Monday February 11, 2019

I enjoyed Ray Romano’s Netflix standup special. Nothing revolutionary, but funny stuff.

I also dove in on Hulu’s PEN15. It’s interesting, a bit weird and something that I’m definitely going to try to finish. Here’s more from the show’s creators.

On the flip side, run don’t walk to watch the new Big Mouth episodes on Netflix, presuming that show is your thing.

If you’re not watching Crashing on HBO, you should be.

Regina Hall talks about this first season of Black Monday, another show you should be watching.

And here is a bit more from the show’s writers.

Seriously, why does everyone whisper on True Detective?

A review of last night’s Grammys in the event you skipped them.

Netflix film High Flying Bird isn’t bad. If you’re not a basketball fan, it’s probably not something you’re going to like all that much.

Running Wild With Bear Grylls will move to Nat Geo for its forthcoming season.

History has ordered a 2nd season of Project Blue Book.

The cracks in Jussie Smollett’s story are running deeper, as expected. “‘I don’t believe it happened the way he said it did,’ said Agin Muhammad, who lives in the same swank high-rise near the Navy Pier as Smollett. ‘I’ve been in this neighborhood five years. I don’t believe it, not around here … Half the people are gay and the other half are black.’ A patron at Lizzie McNeill’s Irish Pub, about a block from the scene of the alleged Jan. 29 incident, said Smollett’s story ‘doesn’t really make sense.’ Cops have said they found plenty of surveillance video, but none that captured the incident. Meanwhile, Chicago police said Sunday that Smollett has yet to turn over data from his cellphone to verify that he was on the phone with his music manager, Brandon Moore, when he was allegedly attacked.”

Amanda Knox will host a true-crime podcast series, The Truth About True Crime, that will serve as a companion to SundanceTV’s upcoming documentaries, the network announced Saturday. Knox will take a detailed look at the true crimes that are chronicled in the upcoming SundanceTV and Sundance Now documentary series Ministry of Evil: The Twisted Cult of Tony Alamo, Killing for Love, The Preppie Murder: Death In Central Park” (working title) and No One Saw A Thing.. New episodes of The Truth About True Crime will premiere timed to each documentary.”

Whey are they not on Love After Lockup?

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From Variety: “The second season of BBC America’s cat-and-mouse drama Killing Eve picks up only 30 seconds after the events of the first season ended, but crafting what is to come is a new executive producer in Emerald Fennel.

“Fennel stepped in to Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s creation after the first season was already written but before it was airing. The two women have been friends for a long time, series star Sandra Oh pointed out at the Television Critics Assn. press tour panel for the show Saturday. The fact that ‘they have a kinship and [similar] sensibility [in] where they come from, their humor, their style’ made it a ‘good match’ for Fennel to be the driving force behind the second season, Oh said.

“‘Emerald has her own voice entirely, but it really moved from one hand to a similar hand,’ she said.

“Fennel not only had to further complex characters, including Oh’s titular MI5 agent and Jodie Comer’s assassin Villanelle, but she also had to balance a tone that mixed deep tension with humorous bits.

“‘I think it’s also the placement of the humor within the show — the way it undercuts the really serious moments is genius,’ Comer said.

“For Comer, the ‘complexity and versatility’ of the characters is what keeps things interesting. ‘It’s written by a woman who understands all of this and it’s so visible in the writing. It’s so much fun to play. It’s a real gift,’ she said.

“In the second season, Oh noted both women will be seen as ‘vulnerable in slightly different ways.’

“‘They’ve crossed a line and there’s kind of no going back. We have a lot of energy at the beginning…and that pushes both of them into a different place of vulnerability,’ she explained. ‘How can you come to terms with a relationship that seems to be impossible? That’s what I think we’re trying to figure out daily.’

“Villanelle, in particular, is extremely vulnerable in the first two episodes of the second season, due to the fact that she is on the run with a stab wound after her encounter with Eve in the first season finale. This allows Comer a chance to show off a new side of Villanelle internally, as she has to ‘scramble’ to survive but really feels how out of control she is, as well as externally, with new ‘found’ fashions.”

“‘Villanelle fetishizes clothes,’ Fennel pointed out, so the show has to be very specific in what it outfits her. ‘We all know, as women, how powerful clothes can be as a weapon.’

“While the first two episodes see Villanelle’s clothes on the more mundane side of the spectrum, including a very specific set of pajamas and an encounter with a pair of Crocs, after she is out of that ‘very vulnerable setting,’ the show will explore ‘how much clothes mean to her.’

“The second season of the show will also expand outward a bit to consider the possibility that there is another assassin in the mix. While the Eve and Villanelle relationship will always be the core of the show, Fennel said that ‘what is really interesting is saying, ‘What do we do when somebody else comes along?’ Is Eve an assassin expert or is she a Villanelle expert? And what does that mean for her, for Carolyn, for her job?'

“Added executive producer Sally Woodward-Gentle: ‘What would happen to Villanelle as well if she thought Eve’s gaze wasn’t always on her?’

“Comer noted that they are still very much ‘finding out the pieces’ of their characters and their relationships as they are on set — not just for Eve and Villanelle but for many new characters who come in, as well. ‘Each actor brings in a different energy to the set and adds in something completely new,’ she said. ‘We’re incredibly lucky that we get so many actors to come in.’

“The team behind the show also reflected on the fact that when they were first making Killing Eve, the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements were just taking off. For Oh, the show took on a greater significance being inside a story that focused on ‘not only believe her in every moment but just watching her in every moment’ at such a time in history. ‘That is what I feel deeply aligned by and what I hope is growing in the States,’ she said.

“But, Oh added, such poignancy is not a ‘driving force’ when she signs on to roles. ‘I am happy if it does open up and contribute…but I am interested in what I am interested in,’ she said. And one thing she is interested in at this time in her career is having ‘the chance to set the tone.’

“The same is true for Fennel, who pointed out that as women working in this business, ‘we’re used to being the cement and men are the bricks. We’re used to filling in the cracks — we take in the space and make it work. [But] on a show like this we’re the bricks.’

Killing Eve Season 2 premieres April 7 at 8 p.m. on BBC America, simulcast on AMC.”

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Per TheWrap, “AMC has opened a writers rooms for 61st Street, a potential new series executive produced by Michael B. Jordan’s Outlier Society.

“The project will be considered for a greenlight under the cabler’s new ‘scripts-to-series’ development model. Peter Moffett, who wrote the British drama Criminal Justice, which HBO adapted into The Night Of, will serve as showrunner and executive producer.

“Set in present-day Chicago, 61st Street follows Moses Johnson, a promising high school athlete, who is swept up into the infamously corrupt Chicago criminal justice system. Taken by the police as a gang member, he soon finds himself in the eye of the storm as police and prosecutors seek revenge for the death of an officer during a drug bust gone wrong.

“A timely examination of the institutional racism plaguing cities nationwide, 61st Street plumbs the depths of systemic abuse happening in some of the country’s most vulnerable communities.

“‘Award-winning writer Peter Moffat’s 61st Street is a murder mystery, courtroom drama, and an examination of race in America wrapped up into one,’ said David Madden, president of programming for AMC Networks and AMC Studios. “Peter justly won acclaim for ‘Criminal Justice,’ the British thriller which was remade by HBO as The Night Of, and in this case he’s partnered with extraordinary producers, the Outlier Society team of Michael B. Jordan and Alana Mayo. This is an emotional and audacious piece of drama that is as timely as television gets, and we are excited to put it into a writers’ room and see where the team takes it.’

61st Street will be produced by AMC Studios with Jordan and Alana Mayo of Outlier Society on board as executive producers, along with Hilary Salmon of BBC Studios.”

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Per TVLine, “[f]or the doctors at Chastain Park Memorial Hospital, cutting into bodies and saving human lives is actually the easy part.

“The tough part? When Conrad, Nic and The Resident‘s other docs are forced to confront their messy personal lives, as they’ll need to do quite a bit in the remaining Season 2 episodes — with potentially fatal results.

“‘The end of the season is hardcore into our characters and their stories and big crises,’ co-creator Amy Holden Jones told us at the Television Critics Association winter press tour. ‘Not everybody does get out alive, and what will happen, I hope, will have people holding their breath.’

“As the Fox drama’s sophomore run heads into Episode 14 (airing tonight at 8/7c), we grilled Jones about a possible love triangle for Nic, the still-unresolved fate of Julian Booth (and how it will affect Devon in the long run), Mina and AJ’s increasingly friendly dynamic and more. Read on for her insights:

There’s clearly some chemistry between Nic and Alec Shaw — what can you say about where that’s headed in upcoming episodes?
I’m not going to give you the answers to that. [Laughs] People will have to wait and see.

Will Nic feel conflicted as she gets closer to him?
What I will say is that it’s not going to go anywhere that people think it’s going to go, necessarily. I hope it will surprise them in many ways. Miles [Gaston Villanueva] is a wonderful actor, and at the same time we adore “CoNic,” so…. It’s been a challenge writing that and treading it without destroying any character. As an executive producer, I find the idea that you constantly break people up and put them back together a bit of a trope, a bit of a cliché. I’m instead really interested in something that I think happens in actual relationships, which is that you love each other very much and there are challenges. I’m interested in that story, of how people try to stay together when they may have different goals, they may have different ideas.

How does a potentially jealous Conrad respond?
It may not be what you expect. Where that story goes, believe me, you’re not going to know.

When will we learn about Julian’s fate?
Julian’s fate is coming up. It will be resolved. People get very impatient online.

Will it be in the next episode or a bit further down the line?
A bit further down the line. The next episode is the Valentine’s Day episode, and it’s kind of a standalone. It’s got a big “hashtag #JIrving” [Jessica/Irving] storyline, and a CoNic thing obviously, and there’s a big Mina reveal. And also, there’s a Kit/Bell reveal. It’s a charming episode.

Is Devon putting himself in serious danger now that he’s investigating QuoVadis?
Everybody is in danger with QuoVadis. QuoVadis is a very bad deal. QuoVadis is inspired by Theranos — which is a big company that had a medical device that was a complete fraud and went bust — as well as a lot of other medical device companies. The fate of QuoVadis is shortly to be revealed, and that will be taken care of before the end of this season.

Will Nic’s sister be a big part of the remainder of the season?
Nic’s sister is a big part, indeed. And Nic’s relationship with her sister, and Conrad and Alec, are a big part of the rest of the season. When you have multiple characters you have to balance the storylines, so that everybody has something to do, and Nic didn’t have as much to do this year because she drove things last year. As a result, she is going to have a very large part of the last four episodes — as do Kit and Bell, oddly enough.

Any teasers for a potential Mina/AJ romance? How long will AJ be able to hide his true feelings?
You know, a lot of people don’t want to see them as lovers, believe it or not. They want to have the dream ahead, but they’re a bit like a 19th-century novel couple, where you’re yearning for them to get together and yearning for them not to. She’s not going to graduate yet to be an attending if we get another season, so he’s got a while. AJ is a character, but he’s very moral and he has a very strong feeling in the #MeToo era of not taking advantage of his mentor relationship with the mentee. There’s only so far he can go. But they have similarities and they’re very work-driven, and in Episode 15 you’ll meet Mina’s mother, and that leads to a huge Mina crisis, where AJ provides a very important emotional role.”

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Per Deadline, “National Geographic has handed a series order to the adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s best-selling nonfiction book The Right Stuff from Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way.

“Production on the scripted series will begin this fall on the series, which tells the story of the early days of the U.S. space program. Appian Way Productions produces with Warner Horizon Scripted Television. DiCaprio exec produces with Jennifer Davisson, while Mark Lafferty (Castle Rock), has been tapped as exec producer and showrunner, Shooter’s Will Staples will also exec produce and Game of Thrones’David Nutter will direct the premiere episode.

“This comes after Nat Geo put the series into development in July 2017.

“The show takes a gritty, anti-nostalgic look at what would become America’s first reality show as the obsessive original Mercury Seven astronauts and their families become instant celebrities in a competition that will either kill them or make them immortal. The one-hour drama will follow the protagonists from the Mojave Desert to the edges of space, with future seasons carrying through to humankind’s greatest achievement: the moon landing.

“The first season of the show will use the book as its starting point and will feature a mission for each season. Season one takes place at the height of the Cold War in 1958, when the Soviets are dominating the space race. The public is in fear of a nation in decline, so the U.S. government conceives of a solution — NASA’s Project Mercury — creating the country’s premier astronauts from a handful of the military’s adrenaline-junkie test pilots. Seven individuals, known as the Mercury Seven, are plucked from obscurity and soon forged into heroes long before they have achieved a single heroic act. Within the heart of this historic drama that’s populated by deeply human characters, two rivals John Glenn and Alan Shepard jockey to be the first in space.

The Right Stuff is the latest collaboration between Nat Geo and Appian Way, following the success of climate-change doc Before The Flood.

“‘The behind-the-scenes stories of the astronauts in Tom Wolfe’s bestseller The Right Stuff are engaging, provocative and timeless,’ said Carolyn Bernstein, executive vice president, global scripted content and documentary films. ‘The book’s narrative aligns perfectly with the qualities that we look for in scripted projects: fact-based, wildly entertaining and pushing the limits of human achievement.’

“‘he Right Stuff is about a moment when the country looked in the same direction to achieve the stuff of fantasy, and on a timeline that was nearly impossible,’ added Lafferty. ‘The story is a reminder of what we’re capable of, but it also shows how much we’ve changed and diversified over time. National Geographic is the perfect home to showcase the ambitious and colorful characters at the center of this pioneering era.’”

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, “Epix is getting into the streaming game.

“The TV network owned by MGM has launched Epix Now, a new $5.99 streaming service available through partner app stores that features its full library of original programming and movies. The app is available for download today in the App store for iPhone, iPad and Apple TV and in Google Play for Android phones and tablets. It'll soon be coming to Roku devices and Amazon Fire TV, with the service continuing to roll out across additional devices over the course of the year.

“Epix Now will give subscribers access to the network’s slate of new original series — including Pennyworth, Godfather of Harlem, Our Lady, LTD and Elvis Goes There with Elvis Mitchell — as well as thousands of blockbuster movies and returning seasons of its original series such as Get Shorty, Berlin Station and Deep State.

“The launch of the streaming service is the network’s latest expansion in distribution and signals its desire to be competitive in the OTT space. Users will have the ability to stream content from the app to any connected TV screen, download movies and episodes for offline viewing and have access to continually updated curated collections, trailers and more as well as 4K Ultra HD streaming on supported devices. All four Epix linear live channels are also available today through Epix Now on select connected TV devices, including Apple TV.

"‘2019 is poised to be an incredible year of growth for our network,’ said Epix president Michael Wright. ‘Launching Epix Now and providing consumers nationwide with access to our premium original programming and blockbuster movies is an exciting moment for our company and solidifies our commitment to bring high-level storytelling to as many people as possible. We look forward to welcoming new audiences to our network.’

“‘Epix has always been committed to reaching consumers wherever and however they want to watch content,’ added Epix executive vp and general manager Monty Sarhan. ‘We’re incredibly excited that Epix Now expands our national footprint through new partnerships and allows Epix fans to continue to watch the shows they know and love anywhere, anytime.’”

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More Epix news from Deadline, “Epix is set to launch Slow Burn, a six-episode docuseries based on a hit podcast by the same name, the premium television network announced at TCA.

“From Nixon and Watergate to Clinton’s impeachment, the podcast features host Leon Neyfakh delving into the strange subplots and forgotten characters involved in presidential scandals — flashing back to politically tumultuous times not so far removed from today.

Slate-produced Slow Burn, was named best podcast last month at the first iHeartRadio Podcast Awards.

“Season one of the docuseries will mirror that of the podcast by looking back on the Watergate crisis and exploring its parallels with the present.

“It is produced in partnership with Left/Right, a Red Arrow Studios company and Slate; with Neyfakh, Ken Druckerman and Banks Tarver for Left/Right and Dan Check, Julia Turner and Gabriel Roth for Slate serving as executive producers.

“‘With Slow Burn, Leon Neyfakh took a profound and compelling journey through some of the most unforgettable times in political history,’ Epix President Michael Wright said in a statement. ‘As huge fans of the podcast, we’re thrilled to work with our partners at Slate, Left/Right and, of course, Leon, to further explore what he so brilliantly brought to the fore.’

“Neyfakh started his reporting career at the New York Observer before joining The Boston Globe as the staff writer for the Ideas section covering academia. At Slate, he reported on the criminal justice system and the Justice Department before co-creating Slow Burn with Andrew Parsons.

Slow Burn will premiere in late 2019 on Epix.”