted on Comedy Central.

A 30 Rock reboot?

In support of Nick Miller.  More below.

In support of Tiya Sircar. "Alex, Inc., a show about Zach Braff holding microphones at various distances from his face, is not a particularly compelling sitcom. Sure, there are moments when you wonder whether Braff’s podcast career slash midlife crisis will succeed, but it all ticks by without much to draw you in. Yet, there is one clear highlight: Tiya Sircar, an actress you might recognize from The Good Place and Master of None, plays Braff’s wife. Even while consigned to this secondary (or really, tertiary) role, she manages to be engaging, charming, and funny. Forget the podcasting, it’s time to give Sircar a show of her own."

I absolutely loved the Andre the Giant doc on HBO.  Check it out if you have the time.

Bravo premieres Sell It Like Serhant tonight.  "It doesn't matter what you're selling – if you know your client and your product, a good salesperson can sell anything to anyone, and no one exemplifies this better than Ryan Serhant, the leader of one of the top real estate teams in the United States. In this new series, Ryan answers the call of struggling salespeople across multiple industries who are on the brink of losing their jobs and are desperate for his expertise. With some tough love and humor, Ryan will give under-performing employees a head-to-toe business overhaul and turn them into sales machines.  In each episode, Ryan takes a deep dive into each protege's world, using every trick in the book to become their bootcamp instructor, friend, teacher, and even customer, to help them reach their full potential. Ryan goes all in, often hilariously so, as he learns the ropes of different industries that are somewhat foreign to a Million Dollar broker - from learning to sell services in a waxing salon, to learning the world of high stakes hot tub sales, he will push his students, and himself, to the limit. As he tries their products and tests their sales skills, he gets to the root of what's troubling each salesperson, breaking them down and building them back up with expert knowledge and newfound confidence. Ultimately, employees will be put to the test each week when he or she will showcase their new skills in full view of their bosses and hopefully prove they can Sell It Like Serhant."

Amy Schumer was on Howard Stern yesterday.  I find her barely more likable than Kevin Durant.  She does not seem like a good hang in any way, shape or form.

Coinciding with yesterday's upfront, Discovery unveiled a slew of programming news across its key channels. Among the highlights:

-Martha Stewart is joining Food Network’s long-running cooking competition series Chopped as a judge.
-HGTV’s hit Property Brothers home renovation franchise is throwing a wedding in the Italian countryside for star Drew Scott that will air on TLC (known for its wedding-centric shows) and then segue into a new HGTV series Property Brothers at Home: Drew’s Honeymoon House.
-America’s Most Wanted veteran John Walsh is relocating to Investigation Discovery with In Pursuit with John Walsh, another vehicle focused on tracking down fugitives and cracking cold cases.
-Also for Investigation Discovery, Khloe Kardashian will host Twisted Sisters, a look at provocative crimes committed by siblings.
-Kate Gosselin, who became a reality star a decade ago on TLC’s Kate Plus 8, will be the focus of a show tracking her return to the dating world.
-Animal Planet will serve up a docu series about the family of the late Australian adventurer Steve Irwin revolving around the conservation efforts led by his widow Terri and children Robert and Bindi.
-Boyz II Men alum Nathan Morris drops the mic and picks up a tool belt for a home renovation challenge dubbed Hit Properties with Nathan Morris for DIY Network.
-Better Call Saul co-star Michael McKean will host Food: Fact or Fiction for Cooking Channel.
-TLC is assembling a two-hour special for next year featuring newly uncovered footage of the 1996 wedding of John Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette. JFK Jr. and Carolyn: A Camelot Wedding will coincide with the 20th anniversary of their death in a plane crash.

"Fans of classic science fiction should be happy to learn that Apple is developing a new series based on Isaac Asimov’s Foundation book series. The Foundation stories, published from the 1940s up to the ’80s, imagines a galactic empire on the brink of collapse and the secret society of scientists attempting to shorten the ensuing dark age as much as possible. The tricky thing about the series: it spans hundreds of years, making it a bit of an unconventional work to adapt. Film and TV versions of Foundation have languished in development hell for years now, but you would have to be a pyschohistorian like Foundation hero Hari Seldon to predict whether this latest attempt from David S. Goyer and Josh Friedman will make it to your television screen. Apple has been extremely bullish lately on the original content lately, but Foundation has proven to be a difficult nut to crack adaptation wise. David Ellison’s Skydance production company picked up the rights last year, ending a previous development attempt from HBO and the producers of Westworld. Before that, Roland Emmerich tried to make it a film, as did New Line Cinema before giving up and concentrating on something easier: Lord of the Rings. Now it’s up to writer-showrunners Goyer and Friedman to tackle the source material, which is long on theoretical mathematics and short on space battles."

Questions heading into the season finale of The Walking Dead on Sunday.

Jon Hamm does a great impression of Ray Romano.

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"Liz Meriwether doesn't appear to be interested in taking any time off now that New Girl is over.

Somewhere between wrapping production on the final eight episodes of her Fox sitcom and giving birth to her first child, the writer-producer committed to shooting three pilots this year. One reason for the full plate, the showrunner says, is to keep her mind off of the end of her longtime day job.

"But New Girl viewers were prepared for this seventh season to never have happened at all. When renewal prospects dimmed during the 2016-17 season, Meriwether and company wrote a sharp turn in the sitcom's biggest storyline to offer some conclusion. An eleventh-hour pitch exhumed the show for a proper sendoff, which kicks off Tuesday — and, as those who turn in will see, these episodes are unlike any of the 138 that preceded them.

"Meriwether spoke with The Hollywood Reporter a few weeks back about the new New Girl, its three-year time jump, a focus on parenting and what kind of legacy she hopes the comedy will leave behind:

How did you end up juggling so many projects this year?

I'm supposed to be leaning in, right? First, I said I'd supervise Erin Foster's pilot [Fox's Daddy Issues], and then Lake Bell and I started talking about her doing a network show [Fox's Bless This Mess]. The third [ABC's Single Parents] came from talking with J.J. Philbin, who worked on New Girl for all seven years. We had so much fun writing the parenting stories this last season, because there was a child. She was telling me all of her stories about being a mom in Los Angeles, and it dawned on us that we should make a show about slightly fucked-up people who happen to have kids. So we ended up taking that on, and then all of a sudden I had three pilots. It honestly helped take my mind off of the New Girl ending. I think I got cocky because we only had eight episodes of New Girl this year.

Would you have been satisfied if New Girl hadn't gotten this last season?

We were so lucky for so many seasons. We were never on the bubble, and that's extremely rare. I know [Parks and Recreation co-creator/showrunner] Mike Schur always felt like Parks and Rec could've ended any season. [Season] six was the first time I just wasn't sure. I just love these characters so much, and I think part of me was so worried that they were going to pull the plug, I felt like we had to end it in a way. The downside of that was that we did sort of end it. (Laughs.) That was the network's question: "Where do you go from there?" I was just making stuff up, because I honestly didn't know. I just felt down deep we needed one more season.

What was your pitch to the network?

This is a show that started as four single roommates, sharing an apartment. Now we're going into a show about three couples. It felt so different — like the original ending was gone. But we just know these people so well, we're kind of willing to go there. TV has changed in the years we've been doing the show. People are willing to take a leap. This show that was about one thing is now about another. Basically, I bullshitted my way through what could happen and was very pleasantly surprised with what we ended up doing. It's refreshing to tell kinds of stories that we never did.

There's a lot of parenting jokes in the first few episodes.

Our writers room has always been focused on our days being single, living with roommates. This is the first time on our show where the parents on staff really let loose about their experiences having children. There are just so many stories about how bad parents are — and how being a parent doesn't necessarily mean anything for your development as a person.

With all of the changes, what discussions did you have to ensure the DNA of the show was intact?

One big decision we made was that all of these characters could still show up at each other's houses for no reason. We wanted to keep that sense that they were still co-dependent in their friendships, because the show has always been about these people being too good of friends. It was actually really nice to have all three couples in it for life, so we weren't going to tell stories about couple drama — or "will they or won't they?" drama. The only question about Nick [Jake Johnson] and Jess [Zooey Deschanel] is if they're going to get married, not if they're going to make it as a couple. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be to maintain the DNA of the show while totally changing the premise.

Casting children is notoriously difficult, especially in comedy. How much work went into finding the two girls who play Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and Cece's (Hannah Simone) daughter Ruth?

We auditioned a bunch of twins before we landed on the Rockoffs, and both Hannah and Max were nice enough to come and read with the girls during callbacks. A couple of the girls we tried out looked so miserable, we asked them if they wanted to be there and do this. One of the girls said, "No." (Laughs.) I said, "Well, then you should leave and go play." At that age, it's so clear which kids want to do it and are having fun. It's funny because we do a lot of alts on the show, so many that we've gotten pushback from the cast in the past — and I think it was two episodes before one of the twins was like, "I'm not doing any more jokes." She learned so quickly.

Your Fox lot stage wasn't free for this last season, and you had to film across town. Was it weird to pick up and move after so much time in the same space?

It was so weird. With all the things that were changing, that changed, too. It turns out you can take the girl out of the Fox lot, but you can't take the Fox lot out of the girl.

How do you feel about the Fox-Disney deal?

I'm sort of pretending it's not happening. I've been so busy on the pilots, I'm not sure what it even is yet. I think a lot of people are still trying to figure it out. I don't really have a take yet, but I feel like I should.

This is probably a question better asked in May, but how would you like New Girl to be remembered?

Part of me just wants people to remember it. (Laughs.) I feel bad when I hear about a show from the past and don't remember it. I think the legacy will somewhat be tied up with what's happened with women in the industry in the years since we came on the air. The fall we came out, all of the press was about women making shows. That's not as weird now, which is great. At the time, the character of Jess was really different. And I was worried about a female character like that on television, and if we'd have to water her down. That's almost laughable now. There's so many complex women on television, odd women. It's been heartening to watch how much the creators and the content have changed in these seven years — not that I'm taking any responsibility for those changes."

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Per Deadline, "Brooklyn-based Gimlet Media, the company behind hit podcasts such as Reply All, Homecoming, The Nod and StartUp, has set its spring slate with three new original series. They are Sandra, a scripted fiction series starring Kristen Wiig (SNL, Bridesmaids) and Alia Shawkat (Search Party, Arrested Development), simulated Mars mission docudrama The Habitat, and We Came to Win, the company’s first sports podcast.

"Written by Kevin Moffett and Mathew Derby, Sandra follows Helen Perera (Shawkat), a new hire at Orbital Teledynamics– the company behind Sandra (Wiig), the world’s most intuitive virtual assistant. As one of thousands of Sandra operators, Helen spends her days peeking into the world of Sandra users, helping them navigate their questions and demands. One problem: the users don’t know she’s real. Christopher Abbott, Ethan Hawke and Avi Rothman also star. Mimi O’Donnell is Gimlet’s Executive Producer, Scripted Fiction.

"Serialized nonfiction podcast The Habitat, hosted by Lynn Levy, explores the lives of six individuals isolated for one year inside a small dome in Hawaii on a simulated Mars mission. While there, they will work to help researchers understand what life might be like on the red planet — and plan for the day when the dress rehearsals are over, and we blast off for real.

"All episodes of Sandra and The Habitat will premiere April 18.

"We Came To Win dives deep into the societal impact and political implications behind some of the most fabled soccer matches of all time, all ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. The sports podcast is hosted by Nando Vila, soccer journalist and host of Fusion’s Happy Ending with Nando Vila.

"Three episodes of We Came to Win will premiere on Wednesday, April 25 with seven weekly installments to follow leading up to the 2018 World Cup.

"Gimlet Media’s flagship series StartUp returns for Season 7 on April 27.

"In addition, Gimlet Media announced GimletFest, the company’s first live festival representing what it says will be the best of Gimlet Media brought to life. The event will be held at the BRIC Arts and Media Center in Brooklyn, New York Saturday, June 16 and Sunday, June 17, 2018."

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Per Yahoo!, "[f]ormer Silicon Valley star T.J. Miller has been charged with calling in a false bomb threat from an Amtrak train, federal authorities say.

"Miller was arrested Monday night at LaGuardia Airport in Queens, New York. He was charged in a federal criminal complaint “with intentionally conveying to law enforcement false information about an explosive device on a train traveling to Connecticut, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut.

"Miller appeared today before U.S. District Judge Jeffrey A. Meyer in New Haven and was released on a $100,000 bond. The charge carries a maximum term of five years in prison.

"According to federal prosecutors, on March 18, Miller called a 911 dispatcher in New Jersey and reported that he was on Amtrak Train 2256 traveling from Washington, D.C., toward Penn Station in New York City, and that a female passenger 'has a bomb in her bag.' Miller described the woman as having brown hair and a scarf. Amtrak officials stopped the train at Green’s Farms Station in Westport, Connecticut. Passengers were taken off the train and bomb squad members did a search but no explosive device or materials were found.

"The complaint goes on to allege an investigator contacted Miller by phone. This time Miller described the woman differently as having red hair and a red scarf and carrying a 'black bag carry-on suitcase with a handle.' He said she kept checking her bag without taking anything out; kept asking the First Class attendant what the next stop was, and seemed to want to get off the train and leave her bag behind.

"According to the complaint, the officer detected slurring in Miller’s voice and asked if he had consumed alcohol that day. Miller replied that he had consumed 'one glass of red wine.' Asked if he suffered from mental illness, Miller replied 'no, absolutely not. This is the first time I’ve ever made a call like this before. I am worried for everyone on that train. Someone has to check that lady out.'

"Investigators later determined that Miller had actually been traveling on a different train than he initially reported. An attendant from the First Class car where Miller had been sitting said Miller appeared intoxicated when he boarded in Washington, and consumed multiple drinks on the train and was removed in New York because of intoxication. The attendant also told investigators Miller had been involved in hostile exchanges with a woman who was sitting in a different row from him in the First Class car.

"The complaint further alleges that Miller, motivated by a grudge against the subject female, called 911 to relay false information about a suspected bomb on the train, and continued to convey false information to investigators while the public safety response was ongoing.

"The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, Connecticut State Police, Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Department, Amtrak Police Department and Westport Police Department."

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From AdAge: "Viacom is embracing fragmentation—or, at least, getting its arms around all the viewers who've splintered off from traditional TV audiences to watch on their own time and on multiple, hard-to-measure mobile screens.

"Its goal is to prove to advertisers at this year's upfront that it can find audiences no matter how they watch. Viacom, whose portfolio of cable networks includes MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and the new Paramount Network, will again make its pitch in a series of dinners instead of the glitzy presentations favored by most networks, aiming to talk with ad buyers in a more intimate setting.

"Among the talking points at the dinners, which start this week, Viacom will tout more than two billion new impressions of digital inventory for the upcoming season thanks to deals with internet-delivered TV services like Sling TV and DirecTV Now.

"'Where we have seen audiences digest our content wherever and whenever they want, that has become a challenge for marketers as well,' says Sean Moran, who leads ad sales at Viacom. 'The new advanced alliances we have created with the MVPDs … has given us new access to inventory and gives us capabilities to get into the addressable sphere.' (MVPD is industry shorthand for 'multichannel video programming distributor' and referred to cable or satellite TV providers, but now includes online TV services as well.)

"These IP-delivered TV services allow for dynamic ad insertion, meaning marketers can swap out ads and serve different creative to different viewers based on location or a variety of other factors.

"'Now you have brands that are trusted, brands that our clients know and respect and have worked with, and they can get digitally dynamically inserted in a way where they also have completion rates that are in the 97 percent to 98 percent range,' Moran says. 'It's just becoming a bit part of our offering, but it's only going to continue to grow at a tremendous rate over the next few years.'

"It's been a year since Viacom, under CEO Bob Bakish, has refocused its efforts on its six flagship cable channels—MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., Comedy Central, BET and Paramount—and negotiated new deals with large pay-TV operators.

"Ratings declines at some of its biggest channels have begun to stabilize. MTV averaged 435,000 viewers in primetime in the first quarter, down just 2 percent from the same time last year, in live-plus-same-day Nielsen ratings.

"And the revival of Jersey Shore became MTV's highest-rated new show in six years when it premiered last week to 2.5 million viewers and a 1.5 rating in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49 demographic. Of course that still pales in comparison to the heydey of Jersey Shore, when it averaged nearly 9 million viewers. Some 3 million people watched the original show's finale.

"MTV renewed Jersey Shore Family Vacation for a second season before the series even aired. Moran says he has been unable to keep up with ad demand for the franchise.

"'It is sold out and has become one of the hottest revivals,' Moran says. (Other reboots at Viacom include the popular children's show Blue's Clues, which Nickelodeon is bringing back.)

"Still, there are plenty of unknowns as Viacoms enters the upfronts amid merger discussions with CBS. The company rejected an initial offer by CBS last week.

"Viacom has felt the pangs of changing consumption habits perhaps even more so than other TV networks in recent years thanks to its slate of younger skewing channels, whose audiences are more inclined to consume content in non-traditional ways.

"For this reason, Viacom has been looking to re-aggregate audiences on every platform. Late last year it created the Viacom Digital Studio to make content specifically for digital and social platforms. It also acquired the influencer marketing firm WhoSay in January. Viacom will discuss these initiatives at its first NewFront presentation in May.

"Viacom's approach differs from some of its competitors, which have been talking about reducing ads loads or experimenting with new commercial formats like six-second commercials.

"'We have a belief that it all needs to be brought together,' Moran says. 'We think it needs to be standardized. I feel like we are in a place digital display was at over 15 years ago when people started coming up with their own digital display ad formats and every other site had a way of being the most creative, most engaged, etc. It was all well and good except it made it almost impossible for brands to cut the right creative that could work efficiently across different platforms and I think we are starting to enter into that same zone.'

"Viacom is looking to work with other network sales leaders, agency partners and holding companies and showrunners to asses the ad formats that are out in the marketplace and agree on which are the right ones for the industry to adopt.

"Viacom did introduce Paramount Network–a rebrand of Spike TV–at the beginning of the year with 30 percent fewer commercials in the first run of its original primetime shows."

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, "BET is doubling down on scripted programming.

"Under orders from new network president Scott Mills, the Viacom-owned cable network has handed out straight-to-series orders for a half-hour comedic reboot of 1992 Eddie Murphy feature Boomerang; comedy Peachtree Place, produced by Girls Trip's Will Packer; and a drama, American Soul, inspired by the life of Soul Train mastermind Don Cornelius.  

"All three pickups are part of a push to lean into what Mills says BET viewers want most: premium scripted content. It's the first programming mandate to come from Mills, who in December was tapped to take over for Debra Lee (with the latter remaining chairman and CEO of the Viacom-owned cable network). Mills inherited the role after serving as Viacom's executive vp and chief administrative officer, overseeing human resources, real estate, facilities and security. He previously worked for BET Networks, serving as president and COO, where he led business operations.

"'The shows that have been most successful on BET are all scripted: The Game, The New Edition Story, Being Mary Jane, Real Husbands of Hollywood. When you succeed in that space, it has a wonderful effect on the brand,' Mills tells The Hollywood Reporter as part of an exclusive interview ahead of BET's upfront announcements.

"The goal, Mills says, is to increase original programming by 21 percent, including nine original movies and new scripted series as he looks to leverage relationships with prominent African-American writers and producers and Viacom's corporate siblings. The scripted push arrives as BET is also bringing back its signature awards shows, including the BET Awards, Soul Train Awards, Black Girls Rock and Hip-Hop Awards.

"In terms of Tuesday's orders, a writer and producing team on Boomerang have not yet been determined. The 10-episode, half-hour comedy hails from corporate sibling Paramount Television. Like the original, it revolves around a successful executive who finds that his lifestyle choices have turned back on him when his new boss turns out to be a bigger deviant that he is. It's described as an updated version that explores contemporary workplace dynamics, including the changing role of gender, office politics, relationships and the conflicts between Generation X and millennials. 

"American Soul is inspired by the personal trials and professional successes of a young, ambitious and troubled impresario, Don Cornelius. The 10-episode drama is an unflinching look at the entrepreneur, his Soul Train dancers, crew and musicians in a cutthroat Hollywood in the 1970s and how they work, play, rise and fall against the backdrop of the show most responsible for the way African-American culture was perceived by the world. Jesse Collins, Jonathan Prince and Devon Greggory executive produce. Don's son, Tony Cornelius, will co-exec produce alongside Andy Horne. Greggory will pen the pilot and Jesse Collins Entertainment will produce.

"Packer's 10-episode comedy Peachtree Place follows five 30-somethings living in Atlanta as they try to build professional and personal lives they can be proud of, but the one thing they don’t have keeps impeding their progress: love. Unresolved feelings from college are uncovered and secrets revealed, forcing these friends to finally deal with uncomfortable truths about each other. Packer exec produces; Felischa Marye will pen the series and co-exec produce; Will Packer Media's Sheila Ducksworth will also serve as a co-EP. Packer, meanwhile, also will produce three movies of the week for BET. Details on the three additional movies of the week, all set to air in 2019, will be announced at a later date."