Wednesday October 9, 2019

Rhythm + Flow is now available on Netflix. “In this music competition show, judges Tip ‘T.I.’ Harris, Cardi B and Chance the Rapper hit the streets to find the next rap superstar.”

Season 4 of Riverdale premieres tonight.

A new episode of Stumptown airs tonight on ABC. If you’re looking for a new series to check out, this is worth a look.

Rob Gronkowski has a new gig after retiring from the NFL earlier this year. The three-time Super Bowl champion has joined Fox Sports as an NFL analyst, the network announced Tuesday morning. The former New England Patriots tight end will make his network debut this week on Fox NFL Thursday, when the New England Patriots take on their old foes, the New York Giants. ‘I’m extremely excited to be joining Fox Sports,’ Gronkowski said. ‘For the past 25 years, they’ve offered viewers top-notch NFL programming from the field to the booth to the studio. Their deep talent roster is unmatched, which was important for me as I embark on this new chapter in my life because I’ll be able to learn from the best in the business.’” Not going to lie, this surprises me.

A Breaking Bad pop up is coming to Los Angeles. More below.

Comedy Central will air a standup special with “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” correspondent Michael Kosta. The one-hour special will be his 1st and will likely air in the spring of 2020.

As expected, Michelle Beadle will no longer host ESPN’s NBA pregame show, NBA Countdown, but the network is making more changes than that. Rachel Nichols and her daily afternoon studio show, The Jump will now serve as the pre-eminent pregame show for ESPN and ABC’s marquee games. The Jump will become the on-site pregame show for all Saturday night games that air on ABC, as well as the Christmas Day game and the NBA Finals. The Jump will still air daily at 3 p.m. ET. NBA Countdown will still serve as the pregame studio show for the rest of ESPN and ABC’s NBA schedule, with Maria Taylor taking over as host from Beadle. An individual with knowledge of the plans told TheWrap that Beadle and ESPN are close to finalizing an agreement for the two to mutually part ways.”

“Ronan Farrow’s new book Catch and Kill recounts his investigation of Harvey Weinstein . . . [b]ut Farrow’s most explosive interview in the book is with Brooke Nevils, the former NBC News employee whose complaint about Matt Lauer led to the co-anchor’s firing from the Today show in 2017. At the time, NBC News kept Nevils’ identity anonymous from press reports at her request. The full details of her allegations have not been made public until now. . . . In Sochi, Nevils was tasked with working with former Today co-anchor Meredith Vieira, who’d been brought back to the show to do Olympics coverage. In Nevils’ account, one night over drinks with Vieira at the hotel bar where the NBC News team was staying, they ran into Lauer, who joined them. At the end of the night, Nevils, who’d had six shots of vodka, ended up going to Lauer’s hotel room twice — once to retrieve her press credential, which Lauer had taken as a joke, and the second time because he invited her back. Nevils, Farrow writes, ‘had no reason to suspect Lauer would be anything but friendly based on prior experience.’ Once she was in his hotel room, Nevils alleges, Lauer — who was wearing a T-shirt and boxers — pushed her against the door and kissed her. He then pushed her onto the bed, ‘flipping her over, asking if she liked anal sex,’ Farrow writes. ‘She said that she declined several times.’ According to Nevils, she ‘was in the midst of telling him she wasn’t interested again when he “just did it,”’ Farrow writes. ‘Lauer, she said, didn’t use lubricant. The encounter was excruciatingly painful. “It hurt so bad. I remember thinking, Is this normal?” She told me she stopped saying no, but wept silently into a pillow.’ Lauer then asked her if she liked it. She tells him yes. She claims that ‘she bled for days,’ Farrow writes. Nevils tells Farrow: ‘It was nonconsensual in the sense that I was too drunk to consent,’ she says. ‘It was nonconsensual in that I said, multiple times, that I didn’t want to have anal sex.’”

Lauer, of course, has denied the above allegations. Riiiiiiiight.

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Per TheWrap, “Aaron Paul returns as Jesse Pinkman in the Breaking Bad follow-up film, El Camino, which debuts on Netflix this Friday.

“The film, which was written and directed by Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan, takes place after the events of the AMC series, which aired its final episode in 2013. The synopsis of the film reads: ‘In the wake of his dramatic escape from captivity, Jesse must come to terms with his past in order to forge some kind of future.’

“Not much is known about the film other than along with Paul, Charles Baker and Matt Jones will return as Skinny Pete and Badger, respectively. Before the film lands on Netflix — and theaters — this weekend, we figured you needed a quick refresher on where we left Pinkman at the end of Breaking Bad.

“Pinkman spends the last couple of episodes of Breaking Bad in captivity by Todd Alquist’s (Jesse Plemons) uncle Jack and his gang of white supremacists, and is forced to cook meth for them.

“Earlier in the final season, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) officially retired from the business, having amassed enough money to last several lifetimes, though his cancer (which had been in remission since the end of Season 2) returned. Pinkman, who at this point had been looking for a way out of the drug business, ends up turning on his former partner after he discovers that he was behind the ricin poisoning of his girlfriend Andrea’s son, Brock.

“Pinkman than works with DEA agent — and White’s brother-in-law — Hank Schrader (Dean Norris) and his partner Steve Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada) to bring White to justice. Hank knows White is the drug kingpin called ‘Heisenberg’ at this point, but needs to get him to admit to it on tape. They set up an elaborate trap to lure White out to the desert, where he’s buried his fortune. It nearly works, but once White realized it was a trap, he called Alquist to get Jack to get him out of trouble, which leads to a shootout that results in Gomez and Schrader’s deaths.

“Pinkman is captured by Jack’s gang during the ensuing chaos and spends many months forced to cook meth against his will. At one point, Pinkman nearly breaks out of captivity, but he is caught. Pinkman is forced to witness the gang murder Andrea, with Jack threatening to kill Brock if Pinkman attempts to escape again.

“In the series finale, White — who at this point has been outed as ‘Heisenberg’ and on the run, and estranged from his family — returns to New Mexico to set things right. He ends up Jack’s compound and has Pinkman, in shackles, brought before him. He tackles Pinkman to the ground, right as a machine goes off from his car (which was planned) and kills all of Jack’s gang members. Pinkman than strangles Alquist to death, while Walt kills Jack.

“White then hands Pinkman a gun and asks him to kill him, which he refuses. He leaves the compound but nods gratefully to White for freeing him. It is then revealed that White was mortally wounded in the shooting, and dies.

“Jesse was last seen driving off in a state of relief and tears in Todd’s El Camino, and thus, the reason for the upcoming film’s name.”

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Per The Ringer, “[t]here are two shows that exist within the world of Succession. On the one hand, there’s the comedy/profoundly stupid high jinks side of things, exemplified by Tom and Greg’s mentor-mentee relationship (‘You can’t make a Tomlette without breaking some Greggs!’). On the other, there’s the cutthroat, tragic, sociopathic side best exemplified by Logan, who controls Waystar Royco with gravitas, even when he’s subjecting subordinates to an objectively absurd game of Boar on the Floor. It’s as if Brian Cox (playing Logan) is on a totally different series from Matthew Macfadyen and Nicholas Braun (Tom and Greg).

“But while these characters will sometimes cross over from their respective corners of comedy and drama—Tom sometimes shares tender moments with Shiv; Logan’s favorite phrase is ‘fuck off’ and he once called Greg an ‘Ichabod Crane fuck,’ which is one of the greatest things I’ve ever heard—they don’t induce the same kind of whiplash as Succession’s resident sadboy, Kendall Roy. The character vacillates between extreme ends of the comedic and dramatic spectrum. He opened the first season rapping along to the Beastie Boys in the back of his car—hilarious and cringe-worthy in equal measure—and wrapped up the finale falling apart in his father’s arms after accidentally killing a young man in the English countryside. At his most mockable, Kendall represents the sort of tryhard business bro who earnestly refers to a website as a ‘portfolio of online brands and digital video content,’ but he’s also the most human Roy, the character who’s most able to elicit audience sympathy. Against my better judgment I have a certain predilection toward self-loathing individuals, so I am absolutely Team Kendall. (It goes without saying that everyone on Succession is abhorrent, but it’s only natural to develop some rooting interests while watching a show.)

“Being on Team Kendall—if you’re new, I just want to say, uh, yo—is a tricky proposition. You want him to somehow recover from a complete psychological collapse and get out from under Logan’s thumb knowing that, when Kendall actually does get some of his mojo back, he’s the type of dude who will whisk an aspiring actress away to Scotland and then cut ties with her because she says “awesome” too many times. More than loving any of the character’s defining traits, though, the key to being on Team Kendall is worshipping at the altar of Jeremy Strong, a Swiss Army knife of an actor who captures the character’s pathos and occasional levity in heart-wrenching fashion.

“On a show filled to the brim with bravura performances, Strong inhabits a space so haunting, tragic, and insular—and sometimes, yes, really funny—that you actually begin to worry about his well-being. But the reward of going through such an emotional gantlet with Kendall, however, is experiencing one of the best television performances I’ve ever seen. (It’s worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as Carrie Coon on The Leftovers, which is obviously the highest compliment a thespian can receive.)

“The nuances of Strong’s ineffable work are most clearly defined when looking at the way Kendall changes his behavior depending on his interlocutor. Forced to spend more time with his dad this season, Kendall almost exclusively cowers in fear of retaliation and becomes a stuttering, memeable mess. And when Logan makes his son accompany him on a visit to the family of the man that Kendall accidentally killed, it’s wild how Strong resembles nothing if not a frightened little boy:

“Kendall is, for the most part, emotionally inhibited around his siblings, but in Season 2, he begins to show some sincere vulnerability, breaking down in Shiv’s arms when confronted about his weird, stilted behavior. Strong strains through each word and choked-back sob, with Kendall desperately yearning to bare his anguish; it’s hard to watch. ‘I would just ask that you take care of me,’ Kendall pleads, ‘because if Dad didn’t need me right now, I don’t exactly know what I would be for.’ It’s a devastating admission of a man so devoid of, well, anything that he starts shoplifting from bodegas to feel the tiniest bit alive.

“And yet, Kendall can still feel comfortable being a peak fuccboi in the right company. Just days after he accidentally killed a person—stumbling around Waystar HQ to do Logan’s bidding when he isn’t repeating the mantra, ‘I saw their plan. Dad’s plan was better’—Kendall acts most like his usual self around Cousin Greg, at one point referring to himself as ‘Techno Gatsby’ while throwing a house party at Greg’s new penthouse, seemingly without his consent. (Strong’s proficiency at embodying a tragic figure is rivaled only by his impressive capacity to portray an asshole.) There are very clear power structures on Succession, and it’s not a great sign for hapless Greg that Kendall, even at rock bottom, won’t treat him with much respect or empathy (though at least Kendall did lend Greg that penthouse until the market bounces back!).

“But with so much time spent at his father’s beck and call atop the Waystar empire, Kendall rarely gets to flex that dude-bro ego. The Logan-Kendall dynamic this season has Stockholm syndrome–esque qualities to it; as Roman puts it, Kendall has a difficult time deciding whether he wants to to worship their dad or try to kill him—sometimes, the entirety of the love-hate spectrum is traversed within a couple of episodes. A week after Logan made him meet the family of the man he accidentally killed, Kendall performs a rap about how awesome his dad is. (‘Since I stan dad I’m alive and well,’ he dishes at one point, a traumatic sequence of words.) In all honesty, Strong’s flow through most of L to the OG isn’t that terrible—it’s just, contextually, the rap is a pitiful and completely unnecessary display of fealty.

“The way Strong has approached Kendall since he became the Number One Boy evokes Alfie Allen’s evolution in Game of Thrones from Theon to Reek. (Strong, for his part, is delighted by the Kendall-Reek analogy.) The Reek torture scenes were gratuitous and redundant, but there was no denying that Allen handled a tricky Thrones tightrope with aplomb—moving seamlessly from the Westerosi embodiment of toxic masculinity to a traumatized shell of a person. Of course, once he escaped from Ramsay Bolton, he didn’t become the Theon of old: the experience made him seek redemption from the Starks. Were Kendall to escape his father’s grip—which may require Logan to die—the evidence doesn’t necessarily point to a similar redemption arc. Kendall might be capable of empathy, but his warped sense of self-worth still condones extremely shitty behavior, especially to people under his socioeconomic strata. (Again, he dumped the actress from Willa’s play for saying “awesome” more than once, not even 24 hours after referring to them as the ‘Lewis and Clark of fucking.’)

“Kendall is, in other words, all over the damn place—and you can envision a lesser actor becoming overburdened by the emotional roller coaster of the role. But Jeremy Strong deftly toggling between portraying a character in emotional agony, snorting lines of coke, stuttering like a nervous child, and performatively acting like everything is fine carries the kind of tragic authenticity that helps give Succession emotional stakes. It’s a pathetic portrait of a life that barely qualifies as living, and it’s a testament to Strong’s indelible performance that Kendall’s fatalist cycle remains captivating television. With the walls closing in on Logan and the Roys’ future at Waystar heading into the Season 2 finale, the patriarch tells Shiv that it’s time for a ‘blood sacrifice.’ The leading candidates for said sacrifice appear to be Tom and Kendall. Beyond the darkness that the show would have to embrace to sacrifice Kendall after everything he’s endured this season, it could also mean depriving us of more amazing work from Strong. Even for Succession’s high standards, that would be the biggest tragedy of all.”

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From Decider, “There are few shows that usually understand the complexities of sexuality better than Big Mouth. But following accusations of spreading misinformation as well as promoting transphobia and biphobia, Big Mouth co-creator Andrew Goldberg has apologized for his show on Twitter.

“The controversial scene in question debuted during the Season 3 episode Rankings. A new girl named Ali (voiced by Ali Wong) comes to school right as all the boys and girls become obsessed with making lists ranking their classmates looks. Right off the bat Ali throws the social hierarchy off balance by announcing that she’s pansexual.

“After calling bisexuality ‘so binary’ Ali explains. ‘It’s like some of you borings like tacos and some of you like burritos. And if you’re bisexual you like tacos and burritos,’ she says. ‘But I’m saying I like tacos and burritos, and I could be into a taco that was born a burrito, sure, ‘kay? Or a burrito that is transitioning into a taco, comprende? And honey, anything else on the fucking menu.’

“There’s a lot wrong with that definition. First of all, pansexuality doesn’t mean that someone is attracted to all genders. Pansexuality means that someone is attracted to people regardless of their gender. That’s a very important distinction that Big Mouth failed to address.

“Then there’s the trans- erasure that comes with Ali’s simplification of bisexuality. Trans- men and trans- women are men and women. They aren’t a separate gender, as this explanation implies. Similarly, being bisexual doesn’t mean members of this community are only attracted to cisgendered people. Bisexuality is a sexual orientation that refers to people who are attracted to two or more genders. Trans- men and women have always been part of the bisexual community, despite what Big Mouth‘s definition makes it seem.

“After the clip gained attention, Big Mouth‘s co-creator Andrew Goldberg issued an apology. ‘We missed the mark here with this definition of bisexuality vs. pansexuality, and my fellow creators and I sincerely apologize for making people feel misrepresented’ Goldberg wrote. ‘Thank you to the trans, pan, and bi communities for further opening our eyes to these important and complicated issues of representation. We are listening and we look forward to delving into all of this in future seasons.’

Big Mouth will certainly have time to correct its definition and offer a more accurate examination of gender and sexual identities. The Netflix original was renewed through Season 6 this summer.

“Not only that but during its panel at New York Comic Con, the show’s creators announced that they would be creating Big Mouth spinoff series called Human Resources. Premiering after Season 5, this workplace comedy will focus on the world of Hormone Monsters as it explores every aspect of human life instead of just puberty.”

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From The WWE: “Thinkfactory Media, an ITV America company, and WWE Studios today announced a partnership to produce a new reality series, Big Show vs. The World: A Giant Abroad (wt), starring WWE Superstar Big Show.

“Through his extensive world travels with WWE, Big Show has collected a lifetime of unusual stories filled with unexplained natural occurrences, local enigmas and fascinating people. Big Show vs. The World: A Giant Abroad will follow the larger-than-life WWE Superstar as he travels back to these locations and indulges his lifelong passion for exploring the strange and unknown.

“Each self-contained episode will feature Big Show venturing to a new exotic area, where he’ll team up with a local guide and dive head first into a native mystery or legend. Navigating the difficulty of travel (at seven feet tall) and the extreme, sometimes awkward situations he encounters with his signature self-deprecating sense of humor, Big Show will do whatever it takes to unearth every quirky and shocking detail during his adventures into the bizarre.

“‘Big Show brings so many different layers to a project like this; it’s a dream scenario for us as producers,’ said Thinkfactory CEO Adam Reed. ‘He blends his fierce intelligence and curiosity with an unexpected, one-of-a-kind wit, and his intimidating physical stature is offset by his surprisingly disarming personality. We’re ecstatic to be working with him and the WWE Studios team and can’t wait for the journeys ahead.’

“‘For more than two decades, Big Show’s magnetic personality has inspired fans around the world, and in this new series, he will be able to meet the people and explore the places that have played a pivotal role in his journey as a WWE Superstar,’ said Susan Levison, SVP and Head of WWE Studios. ‘We are thrilled to be bringing this show to life with our partners at Thinkfactory who are proven winners in the unscripted television genre.’

“‘I won’t guarantee we’ll solve every mystery, but we’ll explore every strange detail, chase every bizarre lead, and meet the incredible characters involved in pursuit of the truth,’ said Big Show.”