Monday February 25, 2019

HBO dropped a teaser last night that included a glimpse at Game of Thrones' final season, Veep, the Deadwood movie, and more.

I wanted to share a few shows that I feel are underrated and worth your time and consideration. Not all of these are currently airing in-season, but you can find them on demand:

-I’m Sorry (FX)
-Loudermilk (Audience)
-Love After Lockup (WE)
-The Resident (Fox)
-Windy City Rehab (HGTV)
-The Ranch (Netflix)
-Crashing (HBO)

Season 16 of The Voice premieres tonight.

A+E premieres Biography: The Trump Dynasty tonight. It’s a 3-night event, which sounds like torture.

NBC debuts The Enemy Within tonight.

I was satisfied with the season finale of True Detective last night.

Here’s a full breakdown.

And here is a complete list of winners from last night’s Oscars.

Big night for Mahershala Ali.

Shame on you Mike Fleiss. You can’t be that dumb to think anyone would believe that Khloe Kardashian would entertain being The Bachelorette.

Rest in peace Brody Stevens.

If you aren’t familiar with Stevens, click here.

Rest in peace Clark Gable III.

Cast and creators of ABC Family’s Greek will reunite for a panel. Creator/executive producer Patrick Sean Smith, will be there, along with cast members Spencer Grammer, Amber Stevens West, Jacob Zachar, Dilshad Vadsaria, and Paul James, and executive producers Shawn Piller and Lloyd Segan. Additional panelists will be announced at a later date. All four seasons of the series, which aired on ABC Family from 2007-2011, are available to stream on Hulu and Freeform.” Reboot this show, please.

Hey Terrence Howard, STFU.

Harry Hamlin, Lisa Rinna and Nicolette Sheridan are beefing on Twitter?

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, “Netflix's latest drama series pickup puts the streamer in business with a prolific best-selling novelist.

“The company has ordered Firefly Lane, based on Kristin Hannah's novel of the same title. The 10-episode series will track the friendship between two women over the course of 30 years.

“Maggie Friedman (Witches of East End, No Tomorrow) will serve as writer, showrunner and executive producer alongside Stephanie Germain. Hannah is a co-executive producer.

“Firefly Lane follows Kate and Tully, who meet as young girls and become inseparable best friends throughout 30 years of ups and downs, successes and failures, depression and disappointments. When an unthinkable betrayal breaks them apart the two women go their separate ways, and it's unclear whether they'll ever be able to reconcile.

“With the Netflix series order, Firefly Lane becomes Hannah's third novel with an adaptation in production. Her books The Nightingale and The Great Alone are both in production at Sony's TriStar Pictures, with Michelle MacLaren (Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones) set to direct The Nightingale.

Firefly Lane joins recent Netflix pickups Hollywood — the first series from Ryan Murphy under his massive overall deal with the streamer — and thriller Pieces of Her, based on the novel by Karin Slaughter. The streamer has also recently ordered comedy Medical Police from the Childrens Hospital team, and bilingual dramedy Gente-fied from America Ferrera, as well as renewing anthology The Haunting of Hill House for a second season with a new story and cast.”

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Per Variety, “[w]alking through the El Segundo studio where veteran sportscaster Rich Eisen tapes his daily Rich Eisen Show, the sheer density of sports memorabilia is overwhelming — everything from game balls to jerseys, gear, autographs and uncountable photos are crammed onto every inch of wall and desk space. But step into Eisen’s dressing room, and the focal item next to the host’s mirror tells a different story: An ancient Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner comedy LP, signed by both.

“Indeed, a closer look at some of the guest snapshots along the walls reveals a striking number of Hollywood figures among the expected who’s-who of football legends. Ever since launching The Rich Eisen Show in 2014, Eisen has been striving to make his show an unlikely meeting point between the worlds of sports and showbusiness, combining the deep-dive debate of sports talk radio with the breezy banter of late night TV. So far, it’s working: the three hour multiplatformer — which airs on DirecTV’s Audience Network and is broadcast on Fox Sports Radio — has increasingly become a destination for stars on a media swing. Repeat guests include Matt Damon, Ice Cube and Matthew McConaughey, while the likes of Michael B. Jordan, Jodie Foster, Jane Lynch and Michael Douglas have all stopped by over the past several months.

“Visiting the set of his show late last year, it’s clear how naturally the combination can work with the right guests — early in the day, former Warriors and Clippers star Baron Davis shows up with costumes in tow; later on, Will Ferrell arrives for an interview clad in his AYSO soccer referee’s uniform.

“‘Every athlete wants to be a musician or an actor, and I suspect the inverse might be true too,’ Eisen reasons.

“Eisen spent years as an omnipresent ESPN figure before becoming the NFL Network’s resident renaissance man roughly 15 years ago, serving as host of NFL Total Access, as well as presenting everything from pregame analysis to Super Bowl coverage. He added podcast host to his resume in 2010, and when the 2011 NFL lockout left the network concerned about its future supply of content, they approached him about taking his podcast onscreen. The roots of The Rich Eisen Show gradually evolved from there, and the host says that finding a connection between sports and Hollywood was the objective from the start.

“‘It’s not like we’re inventing the wheel here,’ Eisen says of combining the two entertainment spheres. ‘But it kind of dawned on me, after doing the Super Bowl for a few years, that the largest sporting event that we export to the world stops in the middle for a rock concert, and no one bats an eye anymore. So why not have a show that focuses on the cross-section of everything?’

“To narrow that cross-focus, Eisen hired two booking agencies: One for the sports guests, and another – Central Talent Booking, which also handles Jimmy Kimmel Live! – for the entertainment side. It took some time to sell everyone on the idea however, as Eisen recalls: ‘Our initial challenge booking the show was that a lot of folks in the PR world here in L.A. might think the show is too male-oriented or too sports-oriented for their clients. I always think back to the scene in Diner where the character wasn’t gonna get married unless his fiancée passed a quiz in the basement on the Baltimore Colts… That’s not what we do here. At all. What we do is use sports as the point of entry.’

“Of course, for sports-obsessed stars, that point of entry might end up taking up the majority of the interview. ‘Matt Damon could not get enough about “deflate-gate” off his chest when he came on to talk about the newest Bourne’movie,’ Eisen remembers. ‘Larry David had a lot to say about the Jets and the Yankees when he came on, and of course that lets us talk about him playing George Steinbrenner [on Seinfeld]. Jeffrey Wright had a lot to say about Colin Kaepernick. Jodie Foster talked about her fantasy football team. But the understanding is that we can talk as little or as much about sports as you’re comfortable with.’

“Asked for names of his white whale potential guests, Eisen cycles through the likes of Tom Hanks (who once called into the show), George Clooney, Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts. Yet it’s hard not to notice the sheer number of standups who have graced his stage over the years, and that’s not by accident – hence the Brooks and Reiner record in his dressing room. A onetime aspiring comic back in college, Eisen recently collaborated with Funny or Die for a series of shorts last year, and hopes to incorporate a live audience into his broadcasts going forward, to help capture more of the vibe of a comedy show.

“‘I’ve always been an aficionado of late night talk shows, the craft of having a conversation where not everything has to be a question,’ he says. ‘I’d love to have a live audience because whenever I make a joke and don’t hear laughter, I feel like it’s fallen flat.’

“Asked if he ever feels the urge to head down to a comedy club and try his hand during open-mic nights, Eisen smiles and affects an outraged demeanor. ‘I am an employee of the National Football League and a contractor at AT&T, sir – my standup days are over.’”

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From Net-A-Porter: “‘I was distinctly told, by people in the industry, when I started to become known: “People cannot know you’re gay.” And I was pressured – forced, in many cases – to always wear dresses and heels for events and photo shoots.’ Ellen Page rolls her eyes at me expansively. ‘As if lesbians don’t wear dresses and heels. But I will never let anyone put me in anything I feel uncomfortable in ever again.’

“This morning, the 32-year-old actress is very much in her comfort zone, sartorially speaking, as well as being happily out and married. It’s a brisk January day in New York and a brutal wind is blowing off the nearby Hudson River; Page arrives suitably bundled up in a huge overcoat, plaid shirt, jeans and a beanie hat. She and her wife, 24-year-old dancer and choreographer Emma Portner, recently relocated here from Los Angeles, where Page had been based for almost a decade. ‘I love public transport, I love walking. I’d been here filming for five months, and I just couldn’t face going back to getting in the car to go everywhere in LA,’ she explains.

“Fresh-faced and makeup free, Page looks barely older than when she starred in Juno, the independent comedy-drama that garnered her an Oscar nomination, aged just 20, for portraying the pregnant, smart-mouthed teenager of the film’s title. Apparently impervious to typecasting, in the years since she has starred in comedies such as Whip It, dramas including To Rome with Love, and blockbusters such as Inception and the X-Men franchise. It is the superhero/supernatural genre to which she returns with her latest project, The Umbrella Academy, a 10-part Netflix series adapted from the graphic novels of the same name. Page plays Vanya, Number Seven in a family of seven adopted children, raised by a wealthy but mysterious scientist and entrepreneur, all of whom possess special powers except, apparently, her.

“‘She had a very abusive childhood, as did they all,’ nods Page. ‘But on top of the abuse, she has been separated from the others, and constantly made to feel worthless. As an adult, it’s hard for her to have intimate relationships, and she struggles with anxiety and depression. I’m sure a lot of people, particularly young women, will really relate to her.’

“Having not worked in television since her teens, Page now has not one but two shows launching imminently – the second another Netflix production, Tales of the City. The much-anticipated limited series is a continuation of the early 1990s show based on the books by Armistead Maupin, which were ground-breaking in their depiction of queer and transgender characters. Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis both reprise their roles 25 years on from the original: Linney (who also serves as executive producer) as Mary Ann Singleton, the naive Ohio native who uproots to San Francisco on a whim; Dukakis as her marijuana-growing transgender landlady, Anna Madrigal. Page plays Mary Ann’s adopted daughter, Shawna.

“‘I’m so grateful to be a part of something that offers a lot of representation,’ says Page. ‘But it doesn’t scratch the surface – there’s still so little out there. And what comes of that is a perpetuation of negative stereotypes and people still not understanding what LGBTQ people deal with.’ The cast includes a number of trans and non-binary members, including actress Daniela Vega and director Silas Howard, who has directed on both Pose and Transparent. ‘It was the most inclusive set, in every aspect of the production, that I’ve ever been on,’ says Page. ‘It is just different, and you do feel it. It’s something I want to do better and better at with anything I produce too.’

“Maupin has been celebrated for his portrayal of LGBTQ issues – such as, in the original stories, the AIDS crisis – but has also faced criticism for his outing of the late, closeted leading man, Rock Hudson, his affair with whom Maupin wrote about in his memoir. Is it ever, I ask Page, acceptable to out someone else? She takes a long pause, as she frequently does, to formulate a considered answer. ‘For me, no,’ she says, eventually. ‘I think there’s an exception if you are a politician and you’re actively participating in destructive and dangerous policies, but it’s not acceptable in any other situation.’

“She speaks from bitter personal experience. ‘I was 20, I had just fallen in love for the first time with a woman, and I was still navigating my own stuff, while people were writing articles headlined: “Ellen Page’s sexuality sweepstake”. There was a tabloid magazine that I saw at every checkout, in every gas station, with a picture of me on the cover, and the question: “Is Ellen Page gay?”’ She recounts these horror stories calmly, but her hands are trembling. ‘It was very detrimental to my mental health.’

“In the end, her eloquent, gracious coming out, on Valentine’s Day 2014, during a speech at a conference in Las Vegas for counsellors of LGBTQ youth, won the then 26-year-old worldwide admiration. ‘I’m tired of hiding, I’m tired of lying by omission,” she said. “I suffered for years because I was afraid to be out.’

“‘But I felt, and I feel, a sense of responsibility,’ she says today. ‘I want to be able to help in any way I can, and I want to make queer content.’ In 2015, Page starred alongside Julianne Moore in the brilliant Freeheld, the true story of a New Jersey woman who fought to have her police pension left to her domestic partner. She has also made two seasons of her Viceland show Gaycation, exploring LGBTQ cultures around the world.

“It is clear that, having found her voice, she is determined to use it honestly and powerfully. A few days after we meet, Page appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and delivers an excoriating speech about hate crime in the US. When I asked, however, if she’d ever consider returning to her native Canada instead of staying in the US, she says, ‘Canada still has a lot of issues too. [There are] white supremacist groups in Nova Scotia, where I grew up. And the treatment of indigenous people, still, is utterly horrific.’

“Coming out in Hollywood, at least, is ‘completely different’ to the way it was ten years ago, she says. ‘I remember being in my early 20s and really believing it was impossible for me to come out. But, over time, with more representation, hearts and minds have been changed. It doesn’t happen quickly enough and it hasn’t happened enough, particularly for the most marginalized in the community. But things have got better.’

“In Gaycation, the actress’ mission is to explore those places and fields where that is not yet the case. ‘I wanted to do a Gaycation sports episode but I realized that if we interviewed professional male athletes, other than, I think, in the MLS soccer league [the US men’s league, where one active player is openly gay], there’s not a single person [who is out and currently playing]. We would have to disguise their identity. You’d be watching something where a man has disguised his face because he is gay and plays on a sports team. And it’s 2019.’

“A little over a year ago, Page married Portner, a fellow Canadian, and she beams whenever the subject of her wife comes up. “I’m so in love,” she sighs, dreamily. ‘I love being married. I’ll be walking my dog, and I start talking to people, and I end up telling them about my wife and making them look at our Instagram. I’m that person,’ she grins. They met via Instagram, in fact – Portner had performed a dance to a song by a band Page follows, who reposted her video of it. ‘I was just like, “Who the f**k? She’s amazing.”’ The pair began messaging, ‘and then we hung out and talked for four hours, and that truly was it.’

“Had she always imagined herself getting married? ‘Yes, I’m a bit of a romantic, and I’d always thought about what song we’d have, things like that.’ The big day itself was, in the event, very small and very private. ‘It was the most magical night of my life,’ she smiles. The couple have ‘talked about adopting, and that’s something I think we would do, for sure.’ She and Portner recently collaborated on a video for the composer Julianna Barwick – ‘We always have plans to collaborate more,’ the actress smiles – and one further, very concrete sign of Page’s happiness is that, after years of standing on the sidelines, she’s even started dancing herself. ‘I was always just extremely uncomfortable,’ she says. ‘And it sounds a totally simplistic thing to say, but the more comfortable I became, the more I could go out on the dance floor and have fun. Now I’m the embarrassing one out on the floor when no one else is dancing.’”

The Umbrella Academy is streaming on Netflix now.

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Per National Review, “Ricky Gervais’s new Netflix series delves into some topics that are nowhere near being funny: depression, grief, suicide, Kevin Hart. I’m not even sure After Life, which debuts March 8, qualifies as a comedy, despite having sitcom characteristics such as a high-concept premise and an amusing array of friendly officemates. It’s closer to the mark to describe it as a drama about comedy.

“Gervais’s protagonist Tony isn’t a comedian except in a metaphorical sense. He’s a writer-editor at a small-town weekly newspaper of no consequence, and after his wife dies of breast cancer, he loses interest in living. He spends the evenings drinking and watching videos of her final messages to him. He is about to commit suicide when it occurs to him that there’d be no one to feed the dog. ‘If you could open a tin,’ he tells his German shepherd, ‘I’d be dead now.’

“Tony decides that, as he has nothing to lose, he’ll simply say what he thinks at all times. This means being aggressively nasty to everyone in the office and elsewhere. If this new mode of living becomes unbearable, he’ll simply end it all. ‘It should be everyone’s moral duty to kill themselves,’ he says. No, he doesn’t say it in a funny way. At the outset, this series is an anti-romcom. Its message is that pain is all around you.

“Gervais, who wrote and directed the entire six-episode first season of this 30-minute show, doesn’t steer away from the grief: There are more moments that are unbearably sad than there are funny scenes. Tony ends one episode sinking into the couch in a heroin daze as a fellow user empties his wallet. Tony’s father is in a nursing home with dementia. And, like Gervais, Tony is an atheist who can’t look beyond this life for hope.

As a portrait of depression and desolation, After Life is disturbingly effective. Tony is simply wrecked by his memories of Lisa (touchingly played in flashback by Kerry Godliman) and has found no way to deal with pain except drugs and needless cruelty. So no, I don’t recommend the show as a light evening’s entertainment.

“Still, there is a real purpose to what Gervais is doing here. As we observe him collecting small-town newspaper stories — a feature on a man who insists the water stain on his wall resembles Kenneth Branagh, another about a guy who received five identical birthday cards from different people — a common denominator comes into view. Everyone has suffered, just like Tony. For some of these people, getting their life into even the most ridiculous of newspapers counts as an achievement. An appreciation of others’ difficulties starts to make Tony feel less alone.

“It will be lost on few viewers that Tony’s contemptuous, smart-arsed attitude toward everyone is a bit like Gervais’s. ‘I’m always angry,’ Tony notes, and that, along with snotty misanthropy, is the fuel for a lot of comedians. Tony’s say-whatever-you-think stance is in essence a comedian’s dream of expanding nightclub rules to cover life in general. What if you could tell every mail carrier and blind date exactly how boring and useless they are? What if you could tell a boy on a playground, as Tony does, ‘I’m an escaped lunatic. I like murdering little fat kids like you’?

“That might be satisfying in the manner of alcohol or drugs, but it probably wouldn’t boost your long-term happiness. Coming to this realization, Tony undergoes a Groundhog Day–style rehabilitation as things turn a bit hopeful but also a bit formulaic, complete with a prostitute who turns out to be a sweetie and advice that ‘you can’t change the world but you can change yourself.’ There will be hugging, an acknowledgment that being nice is a good thing, and a hint that Tony might be able to rebuild his life with the help of a kindly nurse (Ashley Jensen, who memorably co-starred with Gervais on the brilliant HBO series Extras).

“Gervais, who titled his last comedy special Humanity, is making the case that mores matter and being clever with a putdown doesn’t make your pain more profound or more important than that of your neighbors. A mature consideration of shared humanity starts with realizing you aren’t the center of the universe. Maybe the average person doesn’t need to be told that, but Tony is a useful stand-in for every misanthropic comedian.”