Friday February 8, 2019

High Flying Bird is now available to stream on Netflix. “When an NBA lockout sidelines his big rookie client, an agent hatches a bold plan to save their careers -- and disrupt the league's power structure.”

All 10 episodes of PEN15 are available to stream on Hulu.

Season 3 of One Day At A Time is yours to stream on Netflix.

Ditto for Amazon’s White Dragon, a show about a sheltered London professor (played by Life on Mars‘ John Simm) who travels to Hong Kong to unravel the mystery behind his wife’s sudden death.

Also, a special treat, a single Valentine’s Day episode of Big Mouth has been released by Netflix. This will be my first stop.

Season 2 of 2 Dope Queens premieres on HBO tonight.

The Grammys air on Sunday night.

Turner has halted its long-gestating plans to revive Michael Moore’s landmark series TV Nation. The show, first announced in 2017 as a series order, had been pushed back several times but never received an official premiere date. Moore had hoped to get Michael Moore’s TV Nation on the air this past October, in time for the midterm elections. TBS had even released a teaser promo for the show this summer, but has been quiet about TV Nation ever since. The show doesn’t appear on its website. According to insiders, the decision to scrap TV Nation came due to Moore’s commitments to other projects, leaving him with little time to focus on the TBS show. TV Nation was originally set to be Moore’s first regular TV series since The Awful Truth went off the air in 2000. It was originally greenlighted in 2017 as Live from the Apocalypse and developed for TNT. As Live from the Apocalypse, Moore’s series was set to premiere in fall 2017, and then in early 2018.”

Woody Allen has launched legal action against Amazon Studios, accusing it of breaching their contract by refusing to distribute his latest film. The 83-year-old is seeking more than $68m in damages, alleging the company backed out of a multi-picture deal without cause. Amazon released two of Allen's films and also distributed his TV series, Crisis in Six Scenes. But it dropped his most recent movie, A Rainy Day in New York. According to a lawsuit filed on Thursday in New York, Allen claims Amazon backed out of the deal in June 2018 because of an old accusation that the director had molested his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow in 1992. The legal action said Amazon knew about ‘a 25-year old, baseless’ allegation when it entered into deals with the director and that it ‘does not provide a basis for Amazon to terminate the contract’. A Rainy Day in New York was shot in 2017 with a cast including Jude Law, Rebecca Hall, Selena Gomez and Timothée Chalamet.”

Spectrum cable subscribers can watch L.A.’s Finest, the first series kicking off the new video-on-demand service’s orignal content, on May 13. Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba will executive produce and star in the 13-episode series, which is spinoff of Bad Boys. If you’re not a Spectrum customer, I’m sure you’ll be just fine missing out on this one.

“Discovery-owned networks TLC and HGTV have slated a March premiere date for the reboot of TLC’s home design series While You Were Out. The re-launch of the series marks TLC’s first co-pro with HGTV. The revamp of the classic design show was first announced last October as Discovery executives revealed they were looking to foster cross-network programming following Discovery’s March 2018 acquisition of Scripps Network Interactive for US$14.6 billion. With the acquisition, HGTV and a slew of other channels were added to Discovery’s portfolio of networks. Produced by Half Yard Productions, a Red Arrow Studios company, While You Were Out features a cast of designers from both TLC and HGTV. Armed with a US$10,000 budget per room, each set of designers and carpenters set out to design one room in neighboring homes after the property owner sends their better half on a weekend getaway. The surprise reveal culminates upon their return home. Television personality, model and activist Ananda Lewis will host the series. Cast members from TLC include Carter Oosterhouse, Doug Wilson, Frank Bielec, Hildi Santo Tomas, Kahi Lee, Sabrina Soto, Ty Pennington and Vern Yip. Meanwhile, HGTV cast members are Bristol and Aubrey Marunde, David Visentin, Hilary Farr, Karen E. Laine, Mina Starsiak, Nicole Curtis and Vanilla Ice, and carpenters Eric Griffin and Jordan Thompson. While You Were Out bows March 16 at 9 p.m. ET/PT simultaneously on both TLC and HGTV.”

Padma Lakshmi‘s hairstyle selection for Thursday’s episode of Top Chef isn’t winning rave reviews. The episode, shot last June, took place at the University of Kentucky’s basketball arena in Lexington. For it, Lakshmi opted to wear cornrows and she was called out on Twitter for cultural appropriation. ‘Why did they make Padma get braids for an episode that references basketball?’ someone asked. Another person suggested that the TV personality’s hairstylist has a ‘vendetta against her’ for the look. Some tied her hairstyle to the larger national conversation about race right now after the scandal involving Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. One person wrote, ‘Padma Lakshmi in cornrows and a wifebeater at a BASKETBALL ARENA challenge. Is she planning on running for Virginia governor in the future?’ This isn’t the first time Lakshmi, who hails from India, sported the controversial look. She also wore them last year — and was criticized back then too.” Just shut up! Aren’t there bigger fish to fry?


More John Oliver for you, per Vulture: “Since its debut in 2014, HBO’s Last Week Tonight With John Oliver has routinely pushed the boundaries of what a topical comedy show can be. Its deep-dive segments, which now often nudge the show beyond its designated half-hour slot, are famous for tackling the obscure, convoluted, and underreported. Like its host’s alma mater The Daily ShowLast Week Tonight feels like a calming anchor of reason in a sea of news chaos and social-media storms. And at the center is John Oliver, the self-effacing host of a show that’s quickly becoming a late-night institution.

“With the show about to enter its sixth season on February 17, Vulture caught up with John Oliver earlier this week to talk about the show’s fact-checking process, the one story he wished he could have covered, and the story behind all those mascots:

I feel like in interviews you tend to be very humble about the show, and I wondered if you would talk to me about what you think the appeal of the show is.
Who the fuck knows. I don’t know.

The appeal for me is that we’ve built this machine of very talented people working incredibly hard, and a process through which they can end up putting their considerable talents into a story that might be very difficult to handle. So the most appealing thing for us in making the show is kind of seeing what everyone who we work with is capable of, and trying to point their capabilities at something that stretches them. In terms of what’s appealing watching it, I don’t know. [Laughs.]

What we try to do is show something [viewers] haven’t seen before, or show people elements of a story they haven’t seen before. So I hope that would be a reason to watch it. But also, we are incredibly diligent over fact-checking. If there’s a scientific study that someone refers to, we’ll buy that scientific study and read it just to check that it says what the person says it does. So [there’s] the level of granular detail that we go to to make sure that the stuff that we’re presenting or that we’re co-signing on is rigorously fact-checked. I hope there is an element of trust that people have that we’re not passing on any information lazily.

You take a hiatus every winter. When something like the shutdown happens, are you thinking, I wish we were doing a show about this, or I’m so glad we’re not doing this?
No, because we work the whole time. We took two weeks off over the holidays, but otherwise we’ve been in the office the whole time, since the day after our last show, just researching. And that’s kind of vital time for us to set ourselves up for the year.

In terms of the shutdown, not really. It feels like we would probably just contain it to the start of the show anyway, so it doesn’t feel like we’d be bringing anything particularly unique to that. It’s more the stories that fall away. [Of the things we missed], the honest answer is that there was a story about a British family terrorizing New Zealand on holiday. That really felt like, Aw, that would be really fun to talk about, and I’m not sure anyone else would want to talk about that because it doesn’t matter. That was our sweet spot. It was pretty incredible.

People, especially journalists, around the world watch your show. I wonder how do you feel about representing the U.S. on a global scale? 
I probably don’t feel anything about that. Again, I’ll fiercely stand by our work, and we’re completely confident in what we present in the end.

It’s been slightly surprising to us what we’ve been able to get away with, so I would hope that it would embolden people to think, Maybe I could get away with that, too. In our first season, we did 12 minutes on the death penalty, which seemed genuinely reckless. Who wants to watch 12 minutes of comedy about the death penalty? Now, it’s very rare we would talk about anything for as little as 12 minutes, but at the time, that felt like, This is probably about as much as we can get away with. In fact, that’s probably stretching it.

Then, when you realize people might want more than that, all of sudden we could start to do 20-, 25-, 30-minute, sometimes more than 30-minute stories, just because it feels like either you’ve gained people’s trust enough, or that you feel like it’s possible that people will be willing to watch it.

The show’s going into its sixth season. Do you feel the need to change things up?
We try to stretch it a little bit anyway. Sometimes it’s not half-an-hour long. I think the Anita Hill one was really long just because it felt like you wanted to let that interview breathe a little and to talk with some care about what we were talking about. So that kind of flexibility really helps — that we can break the format when we want to.

We try not to get stuck in a rut. We try to mix things up, not just in terms of what we’re talking about but how we present them. So sometimes it’ll be an 8-minute chunk at the top of the show and then 22 minutes of something you may not want to hear about. And then sometimes it’ll be like a shorter story, like Florida felon disenfranchisement, and then we’ll do something dumb at the end, like give you an update on where Russell Crowe’s jockstrap is.

I have to ask you about the mascots. Vulture has been trying desperately to do a piece about the show’s mascots, but we’ve been repeatedly turned down. Why won’t you allow it, and what are you hiding?
Why won’t we allow it? I really appreciate the “What are we hiding” question. I think we generally don’t do interviews about the show once we start, so this is basically it, once a year, and then we tend not to talk about it. We don’t do regular check-ins. That’s probably why?

I mean, the truth of the mascots is that we have a gigantic room filled with spectacular mascot costumes now. [Executive producer] Tim Carvell and I — I think we’ve always seen the show as our attempt to make The Muppet Show and failing to do so. But occasionally, just occasionally, you get the kind of Muppet Show adoration in the ludicrous mascots.

So I should have come in with all the mascot questions today and gotten it done?
Absolutely. Yeah, definitely, that’s the thing, So basically they can have the story this time next year. [Laughs.] You can Trojan horse the story.

Who’s in the mascots? Can you tell us that?
Yes, well it depends, but most of the time, it’s this guy called Noel [MacNeal]. He was The Bear in the Big Blue House, and he worked for Sesame Street. It’s a bunch of Sesame Street puppeteers. But in terms of Mr. Nutterbutter, he is Mr. Nutterbutter.

Is there anything about the production or the writing of the show that would surprise viewers? Anything that seems different from what we end up with?
Just the amount of effort that goes into each element of the show would probably surprise people, just as it would probably [surprise them] to know that we’ve kind of been at work the whole time, and we haven’t been away.

None of us are really coming back with a tan. We’re not generally a tan-interested group of people. There’s not a lot of beachy people. But yeah, it’s just a massive amount of work. Like what it takes to get the background on each story, the writers are working on it for weeks. Those big stories we don’t write in a week; those are written over at least a month.

One last question: If you had to undo either Trump’s election or Brexit — you could snap your fingers, and one of them didn’t happen …
Um, Brexit. Partly because it felt like that put some of the populist movement that got Trump elected in motion, and also the ramifications from that are going to be generational. It’s a total catastrophe, and it hasn’t even happened yet. It’s going to be horrendous.

That’s why we need mascots. Sometimes you just need a mascot at the end of something. It’s like the Kavanaugh thing — it was so depressing that week, having Gritty burst out did at least give the illusion of joy.

So maybe a Brexit mascot in the future?
Yeah, maybe.”


Per The Hollywood Reporter, “Survivor launches into the unknown on February 20 with Edge of Extinction, the 38th season of the CBS reality series, built on the back of a controversial premise. This time out, when players are voted out, they are presented with an opportunity to continue surviving in a desolate location called Extinction Island, where they will have very little in the way of shelter and supplies, and only the vaguest notion of somehow, some day, fighting their way back into the million dollar game. 

“Given its provocative title, some television viewers may come across the new season of Survivor and expect something completely different. After all, with a name like Edge of Extinction, some higher concepts come to mind. Is it the subtitle of a forgotten Transformers sequel? The promise of a smoke monster, or perhaps a collision with some dinosaurs?

“As it turns out, there's some truth to the dinosaur theory, at least as far as the season's aesthetic. Executive producer and host Jeff Probst stops short of crediting the new season's theme to any specific pop culture theme parks, but when it comes to his end of the deal, Survivor art department guru Dax Pointon happily cops to a wink and nod at that Jurassic world. 

“During his tenure with Survivor, Pointon has built countless Tribal Councils, including the sprawling builds featured in the live Los Angeles finales, not to mention the haunting Ghost Island featured in season 36. For Edge of Extinction, Pointon and his team once again faced a massive challenge in designing not only Tribal Council, but the aforementioned Extinction Island. Let's set the record straight: there are no Tyrannosaurus Rexes lurking in the jungle, waiting to snack on terrified lawyers. But the design elements are in place to encourage the players, Extinction Island's inhabitants in particular, to envision a world where strange, long since deceased beasts once roamed.

“Read on for more from Pointon about how dinosaurs inspired the Extinction Island and Tribal Council aesthetics, plus photos from both locations:

When you hear the words Edge of Extinction,"where does your mind wander in terms of creating the design? Dinosaurs?

Well, a little, actually. (Laughs.) You may laugh about that, but there's some seriousness to that. With Edge of Extinction, we thought a lot about bones and large dinosaur sized animals. My mind ended up going toward a wrecked ship, with the ribs exposed, because all of the planking off the hull has been ripped off. It's a little bit of a stretch, but the metaphor is there. It looks like a beached whale, from the helicopter shots. That's where I started. A ship's ribs sticking up out of the sand gives a vibe of prehistoric extinction.

Tribal Council centers on this beached whale of a ship, as you say…

It's almost 80 feet long and nearly 20 feet high… 30 feet high in some spots, actually. It's an actual ship that we built.

Really? It's not repurposed from local shipwrecks, which you've done in the past? 

No. We repurposed ships [for Survivor: Game Changers], but this time, we thought the only way we could make this convincing — especially with the idea of the exposed ribs of a beached whale — was to have all the structure there. So, we essentially built a ship. Not as well as shipbuilders would build it! (Laughs.) But still, it's convincing enough, with all the right materials… and then we proceeded to smash it up, roll it on its side, and create areas to hide the cameras as we need, and to create backgrounds for contestants [during Tribal Council]. We have cargo that's "fallen out," and is now all over the floor, and it becomes stools for the contestants. We have it now as background dressing, too. This theme always lends itself well to Survivor, doesn't it? It's all about being shipwrecked. It's a good one.

Turning toward Extinction Island, it's very sparsely designed. It conjures the image of a single, solitary ship, with one lone survivor who is long since gone. The ribcage of the ship is, as you say, sticking out of the sand. Was that idea on your mind, coming up with something that expresses the last vestiges of life? 

Totally. It's what we clung to as we were brainstorming. It really needs that desolation vibe, especially for someone who is staying out there. If you're out there by yourself, it's a very daunting place. We didn't want it to feel daunting in any way. We didn't want you to feel safe or comfortable or anything like that. The contestants on the beaches have it rough, but out there? It's a different game altogether. We really needed to work on that, and make sure that's the case. The location itself is pretty incredible, too.

It's rather unforgiving, in terms of the elements. Ghost Island was idyllic in comparison.

Yeah. [Producer Jimmy Quigley] worked very hard to make sure it would work the way we needed. He scouted a lot of different islands to see all of our options, and ultimately, that was the spot. That's how it was for Ghost Island. We found the perfect spot for it and made it work. This was the same case, where the perfect place presented itself. We had the right designs, integrated them together, and now we've come up with something that really seems real. You have to start from there, so whoever is out there truly believes it's real, and is feeling the feeling.”


Per The New York Post, “Bravo says Thomas Ravenel’s lawsuit against the network is bogus.

“Bravo and Southern Charm producers filed court documents in their ongoing lawsuit against their former star, saying that he is trying to unlawfully stop them from exercising their first amendment right by airing footage of his children with Kathryn Dennis and footage of Dennis discussing Ravenel, The Blast reports.

“Bravo also argued in their paperwork that the lawsuit he filed against them is part of his custody battle with Dennis, which means it should not apply to them as they are not in any way responsible for their children Kensie, 4, and Saint, 3.

“‘If Ravenel actually wants to stem the public flow of information about this custody dispute, then his recourse is to stop his own public mudslinging in the pleadings he has filed in this case, stop posting photos and videos of his children on the Internet, join Dennis’s request to seal this Court’s records, and/or seek to restrain Dennis from discussing the case,’ they said in the papers.

“‘Ravenel’s actual interest appears to be to prohibit anyone besides himself from maintaining a public platform to discuss this lawsuit now that he is no longer a cast member on Southern Charm,’ they added.

“As a result, they want the suit dismissed with him paying their legal fees.

“Ravenel, 56, first filed suit against Bravo and Southern Charm producers at Haymaker over unaired footage that they shot after Dennis, 26, filed for full custody of their children in light of the sexual assault allegations against him. Ravenel retorted by claiming that she is an avid drug user.”


From TheWrap: “Rideback, the production company founded by The LEGO Movie franchise producer Dan Lin, has teamed with film and TV studio MRC to create a new TV incubator aimed at supporting young TV drama writers from diverse backgrounds to develop projects for cable and streaming, the company announced Thursday.

“Veteran TV executives Elsie Choi and Kiri Hart will oversee the program, which offers a paid eight-month residency to eight writers who have previously worked as staffers on series and want to create original dramas.

“The young creators will be paired with experienced showrunners and/or executive producers who act as mentors, and also get feedback from their fellow participants at Rideback Ranch, a new creative campus in L.A.’s Historic Filipinotown neighborhood.

“Participants will be charged with creating market-ready, straight-to-series projects — that will then be produced by Rideback, with financing and studio support from MRC. Participants would maintain executive producer credits, as well as writing credits, as determined by the WGA.

“Producer-mentors will be attached to their respective projects as non-writing executive producers.

“Hart, who established the Lucasfilm Story Group overseeing Star Wars development, will serve as creative adviser. Choi, former head of development for Mad Rabbit, will oversee the program as executive director.”