Monday March 25, 2019

Apple has some major announcements coming today. I’m sure you’ll be bludgeoned over the head with everything they release. The live program kicks off at 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET, from the Steve Jobs Theater in and you can watch live at apple.com/apple-events/livestream.

In advance, here’s a guide to all of Apple’s announced streaming projects.

Viacom and AT&T have worked out their differences. Crisis averted.

HBO premieres One Nation Under Stress tonight. “In the 1960s, Americans had among the highest life expectancy in the world. Today, the U.S. ranks near the bottom of major developed nations. From acclaimed directors-producers Marc Levin and Daphne Pinkerson (Class DivideHard Times: Lost on Long Island and Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags), and neurosurgeon and Emmy-winning CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, One Nation Under Stress examines the reasons for this historic decline. Despite spending more on healthcare than any other country, America is experiencing decreased life expectancy. In One Nation Under Stress, neurosurgeon and investigative journalist Dr. Sanjay Gupta sets out to discover why. Driven primarily by an epidemic of self-inflicted deaths of despair — from drug overdose, chronic liver disease and suicide – this rise in the U.S. mortality rate can be seen as a symptom of the toxic, pervasive stress in America today. Gupta travels across the country, interviewing experts in a wide range of fields, who share their insights on why we’re experiencing so much stress, how it affects the brain, body and behavior, and the long-term consequences for the health of the nation. Along the way, he speaks candidly with Americans struggling with their own stress-related ailments and those who have lost loved ones lost to deaths of despair, particularly in communities facing economic and social instability.”

Kristin Cavallari will host Fox’s reboot of Paradise Hotel, a dating show in which a group of singles will check into a tropical resort and compete to check out with money and romance. In this revamped version, viewers can use social media to influence who stays and who goes. The new series will premiere May 9 on Fox at 8 p.m. ET/PT. It’s like Bachelor In Paradise if that helps you any.

Nearly 800 showrunners and screenwriters have signed a statement saying that they will fire their agents if the Writer’s Guild fails to reach an agreement with the Association of Talent Agents for a new franchise agreement.

“James Marsters let the news slip this weekend — Hulu has renewed Marvel’s Runaways for a third season. Here is more information. Season 3 of the series, from showrunners/writers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, Marvel TV and ABC Signature, will consist of 10 episodes, down from the 13-episode second season and on par with the episode count in Season 1. That has been a trend for streaming series across the board as 10 has proven optimal for binging. Additionally, I hear that, staying true to its title, Runaways plans to focus on the kids, so the actors playing parents who were series regulars are being reduced from all shows produced to factual series regulars – 7 out of 10.”

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Per Bloomberg, “[t]he National Football League’s Sunday Ticket package of out-of-town games may have finally outgrown its quarter-century exclusive with AT&T Inc.’s DirecTV, at least that’s what Commissioner Roger Goodell says as he looks to expand into the digital frontier.

“Though the league still has a good relationship with DirecTV, it’s considering splitting up the rights to make games more widely available now that people don’t only watch at home, Goodell said Friday in an interview.

“‘We’re having great discussions with DirecTV and AT&T,’ Goodell said. ‘We’ve had a 25-year partnership and we want to continue that partnership, but we also are looking to see how we can change the delivery.’

“The NFL is the biggest TV ratings game in town and a huge advertising draw for the networks that carry it. Sunday Ticket is just one of eight different packages the league has going at the moment, and there seems no end to the number of ways the NFL can slice its TV rights. The league already has a nonexclusive streaming deal with Verizon that is specific to mobile devices and computers. It also has a Thursday night streaming deal with Amazon.com Inc.

“Last season, the NFL and DirecTV tested online streaming of games in seven cities. It’s possible the NFL could split the Sunday Ticket rights between a conventional TV partner like DirecTV and an online service like Amazon or AT&T’s own DirecTV Now.

“DirecTV didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

“‘We’re looking to make sure that we continue to deliver this package, which is a premium package of great content,’ Goodell said. ‘We want it delivered on several different platforms.’”

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, [THIS STORY CONTAINS SPOILERS} “[e]ven though the television series and original text often diverge, there are some moments from the Walking Dead comic books that were always going to make it onto the screen: Shane (Jon Bernthal) dying early on, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his allies losing everything at the prison, the eventual turn toward life in Alexandria, the death of Glenn (Steven Yeun) at the sadistic hands of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), the war against the Saviors, the resulting time jump…

“…and now, the latest shoe to drop: the dead men, women and children whose severed heads mark the border between the Alexandria Safe-Zone and the Whisperers. It's such a disturbing act of violence, that it served as the conclusion to Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard's third Walking Dead compendium, leaving readers who experience the story in massive hardcover format on an especially brutal cliff-hanger.

“Of course, as is the Walking Dead custom, the details have changed somewhat between the comics and the show — the players, more than the circumstances. In the comics, events unfold similarly. Just as in The Calm Before, the Alexandria Safe-Zone enjoys a sprawling fair to celebrate their shared spirit of community. Simultaneously, there's a hostage negotiation unfolding. Rick Grimes leads a group into the wild to find the Whisperers and barter for some captured friends. During the meeting, Alpha takes Rick off on his own, and shows him the massive herd of walkers she has at her disposal. For the show, since Rick is no longer in the mix, Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) stepped up as Alpha's foil, offering a grungier version of Rick's more diplomatic yet firm approach.

“After the trip to the sprawling site of the dead, Alpha hands Lydia (Cassady McClincy) over to her new enemies, disowning her daughter for selling out the Whisperers. The show took a different approach, using the newly introduced flashback structure to feature a scene between Alpha and Lydia confronting one another at the Kingdom, marking a full separation from each other.

“As on television, Alpha warns the group that there's a new border wall marking the divide between the Whisperers and the Alexandrians' respective territories. She makes it clear that the survivors won't be able to miss the border, and of course, she's right: it exists in the form of several severed heads firmly planted on spikes in the ground. The television adaptation does a marvelous job emulating the same sense of dread, to the point of virtually replicating panels from the comic: on page, folks back at the fair would be shown asking about their loved ones, juxtaposed against an image of the missing person's zombified head on a spike. Absolutely brutal to behold in both versions of the story.

“Here's where the biggest differences arise: the people who died. In the comic books, the two most prominent victims are Rosita (Christian Serratos) and Ezekiel (Khary Payton), both of whom are still alive and well in the television series. Rosita's death is almost glossed over in the comics, presented without much more fanfare than the majority of the other killings. It was a similar treatment for Tara (Alanna Masterson) and Enid (Katelyn Nacon), two of the most prominent people to die in the show's version of events; their dead heads are given the same matter-of-fact presentation, speaking to the randomness surrounding the tragedy. As for Ezekiel, his comic book death was the "big reveal." That honor was given here to Henry (Matt Lintz), Ezekiel's son, and a character whom viewers likely see as a bit more expendable than the good king. Nevertheless, the emotional impact of his death cannot be overstated, as seen in the way Daryl and Carol (Melissa McBride) reacted to laying eyes upon the poor lost soul.

“What happens next in the comic? Spoiler alert: a whole lot. But those are stories for future episodes, potentially as soon as the finale. For now, it's enough to know that while the details may have altered from one medium to the next, the spirit of this unforgettably stomach-churning Walking Dead killing remained alive and well for the television series.”

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Per Variety, “Netflix crossed another unscripted threshold on Friday with the launch of Selling Sunset, an 8-episode series that follows a group of real estate agents on the Sunset Strip. The show is believed to be the streaming service’s first docusoap, the now-ubiquitous format first popularized in the early 2000s by shows like MTV’s Laguna Beach and The Hills.

“Adam DiVello was an MTV executive who helped develop Laguna Beach, and he later left the network to create and executive produce its even more successful spinoff, The Hills. His production company, Done and Done Prods., is behind Selling Sunset, along with Lionsgate TV.

“The show centers on the real estate brokers at the Oppenheim Group, which focuses on multi-million dollar homes for wealthy clients. Twins Jason and Brett Oppenheim (who have previously been seen on Million Dollar Listing) run the company, along with their all-female group of agents. The series focuses on what happens when a new agent — Chrishell Hartley, an actress who’s also married to “This Is Us” star Justin Hartley — joins.

Variety spoke with DiVello about working with Netflix, how streaming services have brought new buyers to the reality space, and why the docusoap (the centerpiece of networks like Bravo) has shown such staying power:

How did you recruit the Oppenheim Group to star in Selling Sunset, and how did it end up at Netflix?

I’ve always been obsessed with real estate personally. I watch all the real estate shows and spend many a weekend going to open houses myself. Even when I was living in New York I would get Variety and I’d look at your real estate section all the time. I’ve been very interested in this world for a long time. I came across these two brothers, Jason and Brett Oppenheim, and they own the Oppenheim Group up on Sunset. I saw their ads in magazines: It’s the two of them, and then about five or six female employees they have working for them. And I thought, that’s the cast of a show right there. They’re super attractive and they’re the No. 1 Realtors selling in the West Hollywood and Sunset Strip area. They’ve got billboards up and down the strip, and it seemed like a no-brainer.

We reached out to them, they had already been approached by every other network and kept saying no. After we had an initial meeting, they agreed to move forward. I said to them, what sets this show apart for me is I want this show to end up at Netflix. I wasn’t trying to make a Real Housewives. Nothing against the Real Housewives, but we’re just trying to showcase more of the real estate and glamour of it all. Kind of take what I did with ‘The Hills,’ which is also set in the Hollywood Hills, and show the females’ lives, their work lives, take their relationships and personal lives and use the real estate as a backdrop. We pitched it and Netflix was gracious enough to pick it up and order eight episodes. I think this is the first docusoap for Netflix. It’s going to be fun to see how it does.

Well, you may never know.

I guess we’ll know if they pick it up again.

What does it mean to do a docusoap for a platform like Netflix? Is production that much different?

This is the first time I’ve done a series for a streaming network, so I am used to an episode a week coming out, getting the ratings that morning and seeing how it did, hoping people tune to the next one. It’s interesting to have handed over all eight one-hour episodes on one day. And it will be super interesting to see what happens when it launches. Netflix had great insight, most of them are experienced producers. You have more creative freedom.

How is the storytelling different? Creatively, what are some of the new approaches you took?

You always want to end an episode with them watching the next one, with Netflix especially it comes right up, the next episode, and you want them to watch it [immediately]. So you always want to end it with a cliffhanger. There’s also a way we approached having no commercial breaks. We still kept it within acts as we always do for structure. So you still have an A, B, and C storyline in most episodes

Given how quickly people move on from shows, how do you keep them hooked?

I’m still new at the Netflix regime so we’ll see how it goes. I think the most important thing today is with any show, is social media. Their Instagram and Twitter and Facebook keep the momentum alive.

The other unique aspect of doing a show for Netflix is the immediate international distribution.

I think that also makes Netflix a better home for the show. Los Angeles real estate is something the rest of the world is interested in. LA and Hollywood culture plays well in other countries. Not only are you getting a show shot in Hollywood, the Sunset Strip but you’re seeing these gorgeous $30 million, $40 million mansions that they’re selling that people rarely get to see the inside of. 18-car garages, some of them have two swimming pools and helipads on the roof.

What’s your take on the state of the docuseries?

The idea about it from day one was we how do you do reality TV when you take out the confessional and make it look as pretty as possible. We wanted to deliberately make it look like a series even though it’s fully reality. And it was achievable. I think that’s why it’s still in the zeitgeist because of the way it look and sounded, the music we chose. Attention to detail. I can’t tell you how many hours we would sit in an edit bay just working on one scene. I think most reality shows would have turned it out in a day and we’ll spend a week.

The appetite seems to be unending for this kind of show.

Thankfully, right? For me, at least. I knock on wood. I think it’s always going to be there. I think reality, people are always interested in seeing a little bit of themselves on TV. The reality world makes them feel a little more connected to these characters. Certainly the appetite for good stories and good characters, whether the insane crazy world they want to see or a home makeover show, it’s escapism for most people.

Has the genre finally moved past its long stagnation?

There’s room for everybody. I do think that the audience is a little more savvy these days than they used to be. I don’t think every person can or should have their own reality show. Back in the day there were a lot of them coming out, it seemed like every other week was a new one. Now producers are putting a little more thought into what it is — what’s new about it? Everyone’s looking for something that’s not derivative to something else.

How do you find people to potentially star in a reality show now? Given how many reality producers are out there scouting, it seems like that well should have run dry by now.

I tend to try to find the people who don’t necessarily want to be on TV. It’s a good starting off point. I think if they’re a little more reluctant they’re going to enjoy the process more and it’s going to feel like we’re getting a glimpse into something new. We get a ton of pitches every day from people that want to do a TV show. But it’s like, ugh, do you really need a TV show about your life? It’s difficult to find that exciting world, so I think when you know you have it, you have it.

How tough is it to find talent that doesn’t act a certain way on camera?

We deal with that every day, Every new cast member is savvy now, they’ve seen the other shows, they know where other people’s careers have gone. I say to them all at the very beginning, you just need to be yourself. The more they’re just themselves the more likeable they’ll be and the audience will relate to them. I think when you’re trying to play a part it always reads as fake and people don’t sense that person as well. We try to stay away from those types of people. And the ones we gravitate toward are the ones being themselves. If I feel like someone is being artificial we steer clear of them.

But you have Justin Hartley’s wife on the show, and she does have an acting background.

She’s just a sweetheart to begin with, and she really is a Realtor and has a real estate license selling homes when we met her. She does some work on the soaps, on Days of Our Lives. I think we were lucky to get her, I think she adds something that is very unique to Los Angeles, and we’re doing a show about Realtors in Los Angeles. The fact that we have one who’s an actress and happens to be married to an actor who’s on a very successful TV series is a plus. Because it’s not always easy. The grass is always greener, and she says it on the show. Everything’s hard, marriage is hard, living in L.A. is hard. The fact that now she’s selling these gigantic homes and potentially living in one herself as the endgame is an exciting ride.

Does he pop up at all on screen?

You will see some photographs of him. He was shooting his series at the time.

You’re not involved in the reboot of The Hills, but what do you make of its return and what it means to reboot culture?

I don’t know much about it, but I think it’s super flattering that there’s still interest in that series, and fans are still devoted enough that MTV brought it back. I think anytime you get to go back and see the people you grew up with or enjoyed watching for so many years, it’s always exciting to see what they’re up to these days. I’m excited to see how they film it.”

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This should nauseate you . . .from TheWrap: “Discovery President and CEO David Zaslav hauled in almost $130 million in 2018, more than tripling his 2017 executive compensation, according to a Friday SEC filing.

“That huge all-in number was mostly thanks to an enormous increase in Zaslav’s options award. In 2018, that category alone surpassed $100 million.

“Zaslav’s annual salary remained unchanged at just $3 million per year. His stock awards, which tallied $14.8 million, were down slightly from 2017. But those options skyrocketed from $15.6 million in 2017 to $102.1 million in 2018. Finally, Zaslav’s non-equity incentive plan compensation rose a bit last year to $9 million.

“To add a little perspective, Discovery Inc.’s next highest-paid executive was Chief Development Officer Bruce L. Campbell, who took home $12.3 million in 2018.

“Zaslav’s huge number comes about as the result of a new contract, one that goes through 2023. For Zaslav to ever actually realize those options awards as cold, hard cash, Discovery stock (DISCA) would have to grow by 5 percent or more each year through the end of his contract.

“In March 2018, Discovery closed a near-$15 billion acquisition of Scripps, which had been the owner of popular cable channels like HGTV and Food Network. That sure helped shore up Zaslav’s new deal.

“Zaslav has always been among Hollywood’s highest-paid executives, though last year he sat behind former CBS chief Les Moonves and Disney boss Bob Iger.”