Friday April 19, 2019

Ramy is now streaming on Hulu, all 10 episodes actually. More below.

Season 5 of Bosch is now available to stream on Amazon Prime.

Fox has renewed Last Man Standing for an 8th season.

The most binge-watched shows, by state.

Who will sit on the Iron Throne?

HBO is firing back at President Donald Trump after he sent another Game of Thrones-inspired tweet in response to the release of a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russia investigation. ‘Though we can understand the enthusiasm for Game of Thrones now that the final season has arrived, we still prefer our intellectual property not be used for political purposes,’ an HBO spokesman said in a statement. Trump tweeted a Game of Thrones-influenced image on Thursday morning using the show’s signature font (Trajan Pro, to be exact) that included the tagline, ‘No collusion. No obstruction. For the haters and the radical left Democrats — Game Over.’ This came as attorney general William Barr delivered a press conference stressing that Mueller did not find evidence of illegal collusion.” SMH.

Netflix is expanding its presence in New York City. Netflix’s development plans include a Brooklyn-based production hub at 333 Johnson Avenue that is expected to house thousands of production jobs within five years. The company has already leased approximately 161,000 square feet to build the six sound stages and support spaces for the production outfit. Additionally, the production hub will include an expanded office in Manhattan that will create 127 executive content, marketing and production development jobs by 2024, in addition to the company’s current 32 New York-based employees. The streaming platform’s new corporate offices will take up roughly 100,000 square feet at 888 Broadway in Manhattan’s Flatiron District. Netflix’s investment in the Big Apple could reportedly bring up to $100 million in investments to the city.”

“Google and Amazon haven't historically been the best of friends, at least when it comes to their respective streaming video services. Amazon's Prime Video app hasn't worked with Google's Chromecast or Android TV devices, while YouTube was pulled from Amazon's Fire TV in late 2017. Well, there's good news for fans of both ecosystems: the Google / Amazon Cold War is thawing. YouTube will be available on Amazon's Fire TV devices in the coming months, and Amazon Prime video will work with Chromecast and Android TV devices as well. A Google spokesperson told Engadget that the main YouTube app is coming first, but YouTube TV and YouTube Kids will follow afterwards. However, it's worth noting that this only applies to Fire TV devices -- there are still no plans for an official YouTube app on the Echo Show. And there's no YouTube app planned for Amazon's Fire tablets, as well, but those devices can already access YouTube through their browser.”

“With the future of Santa Clarita Diet very much up in the air following the release of the Netflix comedy’s third season last month, leading man Timothy Olyphant acknowledges that the streamer has been in herd-thinning mode of late, telling TVLine, ‘Every time I turn around they’re cancelling a show over there.’ For those keeping track at home, Netflix has cancelled five series so far this year, including One Day at a Time, Friends From College, The Punisher, Jessica Jones and Travelers. That number swells to 20 if you factor in the previous 12-month period. (To be fair, Netflix’s output far exceeds that of other streamers and networks, so percentage-wise, its cancellation rate is not extraordinary.) A Netflix rep maintains that no decision has been made about a potential Season 4 of Santa Clarita Diet. But if Season 3 does turn out to be the zombie satire’s swan song, Olyphant says he will walk away with his head held high. ‘I’ve loved that job,’ he enthuses. ‘And if we don’t do anymore, I would consider myself lucky to have done the [three seasons that] we did. I’m really proud of the work on that show. And I think the world of [series creator] Victor Fresco.’”

Natalie Morales is bowing out of NBC’s Access Hollywood and Access Live after three years as co-host of the daily entertainment news programs.”

How Kristin Cavallari will balance family and work for Paradise Hotel.

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Per Deadline, “Craig Ferguson’s Green Mountain West has announced that they are partnering with Comedy Dynamics to release the six-episode limited series Hobo Fabulous on the Comedy Dynamics Network which will be available via the Comedy Dynamics channel, iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Comcast, Spectrum, Dish and other platforms.

Hobo Fabulous is dubbed ‘a new kind of stand up special.’ The former host of The Late Late Show delivers six half hours which will be a hybrid of a stand up special and rock tour documentary. The special was film during his recent 50 date tour of the USA and Canada.

“‘I am not a fan of the bands Rush and Journey but loved the recent documentaries about them,’ said Ferguson. ‘I realized by using a similar format I could make a show not just for my fans but something that people who hate my guts could also enjoy.’

“‘Craig has proven time and time again that he is one of the most brilliant and beloved minds in comedy and after successful partnerships for I’m Here To Help and Join Or Die, we’re excited to be working with him on his latest hysterical endeavor,’ said Brian Volk-Weiss, CEO of Comedy Dynamics.

“The series is directed by Joe Bolter (former front-end of the comedy horse Secretariat on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson) and produced by Tomas Zakopal (who played the rear end).

“Ferguson hosted The Late Late Show for 10 years and earned a Primetime Emmy nomination and the 2009 Peabody Award for Excellence in Broadcasting for his interview with Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Ferguson was also the host of the Emmy-nominated Celebrity Name Game. Ferguson has also been nominated for numerous Grammys for his original standup recordings. Ferguson can be seen alongside Kathie Lee Gifford in the forthcoming Love Me To Death which finished filming last year in his native Scotland.”

I fancy myself as a huge fan of stand up comedy and the entire world around which it revolves, and this isn’t something I would look for on a rainy day.

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Per CNN, “[t]he quest for identity as a Muslim living in New Jersey only scratches the surface of Ramy, a Hulu series that deftly combines comedy with drama, and which gradually peels back layers in ways as impressive as they are relatable. Far from a ‘Muslims are just like us’ sitcom, comic Ramy Youssef's deeply personal show explores familiar themes in a fresh and at times poignant manner.

“At first blush, Ramy resembles the latest addition to a hard-to-categorize brand of half-hour premium series like Aziz Ansari's Master of None or Donald Glover's Atlanta, which explore the vagaries of young adulthood through a unique prism. There are also elements ofThe Big Sick, the 2017 movie starring Kumail Nanjiani, in the issues that surround growing up Muslim in the US, caught between the prevailing culture and immigrant parents rooted in tradition.

“Unlike that movie, however, Ramy -- a first-generation Egyptian-American -- is religious, if occasionally torn by the temptations and pressures associated with life in the US.

"‘I'm not going to flirt with girls at the mosque,’ he tells his parents, who are desperate to see him marry a nice Muslim girl. Later, a woman he's dating expresses surprise when he suggests, almost sheepishly, that he adheres to his faith.

"‘You're Muslim I thought in the way I'm Jewish,’ she says.

“The basic template would be timely enough, given the Islamophobia that remains very much alive in the current political climate. But Ramy capitalizes on its 10-episode format to go well beyond the struggles of its title character, with chapters that delve into other members of his family, and the fourth installment chronicling the impact of Sept. 11 on a young, school-age Ramy, whose friends suddenly ask, ‘Are you a terrorist?’

“Although Youssef has explored such material as a stand-up comic, most of the laughs come via the supporting characters, including his uncle (Laith Nakli), an unabashed anti-Semite who blames pretty much everything on the Jews; Ramy's married friends; and the characters that Ramy encounters on a trip to visit Egypt, where one relative bases her understanding of American politics on actress Susan Sarandon.

"Ramy thus takes the oldest of premises -- how to resolve commitment to one's culture and religion with the assimilating nature of the US -- and infuses it with situations that give the series life and depth. That's especially true of the episodes about Ramy's mother (Hiam Abbass, simply terrific) and sister (May Calamawy), characters that wouldn't have been nearly as three-dimensional in a standard romantic comedy.

“This might be just the latest variation on a familiar story -- about a guy who is, in essence, lost in America. But with its intimate and occasionally quite funny take on the Muslim experience, Youssef (who wrote a number of the episodes) has delivered a carefully polished little gem that should put him, and "Ramy," squarely on the map.”

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From The Hollywood Reporter: “HBO is producing a documentary series on NXIVM, the purported self-help organization that is facing charges of sex trafficking and racketeering.

“One of its prominent members, former Smallville actress Allison Mack, pleaded guilty on April 8 to charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit forced labor. The group's leader, Keith Raniere, is scheduled to go to trial on the charges.

“Nancy Salzman, a co-founder of the organization, has also pleaded guilty to federal charges.

“Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated directors Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer (Control Room, The Square, The Great Hack) are behind the HBO Documentary Films series. It will follow a range of people who joined NXIVM (pronounced ‘NEX-ee-um’) and, per HBO, ‘take a deep, nuanced look at experiences of its members, spotlighting their universal desire for personal growth.’

“It will also examine the ‘emotional toll’ of the legal case and alleged practices of NXIVM — including women who were allegedly branded with Raniere's initials and forced to have sex with him — on people involved with the group.

“Annapurna Television also optioned rights to a 2017 New York Times exposé on NXIVM to develop as a scripted series.

“Noujaim has a personal connection to the organization, having taken an introductory ‘Executive Success Program’ workshop from the group in 2010. That experience, HBO says, gives her ‘an illuminating perspective to the media spectacle surrounding this polarized community as it faces federal investigation.’

“HBO is no stranger to controversial subject matter in its documentaries. The premium cable outlet recently aired Leaving Neverland, documenting child sexual abuse allegations against Michael Jackson by two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck. The two-part film drew the third-largest audience for an HBO documentary in the last decade; one of the two ahead of it was Alex Gibney's Scientology doc Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.

“HBO hasn't set an airdate for the series.”

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Per Deadline, “The Association of Talent Agents said today that it is ‘evaluating all legal options’ to address the WGA’s claim that it has the legal right to deputize writers’ lawyers and personal managers to fill in for the agents they fired this week who refuse to sign the guild’s new Agency Code of Conduct. The ATA has long said that state law specifically provides that only licensed agents – not lawyers and managers – can procure employment for writers.

“On Tuesday, the day before the WGA sued the Big Four agencies over packaging fees, WGA West president David A. Goodman told his members that it will continue to encourage its members to allow their managers and lawyers procure employment from them and that the guild will pick up the tab if any legal disputes arise.

“ATA executive director Karen Stuart called the WGA’s position “shocking and disturbing.” [LMAO!!]

“‘The laws in question were enacted decades ago and have served throughout history as an important protection for artists, requiring that those who represent them meet minimum requirements and subject themselves to state regulation,’ she told her member agencies today. ‘That the WGA’s leadership would now try to deny this protection to its own members, and literally pay third parties to violate a law that has protected writers for 80 years, should be of grave concern to all who believe unions should act in the interests of their members.’

“‘We are evaluating all legal options to address this unlawful conduct. We request that, to the extent you are aware of managers and attorneys who are embracing the WGA’s request to procure and negotiate employment in violation of the law, you track this information and the names of those who are participating in unfair competition, and provide that information to ATA’s attorneys.’

“Saying that the ATA is ‘is confident in our position,’ Stuart also said: ‘The law is crystal clear. As the ATA’s attorney Marvin Putnam of Latham & Watkins explained to the WGA in a letter last week, there are multiple decisions from the California Labor Commissioner holding that no one other than a licensed talent agent—not a manager, not an attorney—can procure employment on behalf of an artist.’

“‘It is important to note that “procure” in this situation includes all negotiations on behalf of an artist. The Labor Commissioner defines procurement to encompass “any active participation in a communication with a potential purchaser of the artist’s services aimed at obtaining employment for the artist, regardless of who initiated the communication.”’

“This, she said, ‘is the case even if the talent initially contacts the employer personally and negotiates a portion of the deal herself.’

“Stuart said that the ATA has heard that ‘some employers may be attempting to circumvent this issue by adopting contractual language stating that the managers and attorneys are not offering “procurement” services. They should be aware that there is legal authority holding that a manager or lawyer can be subject to remedies for illegal procurement even if a contract explicitly states that the manager or lawyer will not “procure.” For example, in Doughty v. Hess, the California Labor Commissioner determined that an attorney, who served as a talent manager, had engaged in unlawful procurement when he negotiated compensation on behalf of his client and discussed potential projects with production companies. The Commissioner reached this conclusion even though the attorney and artist had a contract specifically stating that the attorney would not ‘procure’ employment.

“‘Moreover, the idea being advanced by the WGA that managers, lawyers, or anyone else would be subject to “antitrust” liability for making individual decisions to comply with the law is patently false. Antitrust law, in general, prevents illegal combinations and concerted activity in restraint of trade. It does not—and cannot—prevent managers and employees taking individual actions to comply with legal mandates.

“‘The WGA leadership’s letter is just their latest tactic to flout established law and take for themselves uncharted power at the expense of not just agents, but of their members, and other stakeholders throughout the industry. As many of you will recall, last month AMPTP Carol Lombardini sent a letter to the WGA leadership declining their request to take actions that would have violated federal antitrust and labor laws.’

“Here is the WGA’s response to Stuart letter: ‘The Supreme Court has noted that the purpose of the Talent Agency Act is to protect artists from the abuses of talent agencies, including the “concealing [of] conflicts of interest.” Marathon Entertainment, Inc. v. Blasi, 42 Cal.4th 974, 984 (2008). It is ironic that the ATA is now using the Act to deprive writers of fair representation while agents demand to continue such conflicts of interest.’”

If I had a chance to put every last one of these agents in front of a firing squad, I would. They are the lowest of the low and somehow, some way have crept below lawyers on the totem pole of despicability. You should be very proud as that’s no small feat. In the interim, keep scrounging for a foundation to your argument that goes beyond defining procurement. And through all of this, where is anyone who has stepped up to defend packaging as something that’s good for the industry? Plenty of voices being heard about how it’s damaging to all but for the agencies, but no one to step forward and tell us how great packaging is? You’ve gotten away with it for quite some time, but now it’s time for your comeuppance.

I also love this excerpt from a letter the WGA sent to its members yesterday:

“First: thank you. As writers it has been a stressful week for many of us. The agencies have reacted to the terminations by alleging the result will be chaos. That’s their biggest weapon: to spread undue fear and try to intimidate as many people around town as possible. We hope you saw our response to the threats made to attorneys and managers, as well as the lawsuit the Guild filed yesterday.

“Here’s where we’re at on official notification to the agencies: over 92% of the members who signed the Statement of Support have already fulfilled their pledge and signed letters terminating their unfranchised agencies. So have several thousand other writers.

While we’d planned to deliver the letters tomorrow, the agencies are closed either all or part of the day due to the holiday. So instead the Guild will deliver the termination letters to the agencies en masse on Monday.”

Working hard over there, as per usual!