Monday September 17, 2018

I watched the entire 1st season of Amazon’s Forever. The first two and a half episodes were great. It went downhill from there. More below on the very cool open to episode 1.

Here is the article in which Soon-Yi Previn breaks her silence. Here’s a taste: “When Soon-Yi was a girl, she says, Farrow asked her to make a tape about her origins, detailing how she’d been the daughter of a prostitute who beat her. The request puzzled her, Soon-Yi says, since she had no memory of anything like that, so she refused. (Soon-Yi says she’d love to find her biological mother, but she assumes she’s dead; a 23andMe kit she tried didn’t turn up any promising matches.) ‘I had nowhere to go,’ she says of that period in Seoul, ‘so I was running around the streets, going through the garbage looking for food. And I ate a bar of soap. The soap was the worst-tasting — I could think of it now, it was just disgusting. And then I was looking outside a bakery, you know, because I was starving, and this woman asked if I wanted something to eat. She bought me something, and she was trying to get information from me about where I lived. I wouldn’t answer, so she brought me to the police station and then the police sent me to an orphanage. I liked it there, and then some people came — and I remember hiding under a table — to take me away to a different orphanage.’”

Wishing Matthew Perry a speedy recovery.

Micheal Che and Colin Jost host the Emmy Awards tonight.

Here is the complete list of nominees if you need a refresh.

IFC airs An Emmy For Megan beginning tonight. “In April, the television writer and comedienne barely made the Emmy submission deadline with the release of her six-episode comedic web series An Emmy for Megan, in which Amram meets all of the minimum requirements to qualify for an Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series nomination. When the nominations were announced, Amram actually received two nominations, one for her brave and tumultuous performance, and also a second nomination as a producer in the Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series category.  Despite wearing really nice shoes to the ceremony, she lost both.”

The Golden Globes will remain on NBC for the next 8 years. I just realized that is relevant to next to no one.

Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao will apparently have a rematch of their record-setting PPV boxing match later this year. Mayweather posted on Instagram Saturday, saying, “I’m coming back to fight Manny Pacquiao this year another 9 figure pay day on the way.”

Looking back and Kathy Griffin’s biggest feuds.

ITV has officially made a bid for Black Mirror and Big Brother producer Endemol Shine — six months after Deadline first revealed interest. British newspaper The Sunday Times, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, sibling to Endemol Shine co-owner 21st Century Fox, reports that the British commercial broadcaster has officially entered the bidding process as sale talks heat up. In July, ITV CEO Carolyn McCall told Deadline that it would look at acquisitions but it would be ‘very disciplined’ about purchases – Endemol Shine has been valued at between $2B and $3B. McCall told Deadline, ‘We’ve had a very effective strategy of diversifying away from advertising, not because we don’t like it, but because it’s a cyclical business. We have made a lot of acquisitions and have doubled the size of the [ITV Studios] business in the last five years. We are going to continue to grow organically and that we will look at M&A, although we don’t comment on specific opportunities. We will look at M&A in a very disciplined way and a very returns focused way.’”

Tom Arnold has accused Mark Burnett of attacking him at a pre-Emmys party on Sunday night. The outspoken host of upcoming Viceland series The Hunt For The Trump Tapes tweeted that Burnett, Chairman of MGM Worldwide Television, ‘just went apesh*t & choked me at this huge Emmy party.’ Both were attending the Evening Before The Emmys event in Century City where an incident occurred. Arnold was later heard effusively describing the encounter and telling a group of people that tapes of Donald Trump from The Apprentice had just been ‘handed over to Ronan Farrow.’ Arnold has been vocal in goading The Apprentice creator Burnett, claiming the latter has embarrassing tape of Trump from the series. ‘I’m going to keep hammering Burnett until he shows’ those tapes, Arnold told TCA in July. Discussing last night’s incident with a group of party attendees, we hear an excited Arnold was asked if he actually had any Apprentice tapes of Trump and answered in the affirmative. He said they had been ‘handed over’ to New Yorker journalist Farrow on Sunday. It is not clear what they may contain. Burnett’s wife Roma Downey also tweeted about the Evening Before altercation, saying Arnold ‘tried to ambush my husband’ at the glitzy charity event. How I Met Your Mother star Alyson Hannigan wrote that she witnessed a ‘fight’ and ‘thought it was a joke until security jumped in!’ Arnold, whose new series debuts on Viceland tomorrow, is threatening to file a police report and sue Downey for defamation. Downey in her tweet wrote, ‘Is your TV show worth it Tom? Please stop.’” YOU please stop Roma.

David Harbour officiated a fan’s wedding.

Yes Chelsea Peretti, there IS a correct way to eat cake and it’s not the way you do it.

Facebook Watch is getting into magic with a new series fronted by British street magician Troy Von Scheibner. The digital platform has ordered Troy The Magician from UK production house Zig Zag Productions, which is best known in the U.S. for producing royal reality series I Wanna Marry Harry for Fox. The series, which is a collection of short-form episodes, includes unseen footage and clips of the renowned performer’s close-up magic and spectacular stunts in London and New York.” Congrats to Zig Zag, but Facebook Watching couldn’t be later to the game on this.

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, “The creators of Amazon's Forever, ostensibly a comedy starring Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph, have kept nearly every detail about their series a secret. But now that the eight episodes are available to stream on Amazon, it seems safe enough to discuss the dialogue-free montage that opens the season.

“The carefully choreographed opening minutes, set to Miles Davis' It Never Entered My Mind, evoke shades of the tear-inducing Up beginning, the Mornings episode of Master of None or even the opener of the John Cho thriller Searching. The montage was so ingrained in the series that it was a part of the pitch creators Alan Yang (Master of None) and Matt Hubbard (30 Rock) took to fellow executive producers Armisen and Rudolph.

“The song was the first key to the sequence, which music supervisor Zach Cowie suggested to Yang before the scripts were even completed.

"‘He played a bunch of music that he was thinking about, knowing the premise of the show. And he's so good that some of those songs ended up making it into the show months and months later,’ Yang told The Hollywood Reporter.

“The song was integral to the filming of the sequence, too — Yang played it on set during every take of what ended up being the approximately 70 separate scenes that comprised the montage.

"‘It felt like dad was putting on his record player again. “Oh right, that music,"‘ Rudolph told THR. ‘But it also had the same feeling every time because the camera always moved in the same direction from left to right. There was always a choreography to it because you knew the camera would be over here by the end so there had to be a specific amount of time. It was the same speed for every shot.’

“And although the scripts for each day seemed easy — ‘they go bowling and they smile,’ said Armisen — it was an incredibly time-consuming prospect. ‘They wanted it to be exactly right so I was like, “Oh, this is gonna take a little while,"‘ he added. The montage served two purposes: the viewer not only understands who June and Oscar are but also the ups and downs of their relationship and the ensuing monotony that happens occasionally in a marriage.

"‘We also wanted to just portray what their marriage is like, where one day you fight with a person, then the next day they throw you a surprise party, and you're back on board,’ said Hubbard. ‘It's not like it starts in this amazing place and then goes downhill. You have good days and you have bad days.’

“Added Yang, ‘Another thing I really love about the montage is just the subtle, small performances that Fred and Maya give. It's a silent movie for four minutes, so just the face he makes during that surprise party, or when Maya spits in the sink, or the moments when they're fighting, you read it on their faces.’

“It helps that Armisen and Rudolph didn't have to work toward any type of intimacy. They're not only longtime collaborators, but they're also still very close friends. ‘We just knew that we’d be able to capture that history because of bringing our own history,’ Rudolph said. ‘We already have such a strong bond, so that bond doesn’t have to be created. Obviously we’re playing characters but there is something already there that isn’t really on the page.’

“Working together at Saturday Night Live — and all the late nights that job requires — means the duo have a relationship few can claim.

"‘I’m realizing I don’t have a word for it. It’s more than just a friendship in that we worked with each other so intensely,’ Armisen said. ‘That gets you close pretty quickly. And also, now looking back, that was 2002 so that’s a lot of years or many years. Whats the right grammar?’

"‘It's beaucoup years,’ suggested Rudolph.

"‘Beaucoup years.’”

Forever is not streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

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From TheWrap: “Uninterrupted, an award-winning digital media company founded by Lebron James and Maverick Carter, is partnering with Facebook to present I Am More: OBJ, a new docu-series that centers on New York Giants’ wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

“The 16-episode series will follow Beckham throughout the 2018 NFL campaign giving fans an inside look at his recovery from last year’s ankle injury, his weekly preparation before each game, and his life away from football, including his passion for family and fashion.

“‘My love for this game should never be questioned, nor do I take the game of football for granted. I want to share my grind with my fans in a way I haven’t done before,’ Beckham Jr. said in a statement. ‘Uninterrupted and Facebook will show my life as more than an athlete.’

“In addition to the series, which will stream exclusively on Facebook Watch starting this Fall, Beckham Jr. will utilize a number of Facebook and Instagram products to help increase engagement and discoverability of the show. The wide receiver will use Facebook Live throughout the season to share his thoughts after each game and will also have an official Facebook Group, where fans can come together to talk about the show while interacting with Beckham Jr. through Q&A’s and polling. Beckham Jr. will also use Instagram to deliver behind-the-scenes content in-between episodes on FacebookWatch,

I Am More: OBJ premiered [Fri]day, with ensuing episodes streaming on Fridays throughout the course of the season.”

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From TVLine: “Julie Chen‘s decision to sign off of last Thursday’s Big Brother with a not-so-subtle declaration of support for her disgraced husband Les Moonves is going to make it next to impossible for her to resume her day job on CBS’ The Talk, per multiple insiders (not to mention one of Chen’s daytime rivals).

“‘I think it’s going to be hard for her to go back to The Talk,’ said The View‘s Joy Behar on Friday’s show. ‘What topics can they do? They can’t talk about the #MeToo movement without her coming clean about her husband.’

“Moonves, CBS’ longtime CEO, was fired on Sept. 9 after a second wave of sexual misconduct allegations came to light. The next day, Chen announced that she ‘was taking a few days off from The Talk to be with my family,’ adding, ‘I will be back soon and will see you Thursday night on Big Brother.” Chen did indeed return to Big Brother, but she ended the episode  by telling viewers, ‘I’m Julie Chen Moonves. Good night.’ (WATCH VIDEO HERE.)

“Her non-traditional sign-off drew widespread condemnation on social media, with director Judd Apatow lamenting via Twitter that it was ‘cruel’ to Moonves’ many victims. ‘Her husband threatened people and ruined careers,’ Apatow added. ‘He sexually assaulted and harassed people… Maybe the shock and fear of her husband has damaged her and she isn’t seeing clearly — yet.’ Actress Rosanna Arquette added, ‘At first I felt sorry for her and her child. But this is not OK.’

“Chen’s Talk co-hosts awkwardly discussed their longtime leader’s absence last Monday, with Sharon Osbourne confessing, ‘It’s very embarrassing and upsetting to have to talk about [Julie’s] husband, but… we feel it’s right.’ Regarding Moonves, Osbourne maintained, ‘Obviously the man has a problem.’ Sara Gilbert also chimed in, saying that while she loves and supports Chen ‘always,’ before adding, ‘This is an important time in our culture. And just because this hits close to home, it doesn’t change this story. All women’s stories matter. This is very serious and the appropriate actions need to take place.’”

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Per The Ringer, “[i]n February 2016, Dan Perrault and Tony Yacenda came to the Hollywood offices of Funny or Die for a meeting. The duo got to know each other at Boston’s Emerson College, where they went to school in the late aughts. After moving to Los Angeles, they had some success making digital shorts together for companies like CollegeHumor, and the music videos Yacenda directed for the rapper Lil Dicky were racking up millions of views, but this was the first time the pair had enough confidence in one of their ideas to pitch it as a half-hour TV show. Or maybe it was just a web series with 10-minute episodes. They weren’t sure yet. Either way, it was going to be about dicks.

“Like all upstanding members of the pop-culture-devouring community, the pair had recently binged Making a Murderer. The Netflix series turned into the latest true-crime phenomenon in a wave started by the Serial podcast. Working from these inspirations, they devised a story that became the first season of American Vandal—a faux docuseries about two high schoolers in Oceanside, California, trying to figure out whether a burnout prankster named Dylan Maxwell really spray-painted 27 schlongs on 27 cars in the faculty parking lot. In Perrault and Yacenda’s approach, American Vandal would fully commit to the bit, using both the language and look of the true-crime tales that were captivating audiences, despite their own story’s sophomoric foundation. ‘Once we started doing shorts right out of school, we realized pretty quickly that our style was going to be taking the dumbest things possible as seriously as possible,’ Perrault says.

“The two had already teamed with producing partners CBS Television Studios and 3 Arts Entertainment, then they went to Funny or Die because the company both built itself on short-form internet videos and had shepherded projects like Drunk History and Billy on the Street to TV. Whichever way the project potentially went, they’d be covered. ‘We were pragmatic about it,” Yacenda says. “We thought at the end of the day, it was a really cool, fresh idea, but that nobody’s going to hand us the reins of a full TV show and that we would be super happy making 10-minute webisodes.’


”They had meetings with Joe Farrell, senior vice president of FoD’s longform program, and Mike Farah, the company’s CEO. During their eight-to-10-minute pitch, Perrault would take on the voice of a documentarian, describing the case as though it were real, then Yacenda would add color. Farrell and Farah loved the concept and were also impressed with the pair’s unsmirking parodies of 30 for 30 documentaries, which covered the events in Space Jam and Rocky IV as if they were critical moments in global history. ‘Knowing that they could parody a style but take it very seriously, it didn’t feel like a spoof,’ says Farrell. ‘I think that’s what really sparked our interest when they brought us the American Vandal idea.’

“For the FoD executives it was pretty clear that it should be a half-hour TV show, though Farrell admits that they have no foolproof way of knowing whether an idea warrants that treatment. ‘There is always that question of, “Should this have stayed a sketch? Was this a funny trailer and should not have gone to, in essence, four hours of content?”’ he says. ‘The short answer is: I don’t think you ever really know. If we always guessed right, that would be unbelievable.’

“Funny or Die itself has come a long way since it was founded 11 years ago by Will Ferrell and frequent collaborators writer-director Adam McKay and writer-producer Chris Henchy. The internet is littered with failed sites that once featured comedic shorts, from NBC’s DotComedy, to HBO and AOL’s This Just In, to Jash, which has recently gone dormant. It unexpectedly became an immediate smash with the The Landlord video and has continued to be a spot where celebrities could come to do weird shit, like a make a disturbing live-action version of Captain Planet. Along with CollegeHumor, FoD became a reliable balm for the sad desk lunch before there was Vine, or Twitter, or YouTube overload.

“Though FoD experienced a new round of layoffs earlier this year, it continues to make its own internet shorts, but they’re also increasingly pushing toward TV programming with shows I Love You, America with Sarah Silverman and Brockmire. (Though Billy on the Street returned as an online-only short this week.) They’ve also begun developing film projects, including a movie version of the long-running prank TV show Impractical Jokers and a basketball comedy called The Last Shot.

“As for how this embrace of traditional mediums affects creators, Perrault admits, ‘My bank account taught me that I couldn’t continue to do internet videos.’ Still Farrell says that the FoD web videos serve as a lab, not just for possible shows to bring to networks, but also as a resource to pull writers, directors, or editors from for TV projects.

”’The landscape’s changing a lot right now, especially with all the streamers and how much content is being made for film and TV. I do think Funny or Die is an amazing training ground,’ says Jake Szymanski, who was one of FoD’s first employees on the creative side. He estimates that in his years at the site, he made hundreds videos, including notorious bits like Paris Hilton’s response to John McCain and the Marion Cotillard–featuring Forehead Tittaes. Szymanski has since gone on to direct projects including the feature Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, two Andy Samberg–starring sports doc parodies for HBO, and the recent Netflix movie The Package.

“Yacenda and Perrault developed a longer, more in-depth pitch for American Vandal and a case file that they’d leave behind after meetings with potential buyers. After hearing the initial pitch, Netflix asked them to make an hour-long presentation, breaking down what would occur in each of the eight episodes. It happened on a Friday afternoon, and by Monday morning they got the green light to make the entire season. ‘The premise is funny and they did a great job with the jokes in the pitch, but I think as you saw in the series and what some people have picked up on, the dimensions and complexities that they’re able to kind of explore within the dick jokes is what’s so surprising and ultimately gratifying,’ says Farah.

“Perrault and Yacenda brought on Dan Lagana, who had been a showrunner on Hulu’s Deadbeat and MTV’s Bo Burnham vehicle Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous. Yacenda, who directs every episode of American Vandal, pushed to hire a cinematographer with experience in prestige documentaries, so they got Adam Bricker, who’d worked on Netflix’s Chef’s Table series and Amanda Knox documentary. Then they had him take the skill level down a notch, since he’d usually be pretending to be a high schooler behind the camera.

“The creators of American Vandal try to stay away from the term ‘mockumentary’ when talking about the show, partially out of respect for the medium that they’re theoretically mocking. ‘As a fan of documentaries, you look at those and you go: “How can I engage an audience the way Andrew Jarecki engaged an audience when he was making The Jinx?”’ says Yacenda. ‘And can we do that for a dick joke, or can we do that for a poop joke?’

“As Lagana says, ‘The more serious we take it, the funnier it gets.’

“The makers of American Vandal spent two weeks constructing the mystery behind the second season before they even starting thinking about the jokes. Inside the writers’ room, most of the time they reference actual docs, staying away from anything fictional, except for maybe the British version of The Office. ‘As viewers we’ve become so used to certain mockumentary conventions,’ Perrault says. ‘There’s a certain rhythm to the jokes—like every confessional you hear a piece of information and then a punch line, or an awkward moment that’s perfectly crafted. We found that the more people view it as a mockumentary, the less involved, the less invested they’d be in the mystery.’

“Though Netflix’s metrics of success remain unknown to the public, American Vandal’s first season clearly found an audience, as well as critical acclaim. Five days after its premiere, critic Alan Sepinwall posted on Twitter, ‘Netflix’s American Vandal: starts as a very well-executed goof, turns startling in its emotional complexity.’ In her best of 2017 list, Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker wrote that binging it was ‘the most fun I had all year.’ The website you’re reading published three different articles praising it—two about its dick jokesand one on its treatment of millennials. This was a welcome development, if somewhat unexpected, given that the show devoted plenty of screentime to gags like analyzing the lack of ‘ball hair’ on the graffitied penises and an elaborate 3D graphic of a guy getting a handjob next to a lake at Camp Miniwaka.

“At first American Vandal’s creators felt an urgency to get the show out into the world as soon as possible. They didn’t want anyone else with a similar concept to beat them to it, but from their webisode experience, they also knew how long it took to make something truly good. There was also the concern that people would be burnt out on true crime by then. ‘You had a great year-and-a-half period between Making a MurdererSerial, and The Jinx,’ Perrault says. ‘Thankfully it didn’t go anywhere. It actually only got bigger.’

“Documentaries as a whole, whether in theaters or on streaming services, are having a moment, capturing the public imagination and making money. ‘Ten years ago you weren’t hearing couples saying, “Yeah, we’re gonna go home and watch a documentary,”’ Yacenda notes. ‘That was kind of like a pretentious thing to say 15 years ago. Now it’s something that couples around the country say all the time.’

“As the storytelling industry realized that there was a mass audience for the often-lurid world of true crime, there’s been a proliferation of podcasts and docuseries about kidnapped children, unsolved murder cases, and vanished husbands and wives. As the material has gotten even darker, the American Vandal team decided to reflect that mood in the show’s second season. The show’s onscreen teenage documentarians, Peter Maldonado and Sam Ecklund, have left Southern California for the wealthy suburb of Bellevue, Washington. The dreary Pacific Northwest of course is not only the home of television dead girls from Twin Peaks and The Killing, but also real-life serial killers like Ted Bundy and Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer.

“If Dylan Maxwell’s struggles with the school board in the first season of American Vandal were a suburban teenage take on the unfairness of the criminal justice system, then the new season is about the horrors that humans can inflict on each other. Maldonado and Ecklund have been summoned to the affluent St. Bernardine Catholic School after a mysterious figure known as the Turd Burglar has terrorized the students with a series of shit-related pranks, the first of which is a mass-dosing of the cafeteria’s lemonade with a laxative. The first episode opens with the results of that incident, known as the Brownout, shown through graphic social media videos and recreations.

“‘You have documentaries that give you these really visceral reactions where they show you pictures, like a brutal, bloody murder, and that just kind of makes you feel [sick]. And then you’re morbidly curious and you have to figure it out,’ says Yacenda. ‘So we thought what’s the stupidest version of that visceral reaction? And it’s poop. Walls covered in poop is gross and it just gives you this really dark, queasy reaction that a bloody, brutal murder does. Just like a really dumb version of it.’

“In this season, Maldonado and Ecklund are less explicitly involved in how the narrative unfolds. The show’s actual makers have said that this time around their approach was more indebted to HBO’s The Jinx and the documentaries of Errol Morris. (A scene of the teen creators streaming The Thin Blue Line on Netflix during their flight up to Washington probably would have been too meta.) Season 2 of American Vandal also deals more directly with contemporary political and social issues like cyberbullying, forced confessions, code-switching, and how amateur athletics have become a lucrative business for prep schools. Don’t worry, there’s also hilariously idiosyncratic digressions into what type of psychopath uses punctuation after an emoji and pivotal side characters with names like Hot Janitor.

“For their part, the Funny or Die executives say that at this point, they’re mostly just trying to provide American Vandal’s creators with a space to continue their vision. ‘I think I gave them some impassioned speech about how special what they created was and what it could become if they continued to care about the characters,’ says Farah. ‘I could see them doing 10 seasons of American Vandal because it’s such a rich world and there’s always true-crime or pretend-crime stories that need to be investigated if you do it with the right conviction.’”