Friday February 22, 2019

The hostless Oscars air Sunday.

Here are some suggestion on how to speed up the telecast:

-STEP ONE: No more skits.
-STEP TWO: Institute a $100,000 per second fine for any speech that goes over 30 seconds.
-STEP THREE: Once the presenters read your name off the card and announce you as the winner, you have 10 seconds to get to the stage or the award goes to the runner-up. If they don’t make it in 10 seconds, it goes to whoever was in third place. And so on.

The season finale of True Detective airs on Sunday.

Netflix has renewed Haunting Of Hill House for a 2nd season.

Season 6 of Chef’s Table is now available to stream on Netflix.

As is Paddleton. Here’s the trailer. More below.

You can also stream Workin Moms on Netflix. More on this one below as well.

In the least shocking news of the week, Jussie Smollett has been dropped from Empire.

The moron still maintains his innocence.

Let’s agree not to ever mention him again.

Brooke Shields will star in The CW pilot Glamorous.

USA announced that Miz & Mrs. will air the rest of its extended first season on April 2.

Here is the official trailer for CBS’ reboot of The Twilight Zone. Before you get too excited, remember that this is only available on CBS All Access, meaning you have to pay to watch it.

The first 10 episode season of ABC and Shondaland’s legal drama For The People is now available to stream on Hulu, ahead of the season two premiere coming to ABC on March 7.

This doesn’t interest me, but “Jordyn Woods broke her silence on allegedly cheating with Tristan Thompson -- and screwing over her BFF Kylie Jenner's fam -- with an interesting choice of words. Then went right back to biz. Kylie's ex-bestie showed her face Thursday night at an L.A. launch party for her new line of false eyelashes ... and immediately referenced the scandal by thanking everyone for supporting her ‘through everything that's going on.’ She added, ‘You know, it's been real ... and Eylure (her co.) has been super real; this has been a project I've been working on for over 9 months right now.’ As you know, many Kardashian fans don't want to believe Jordyn could do Khloe like that... and have even speculated it's all contrived for Kardashian publicity. Nothing Jordyn said Thursday night even hinted at a denial. As we've reported, she's already moving out of Kylie's guest pad and back into her mom's house.”

Chandler Riggs said he sucked when it mattered on The Walking Dead. C’mon kid.

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, “Mindy Kaling is on the move.

“The actress, writer and producer has, in a competitive situation, signed what sources say is a massive six-year, mid-eight-figure overall deal with Warner Bros. Television. The news comes days after Universal TV signed Nahnatchka Khan to a rich four-year overall deal that saw the Fresh Off the Boat creator leave her longtime home at 20th Century Fox TV.

”Sources say Kaling wanted a long-term pact as the overall deal market continues to heat up. Kaling will develop, write and produce new projects for Warners for broadcast, cable and streaming platforms, including comedy, drama, longform and event series as well as unscripted and digital fare. Her production company, Kaling International, will produce all-new series in association with Warners.

“The deal will see the Office grad leave her longtime home at Universal Television, where she has been based since breaking out on the former NBC comedy (on which she starred and wrote more than 20 episodes). For the NBCUniversal-owned studio, Kaling created the Fox-turned-Hulu comedy The Mindy Project and NBC's short-lived comedy Champions. She next has Hulu's anthology take on Four Weddings and a Funeral due this year.

“The Emmy-nominated writer and actress landed at WBTV in a competitive situation with multiple studios bidding. Sources say Disney was near a deal with Kaling when Amazon — who paid a whopping $13 million for her Emma Thompson-led Sundance feature Late Night — came calling with what was said to be a sizable offer that also included a film component. Warners swooped in, upped the offer and ultimately won over Kaling, who is riding high after strong reviews for Late Night, which she wrote and which was financed by 30West and FilmNation. (The pic was originally set up at Fox 2000, which let its rights lapse.) Heading into Sundance, buyers considered Late Night the most commercial of the festival's crop, with studios from Lionsgate to New Line also putting in offers for the pic. Amazon is set to release Late Night theatrically this summer.

“The Kaling pact arrives as competition for top talent has reached a fever pitch. Warner Bros., Comcast and Disney are all planning their own direct-to-consumer platforms in a bid to compete with Netflix, which has signed major players away from their longtime studio homes (such as Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy, who left ABC and Fox, respectively). Kaling gives Warners an established comedy writer and actress to add to its roster of top producers including Chuck Lorre and Greg Berlanti, among others.”

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From TV Guide, “A common way to champion an actor is to say, ‘Man, I'd watch him read the phone book!’ Ray Romano, beloved former sitcom star nimbly pivoting to later-in-life dramatic acting roles (see: The Big Sick) has officially become one of these guys for me. The joke almost becomes a reality in Paddleton (streaming on Netflix now), an 89-minute movie where, for about 81 of those minutes, not a damn thing happens.

“In one scene, Romano argues with his credit card company. In another, he's rambling about ostriches. This is compelling cinema? Well, not exactly. But Romano, bouncing his unique deadpan off Mark Duplass' blank wall of a character, is undeniably watchable. Director Alex Lehman (who has co-writing credit with Duplass for what is clearly an ad-libbed jam session) keeps a melancholy lid on this low-fi buddy picture, building up to an all-timer of an ending scene.

“While there are laughs (more like minor chuckles) throughout this mumbly movie, it's important to know that it is quite sad. Or, at least, heavy. In the first scene, Duplass' Michael learns he has cancer. He seems pretty stoic. His pal Andy (Romano) is the one asking the physician all the questions. It becomes clear that this isn't a treatable form of the disease; Michael is on borrowed time.

“The pair are kind, but if you met them in real life you'd probably use an unkind word to describe them: losers. They are single, middle-aged dudes who live in cheaply furnished, ugly apartments in the middle of nowhere. They have menial jobs. Michael works at a copy shop, Andy wears a tie and files papers, and gets nervous around his attractive co-worker. Andy lives on the top floor, but spends most of his time eating frozen pizza and watching kung fu VHS tapes with Michael downstairs.

“The ‘adventure’ of Paddleton comes where they pair take what I guess in movie terms would be considered a road trip. They head to a little vacation village and a specialty pharmacy to get Michael's end of life medication. (This exists out in some states, like California where Paddleton is set.) When the time comes, Michael takes the pills.

“This scene — the ultimate dramatic act couched in a borderline anti-movie — is one of the most riveting things I've ever seen. I'm not kidding. There are a lot of reasons. The most obvious is, wow, could I do this? Could I drink the liquid that will quickly kill me, even if I knew I would die soon anyway? (Importantly: Michael decides to end his life before his body devolves too much due to the disease. This stretches credibility a bit. Most people who choose assisted suicide are in debilitating physical pain and see it as the only way out.)

“The other reason the scene stands out so much is that Duplass' Michael is such a quiet, passive character. Throughout most of Paddleton he's just some dude hanging out in shorts while Ray Romano's Andy is being weirdly funny. It all comes out in these few short minutes when he is facing the abyss. Similarly, all of Andy's self-doubt and prevarication strips away. When he is needed, he becomes the hero. This scene, shot in long takes, is a strange testament to bravery, friendship and compassion. When emotions are true, reflexes take over. I dare say that this movie is actually somewhat important.

“This scene is more than enough to recommend the film, but I do want to caution that many of the other scenes really do feel dashed-off. It is not to Paddleton's credit that their destination is clearly the town of Solvang, where so much of Sideways (streaming here), one of the best sad-buddy movies of all time, is also set. Any mental comparisons are not going to do this new one favors. There's also a whole schtick in a bar where Michael is talking about his favorite kung fu movie that just goes on forever. Is it supposed to be boring and awkward? Hard to say. Still, when Andy comes in to help out with the tale, it is warm.

Paddleton isn't intentionally named in a way to confound kids looking to stream movies about British bears. It's the name of a game Michael and Andy have made up that involves a rubber ball, the wall of an abandoned drive-in theater and a metal garbage container. As they whack the ball around, they mutter little asides. Like this home-brew of a movie, it's not quite regulation, but it works.”

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Per Variety, “[i]n terms of accolades, Workin’ Moms is at the top of the Canadian food chain. In two-and-a-half seasons the half-hour scripted comedy has garnered an International Emmy nomination, a dozen Canadian Screen Award nominations, and a 20% higher audience retention rate than the average series on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Meanwhile in its 2017 debut, the show also pulled in wins as the New York Festival’s World’s Best Comedy Television Program, and as the Most Innovative Canadian Production at the Banff World Media Festival.

“With Canadian audiences locked up and a third season currently airing, the series is now looking to capitalize on the international market when the first season drops globally on Netflix Feb. 22, following in the footsteps of other CBC series like Schitt’s Creek and Kim’s Convenience.

“‘Being a strong supporter of Canadian creators and producers we are thrilled when our series are seen around the world. There’s no denying that [streamers] like Amazon and Netflix have that incredible platform,’ CBC’s general manager of programming, Sally Catto, says. ‘They allow audiences outside the country and even perhaps within Canada that haven’t had an opportunity to see these series or weren’t aware of them be exposed to them.’

Workin’ Moms revolves around a quartet of women who return to work following a maternity leave. The dark humor tackles subject matter like postpartum depression and abortion, while also highlighting the realistic challenges of breastfeeding, body image, bonding with the baby and mom guilt.

“‘This isn’t just a show about flawed women trying to reclaim their ambition. There’s a repression against mothers where we’re expected to be full-time workers and pretend we’re not mothers, and then expected to be full-time mothers who pretend we’re not working. Simultaneously, within the hours of the week that exist,’ says show creator Catherine Reitman. ‘It felt like, OK we can’t just tell the story of women trying to be ambitions and those challenges, we have to show the darkness that we face all the time.’

“Reitman began creating the series after a rough Mother’s Day away from her six-month old as a result of an indie flick she was shooting. She and her husband Philip Sternberg sold what they envisioned as a premium cable project under their newly created production banner Wolf + Rabbit to FX, which then developed the pilot. Eventually FX passed on the project around the same time Pamela Adlon’s single-mom comedy Better Things was greenlit (FX declined to comment on its decision) and Reitman, whose Canadian father director Ivan Reitman always brought the family back to Toronto where they kept an apartment, sold the project to CBC.

“‘I didn’t even know at the time how empowering it is to make a show in Canada because you become a partner in your own product as opposed to an employee,’ Reitman says. ‘Unlike FX where I could technically get fired from my own project like most people at my level, at the CBC I had partners in it. I was equally invested as they were. So it was a spectacular place to end up. We made this show with very little restraints and we were really creatively supported there.’

“In addition to producing and showrunning the series, Reitman stars and directs, ensuring her vision was fully developed from all angles. She went on to create an all-female writers room, hired the first ever all-female A-camera team in Canadian primetime history, put females in key positions like DP, PD, casting, props and lead camera operator, and created a 13-episode first season in which seven episodes were directed by women. Meanwhile, CBC research revealed 44% of the show’s first-season audience was male.

“‘Workin’ Moms is so unique and appeals to a younger demographic but it also speaks to a wide demo,’ Catto says. ‘It has that unique voice that sticks out among the hundreds of shows available to audiences today. It’s a wonderful blend of comedy and drama, with a unique point-of-view that I don’t think we’ve seen before in terms of approaching that subject matter.’

“In addition to its first-season global release, the first two seasons of the series dropped on Netflix Canada at the end of January (Season 2 is scheduled for global release sometime this spring). Immediately, Reitman noticed an increased interest on social media and other channels.

“‘There was this rebirth of the show where our social media got flooded and people started stopping me in the streets more than usual,’ she says. ‘People were talking about what was happening in Season 1 as Season 3 was airing. It was wild. There really is such a thing as the Netflix effect.’

“For CBC, it’s that effect that keeps series — even accolade-ridden series like Workin’ Moms — in existence. While the broadcaster’s mandate is to create content that engages and speaks to Canadian audiences, financially it relies on partnerships either through product acquisition or the co-pro model.

“‘We’re in a time in which financially we need partners. We need partners for all of our productions. Immediately you have to think about whether a show has the potential for an audience outside Canada in order for it to be financed,’ Catto says. ‘That fact alone makes it an absolute necessity. We’re in a global marketplace and we know our audiences are watching content from around the world, so it’s a completely different environment than it was even 10 years ago. First and foremost we are always creatively driven, but the reality of our world today is that you have to have partners and we absolutely need our global partnerships.’”

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From The Ringer: “With just one episode remaining, the third season of True Detective seems to have provided a broad outline for what happened in its central mystery. Barring a game-changing, tonal-shifting twist in the finale, all the evidence appears to implicate members of, as well as accomplices to, the Hoyt family, who’ve used their vast influence and power in the greater Arkansas area to cover up the 1980 kidnapping of Julie Purcell and possibly the murder of her brother, Will. But within this broad outline remain countless questions. The devil is in the details.

“Edward Hoyt (to be played by Michael Rooker) has yet to appear on screen alongside detective Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali) in 1990; Old Man Hays is still trying to put a close to the decades-spanning Purcell case in 2015. We’ve got a lot of threads that still require some untangling in the finale. So before Sunday, here are seven pressing questions that need answers:

Where is Julie Purcell, and is she safe, in 2015?

As far as we know, Julie Purcell is still in the wind. Sometime between her kidnapping in 1980 and Hays and Roland West’s (Stephen Dorff) reinvestigation of the Purcell case in 1990, it appears that Julie somehow escaped the “pink rooms” of the Hoyt estate and lived on the streets with other runaway kids. The life of a drifter is not a great situation, to be sure, but it probably beats whatever she was subjected to at the Hoyt mansion.

It’s unclear what options Julie would have left in 1990. Both of her parents are dead—and while he’s only just disappeared, we know that the remains of her uncle Dan O’Brien (Michael Graziadei) will be found in a drained quarry. Can she turn to anyone? Will she continue to live on the streets, despite the renewed public interest in the case? And more importantly: Will we find her in 2015, and will she be safe?

Some fans on Reddit have theorizedthat the journalist interviewing Hays in 2015, Elisa Montgomery (Sarah Gadon), is actually Julie, having changed her identity and pursued the case to figure out what happened in her childhood. It’s a fun idea, but it doesn’t track. Elisa is, by all accounts, an accomplished investigative journalist living in New York who’s pursuing another unsolved case for the documentary series True Criminal (nice). The idea that this season was all leading to her—eventually—planning to pursue what happened during her childhood is a stretch. (Not to mention, Julie would have been in her 40s by 2015, and Sarah Gadon is 31.) Elisa certainly has her reasons to be interested in the Purcell investigation, to see whether the cover-up ties into a broader conspiracy that involves high-ranking politicians and businessmen, like she believes. She doesn’t have an emotional interest in the Purcells, necessarily; their case is the means to an end, so that her investigation could potentially take down an entire pedophile/kidnapping ring. In any case, I suspect we’ll be provided an answer Sunday.

Who killed Will Purcell?

With all the attention being paid to Julie’s whereabouts, let’s not forget that we still don’t know why her brother, Will, was killed in the woods—and who was responsible for doing the deed. We do know that a white woman (likely Hoyt’s daughter, Isabel, who lost her daughter in a car accident) and a black man with a scar (a “procurer” for the Hoyts referred to as both “Watts” and “Mr. June”) were spotted around the area in the woods where Julie and Will secretly played. (They also might’ve worn ghost costumes and handed out those unsettling dolls on Halloween night in 1980, days before the Purcell kids disappeared.)

That leads us to a few possible conclusions. Perhaps Isabel and Watts/Mr. June did not plan on taking Will, and when he (quite understandably) resisted them kidnapping his sister, one or both of the adults killed him. It also could’ve been even worse than that: Maybe the plan was always to kill Will, who was seen as collateral, while taking Julie away to the “pink rooms.” Conversely, we know it’s likely that Harris James (Scott Shepherd) was something of a cleaner for the Hoyts, since he’s probably responsible for killing both Purcell parents and Dan O’Brien. Who’s to say a guy who’s probably killed several people would draw the line at killing a child?

But none of that quite explains why Will’s body was found in a creepy, staged pose in a cave, at the end of a path lined with those straw dolls. That adds cultish undertones to the killing, but whether it confirms the existence of a grander conspiracy remains to be seen.

What happened in 1990 between Hays and Edward Hoyt, and how did Hoyt know that Roland killed Harris James?

The last thing we saw in True Detective’s penultimate episode was Hays getting into a car with Edward Hoyt, who knows that Hays and Roland killed Harris James during one of their “enhanced interrogations.” We know that Hays won’t be fatally harmed—otherwise we wouldn’t have been awarded Mahershala Ali in old-man makeup in a future timeline—but their conversation should have big implications on the rest of the 1990 story line.

We know that in 1990 the Purcell case is closed again, with Tom Purcell’s (Scoot McNairy) staged suicide serving as a clean conclusion, the same way Bret Woodard’s (Michael Greyeyes) death did in ’80. We also know that Hays quit the force in 1990, and that his wife, Amelia (Carmen Ejogo), never pursued a second novel about the Purcell case. Considering the way Hoyt implicitly threatened Hays’s family at the end of “The Final Country,” it seems he made sure that Hays and his wife would steer clear of the Purcell case. When Roland reunites with Hays in 2015, he’s still mad at the way Hays up and left the force, but Hays says: “I made a decision. Had other things to think about, including the family. I let it go.”

But we still don’t know exactly what went down, nor do we know how Hoyt found out that one of his lackeys was killed. It’s possible that this will be waved away by Hoyt’s being some all-knowing force who’s kept tabs on Hays since 1980, became aware of his interest in Harris James, and then intuited that Hays and Roland killed James when the latter didn’t show up at work the next day.

But the more tangible explanation is that someone told Hoyt what happened—except the only other person who knows what went down that night is Roland. Could Roland have ratted out Hays? That’s what some viewers have surmised on Reddit, with the key being that Hays crossed a line by convincing Roland to go along with the “interrogation” and eventually shoot and kill James. But maybe Roland’s been in on this since 1980. It would be one way to explain his ascension within the Arkansas police department, the same way James was awarded a cushy position at Hoyt Foods after planting evidence at Woodard’s home. If that’s the case, it would also explain why Roland is helping out Hays in 2015: because he wants to make sure his old partner doesn’t uncover the truth. I don’t buy it; the season has affirmed that Roland is nothing if not the most empathetic protagonist in the True Detective universe, brought to tears by Hays’s apology on his porch in 2015, a friend to Tom Purcell in his darkest days. That said, this theory is admittedly more realistic than the Elisa-is-Julie idea. It would be a heartbreaking reveal, but maybe that just speaks to how good Stephen Dorff has been this season.

How did Hays become estranged from his daughter, Rebecca?

At some point between Rebecca’s beginning college—which, given her age in 1990, was probably in the early-to-mid-2000s—and 2015, she broke off her relationship with her dad. The show has been frustratingly vague on what caused this rift. “I lost Becca,” Old Man Hays tells a vision of his wife in the season’s third episode. “No you didn’t,” Amelia responds. “Not the way you think.” Four episodes have passed since that moment, and still, what the hell does that mean?

Considering that the last episode opened with Hays dropping off Rebecca for college, this is an important thread that we should be getting some concrete answers about. What happened might hinge on the Purcell case—perhaps she discovered that he was blackmailed by the Hoyts, or that he and Roland killed and buried someone. Or, it could be as simple as Hays being a difficult father, since he expresses remorse that he taught his son to repress his emotions. He also constantly, vehemently argued with his wife, and the show makes it clear both kids were privy to their marital issues.

Hays and Rebecca’s relationship might not be pertinent to the Purcell case, but it paints a picture of Hays’s crumbling domestic life and the effects that such an obsession with an investigation could have on the people closest to him. Even if their relationship is irreparable in 2015, we should be getting some clarity on what, exactly, is at the root of that.

What about Amelia?

By 2015, Amelia is dead. I don’t think her death is another disturbing mystery waiting to be unpacked; I don’t think she was killed because she wanted to reinvestigate the Purcell case with another book or anything along those lines. More likely, Amelia’s death is probably just another tragic footnote in Hays’s life. I’m more curious about how Amelia felt about the way the investigation ended in 1990, and what the Hays-Amelia dynamic was like afterward.

We know that Amelia went on to have a successful career as a writer. Early in the season, Elisa calls her book “a classic in American nonfiction.” In a teaser for the finale, we see Amelia in a new timeline (maybe the same one with college-age Rebecca) teaching at a college.

But does Amelia have any regrets about how the case ended, with Julie still on the run? Did she ever forgive Hays for the events that effectively closed the investigation and her opportunity to write a follow-up book in 1990? There might’ve been some friction in their post-1990 relationship, even more than before—if only because Old Man Hays, in his deteriorated mental state, is haunted by Amelia. I mean, look at this poor dude’s face:

Early theories about this season posited that Amelia was secretly Will Purcell’s killer, trying to jump-start her true-crime-writing career. While we can safely table that under “fun, but totally ridiculous,” that doesn’t mean we won’t still be treated to some exciting revelations regarding Amelia on Sunday night.

Will Rust Cohle and Marty Hart make a cameo?

The last episode laid out what had been hinted at in an earlier teaser: The crimes of season 1 and 3 take place in the same universe. The excitement of an actual True Detective–verse notwithstanding, there are some similarities between the central crimes of both seasons—namely, that they are set in the South, deal with missing children, and bear some cultlike undertones.

Could these crimes have a more meaningful connection? It’s something we pondered in January, and it’s what Elisa lays out to Hays in “The Final Country” while showing him a digitized newspaper clipping about Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) capturing Errol Childress, a.k.a. the Yellow King. “These groups take runaways, kids in orphanages, outright kidnapping,” she says, theorizing that the Hoyts could be part of a larger network of pedophilia. “And wider investigations are consistently curtailed. In both the Louisiana and Nebraska cases, high-level politicians and businessmen were implicated. People with the power to make these things go away.”

Hays politely dismisses her suggestion of a larger conspiracy—though we also know he’s not being completely honest with her, since he’s investigating the same thing with Roland behind her and Henry’s backs. (He also told her that he never considered the similarities between the ends of the 1980 and 1990 investigations, which we know is false, thanks to a flashback when he says, “It’s like 1980 all over again.” This is a prime example of Hays obfuscating, perhaps out of fear that the Hoyt family could retaliate against him and his family.) Harris James also laughed off this conspiracy-laden theory when he was being interrogated by Hays and Roland in last week’s episode. Though he’d of course be motivated to downplay a conspiracy, his scoffs could have been genuine, a comment that everyone—and this includes the Reddit-enthused audience at home—was getting a little too Galaxy Brain about this whole thing. Maybe the Purcell case and the Hoyts’ efforts to make it go away are an isolated incident. Maybe Elisa is more of a tinfoil conspiracist than we’ve been led to believe and her theory of a plot perpetrated by high-ranking government officials has no basis in evidence.

Or maybe it does—it’s hard to say. We’ll find out whether True Detective wants to connect these far-reaching dots Sunday, or whether Season 3 will end the way Season 1 did, with one specific crime solved and no giant conspiracy uncovered. Still, imagine if we get Rust and Marty in the finale, a few years after their big Yellow King break in 2012, meeting up with Old Man Hays and Roland in 2015. It’s a big stretch, I know, but this tweet from 2017 is giving me a glimmer of hope as my inner monologue goes alright, alright, alright.

Will justice be served?

The two previous season finales for True Detective have been, in a word, bittersweet. In the second, Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) is killed in the process of getting incriminating evidence in the murder of Vinci, California, city manager Ben Caspere. (He also fails to reconcile with his pure, perfect, Friends-loving son, Chad Velcoro, something that will haunt me to the end of my days.) And as we addressed, while Rust and Marty successfully stopped Errol Childress in Season 1, nobody else was implicated in the crimes—despite compelling evidence that he had powerful accomplices.

So what will happen with the Purcell case? Will Season 3 stick to this bittersweet ethos? Can anyone be convicted for Julie’s kidnapping and Will’s murder? If someone is incriminated, will they even be alive in 2015 to face justice for what they’ve done? And maybe most importantly: Who would a conviction matter to, especially if Julie is no longer alive?

The best we can probably hope for is that the outcome will offer some closure for Hays, so that he can finally put the Purcell case behind him, possibly make amends with Rebecca, and live out the rest of his days in peace. (One positive note: His bromance with Roland has already been rekindled.) Whatever the direction of Sunday’s finale, though, we can be certain about this: True Detectivehas bounced back well enough that we actually give a damn about what happens. Considering how we left things in 2015, that’s no small feat.”