Tuesday February 5, 2019

Ray Romano’s new Netflix special is now available to stream.

Here is a review.

Romano made a great cameo on this week’s episode of HBO’s Crashing, a show I continue to find simply fantastic.

Mazel tov to Andy Cohen, who is now a father.

AMC has renewed The Walking Dead for a 10th season.

Freeform has ordered the Part of Five reboot to series.

NBC has renewed New Amsterdam for a 2nd season.

Hulu has renewed Light As A Feather.

The State of the Union will air everywhere at 9pm ET tonight. Enjoy!

NBC has 86’d it’s planned live Hair musical.

Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s 2014 horror-comedy mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows has spawned its own television show at FX, and today the network debuted the first trailer along with the premiere date. Ordered to series by the network last year, the show also takes on the mockumentary format and centers on four vampires living together — this time, in Staten Island — tasked with a simple goal: ‘total and complete domination of the New World.’ The ten-episode series was created by Clement and features Kayvan Novak as the group leader Nandor the Relentless, along with Matt Berry, Natasia Demetriou, Harvey Guillén, Mark Proksch (as an energy vampire), and Beanie Feldstein. Check out the trailer [here], and catch the rest when the series premieres on FX Wednesday, March 27, at 10 p.m.”

Here’s how that girl on The Bachelor hurt her chin.

In the event you just can’t get enough of The Bachelor, here ya go.

Ethical cosmetics brand Lush is launching an entertainment creation hub, Lush Presents, to develop, create, commission and deliver film and TV, podcasts, books, music and events, including unscripted and doc projects. The team for the venture has been put together by Lush veteran Matthew Shaw, with the film division led by documentary filmmaker Paul Williams. Lush had previously established a media creation division in London’s Soho in 2016 to share video, publishing and music content through its online VOD platform Lush Player and live events. The upcoming content produced by Lush Presents seeks to address the company’s core humanitarian, environmental and animal-welfare principles. The first projects announced under the Lush Presents banner are development deals with filmmaker Julien Temple and award-winning writer, performer and provocateur Mark Thomas. Temple will produce Demand The Impossible, a doc about the life and work of artist and anarchist Jamie Reid. Thomas will produce a six-part documentary and podcast series examining the current sociopolitical state of the UK.”

NBC Sports' Golf Channel is partnering with four-time major champion Rory McIlroy to debut a subscription service that will give customers one round of golf a month, more than 4,000 hours of instructional videos and discounts at resorts and clubs. GolfPass, which NBC is officially launching on Tuesday, will cost $9.99 per month or $99 per year. It's designed for people who already play golf but could use additional incentive to hit the links. It's NBC's latest effort to seek revenue beyond the traditional pay-TV bundle by experimenting with a direct-to-consumer subscription. While GolfPass has Netflix-like elements, it's a closer parallel to Amazon Prime, Will McIntosh, Golf Channel's executive vice president, said at a press briefing in New York on Monday. The purpose is to encourage hobbyists to play more golf as well as giving them additional viewing options.”

TLC has unveiled plans for a 10-part special titled Say Yes to the Dress America, which will bring 52 couples from across the country for a giant group wedding officiated by series star Randy Fenoli. Set to premiere in January 2020, the series will feature one bride from each state, as well as Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, who will be flown to New York City, gifted a wedding dress and will participate in the 104-person nuptials.”

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Per Deadline, “[n]early five years after the debut of HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, the host reflected on the show’s structure, approach and network home during his annual pre-season press breakfast in New York.

“Increasingly, Oliver said, the challenge for the show is deciding ‘what single droplets of the firehose that’s being projected at you every week are worth slowing down and talking about.’ Only rarely do major news events survive into Sunday for close examination, he noted. ‘The mental decision you make is, “Does not talking about this seem like an editorial decision in and of itself?” The easiest example is Charlottesville.’

“Last Week Tonight returns to the air February 17. Its colorful run has been set against a backdrop of dramatic changes across the TV industry and American culture. When it first premiered in April 2014, HBO was owned by Time Warner, Barack Obama was president and Netflix had maybe a couple dozen original shows on its streaming platform. In today’s Trumpian times, AT&T owns HBO and WarnerMedia, and Netflix continues to shotgun out hundreds of offerings across categories, including in the comedy arena that HBO once had mostly to itself.

“Rival networks didn’t earn a mention during Oliver’s 45-minute session, but he affirmed he is happy to be left alone at HBO. When the show was being tested and fine-tuned before its premiere, he said, the network did offer two key notes, suggesting he not feel obligated to fill an entire hour and also absolving him of having to do an end-of-show interview as per talk-show convention. ‘They said, “You can have another six minutes just for a story or telling jokes,”’ Oliver recalled. ‘That freedom meant a lot to us and that did kind of affect the DNA of the show we were making.’

“Over the run of the show, ‘We’ve not had much contact with’ HBO, he added dryly, ‘I’m sure we irritate them a lot.’

“Asked if any AT&T executives had ever been in touch, Oliver snorted and replied, ‘What do you think?! That would be a hard “no.” AT&T have not come to us at all, and long may that continue.’

“No major changes to the format are likely, he said. ‘The flexibility about the show is one of the things that’s the most fun about it,’ he said — such as occasionally super-sizing episodes to accommodate interviews or longer reported segments.

“Audience habit, as consumption of TV programming and information continues to evolve, is another point of difference between the show in 2014 and today. ‘The difficult thing that’s ended up becoming a positive is, we’re late to everything,’ Oliver said. ‘The way it is now, everybody’s late to everything. You could be on every day, you’re still technically late because something that happened this morning seems like a long time ago and it’s already been joked about a lot online.’

“Oliver was asked how long he intended to keep making the show. ‘I have no idea,’ he said matter-of-factly, noting the current agreement with HBO runs for another two years.

“The host similarly had a drew a blank when asked about how he’d prefer to see Game of Thrones end. The HBO juggernaut will lift the curtain on its final season in April. ‘Well? Not disappointingly? That’s the ideal. I don’t particularly have a fantasy version of how it should end.’”

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Per Variety, “Goop, the lifestyle and wellness juggernaut founded a decade ago by Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow, is expanding its original content efforts with a new docuseries at Netflix, an exclusive podcast partnership with Delta Air Lines, and a slew of programming centered around beauty, food, and books.

“Still untitled, Goop’s streaming series will hit Netflix this fall and consist of 30-minute episodes hosted by the site’s editors, chief content officer Elise Loehnen and Paltrow. The team will utilize experts, doctors, and researchers to examine issues relating to physical and spiritual wellness.

“‘We were speaking to the platform question, and where our people are. They’re watching Netflix. Some of the more strategic, bigger stories we want to tell require a TV budget. Obviously, there’s no better partner in that,’ Loehnen told Variety of the deal.

“Loehnen’s content team of about 20 will work on shaping the series with Netflix, which she said seeks to dial up the aesthetics and quality of storytelling surrounding issues like mental, physical and sexual health — and address larger thematic questions the Goop audience has about leading optimal lives. It doesn’t hurt that Paltrow knows her way around a Hollywood set. The actress has appeared in over 40 films, including the forthcoming Avengers: Endgame.

“‘Gwyneth is a highly visual, tactile person. The quality of everything that we produce is very important to her,’ Loehnen said. ‘She’s always looking for white space. Whether it’s developing physical products or thinking of content. With this show, I think she’s only really interested in opportunities where we can uniquely be ourselves and do things potentially disruptive.’

“Goop’s eponymous podcast has also signed an exclusive distribution deal with Delta. The podcast is hosted by Paltrow and Loehnen, and was one of the iTunes store’s most-downloaded in 2018. Beginning in February, eight episodes will stream on 600 Delta planes and push the show’s reach to over 18 million listeners, the company said. The inaugural batch will include a one-on-one conversation between Paltrow and Oprah Winfrey.

“In addition to Netflix and Delta, Goop is developing standalone podcasts with in-house beauty expert Jean Godfrey-June (who Loehnen said is the most popular staffer at the company’s pristine Santa Monica offices), a food program hosted by an award-winning chef, and a Goop book club featuring author interviews and reviews.

“In light of the digital content ramp-up, Goop will pause production on its quarterly print magazine and resume publication after the Netflix series hits.

“Goop has been quietly scaling its content across mediums for years. Paltrow’s best-selling cookbooks roll out on Goop’s own publishing imprint at Grand Central Publishing. The magazine was originally a Conde Nast title before Goop took it private. They also host a buzzy summit series called In Goop Health, which physically manifests its content verticals and sells its range of wares (from eco-friendly frying pans to tuxedo jumpsuits to sex toys).”

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, “[d]on't expect to see the new season of Atlanta anytime soon.

“FX chief John Landgraf revealed at the Television Critics Association winter press tour on Monday morning that the Donald Glover series is behind schedule.

“When the network renewed Atlanta for a third season last June, it was expected to return in 2019 — but it's become clear that's no longer possible.

"‘I don't know whether we'll have Atlanta or not. The writers are back working right now, thank God,’ said Landgraf, before PR boss John Solberg confirmed that ‘it won't be for this Emmy cycle.’ Joked Landgraf to the reporters in the Langham Hotel ballroom: ‘If you wanna see me cry, you can just come backstage.’

“With Atlanta out of Emmy contention this year, it clears a path for other strong contenders including BarryThe Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and the final season of Veep. The Georgia-based series, which Glover has described as a passion project of his, has previously won FX two Emmys, two Golden Globes and a Peabody Award, on top of being a steady performer for the network.

"‘As you might imagine, Donald Glover is sort of the king of all media, and he just has had an incredibly complicated life. He's had personal things he's had to deal with, from injuries to other things I'd rather not say publicly that just have to do not with his personal life but his extended family,’ Landgraf further explained of the delay. ‘So I think one of the things that is just a reality of television today is you have to wait. We have so many things now that don't cycle back on a regular basis. … From my standpoint, I wish for the fans as well as for us that we could get everything back on an annual basis but, again, you just have to make a decision about quantity over quality at a certain point — and we're just erring on the side of quality.’

“Atlanta castmember Zazie Beetz had hinted at the delay while promoting her new movie Wounds at Sundance last week. ‘Ideally we would be shooting now; that’s not happening,’ she told IndieWire with a laugh. ‘Everybody’s schedules are sort of all over the place — they’re hoping for spring sometime, but no dates.’ She added: ‘Everybody’s busy, and Donald [Glover] had his tour in the fall, and that doesn’t lend itself to time for scriptwriting. I know that they have a couple of episodes together, but I don’t have any real information.’

“In fact, Glover still has more dates upcoming for his This Is America tour. Meanwhile, the rest of the cast has kept busy with projects: Brian Tyree Henry had roles in If Beale Street Could Talk and Widows; Lakeith Stanfield appeared in Sorry to Bother You and The Girl in the Spider's Web; and Beetz had turns in Deadpool 2 and the upcoming Steven Soderbergh film High Flying Bird.”

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One more Russian Doll story. “[This story contains spoilers from the season finale of Netflix's Russian Doll.]

“By the time Russian Doll ends, Nadia's catchy theme song might still be playing on loop in viewers' heads. But Harry Nilsson’s Gotta Get Up is far from the only element of Russian Doll that will be hard to shake once Natasha Lyonne's character finally finds what she's been searching for and gets a second chance at life.

“In between those two chances, Nadia (Lyonne) had countless opportunities to re-do the night she died — by dying again and again and re-starting her 36th birthday party, across many timelines, planes or parallel universes in downtown Manhattan. In the end, Nadia and Alan (Charlie Barnett) realized they first met on that fateful night of Nadia's birthday before Nadia was run over by a cab and Alan took his own life after his girlfriend (Dascha Polanco) turned down his marriage proposal. After spending the final episodes dealing with the trauma in each of their lives, they agreed to die one more time so they could go back to where they first crossed paths at the neighborhood bodega, but didn't take advantage of the small window they had to save one another. This time, they would interfere and set a new life course in the one timeline that matters.

"‘What I want is for one person to feel a little less alone, and a little bit like they’re OK and it’s OK and you can keep showing up to fight another day,’ Lyonne tells The Hollywood Reporter of how to interpret her existential adventure.

When Alan arrived, his existence became the key to solving Russian Doll. Nadia was no longer alone in her death time looping and Alan, serving as the perfect foil to Nadia and how she lives her life harboring a death wish, helped the protagonist solve her existential conundrum. Alan and Nadia are intrinsically and inexplicably linked to one another — when one of them dies, the other dies at the same time — and saving each other could break their purgatorial loops.

“But when the pair went back one last time, they realized they were separated by the magical realism at the center of the show. The finale played out in two parallel timelines so both Nadia and Alan could confront their personal traumas in one, while saving each other in another. For Alan, that meant forgiving Beatrice (Polanco) and owning up to his flaws in the relationship; and for Nadia, that meant letting go of the guilt she has long carried over her mother's (played by Lyonne's close friend Chloe Sevigny) untimely death. It was only once they accomplished those tasks that their timelines merged, and they were able to walk off — together — amid a parade full of characters they've come across and ghosts they are now leaving behind. The versions left standing were the all-knowing Nadia and Alan, the ones who had gone through all of the time loops of Russian Doll and had emerged stronger and fulfilled.

“Thinking of Alan and Nadia as each other's guardian angels is a ‘beautiful’ way to look at Russian Doll, says Barnett. ‘They are that for each other as much as anyone walking down the street can be for you,’ he tells THR. ‘For Alan in the final scene, there’s a new air, a new breath that comes through and that’s from this relationship and experience with Nadia. He has a new outlook. As far as where that street leads, it doesn’t have an end. It’s like life, there’s always going to be something ahead.’

“Lyonne, who has been working on Russian Doll with co-creators Amy Poehler and Leslye Headland for the last seven years, built the high-concept premise of Russian Doll around many truths in her own life. The idea of wanting to self-destruct and then forming an accidental connection ‘feels very true to my experience around deciding to become a participating member of life’" she had told THR of the themes of the story.

“Now, she elaborates on how that theme is realized in the end. ‘In the '60s, you would see people dropping like flies at 27 and you felt, “Oh that must be a drug thing,"‘ says Lyonne. ‘But as you move into modern times, we’re realizing that it’s very adult and very accomplished people who find that life is simply too much to bear. That’s a very real thing that we need to remove a cloak of shame around. I think we need to be discussing freely and openly the underlying brokenness of the human experience.’

“She continues, ‘We do a lot of worshipping false idols as a society, whether it’s the idea of a perfect job or relationship or body, or whatever. At the same time, there is so much incessant crazy shit happening that is so unjust in the news that is impossible to reconcile, and makes you feel very selfish for even trying to have goals in this life when you see the way the world is falling apart all the time. That whole discussion needs to be fair game to hold as part of our reality on a daily basis that we’re not afraid to talk about. And very much when I think about how we’re all watching Russian Doll.’

Russian Doll was influenced by the personal experiences of its co-creators and saw a character fighting for an existential goal. ‘She really is like, “What’s wrong with me?” And to ask that question truthfully is just something that women I do not think have access to,’ Headland had summed up to THR. Now, when speaking about the entire season, the writer and director sheds light on how the room attempted to answer that lofty question.

"‘A reference that Natasha brought up early on and one we kept alive during the writers room was All That Jazz — a montage of your life kind of thing,’ Headland tells THR. ‘The different choices that you’ve made and whether the choices would have made any difference. Are you making the same choices and getting different results, or are you changing your choices and still getting the same results? The main thrust in the writers room was about, what’s happening to this character emotionally and spiritually? And then, how does the narrative device, the magical realism of this, support that case? How does it challenge what this character thinks she already knows about herself and what she knows about life? And then, how do we push her into the next level?’

“Headland, Lyonne and the writers broke the show by ‘loops,’ instead of episodes, which were secondary. ‘We designed Russian Doll to be binged, so we looked at it as loops and, what does she learn each loop that changes her worldview and, what did she learn last loop that she is or isn’t going to do this time?’ Headland explains.

“That required the writers to come up with two charts to map out the story and keep track of what was needed from every department when it came to shooting scenes. A vertical chart listed the loops (denoted as Loop A, B, C, etc. and then Loop AA, BB, CC, etc.) and a horizontal chart kept track of the time of day and what time frame the loop was happening. ‘It’s different lives happening over and over again so, like the levels of a video game, these things have to be recreated and very thoughtfully changed based on what happened in the previous loop,’ says Headland, rattling off an example like how Loop CC denotes a specific outfit for Barnett. ‘Things are starting to move, different choices were made so things are starting to disappear; flowers and living things are starting to die or appear to die. It's not just one day. We’re not back in the same moment with exactly all the same things are happening. There were more dimensions that we were considering.’

“That reasoning is also why Nadia, who has her own pop-culture arsenal, never references Groundhog Day. ‘You want this world to exist on its own without too much commenting on it, so to speak,’ says Headland.

“As for how she hopes the audience will interpret the ending, Headland says that the co-creators had a three-pronged approach. ‘It’s important for the audience to go away with this feeling, it’s important that we stick the landing, and that we have the right amount of exposition here to explain the theory of relativity,’ she says with a laugh. She then adds, ‘I’m reluctant to say, “This was my thought on it,” because I don’t think it matters.’

“Headland continues, ‘I always saw this show specifically as a ghost story. This person is haunted by something and what we’re going to do is that we’re going to watch her escape that and make peace with that.’ Headland says Russian Doll was her own psychological version of her favorite film, The Shining. ‘What happens in that movie is that you’re repeating the same behavior over and over again. It’s the same day over and over again, the only thing that’s changing is an impending sense of doom, which is that you’re being snowed in,’ she explains. ‘Your ability to escape and window to freedom is getting smaller and smaller. And it ultimately ends up that the most destructive part of you is hunting down the youngest most imaginative, beautiful part of you and having to face each other. If there was one thing that I would add to peoples’ experience of Russian Doll, it would be that it’s a little bit more of a haunting.’

“Lyonne, who has referred to Nadia as genderless, also wanted to open the conversation around what it means to have a female protagonist or a female-driven show. The result of Russian Doll's all-female writing and directing team was that the co-creators were able to write their own experiences into the story and work among a level of creative trust, one without pushback.

"‘I think, for all of us, we want to get to tell our perspective and how we see things. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve always been a bit of an outlier and indie figure, but I feel a very personal connection to the people and young women in particular that even care and watch my stuff,’ says Lyonne of who she is hoping to attract. ‘I hope they can feel like there are a lot of different types of women out there. We’re asking a lot of interesting questions like, what is gender? What is sexuality? My goal would be to say, “Hey, there’s also another alternate option.” One that isn't the historically gendered idea of what we think. My only goal would be to open up the space, open up that door.’

“During Nadia's final encounter with the homeless man in Tompkins Square Park (Brendan Sexton III), she tells him, ‘We got time, we finally got time.’ As Russian Doll's finale fades to black, it begs the question: What happens to Nadia, and Alan, from here? Lyonne, Poehler and Headland pitched Russian Doll as a three-season series to Netflix and now, speaking to THR, both Lyonne and Headland say they hope to do more. 

"‘We definitely pitched it as this three-season idea and yet it’s so interesting to think about how that shapes and morphs in the time since making it,’ says Lyonne. ‘Who knows if we’ll be lucky enough to go back down the rabbit hole. That’s tomorrow’s question. But I think we have some ideas.’

“She elaborates, ‘What’s such a good thing not only about this show but about the state of present-day television is that it can be so many things. I definitely have ideas that range from the really out-there anthology to staying on board with our friend Nadia. And maybe it’s all one idea. Certainly, what we pitched and the heart and soul of Russian Doll, I’d love to continue to get to work in that way. It’s very satisfying and kind of wild. I guess this is what they mean by Peak TV, that the creators are getting to actually make the things that for some crazy reason, the buyers and viewers are actually interested in and that those two things are suddenly aligned. The idea that they would conceivably follow us on that course, should we jump off that cliff, it's pretty fun to even consider the fantasy.’

“Should Russian Doll continue with a second season, would it follow Nadia or is her story too neatly wrapped? Are there others out there, beyond Nadia and Alan, and could they haunt those people next? Headland says the trio have discussed all of those possibilities, and many, many more, and they involve Nadia remaining somehow as the heart of Russian Doll.

"‘We all have more to tell as artists,’ says Headland, careful to not divulge too many details. ‘When initially pitched, Nadia was a presence throughout all three of them. But it was not in a very conventional way, if that makes sense. She was always a presence, as we knew Lyonne would always be the beating heart and soul of this show. Whether she was being haunted or she was haunting the narrative, she would be there.’

“Headland adds that while they would love to do more, the renewal will depend on the audience response. ‘We learned a lot doing that first season — things we could not have known the first time we pitched this — and I think there’s a lot to be done there and I think it could be really fun.’ Either way, her biggest hope for Russian Doll is that the series lingers in the minds of those who binged it, much like Gotta Get Up, the song that was picked by Lyonne herself since they wrote the pilot.

"‘What I love leaving an audience with, and something I think we really did do here, is a feeling both of unease and a sense of narrative fulfillment,’ says Headland. ‘There’s this lingering feeling of: “I’m not quite sure about how I feel about what I just saw. And as a result, that means that I will be a little bit haunted by this story in my own life.” That’s what I always hope for. I just want to haunt your house for a little while and I want to remain in the chamber of your mind for as long as I can. And even if that means that you never think about it again until 25 years from now, and you say, ‘Oh my God, that show Russian Doll,” then we’ve done our job as far as I’m concerned.’

“She continues, ‘What’s interesting about the show is that, as much as it might resemble a famous '90s comedy; as much as it might have a mystery-box show element to it, as much as it deals with time and time travel; the deeper and deeper into trauma and the coding of who we are as humans, and especially as women, and whether or not that’s something you can change. With all of that stuff, you hopefully can watch the show and take away a bunch of different things.’"