Thursday July 12, 2018

Don't hold your breath for a Mad About You reboot. Lord help you if you were.

Season 22 of South Park will premiere on September 26.

Amazon's The Man In The High Castle looks like it will finally return. I'm definitely going to need a refresher course.

This is such a great take on HBO's Succession.

Deadline reports that "Christina Applegate (Bad Moms, Anchorman franchises) is set to topline and executive produce Dead to Me, Netflix’s half-hour dark comedy series from writer Liz Feldman, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay's Gloria Sanchez Prods. and CBS TV Studios."

"Ozark star Julia Garner and Juno Temple (Vinyl) are set for key roles opposite Connie Britton and Eric Bana in Dirty John, Bravo’s true-crime scripted anthology series from Universal Cable Productions, Los Angeles Times Studios and Atlas Entertainment. Written by Chance co-creator Alexandra Cunningham, Dirty John is based on the articles and breakout true-crime podcast from Los Angeles Times reporter Christopher Goffard. It centers on John Meehan (Bana), a handsome and romantic charmer who sweeps Debra Newell (Britton) off her feet and pulls her into his web of lies. The series chronicles the true story of how a romance with Meehan spiraled into secrets, denial and manipulation. Garner and Temple will play the daughters of Debra Newell (Britton), who are both skeptical about their mother’s relationship with John Meehan (Bana). Garner will play Terra Newell and Temple is Veronica Newell. They join previously announced Jean Smart, who will play Debra’s mother Arlane."

More body positivity from Lena Dunham. I think we get it.

A first look at CBS' new sitcom The Neighborhood.

"France broadcaster TF1 has commissioned Endemol Shine France to create the first international version of the entertainment format Big Bounce Battle. The reality competition sees contestants race the clock, and gravity, as they try to conquer trampoline obstacle courses as fast as they can. The trampoline tracks become increasingly difficult as the series progresses, testing speed, strength, balance and timing, as the competitions battle it out to the final to claim victory and a cash prize. Originally created by Endemol Shine Netherlands, Big Bounce Battle was co-developed with Endemol Shine Germany for RTL, who inked a second series of the show in April following its debut in January. The French series will use the same set and studios as Big Bounce Battle Germany and is set to go into production later this year."

"Bon Jovi was lucky to avoid becoming an unwitting reality star. We’re told that the rock god stopped by Maison Vivienne in Southampton over the weekend — just before Bravo’s Summer House began shooting there. The singer dropped by 'with his son Jesse to say hi and find out how well their rosé, Hamptons Water, is selling,' said the source. 'Thankfully, they were gone by the time the cameras rolled.'”

"Following a unexpected run-in with an animal, Hollywood stars who lived to tell the tale sit down to recount their stories on Animal Planet's newest series Celebrity Animal Encounters. Animal Planet has greenlighted the series that was initially launched on Facebook Watch with shorter episodes. Over the course of that four-episode run, the series drew nearly 4 million views. From hilarious run-ins to dangerous confrontations, each episode will feature a variety of actors, musicians, athletes and influencers, such as Kristen Bell, Al Roker, Danny Trejo and Whitney Cummings. While each star narrates their story, audiences will be treated to an animated reimagining of each encounter. For example, Bell explains the story about her famous encounter with a sloth, Roker reveals his shocking experience trapped in a tent with a hungry bear, Trejo tells how he rescued a lost dog, and Cumming recounts her experience battling a group of coyotes in her yard who were fixated on her dog. Other episodes will feature stories from This Is Us star Justin Hartley, Moby, actor-comedian Kate Micucci and Judy Greer, among others." Riveting!

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Per EW, "Breaking Bad covered a lot of groundbreaking ground in five seasons, as we watched a cancer-ridden chemistry teacher named Walter White mutate before our eyes into a terrifying meth kingpin, all under the guise of providing for his family before his death. Of course, there were only so much alarming action, harrowing heartbreak, and caustic comedy that could be stuffed into 62 episodes of AMC’s acclaimed drama, leaving a few story possibilities relegated to the wish box. While speaking to EW for the cover story that reunited the Bad cast, Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, and creator Vince Gilligan reached deep into the recesses of their brains and pulled out a dream scenario that remained, well, just that.

"Shall we start with a wild WW scenario? That would be Walt (Bryan Cranston) and prostitute Wendy (Julia Minesci). 'It was just all in my fantasy,' explains Cranston. 'I thought, "Well, if we’re exploring not just his transformation occupationally, emotionally, why not have him go a little off?" There was a thought: What if he has this wild affair with Wendy or someone? I thought that would be interesting in the exploration of losing himself…. There was that scene when [Jesse goes] to that drug den and we are walking though and everybody is messed up — that kind of sensibility where you go so deep. My character might display it in a different [way].'

"Paul, meanwhile, had a less tawdry idea percolating for his character, who had partnered up with Walt to create the meth empire. While Jesse had a memorable and highly awkward dinner with Walt’s wife, Skyler (Anna Gunn), 'I was waiting for the time that Jesse was going to meet Walt Jr. [RJ Mitte],' says Paul. 'I remember that scene when Walt is in a sleep deprived state, exhausted, falling asleep and he calls Flynn by Jesse’s name. That was just so heartbreaking and Flynn was confused, but he had no idea what that really meant at that time.'

"Gilligan says that the possibilities of Jesse meeting Flynn and of Walt having an affair were bandied about in the writers’ room, but those stories never panned out. He did, however, find allure in a different kind of self-destructive story for Walt, more akin to Jesse’s descent. 'The other thing we talked about was: Should Walter White ever try his own product?' says the creator. 'He’s so proud of the product. What would happen if he tried it? Would he like it? Would he get hooked on it?'

"Alas, the more Gilligan explored the notion of this chemist getting high on his supply, the less organic it felt, especially given Walt’s personality. In doing research on meth-manufacturing psychology, Gilligan read stories of former meth cooks who got into the business 'because they loved the product — or they quickly came to love the product,' he says. 'A lot of the recovering ones we talked to or read about said that they became hooked on the process of cooking, as some heroin addicts become hooked on the process of getting a needle ready. It just seemed to us that it was enough that Walt was hooked on the power and the chemistry — and the process. It would’ve muddied the waters if he started using the drug, because this was a man who never had control in his life, and suddenly he’s got control. Why mess up a good thing?'

"Meanwhile, Betsy Brandt — who played the well-intentioned, high-strung Marie, wife of DEA agent Hank (Dean Norris) — had two specific hard-edged wishes. She was hoping that Marie would have the opportunity to use some salty language, and the actress even lobbied Gilligan & Co. for a cuss. 'We were allowed one f— a season to say,' she explains. 'And I was like, "This is why…" I would make a case as to why Marie should be granted that.' In addition, given Hank’s line of work, she always wanted Marie to showcase her own shooting skills, however good or bad they might be. 'If it turns out she’s actually a really good aim with the gun, I think that’s great,' she says. 'If it turns out she thinks she is but she’s a total mess, I would be happy. If Vince wants to write that, we could shoot it on his phone — just for us. I would do it. I would buy something purple. I would do it in a heartbeat. I would’ve loved for her to get in on some of the action.'”

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"Six stand-up specials into his career, Jim Gaffigan has developed 'a certain level of trust' with his audience. He opens his new hour “Noble Ape” with material about how his wife Jeannie developed and underwent surgery on a brain tumor in 2017.

"But before you get scared, she’s recovered nicely. And on stage, Gaffigan takes the news completely in stride, giving his signature clean comedy perspective on how the real casualty of this whole ordeal is that now he can never win another argument ever.

“'People know that I would only joke about the brain tumor if everything was okay,' Gaffigan told TheWrap. 'People in the audience are pretty confident we’re not going to find out that I was highly insensitive to the situation. It’s kind of like that I joke about my kids. The fact that there’s general knowledge that I’m an involved father makes it okay for me to joke about putting them up for adoption. If my social media wasn’t filled with social media of me traveling with my children, that might be less funny.'

"But Gaffigan certainly wasn’t always in good spirits. When he first learned that his wife had a brain tumor, he called Patton Oswalt, whose wife Michelle McNamara passed away and became the subject of Oswalt’s most recent stand-up special, to ask for advice.

“'I’m not that close to Patton, but I called him, and was like, look, it did not look good for a couple of days. What am I going to do,' Gaffigan said. 'He said, "It’s going to be okay." He was very supportive.'

"Like Oswalt, Gaffigan feels his job is to find a way to be funny in his distinctly personal way. The routine about the brain tumor is just a few minutes in a hilarious hour that includes jokes about the miracles of Japanese toilets, Michael Moore’s wardrobe and an unfortunate trip to the M&M store. Gaffigan’s wife, also his writing partner, came out of the MRI room and immediately had observations at the ready. And he found it hilarious how many of his atheist or agnostic friends, those who had always made fun of him for being a Catholic, called to say they were praying for his family.

“'People get a lot of credit or criticism for doing their particular style or point of view of comedy, but it’s kind of like what we do,' Gaffigan said. 'Comedians are very serious people, but succumbing to the sincerity or the seriousness of the situation would be kind of the easy way out. You want to entertain people. You assume that you can gain their empathy and make them laugh.'

Noble Ape, which is available Friday, July 13 in a limited theatrical run and 'on demand and wherever you rent or buy content' via the Comedy Dynamics Network, may not be a departure from Gaffigan’s stage persona. Through acting however, he’s found a way to go to places he wouldn’t on stage, whether it’s playing a less-than-upstanding father in the indie comedy You Can Choose Your Family, or even cursing as lawyer Paul Markham in this year’s Chappaquiddick.

"Today, many stand-up comedians turn to auteur-driven TV shows, directing or movie stardom to bolster their fame. Gaffigan is thrilled to have so many acting opportunities, but doesn’t consider them 'necessary' to his career.

“'I think we live in this day and age where, everyone who comes to my show, I don’t think they’re coming because of anything I’ve done on television,' Gaffigan said. 'The acting opportunities that I’m getting now, I don’t have any expectations that they will help my stand-up career.'

"Gaffigan is currently performing shows overseas, finishing up a vacation in Donegal, Ireland and then performing in London. And even abroad, he’s found the same trust in his audience to open up about his wife’s tumor and his personal experience.

“'We all have this tragedy that we’ve dealt with in our lives. It’s familiar to people, because we’ve all been in those moments of panic or sadness, so that stuff works pretty much anywhere,' Gaffigan said.

"Find a list of theaters playing Noble Ape starting Friday here."

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"John Melendez may be lying low after his prank call to President Donald Trump allegedly caught the attention of the Secret Service — but not too low. The Stuttering John Podcast host has inked a deal for a docuseries with The Idea Factory, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

"Darryl Silver (Big Medicine, Born Country) is producing the series, which will feature some classic antics of Melendez's character 'Stuttering John,' including prank calls and man-on-the-street segments. The show is currently being shopped to basic cable networks and streaming platforms.

"Melendez recently made headlines after he said he prank-called Trump and posted audio of the conversation on his podcast. Posing as Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Melendez asked Trump about immigration and Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's upcoming SCOTUS vacancy. Politico and AL.com reported that sources inside the White House said the administration was 'scrambling' to figure out how Melendez got through to the president, while ABC News wrote that a White House spokesperson confirmed the call. (The White House has not confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.)

"Since then, Melendez has claimed that the Secret Service visited his house and asked him to a meeting downtown, prompting Melendez to consult two attorneys including Michael Avenatti, the lawyer to Stormy Daniels (née Stephanie Clifford). On a recent podcast, Melendez said that Avenatti told him not to 'poke the bear' by provoking Trump with more headlines.

"Though, 'If they did put me in jail, it would extend the week's news cycle a whole other month,' Melendez noted on the podcast.

"Melendez first honed his Stuttering John persona on The Howard Stern Show, where he became known for provocative interviews and prank calls to famous people. Between 2004 and 2009, Melendez was the announcer and a correspondent on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno; later, he was a member of the writing staff on The Jay Leno Show and the reincarnated Tonight Show With Jay Leno until 2014. Melendez launched The Stuttering John Podcast in April 2018.

"'I will give President Trump credit in one area, which is that he did at least have a conversation with who he thought was a Democratic senator,' Melendez said in a recent interview with THR about his now-infamous prank call. 'Why doesn't Senator Menendez just pick up the phone like I did? It sends a very sad note about why Washington is so dysfunctional. They could have a conversation, they could find a middle ground if they just talked to each other.'

"The Idea Factory, which is set to produce Melendez's show, has also worked on A&E's God or the Girl and The Other Side, ESPN's Bound for Glory, Spike's (now Paramount Network) Half-Pint Brawlers and TLC and Discovery Health's Big Medicine, among others. Producer Silver is the founder and CEO.

"Besides the show he's shopping, Melendez is also prepping for the release of his memoir, Easy for You to Say, in October."

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"'We in trouble….!'

"That’s how Danielle Brooks describes the upcoming sixth season of Orange is the New Black, which is set to stream on Netflix on July 27. Given the seismic events of last season, which traced the fallout of a prison riot among the inmates, things aren’t looking good for the ladies of Litchfield. 'There’s no good that can come out of this riot,' says Brooks.

"Brooks stars as Tasha 'Taystee' Washington, whose crusade for justice for Poussey, her friend and fellow inmate who was killed by a prison guard, fueled the tension that threaded throughout last season, culminating in the death of vicious prison guard Piscatella.

"Ahead of the sixth season premiere, Brooks talks to Variety about the riot’s impact on the inmates, why she’s “terrified” about Taystee’s future, and how she feels about the groundbreaking series potentially coming to an end:

How did season six compare for you to what’s come before?

I think every year takes a new turn, but this one specifically because of all of the damage that happened in season five. The structure is completely turned on its head, the structure of what we’re used to being at Litchfield — that’s over because we’re all going to max. There’s no way up from starting a riot in prison, especially when you’re already considered in the bottom of the barrel of society. You’re not really considered human, and so I was never expecting it to be a victorious moment at the end. These girls, they’re in for it. So this season’s really about survival, because all these other inmates from different prisons have heard about what has happened. There’s going to be so many different versions of the truth and how that manifests in each women’s outcome, it will be very interesting.

How does that impact all the women of Litchfield?

These girls are finding new homes and with new homes is new faces, new inmates, new guards and finding your family, finding your tribe. You have to start all over again while still trying to hold on to your tribe, while still trying to keep together this community of Litchfield in a new environment.

So it’s going to be I think an incredible season. I think the fans will feel somewhat satisfied, and I think the writers were really inventive this season. You’ll see some episodes that you just never would have imagined the direction taking that turn, and I think that’s pretty cool. Orange has been such a trailblazer in changing the way in which we view television already, but the first episode will definitely start off that same way. It’s like, whoa — I’ve never thought of that, I’ve never seen that before in the storytelling.

Where is Taystee emotionally at the start of the season?

Man, at the start of season six she is sort of dazed out and kind of in awe of what has transpired and what hasn’t transpired. The fact that no justice was served for Poussey, she’s really struggling with still feeling quite alone and feeling no sense of family still. Everyone has left her world, and so we see her trying to fight depression, trying to fight her will to give up. We also get to go back and see more of Taystee’s flashbacks and see where she’s come from and how her past has really landed her here.

I feel like there’s so many people out there like Taystee who really are incredible human beings, incredible people, but the cards that they’re dealt never really pan out for them. They’re kind of always getting the two of clubs, they never really get the joker, and I feel like that’s what her situation has always been. She realizes that some people really are in it for themselves. They really are not loyal; they will do anything for their own personal gain or personal success. We definitely see this season how she deals with the people that she thought had her back not being there for her.

How will she deal with that betrayal?

I think with Taystee at this point it’s really about battle. It’s like, am I going to fight for myself now? I’ve fought for everybody else. I’ve fought for people to really come to love Vee, and that didn’t work. I’ve fought for my relationship with Poussey and that didn’t work and she’s gone. I’ve even fought for the relationship with Crazy Eyes, but mentally she’s not there. So now it’s time for her to fight for herself. Caputo tries to step up and be that father figure for her, encouraging her. But as far as where she’s going to end up, I don’t know. I’m terrified.

Do you think season seven will be the last for you? Do you see season seven as the end of the series?

I don’t know. I am dreading it. Whatever happens, whether we go on for five more years or whether season seven is the last year, I’ll go on the ride. I’m down to see where this takes me because this is still the beginning of my career. This is my first major break. It’s given me so much. My heart starts feel a little heavy knowing that we might be coming to an end because, especially with my character being a little bit more isolated from all of the other main characters on the show, it’s sort of like damn, can I just rewind the tape real quick? Can I just rewind time and take in those moments a little bit more? To spend more time with my girls, to really soak up those moments that we got to create together.

At this moment, you just don’t know if this is the end or not, so you’ve just got to really cherish every 5:00 a.m. call. You’ve got to really cherish those hours that you’re just sitting in the cell with Nick Sandow or sitting in the cell with Taylor Schilling waiting for them to fix the light. You really have to embrace all of those moments, because it’s going to be the end. I don’t know when, but I feel like we’re closer to the end than the beginning."

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Per Deadline, "[a] new television platform that gives viewers the power to greenlight original TV shows launches today with a pilot from filmmaker, actor and comedian Kevin Smith.

"Rivit TV provides an online platform for established creators like Smith to screen their passion projects for audiences and solicit pledges to finance the full season. The success of the fundraising campaign determines whether a show enters production.

"Smith said he hopes use Rivit TV to breathe new life into Hollyweed, a half-hour stoner workplace comedy set in a Los Angeles cannabis dispensary. It follows two potheads — Smith, in his first major speaking role, an Chappelle’s Show’s Donnell Rawlings — as they navigate the ups and downs of managing a small business in their quest for profits and the perfect bud.

"The pilot was shot two and a half years ago on spec, with funding from FremantleMedia and five firms with ties to the cannabis industry, never found a buyer.

“'Everything about it was sweet, but nobody wanted it,' Smith said. 'So, it sat there.'

"Rivit TV’s chief content officer, Marcus Wiley, the former co-head of comedy development at Fox, approached the director with the idea of raising money directly from his fans, without worrying about advertisers or a committee of network executives.

"Fans watch a pilot episode on on Rivit TV’s website and decide whether a TV show is worth paying a modest per-episode price (from $1.99 to $5.99) to complete the season. Creators have 45 days to coax fans to support or 'greenlight' their projects. If they fail to reach their fundraising goal, no one is charged.

"Smith said he was sold.

“'If enough people sign up, we get to make more,' Smith said. 'Honestly, I think its funny. There have been a few dispensary shows. I’m a weed smoker myself. I feel like there’s space for it. I don’t think the genre is exhausted yet.'

"Smith plans to plug Hollyweed during a scheduled Hall H appearance on Saturday, July 21, at Comic-Con.

"Rivit TV is the brainchild of Wade Bradley, an entrepreneur who has trades on the Hollywood dream. His last venture, IndieVest, solicited high-net-worth investors to back his film projects. Three investors sued, claiming fraud and negligent misrepresentation and seeking $1.5 million in damages. The case was dismissed after the parties reached an out of court settlement.

“'It’s ancient history,' said Bradley of the dispute.

"Bradley said he has raised $5 million to back his latest venture, which he said was inspired by the cancelation of Arrested Development. His analysis of the per-episode costs revealed that the show could have turned a profit, if every viewer pledged 45 cents.

“'It kicked around for a couple of years,' Bradly said, before he and co-founder Adam Shaw arrived at Rivit TV’s model. 'Fans get to watch a pilot of a creator that they absolutely love … The more they pledge, the fewer it takes to have the show greenlit.'

"Rounding out the C-suite are Chief Marketing Officer Robin Zucker, who previously served as SVP of marketing at Playboy Enterprises and head of social marketing for Yahoo!; Chief Technology Officer Steve Adler, who previously headed Mobile Technology for the NFL where he developed the NFL Mobile app and digital video delivery for the entire NFL Digital Media Group; and Chief Product Officer Ross Cox, an Emmy award-winning digital product and gaming executive whose background includes stints at NBC Entertainment and Cartoon Network / Adult Swim."