Friday January 25, 2019

I thought last night’s season premiere of Broad City was brilliant.

Here’s how they pulled off that entire episode as a social media story.

And here is why they didn’t need any permission from Instagram. “It was definitely not an Instagram Story, per se. During a press day at Viacom’s Los Angeles office earlier this month, Broad City co-creators/co-stars Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson explained just how they were able to do nearly an entire episode — titled Stories — like that without having to ask for Instagram’s permission. It’s not their interface,’ Glazer said. ‘We’d have to comply with their creative boundaries if we worked with them.’ They said that’s why they just say Stories throughout the episode, noting that most people would get the reference. ‘It’s different enough [from Instagram’s platform],’ added Jacobson.”

In case you can’t tell, I really applaud something as innovative as this. New ideas are few and far between nowadays.

Black Earth Rising is now available to stream on Netflix.

As is the final season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Another episode of Celebrity Big Brother airs tonight.

Ann Coulter and John Tester join Bill Maher tonight.

Christopher Meloni is joining The Handmaid’s Tale, Hulu announced on Thursday. The Law & Order: SVU vet (who currently stars on Syfy’s bonkers graphic-novel adaptation Happy!) is set to guest-star as Commander Winslow in the Emmy-winning drama’s forthcoming third season. The character is described as a ‘powerful and magnetic Commander who hosts the Waterfords on an important trip.’ Meanwhile, Elizabeth Reaser (The Haunting of Hill House) has been cast as Mrs. Winslow, the Commander’s wife. She becomes both a friend and a source of inspiration to Serena Joy. Meloni and Reaser’s casting follows word that Bradley Whitford — who was first introduced in the second-to-last episode of Season 2 as Commander Lawrence — has been promoted to series regular.”

Andrea Kramer and Hannah Storm will be back to call Thursday Night Football games for Amazon Prime next season. Kremer and Storm will call 11 Thursday night games this season for Amazon. The Kremer-Storm team adds another option for Prime streamers — with the service already offering Fox’s Joe Buck and Troy Aikman broadcast, along with a Spanish-language and an often-candid British broadcast.”

My new embarrassing network sitcom watch is CBS’ Fam. Don’t judge.

Coca-Cola is pulling back from the Super Bowl after an 11-year run, opting to run a commercial just before kickoff of the CBS broadcast of the game on February 3, but not in the event itself. CBS is seeking between $5.1 million and $5.3 million for commercial packages that air in the game itself. Ads that run pre-game can cost anywhere from hundreds of thousands of dollars to a few million, depending on their proximity to the start of the annual pigskin contest. Coca-Cola intends to run a 60-second commercial just before kickoff that burnishes themes of diversity and inclusion, says Stuart Kronauge,  senior vice president of marketing for Coca-Cola North America and president of its sparking beverages business unit. ‘We have a long history of using the country’s biggest advertising stage to share a message of unity and positivity, especially at times when our nation feels divided,’ he said in a statement. ‘This year, we decided to place our ad just before the national anthem as Americans come together in their living rooms to remind everyone that ‘together is beautiful.’”

The history of John Mulaney and Pete Davidson’s bromance.

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ron Howard is set to direct a feature-length documentary project for National Geographic Documentary Films that will follow the community of Paradise, California as it attempts to rebuild in the wake of the devastating wildfires that ravaged The Golden State this past October. Produced by Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Documentaries, the doc division of the New York-based Imagine Entertainment, Rebuilding Paradise will follow the citizens whose lives have been forever scorched by tragedy, in the aftermath of the destruction over the course of a year as they come together to rebuild amid the devastation of natural disaster. Featured in the film will be affected families, volunteers on the front lines of town restoration, community leaders, school and government officials, and first responders.”

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From The Hollywood Reporter: “With the end of Mr. Robot in sight, USA Network is moving full steam ahead on a new series from its creator.

“The NBCUniversal-owned cable network has handed out a series order to Sam Esmail anthology Briarpatch, starring Rosario Dawson. The first season of the drama, produced by Universal Cable Productions and Paramount Television,  will be based on the Ross Thomas novel of the same name. Andy Greenwald penned the script and exec produces alongside Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail. Additionally, Greenwald has inked an overall deal with UCP and will develop and produce premium scripted fare for cable and streaming platforms.

“The series hails from Esmail's UCP-based Esmail Corp. banner and marks his second drama for USA Network and third overall (joining Amazon's Homecoming). An episode count and premiere date have not yet been determined.

“Briarpatch follows Allegra Dill (Dawson), an investigator returning to her border-town Texas home after her sister is murdered. What begins as a search for a killer turns into an all-consuming fight to bring her corrupt city to its knees. The series is described as a blend of crime and pulp fiction. Jay R. Ferguson, Brian Geraghty and Edi Gathegi co-star in the drama, which will film in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Anonymous Content's Chad Hamilton will also exec produce alongside Dawson, Esmail and Greenwald. Ana Lily Amirpour directed the pilot. 

Briarpatch arrives at a turning point for USA Network, which this year will say farewell to critical darling Mr. Robot and SuitsThe latter was the last of the cabler's former "Blue Skies"-branded programming of upbeat procedurals. With the breakout success of Mr. Robot, USA shifted to darker and edgier fare. With both shows ending this year, USA Network will need to launch new hits to join returning series Queen of the South and The Purge. The network will next introduce Treadstone, its Tim Kring-produced spinoff of the Bourne feature franchise, as well as Suits spinoff Pearson. Still to be determined is the fate of fellow anthology The Sinner, though it is expected to return.  

"‘‘When we were first introduced the anthology by Andy Greenwald, UCP and Paramount Television, we were immediately struck by the show's unique tone and captivating story,’ said Chris McCumber, president of entertainment networks at NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment. ‘And Sam Esmail's incomparable vision and style, coupled with Rosario Dawson's tremendous performance as Allegra Dill, will no doubt leave audiences buzzing.’

“In addition to the final season of Mr. Robot, Esmail has season two of Amazon's Homecoming and is developing Fritz Lang's Metropolis for TV. He's also adapting Angelyne, based on a Hollywood Reporter feature, with wife Emmy Rossum set to star.

“Both Briarpatch and Treadstone were part of USA's crop of four pilot orders placed last April. Still awaiting word are cheerleading drama Dare Me and Erase, starring Denis Leary.”

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Per TIME, “[a]s a bruising lineman for the New York Giants, Michael Strahan used to do battle with 320-lb. behemoths every Sunday. Now, on a recent Friday morning at a New York City television studio, he’s dancing with an elderly woman to Cake by the Ocean. In his current gig as co-host of the highly caffeinated third hour of Good Morning America, known as GMA Day, Strahan does his fair share of pumping up the crowd. GMA Day is a bit like a designer-steroid version of Live With Kelly and Ryan–which Strahan co-hosted with Kelly Ripa in its Live With Kelly and Michael iteration, before a tabloid-friendly breakup ended their run in 2016.

“An expert offers tips for decluttering your cell phone, and the studio audience emits woooooos, as if someone had just won a new car. (In fairness, they’re good tips. Unsubscribe from those lists.) And there’s dancing. So. Much. Dancing. Strahan enters the studio, getting down to Missy Elliott’s Get Ur Freak On. After a sweet segment with a 10-year-old boy who donated $100 of his own money to help cover the unpaid lunch bills of his classmates, Strahan writhes on the floor, doing the worm.

“Reminder: it’s 10:30 a.m. on a Friday. Backstage after the taping, even Strahan questions how he summons the excess pep. ‘I’m going, What’s wrong with you?’ says Strahan. ‘It’s weird.’

“The performances are paying off. Strahan, the affable former football star with an instantly recognizable gap-toothed smile, now counts as one of the hottest commodities on television, having launched an unconventional post-NFL career that’s the envy of many of his peers. Sure, Strahan joins a merry band of ex-jocks, like the guffawing Terry Bradshaw and the studious Howie Long, talking football on Fox’s Sunday pregame show. But that’s just part of his broadcast portfolio: in addition to his role on GMA Day, he’s a co-anchor on Good Morning America and executive producer and star of ABC’s reboot of the $100,000 Pyramid game show. None of that fits the typical former-athlete game plan. During a GMA interview in early January, Strahan pressed comedian Kevin Hart about past homophobic tweets that ultimately cost Hart his slot as Oscars host. Hart came across as defiant. Strahan, a friend of Hart’s, refused to let him off easy.

“None of which is to say Strahan isn’t turning his attention toward Feb. 3 and the Super Bowl LIII matchup between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams. Strahan knows a bit about dethroning the Pats’ Tom Brady. Back in 2008, his Giants upset the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, costing New England a perfect 19-0 season. He encourages the Rams to enter this year’s Super Bowl with the same defiance he saw in his teammates. ‘We know they’ve beaten everybody under the sun,’ says Strahan, who in conversation circles his hands and touches his chest when animated. ‘We know that they can prepare for anybody. Well, now it’s time to start our history. This is our time. F their time.’

“Strahan’s time began in West Germany, where he grew up on an Army base. His dad was a major. Strahan was no can’t-miss football prospect. As a chunky 13-year-old, he cried when he realized why other kids called him Bob. It stood for Booty on Back. Or, worse, Big Ol’ Butt. ‘I thought Bob was a cool nickname,’ he says. ‘I was devastated.’

“The taunting, however, drove him to exercise. His father put him on a weight-lifting regimen, and they’d jog in the woods together. Convinced that his son could earn a football scholarship, Strahan’s father sent him to Houston for his senior year of high school. After he starred at Texas Southern University, the Giants drafted Strahan in the second round of the 1993 draft. Nearly a decade later, in 2002, he set the NFL’s single-season sack record. He entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014. Strahan sees parallels between his football and TV careers. Neither was carefully planned; he learned both on the fly. ‘Here’s a kid in Germany, go play football,’ says Strahan. ‘‘O.K., Dad.’ Back in the day, do Live. I’ve never done it, figured it out. Do GMA. It scared me to death. Figure it out.’

“His partnership with Ripa blew up in 2016, when ABC asked Strahan to join GMA full time. Ripa felt blindsided by the offer and did not report to work for nearly a week; she came back championing respect and communication in the workplace. He departed the show months earlier than planned. ‘I learned through all that went down with that, you can’t convince people to like you,’ says Strahan. He credits Ripa for teaching him how to reach a new TV audience, though they’re no longer in touch. ‘I haven’t spoken to her in a long time,’ he says.

“Live led him to GMA, where he has thrived. So ABC execs decided to hand him and co-host Sara Haines the third hour of the morning show. (Unlike the extra hours of the Today show, which air after the main morning block, GMA Dayruns in the early afternoon.) Strahan figured out how to grab attention for his nascent program. After President Trump fed the national champion Clemson University football team fast food during their Jan. 14 White House visit, Strahan announced on GMA Day that he’d pay for a lobster dinner for the squad. The show’s producers have reached out to Clemson; there’s still a chance the meal will happen. ‘I would have been excited to be at the White House,’ says Strahan. ‘Then I would have walked out of there, like, “That was the meal? That wasn’t what I expected.” If you’re going to go there, go all out.’

“A couple of days before the NFC championship game between the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints on Jan. 20, I asked Strahan what he would change about football if he were named NFL commissioner. First, he recommended an overhaul of instant replay. ‘You should be able to review some of these calls that you’re not able to review,’ Strahan says. The response was eerily prescient, as an official missed an obvious pass-interference call that almost certainly cost the Saints a Super Bowl berth. During the off-season, the NFL will discuss allowing refs to correct such judgment calls. ‘If you’re trying not to let human error be part of the game, use it for things like we saw yesterday,’ Strahan says in a follow-up call after the game. ‘It’s a bad feeling. It kind of puts a damper on the Rams.’

“That’s a shame, because Pats-Rams is an enticing matchup on the merits. Brady, 41, is the oldest quarterback to start a Super Bowl. Rams quarterback Jared Goff, 24, is the youngest to win an NFC championship game. L.A. certainly has the defensive skill to thwart the Pats. Rams lineman Aaron Donald threatened Strahan’s sack record this season. Ndamukong Suh, another member of L.A.’s defensive front, sacked Saints QB Drew Brees in the championship game. ‘You’ve got to get to Brady,’ Strahan says. ‘It’s not easy. He’s never been mobile. But he knows how to step. Just like a dancer.’

“Strahan’s key to Super Bowl prep was realizing that the field’s still 100 yards long. The Patriots, who have made the big game three years running, own the experience. The Rams can’t feel overwhelmed. ‘When you’re playing for something bigger than yourself, with a group of guys you love, that will get you going when you don’t have anything left in the tank,’ says Strahan. ‘It’s not like in the Super Bowl they change the rules. It’s not that complicated. Realize it’s just freaking football.’”

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Per Deadline, “Resident Evil is headed to television. I have learned that Netflix is developing a scripted series based on the hit action horror franchise. I hear the series will be a Netflix global original. German production and distribution company Constantin Film, which is behind the Resident Evil movies loosely based on the Capcom video game series, is the studio. Search is underway for a showrunner to shepherd the adaptation.

“No one is commenting but I hear the plan is for the series to expand the Resident Evil universe and deepen the exiting mythology. I hear the series will keep the basic premise, which also served as a setup for the movie franchise. The drama series will explore the dark inner workings of the Umbrella Corporation and the new world order caused by the outbreak of the T-virus. While the project is in early stages, the series is expected to incorporate all ofResident Evil’s signature elements, including action sequences and ‘easter eggs.’

“The Resident Evil film franchise, launched with the 2002 Resident Evil, consists of six movies to date, produced by Constantin, which had acquired the rights to the video game series, and distributed by Screen Gems. The franchise has cumulatively earned $1.2 billion worldwide to date to rank as the highest-grossing film series ever based on a video game.

“Paul W. S. Anderson was behind the six-movie series, which starred Milla Jovovich and wrapped in 2016 with Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. Since then, Constantin Film brass have discussed plans to reboot the franchise, including as a TV series. Last month, the company hired Johannes Roberts to write and direct a potential feature Resident Evil reboot with a new cast.”

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Amazon is entering the stand-up comedy space.

“The retail giant and streamer has signed a deal with comedian Jim Gaffigan as its first foray into the stand-up genre. The special, Gaffigan's seventh, signals Amazon's intent to compete with deep-pocketed rival Netflix in the genre. Netflix entered the space — previously dominated by the likes of HBO, Showtime and Comedy Central — and the market for comedy specials exploded. (Look no further than the record $40 million Netflix paid Chris Rock for two stand-up specials.)

“The Gaffigan special, Quality Time, will be recorded live at the State Theatre in Minneapolis on March 9 and will be directed by Jeannie Gaffigan. It is executive produced by Comedy Dynamics' Brian Volk-Weiss and Cisco Henson and Brillstein's Alex Murray. All five of Gaffigan's scheduled Minneapolis performances are already sold out. Quality Time is distributed and produced by Comedy Dynamics.

"‘I am so honored to be Amazon's first original stand-up special. This is going to be exciting,’ Gaffigan said.

“Gaffigan's previous stand-up specials include Beyond the Pale (Comedy Central), King Baby (Comedy Central), Mr. Universe (self-distributed), Obsessed (Comedy Central), Cinco (Netflix) and Noble Ape (Comedy Central). The last four were produced by Comedy Dynamics and earned Grammy nominations for best comedy album.

“The stand-up special extends Gaffigan's relationship with Amazon. He next co-stars in Amazon film Troop Zero with Viola Davis and Allison Janney. He has multiple projects lined up for what he's expecting to be a banner year.”