Thursday April 18, 2019

Netflix has dropped a trailer for its upcoming animated series Tuca & Bertie. Tiffany Hadish and Ali Wong “star” and the series will be available to stream on May 3.

Fox has canceled Rel after 1 season. One of the worst shows I’ve seen in a while. I couldn’t make it to the first commercial break of the first episode.

Fox has also canceled The Gifted, also not surprisingly.

The NFL has released its 2019 regular season schedule.

Subscribers of DirecTV Now and AT&T’s U-verse TV no longer have access to the NFL Network — meaning they’ll miss the network’s coverage of the 2019 NFL draft next week. AT&T dropped NFL Network as the telco and the league continue to try to hammer out an agreement on the NFL Sunday Ticket, the out-of-market games package that has been carried on DirecTV exclusively for 25 years. That’s as the NFL has said it’s looking to end DirecTV’s exclusive carriage of Sunday Ticket to extend it to streaming platforms. In a statement posted online to customers, AT&T said, ‘The NFL Network and Red Zone Channel remain available to all fans on DirecTV. However, as we continue to manage content costs, we could not reach an agreement with the NFL to continue to carry their channels on U-verse TV and DirecTV Now.’”

The fact that The Act glossed over the murder the way it did has me baffled.

Life In Pieces returns to CBS tonight.

Selling Sunset focuses mostly on the petty personal drama between several high-profile real estate agents in Los Angeles. But they have plenty on the line, career-wise, too. In Season 1, for example, there's a $40 million house for sale on Selling Sunset, and everyone wants to nab that commission. The staff of the Oppenheim Group tours the property in the very first episode, and the home is pretty incredible. It boasts 20,000 square feet, five bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a 15-car garage, four hot tubs, a pool, an elevator, and the largest rooftop deck in the Hollywood Hills. Plus, whichever agent closes the deal gets a sweet $1,200,000 piece of the pie, so yeah, there's a lot of competition for who will be the one to get it off the market. The season concludes without much closure on what happens to the property, but lucky for you, we're here with answers. So, did the house on Selling Sunset actually sell? According to Distractify, the official address of the home is 8408 Hillside Avenue, and the page for the property still exists on the Oppenheim Group's website, so it seems like it's still for sale. Plus, the Oppenheim Group's Instagram page posted a video just four days ago giving viewers a tour of the listing. The website doesn't name a price, and the only description for the massive home simply says it's a "contemporary architectural masterpiece available in 2019," so details are scarce on any real developments. The home looks to be still very much under construction, but promises to be a showstopper when it's finished.”

“Two years after the Fyre Festival failed, it continues to make waves: Hulu LLC and Netflix Inc. may face subpoenas over their documentaries about the festival. Gregory Messer, the Chapter 7 trustee for the Fyre Festival estate, sought the subpoenas in a filing Tuesday in bankruptcy court. He asked the judge to require Hulu and Netflix to show whether they paid for footage that should have been deemed an asset of the company. ‘In order to create the documentaries, both Hulu and Netflix used unique behind-the-scenes footage of the festival,’ Messer said in the filing. ‘Due to a lack of information, it is impossible for the Trustee to determine where the footage came from and whether such footage was an asset of the Debtor’s estate.’ Reached by phone, Messer reiterated that he is seeking additional information on behalf of the estate. Hulu and Netflix had no immediate comment.”

Talking Dead host and former Nerdist head Chris Hardwick is in hot water again, this time over an alleged broken agreement over a podcast. According to new reports from TMZ, Hardwick has been sued by podcast company Cadence13 over claims Hardwick dropped his podcast in the midst of a two-year contract. Legal documents obtained by the gossip website indicate Hardwick was advanced a sum of $1 million. Because of the alleged breach of contract, Cadence13 is reportedly suing for $606,000, the amount the company was unable to recuperate through the sales of advertising. Hardwick stopped recording new episodes of his podcast ID10T after sexual abuse accusations first surfaced last June. After an investigation by AMC, Hardwick was soon reinstated as the host of Talking Dead and no charges were filed.”

On May 3, “HBO will debut a feature-length documentary about the osteopathic physician who sexually abused hundreds of female athletes on the U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics team. At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal uses testimonials from survivors, coaches, lawyers, journalists and Judge Rosemarie Aquilina to tell the story of Dr. Larry Nassar and the system that allowed him to get away with his crimes for more than two decades, prioritizing winning over the safety of the young athletes. The story, buried for years as accusations and evidence against Nassar grew, became a lightning rod for institutional abuses in 2016, when Rachael Denhollander went public with her own story in the Indianapolis Star. After Denhollander’s story came to light, other young women came forward, mounting a public case — and several lawsuits — against Nassar, who was subsequently fired from his job at Michigan State University and eventually pleaded guilty to abuse charges in Michigan. He is currently serving a 175-year sentence in federal prison.”

Las Vegas sports bettor James Holzhauer is rewriting the Jeopardy! record book on an almost nightly basis. On the episode that aired Wednesday, Holzhauer topped his own single-game winnings mark with $131,127 to capture his 10th straight victory. James Holzhauer won $131,127, besting his previous mark of $110,914. Jeopardy Productions, Inc. He has won $697,787 during his 10-day run and is already second on the show's all-time, regular-play winnings list, behind only past great champion Ken Jennings. Jennings won more than $2.5 million during his 74-game winning streak in 2004. Holzhauer is on pace to surpass Jennings in just 36 games and now owns the four most prolific single-day performances ever on the show. In Wednesday's episode, he went 40-for-40 on responses in the first two rounds and went into Final Jeopardy! with $71,114 and a commanding lead. Fellow contestants Lorelle Anderson and Hannah Pierson-Compeau had $5,400 and $5,000, respectively, and were chuckling about their deficit heading into the final. Holzhauer risked $60,013 on the final category 20th Century Literary Characters and had the answer for ‘His first name refers to the ancient district in which you'd find the Greek capital; his surname is a bird.’ ‘Who is Atticus Finch?’ Holzhauer wrote in his response. He added: ‘This is for you Granny <3.’ The $131,127 win bested his previous mark of $110,914 from his fourth game. which aired April 9. Holzhauer has won more than $100,000 three times. No other contestant has ever won more than $77,000 on a single show.”

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, “Mike Myers is headed to Netflix.

“The Austin Powers and former Saturday Night Live favorite will star in and executive produce a six-episode comedy series for the streaming service. Netflix is describing the untitled show as a limited series.

“Few details are known about the project at the moment, but Myers will play multiple characters. It's something he's done before, playing several roles in the Austin Powers movies and So I Married an Axe Murderer.

"‘I love creating characters, and Netflix has given me a fantastic playground to play in,’ said Myers.

“The effort would be the first narrative series of Myers' career. He was a regular on NBC's SNL from 1989-95 and hosts ABC's Gong Show revival in character as a British TV presenter named Tommy Maitland. 

“Myers will executive produce the show with John Lyons — who worked with the actor on the second and third Austin Powers movies — and Gong Show exec producer Jason Weinberg. Mackenzie Cyr and Justin Capraro-Gentuso are associate producers.

“Myers, whose recent movie credits include Bohemian Rhapsody and Terminal, is the latest big name to commit to a show on a streaming platform. He follows the likes of John Cusack (Amazon's Utopia); Dennis Quaid (Netflix's Merry Happy Whatever); Al Pacino (Amazon's The Hunt); Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin (The Kominsky Method); and Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie), among others.”

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Per Variety, “[i]n a matter of weeks, the broadcast networks will go through the annual process of ordering pilots to series for the fall season. 

“The casts of this year’s pilot crop feature many broadcast mainstays and strong performers, but also illustrate that cable networks and streaming platforms are now the go-to destination for marquee stars looking to make a splash in TV. 

“That’s not to say that there are no big names working on broadcast pilots this year. Some notable stars in the arena this year include Heather Graham, Edie Falco, Michael Sheen and Kal Penn. 

“According to David Stapf, president of CBS Television Studios, getting big stars for broadcast pilots is no harder than it has been.  

“‘I don’t know that it’s any more difficult if you have good material,’ Stapf told Variety. ‘Case in point: We had a great script from Paul Attanasio about the first female police commissioner of Los Angeles. Because the script was so good, we were able to get Edie Falco. Good material can always be the lure to attract top talent.’

“Broadcast shows are still a very lucrative market for talent. Multiple agents who spoke with Variety say they encourage their clients to go out for broadcast pilots, since the standard 22-episode season stands to net them more than they would make on a cable or streaming show with a shorter season. 

“Yet awards buzz, and the prestige that comes with it, is being dominated by cable and streaming. In the 2018 Emmys, the only broadcast shows nominated in the best drama and comedy series categories were, respectively, NBC’s This Is Us and ABC’s Black-ish. The former lost to HBO’s Game of Thrones and the latter to Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Further, no broadcast stars won an Emmy in any of the major acting categories this year. 

“The rise of streaming shows has been sudden. It sent shockwaves through the industry when Kevin Spacey and David Fincher lined up the Netflix series House of Cards just eight years ago, marking the streamer’s first completely original production. Now it is commonplace for top stars to do such shows. 

“Apple’s streaming slate alone is a who’s who of top talent. Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Octavia Spencer, Brie Larson, Chris Evans and Jason Momoa are just a few of the stars at the nascent streamer. Then you have George Clooney doing Catch-22 at Hulu, Kevin Costner in Yellowstone for Paramount Network,
Russell Crowe starring in a series about Roger Ailes for Showtime and Julia Roberts having just completed Homecoming for Amazon. It was recently announced that Jake Gyllenhaal is developing an adaptation of the book Lake Success at HBO, in what would be the actor’s first leading role in a television series.  

“One TV studio head who spoke with Variety said that one thing the SVOD and streaming revolution has done is force networks and studios to rethink dealmaking with top talent. If a particular star is highly sought after for a broadcast pilot, those behind the show are now willing to be more flexible about not requiring the star to sign on for a 22-episode season or a six-year commitment. In addition, rather than focusing on procedural and episodic shows, as they have in the past, the networks and studios are more willing to develop and order programs that are more serialized. It’s a direct influence of audiences being able to binge-watch shows with ease. 

“Of course, even with a major current star, success is not guaranteed. Last season Lucy Hale, fresh off her role in the hit Freeform series Pretty Little Liars, signed on to topline the CW pilot Life Sentence. The show was ordered to series but was ultimately canceled after 13 episodes. This season, Nina Dobrev made her TV return with the CBS sitcom Fam. The show looks likely to get a second-season pickup but has hardly been a breakout, averaging 6.8 million viewers per episode in the most current Live+7 ratings. 

“Yet the star-making potential of broadcast pilots remains, even as top talent gravitates elsewhere: An entirely new generation of headliners is waiting to be made.”

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Here are descriptions of the CW’s new summer series:

Bulletproof
Adrenalin-fueled and packed with compelling characters, Bulletproof follows two undercover cops, Bishop (Noel Clarke, Star Trek: Into Darkness) and Pike (Ashley Walters, Top Boy) as they chase down hardened criminals in London’s East End. Despite their differences, Bishop and Pike work brilliantly together even when the chemistry between them looks set to explode. Full of grit and sometimes gloss, Bulletproof is stylish and funny with entertaining, riveting criminal cases in each episode. Bulletproof is from Vertigo Films and Company Pictures, with executive producers Allan Niblo (Britannia, Monsters), Michele Buck (Endeavour, Midsomer Murders), Judy Counihan (No Man’s Land, Fresh Meat), Nick Love (The Football Factory, The Sweeney), Noel Clarke, and Ashley Walters. Bulletproof, a Sky Original, was co-funded and distributed internationally by Sky Vision.

Hypnotize Me
A comedy game show, hosted by Taye Diggs. Based on the hit U.K. format (You’re Back in the Room), the show features physical comedy and unpredictable situations, as contestants work together in teams and are challenged to complete a variety of simple, everyday tasks, from frosting a cake to blowing up balloons…after being hypnotized. With big money at stake, these contestants need to work together as a team. However, their entranced states cause hysterical hurdles that not only sabotage their progress, but reveal aspects of their personalities neither they, their family nor their friends have ever before witnessed! The series also features award-winning hypnotist Keith Barry, who stars in the original U.K. show, as resident hypnotist. Hypnotize Me is produced by Tuesday’s Child and BBC Studios with executive producers Karen Smith (Lego Masters) and Joe Sungkur (Dancing with the Stars).

Mysteries Decoded
Over the course of each hour, the investigative documentary series Mysteries Decoded will delve deeper into some America’s greatest unsolved mysteries, exploring newly discovered evidence and utilizing high-tech tools in reopening each case.  From Area 51 to the Salem Witch Trials, each investigation is led by Jennifer Marshall, an accomplished U.S. Navy veteran turned top-notch Private Investigator, as she mobilizes a team to embark on the formidable quest to bring closure to these long-lingering historical puzzles. Mysteries Decoded is from MorningStar Entertainment and executive produced by Gary Tarpinian and Paninee Theeranuntawat.

Pandora
Set in the year 2199, Pandora is a sci-fi action series about a resourceful young woman who has lost everything but finds a new life at Earth’s Space Training Academy where she and her friends learn to defend the galaxy from threats, both alien and human. When secrets about the nature of her own identity begin to surface, she must uncover the truth, and whether she will be humanity’s savior or the instrument of its destruction. Pandora is executive produced by Mark A. Altman (Castle), Steve Kriozere (NCIS), Thomas P. Vitale, Karine Martin and Chris Phillip.

Red Bull Peaking
An unfiltered, intimate portrait of athletes, told in their own words and experienced from their perspective, during the 72-hour period immediately before, during and after a landmark event in their career. These up-close and personal narratives include iconic extreme sports stars Kelly McGarry, James Stewart and Jenny Rissveds. Red Bull Peaking is from Red Bull Media House and Indigenous Films, and is executive produced by Scott Bradfield, Charlie Rosene and Gus Roxburgh.”

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This fight does not get old to me. “The WGA has filed a civil lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against the four major packaging agencies, accusing them of violating state and federal laws with respect to the fiduciary duties to their writer-clients.

“Tony Segall, the general counsel for the Writers Guild of America, West, said during a press conference at WGAW headquarters in Los Angeles on Wednesday said the suit against CAA, WME, ICM Partners and UTA makes two claims: that packaging fees violate state fiduciary duty laws, and that those fees violate federal unfair competition laws.

“Specifically, the suit cites the anti-kickback provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act. Under that law, representatives of an employee can’t receive money from an employer, Segall said.

“‘Packaging fees have caused tremendous financial harm to the guilds and their members including the individual plaintiffs,’ read the 25-page suit (read it here).

“The plaintiffs listed are the WGA West and WGA East, and WGA members Patricia Carr, Ashley Gable, Barbara Hall, Deric A. Hughes, George Johannessen, Deirdre Mangan, David Simon and Meredith Stiehm.

“Simon is creator of HBO’s The Wire and The Deuce. Stiehm is creator of the CBS series Cold Case.

“‘When the show was sold, CAA negotiated a packaging fee for itself, without my knowledge,’ Stein said in remarks at the press conference. ‘It wasn’t until six years and 134 episodes later that I learned about it. It turned out that on the show I created, I worked on exclusively for years, CAA ended up making 94 cents for every dollar I earned. That is indefensible. An agency should make 10% of what a client makes — not 20, not 50, not like in my case, 94%. 10% is enough.’

“Packaging has been allowed under the WGA’s franchise agreement with the agencies since 1976. But Segall said Wednesday that ‘the guild has been uncomfortable with packaging forever.’ He added that in the mid-1970s the guild filed lawsuits against then-William Morris Agency, in which a settlement was reached that allowed the guild to attempt to regulate packaging. That, however, was ‘completely unsuccessful,’ he said, and in recent years the TV packaging agencies ‘have abandoned the 10% commission model’ and now rely almost entirely on packaging fees.

“‘It’s now time to ban it altogether,’ Segall said.

“The guild and the talent agencies repped by the Association of Talent Agents have not set any dates to resume discussions in their impasse over a new franchise agreement. Formal negotiations broke off Friday, after which the guild ordered its members to fire their agents who refuse to sign its Code of Conduct.

“Segall added that ‘to date, thousands of writers have signed letters’ terminating their agents who refused to sign the code, which was approved by an overwhelming vote of the union’s members. It bans packaging fees and prohibits agencies from being affiliated to production entities through corporate parents.

“Before talks broke off Friday, the WGA and the ATA each made minor concessions but remain far apart on those two key issues, leading to today’s lawsuit.

“‘The agencies’ packaging fees violate the fiduciary duty that agents owe to their writer clients and deprive them of the conflict-free representation to which they are entitled,’ the suit reads. ‘For these reasons, and because the payments made from the production companies to agencies as part of any package, constitute unlawful kickbacks from an employer to a ‘representative of any of his employees” … packaging is an unlawful or unfair business practice for the purposes of the California Unfair Competition Law.’

“The suit says packaging fees should be ‘declared unlawful’ and ‘unjoined’ and the plaintiffs should be awarded disgorgement of unlawful profits, and individual plaintiffs should be awarded restitution and damages. ‘Plaintiffs bring this lawsuit to end the agencies’ harmful and unlawful practice of packaging fees,’ it said.

“Here are more details from the WGA’s lawsuit:

“The suit makes the case that changing business models in industry have made packaging fees more onerous for writers. ‘Over time, conditions in the television and film industry changed dramatically in a manner that has had significant negative consequences for writers, while drastically increasing the profits of the agencies and their agents.’

“‘First, there has been overwhelming consolidation within the market for talent agents. Because of this consolidation, the four defendant agencies now represent the overwhelming majority of writers, actors, directors and other creative workers involved in the American television and film industries. By virtue of this consolidation, the agencies exert oligopoly control over access to almost all key talent in the television and film industry.

“‘Second, the agencies have moved away from the commission-based model of compensation…Instead, the agencies have shifted to a “package fee” model whereby the agencies negotiate and collect payments directly from the production companies that employ their writer-clients and that are tied to the revenues and profits of the “packaged” program, rather than receiving a percentage of their clients’ compensation. Approximately 90% of all television series are now subject to such packaging fee arrangements.’

“Packaging fees are generally based on a 3%-3%-10% formula.  According to the suit, it generally breaks down like this:

“‘In television, the packaging fee for a particular project normally consists of three components: an upfront fee of $30,000 to $75,000 per TV episode, an additional $30,000 to $75,000 per episode that is deferred until the show achieves net profits, and a defined percent of the TV series’ modified adjusted gross profits for the life of the show.’

“According to the suit, ‘Packaging fees generate hundreds of millions of dollars per year in revenue for the agencies – far more than they would earn from a traditional 10% commission from their clients. The agencies have used the income generated through packaging to raise private capital, and their business has become so lucrative that some agencies are now planning to become publicly held corporations.’

“The suit says that ‘The packaging fee model of agency compensation harms writers in multiple respects. Because the component of any packaging fee is part of a TV episode’s budget, payment of that amount diverts financial resources away from the agencies’ clients and the projects on which they are working and to the agencies themselves. Even where the agencies are paid a lower end upfront packaging fee of, for example, $25,000 per episode, that represents the cost of hiring approximately one additional high-level writer or two additional lower-level writers for the program.’

“‘Where a studio or network insists that the budget for a program be limited or reduced, showrunners cannot reduce the amount paid to the agencies as a packaging fee, and must instead cut resources from other portions of the program’s budget.’

“‘Likewise, because the third component of the packaging fee is based on defined gross profits, the payment of the packaging fee to an agency has the effect of reducing the profit participation of the agency’s own clients, including writers, as the writers’ share of the profit points is correspondingly reduced.’

“‘Worse, the agencies in many instances negotiate more favorable profit definitions for themselves than for their own writer clients.’

“The suit says that David Simon, one of the named plaintiffs, ‘has never received any profit distributions for Homicide: Life on the Streets because his agency, CAA, negotiated a profit definition for Simon that was based on the net rather than gross profits’ The suit says that to this day, CAA ‘continues to receive profits from that show because it secretly negotiated a far more favorable profit definition for itself, without Simon’s knowledge of consent.’

“It adds: ‘The agencies themselves recognize that their interests are no longer aligned with those of the writers they represent,’ the suit alleges. ‘The head of WME has stated publicly, for example, that his most important client is now a head executive at Warner Brothers.’

“According to the lawsuit, ‘Packaging fees also distort agents’ incentives when seeking employment opportunities for their clients. In order to avoid splitting a packing fee with other agencies, the agencies pressure their clients to work exclusively on projects where the other key talent is also represented by the client’s agency. The agencies exert this pressure even when the client and the agent know that the project will be best served by involving someone from another agency.’

“Many of the individual plaintiffs in the case ‘have found that their agency presents them with opportunities to work only on projects involving other talent from the same agency,’ the suit says. ‘Their ability to obtain work and compensation commensurate with their experience has been severely hampered by the agencies’ failure to present them with other work opportunities.’

“‘The agencies also choose not to sell packaged programs to the production companies willing to pay the most for the programs,’ the suit charges, ‘or that will be the best creative partner for the programs. Instead, the agencies choose to sell packaged programs to the companies willing to pay the largest packaging fee.’

“Packaging isn’t limited only to television shows, however. ‘While the practice of packaging has its historical roots in television, the agencies now also extract packaging fees on feature film projects, particularly on independent productions not financed or produced by a major studio,’ the suit states.

“‘On packaged feature projects, the agencies are paid a fee from a film’s budget or financing, in addition to taking a 10% commission from their clients. Agencies also use their leverage to steer film projects to their own clients or affiliated companies to function as financiers or distributors of the finished film.’

“‘While the economics of the film packaging differs in some respects from packaging agreements in television, the conflict of interest is the same. The agencies leverage their access to high profile clients for their own benefit, and negotiate compensation for themselves, undisclosed to their clients and unrelated to what their clients earn.’

“‘Feature film packaging has a direct detrimental effect on writers,’ the suit says. ‘Because packaging fees are based in part on gross profit, the payment of the film’s packaging fee may, depending on the profit definition, have the effect of reducing the profit participation of the agency’s own clients, including writers. And because a portion of the packaging fee comes out of a film’s budget, payment of the fee diverts financial resources away from the agencies’ clients and the projects on which they are working and to the agencies themselves.’”

#greedyscumbagagents