Friday April 5, 2019

Killing Eve returns for its 2nd season on Sunday.

Here is a little more of what to expect from the show’s sophomore season.

And here is a review of season 2, in case you want someone else’s take before you dive in.

You’re now able to stream all 9 episodes of part 2 of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Netflix.

If you’re in the mood for something more serious, you can check out new Netflix docuseries Our Planet, which is also now available for your viewing pleasure.

And for some lighter fare, there’s always season 2 of The Tick on Amazon Prime, also now available to stream.

YouTube has released a trailer for season 2 of Cobra Kai. “Cobra Kai may have won the battle, but the war has just begun. Watch Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso pick up where they left off in Season 1, and train a new generation in the way of karate. But will their past get in the way of what truly matters? Catch a new season of Cobra Kai coming April 24.”

I finally watched the first episode of The Act on Hulu. I thought it was great and look forward to what’s ahead. Also, Patricia Arquette deserves more praise than she gets. She’s a fantastic actress. If you need proof, watch The Act and Escape At Dannemora, just for starters and tell me I’m wrong. More below on this one.

Here’s a trailer for new Netflix series The Society, which will be available to stream on May 10.

What lies ahead for season 2 of You?

THIS is the best photo the New York Post could find of Howard Stern?

Adam Sandler will host SNL for the first time next month. Sandler joined SNL as a writer in 1990, and was a member of the cast from 1991-95. He has only returned to studio 8H one time, for the show’s 40th anniversary in 2014.

Hallmark will air 40 new Christmas movies this year.

How Netflix’s You vs. Wild is different from Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.

Netflix has lassoed a leading man for its upcoming Cowboy Bebop series: John Cho (The Exorcist) will star in the streamer’s live-action version of the ’90s Japanese anime phenomenon. As previously reported, the future-set Cowboy Bebop— which snagged a 10-episode order in November — will follow a ragtag crew of bounty hunters on the run from their pasts as they hunt down the solar system’s most dangerous criminals. They’ll even save the world… for the right price. Cho will star as Spike Spiegel, described as an impossibly cool “cowboy” (aka bounty hunter) with a deadly smile, wry wit and style to spare. He travels the solar system with his ex-cop partner, Jet Black, pursuing the future’s most dangerous bounties with a combination of charm, charisma — and deadly Jeet Kune Do.”

Jussie Smollett is about to get sued by the City of Chicago and, in the process, he could effectively go on trial for allegedly faking the ‘attack.’ As we reported, the City of Chicago fired off a letter to Jussie's people, demanding $130,000 for the cost of investigating the case. Jussie's people told the City to go pound sand.  The City had to wait 7 days before filing a civil lawsuit against the actor. Well the 7 days has now passed, and the City has made its intentions clear -- they are going forward with the lawsuit. A spokesman for the City says, ‘Mr. Smollett has refused to reimburse the City of Chicago for the cost of police overtime spent investigating his false police report on January 29, 2019. The Law Department is now drafting a civil complaint that will be filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Once it is filed, the Law Department will send a courtesy copy of the complaint to Mr. Smollett's L.A. based legal team.’"

Olivia Jade believes parents ‘ruined everything’ for her, and rightfully so.

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Per Deadline, “Netflix has given a 10-episode series order to Q-Force, a gay spy half-hour adult animated comedy from Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner’s Hazy Mills, Mike Schur’s Fremulon, Gabe Liedman (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, PEN15) and Universal TV.

“This marks the first animated show and first streaming series for Hazy Mills.

“Written by Liedman, Q-Force is about a handsome secret agent (I role I hear is being earmarked for Will & Grace star Hayes) and his team of fellow LGBTQ superspies. Constantly underestimated by their colleagues, the members of Q-Force have to prove themselves time and again as they embark on extraordinary professional (and personal) adventures.

“Liedman executive produces and will showrun. Schur, Hazy Mills’ Hayes and Milliner and 3 Arts’ David Miner also executive produce. Universal TV co-produces with Hazy Mills, Schur’s Fremulon and 3 Arts Entertainment.

“Hayes and Milliner had been mulling the idea for a series about a gay spy for a long time.

“‘A spy TV series is so tough, because they’re so expensive,’ Milliner said. ‘We were thinking how do we get to do gay spy and every week, and the only way to do that is animated, because we can do all of the fun parts of a James Bond film. We can travel, we can have big chase sequences; animation is allowing us that freedom.’

“Said Hayes, ‘Also, I don’t know that the studios would greenlight a feature with a leading character that’s gay in that genre. Hopefully they will, but that doesn’t seem like right now.’

“Added Milliner, ‘It does seem like it’s one of the last bastions of masculinity that seems like we can’t break the rule of who gets to play that part.’

“As for teaming up with top comedy writer-producer Schur, that happened fast and stemmed from the fact that both Hazy Mills and Schur are under deals at Universal TV and are based on the Universal lot.

“‘I’ve been friends with Mike for a long, long, long time, and I was literally driving my car to work, and he was walking,’ Hayes said. “‘ pulled over and I rolled down my window and I said. “Hey Mike, would you want to work on something together?” He’s like, “What is it?’”And I said “Gay James Bond”, and he said, “Yeah, I would do that”. So that’s how it all kind of started.’”

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Per Vulture, “Dee Dee Wanted Her Daughter to Be Sick, Gypsy Wanted Her Mom Murdered.” Spelled out in the headline for journalist Michelle Dean’s blockbuster BuzzFeed News article, the case of Dee Dee and Gypsy Blanchard sounds deceptively simple: a mother with Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a daughter driven to kill in order to escape the abuse, and a world fooled by the pair’s deception until it was too late. But as millions of readers learned, the minds of these two women, and the story of their lives and Dee Dee’s death, were far more complicated.

“The same can be said about The Act, Hulu’s haunting new show about the Blanchard case based on Dean’s article and featuring without-a-net performances by Patricia Arquette and Joey King as Dee Dee and Gypsy. (Its fourth episode, which was written by Dean, airs this Wednesday.) In an arrangement Dean describes with a laugh as ‘unusual,’ she helped adapt her own article to the screen, tapping Nick Antosca, creator of the terrifying horror-anthology series Channel Zero, to be her co-creator and co-showrunner.

“It’s a killer combination. Antosca brings an eye for surreal horror, attention to the psychology of characters in complicated relationships, and experience behind the scenes. Dean contributes rigorously reported and extensively researched knowledge of the case, including interviews with several of the key players, as well as a strong sense of the strengths and weaknesses of the true-crime genre from her previous career as a critic. Add a predominantly female cast, writers room, and roster of directors and the show stands out among its peers even before you actually, you know, watch it.

“But it’s the end result that really sinks its sugar-rotted teeth into you. Dreamlike pacing, disturbing imagery, and powerful acting add up to one of the strongest true-crime series since ACS: Versace this time last year. At the heart of it all: a mentally ill woman and her abused child, trapped in a candy-coated world where the lines between mother and daughter, deceiver and deceived, and perpetrator and victim are blurred beyond recognition.

“We spoke to Dean over the phone from Los Angeles and Antosca over coffee in New York about the unique thinking and process behind their ‘hybrid’ collaboration:

Michelle, this is your first television project, and it’s in the very crowded field of true crime.

Michelle Dean: In the run-up, I didn’t expect the article to be optioned. I didn’t have a TV agent or a film agent. I was just sort of operating as Cultural Critic Number 17. [Laughs.] When this went super-viral, I started to get the Hollywood calls. It became very clear, very quickly, from a number of different producers, that they saw so much potential in the story that someone would do it with or without me. It felt like there was something to be added in having somebody who was super-familiar with the events as a creative force in the show.

I’ve thought a lot about the true-crime trend, about what I like about it and what I don’t, and I wanted to do something that wasn’t just about the wigs. That’s the shorthand I use. Like, there’s a lot of adaptations of true stories where they spend a lot of money on the wigs, and they thought about the wigs from every angle: “Did the wig look like the real person?” We never really thought about that — beyond, of course, asking Joey to shave her head for us, which she did with alacrity.

In adaptations, I’ve often felt that they weren’t digging as deeply into the psychology of the character as they could, in part because they were limited in the specifics that they knew. I wanted this to be something that was more psychologically complex, which is why I chose Nick as my partner. He also traffics in that kind of work, and obviously he’s an experienced showrunner. That pairing led us to what I think is an idiosyncratic true-crime show.

Nick, your most recent project, Channel Zero, was a horror show. So is Chucky, the Child’s Play series you’re working on with creator Don Mancini. How much of that did you carry over into doing a show based on a true story?

Nick Antosca: My instincts are to make things that feel like dreams and nightmares, whether consciously or not. I find myself trying to capture an atmosphere that feels at home in the horror genre. I don’t think of The Act as something radically different from Channel Zero.

When the Blanchards’ pink house on that cul de sac first appeared, I thought back to some of the key images in Channel Zero and thought, Yep, same energy.

Antosca: Yeah, that pink house is the key image of the show. When I read Michelle’s original BuzzFeed story, which is how I learned about the case — I read it when it came out, along with 6 million other people — there’s a picture of that house, and that’s what you take away from it. What was it like to live in that pastel nightmare, in a cage of lies, for all these years?

In both cases, I’m interested in the characters. I’m curious about the characters. And I think we all approached The Act as a hybrid. It’s a coming-of-age story. It’s a thriller. It’s a character study. And at the same time, it’s a psychological horror story.

Michelle mentioned that’s the kind of thing that made her choose you as a partner, and which she hoped her knowledge of the case would help with as well.  

Antosca: I mean, she interviewed Gypsy. She interviewed her family. She interviewed doctors. She interviewed everybody she could talk to. She did a year of research. She has a thousand pages of medical records, court transcripts, all that stuff. She’s an expert on the case, and that was incredibly useful in collaborating. She and I came up with the structure of the season and co-wrote the first episode, and we had the writers room together. Then it was a normal TV writers-room process — you know, break it in the room — but we were always able to rely on her specific expertise in the case.

That level of involvement does set it apart, even from other true-crime adaptations on which the original reporter serves in a role like executive producer.

Dean: That was deliberate. I sold the show to producers who really did want me involved. It’s a long story and it’s boring Hollywood machinery, but the idea was always that it would be an anthology series, and it would have something to do with crimes that had a particularly strong element of deception and performance, hence giving the title The Act some weight.

The double meaning took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out, by the way.

Dean: People are divided. Some people find it very clever, and other people are like, “Now when we look you up on the internet, we get the ACT.” [Laughs.] But yeah, I’m incredibly lucky to have been allowed to participate. It had to do with having partners who cared about having my participation happen at a high level. It’s unusual. Without trying to sound too self-serving, I think it’s something Hollywood should experiment with more. It’s worked so well in the comedy space to bring in people who aren’t necessarily career TV writers — people who’ve done other things, and then ended up being, I dunno, Lena Dunham or Issa Rae.

One of the idiosyncrasies of our show is the fact that it came from a collaboration between — now I’m going to sound like Janet Malcolm — the journalist and the showrunner. [Laughs.] That we were conceiving of it creatively together was an actual strength. Both Nick and I were never really that interested in making just a straight murder show. There is a version of the show that would be really focused on what happened one night, and how the cops caught them, or something. That was never of much interest to us. I’m curious about how we got there, and I’m curious about where we go. And the show reflects that curiosity.

In addition to doing the reporting on which the show is based, you’re also familiar with television from the other side, as a writer and critic. How much of that did you carry over into the show?

Dean: Writing about TV was the only way in which I thought I was ever going to get into TV at first. I really do care about the medium. I think it holds a lot of interesting storytelling possibilities, because — although they’re now sometimes denigrated — I was such a lover of the early male anti-hero shows. I love The Sopranos and Deadwood. That HBO renaissance stuff is some of my favorite art ever produced. I was curious about the ability of TV to portray a really complex story, which obviously we had here.

It’s true that sometimes I’m looking at it from a critical angle and not a storytelling angle, and I had some stuff to learn about how stories are built. I certainly had a lot to learn about how the mechanics of how TV is built, which is fascinating — and makes me regret that I wrote about TV before. [Laughs.] I didn’t really have a concept of how a TV show is put together, and Nick led me through that. We ended up with this big machine of a show that had all of these ingredients and collaborators. We had a lot of young filmmakers contributing to the voice of the show. The majority of our episodes are directed by women. Our writers room is majority women. Those things helped build the show out into what it is.

That’s another thing that sets The Act apart, maybe more than anything else: It’s a show almost exclusively about women, written mostly by women, directed mostly by women, with a woman co-creator and co-showrunner, who’s also the woman who wrote the article it’s based on.

Dean: It has a slightly different feel. “Intimate” is the word I often hear, like, around our world of executives. [Laughs.] It was a very conscious choice, in part because of the nature of the story.

Antosca: We took it from real life. It’s two women, in a house, for many years — that’s the core of the story. And their neighbors were mostly women — the Chloë Sevigny and AnnaSophia Robb characters are composites of neighbors who lived throughout the community. It was important to have a mother-daughter counterpart to the Dee Dee and Gypsy story.

Dean: The nature of the story is about mothers and daughters, and there’s a specificity to that experience — especially this idea that mothers dress their daughters up as kind of their dolls, which a lot more people than Gypsy would report that as being their experience, right? And also, some things about the tropes of good mothers that trapped Dee Dee.

Antosca: When I read Michelle’s article, I didn’t take away from it, “Oh, this is a lurid true-crime story.” I took away, “This is a powerful story about a young woman discovering who she really is and doing whatever she can, using the only tools she has, to escape the prison of lies she’s been trapped in.” Imagine how unstable your identity would be, how your sense of self would be destroyed and malleable, if you were raised like that and shaped like that — a case of long-term medical child abuse and radical gaslighting.

Gypsy is such a complicated character. She’s deceiving the world along with her mom, but she’s deceiving herself too. Ultimately, she’s using the skills of deception that her mom taught her, which are the only thing she knows at that point, against her mom. She had access to countless drugs, so she could have poisoned her mom. Or she could have stabbed her herself. But she couldn’t do it, because she loved her mom. So she had to use the skills that her mom gave her to reach into the outside world and bring somebody else in to kill her.

Dean: When I interviewed her she would always say, “My mom was my best friend.” Which is really sad. The protective impulse that is still in her, and the ways in which it trapped her, is something I think about a lot.

Antosca: We all felt in the writers room that Gypsy is a victim as well as a killer. I mean, there’s no question. The degree to which she was justified in killing her mother is a question that the audience can ask themselves. I personally have a great deal of sympathy. Yet we also felt that Dee Dee didlove her daughter. She just had an extreme pathology, and her love came out in a way that was poisonous.

Dee Dee is not portrayed unsympathetically. Her fear itself is real, even if the things she’s afraid of aren’t.

Dean: Patricia has been saying in interviews, it’s not so much that you are sympathetic [to Dee Dee], so much as you sit with her humanity. My proudest moments in the show are where I can see that so clearly — the understanding that Dee Dee was a person. To a certain extent, that’s also the trap that the abused child is in. They see their parent as a person, a whole person, and that makes them so much harder to leave even when things are getting really bad.

This goes back to your earlier question, but I made people in the writers room read a bunch of books about mothers. Like, we read Rachel Cusk and and Vivian Gornick and Adrienne Rich. [Laughs.] I know, right? I am proud of this fact. And Nick loves those books. There was a deep immersion in the idea that this was a specifically female experience, and that there was something worth surfacing there.”

From Refinery29: “How much does Maja Norberg (Hanna Ardéhn) know? The Swedish show Quicksand, out on Netflix April 5 with no U.S. promotion to alert viewers of its presence, will spend the entire season finding out.

“For the past nine months, 18-year-old Maja has sat in jail and gone over the events of the day that changed her life forever. The best-selling book Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito opens with a scene from that devastating day: Maja lies on the floor of a bloody classroom, the only uninjured student in a shooting that took the lives of her boyfriend and best friend. In the aftermath, Maja is charged with murder, thrusting her into a place of national scrutiny. Is Maja an innocent scapegoat, or is she a cold-blooded murderer? That's the question that propels Quicksand forward.

“‘I want to tell this story from the main character Maja’s perspective; her story raises questions about guilt, responsibility, punishment, and redemption,’ Camilla Ahlgren, the show's writer, said in a statement. Like the book, which is told in a close first-person, Quicksand will be filtered through Maja's often unreliable point of view.

“At first glance, Quicksand resembles the recent spate of foreign teen TV shows on Netflix. As with Baby and EliteQuicksand is set among the attractive students of an expensive private school. Economic disparity is woven into the characters' relationships — Maja is not as wealthy as her boyfriend, the son of the richest man in Sweden. These European shows also quickly dip into controversial subject matters: Baby depicted child prostitution; Elite featured teens with sex lives wilder than Skins.

“Yet in terms of depicting violence against young people, Quicksand stands alone among these racy shows. The book Quicksand was a best-seller in Europe and received acclaim for its exploration of social issues facing Sweden. But will the highly sensitive subject matter transfer to an American audience?

“While school shootings seem nearly omnipresent in the news, they're depicted with far less frequency in pop culture — and perhaps with good reason. Take the case of Paramount's messyHeathers reboot, which was set to premiere in 2018, as a prime example of how fraught depictions of school violence in pop culture are.

Heathers' subject matter of students killing other students kept colliding with current events in a way that felt too dark to be classified as entertainment. So, following the Parkland School shooting, the March 2018 Heathers premiere was postponed to July. And in July, the show was postponed to October following the school shooting in Santa Fe, TX. And in October, the show was pulled entirely following the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. Ultimately, the whole season was made available — but the more sensitive Heathers episodes, like two featuring students going through an active shooter drill, were only streaming.

“Netflix currently streams shows that depict school shootings. The first season of Netflix's The OA drew controversy for depicting a school shooting sequence in its finale. The shooter was thwarted via a supernatural deus ex machina. A group of students and a teacher perform a series of movements taught to them by an angel (really), and are able to distract the gunman. The first season of American Horror Story is also streaming on Netflix, which features a school shooter as a main character.

“We have yet to see how Quicksand handles its mass shooting. However, the existence of the show points to a reality: For better or for worse, gun violence in schools is seeping into works of pop culture. Our news is now our entertainment, too.”

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CBS Sports and Big3, the professional 3-on-3 basketball league founded by Ice Cube and Jeff Kwatinetz, have agreed to an exclusive deal for live broadcasts of Big3’s 2019 season.

“Games will be shown on CBS and CBS Sports Network, with more than 20 hours throughout the season on the former and more than 25 hours on the latter.

“The 2019 season, the league’s third, is set to open on CBS in primetime on Saturday, June 22. During the 11-week season, games will air live on CBS Television Network and CBS Sports Network on both Saturday and Sunday, with the championship game on September 1.

“CBS Sports Network will also air the Big3 Draft live on May 1, when 120 professional players will vie for only 31 open roster spots on 12 teams, expanded from eight the first two seasons.

“In 2018, according to today’s announcement, average arena attendance for the emerging league exceeded 14,000, up from 11,000 in its debut year. Big3 this year will play in 18 cities, up from 10 each of the two previous years. Three games will be played at each location, two days per weekend (for a total of six games).

“‘Since day 1, Big3 has always been about hard-nosed, fierce competition. Now we’re ramping it up with more teams, younger players, and a shiny new TV deal with CBS Sports,’ said Ice Cube. ‘Our first two years were about showing that our vision was credible. This year is about taking the game to a whole new level. This is a big deal.’

“‘The enthusiasm of the Big3 from sports pioneer Sean McManus and his team of, David Berson, Dan Weinberg, and Greg Trager was infectious,’ said Big3 Co-Founder Jeffrey Kwatinetz. ‘The future is bright for the Big3, and it’s an incredible advantage to build on the success of the Big3 by partnering with the number one network and drawing off the experience of the team that broadcasts some of the biggest and most prestigious championship games in sports.’

“‘We’re excited to partner with such an exciting and fast-growing league that showcases some of the most recognizable basketball players in the world,’ said Dan Weinberg, EVP of Programming, CBS Sports. ‘Adding multiple hours of Big3 coverage during the summer to both CBS and CBS Sports Network – including direct lead-ins – establishes more synergy and continuity between the broadcast and cable network, while delivering these action-packed games to a national audience throughout the entire season.’

“During the offseason, Big3 added some noteworthy players to the league, including Jason Terry, Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Kendrick Perkins, Shannon Brown, Gilbert Arenas, Al Jefferson and Lamar Odom. Returning standouts include Amar’e, Nate Robinson, Stephen Jackson, Carlos Boozer, Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis and Metta World Peace.

“Coaches include household names such as Julius Erving, Gary Payton, Nancy Lieberman, Rick Barry, Lisa Leslie, and George Gervin.

“In addition to Ice Cube and Kwatinetz, the league will continue to be guided by Chairman Amy Trask and Commissioner Clyde Drexler.”