Thursday May 2, 2019

A season 2 trailer for Succession! My favorite show of 2018 returns in August.

Hulu released a trailer for the new season of The Handmaid’s Tale. The new season premieres on June 5.

Can Tyrion and Sansa still emerge as the true power couple on Game of Thrones?

Please stop with the #AryaChallenge already.

How will The Golden Company factor into the remaining GoT episodes?

“It may be easy to write-off Anthony Jeselnik’s stand-up material as sexist (or racist, or any other -ist, really), but the star of Netflix’s Fire in the Maternity Ward comedy special is actually more female-friendly than audiences might assume. Jeselnik almost exclusively hires female comedians to open for him on tour. TheWrap asked the offensive joke-teller behind The Jeselnik Offensive why that is, exactly. ‘I want the opposite of me before I go on stage ‘ the comic explained. ‘It’s a total show and I want [the audience] to kind of be set up.’” I haven’t watched his new special yet, but from everything I’m hearing, it’s brilliant.

Here’s a review if you don’t want to just take my word for it.

What they’re doing over at Paramount Network these days.

I failed to mention it, but Howard Stern’s description of Jerry Seinfeld’s 65th birthday party sure sounded like a phenomenal affair.

Behind the scenes photos from the series finale taping of The Big Bang Theory.

Marie Osmond is replacing Sara Gilbert on The Talk for those who care.

Kanye West and Jaden Smith are teaming up for a Showtime series. Smith it attached to the star in the series, titled Omniverse, while West will executive produce. Showtime has ordered a script for the series. Omniverse is a limited half-hour anthology series examining the many doors of perception. Season 1 will explore the Ego through an alternate reality Kanye West, whose younger self will be played by Smith. Scooter Braun is also set to executive produce, along with James Shin and Scott Manson on behalf of SB Projects, Braun’s media company. Miguel Melendez and Smith will executive produce on behalf of Westbrook Studios.” Literally every single thing about that sounds horrific.

Actor Ricky Schroder has been arrested on domestic violence charges and is currently in custody on $50,000 bail, TheWrap has confirmed. The Silver Spoons star was taken into custody early Wednesday after police received a call of domestic violence at 12:43 a.m. PST, according to Deputy Marvin Crowder of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Deputies went the actor’s home and spoke to Schroeder — who they identified as the suspect — and the alleged victim. Schroder was booked at Malibu Loft Hill’s Sheriff’s station, Dept. Crowder confirmed. He has not yet posted bail. The deputy also confirmed that the female adult at the scene refused medical treatment, and that police had responded to a previous altercation between the two at the same residence in the early morning hours of April 2. The alleged victim’s name has not been released.”

I continue to applaud the WGA.

A review of new Netflix animated series Tuca & Bertie with Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong, which will be available to stream tomorrow.

Did Drake curse Arya Stark?

PBS will explore the cultural and technological impacts that occurred in 1969 as part of its special summer slate. From gay liberation to Woodstock, the network will premiere new special and limited series that look back on a turbulent time in U.S. history. PBS’ nod to the summer of ’69 begins with a reprise of Stonewall Uprising from ‘American Masters’ on June 11 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The special gives audiences a chance to explore how a police raid on the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969, became a major turning point in the gay civil rights movement. Meanwhile, a decade earlier to the Stonewall riots sees the beginnings of the LGBTQ rights movement in The Lavender Scare. The film shares the untold story of how thousands of homosexual federal workers were either fired or denied employment in the 1950s – outraging the gay community. The Lavender Scare premieres June 18 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.”

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Per Deadline, “[s]ummer will mark the beginning of the end for the lawyers at Zane Specter Litt Wheeler Williams and the start of another career for one its disbarred attorneys. USA Network has set July 17 premiere dates for the ninth and final season of Suits and the launch of its spinoff series Pearson, starring Gina Torres.

“The UCP-produced drama series will premiere back-to-back, with Suits gaveling in at 9 p.m. and Pearson arriving at 10.

The 10-episode final season of Suits picks up with Manhattan corporate law firm Zane Specter Litt Wheeler Williams facing uncertainty and change yet again after Robert Zane (Wendell Pierce) took the fall with the Bar Association to save Harvey (Gabriel Macht). After his sacrifice, Samantha Wheeler (Katherine Heigl) is left reeling from the loss of her mentor, and while trying to console her, Harvey realizes that he doesn’t want to lose the most important person to him: Donna (Sarah Rafferty). Season 9 will follow the legendary lawyer and COO balance their relationship with work, as they fight to salvage the firm’s tarnished reputation alongside their partners, Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman), Alex Williams (Dulé Hill), Katrina Bennett (Amanda Schull), and Samantha. As the season progresses, our core characters’ personal lives will be explored more deeply than ever before, setting up the series conclusion, in which everyone will finally be forced to decide exactly who they are and what kind of lawyers they want to be.

“Series creator Aaron Korsh told Deadline in January that longtime Suits star Meghan Markle, who left the show after Season 7 to marry Prince Harry and become the Duchess of Sussex, is not likely to return for the final season.

Suits was created and is executive produced by Aaron Korsh, with Doug Liman, David Bartis and Gene Klein, Genevieve Sparling, Ethan Drogin and Christopher Misiano also serving as EPs.

Pearson centers on the world of recently disbarred NYC powerhouse lawyer Jessica Pearson (Torres) as she adjusts to down-and-dirty Chicago politics. Newly appointed as Mayor Bobby Novak’s (Morgan Spector) right-hand fixer, Jessica quickly is embroiled in a crooked and dangerous new world where every action has far-reaching consequences. With her compulsion to win, Jessica is forced to reconcile her unstoppable drive with her desire to do the right thing – two things very much at odds.

“The cast also includes Bethany Joy Lenz, Simon Kassianides, Eli Goree, Isabel Arraiza and Chantel Riley. Korsh also created Pearson and executive produces alongside showrunner Daniel Arkin. Liman, Bartis, Klein, Kevin Bray and Chris Downey also are EPs.”

Is it summer yet?

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I thought this was interesting (from Variety): “Tamara Reynolds’ first gig as a food stylist was no small job. Tasked with creating around 200 plates that, as she recalls, ‘would look Wolfgang Puck-y’ for a wedding scene on the now-defunct USA Network series Royal Pains, her dishes included red kale and a zucchini cup filled with mashed potatoes and topped with cherry tomatoes. So far, so delicious.

“‘It was tall and colorful and looked great,’ she says. ‘And it was sitting out all day in the summertime, when it was hot as balls.’ Late in the day, an extra ate the potatoes and … well, the result wasn’t pretty.

“‘Trial by fire,’ says Reynolds. ‘Welcome to food styling.’

“Food stylist, one of the lesser-known below-the-line categories on a film or TV set, can be critical to setting the scene for both actors and viewers. Foods must be edible, presentable, replicable, historically accurate and able to meet key cast food allergy requirements, all while satisfying both script and director. 

“‘People assume the food is plastic or fake,’ says JoDee Hayes, food stylist on ABC’s dramedy series A Million Little Things. ‘The food is definitely real — I’m not playing around with anything that can’t be eaten. But you never know what’s going to happen.’

“For example, in one episode, Hayes arrived on the Million set with an approved 10-inch vegan pizza, only to find that the director now preferred a 14-inch version. She had to improvise. ‘No matter how prepared you come for a scene, you have to be thinking on as many different levels as you can to give the director what they want,’ she says. 

“The process begins when scripts, which may be very specific or very general about food in a particular scene, pass from the property master to the stylist, who often speaks with set dressers as well. Instructed to prepare for a luau scene on a recent episode of ABC’s Black-ish, stylist Trish Reilly began brainstorming.

“‘The first images you think of are of beautifully colored food,’ she says. ‘You have to talk with set dressing, because we have all of these plates to fill up, all of these tables. You don’t want anything to look empty; it’s eye candy.’

“And in the case of the luau, it required a suckling pig. Despite the fact that it was a three-day shoot, Reilly says they had to roast only a single 35-pound pig. The secret: It wasn’t cooked all the way through. ‘It had to hold on the spit all that time, and therefore was not edible.’

“Food must also fit the period, as Reynolds learned while working on FX miniseries Fosse/Verdon, which started off with a 1969 soiree. Reynolds and her team decided on cheese molds for period accuracy, but then realized they had to be both edible and able to survive under hot TV lights. In the series’ third episode, set in 1942, she had to prepare hors d’oeuvres with ingredients a middle-class family would have had during the period of World War II rationing.  

“But food is just another prop to stylists — so it can be made to be ruined, thrown out or thrown around. For Amazon Video’s thriller series Homecoming, stylist Melissa McSorley created chicken entrails for a scene where one character’s boss is shown cleaning a chicken and tossing the guts to his employee. But real innards would spoil, so she created some with sausage casing, scrambled eggs and dyed Asian noodles.

“Quite a lot of the food gets tossed away even when it is edible, though. ‘For two people eating a plate of pasta and a salad and dinner roll, we might go through four dozen rolls and 10 pounds of pasta,’ says McSorley. ‘If you see a plate being served and they take a bite, you have to be prepared to replace that same dish in front of them maybe 24 times.’

“And the devil often lies in the details: Stylists know to avoid parsley, pepper or other add-ons that might linger in actors’ teeth; they know potatoes are versatile and can stand in for less-durable edibles; and they’re conscious of food scents — fennel tends to substitute for raw onions. 

“‘In close proximity, you have to be aware of things that can be smelly,’ notes Hayes. 

“In the end, it’s not just about providing a prop that’s comestible; it’s about contributing to the entire mise-en-scène. ‘I remember watching Mad Men and Hannibal, and in those cases every single element — food, costume, every room they were in — was so of the world they created,’ recalls Reynolds. ‘I want to be that good. Even if it’s all left on the cutting room floor, I want that little bit I contribute to the scene to be visually memorable.’” 

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, “Hulu’s true-crime miniseries The Act ends on an image so haunting that it almost eclipses the brutal — albeit off-screen — murder that has played out just moments earlier.

“Gypsy Rose Blanchard (Joey King) is in prison for orchestrating the murder of her mother Dee Dee (Patricia Arquette), who has held her psychological prisoner for years, keeping her wheelchair-bound with unnecessary medical treatments and imaginary illnesses in a textbook case of Munchuasen by Proxy. The show depicts the years of abuse in such meticulous, awful detail that Gypsy’s desperate decision to enlist her boyfriend, Nick Godejohn (Calum Worthy), to kill Dee Dee is completely comprehensible. Yet when Gypsy returns to her prison cell, she imagines Dee Dee sitting beside her, a silent and comforting maternal presence. 

“‘Gypsy would often still speak of her mother in the present tense,’ Michelle Dean, who spent years reporting on the case and wrote the 2016 BuzzFeed article upon which The Act is based, told The Hollywood Reporter. The final shot suggests that Dee Dee’s death did not set Gypsy free — she is not just physically imprisoned, but emotionally still deeply tied to her mother. It’s a disturbing and poignant ending, encapsulating the contradictions that make The Act so powerful. 

“Dean and Nick Antosca, who served as showrunners and executive producers on the UCP series, discuss the finale’s key moments, how the show evokes fairy tales, and why they chose to depict Gypsy’s experience of the murder through an unbroken six-minute tracking shot":

Dee Dee is long dead at this point in the narrative, but she’s still a huge presence in the finale. The show even ends with Gypsy imagining that her mother is with her in prison. How did you decide on that final image?

MICHELLE DEAN Back when I was reporting the story, Gypsy would often still speak of her mother in the present tense. She would say repeatedly "My mother was my best friend, she was my best friend." The need to remind people of that suggested to me at the time that she simply couldn't let go of her mother that easily. There were, for Gypsy, certain experiences with Dee Dee that were good, and they were good in what any psychologist might call a twisted or unhealthy way, but that doesn't lessen the feeling she had of security and comfort in those experiences. 

NICK ANTOSCA That final moment in her prison cell, we thought that was the key image of the show. That’s what really leaves you with the question of “Is she ever free?” It was important to have that scene with Mel (Chloë Sevigny) leading into the final flashback, where she asks, “Who are you? Who are you now that your mother’s gone?” That’s the question that the audience is left with, and that Gypsy's left with.

DEAN I think we would all recognize the sentiment of “Your mother is always there,” even absent mothers. It’s developmental, it's there with you from when you're a tiny child. And there’s this fairy-tale myth of “If you push the witch out of the castle, she falls and there's no body and there's no aftermath, there's just happily ever after.” For us, keeping Dee Dee alive in the finale was really important, just making sure that we had Gypsy constantly returning to memories of her, and showed how Dee Dee permeates the way she looked at the whole world. 

The murder plays out off-screen in a six-minute, unbroken tracking shot, following Gypsy as she picks up the murder weapon, hands it to Nick, and then hides in the bathroom while he murders Dee Dee. How did you approach that scene?

ANTOSCA The whole show is built, in a sense, around what happened that night. What was important to us wasn't the murder itself, it was Gypsy's experience of the murder, and what was she going through in that bathroom while she waited for her mother to be killed? We put a lot of thought into how to capture that subjective experience, and how to bring the audience into what that night must have been like for her.

DEAN From the beginning, Nick and I knew that the murder was only going to play out from Gypsy's perspective, which is to say, she didn't see it. She only heard it. It was very important to the way that Gypsy oriented herself to this final act of violence, that she kept away from it in some sense — even though she couldn't, because she could hear the screaming and she could hear her mother calling her name. In the writers room, once we got to breaking the scene, the very first thing that all the experienced writers in the room said was “This is a oner.” There was just instant consensus on that.

Was it really one unbroken shot?

ANTOSCA Yes. It is unbroken. It's Joey and Calum and Zack Galler, our DP, and Steven Piet, our director, just practicing it over and over and over. There are moments in a production when everyone holds their breath and goes “Oh my God,” and you forget for a second that you’re making something, because you're just in the emotional experience of it. That was certainly one of those moments. It was scripted as a single shot, always. Even from when we pitched the show, I imagined it that way. Steven also directed episode five, which leads up to the night of the murder, and so we shot that finale sequence at the same time that we shot episode five, so that the actors could stay emotionally in the moment.

DEAN Because it was an inescapable experience for Gypsy at the time, that inescapability was something we thought needed to be replicated for the audience. The fact that once she set that in motion, it was just gonna happen. You couldn't hit pause, you couldn't cut to a different take in real life. What was happening was happening. So that plan for the scene was there from the very beginning.

ANTOSCA Joey King is one of the most incredible actresses that I've ever seen, and one of the remarkable things about her is that she's not method at all. She can turn it on and off, she can go to the most genuine, intense, emotional place, and then the camera goes off and she snaps back and she's cheerful and joking around. It's wild to watch! And one of the only times that I saw that she couldn't do that was during that unbroken shot. You come out of that and everybody was a little bit exhausted. That was a very powerful moment in production.

Gypsy’s father, Rod, comes to visit her in prison, and shows her some concrete photographic evidence of just how deep Dee Dee’s lies went. She’d always been told that he abandoned her, and her realizing that he didn’t is one of the only hopeful moments in the finale. 

DEAN Yeah, and in the real-life case it didn't go down exactly the way that we depicted it, although he did come to visit. He was very regretful about what had happened, and we took those elements from the real-life case and said to ourselves, “What does this meeting represent for Gypsy?” She didn't know so much of her own history, and it was hidden from her by her mother because it was a way of exercising control. Up until that point in the show, the Gypsy that we’re depicting thinks she knows what’s going on. She thinks she figured out her mother’s lie, and figured out a way to get out and have her happy ending. The arrest has shaken her, yes, but she still doesn't quite understand. And in that scene, Rod is the person who opens that up for her, because he has these very specific memories of her, and photographs to prove that they were real, and yet she doesn’t have them. That makes her look over the whole set of experiences that she's had until then and realize she doesn't really know what happened. Her sense of reality is unstable. 

ANTOSCA We wanted to highlight the moment where she really sees the depth of the lies that her mother told her, and Rod was the character that had to do it. We thought it was important to show that her father wasn't negligent. He was pushed out, and he was deceived as well. 

DEAN There is a moment of hope and a certain amount of connection, and that was true in the real-life case too, the hope represented by her reconciliation with her father. But I think more than anything else, Rod represents a certain kind — this word is going to make me sound so pretentious, but I can’t think of an alternative — an epistemological break. The world she knew, she actually didn’t know it, because her mother controlled her reality for so long. The programming runs that deep, and that’s a really hard thing for anybody to acknowledge, so we wanted to dramatize that moment for Gypsy.

One of the most haunting details from the case is the last thing Dee Dee said to Gypsy before going to sleep on the night she was murdered: “Don’t hurt me.” What’s your take on why she would say that?

DEAN In real life we don't know, because she didn't really leave behind a record of her actions, but we know that she must have known that things were deteriorating. We know that she suddenly switched doctors back to Springfield in the weeks before the murder, when she had been taking Gypsy to Kansas City for a long time, which suggests that she obviously was feeling insecure. The movie theater encounter with [Nick] was very unsettling. So she knew things were deteriorating. Did she expect this? I don't know that anybody could have expected this. In our show, we give that line some context with the nail clipping, but I think more broadly, it's something mothers and daughters say to each other all the time. "Please stop hurting me, don’t hurt me this way.” I think that ambiguity floats over that final moment, which is just phenomenal acting from Joey. The look on her face! 

That scene is one of several in the finale that feels like a genuinely tender moment between mother and daughter. The relationship is so deeply twisted and abusive, but as a viewer you still feel conflicted.

DEAN Yeah, and the tenderness, one way to look at it is it was part of the trap. Because knowing that you can still get that from your mother keeps so many of us in horrible relationships with our mothers for a really long time. That’s how abusive relationships work, is you're waiting for the drop of kindness that is generally offered as a carrot to keep going. It was a mix of both for them, and that's what made the relationship so intractable and inescapable for both of them, even though so many people will say things like “But [Gypsy] could have just gotten up out of the chair and walked.”

There’s a dreamlike, surreal, slippery quality to the finale, and in particular the sound design. How did you create that atmosphere?

ANTOSCA A lot of it is sound design, particularly just the sense of rising claustrophobia and dread in that one-shot sequence. But the slightly heightened, surreal quality of the storytelling is something that everybody involved talked about a lot. It’s a very fine line, because you're telling a true story, but it has the heightened quality of a fairy tale, which is appropriate to the story. You want it to live in that zone where you can be psychologically truthful and also have a heightened quality. And a lot of that is editing as well as sound design.

What did you want viewers to take away from the ending?

DEAN We wanted to leave people with the same sense of irresolution that exists in the real-life case. One of the things that sometimes happens in adapting true stories is the urge to wrap things up too cleanly, because of the demands of dramatic structure, and I think the final image of the show encapsulates a lot of what we wanted to say. People have different interpretations of it and I don't want to dictate how people react to that, but we wanted people to understand this as a really complex situation, with a lot of complex motives, not all of which really sort themselves out into a beautiful, logical explanation.

ANTOSCA This is such a stranger-than-fiction story, and a story that feels like “I can't imagine what that would have been like.” So we wanted the audience to come away with something like the emotional and psychological experience that Gypsy had. We wanted a very psychologically complicated ending: She escaped, but now she’s in prison. So is she free? Is she not free? We wanted to leave the audience with those questions.”

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Chelsea Handler is the first to admit she has commitment issues, which is why she’s easing into podcasting with a limited series recorded from the current tour promoting her latest best-selling memoir, Life Will Be the Death of Me.

“In the book, Handler writes about the self-discovery that came out of a year of intense therapy and what she learned. She also reflects on the accidental death of her brother, who fell off a cliff while hiking in Wyoming at age 22, when she was 9.

“Handler told The Associated Press on Wednesday that it’s nothing new for her to be honest, but she’s never done anything that’s been received as well as this book. She wanted to keep the conversation going and the podcast, which debuts May 23 on the iHeartPodcast Network, will have the same title.

“‘It’s not hard for me to be personal. That’s my comfort zone and I like to air my dirty laundry,’ and she wanted to show that therapy isn’t a taboo subject.

“The podcast will consist of 20 episodes featuring conversations between Handler and friends, including Mary McCormack and Connie Britton, along with journalist Jake Tapper and audio from the book. New episodes will post on Thursdays.

“As for whether she thinks she’ll end up doing more podcasting, Handler said she’ll certainly consider it down the road.

“‘I wanted to see if I like it (but) I’m on board with no hair and makeup,’ she said.”