Thursday February 7, 2019

Fox has ordered 2 additional seasons of The Simpsons.

I take back what I said about The Challenge. I can get behind these newbies.

Ilana visits an ex to cash out her Bitcoin share; Abbi drops off her laundry for the first time. #BroadCity

“Oscar-nominated BlacKkKlansman co-writers Charlie Wachtel and David Rabinowitz are teaming with Gunpoweder & Sky to develop Madness, a TV drama series set in the world of college basketball. The series will follow the corrupt inner workings of a prestigious college basketball program through the eyes of its new assistant coach.” Someone buy this, please.

“Hulu's pilot Woke has found a friend for Lamorne Morris. Workaholics star Blake Anderson has signed on to the projectThe Hollywood Reporter has learned. He will play a longtime friend of Morris' character in Woke, inspired by the life of K Chronicles cartoonist Keith Knight. Comedian T. Murph and Lara Goldie have also joined the pilot. Woke centers on Keef (New Girl alum Morris), a cartoonist on the cusp of mainstream success whose usually mild comics take on an edgier tone after he has a run-in with police. Keef finds himself in a perpetually "woke" state as he navigates his day-to-day live, trying not to blow up everything he's built and while animated objects invade his reality.”

“American Horror Story co-creator Ryan Murphy announced Wednesday on his Instagram that Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy will appear in the next installment of AHS as the boyfriend of Emma Roberts. Oh, and apparently Emma Roberts will be back!”

Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz, who in 2001 co-founded Magical Elves (Top Chef, Project Runway) are leaving the very company they launched. Magical Elves will remain a part of Tinopolis USA, who acquired the company in 2014. That said, Cutforth and Lipsitz are expected to launch a new independent production company and will make out just fine.

More fodder about Netflix inflating its viewership numbers.

Here is the most streamed show in each state.

“Matt Miller, the executive producer of Lethal Weapon, opened up about that show’s revival following the firing of Clayne Crawford and Damon Wayans’ later announcement that he was leaving the show, too. Miller said that Wayans’ health issues through the shoot prompted the show’s team to ask him ‘What do you need? He was really sick and it was a cry for help,’ Miller added, noting that the show worked on alleviating Wayans’ schedule and that since then, ‘it was an absolute delight making the show…a charmed experience” and that Wayans has worked well with newly introduced co-lead Seann William Scott. But even charmed experiences aren’t meant to last forever: Miller drew laughs when he acknowledged the show isn’t meant to run 10 seasons. “If we could do a few more delightful seasons of television, that would be perfectly fine with me.’”

In support of AJ Michalka.

Ricki Lake eliminated from The Masked Singer. FYI, he show was canceled in 2013. This casting is SO on point. 3rd rate losers. Bravo.

A Cookie Monster Reddit AMA?

Spotify is fully committing to building a podcast network today. The music streaming giant has acquired Gimlet Media and Anchor to boost its podcast credentials, as the company looks to grow its share of the podcast market. Gimlet Media is a start-up podcast network, and Anchor provides creators with tools to build, publish, and monetize podcasts. ‘In just shy of two years, we have become the second-biggest podcasting platform,’ explains Spotify CEO Daniel Ek. ‘Our podcast users spend almost twice the time on the platform, and spend even more time listening to music.’ Ek believes that Spotify’s bet on podcasts will lead to 20 percent of all Spotify listening being non-music content in the future. ‘This means the potential to grow much faster with more original programming — and to differentiate Spotify by playing to what makes us unique — all with the goal of becoming the world’s number one audio platform.’ Spotify is now planning more acquisitions for podcasts in 2019, and the company notes it’s willing to spend around $500 million to grow its podcast business this year. Recode reports Spotify paid around $230 million for Gimlet alone. Spotify also revealed today that it had 207 million monthly active users in the recent quarter, alongside 96 million paid subscribers. That’s nearly double the 50 million Apple Music subscribers that CEO Tim Cook revealed in Apple’s recent earnings call.” Smart.


From Yahoo!: “More than 170 million people downloaded the first season of NPR’s popular true-crime podcast Serial, spawning widespread scrutiny over the prosecution and conviction of Adnan Syed — who was was sentenced in 2000 to life in prison for the 1999 kidnapping and murder of his 18-year-old Baltimore high school classmate and ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee.

“Now, as Syed remains behind bars despite the fact that a court overturned his conviction, HBO is unveiling a new four-part documentary about the controversial trial, titled The Case Against Adnan Syed.

“Set to premiere in March, the series — directed by Directed by Academy Award nominee Amy Berg and in production since 2015 — will feature new interviews with Syed, his family, friends, former teachers, students, members of Baltimore law enforcement and witnesses in the case.

A description on the documentary’s website says it will feature ‘groundbreaking revelations that challenge the state’s case,’ in the form of new evidence previously undiscovered by investigators. It adds the series will ‘[underscore] the instability of memory and conflicting eyewitnesses.’

“Efforts by Syed’s supporters to free him from prison were jumpstarted when Serial, hosted by former Baltimore Sun reporter Sarah Koenig, came out in 2014.

“The podcast interviewed Syed’s high school classmate Asia McClain, who provided an alibi for him by saying she was with him at the time prosecutors claimed he had killed Lee.

“However, McClain was not interviewed or called at trial by Syed’s original attorney, who has since died. Syed’s conviction was vacated and he was granted a new trial in 2016 when a judge agreed with the contention of Syed’s new attorney that he received deficient representation during his murder trial because McClain wasn’t called.

“The judge’s ruling was upheld by Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals in 2018. Prosecutors have appealed that ruling to Maryland’s Court of Appeals, its highest court, but the date for that appeal is still pending.

“In the meantime, Syed remains behind bars.

“The Lee family has previously said Syed’s efforts to be freed were painful and that they believed he was her killer.

“After the first day of Syed’s hearing for a new trial in 2016, prosecutor General Thiru Vignarajah read aloud a statement from them.

“The hearing is forcing ‘us to relive a nightmare we thought was behind us,’ the family said.

“Their statement continued: ‘We believe justice was done when Adnan was convicted in 2000, and we look forward to bringing this chapter to an end so we can celebrate the memory of Hae instead of celebrating the man who killed her.’”


Per Vanity Fair, “[i]n Right Here, Around the Corner, his new Netflix comedy special, Ray Romano explores a New York neighborhood he knows well. As he ambles toward the Comedy Cellar, he confesses that it’s been 23 years since his last special—and 32 years since he started performing comedy. At one point, a casual passerby calls out to him. Romano replies bemusedly, a Henry Hill without swagger: ‘He doesn’t know who I am.’

“That’s the general tone Romano strikes throughout Right Here, splitting short sets (about 20 minutes each) between the Cellar and the Village Underground, another club around the corner. Both times, he surprises audiences who have no idea that Romano is set to perform. He’s doing guest spots, those loose, fabled sets that tourists complain about never seeing—and regulars brag about for years.

“While there’s nothing controversial or groundbreaking in Romano’s set—the Cellar routine is about friends and aging, while the latter centers on family—his delivery is cozy and warm. It would feel disingenuous to see Romano in some chaotically edited, oversaturated production, and the comedian knows it. But in his 61st year, he still appears to get a brief spike of nerves before taking the stage—then assuring the crowd, in typical Romano everyman fashion, ‘We are both gonna be disappointed.’

“As his special premiered, Romano stopped to chat with me about the 80s club scene, cultural sensitivity, and getting booted from two high schools as a teenager:

It’s been 23 years since your last comedy special. You’ve never stopped doing stand-up—but did acting become your true love, and stand-up your mistress?

In the very beginning, I was just drawn to performing. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, until someone told me about audition night at the Improv in New York City. I wrote five minutes, went onstage, and got my first laugh. That was it, man. I knew I wanted to do stand-up. Little opportunities came up for commercial auditions, but it wasn’t until 10 years into my stand-up career that I thought about acting as the next step. I know [Jerry] Seinfeld was never interested in acting, but that wasn’t the case with me.

If you take a hiatus from stand-up, does performance anxiety set in? Do you start overthinking your rhythm or timing?

A little bit, and I’ll say the routine out loud to make sure that I remember it. Naturally, the rhythm will come back. I have to do a speed-through, to make sure I remember everything. I’m usually alone when I do that, but if my friends are around, I do bother them to quiz me with the bullet notes of the set. When I’m doing a long set, I have to keep it in order. If I jump around, then I forget things.

Was shooting the special really as loose as it feels?

The audience, 100 percent, did not know I was going on. We set a time for me to come in, so it wasn’t like I just walked in off the street, into the Comedy Cellar. We had cameras set up and everything, but the audience was told that the Cellar was just filming a promo, and we used that same line for both clubs. For the first show, we knew I was going to go on after the third comedian, so I knew what time I had to be there. I like that energy, and that’s what I do when I go into the city. I just pop in, and the energy from those moments is something that I wanted to try and get on camera.

You poke fun at the millennial crowd in your special. Do you think there’s a marked difference, in attitude and attention, between today’s crowd and an 80s audience?

As for sitting down and watching a movie, or a TV show, I think there is a major difference. For stand-up, I feel like when I go on stage now for a young crowd at the Comedy Cellar, or somewhere in New York, they’re really good. They know stand-up, and are into it, and I think they appreciate it even more now. What worries me is if movies will become obsolete. Will they sit down for something that’s two hours long, because everything is 10-second intervals now?

Was sexual harassment rampant in the 80s New York club scene?

I never witnessed it, and no one I hung out with ever had an issue with that. Was there discrimination when it came to hiring woman? Yes, and that’s something that had needed to get better for a long time. I think it’s getting better, but we’re not there yet. I’m not informed enough to know the numbers, but I know we’re not there yet, in terms of equality. There’s a long way to go, but at least it’s getting better.

Chris Rock joked recently that he can’t say anything offensive or funny anymore. As a culture, do you think we’ve become overly sensitive?

I don’t know if it’s overly sensitive, or just more aware now. If we’re talking specifically about women, one thing that the whole movement has brought out is an awareness of how difficult it is for women. There’s more awareness towards how something that you think might be trivial, is not, and I think that’s good. I don’t know about oversensitive. I’m lucky that my act doesn’t really go there. I don’t really censor myself when I write, and I know where my wheelhouse is, and what I do well. The audience will tell you when you’ve gone too far, but it’s very rare in my act.

Are your wife and kids your toughest crowd? Do you ever workshop material on them?

I definitely won’t work it out with my wife, because she’s usually part of the bit [Laughs]. I don’t really do it with my daughter that much, because she sides with my wife. My boys are my biggest fans. When they were younger, I didn’t run things by them. But now that they’re in their twenties, on occasion I’ll try something on them. I gotta be careful, because I’m not saying that they’re faking laughs, but they’re a very good audience for me. I have to take it with a grain of salt.

When Everybody Loves Raymond became a hit, did your fellow comedians resent your success?

I don’t think so. Everybody has their own experience, and it depends on the person who becomes successful. If you hate the guy, you’re gonna hate his success. I’m not saying that there weren’t one or two people who might have been bitter, but as a whole, the community was very happy for me.

Were you ever an angry young man? Did you ever stay out all night partying?

I did my share of getting drunk with my friends. I wasn’t a bad kid, but I gave my mother and father a lot to worry about. I never did anything hardcore bad, like stealing a car. But I was a pretty big slacker, and wasn’t a great student. I went to three different high schools because I got kicked out of two. I just didn’t go. And in college, I’d get a student loan, register, and then never go. Academically, I just didn’t give a damn. My parents didn’t realize what was going on until about two years in. I gave them some shit to worry about, but relatively, it wasn’t that bad. Every now and then, when my kids make me worry, I feel like I want to apologize to my mother, because I probably did way worse stuff than them. If my kids got kicked out of two high schools, I’d be a wreck.

Looking back on it all, are there any creative, or personal risks, that you regret not taking?

I haven’t done Broadway yet, and I’ve been offered a couple things. I think one day I might pull that trigger, but right now, that does scare me. Improv is what really scares me, to this day. People have asked me to get in there one night and do a guest spot with an improv troupe, and that scares the hell out of me. One day maybe, but I don’t know if I’m good enough. We’ll see.”


Per The Hollywood Reporter, “TruTV is continuing to add to its development roster with unscripted projects from four comedians.

“The Turner-owned cable channel has greenlit projects from Fortune Feimster (The Mindy Project), James Davis (Hood Adjacent), stand-up Yamaneika Saunders and Maz Jobrani (Superior Donuts). Saunders has also signed a development deal with TruTV.

“The four projects join a development slate that includes a humorous advice show from Ken Jeong, along with current shows such as At Home With Amy Sedaris, I'm Sorry, Jon Glaser Loves Gear and the upcoming scripted show Tacoma FD.

“Feimster will star in Around the World in 80 Games, a half-hour show in which she travels to a different country for each episode and throws herself into competing in that nation's most popular (and often strange) game show, whether it's outsmarting robots in China or answering Viking trivia while curling in Norway. She'll executive produce with Craig Armstrong and Rick Ringbakk of 10Fold, a partner of Red Arrow Studios.

“Davis co-created and will host Blackspiracy With James Davis, a half-hour variety show that examines conspiracy theories in black culture as a way of looking at pop culture at large. He'll uses sketches, interviews and man-on-the-street bits to discuss claims ranging from relevant to ridiculous.

“Martin Usher co-created the show with Davis; both will exec produce along with Nile Evans, Jesse Collins and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.

“Jobrani's untitled variety show will employ stand-up, sketches, interviews and hidden-camera pieces to explore the absurd lengths people will go to in order to ‘fit in.’ He co-created the show with Jon Beckerman (Ed). JASH, in partnership with NowThis produces the show; Jobrani, Beckerman, Daniel Kellison, Max Broude, Miriam Mintz and Ray Moheet are the exec producers.

“Saunders is developing a game-show concept currently titled Can You Beat Yamaneika?, in which comedians take part in a series of games designed to test how quick-witted they are. The winner will take on Saunders head to head to see who can best think on their feet. Saunders, Nile Evans and Rick Dorfman executive produce.”


Per Rolling Stone, “[a]nyone who thinks making a music documentary is easy wasn’t in director Kief Davidson’s shoes when he was in Jamaica researching the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in 1976. Davidson and his crew were taken to sketchy neighborhoods in Kingston, where a police station had been shot up the night before.  Arriving at a cemetery to see where one Jamaican gangster was buried, they found themselves in a midst of a turf war, surrounded by military brandishing automatic weapons. ‘You do exactly what the military says and you leave pretty quickly,’ Davidson says. ‘I thought, “This will probably be the darkest Bob Marley film ever made.”’

“That type of research and all-in reporting is one of many aspects that distinguishes ReMastered, a series of music documentaries that began rolling out on Netflix last fall. Targeting specific events and delving into what happened, why it happened and what outside forces were involved, the series brings fresh insight — and new interviews and documentation — to tales and myths we thought we knew.

ReMastered explores, among others, how Marley’s shooting was the result of the reggae legend being caught between warring political parties in Jamaica (Who Shot the Sheriff?)the shockingly sordid death and forgotten positive legacy of Sam Cooke (The Two Killings of Sam Cooke), the still-unsolved murder of Run-DMC’s DJ (Who Killed Jam Master Jay?), and the controversial and tangled bond between Johnny Cash and Richard Nixon (Tricky Dick and the Man in Black). ‘It was important not to just rehash information audiences already knew about famous musicians,’ says Jeff Zimbalist, who, with his brother Michael, conceived and produced the series (working with executive producers Irving Azoff and Stu Schreiberg). ‘We want to advance the journalism and bring audiences stories they may not know about artists they do.’

“The series, which continues Friday with the premiere of the Cooke movie, more than accomplishes those goals. Using rarely seen footage, the film recounts the night in 1964 when the suave and likable pop and R&B singer was killed — shot to death by the night manager of a motel where he had gone with a woman who turned out to be a hooker. But it also probes the way the music business of the early Sixties was threatened by Cooke’s evolving civil-rights consciousness as he became more of a crossover success and businessman (he owned a label and publishing company). One verse of Cooke’s momentous protest song A Change Is Gonna Come, for instance, was edited out when it was first released.

“Using interviews with friends and colleagues as well as Smokey Robinson and Quincy Jones, The Two Killings of Sam Cooke explores a tragedy far greater than Cooke’s death: the way his tawdry murder came to overshadow his contributions. ‘Part of his legacy was hijacked by the way he died,” says director Kelly Duane de la Vega. “He was an incredible musical artist, but just as important was the way he contributed to the civil-rights movement and embodied the idea of an African-American artist having power in the record industry. It was a seedy end, and for some people, that’s where the conversation ended.’ The film also chronicles the fabled 1964 get-together with Cooke, Muhammad Ali, football pro Jim Brown, and Malcolm X — and an FBI informant who was taking note of it all.

“The often grim Who Killed Jam Master Jay?, directed by Brian Oakes, doesn’t shy away from the DJ’s murder in his Queens, New York, recording studio in 2002. According to the film, his shooting may have been the result of his involvement in drug trafficking (his way of compensating for the group’s declining record sales). Yet in a similar bigger-picture manner as the Cooke film, the film also connects the seeming indifference of local authorities to something even more troubling. ‘What was important was to point to a larger societal theme of sweeping these heinous crimes under the rug when they happen in certain communities,’ says Jeff Zimbalist, ‘and particularly with hip-hop stars.’

“To achieve their goals, the Zimbalists — and the different filmmakers who directed each episode — adhered to certain rules. No Behind the Music–style narration. No cheesy re-enactments. An emphasis on tracking down witnesses and not relying on third-party analysts to talk about the events. De-emphasizing sensationalism in favor of, as Jeff Zimbalist says, dipping into ‘the role of music and political musicians to use music as a vehicle for social change.’

“As the Zimbalists and the filmmakers came to realize, chasing down those stories took some work. They discovered an unseen tape of Cash’s 1972 White House performance — but only in the Nixon library. Davidson found CIA paperwork on Marley amidst the recent WikiLeaks dump of government documents. In some cases, the filmmakers were dealing with sensitive topics and witnesses who weren’t always willing to go record and on camera; one interviewee in Who Shot the Sheriff?, for instance, is only seen in shadow and with his voice distorted. ‘It’s frustrating because you have information corroborated by multiple people,’ says Davidson, ‘but there’s a sense of not exposing things because there would be repercussions. I never wanted to be a situation where footage I shot resulted in someone getting hurt.’ Adds Michael Zimbalist, ‘We want to solve the mysteries, but that’s a sensitive line we have to walk.’

“The Zimbalists are particularly stoked about two ReMastered entries on lesser-known but equally compelling topics. Massacre at the Stadium, which is already on Netflix, documents the 1973 torture and murder of Chilean folksinger and activist Victor Jara, and includes a rare interview with the man accused of killing him. The Miami Showband Massacre, which debuts March 22nd, documents the horrific story of a popular Irish touring band; in 1975, three of its members were killed in Northern Ireland when an attempt to frame them as IRA bombers backfired.

“And what is the Zimbalists’ great white whale — the pop music story or mystery that’s eluded them so far? ‘That’s in the second season,’ Michael Zimbalist says, ‘so we can’t tell you yet.’”