Monday August 6, 2018

What a finale to an absolutely fantastic season 1 of HBO's Succession. This show holds court as the best show of 2018 IMHO. More below.

Including this interview with showrunner Jesse Armstrong.

And this finale exit interview from The Ringer.

Better Call Saul returns tonight.

The series premiere of Lodge 49 follows immediately thereafter.

FX has renewed American Horror Story for a 10th season.

"It’s one of the most common TV tropes of the century, but how much time did our greatest will-they-or-won’t-they couples actually spend together?"

Netflix original Like Father is borderline unwatchable (save for the pretty great soundtrack). The streamer continues to strike out when it comes to films and should stick to what it does best, original series.

Demi Lovato has a message for her fans.

"Niecy Nash, Aunjanue Ellis, Kylie Bunbury, Marsha Stephanie Blake and Storm Reid have all joined Netflix’s Central Park Five limited series from Ava DuVernay, the streamer announced Friday. Nash, who currently stars on the TNT drama Claws, will play Delores Wise, mother of Korey Wise. Quantico alum Ellis will play Sharone Salaam, mother of Yusef Salaam. Bunbury (Pitch) will play Angie Richardson, sister of Kevin Richardson; Blake (Crown Heights) will play Linda McCray, mother of Antron McCray; and A Wrinkle in Time star and DuVernay go-to Reid will play Lisa, a friend of Korey Wise. The five actresses join a cast that includes Michael K. Williams, Vera Farmiga, John Leguizamo, Felicity Huffman, Jharrel Jerome and Jovan Adepo. Written and directed by DuVernay, the four-episode series will adapt the true story of the five teenagers of color from Harlem — Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise — who were convicted of a rape they did not commit. The series will span from the spring of 1989, when each were first questioned about the incident, to 2014 when they were exonerated and a settlement was reached with the city of New York."

"Kathryn Dennis could be trying to find love on reality TV for the second time. The Southern Charm star, 25, told a fan via Twitter on Thursday that she’s “kind of in talks” about joining The Bachelorette. Dennis — now single — previously found love with Thomas Ravenel, 55, after meeting during filming for Southern Charm. They welcomed a daughter, Kensie, 4, and a son, Saint, 2, before splitting in 2016. Ravenel is now dating Ashley Jacobs, while Dennis likes to toy with the idea of being with her other co-star Shep Rose. WB, the production company behind the ABC hit, declined to comment."

The evolution of Mila Kunis.

Secrets from The O.C. pilot.

Lance Bass wanted that Brady Bunch house.

"Big Bang Theory could be back for a thirteenth season. During an appearance at the TCA summer press tour on Sunday, CBS Entertainment head Kelly Kahl said that the company and Warner Bros. Television, which produces the show, are already discussing renewing the show beyond its upcoming twelfth season. 'We don’t believe it’s the final year,' Kahl said. 'We are in preliminary discussions to renew the show with Warner Bros.' The announcement drew tweets of 'huh' and 'fascinating' from series co-creator and executive producer Bill Prady. Warner Bros. declined to comment. Series star Johnny Galecki also said back in January that he and the cast would be comfortable ending the show with Season 12. 'The only way we’ve discussed wrapping the show is we’re all going to be very sad when that day comes,' he said. 'I think at this point everyone is very comfortable with 12 seasons being a good time to go home and see our families.'”

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From The New York Times: "Like a stock chart, the fortunes of the four Roy siblings rose and fell over the course of the first season of Succession, Jesse Armstrong’s HBO drama about a wealthy media family’s Shakespearean struggles. After appearing poised to kill the king, the patriarch and media mogul Logan Roy (Brian Cox), with a hostile takeover maneuver called a bear hug, Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong) instead found himself in his father’s fearsome embrace after a tragic turn of events added Chappaquiddick to the show’s list of real-life echoes.

"Mr. Strong, 39, known for roles in based-on-a-true-story films like The Big ShortSelma and Lincoln, gave Kendall an intense mix of arrogance and insecurity as he dealt with business cutthroats and looming substance abuse. He spoke to The New York Times from Copenhagen — where he is laying low with a newborn baby and said he hasn’t seen the show ('I’m sort of staying away from it') — about getting in the ring with Mr. Cox and what might be ahead for Kendall in Season 2. These are edited excerpts from that conversation:

You spent a ton of time with the real Vincent Daniel before Big Short. For something like Succession, where it’s more fictionalized, how did you figure out who Kendall Roy is?

I did a deep dive on the media landscape in general, but also on a number of dynastic families. There’s a number of great books on the Murdoch family, of course, and Michael Wolff’s book was important to me to read, The Man Who Owns the News. But also looking at the Redstones and at Conrad Black and at the Koch brothers and the Newhouse family and the Sulzberger family, and trying to cast as wide a net as possible on the question of legacy. Something that really stood out to me was this idea of the credo of winning; that winning — and, in a sense, success — is a virtue. That seemed to be a common thread throughout all these books; I mean, Sumner Redstone’s book is called A Passion to Win. It’s a part of our culture in this moment — you know, The Art of the Deal, another book that’s sort of about that ethos. So I guess my way in was trying to understand the ethos of the world that Kendall is in, and then separately trying to understand who he is.

It seems like he’s trying on these different personas. Is there an aspect of Kendall that’s the “real” him?

I think he is, certainly at the beginning of the episodes, trying on this corporate identity and this armor, this kind of tech media bro persona that is his attempt at showing strength and projecting an image of confidence and an image like his father projects, a fearsome image. And I also think he is ridden with doubt. I would say at the heart of Jesse’s conception of the character is also addiction, and that’s something on a kind of spiritual level, in a sense, that malady and the need to fill some lack in himself.

A lot of what seems to get Kendall in trouble in the business arena is that he’s overly trusting.

Absolutely. I think on some level, Kendall just simply doesn’t have that killer instinct. He’s not a ruthless person; he’s not an amoral operator the way his father is. That being said, the arc of this first season — Kendall has it in his DNA to become a man like his father. He either is going to escape his family’s legacy and the poison of that, or he’s going to internalize it and become his father. You know — and I’ll be struck down by lightning — but in Godfather, which of course we all looked at, and always sort of referenced, Michael [Corleone] in the beginning is a sort of guileless student and then he becomes a man of blood. And that journey, that gradual erosion of his morality and the ways in which he’s forced to cross his own moral lines, I do see some parallels in terms of this character and I think that anything is possible, really, going forward.

So much happened in the finale but in the end, in a way, it returns to the status quo. It seems like it’s going to be really difficult for Kendall to get out from under Logan, now that he has so much on him.

I think so, too. In a sense his life has been defined by his own shadow boxing with this relationship — whether he’s trying to get out from under his father’s shadow or he’s trying to become like his father, I think that is kind of the Pole Star of his life. And so I don’t know if there is a way out of that. We don’t have the scripts in advance; I read [episodes] 9 and 10 at a table read for the first time, cold, the day I arrived in England at Eastnor Castle in Ledbury. So while I had a sense of the trajectory of it I was still shocked by the final episodes, and they were very difficult to do, to go through.

Playing off the idea of the father-son relationship, what was it like working with Brian Cox?

You know, Brian, he’s a heavyweight actor. And he’s a very, actually in life, gregarious and open, kindhearted man. Part of the way that I like to work is to allow for the dynamic in the material to exist as much as possible in the environment, and so that meant, for me, keeping distance and allowing for there to be real tension, because I think it’s important. And so I didn’t have all that much interaction with Brian apart from meeting each other in the ring, in a sense. But God almighty, when you are in the ring with him you get everything you need, because he completely embodies that character and he can be very terrifying.

We’ve mostly talked about the dramatic aspects of the show, but at times it was hilarious. When you pop up at Connor’s ranch for the family therapy —

They used one of the songs, right?

Where you go, “Fam-ily! Ther-a-py!”?

Right, right! Yeah, good! [laughs] I don’t know how much I’m allowed to say, but I knew that I needed to take some risks for that episode. I knew that what was required for when he veers off course and falls off the wagon was to step into chaos in a sense and to actually not be in control. It was exhilarating, and scary, and, I mean, I got pretty [expletive] up for some of it. So New Mexico was an exciting episode in that sense, because I had no idea what was going to come out. But I knew that I wanted to be a wrecking ball.

Did anyone keep the Lanvin sneakers from the Dust pitch scene?

Oh, dude. I spent a long time trying to pick out the right sneakers, and Michelle Matland, the wardrobe designer, is really incredible. It was very important for me to really wear the clothes and for the world they were in to have the weight of reality. But yes, I kept the Lanvins, along with a bunch of other stuff that I’m rocking in Copenhagen as we speak."

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From The Hollywood Reporter: "Chris Rock has just booked his first TV series regular job in nearly a decade.

"The comedian, former Oscar host and actor has signed on to star in the officially greenlit fourth season of Noah Hawley's FX anthology Fargo. The role marks his first full-time TV gig since UPN's Everybody Hates Chris. The role marks Rock's return to FX, who previously exec produced talk show Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell. 

"'I’m a fan of Fargo and I can’t wait to work with Noah,' Rock said.

"In speaking with reporters Friday morning at TCA, FX CEO John Landgraf said Hawley was the one who reached out to Rock and the duo wound up having lunch during which time the showrunner explained what season four was and the actor 'signed on right away.'

"Season four will tell a story of immigration and assimilation, and the things people do for money. In typical Fargo fashion, it's a story of decent people who are probably in over their heads. Production on season four will begin in 2019. A return date has not yet been determined.

"Here's the official FX description: 'Season four of Fargo is set in 1950, at the end of two American migrations — that of Southern Europeans from countries like Italy, who came to the U.S. at the turn of the last century and settled in northern cities like New York and Chicago — and African-Americans who left the South in great numbers to escape Jim Crow and moved to those same cities — you saw a collision of outsiders, all fighting for a piece of the American dream. In Kansas City, Missouri, two criminal syndicates have struck an uneasy peace. One Italian, one African-American. Together they control an alternate economy — that of exploitation, graft and drugs. This too is the history of America. To cement their peace, the heads of both families have traded their eldest sons.'

"Rock will play the head of one family, a man who in order to prosper has surrendered his oldest boy to his enemy and who must in turn raise his son's enemy as his own. It’s an uneasy peace, but profitable. And then the head of the Kansas City mafia goes into the hospital for routine surgery and dies. And everything changes."

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Per Deadline, "It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia co-creator and star Rob McElhenney said a 'massive' show of enthusiasm from LGBTQ viewers to his character, Mac, coming out as gay last season helped the show lean into the storyline in the upcoming Season 13.

"The session devoted to the show during TCA summer press tour tweaked the usual tour format. It began with the cast doing an amusingly high-spirited 'table read' from the script of an upcoming episode titled Mac Finds His Pride.

"A lengthy clip then screened from the episode. It showed Mac (McElhenney) and an unnamed female partner doing an elaborately choreographed dance number, complete with rain effects, in a prison for Mac’s inmate father Luther. (McElhenney said about 50 takes were required to shoot the dance.) The point of the dance is for Mac, who came out as gay in Season 12, to reveal his sexual orientation to his dad. (Formerly 'Fat Mac,' he has also developed a buff physique, which McElhenney said was another aim of the show, to riff on the TV trope of shirtless characters having chiseled physiques.)

"While the comedy flows through the script, the lyrical and fluidly edited dance sequence is played very sincerely. Shots of the inmates and others in the audience looking on with emotional expressions recall the classic ending of Sullivan’s Travels by Preston Sturges.

"After the clip screened, the cast took questions for about 10 minutes. Gearing up for its 13th season, the show is getting bolder with its experiments, the creative team said. Charlie Day, a writer-producer of the show in addition to playing one of the lead roles, alluded to an all-female remake of a previous episode being in the works for Season 14.

"Asked about the motivation for the 'pride' episode, McElhenney joked, 'It’s Season 13, so we’ve gotta do something.' Turning more serious, he said the plot direction 'slowly evolved over time.' He recalled the 'massive response' he got via social media from the LGBTQ community to Mac coming out last season. 'They told me how moved they were by it and how important it was to be represented.' Day added, 'We wanted to try something, for lack of a better term, heartwarming,' he said.

“'I was really moved by it,' DeVito said. 'It was cool to see that. And inspiring.'

"Panelists also confirmed that Dennis, played by Glenn Howerton, will appear in more than half of the episodes in Season 13 — though in one, the character will be represented by a sex doll."

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"Another classic 1980s sitcom is eyeing a comeback. I hear a reboot of The Facts of Life is in early stages at Sony Pictures TV, with Appian Way, the company run by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson, in negotiations to produce  the project alongside Jessica Biel via her Iron Ocean Films. The potential series is currently looking for a writer. The studio declined comment.

"The Facts of Life, a spinoff of Diff’rent Strokes, aired on NBC from 1979-88, making it one of the longest-running sitcoms of the decade. Charlotte Rae starred as Edna Garrett, a housemother at the fictional Eastland School, an all-female boarding school in Peekskill, New York. Garrett later is promoted to school dietician, and four of the girls move into new quarters above the cafeteria. She eventually leaves the school and opens her own business, with help from her girls. The series focused on issues that teenage girls face such as drug use, sex, eating disorders and peer pressure.

"The Facts of Life, created by Dick Clair and Jenna McMahon, was nominated for three Emmys over the course of its nine-year run, including lead actress in a comedy for Rae. The series starred Lisa Welchel as Blair, Kim Fields as Tootie, Mindy Cohn as Natalie, and Nancy McKeon as Jo.

"Sony TV recently successfully rebooted the Norman Lear classic One Day At A Time, which is heading into its third season on Netflix.

"There have been two revivals of 1980s multi-camera comedies to return to broadcast TV, Roseanne on ABC last season, and Murphy Brown on CBS this coming season.  (Roseanne was canceled in May over star Roseanne Barr’s racial tweet and will be replaced by a spinoff series, The Conners.)

"Additionally, the 1980s ALF also is plotting a comeback at Warner Bros. TV and is currently looking for a writer.

"Appian Way has produced a number of movies, including the Oscar-nominated The Wolf of Wall Street. Biel executive produces the USA Network anthology The Sinner,whose first installment earned her an acting Emmy nomination."

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"Murphy Brown isn't returning just to poke fun at Donald Trump. It's not that the president's name will be any stranger to the upcoming CBS reboot, but, when discussing the 13-episode revival for the first time publicly, creator Diane English said that her top priority is tackling current events and the culture's present disdain for the press.

"'Our show has always been in the real world, but I'm focusing the show through the prism of the press,' she told reporters Sunday morning at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour. 'The First Amendment is under attack like we've never seen it before.'

"It'll hardly be a stretch for the series, which again follows the titular TV journalist (Candice Bergen) and a politically focused Washington newsroom. The original run, which aired from 1988-1998, regularly targeted (or welcomed) real-life political figures from the H.W. Bush and Clinton years.

"The new Murphy Brown, which has reassembled original stars Bergen, Faith Ford, Joe Regalbuto and Grant Shaud, kicked off production on July 24, with its first episode taping in New York just before the weekend. English was not shy in delivering a few details about how the show will look, simultaneously getting ahead of any questions about CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves by addressing the sexual harassment investigation at the top of the panel.

"'Regarding the New Yorker article that appeared a couple days ago, we take the allegations of sexual misconduct extremely seriously — so seriously that we developed an episode about the #MeToo movement months ago,' said English. Speaking with a smaller group after the panel, she clarified that Moonves would not be alluded to in the episode, which is currently slated as the fourth of the season: 'It's written. It's to bed. It's about to be rehearsed. It's not that we would be afraid to do it, it's just that I think we have a better story to tell — a more interesting story that's more personal to Murphy.'

"In addition to #MeToo, the initial episodes will focus on the characters' decision to return to TV during the Trump presidency, frustrations in the White House press briefing room, the struggles of a DACA recipient, a debate over whether or not to interview an Alex Jones/Steve Bannon-type character and, as previously implied, Fox News — here subbed in as 'Wolf News.' Murphy's adult son, now played by Jake McDorman, will be the lone liberal voice on the conservative network — a recurring storyline on the new show.

"Original series star Charles Kimbrough, the only one not returning as a regular, was also confirmed to be making multiple appearances. English said that he's confirmed for three episodes, but the New York shoot kept him from doing more. (She also hinted a "enormously famous person" guesting in the first episode, but would not say who it is.)

"One thing English seemed quick to stress was how much the reboot is going to strive to stay topical, despite shooting early episodes months before airing. 'We actually stopped developing stories because we don't want to get too far ahead,' she said. 'As we get into our production schedule, it becomes more and more compressed. We air three weeks from the time we shoot the show. By the time we get to our last episode, our turnaround time is six days. So we'll take advantage of that.'

"When pushed about Trump, English downplayed how many jokes will be at the expense of the president.

"'We'll leave that to the late-night guys,' English said backstage at TCA. 'We are concentrating on bigger themes — climate change, #MeToo, Russian meddling. These things aren't going to not be topical a year from now, so that's how we're planning our episodes. Digitally, we have the ability to pop in a super-topical joke at the last minute if we wanted to.'"