Wednesday January 30, 2019

HGTV’s The Kitchen Cousins’ new digital series with Ellen DeGeneres, called The Build Up, is now available to stream on ellentube. I’ve watched the first 2 episodes (which is all that has been released so far). I implore you to check it out. It does NOT feel like a digital series and I expect you will feel the same.

CBS has renewed God Friended Me for a 2nd season.

Project Runway will return to Bravo on March 14.

Louis learns how to deal with Harvey; Alex is caught between Samantha and his wife. #SUITS More below.

“For the second time in three years, This Is Us fans can blame Donald Trump for delaying the airing of a season finale of This Is Us. NBC announced on Tuesday that it will pre-empt Feb. 5’s episode of the hit family drama so it can air President Trump’s State of the Union address. The next new episode of TIU is now slated to air Feb. 12 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The domino effect of this rescheduling move means that the season 3 finale, which was originally scheduled to air on Mar. 26, will now hit your TVs on April 2. In 2017, a similar scenario unfolded when a February episode of TIU was bumped to accommodate a live telecast of President Trump addressing a joint session of Congress.

Amazon is getting into the Gillian Flynn business. It was announced today that the studio will go ahead with Utopia, a drama from Flynn that is based on a British series of the same name. They’ve also signed an overall development deal with the Gone Girl author. Utopia has been green-lit for a nine-episode first season, in which a group of young adults end up in the crosshairs of an ominous deep-state organization, because they’ve obtained a supersecret and super-desirable graphic novel that may contain a vast real-world conspiracy in its pages. As you might expect, it will be up to them to save the world. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sasha Lane is the first person to be cast in Utopia in the role of Jessica Hyde. Hyde is apparently described as ‘tough and feral after a life on the run from a mysterious and dangerous group,’ a character type she’s pretty much mastered with American Honey and The Miseducation of Cameron Post. The character believes her life is linked to the show’s sought-after graphic novel, and will be one of the young people trying to save the world.”

Jerry O'Connell wants to play Billy McFarland.”

And if you watched the Netflix Fyre Festival doc, you should check this out.

“A week after Viacom surprised the industry by agreeing to pay $340 million for Pluto TV, rival Tubi has announced several measures of its dramatic growth in 2018 and plans for expansion in 2019. The independent company, which launched in 2014, bills itself as the world’s largest ad-supported video on demand service. It said its total viewership more than quadrupled in 2018 compared with 2017, with streaming in December 2018 alone equaling the amount for all of 2017. San Francisco-based Tubi said its revenue soared 180% in 2018 over the year before, with the company turning a profit in the fourth quarter. Plans call for those proceeds to fund additions to the current library of 40,000 hours of content across 12,000 movies and TV shows. Tubi said it closed a $25 million growth capital facility with Silicon Valley Bank, which will also help fund content acquisition and marketing. While the company declined to be more specific, it says the investment in new content will be ‘over nine figures.’” More on the state of SVOD below.

“The Television Academy is putting its foot down on category flip-flops. Going forward, programs will be allowed to switch categories (say, from comedy to drama competition) in the Emmy race just once. After that, they’re locked in — and won’t be allowed to categorize again. That’s one of the latest changes to the Emmy competition, as the TV Academy released its formalized rules and regulations on Tuesday for this year’s competition. As TV series have become a bit more complex (comedies with a heavy dose of drama, and vice versa), it’s become harder to categorize many of them. That’s why, a few years ago, the TV Academy clarified that half-hour shows will be automatically deemed comedies, and hour-longs as dramas, unless those shows petition to make a change. And with many hour-longs touting themselves as comedies and a rise in half-hour dramas, those requests have become commonplace.”

Per Deadline, “USA Network at TCA unveiled a trailer for its upcoming series Pearson, a spinoff from the popular legal drama Suits, which stars Gina Torres and centers on her character, powerhouse lawyer Jessica Pearson, as she enters the dirty world of Chicago politics. (you can watch it above.)

“During a panel discussion for the show, the project’s creators, Suits creator and executive producer Aaron Korsh and executive producer Daniel Arkin, talked about how the offshoot will stand on its own in comparison to the mothership series.

“‘Jessica is the link between Suits and Pearson,’ Arkin said. ‘It has Suits DNA but we wanted the show’s concept to be grittier, raw, more real, showing more facets of her personality and life.’

“While Jessica was always calling the shots on Suits, ‘we are seeing her behind the ball, not knowing everything (on Pearson,)’ Korsh said. ‘People reject her for a change.’

“While Jessica’s position in the food chain changes, her status as a fashion icon does not.

“‘I think it will be tragedy if they didn’t see that part of the DNA carry over,’ Torres said of her character keeping her sense of style and penchant for designer outfits though the producers noted that, since Pearson will chronicle both Jessica’s professional and personal life, she will be seen wearing more casual clothes than in Suits.

“Torres, who came up with the initial idea for Pearson, said that she first thought about revisiting her Jessica Pearson character in a political setting following her exit from Suits after she ‘became obsessed with the 2016 elections.’

“‘I realized that that’s what she did in the world of Suits, not just walking the line but blurring the line and rewriting it,’ Torres said, adding that she started asking herself ‘what would she do in that world (of Chicago politics).’

“Korsh and Torres talked about their ‘magical experience’ attending the Royal wedding though Korsh laughed off questions about former Suits star Meghan Markle possibly visiting the spinoff or the mothership series’ final sason. As I reported last week, there are no Suits characters crossing over on the first season of Pearson.”

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From Yahoo!: “Will Meghan Markle return for Suits' farewell season?

“When USA Network officially announced that the upcoming ninth season would be the legal drama's last, rumors swirled that original cast members who had since left, most notably Markle, could return for one last hurrah. On Tuesday, Suits creator Aaron Korsh addressed whether they were actively looking to reunite with Markle, who played Rachel Zane for seven seasons, and is currently expecting her first child with Prince Harry.

"‘We're not currently pursuing asking Meghan Markle to leave her position with the royal family and join us,’ Korsh told a handful of reporters, including ET, at the Television Critics Association press tour. ‘I would love it but I think it's pretty close to zero.’

“Korsh also addressed the more realistic chances that Patrick J. Adams, who departed at the end of season seven, could reprise his role one last time as attorney Mike Ross in the series finale.

"‘I have discussed with Patrick when he left the possibility of coming back, and we both decided if the time was right and he was up for it and he had the time, that we would do it,’ Korsh said.

“The writers' room for the final 10 episodes of Suits is starting up soon, he noted, and the first order of business will be to ‘figure out what we want to do.’

"‘I don't mean just in a general sense, like wanting Mike is not a story. We'd have to figure out exactly what we would do with him and we'd have to have a general plan,’ he added. ‘I wouldn't break every story or the story so specifically before contacting Patrick and saying, “This is the general thing we'd do, are you available?” Then we'd move from there. Since we just started... it's on our brains.’

“Korsh admitted that he doesn't have destinations in mind, necessarily, for the Suits characters and where he'd like people like Harvey, Donna and Louis to end up by the series' end. 

"‘We're starting to discuss all the things. All of them left at various stages at the end of [the season eight finale] and you start from there, you start where you want them to go, you figure out how much time you have and along the way, things can change,’ he said. ‘The finale that's coming up, we ended in a radically different way than I would've thought we were going to end it two days before we started shooting it. I can't know until after we've shot it, exactly what's going to happen with everyone but we're in the beginning process of figuring it out.’

“Asked if he had the final image of the Suits series finale in mind, Korsh was honest, telling ET, ‘No.’ 

“Earlier this month, Korsh was less sure about whether he would be asking old cast members to return for the final season.

"‘As of this minute, I don’t know which of our old original cast will be back and which won’t because we’re so early in the season,’ he told Deadline at the time. ‘As far as the original people coming back including, Jessica, we’re so early in the season that we haven’t formulated what we want to do, so we can’t reach out to people before we know what we want to do.’

“Suits airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on USA Network.”

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Empire star Jussie Smollett was hospitalized early Tuesday following an assault in Chicago in what is described as a possible hate crime, Variety has confirmed.

“According to a statement released by the Chicago Police Department, Smollett was beaten by two men who approached him by yelling out ‘racial and homophobic slurs’ at approximately 2 a.m. Tuesday morning in the 300 block of E. North Water Street. They proceeded to assault Smollett and ‘poured an unknown chemical substance’ on him.

“The two men are also said to have put a rope around Smollett’s neck before fleeing on foot. Smollett then transported himself to an area hospital and is described as being in “good condition.”

“Smollett was in Chicago ahead of a concert he was set to perform on Saturday. He had posted on Instagram late Monday night saying he had arrived in the city ‘after spending 7 hours on a plane for a 2 hour flight.’ According to TMZ, Smollett had gone out for food after landing when the assault occurred.

“‘We are deeply saddened and outraged to learn that a member of our Empire family, Jussie Smollett, was viciously attacked last night,’ 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment said in a statement. ‘We send our love to Jussie, who is resilient and strong, and we will work with law enforcement to bring these perpetrators to justice. The entire studio, network and production stands united in the face of any despicable act of violence and hate — and especially against one of our own.’

“GLAAD also released a statement on the incident, saying, ‘GLAAD reached out to Fox and Jussie’s team today to offer assistance as well as support for him. Jussie is a true champion for LGBTQ people and is beloved by the community and allies around the world.’

“Smollett received rave reviews for his breakout role as Jamal Lyon on Empire. The character publicly came out as gay during the show’s record-breaking first season. Smollett himself came out during an interview with Ellen DeGeneres in 2015.

“‘I am disgusted and saddened by the attack on Jussie, one of the nicest and most genuine people I have worked with,’ Empire executive producer Brian Grazer said in a statement. ‘I send him much love on his recovery. Hate and bigotry have no place in our society.’

“ABC News reported Tuesday that an earlier threat had been made in letter form to Smollett. Investigation of the incident has now been handed over to the FBI.”

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From Realscreen: “Deep-pocketed SVOD players and the continuously evolving content ecosystem were top of mind for executives during a top-level panel discussion on the opening day of the 21st edition of the Realscreen Summit in New Orleans.

“Moderated by Michael Bancroft, executive producer at Beyond Innovation and co-host of The Feed with Amber Mac and Michael B, the panel discussed whether producers and content creators can accept losing rights for global reach and how SVOD players have forced media organizations to rethink the way they approach content and content delivery.

“Streaming giants like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu have obviously opened up other avenues where content producers can show and sell content, especially since these players have taken the plunge with unscripted producers.

“‘It’ll continue to evolve,’ Jennifer O’Connell, EVP and head of worldwide alternative programming at Lionsgate, told a packed room at the Sheraton New Orleans. ‘We’re at beginning of this evolution and figuring out how to be flexible with deals, which is a big part of figuring out the right way to make it work.’

“Finding the right home for your program, O’Connell said, is absolutely crucial and cautioned against producers being swayed by the sexiest sell, as it might not always be the best home for that specific project.

“‘You want the longest life, you just don’t want to make a bunch of season ones,’ she said. ‘Sometimes that’s with the shiny new toy, and sometimes that’s with the more traditional platform that might give it more attention and time.’

“Content makers are fundamentally dealing with very dissimilar companies. While producers may have gotten into the habit of dealing with traditional linear networks in a specific way, the habits of new SVOD providers are vastly different and very specific.

“As a result of those diverging habits, Brian Speiser, a partner for alternative and factual programming at APA, said the biggest challenges presented to creators moving forward is in determining how to become more flexible in the deal making arena while also realizing that ‘it’s a paradigm shift right now and we all have to work in a way that maybe the other is not accustomed to working in, and that also requires flexibility on their end, too.’

“For content makers launching large shows in North America across the digital landscape, producing for the domestic audience with an eye toward the global marketplace is a delicate balance. One of the bigger distinctions between working directly for more traditional networks and working for an SVOD – Netflix in particular – is that the majority of producers are not privy to the data surrounding the performance of their series.

“‘There are whole parts of the legacy business model that depended on certain data points that don’t apply to SVOD model, that’s everything from have you valued advertising space to have you valued tape when you’re selling it into syndication or globally,’ said David Eilenberg, ITV America’s chief creative officer. ‘It’s interesting to see how vulnerable certain parts of our legacy business model are being made.’

“‘There are a growing number of people who think Netflix will have to become an ad-supported model at some point,’ added Speiser. ‘You’re already seeing them buy shows or license shows with interesting brand integration opportunities as well.’

“Lauren Gellert, EVP of development and original programming at WE tv noted that Netflix and other major subscription streaming services will now start losing libraries that they’ve previously depended on because media conglomerates like The Walt Disney Company are now launching their own SVOD platforms to superserve the masses.

“‘We’ll see if they actually have what it takes to go up against Netflix because Netflix innovates, pivots, is nimble and is all the things that traditional networks are usually not,’ said moderator Bancroft.

“Nimbleness, Lionsgate’s O’Connell concluded, is the operative word for all players throughout the media landscape, whether a buyer, seller, SVOD or traditional. ‘That is what will separate the winners from the others. You have to be nimble in this world.’”