Thursday January 10, 2019

Adam McKay sat down with Bill Simmons for a great interview. The big takeaway here is that HBO’s Succession is gearing up to start production on season 2 and, per McKay, it will begin airing in 2019.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine returns tonight.

As goes The Good Place. “A chilled-out Chidi? It’s a rare sight indeed, but get ready to see a less anxious version of the infamously uptight ethics professor when The Good Place returns. Chidi and Eleanor finally declared their love for each other in last month’s winter finale, and the newly official romance has helped Chidi unwind a bit. ‘There’s a kind of clarity, I think, that’s a major thread of Chidi’s arc for the next few episodes,’ star William Jackson Harper tells TVLine. After everything he’s been through this season — remember the marshmallow Peeps chili breakdown? — Chidi’s ‘brain has been broken,’ Harper points out. He’s ‘been put through the wringer, so there’s nothing left to do but focus on the task ahead of [him], and the people that matter to [him], and the person that matters most is Eleanor.’”

CBS premieres a new sitcom called Fam tonight as well.

Nina Dobrev explains how Rachel from Friends inspired her character on Fam.

HBO2 is running a marathon of the final season of The Sopranos today.

FOX announced the broadcast pairings for games this weekend’s NFL Playoff games. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will call the Cowboys/Rams game. Kevin Burkhardt and Charles Davis will call Sunday’s Eagles/Saints game.

POTUS will be on Hannity tonight. 41 million tuned in to his border wall pitch on Tuesday.

Jerry Stiller has been hospitalized.

Fox's new instant reality hit The Masked Singer promised 12 “major celebrities” competing in elaborate costumes, and on Wednesday night, its 2nd “star” was revealed: Tommy Chong. More below.

Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos did NOT have a prenuptial agreement so, by all rights, they will split their incredible fortune right down the middle ... sources with direct knowledge tell TMZ. The couple will file divorce docs in Washington, where community property rules ... translation -- all earnings and income during the marriage are split 50/50. When the couple married in 1993 -- 6 months after meeting -- Jeff wasn't even a millionaire. He didn't become one until 1997, so dreams of being the richest man in the world were pie in the sky. The division of assets will be incredibly complicated. Aside from cold hard cash, the former couple is hardcore baronial -- they own 400,000 acres of property, making them 2 of the biggest landholders in the country. Valuing that land is complicated. As we reported, Bezos is in a relationship with former So You Think You Can Dance host Lauren Sanchez, who's estranged from talent mogul Patrick Whitesell. Our sources say Lauren and Jeff started hooking up in the latter half of 2018, after they separated from their respective spouses. Lauren and Patrick are also in the middle of divorcing.”

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Per Deadline, '“Buffy the Vampire Slayer alumna Sarah Michelle Gellar is set to star in and executive produce Sometimes I Lie, a limited series based on former BBC journalist Alice Feeney’s debut novel. The series is being developed by Ellen DeGeneres’ A Very Good Production and Warner Bros TV whether the company is based. WBTV optioned the book on behalf of A Very Good Production, whose DeGeneres and Jeff Kleeman will executive produce alongside Gellar. Oscar-nominated writer Robin Swicord (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) is set to pen the adaptation.

“In Sometimes I Lie, Gellar stars as Amber Reynolds, a woman who wakes up in a hospital, unable to move, speak or open her eyes. She can hear everyone around her, but they don’t know she can. Amber doesn’t remember what happened, but she has a suspicion her husband had something to do with it. The timeline alternates between her paralyzed present, the week before her accident, and a series of childhood diaries from 20 years ago.

“Sometimes I Lie is an international bestseller released in March 2017 by HQ/HarperCollins in the UK and Flatiron/Macmillan in the U.S. The book has been published in over 20 countries.

“This marks a rare series-starring vehicle for Gellar, who has been sought after the success of Buffy the Vampire Slayer but has been very selective and has only done two series since — the CW’s Ringer and CBS’The Crazy Ones with Robin Williams.

“Sometimes I Lie also marks a new step in the expansion of A Very Good Production. It would be the first limited/drama series for the company, which has produced a couple of comedy series, most recently ABC’sSplitting Up Together, now in Season 2; a number of reality series, including NBC hits Little Big Shots and Ellen’s Game of Games, which just returned for a second season. Additionally, A Very Good Production has animated series Green Eggs and Ham coming up on Netflix.”

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From Variety: “Jan. 9’s 20th anniversary reunion of the cast and producers of HBO’s The Sopranos was a raucous family gathering from its first moments. ‘I saw a picture of myself in the newspaper,’ series creator David Chase said at the start of the event. ‘And I thought, 20 years. Jesus Christ.’

“‘People come up to me,’ he went on, ‘and they say, thank you for the show, we really loved it, except for that ending.’

“Cast members recounted their experiences of auditioning for the notoriously taciturn and difficult-to-read Chase, who’d incidentally produced a pilot script unlike anything else on the air.

“‘I don’t think this mother idea is going to work,’ cast member Steven Van Zandt recalled thinking of Nancy Marchand’s Livia Soprano character. ‘I know a lot of Italian mothers, and I’ve never known a mother like this.’ He later found out Livia was based on Chase’s own mother.

“Misconceptions raged: Jamie-Lynn Sigler, cast as Tony’s daughter, recalled thinking the show dealt with opera. ‘I was a musical junkie, so I thought it was the show for me. And it was.’ And Michael Imperioli — who said he’d had ‘better colonoscopies than auditions, and I haven’t had good colonoscopies’ — noted that, after believing he blew his chance at the show, he convinced himself Chase didn’t understand the material. ‘Who cares anyway?’ he recalled thinking. ‘This guy’s not even Italian; what does he know?’ (Chase is, in fact, Italian.)

“Cast members and producers made time, too, to reflect on series lead James Gandolfini, who died in 2013. Recalling the actor’s sensitivity during challenging scenes, Annabella Sciorra, given a mic in the audience, said: ‘Jimmy would say, I’m going to put my hand here now. Which is rare.’ (Sciorra made news as one of Harvey Weinstein’s accusers, in alleged incidents taking place before The Sopranos.)

“Though Chase recalled flirting with the idea of casting Van Zandt as the lead — ‘I thought maybe this could be a live-action Simpsons,' he said — all agreed that Gandolfini was the perfect Tony, as actor and as on-set leader. Edie Falco, his onscreen wife, noted that she spent little time with Gandolfini offset, allowing them to plunge easily into their performances. ‘What I loved so much about it is the differences were not so huge. Neither of us is really actor-y.’ She recalled the show having been renewed for a second season: ‘I don’t know what the hell we just did,” Gandolfini told her, “but apparently we’ve got to do it again.’

“All involved took part in the show’s stratospheric success, but few may have appreciated it more than writer and EP Matthew Weiner, who joined for its fifth season in what he recalled as Survivor: Long Island City, after the location of Silvercup Studios. (Executive producer Ilene Landress noted he was the only new writer hired that season to remain on board through its run; he went on to create Mad Men and The Romanoffs.) Having enviously witnessed the show’s success from afar, he said, ‘Part of why I was there was to remind them of what a big f—ing deal the show was.’

“The show’s conclusion came in for undramatic dismissal by Chase: ‘I kind of felt like we were running out of stories.’ He did, however, say he shared Falco’s experience, as the actress recalled finally breaking down as the last episode aired. (‘I made a blubbering mess of myself,’ she said.) Though the choice of a final song came in for debate — Van Zandt, a longtime member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, said “it was the longest fight we ever had, it lasted two weeks” — no one could dispute what Chase missed the most.

“‘The truth is, the people I got to know, and going to work and solving problems together, and having a place to go,’ he said. ‘That’s what I missed. Nothing matched the smelly atmosphere of Silvercup.’”

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Per Vulture, “You’re the Worst begins its fifth and final season with a twist: Instead of Jimmy and Gretchen, we’re met with a cast of unfamiliar faces who take the FX comedy all way back to the ‘90s. “The Intransigence of Love” presents itself as a old-school tale of “true love” that’s a lot more picturesque than Jimmy and Gretchen’s messy relationship, but it’s literally full of clichés, lies, and pop-culture touchstones. It may look more palatable, make you feel better, and tell a nostalgic story, but it’s inauthentic and unrealistic. In other words, it’s the ultimate rom-com.

The circumstances behind this unique premiere came from creator Stephen Falk’s sadness at the demise of the rom-com, and his curiosity over whether he could craft one that still retained You’re the Worst’s DNA. It’s atypical because of its brand-new characters, of course — led by Jake (Morgan Krantz), a scruffy video-store clerk with arthouse tastes, and Gemma (Caitlin McGee), the cool girl who impresses him with her encyclopedic knowledge of pretentious movies — but it also stands out as an unabashedly embrace of ‘90s culture. ‘We jumped into the idea of, Could we do this perfect ‘90s rom-com?’ says Falk, who wrote and directed the episode.

“Recreating the era wasn’t easy. First of all, Falk explains, it was ‘incredibly hard’ to find an actual video store where they could shoot the opening scenes, which were inspired by slacker workplace comedies like Clerks and Empire Records. ‘But even then,’ he says, ‘They don’t have any VHS, so we had to source thousands of VHS tapes and posters from ‘90s movies. It was truly a production nightmare, but it was incredibly fun.’

“The video store where Jake works does feel pitch-perfect — down to the snarky tip jar at the register and the hand-drawn jokes on the Buffy the Vampire poster — in no small part because the production went all-in on the ‘90s references, including Easter eggs for eagle-eyed viewers. ‘We put a lot of detail in anything that shows up on screen, even if it’s just there for 16 frames, because we know how crazy fans are,’ Falk says. ‘Even the video camera that our main character uses is actually the Sony camera that would have been used back then. We even used it to record any of the footage that you saw from it.’

“Out of all of these references to yesteryear, Falk says that he has a particular love for “hacking” tropes and the nonsensical depictions of what such a thing actually means. You’re the Worst represents that so-bad-it’s-good tradition in the episode, when Jake and his sidekick Ziggy (Brennan Murray) hack a French film scholar’s website to track down a rare movie in the hopes of impressing Gemma. ‘The scene where they hack into this French professor’s library and then are chased through cyberspace by the avatar of this professor comes directly from this movie called Disclosure. It’s Demi Moore and Michael Douglas,’ Falk says. ‘There’s a scene where he goes into cyberspace and walks down this huge marble hallway and gets to this filing cabinet and starts looking through files. Then Demi Moore sits down at a computer and her character materializes, too. It’s fucking amazing and our whole goal was to recreate that. It came out just as terribly as we wanted it to.’

“When the episode reaches the painful climax of Jake and Gemma’s romance — after a time jump to Y2K, another false start between them, and plenty more nods to beloved rom-coms — Jimmy and Gretchen finally interrupt the story to pull You’re the Worst back to reality: They’re the unreliable narrators of this whole story, and they’re telling it to a pair of wedding planners who asked how they met. The tall tale continues, but is now heavily filtered through both Jimmy and Gretchen as they try to outdo one another in crafting the perfect meet-cute, even if it veers into wild implausibility.

“But according to Falk, the original plan for The Intransigence of Love left out Jimmy and Gretchen until the very end. ‘It was the couple telling their origin and then Jimmy and Gretchen were next in the waiting room,’ he recalls. ‘I can’t remember if it was FX who was nervous that our premiere episode only featured our main characters for, like, the last 20 seconds, or if my writers talked me out of it, or if I chickened out, but they originally weren’t telling their own story.’

“With hindsight (and script rewrites), Falk describes that decision as a breakthrough for the episode: ‘If it was out of FX’s nervousness, they were absolutely right, because from that came the idea of Jimmy and Gretchen just progressively bullshitting, one-upping each other. It’s just better storytelling. It goes to show that often when you have limitations, those limitations work in your favor.’

“This direction ultimately allows the episode to reach its unhinged conclusion. After Jake and Gemma reconnect in Paris years later — in a scene that Falk says is ‘straight from Notting Hill,’ she’s now a filmmaker and he’s a movie critic at her press conference — the story spins from self-aware to out of control. The French professor reappears to steal back his treasured VHS, Ziggy jumps out of a virtual-reality wormhole, and then the couple leaps back in time to the video store where they first met … only to realize that Ziggy never existed at all. It’s Notting Hill colliding with Terminator, The Matrix, and The Sixth Sense, and what began as a dissection of rom-coms devolves into a freewheeling parody of popular cinema.

“It’s a wacky conclusion, but as the episode cuts back to reality once more, the message is clear: Jimmy and Gretchen aren’t lying about their love story because they want to be Jake and Gemma, or because they’re embarrassed about how they got together. Instead, they simply want to make a mockery of so-called “real love” and the convention of marriage. The Intransigence of Love is about the two of them entertaining themselves, not impressing anyone else or fitting into some mold. That’s what makes it such the perfect distillation of You’re the Worst’s take on love, and what Jimmy and Gretchen are all about. Even the episode’s title is meant to reflect on the fickle, transforming, unstable nature of romance.

“Earlier in the episode, when Gemma compliments Jake on his selection of VHS rentals, she tells him, ‘These movies aren’t perfect, but they’re not trying to be. They’re messy and complicated because life is messy and complicated.’ And that’s exactly how the You’re the Worst looks at Jimmy and Gretchen.”

Per The Hollywood Reporter, “[Tommy] Chong —  who was as jovial and laidback as one would expect — explains why he agreed to participate in the series, how he was able to keep his role a secret and why he thinks The Masked Singer will be a huge hit.:

Did producers explain the premise of the show to you? Because when you describe it to someone, it sounds like the most insane thing ever.

Well, yeah, they did — very slowly. All us actors do, we say, "OK, when do I get paid?" That was the only question. And when they explained that we're going to be behind a mask that was even better, because if you're not a singer then it helps to be hidden.

Why did you want to say yes? Why did you decide to participate?

I'm an old pro. I've never turned down a job — oh no, I have — I turned down a Disney job one time. Lion King,by the way. It cost me a million dollars or so, but I thought the Cheech and Chong brand would be sullied if we all of a sudden became a Disney character. But that was my only mistake. That was the only show I ever turned down. But other than that, I don't turn down to work at all. You never know!

You and the rest of the celebrities had input in the creation of your costumes. What kind of feedback were you able to give to this pineapple surfer man?

They gave me a choice. And of course I went right for the shorts and the Hawaiian [shirt] because, you know, Cheech and Chong, we're gods in Hawaii. So I said, "Yeah, of course, this is the only one I would do." And they had a parrot and everything. It was quite funny. I loved it. I thought it would be the most comfortable too.

For filming, there was a ton of secrecy involved. You even had to drive to a second location and get picked up in disguise. What was that like?

It was weird, because I've got the biggest mouth in Hollywood. To tell me to keep a secret is dangerous. When my family heard about it, my immediate family, you know, they said, "Uh oh, this guy is going to spill the beans." And so that was really the hardest part, to keep my mouth shut. I would be somewhere and all of a sudden I'd be talking about singing, and my wife would give me that look, like, "Shut up!" So it was tough. Keeping the secret was very tough. But you know, when we got the costumes on and then we had to maintain our secrecy, that was, oh man. Talk about ego being crushed. You know, I'm used to being recognized everywhere and then all of a sudden I'm in a show where I'm not supposed to be recognized. And so I felt like a leper, you know. You're stuck away in a corner and don't talk to him, don't feed him. It was really tough. That part was tough.

At the end of the episode when the panel was guessing, Jenny got it right. Were you worried?

You know, as soon as I saw that she was a judge, I thought, "Oh, she's gonna know. But the funny thing is that she thought I was Cheech. And that cracked me up. Even though she's right, she's wrong! So that was funny.

What did you think about their comments about your performance?

Oh, it was, it was all good! Any time anybody mentions that, you know, I sang and I did a so-so job, that's a big compliment. When you're not a singer — I'm a guitar player. I wasn't a singer. I had to really work hard to just remember the lyrics — which I messed up. But they had a recording of me anyway so they fixed that. But just any kind of compliment about being a singer, it was beautiful. I loved it.

You've been doing this awhile. You know how to perform in front of people.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. But singing is a whole different number. I'm telling you, it is tough. When you're a background singer or just a background player, you can mess up like crazy. No one cares. But when you're the lead vocalist, man — if you're breathing wrong, someone's going to notice. And they know if you're a professional or if you're an amateur. The judges knew right away this is some kind of amateur. I loved the show. It was so exciting.

What do you think of the show? It's a wild concept, but it did well in the ratings last week.

I mean, it's not like they just thought it up. This show has been up and running [in Asia]. It's been up and it's tried and true. It's like Dancing With the Stars, you know, that started in England, I believe. And so they had worked out all the kinks. And so when these shows hit America, they're all ready to go and it's, like, tested. They know the audiences. They've got all the elements. The thing is about drama, comedy or anything, you want the audience to be sucked in. They can't leave until they find out what the answer is, and that's why this show is such a genius show because it makes the audience work. You can't not watch it. You have to watch it. And then you've got to say, "Well, who did it?" It's an old rule of drama. The clock is ticking, you know, you only got so much time to figure it out. It's going to be a giant hit, no doubt.”