Friday May 31, 2019

When They See Us is now available to stream on Netflix. More below.

So is season 2 of My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman. This season’s guests include: Kanye West, Ellen DeGeneres, Tiffany Haddish, Lewis Hamilton and Melinda Gates.

“With a 10.1/19 in metered market ratings for Thursday’s 9 – 11:45 PM ET Game 1, this year’s NBA Finals are certainly not going to be a walk for ABC. Game 1 of the 2019 NBA Finals fell a hard 18% from Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals in the early metrics. In fact, with only one US market team in competition, this year’s opener of the championship basketball battle is the worst any Game 1 has performed in metered market ratings in a decade, dipping just below the results of Game 1 of the 2009 tournament, when the L.A. Lakers beat the Orlando Magic in the City of Angels on June 1 of that year.”

Here is a review of season 2 of Big Little Lies. The season premiere airs next Sunday, June 9.

Lee Daniels is no longer trying to find a new home for Star. R.I.P.

La La Anthony has been cast as David Silver’s wife on the 90210 reboot.

Cary Elwes and Stephanie Hsu have both been cast Season 3 of Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. MaiselVariety has learned exclusively. The pair join a returning cast that includes series star Rachel Brosnahan, who plays the titular Mrs. Maisel, along with Alex Borstein, Michael Zegen, Tony Shalhoub, Marin Hinkle, Kevin Pollak, and Caroline Aaron. It was previously announced that “This Is Us” star Sterling K. Brown would also be appearing in Season 3.”

MTV on Thursday announced the first sexually fluid cast for the upcoming eighth season of their hit reality series Are You the One? hosted by Terrence J. Following Are You the One?'s signature format, 16 singles will travel to Hawaii in hopes of finding their ‘perfect match’ and splitting the $1 million cash prize. But, for the first time ever on a dating competition show in the U.S., there will be no gender limitations, as each castmember identifies as sexually fluid. This season also introduces Dr. Frankie, a relationship expert, who works with the singles to help them cope with current disaster-dating trends such as ghosting, benching and stashing — and tests them on their willingness to fall into these painful trends as they date multiple people on national television. From coming-out moments to exploring the intricacies of sexual and gender identity, this season of Are You the One? aims to highlight powerful stories about what it means to find love as a sexually fluid individual. Lighthearted Entertainment's Jeff Spangler and Rob LaPlante serve as executive producers along with Matt Odgers. Are You the One? season eight is set to premiere June 26 at 9 p.m. ET on MTV.” That seems to really complicate matters as these morons have a tough enough time figuring out who their match is to begin with.

ABC has handed out a pilot order to the untitled comedy from Nate Bargatze and the team behind NBC’s The Carmichael Show. Bergatze will star in, co-write and executive produce the untitled comedy about a couple who moves from California to Bergatze’s native Tennessee. There, they attempt to raise their 6-year-old daughter with a combination of West Coast and Southern values but find the balance proves more difficult than they imagined — especially where his parents are concerned.” I love Nate and hope this gets a series order.

Showtime has handed a series order to Work in Progress, an eight episode comedy series starring Abby McEnany, who co-created the show with pilot director Tim Mason. Lilly Wachowski will co-write and executive produce the first season. Expected to premiere this year, Work in Progress follows a 45-year-old self-identified, fat, queer dyke from Chicago (McEnany) whose misfortune and despair unexpectedly lead her to a vibrantly transformative relationship. Theo Germaine and Karin Anglin co-star alongside Celeste Pechous, with Saturday Night Live alum Julia Sweeney appearing as herself.”

Wilshire Studios, the unscripted arm of Universal Content Productions, is changing its focus. The Dawn Olmstead-run division will shift from a broad unscripted fare to focus instead on premium docuseries. As part of the change, Wilshire Studios' live events productions — E! Live From the Red Carpet and E! People's Choice Awards — will now shift to be produced by E!'s live events team. Wilshire Studios will complete work on its current roster — E!'s True Hollywood Story, Oxygen's DNA of Murder With Paul Holes and A Lie to Die For and USA Network's Straight Up Steve Austin. Should any of those series be renewed, their respective networks would bring in new production companies to oversee subsequent seasons. Wilshire Studios will attempt to place 20 employees within other units of the larger NBCUniversal company rather than tendering outright layoffs, though that remains an option.”

Hulu is headed to Ireland for its latest series pickup. The streamer has given a straight-to-series pickup for a half-hour drama called Normal People, based on the novel of the same name by Sally Rooney. Produced by Element Pictures and commissioned by Hulu and BBC Three in the U.K., the series tracks the ‘tender but complicated’ relationship between two young people, Marianne and Connell, through the end of their school days in a small town in the west of Ireland to their undergrad years at Dublin's Trinity College. Daisy Edgar-Jones (Gentleman Jack) and newcomer Paul Mescal will play the two lead roles; Sarah Greene and Aislin McGuckin also star. Rooney is adapting her novel along with Alice Birch and Mark O'Rowe and will executive produce with Lenny Abrahamson (Room), who's also directing six of the 12 episodes. Hettie Macdonald (Doctor Who) will helm the other six.”

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This is NOT what the world needs (per Bloomberg): “Hillary Clinton and her daughter Chelsea are forming a production company to pursue film and television projects, making a foray into Hollywood after decades in the public eye.

“The two have spoken to studios about financing a pipeline of programs, said people familiar with the matter. They would give a studio first crack at releasing the projects, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are at an early stage.

“The family hopes to use film and television to influence culture and society now that Hillary Clinton is out of politics. They plan to focus on stories by and about women. The production company is one of many potential business opportunities that Hillary Clinton, 71, is considering.

“Hillary Clinton previously signed on to help produce a TV show with Steven Spielberg. That series, The Woman’s Hour, is an adaptation of a book about activists who fought to earn women the right to vote.

“The Clintons are following in the footsteps of the Obamas. Former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle created a production company, Higher Ground Productions, and have a deal at Netflix Inc. Their first slate of shows includes an adaptation of Michael Lewis’s book about federal bureaucracy, as well as a drama series about the world of fashion.

“While actors such as Ronald Reagan have used their Hollywood fame to launch successful political careers, it had been rare for politicians to go the other way. Candidates have long come to Hollywood to raise money, however, and Clinton has a large base of support among donors -- including Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and director J.J. Abrams.

“Clinton served as the first lady of Arkansas, the first lady of the U.S., a senator from New York and secretary of state. She twice ran for president, losing to Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary and then to Donald Trump in the 2016 election. Since the 2016 election, she has formed a political action committee, published a memoir and gone on a speaking tour.”

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From The Hollywood Reporter: “Bravo is teaming with Viola Davis and Julius Tennon for a new social experiment series.

“The NBCUniversal-owned cable network has greenlit In a Man's World, a docuseries in which four women will morph into men for several days. Each woman, following months of training and with the assistance of Oscar-winning makeup artists and voice and movement coaches, will explore what it's like to experience the world as a man. The series, exec produced by Davis and Tennon's JuVee Productions and Lucky 8 will debut in the fall.

"‘We at JuVee continue our commitment to illuminate the challenges and obstacles of the voiceless. Our goal is to be disrupters. We are so proud of the originality and boldness of In a Man's World and it is our hope that it shifts you a little,’ Davis said.

“Each episode will follow a different woman — from a professional pool player to a pastor — testing their training by facing their friends and family in the lead-up to the reveal. The series hopes to shed light on if their experiences match their expectations or if they'll be shocked to discover what it's really like to live in a man's world.

“Kim Woodard, Greg Henry, Isaac Holub, George Kralovansky, Kate Bernstein and Danielle Media exec produce alongside JuVee's Davis, Tennon and Andrew Wang.”

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From TheWrap: “Should HBO’s Succession succeed in securing an Emmy nomination or two, subscribers to the premium-cable channel may take a look at one of its better shows not named Game of Thrones. Season 1 of the media-empire drama aired after HBO’s second highest-rated series, Westworld, though the Nielsen numbers for Succession do not quite reflect its quality — or its quality lead-in.

“The series, created by Jesse Armstrong, focuses on the Roy family, the owners of a global media empire who are NOT the Murdochs and we can all stop asking about that now. Matthew Macfadyen’s Tom Wamsgans is not technically a Roy, but he is perhaps the series’ most unique, captivating and intriguing player. We say that, of course, with all due respect to Roman (Kieran Culkin).

“‘[Tom’s] sort of repellent and weirdly sympathetic all at once,’ Macfadyen said. ‘He’s sort of spineless, yet he’s got something to him.’

“And yes, the man who plays the punching-bag husband of daughter Shiv Roy (Sarah Snook) ‘occasionally’ feels bad for using even-lower man on the corporate totem pole — and family tree — Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) as his punching bag.

“‘Tom really, really likes Greg, which is probably why he can be so revolting to him,’ Macfadyen said. ‘Tom probably doesn’t have many friends, and I think his marriage with Shiv — even though they end up sort of OK at the end of the first season — he’s sort of punching above his weight a bit. I think with any of the Roys, you’re always slightly uncertain, on unstable ground. You don’t really know whether you’re safe.’

“‘With Greg,’ he added, ‘Tom sort of kicks the cat, but I think he really, really needs him. Maybe more than Greg needs Tom.’

“Fans are looking forward to Season 2, which will premiere in August, but we still want more. More specifically, we’re hoping for a Tom and Cousin Greg spinoff — and we’re not alone.

“‘We’re campaigning, Nick and I, to see if we can open up an office in Tokyo or somewhere, or the Middle East maybe, where we could take Waystar,’ Macfadyen said. ‘I would be very happy working with Nick forever — he’s just lovely.’”

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Per Vulture, “[t]hirty years ago, five teenagers of color were arrested and charged with raping and beating a white female jogger in Central Park. Prosecutors and reporters tended to refer to them as a single unit after that: a wolf pack, or as they would ultimately become known, the Central Park Five.

When They See Us, Ava DuVernay’s sensitively wrought Netflix miniseries about what happened to those boys, strips away the dehumanizing tendency to bunch them together and instead shows what each of them dealt with individually when they were coerced into giving false confessions, forced to do time for a crime they did not commit, and, eventually, exonerated when their convictions were vacated in 2002. The story of the Central Park Five has certainly been covered extensively by media as well as the 2012 documentary The Central Park Five, co-directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon. But this scripted miniseries, which debuts Friday on Netflix, feels more personal due to DuVernay’s intimate approach — she directed and co-wrote all four episodes — and thoughtful performances across the board, especially from the actors who portray the wrongly accused as boys and men.

“Those five men are Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, and Korey Wise. But when we meet them in the first episode, they’re just teenagers doing teenagery things on an April night in Harlem. When a slew of kids starts running toward Central Park, each of them, one by one, follows the mob, some of whom do start picking fights. When the cops eventually intervene, and the five boys are brought in and questioned (initially with no parents and certainly no attorneys present), When They See Us shows us, again and again, detectives coercing the five into admitting involvement and/or implicating each other in the rape of investment banker Trisha Meili, an attack that occurred on the same night that the fights and other harassment broke out, creating an all-too-convenient circumstance for pointing the finger at these black and Latino boys. Prosecutor Linda Fairstein, played by Felicity Huffman at a time when it’s especially easy to view her as a blinkered woman of white privilege, takes special interest in spinning a narrative that pins the crime on them.

“Three episodes follow the two trials that ultimately land all five teens in prison for various periods of time, what happens to each of them during and post-incarceration, and, in the end, how their convictions are rendered null and void. Before getting to the case’s dismissal, a majority of the fourth episode focuses on Korey, the only one of the five sentenced as an adult and the one who winds up spending the most time behind bars in places like Rikers Island. Korey is also the only character portrayed from his teen years to adulthood by the same actor: Jharrel Jerome (Moonlight), who delivers the standout performance in this limited series, which is saying something considering that the cast is filled with excellent actors.

“Jerome is blessed with a youthful face that, with added facial hair, can slide easily up and down the age spectrum. But he also uses his expressions and body language as incredibly persuasive tools. As a teenage Korey, his eyes go from wide to wider, expressing his default naïveté or shock at what’s happening to and around him. Korey is reserved and soft-spoken — he’s embarrassed to admit he has a hard time reading — but he speaks up loudly when he feels he’s been done an injustice. Jerome brings an energy to the performance that’s reminiscent of the quiet righteousness of Bill Nunn’s Radio Raheem in Do the Right Thing. That may be intentional, since Spike Lee’s masterpiece was also released in 1989, two months after the incident in Central Park. When They See Us even nods directly to the movie: When the kids start racing toward the park, a boom box is blasting Fight the Power by Public Enemy, the track that famously opens Lee’s film.

“All of the actors portraying the wrongly convicted young men, at early and later stages, inhabit them with a natural ease that makes their fear and indignation even more vivid and, ultimately, bonds them to each other. In episode three, when Yusef (played at this point by Chris Chalk) and Antron (Jovan Adepo) run into each other at a mandatory class that’s part of their probation, there’s a built-in comfort level that enables them to joke around, something that would be ordinary for anyone else but is a cathartic act for two people tethered to each other by tragedy.

“The dynamics between the boys’ parents are just as heavy, particularly between Yusef’s mother Sharone (Aunjanue Ellis) and Korey’s mother Delores (a fiery Niecy Nash), who resents what she perceives as Sharone’s selfish tendency to put her son’s needs above everyone else’s. The climate in every family shifts over the years: For Ray, who returns home to find his loyal father (John Leguizamo) married to a younger wife (Dascha Polanco of Orange Is the New Black), and for Antron, whose unreliable father (Michael K. Williams) has become seriously ill. Metaphorically and literally, it’s like there’s no room for these boys in the world anymore.

When They See Us has a tendency to lean into its drama, which can sometimes work and sometimes causes the series to get tripped up in clichés. When District Attorney Robert Morgenthau (Len Carious) calls prosecutor Nancy Ryan (Famke Janssen) into his office to tell her that another convicted rapist, Matias Reyes (Reece Noi), has confessed to the attack on Meili, he reminds her of the context. ‘19,’ he says, and then Ryan finishes with a portentous: ‘89.’ That exchange is more suited to a scene in a CBS procedural than a grounded series like this. Because the series is generally so grounded, when it veers off track, it’s especially jarring.

“But DuVernay also sometimes dances toward tropes on purpose, only to undercut them in a way that emphasizes the lack of fairness that’s the basis for this story. During episode two, when an expert confirms during the trial that no DNA links any of the suspects to the scene of the crime, there’s a swell in the music and the emotions of the suspects and their families that, in another series, would lead straight to their triumphant acquittal. But every time there is a hint of good news here, it’s usually followed by bad. When Korey tries to put in for another prison transfer with the hope that he’ll be relocated closer to his mom in Harlem, he says, ‘My bad luck been used up.’ Naturally, he winds up in the worst possible place, at the greatest possible distance. In When They See Us, optimism only begets more pain.

“It’s not surprising that When They See Us has such relevancy given the inequities that persist in terms of law enforcement’s treatment of people of color. But just in case anyone can’t connect the dots from ’89 to now, DuVernay makes a point of reminding viewers, more than once, that Donald Trump interjected himself into the Central Park Five conversation by taking out paid advertisements in every major New York newspaper, advocating for the death penalty for the accused.

“‘You’d better believe I hate the people who did this,’ Trump says during an actual press conference that’s shown on television while one of the mothers of ‘those people’ is watching. When They See Us may ultimately have a triumphant ending for its protagonists. But more than anything, this miniseries reminds us that what happened to those five boys three decades ago could just as easily happen today, in the name of what some powerful figures would perceive as justice.”