Thursday April 19, 2018

The series finale of Scandal airs tonight.  More below.

What's next for each member of the Scandal cast?

Netflix has (mistakenly) canceled Seven Seconds.

"CBS has renewed eleven returning series for 2018-2019, including its entire Friday lineup of dramas MacGyver, Hawaii Five-O and Blue Bloods, along with Bull, NCIS: New Orleans, NCIS: Los Angeles and Madam Secretary, two reality series Survivor and The Amazing Race, and news programs 60 Minutes and 48 Hours. All seven scripted series whose renewal was announced today hail from CBS sibling CBS TV Studios. They join previously announced The Big Bang Theory, Young Sheldon, Mom, NCIS, SEAL Team, and S.W.A.T. for a total of 17 shows, including its entire Tuesday and Friday night lineups comprised of ten dramas, three comedies, two reality series and two news programs. What is missing from the list? Veteran drama Criminal Minds, freshman Instinct, comedy Life In Pieces, CBS’ entire Monday lineup, including comedies Kevin Can Wait Man with a Plan and Superior Donuts and drama Scorpion."

Roseanne is now the highest-rated show of the 2017-18 TV season, surpassing NBC’s This Is Us and shockingly, Sunday Night Football.  SMH.

Homeland will end with its upcoming eighth season, according to its star Claire Danes. Appearing on The Howard Stern Show Wednesday, Danes indicated that the showtime drama’s next season would be its last. 'Now we’ve got one more season after this and then we’re wrapping it up,' Stern told Danes in the interview, to which Danes responded, 'Yeah.' When Stern asked, 'How do we feel about this?' Danes replied, 'Really conflicted.' She added, 'I’ll be ready for a reprieve from that,' noting that her character, Carrie Mathison, is 'a lot.' Post-production on season seven of Homeland ended last week. the season finale is set to air April 29 on Showtime. More to come."  

Danes also said she's pregnant with her 2nd child.  Mazel tov.

TruTV has ordered a 2nd season of At Home With Amy Sedaris.

"Netflix is expanding its true crime slate. Critically praised true crime series The Staircase is heading to the internet TV network, along with four-part original docuseries Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist, executive produced by Mark and Jay Duplass. New episodes of the Staircase will premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 28 before they launch on Netflix this summer alongside the original French TV miniseries, which aired on Canal+ and Sundance TV in 2004. Evil Genius, the story of the extraordinary criminal case known as the 'pizza bomber heist' will launch globally May 11 on Netflix. The Staircase, which hails from Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, follows the compelling story of Michael Peterson, a crime novelist accused of killing his wife Kathleen after she is found dead at the bottom of a staircase in their home, and the 16-year judicial battle that followed. De Lestrade was granted unusual access to the case immediately following Kathleen’s death in 2001 in Durham, North Carolina. Her husband, Michael, a local public figure and successful novelist, quickly becomes the prime suspect. De Lestrade captured every moment of the story from arrest to verdict, following in intimate detail Peterson’s home, the family and his defense team as it considered its strategic options."

I watched the entire season of The Staircase on YouTube in 2016.  It's akin to Making A Murderer and if you enjoyed MAM, consider yourself all in on The Staircase.

The inside story of Katie Couric's Yahoo! debacle.

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"Lorne Michaels will be entirely under the NBCUniversal umbrella.

"The Saturday Night Live kingmaker, who spent nearly 30 years at Paramount Pictures for his film endeavors, has left the Viacom-owned studio for Universal Pictures, where he and his Broadway Video have inked a first-look deal. The move is a logical one given Michael's long-standing relationship with NBCUniversal on the TV side. Erin David, his longtime collaborator, will oversee the film division there.

"In addition, Michaels has renewed his television deals. He has signed a new multiyear pact for SNL, with sources indicating that the mega-producer plans to remain in the job at least until he hits the 50-year mark (that'd be in 2025, since the NBC mainstay celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2015). Michaels also has extended his NBC primetime deal, where he executive produces the half-hour comedy A.P. Bio along with Seth Meyers.

"The first film being developed under Michaels’ new pact with Universal is Baby Nurse, an original comedy written by Austin Winsberg, who penned The Sound of Music Live! for NBC. SNL castmembers Leslie Jones and Colin Jost are attached to star in the movie. Described as having the tone of Miss CongenialityBaby Nurse centers on a special agent assigned to the most humbling undercover role in the history of the FBI. Michaels will produce alongside executive producer Jost, who serves as SNL head writer and "Weekend Update" co-host.   

"'Lorne Michaels is already such a vital part of the NBCUniversal family, so we are thrilled to formalize our long-standing relationship with him on the film side of his company,' Peter Cramer, president of production at Universal, said Wednesday in a statement. 'We look forward to collaborating with Lorne and his fantastic team as he continues his unparalleled run of success in producing quality, all-audience entertainment.'

"Added Michaels: 'NBCUniversal has been my home for many years, and I’m pleased to continue making films and working with Ron [Meyer], Jeff [Shell], Donna [Langley] and Peter [Cramer].'

"Beyond SNL, Michaels serves as executive producer of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night With Seth Meyers on NBC, as well as IFC’s Documentary Now! andPortlandia. His feature credits as a producer include Mean Girls, Baby MamaWayne’s WorldTommy Boy and Three Amigos, which he produced and co-wrote with Steve Martin and Randy Newman."

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"An U.S. adaptation of Utopia, written by Gone Girl author and screenwriter Gillian Flynn, is back on. Amazon Studios has given a nine-episode straight-to-series order to the project, with Flynn as creator, executive producer and showrunner. It will be the first project under an overall TV deal she has signed with Amazon Studios.

"A U.S. version of the 2013-14 British series Utopia, created by Dennis Kelly and produced by Endemol Shine Group’s UK production studio Kudos, was previously in the works at HBO in 2015 with David Fincher and Flynn. (Fincher, who had been originally attached to direct and executive produce, brought on Flynn to write the series having just worked with her on the feature Gone Girl, which he helmed from a script she had penned based on her book.) The series was in pre-production, and Fincher and Flynn had been rehearsing with the cast that included Rooney Mara, Colm Feore, Eric McCormack, Dallas Roberts and Jason Ritter, when it unraveled after Fincher and HBO could not agree on a budget.

"While HBO considered doing Utopia with another director, the project ultimately didn’t go forward at the premium cable network. (Flynn subsequently reunited with HBO on the upcoming drama series Sharp Objects, starring Amy Adams, which Flynn co-wrote based on her book alongside Marti Noxon). For the past couple of years, Endemol Shine North America continued to work on the adaptation and, with Flynn on board, it began conversations with Amazon several months ago. The green light for Utopia comes weeks after Jennifer Salke started as the new head of Amazon Studios.

"Utopia follows a group of young adults who meet online that are mercilessly hunted by a shadowy deep state organization after they come into possession of a near-mythical cult underground graphic novel. Within the comic’s pages, they discover the conspiracy theories that may actually be real and are forced into the dangerous, unique and ironic position of saving the world."

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"When ABC's Scandal signs off Thursday after seven seasons, 120-plus episodes and millions of tweets, it will also mark the end of the Shonda Rhimes era on broadcast television.

"Created by Rhimes, the fast-paced political soap launched as a modest seven-episode midseason order in April 2012, becoming only the second broadcast television drama toplined by African-American woman ever. The Kerry Washington starrer about corruption in Washington, D.C., will be the final series created specifically for ABC by Rhimes, as the prolific producer behind Grey's Anatomy left her longtime home at ABC Studios last year for a nine-figure payday at Netflix.

"To think about the strides that television — and Rhimes — have taken since Scandal first bowed is overwhelming. (Rhimes, in fact, still struggles to discuss the show's legacy and her impact on broadcast television as a whole: 'I'm not one to examine legacy,' she says.) Rhimes and Washington helped usher in a new (and overdue) era of inclusivity on the small screen that broke barriers and proved viewers wanted to see themselves reflected in primetime scripted storytelling. Shows including ABC's own Black-ishFresh Off the Boat, Speechless and FX's Atlanta, Starz's upcoming Vida and countless others had an easier path to the screen thanks in part to the trailblazing path that Scandal set.

"'Now it feels very normal and obvious that women of color can lead shows, so hopefully that is something that Scandal has done,' Rhimes told a small group of reporters, including The Hollywood Reporter, during a recent conference call. 'Hopefully we've created a world in which we've stopped seeing these characters on television and it's a magical anomaly that they're there and there's an otherness to them.… Hopefully we've made a dent in that.'

"When Scandal launched, it was the third series created by Rhimes that was on the air at the time and joined Grey's and its first spinoff, Private Practice. In the seven seasons since, the political drama became a water-cooler hit both on Twitter — thanks to star Washington's idea to have the cast live-tweet and create a community of so-called #Gladiators — and in high circles, counting fans including Barack and Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and other tastemakers around the globe. That helped ratings spike for season two, with ABC quick to hand out a back-nine order for the drama, which added Scott Foley (Jake) for the back half of the season as Rhimes and her team of Gladiators created a love triangle for Olivia (Washington) and President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn).

"But between Olivia's time standing in the sun with Jake and dreamy Vermont vacations with Fitz, the series always had one central theme since day one: how the Oval Office and the lust for power corrupts. When the series premiered, Olivia had already rigged an election to put Fitz in office. In the seasons that followed, Scandal would explore storylines that ranged from the outrageous — the sitting president would kill a Supreme Court justice; a formerly secret black-ops group called B613 would kill the president's son in a struggle for power; and Olivia would rig a second election to put the former first lady in office — to ones that ultimately had to be scrapped as they struck too close to reality. (In season seven, Rhimes and producers scrapped a storyline about Russians hacking the election after that became a global headline amid Donald Trump's surprising victory over Hillary Clinton in the presidential election.)  

"'It's always been my contention that the Oval Office, in our show, was a place that corrupted anybody who came near it and the closer you came, the more corrupt it made you and the more damaged it made you,' Rhimes says. 'Olivia started out as the character that we knew who has very much believed in how important this particular kind of power was and how molding it and being a part of it was — and we watched her, like everybody else, become absolutely corrupted by it, and make all the same mistakes that everybody else makes to get what she wants from it.'

"That included the season-six finale in which the former D.C. fixer— after getting former first lady Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young) elected president — took over as head of B613 and seized the most powerful position in the country. To hear Rhimes tell it, the season-six finale — with the first woman elected president of the United States — was how she originally imagined the series would end. 'We basically did what I had planned to be all of season seven in the finale of last season's Scandal, so [Thursday's series finale] is very different,' Rhimes says of how she originally envisioned the show's ending.

"While Rhimes cites writing for Jeff Perry (Cyrus) and Joe Morton (who won an Emmy for playing B613 leader Rowan) among her highlights, she singles out Young's journey — on- and offscreen — as one of the most surprising and exciting of her Scandal experience. Young was originally cast for only a limited guest role in season one as Mellie, the first lady whose president husband was cheating on her with Olivia. As has become a fun fact in Scandal's history, Rhimes knew early on that she wanted to write a presidential divorce and, while that storyline wouldn't come until much later, Young was promoted to series regular for season two and quickly became one of the show's most beloved characters. 'The evolution of that character — as a woman from bitter wife to president of the United States of America — has just been a dream,' Rhimes says.

"Mellie's presidential victory was plotted out as many, including the Democratic showrunner, thought the series would parallel real world politics with Clinton's election as the first woman to take control of the Oval. Instead, Mellie's journey would serve as a bit of wish fulfillment for Rhimes, who hosted a fundraiser for Obama and, with the Scandal cast, visited the White House during his administration and campaigned for Clinton. And while the series has had a number of storylines that experienced brushes with reality, Rhimes says the Scandal series finale is less about making a statement about politics in D.C. than it is completing Olivia's journey.

"'We've been talking about a political world that I hope no longer exists — or that I hope begins to cease to exist at some point,' she says, noting that it's up to the audience to decide what kind of statement Scandal is making about the nature of politics in D.C. 'We've been telling a story this entire season and heading toward an end. And the finale is really about finishing telling the story.'

"The final season has charted how the B613 power has corrupted Olivia as well as her journey back to stand the sun. That culminated in the penultimate episode of the series in which she went public with the existence of the black-ops group, putting everyone — herself, Fitz, Mellie and all her Gladiators — at risk.

"'One of the things that Olivia says in the penultimate episode is this idea of standing up and being somebody who puts everything out in the open is important,' Rhimes says. 'Whether or not everybody pays for what they’ve done, I don't know that that's what the finale is about as much as it's about seeing what happens once that choice has been made. We've put them in a fairly impossible position and you get to find out what happens and how that gets solved and where our characters go from there.'

"To that end, Rhimes says to expect a 'few' familiar faces to return for the series finale that will explore how Olivia 'figures out who she really is.' (Our educated guess is that Olivia's original No. 2 Gladiator Stephen, played by Henry Ian Cusick, will return to share that moment with his old friend.)

"'I've always said I'm more Team Olivia than every other team [and] it was most important to me to watch Olivia figure out who she is and what she wants as a person,' Rhimes says, noting the ultimate end is not really about the character putting her famous 'white hat' back on again. 'We're finishing the evolution of the character of Olivia Pope. The story is being completed and you're going to find out what happens.'

"While Olivia's evolution will be completed, Rhimes notes that the finale will, in part, be left open-ended. 'Yes, the story is wrapped up and, yes, the audience gets to imagine some of what happens next for the character,' she says.

"In terms of Scandal's futureRhimes — who once seriously considered doing a B613 spinoff — confirmed that the end of the series is indeed the end of the franchise and there are no offshoots planned: 'Scandal is done.' While it would be easy to revisit the world of corruption and Gladiators on ABC's Rhimes-produced drama How to Get Away With Murder after both series crossed over earlier this season, there are no current plans for that, either, though she stressed that the decision ultimately lies with showrunner Pete Nowalk. 

"Looking ahead, Rhimes' current roster of broadcast fare consists of veteran Grey's Anatomy, which when ABC officially renews the Ellen Pompeo-led soap for a 15th season, will tie with ER as broadcast's longest-running medical drama. Rhimes handed off day-to-day control of her first TV series to Krista Vernoff, who returned to the series this season after a six-year detour. Still to be determined are the future of Rhimes-produced dramas For the People, with the legal soap struggling to cut through; and Station 19, the second spinoff to come from Grey's that has better odds of returning for a second run. (This pilot season was the first without a Rhimes-created or -produced order in five years.)

"Asked to look back at her impact on broadcast television Rhimes — who, thanks to Scandal, catapulted to become a brand of her own with a thriving lifestyle website and as published author — struggles to find the right comparison. 'This is where I've spent my entire career and this is where I learned to write television — and it's the only game that I know,' she says of her journey that has made her among a rare breed of showrunners to have created three shows that each topped 100 episodes. 'I've been incredibly fortunate.'"

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Per EW, "[h]ip-hop is a dominant force in popular music and youth culture today, but 30 years ago, it was just getting started. The 1988 premiere of Yo! MTV Raps helped bring the genre into the mainstream by bringing groundbreaking artists to TV screens across the country. This year, MTV is celebrating the show’s 30th anniversary by reinventing the franchise as both a linear and digital series across its platforms.

"Everything kicks off with the Yo! MTV Raps: 30th Anniversary Experience concert at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center this June.

"The concert, which will be livestreamed by MTV, will feature an all-star lineup of hip-hop legends and Yo! MTV Raps alumni: Big Daddy Kane and the Juice Crew, Eric B & Rakim, Doug E. Fresh, KRS-One and Boogie Down Productions, Fat Joe, Yo-Yo, Onyx, EPMD, Flavor Flav, YBT Tap the Bottle reunion, Black Sheep, DAS EFX, Special Ed, Pharcyde, Brand Nubian, Nice & Smooth, Melle Mel & The Furious Five, Kid Capri, DJ Skribble, Red Alert, Chuck Chillout, Fab 5 Freddy, Ed Lover, Doctor Dré, T-Money, and others. On top of that massive in-person guest list, stars like Eminem, Method Man, and Redman will contribute special video tributes. 

"Yo! MTV Raps: 30th Anniversary Experience is set for Friday, June 1 at Barclays. Tickets go on sale Friday, April 20 at 10 a.m. ET on Ticketmaster and the Barclays’ site."

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"Live streaming service FuboTV has raised $75 million in Series D funding, attracting a group of investors that includes AMC Networks, 21st Century Fox, Sky and the former Scripps Networks Interactive, which is now part of Discovery.

"This investment round brings the total amount raised by FuboTV to $150 million, money the New York-based startup has invested in building out a sports-focused subscription service that got its start in 2015 live-streaming soccer games.

“'This latest capital raise underlines a seismic shift in viewing behavior as consumers migrate from traditional platforms to streaming television,' said FuboTV CEO David Gandler.

"FuboTV places a premium on delivering access to live sporting events at the college, regional, national and international level. Its channel lineup includes national networks such as Fox Sports 1, CBS Spots Network, NBC Sports Network, as well as such collegiate offerings as The Pac-12 Network.

"FuboTV also sells upgraded packages for passionate niche audiences, such as cycling or outdoor sports aficionados.

"Notably absent from FuboTV’s lineup is Disney’s ESPN — no surprise, given The Walt Disney Co.’s launch of its ESPN+ streaming service.

"FuboTV announced it passed 100,000 subscribers last September and reported double-digit growth since then. The streaming service is available on the web and through an app offered for download on Apple TV, Google Chromecast and Roku, as well as on Apple and Android mobile devices.

"Following a seven day free trial, the 70-plus channel bundle is available for $20 in the first month and $45 a month thereafter."

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, "Cinemax continues to expand its roster of action-packed dramas.

"The premium cable network and HBO sibling has handed out a straight-to-series order for crime drama Jett, starring and exec produced by Carla Gugino.

"The series revolves around world-class thief Daisy 'Jett' Kowalski, who, fresh out of prison, is forced back into doing what she does best by dangerous and eccentric criminals determined to exploit her skills for their own ends. Gugino, who fielded multiple offers again this broadcast pilot season, will play Jett. An episode count and premiere date have yet to be determined.

"Sebastian Gutierrez (Snakes on a Plane, Elektra Luxx, Gothica) penned the script and will exec produce and direct. Gugino will exec produce alongside alongside former IM Global president Mark Stern and former founder Stuart Ford and Dana Brunetti. Stacey Levin will co-exec produce, while Kathy Landsberg will serve as the line producer. The series was first put in development in 2015 with Gugino attached at IM Global, which recently merged with Open Road Films to become Global Road Entertainment.

"Jett marks a reunion with Gutierrez after she starred in the director's feature Elizabeth Harvest, which premiered this year at SXSW. Her feature credits include Gerald's Game, Watchmen and San Andreas. On the TV side, she next stars in Netflix's The Haunting of Hill House, which is currently in production. Her small screen credits include Roadies, Wayward Pines, The Brink, Political Animals, Californication, Spin City and Chicago Hope."