Wednesday April 17, 2019

Netflix added 9,600,000 new subscribers during the 1st quarter of 2019 and generated $4.5B in revenue. More Netflix data below.

Here’s a piece about their move into some shorter-form content (e.g., Special).

Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé is now available to stream on Netflix.

Here’s a review.

I didn’t hate Bless This Mess on ABC last night.

Season 31 of The Amazing Race premieres tonight. This season’s cast is made up of former AR contestants as well as former Big Brother and Survivor competitors. Maybe I’ll watch.

Behind the scenes of last week’s Tribal Council with David Wright.

“With the addition of the Edge of Extinction twist to Survivor, at the end of each Tribal Council this season we see the voted-off contestant walking down the path and then having to make the choice on whether to continue playing or give up. And then the episode ends. What this means, however, is that we are not seeing the famous final words of wisdom Jeff Probst used to always make to the tribe after the voted-out person had departed and before sending those still in the game on their way. Sometimes, it was an observation. Other times, an ominous warning. Often, there was advice. Occasionally even, a compliment. Whatever the message was, it always served as a fitting punctuation mark to the episode. Since these final words of wisdom have been missing all season, it got us wondering: Did Jeff Probst actually say the words of wisdom at the end of each Tribal Council? And, if so, how does it feel for him to have them cut out of the episodes?  EW launched a full-scale investigation to get the bottom of this hot-button controversy. ‘Yes, I said them,’ Probst exclusively tells EW. ‘No, I don’t miss them.’”

“A&E Network will premiere a new unscripted series centered on first responders getting tattoos in June. Hero Ink follows the work of tattoo artists at Prison Break Tattoos in Houston, Texas, who specialize in creating meaningful, custom tattoos for first responders, paying tribute to the work they do every day. Each artist has some connection to the work of first responders, informing their art. Each 30-minute episode looks at both the work of the first responders in the chair, and the process of crafting their personal piece. . . Hero Ink premieres June 6 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on A&E, with back-to-back episodes.”

John Cusack is set to star opposite Sasha Lane and Rainn Wilson in Utopia, Amazon’s straight-to-series adaptation of the British drama, written by Gone Girlauthor and screenwriter Gillian Flynn. Utopia follows a group of young adults who meet online that are mercilessly hunted by a shadowy deep state organization after they come into possession of a near-mythical cult underground graphic novel. Within the comic’s pages, they discover the conspiracy theories that may actually be real and are forced into the dangerous, unique and ironic position of saving the world. Cusack will play Dr. Kevin Christie. Charismatic and media-savvy, with a brilliant biotech mind and a philanthropic outlook. Christie altruistically wants to change the world through science. Child actor and Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton also stars.”

Hoda Kotb has adopted another baby.

CNN has greenlit a six-part series set to delve into the inner workings of Abraham Lincoln’s world as part of its latest CNN Original Series. Produced by Glass Entertainment Group, Lincoln: An American President (w/t) will look to meld together archive, expert commentary and recreations to explore Lincoln’s historic political career and tragic life by examining the hardships he faced at home and how they fueled the revolutionary decisions he made in the White House. Dubbed the greatest president in American history, Lincoln built his life and career on honesty, intellectual curiosity, and hard work. Born into a poor family on the frontier near Hodgenville, Kentucky, in 1809, he was a self-educated lawyer, state legislator and Congressman. In 1861, he would be elected as the 16th president of the United States, and served in office until his assassination in April 1865.”

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Per Deadline, “Netflix is continuing to shout about some of its successes, handing out some viewing data for titles including The Umbrella Academy, Triple Frontier, The Highwaymen, its Fyre Festival documentary and the David Attenborough-narrated Our Planet.

“In its first-quarter earnings report Tuesday, the streaming company revealed that in the first four weeks on the service, Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá’s comic book adaptation of Umbrella Academy was watched by 45 million households.

“Following the release of numbers for Bird Box last quarter, which was watched by 80 million households in its first month, Netflix today also revealed that The Highwaymen, starring Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson, was watched by more than 40M households in its first month. This was surpassed by action heist movie Triple Frontier, starring Ben Affleck and directed by J.C. Chandor, which hit 52M households in the same time period.

Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, about the controversial music festival, was watched by over 20 million member households in its first month. Netflix projected that nature docu Our Planet, which launched this month, will be viewed by over 25M households in its first month of release.

“This comes after Netflix last quarter gave out viewership stats for six series, including YouSex Education and Elite. The streaming giant opted to volunteer that You and Sex Education had each been seen by more than 40 million households in their initial weeks. Spanish series Elite had been seen by more than 20 million households, the company said.

“Netflix considers an episode as ‘viewed’ if at least one episode has been watched at least 70% of the way through. The company zealously guards its data and has steadfastly refused to provide the kinds of ratings updates that its linear competitors do, even those not obligated to advertisers.”

Per Indiewire, “[n]early three years after he was ousted from the network he helped make a cable news behemoth and two years after his passing, Roger Ailes is still an unmistakably influential figure in American politics. The mastermind behind Fox News is the subject of the upcoming series The Loudest Voice, which network Showtime took one more step towards unveiling on Tuesday.

“In the series’ first trailer, Russell Crowe stars as Ailes, playing the TV exec from the inception of the cable news channel. The Loudest Voice is built around Fox News’ on-screen breakthrough into shaping the mainstream conservative agenda and showing Ailes’ behind-the-scenes behavior, which eventually led to a series of lawsuits, including one filed by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson (played here by Naomi Watts).

The Loudest Voice supporting cast is bolstered by a number of performers playing Ailes’ real-life counterparts in the building of the Fox News empire. Sienna Miller co-stars as Elizabeth Tilson, Ailes’ wife, while Seth MacFarlane plays Brian Lewis, one of the network’s top PR specialists and whose eventual departure from the company paved the way for one of the biggest windows into the toxicity of Ailes’ tenure.

“One of two upcoming Ailes-centric projects, The Loudest Voice”joins Jay Roach’s still-untitled biopic, which will see Lithgow assume the Ailes role alongside Nicole Kidman as Carlson and Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly.

“This Showtime project, though, is an adaptation of Gabriel Sherman’s The Loudest Voice in the Room. Sherman, who has become one of the media’s go-to insiders for insights on the current culture at Fox News, co-wrote the series’ first episode with director and Oscar-winning screenwriter Tom McCarthy (Spotlight). TV vet Kari Skogland, who worked on the most recent season of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” directed multiple of the series’ seven episodes.

The Loudest Voice premieres June 30 on Showtime.”

I very much look forward to watching.

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Here is the letter that the WGA sent out to its members yesterday:

Dear Members,

The trades, citing “attorneys” who prefer to remain anonymous, have announced that writers “better think again” if they expect attorneys and managers to represent them during the agency campaign. We have also heard this from members whose managers and attorneys have previously provided the very services they are now questioning, in some cases for many years.

This is the kind of misleading propaganda at which some in Hollywood excel. The legal facts, as described by WGA’s labor and antitrust attorneys at Altshuler Berzon LLP, are as follows:

The reported concerns raised by attorneys and managers are based on a misunderstanding of the Talent Agencies Act, Cal. Labor Code §1700 et seq. The Act protects writers from receiving fraudulent or conflicted representation, which no writer is demanding a manager or attorney provide. Disputes between writers and talent agents or an entity acting as a talent agent are resolved by the California Labor Commissioner upon receiving notice from the parties of a controversy covered by the Act, a process no writer intends to pursue in the current circumstances. Cal. Labor Code §1700.44.

Nothing in the Act limits writers’ right to receive necessary representation, including from the managers and attorneys who have long provided representation services separate and apart from the services provided by agents. And nothing in the Act would expose managers or attorneys to any monetary damages or other legal liability under the Act to non-clients. Likewise, nothing in the ethical rules governing California attorneys precludes them from providing representation services to writers who have specifically requested those services. Indeed, attorneys who have been providing their clients with representation in connection with an ongoing matter (such as a contract negotiation) generally have an ethical obligation to continue doing so, and are prohibited from abandoning their clients in the midst of that ongoing matter. And it is clear that managers and lawyers can continue to provide writers with the representation services they have always provided, without facing any legal risk at all, including any risk of loss of payment. See Marathon Entertainment, Inc. v. Blasi, 42 Cal.4th 974, 996 (2008).

Although the concerns raised by certain attorneys and managers are baseless, the Guild has decided that its policy going forward is to encourage its members to honor any commitment to pay a talent manager or attorney for procuring or attempting to procure engagements or employment for the writer or for providing other representation notwithstanding any alleged violation of the Act, until further notice from the Guild. If a talent manager or attorney who provides such procurement services at a writer’s direction and in good faith is not otherwise paid for those services because of an alleged violation of the Act, the Guild will reimburse the talent manager or attorney in question for those services.

Finally, the Guild has heard accounts that managers and/or lawyers may be discussing withholding services from writers who are not represented by talent agents. But the expert antitrust attorneys from Altshuler Berzon LLP have advised that any agreement, explicit or implicit, among two or more managers or attorneys not to provide services to writers who are not represented by a talent agent would constitute a combination in restraint of trade in violation of federal antitrust law–specifically, Section 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. §1. Indeed, it would likely constitute a group boycott that is per se unlawful under longstanding Supreme Court precedent. See, e.g., FTC v. Super. Ct. Trial Lawyers Ass’n, 493 US 411. Please inform us or a member of the Board of Directors if your manager or attorney refuses to provide you with representation services, so that we can evaluate whether such an unlawful boycott has been implemented, or if you learn of any agreement to refrain from providing such services to the Guild’s members.

In the interim, for any members whose lawyers are refusing to work for them, high profile firms have reached out to the guild and offered their services to clients who need new legal representation.

In Solidarity,

David A. Goodman
President, WGAW

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Per Variety, “BET has ordered the docu-series Copwatch America from Renowned Films and Critical Content.

“The show will follow the work of activists known as ‘copwatchers’ who try to monitor police activity in volatile areas. BET has ordered 10 hourlong episodes from Renowned Films and Critical Content.

“‘BET Networks is committed to bringing important stories of systemic issues of race and justice across our nation to light. We are taking this on in a way no other brand and network can, through platforms like our powerful Finding Justice franchise and our upcoming original docu-series Copwatch America, said Marisa Levy, VP and head of unscripted for BET Networks. ‘We look forward to partnering with acclaimed storytellers Renowned Films and Critical Content and continue to empower our community and focus on activists who use video cameras to protect the rights and in some cases, the lives of African-Americans in police encounters.’

Copwatch America is executive produced by Max Welch, Tim Withers and Duane Jones for Renowned Films and by Tom Forman for Critical Content. The show will deal with grittier subject matter than BET, which has undergone a management shakeup in the past year, has fielded with its unscripted programming in the past.

“‘Copwatch America will be shocking, eye-opening, exhilarating, explosive must watch action getting to the core of one of the biggest issues facing America, its police and the communities they serve today,’ said Welch. ‘Prepare for plenty of confrontation, powerful personal stories, injustices, and debate, as we capture the groundbreaking stories of those on both sides of the story in search of truth.’

“Added Jones: ‘It has never been more of an important time to bring the remarkable stories of cop watchers across the U.S. and their continued fight against injustice to the public.’

“BET said the show’s cameras will be ‘embedded’ with activists in major cities and will also aim to give the perspective of law enforcement officers on incidents. BET said the series is slated for a fall premiere.

“‘I’ve spent my career telling law enforcement stories, but never from this perspective. Not even close. Hats off to BET for allowing us to tackle this subject matter in a way that speaks to their audience and this time,’ said Forman, who is CEO of Critical Content.”

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From The New York Post: “Stassi Schroeder has a Mean Girls-like message for Vanderpump Rules newcomer Billie Lee: ‘You don’t even go here!’

“The 30-year-old reality star quoted the film on SiriusXM’s The Jenny McCarthy Show when asked how she feels about new cast members starting drama in order to stand out on the Bravo show.

“‘I don’t actually feel that bad for new people, because I wish they would just leave,’ Schroeder admitted, before contemplating that it ‘must suck’ to try to break into an established group of friends.

“She continued, ‘They come in and they think they’re about to be a star, and it’s, like, “You have no idea what’s coming for you.”’

“When Jenny McCarthy asked if Schroeder was referring to one particular person, Schroeder named Lee, saying ‘the things she tries to fight about is ridiculous.’

“‘“You don’t even go here” — that’s what it feels like,’ she added, referencing an iconic Mean Girls line. ‘If she was actually nice and kind and friendly to us, I think she would [fit in], but to just expect to be invited to every little thing we do, when we don’t know you, and pitch a fit when you’re not … acting like we’ve been friends for years? You just met us, so, no, you’re not coming to my little four-girl wine night.’

“Lee said in a statement to Page Six that she ‘never got upset or complained about a four-person girl’s wine night.’

“‘I have always been kind to Stassi and I don’t recall ever being upset about a wine night… I have stated over and over, if there’s a work event called “GIRLS night in,” I should be included,’ she said. ‘It was all about the work place and gender sensitivity. I am not the one who put transphobia on blast or perpetuated the drama for any cameras. Also, Stassi doesn’t work at Sur, so I’m confused.’

“On Vanderpump Rules, Lee — who is transgender—accused her co-stars, including Schroeder, of leaving her out of a theme party at SUR because of her gender identity.

“‘When yo coworkers don’t include the only trans girl in GIRLS night at your own job! On the night you work!’ Lee, 35, tweeted in July, adding the hashtags ‘#RudeAF’ and ‘#TransIsBeautiful.’

“Schroeder said newbies should ‘earn’ a spot on the show, pointing out that breakout star Lala Kent worked for hers. She added that she and the original cast members didn’t feel the need to prove themselves, and that she went into Season 1 thinking, ‘I’ve got this in the bag. I’m Blair Waldorf and everyone’s going to have to deal with it.’”