Thursday June 13, 2019

Episode 1 of the 33rd season of The Real World is now available on Facebook Watch.

Game 6 of the NBA Finals is tonight at 9pm ET. The Raptors are up 3-2 on the Warriors.

A new season of Baskets returns tonight on FX.

NBC airs series finales of A.P. Bio and Abby tonight.

Project Runway will crown a 17th winner this evening.

Netflix has ordered a 2nd season of Dogs.

A&E has ordered 10 additional episodes of Live Rescue, bringing the first season total to 19 episodes. How long until this first responders fad dies?

Don Cheadle (Avengers: Infinity War, Black Monday), Emily Mortimer (Mary Poppins Returns, Doll & Em) and Helena Howard (Madeline’s Madeline, The Wilds) are set to star in Don’t Look Deeper, a sci-fi drama series for Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman’s short-form video platform Quibi. The series is a co-production between New Form, a Whistle-owned company, and Doug Liman’s 30 Ninjas for Quibi. Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight, Red Riding Hood) is attached to direct and executive produce. Co-written by Lost co-creator Jeffrey Lieber, who also serves as showrunner, and Charlie McDonnell,  Don’t Look Deeper is set in Merced, California, “fifteen minutes into the future.” It centers on a high school senior who can’t seem to shake the feeling that something about her just isn’t right. And that something is… she’s not human… not one of us. This revelation of what she really is, where she comes from, and who has started looking for her, sets in motion a series of events that suddenly puts her entire life in jeopardy.”

Game Show Network’s hit show America Says is going into syndication nationwide, courtesy of a deal with Sony Pictures Television (SPT). Hosted by John Michael Higgins,  the studio game show pits two teams of friends and family against one another to guess America’s responses by filling in the blanks to survey questions on a vast range of topics. The winning team with the most money banked after three rounds will advance to a bonus round for the chance to win up to US$15,000. Fox, Sinclair, CBS, Cox Media, Tegna, Nexstar, Mission, Gray and Lockwood have all agreed to carry the game show on their stations when it debuts this fall. The partnership brings the 30-minute survey-matching game show into 85% of the U.S.”

Cinemax has boarded Trackers, a thriller drama series based on the novel by bestselling South African author Deon Meyer. James Alexander, Rolanda Marais and Ed Stoppard are set to star in the series, a co-production between Cinemax, the South Africa’s M-Net and Germany’s ZDF. Multichoice’s M-Net and ZDF teamed for Trackers in late 2018, with Jyri Kähönen set to direct all episodes and Ivan Strasburg as director of photography. Around that time, the companies started conversations with Cinemax about coming on board as a co-producer. Trackers interweaves three story strands into a sophisticated action-packed thriller that covers the length and breadth of South Africa, explosively colliding in Cape Town in a violent conspiracy involving organized crime, smuggled diamonds, state security, Black Rhinos, the CIA and an international terrorist plot.”

Justin Bieber wasn't serious about taking on Tom Cruise in a fight, or maybe he's simply changed his mind ... because he says Tom would kick his ass! JB played it cool for the paps in L.A. Wednesday as he was leaving Hailey's fashion line office, telling them he was just goofing around when he randomly challenged the 56-year-old actor to an MMA fight and asked Dana White to make it happen. He says he had just seen an interview with Cruise so he was on his mind, and decided to tweet out the bizarre challenge ... but it was all just a goof.” Someone needs to wipe this moron out.

Stranger Things fans can now be a part of the Upside Down universe simply by enjoying fast food. In honor of the sci-fi hit, Burger King is set to serve its famous Whoppers upside down, paying tribute to the alternate dimension explored on the show. The Upside-Down Whopper sandwich, which is simply a regular Whopper with the buns reversed, also features ’80s-style packaging. The special treat can be enjoyed starting June 21 at certain restaurants in several U.S. cities, including Miami, Houston, Boston, Atlanta, Dallas, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles. Limited edition ketchup packets and T-shirts inspired by the series will also be available. The special promotion will coincide with the season 3 premiere of Stranger Things on July 4.”

All That‘s signature restaurant Good Burger (home of the Good Burger, if you weren’t aware) can now actually take your order. Ahead of the premiere of the All That revival, Nickelodeon announced plans to launch a pop-up Good Burger restaurant in Los Angeles. The team behind Saved By the Max, the Saved By the Bell-themed diner that appeared in 2016, is partnering with the network to help bring Good Burger to life. While the restaurant won’t open until July 10, you can purchase tickets starting Monday, June 17 at 10 a.m. PT. Visitors will be able to munch on real Good Burgers, Good Chunks, and Good Shakes, and, naturally, can expect ‘a few comedic mishaps and surprises’ as part of the experience. A statement from Nickelodeon also promises ‘Good Burger-themed service experiences, merchandise, games, secret sauce and more.’”

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Per Variety, “Doug Kezirian is surrounded by numbers on his new ESPN program. They aren’t sports scores.

“If you want home runs, touchdowns or three-pointers, you’ll have to go somewhere else. Each weekday afternoon, Kezirian talks to people like Preston Johnson, a Las Vegas sports handicapper with a master’s in sports psychology and a beard so big it could host its own show, or Anita Marks, a former women’s football player who analyzes fantasy football. The bottom and left-hand edges of the screen during his hourlong program, The Daily Wager, on ESPNews, aren’t crammed with batting averages or free-throw percentages but rather with stats on oddsmaking.

“‘You can have a normal conversation about betting,’ says Kezirian, who graduated from Brown University with an economics degree and has reported on sports betting for years. ‘And it will not feel dirty or shady or anything silly like that — period.’

“Many of the nation’s big media companies have already started to talk about wagering on sports. Fox Sports 1 was the first to launch a daily program about gambling — Lock It In airs weekday afternoons. During NBC Sports’ broadcast of the Kentucky Derby in May — one of the premier events in its portfolio of sports rights — the network launched its first betting program, streamed online and via its mobile app. Handicapper Eddie Olczyk offered his picks for the race. WarnerMedia’s Turner Sports teamed up with MGM Resorts to display odds on various shots being taken in its pay-per-view matchup between golfers Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Both ESPN and Turner’s Bleacher Report have struck deals to launch production studios at Caesars Entertainment properties to create content about sports betting.

“The media companies have wanted a piece of the action ever since the May 2018 Supreme Court ruling that left individual states free to legalize sports betting. Eight states currently allow it, and if a company happens to reach viewers in one of them — two regional sports networks owned by NBCU, for example, are viewed by consumers in betting-friendly New Jersey and West Virginia — then it can run ads for apps that help roll the dice, so to speak. ‘We know the behaviors have been out there,’ says Jeffrey Gerttula, executive vice president and general manager for CBS Sports Digital. ‘It can’t always be office pools.’

“Gambling has rarely been something given full consideration on national TV. Sure, some fans will remember Jimmy ‘The Greek’ Snyder predicting football scores on CBS Sports pregame shows in the 1970s and ’80s. But the subject remained taboo. These days, national sentiment is changing — just as it is about marijuana use. Many TV networks were happy to run dozens of ads for fantasy-sports sites DraftKings and FanDuel in the 2015-16 football season until legal concerns drove those two entities from the airwaves. Now, sports leagues themselves are setting up agreements with companies that consider the odds. Last year, for example, Major League Baseball struck a deal with MGM Resorts that lets the two parties share statistics and promote gaming.

“Yet the big bet here isn’t just about making money from people who want to put $15 on their favorite football team on Sunday. The companies are also laying down stakes on the future of the TV business. What better way to get people to watch live TV than to give them the chance to figure out how to make money off it? ‘Betting is almost the ultimate expression of interactive TV, which has always been positioned as the way to get people more involved with the programming. But the applications have always been underwhelming — a poll, a quiz, some kind of interactive ad,’ explains Tim Hanlon, CEO of Vertere Group, a media- and marketing-industry consultant. ‘Betting is the ultimate activity one can do in conjunction with content, and it can help insulate sports programming as the highest point of value in the television ecosystem.’

“Anything the networks can do to keep viewers more connected to the live program they watch is seen as healthy. Getting fans to pay more attention is the overall goal, executives say. NBCUniversal has also been testing what it calls Shoppable TV, an interactive function that can send viewers from, say, a sports match to an online store. Fans watching a May broadcast of the French Open could follow an on-screen alert telling them to hold their phone cameras up to the screen, and then be taken to a site to buy Lacoste clothing.

“There are even hopes betting can move from sports to other kinds of programming — anything that people are so excited by, they will follow a suggestion to offer a response via mobile app. ‘Do people want to bet on an outcome of a Game of Thrones?’ asks Will Funk, executive vice president of corporate sponsorships for WarnerMedia’s Turner Sports. ‘It’s a lot harder with a scripted show, because there are issues in terms of things getting out, but yes, I think you will see betting is something that will be integrated across other genres of programming, for sure.’

“While other media outlets are creating content around sports betting, Fox is making plans to help facilitate actual wagers. The company said in May that Fox Sports would take a nearly 5% stake in Toronto’s Stars Group, an entity that makes online and mobile gaming technology. Fox Sports executives are in discussions with the NFL, Major League Baseball and NASCAR, among other leagues to which the company has rights to broadcast games and events, about what might be possible in seasons to come, according to a person familiar with the matter.

“That’s a line some other companies are not willing to cross just yet. ‘There are certainly no plans to take bets on our platforms,’ says Ilan Ben-Hanan, ESPN’s vice president of programming and scheduling. Adds Turner’s Funk: ‘I don’t see us being a betting operator of any sort.’ NBCUniversal has been examining viewer behavior in New Jersey, a significant part of which is served by its NBC Sports Philadelphia, and believes ‘the market is going to be made up of more casual bettors,’ says David Preschlack, president of NBC Sports Regional Networks and executive vice president of content strategy at NBC Sports Group. ‘We feel the big opportunity here is to use sports betting to raise the entertainment value of sports programming.’

“Fox sees a chance to drive revenue through betting, says the person familiar with the matter, rather than simply running ads for other betting apps. Whether that means viewers of the pregame show to Fox’s Thursday Night Football can expect to see Michael Strahan talking about odds on that night’s contest remains to be seen.

“Missteps are possible. No one wants to return to the days when commercial time during TV matches was all but dominated by DraftKings and FanDuel. And networks may have to worry about their credibility. ‘There’s already an obscene amount of money involved in sports,’ says Vertere’s Hanlon. ‘The arrival of easy gambling and sports betting is only going to add more money — and more ethical challenges ahead.’

“Part of the excitement surrounding the advent of betting is that it creates a new Wild West scenario around TV. ‘It will probably roll out in a way that nobody has predicted,’ says NBCU’s Preschlack. ‘Nobody will get it exactly right, which will be fun to watch.’” 

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, “[s]everal members of the Television Academy’s Performers Peer Group (read: actors) have been disqualified from voting for the upcoming Primetime Emmy Awards.

“According to a Wednesday memo sent to the group and obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, a few members were found to have engaged in or advocated for block voting. That is to say, they discussed voting with other members of the group with the intention of all voting for one or more specific projects.

"‘The integrity of the Emmy competition is of paramount importance to the Television Academy,’ reads the memo from chairman and CEO Frank Scherma and president and COO Maury McIntyre. ‘Any suggestions of voting impropriety, whether implied or acted upon, are taken very seriously and will not be tolerated.’

“A spokesperson for the Television Academy declined to comment when reached on the matter. It is not known how many individuals have been disqualified from voting at this point or who they are, but sources say they were notified Wednesday afternoon shortly after the memo went out.

“It is also not immediately clear if said members face expulsion from the TV Academy.

”Nomination round voting for the 2019 Primetime Emmys only began on Monday. It is open through June 24, with nominations set to be announced July 16.

“Read the memo below:

Dear Performers Peer Group Member:

The Television Academy has determined that a few members of the Performers Peer Group have engaged in or advocated for block voting in the 2019 Emmy Awards competition.

As stated in an email sent to the Performers Peer Group on April 3, 2019:

[A]ny implicit or explicit suggestion of quid pro quo and/or block voting for the Emmy competition constitutes a breach of the 2018-2019 Emmy Awards Rules & Procedures and also may be a violation of the Academy's Code of Conduct. As such, this activity may be grounds for a member to be disqualified from participation.

Per the 2018-2019 Emmy Awards Rules & Procedures:

[M]embers found to be engaged or otherwise complicit in quid pro quo and block voting shall have any votes cast invalidated and be disqualified... The Television Academy has therefore disqualified these members from the 2019 Emmy Awards competition, invalidating both their ballot entries and any votes they may have cast. In addition, their conduct may be referred to the Conduct Review Committee for further disciplinary action.

The integrity of the Emmy competition is of paramount importance to the Television Academy. Any suggestions of voting impropriety, whether implied or acted upon, are taken very seriously and will not be tolerated. The Academy will continue to investigate this matter, and will take appropriate action should other members be implicated.

Frank Scherma
Chairman & CEO

Maury McIntyre
President & COO”

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Per EW, “[l]ove for The Boondocks is still very much alive. So, Sony is bringing the Freeman family back to television.

“‘A complete re-imagining’ of The Boondocks ‘for the modern era’ is in development from original series creator Aaron McGruder, the studio announced Wednesday morning at the 2019 Annecy International Animated Film Festival.

“Based on his comic strip of the same name, McGruder’s The Boondocks premiered in November 2005 on Cartoon Network’s late-night programming block Adult Swim. The comic launched in 1996. The reboot, a satire for the modern era, is said to chronicle the adventures of the Freeman family against the evil local government tyrant Uncle Ruckus, who rules the fictional Woodcrest County, Maryland with an iron fist.

“In a March appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience, comedian John Witherspoon, who voiced Granddad on The Boondocks, teased his involvement. ‘I’m on the cartoon. What is it? The Boondocks? I didn’t change my voice for The Boondocks. And they coming back,’ he said. ‘The Boondocks is coming back. It’s one of the best cartoons I’ve ever been on.’

“In February, McGruder resurrected his Boondocks comic strip to poke fun at the state of America in 2019. As shown in a series of Instagram posts shared by radio host Charlamagne Tha God, it featured characters Huey, Riley, Granddad, and Uncle Ruckus, as well as satirical takes on President Donald Trump and the Robert Mueller investigation.

“At Annecy, Sony Animation revealed a handful of other project updates. Ralph Breaks the Internet director Rich Moore is joining Sony Animation and the team behind Vivo, Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s animated musical. The studio also gave a first look at director Chris Appelhans’ Wish Dragon, set for a release in China in 2020.

Hungry Ghosts (based on the Dark Horse graphic novel by Joel Rose and the late Anthony Bourdain) and Superbago (in collaboration with Stoopid Buddy studios) are in development as new shows, and Samurai Jack creator Genndy Tartakovsky is working on two animated films, Black Knight and Fixed.”

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From The Ringer: “Like a 60-something with a Tommy Bahama frequent buyer card, I will cut to the chase: You can probably be yelled at into loving your partner more and better. OK, fine—you maybe can. Possibly? Kind of? At any rate, you can definitely watch people being yelled at in the name of love, respect, and honesty, which is basically the same thing. Unless you are one of the couples, in which case I can offer only my condolences and best wishes.

“Such—the being yelled at, that is—is the premise of Marriage Rescue, the latest Jon Taffer vehicle from Paramount Network (a rebranded Spike TV). You might know Taffer as the star of Paramount Network’s other rescue show, Bar Rescue.

“If you’ve seen Bar Rescue, you will be familiar with Marriage Rescue’s structure. A bar (marriage) is failing. Its menu (communication strategy) is outdated; its layout (conflict-resolution pattern) is unwieldy; its staff is lazy (well … ). So management (the more aggrieved partner) calls up Taffer—the self-billed “Gordon Ramsay of the bar and nightclub business” (a divorcé)—who marches in, huffs and puffs at the employees (spouses) about their sorry service and checkered pasts (this one pretty much holds), and oversees a remodel (vow renewal). The bar then reopens to great success. The couples … well.

“Taffer’s bar rescues occur, naturally, at the bars themselves. But in Marriage Rescue, our husbands and wives bring their trouble to paradise—specifically, a seaside resort in Puerto Rico, where we meet them as they bicker throughout their cab ride from the airport. (Their driver, like many other unfortunate parties including but not limited to the couples’ young children who will almost certainly watch this footage someday, are generally unseen.) Their problems are various: infidelities, businesses gone awry, boredom, being a stick in the mud, accusing the other of being a stick in the mud, being two sticks in the mud sludging woodily past each other in the night, etc. ‘I messed around with my ex,’ quoth one husband; ‘You want to hold my hand? Why do you want to hold my hand?’ quoth another.

“Taffer begins his salvation by stealthily observing (he is in a nearby deck chair) the couples as they arrive at the resort. It amounts to spying on poolside strangers at a vacation locale and viciously judging their lives based on fleeting observations—or as I call it, a vacation. ‘They have a complete disconnection!’ he declares of one pair. ‘There’s so much to sort out.’ (Later on, the wife in question suggests adopting a stray dog she sees. ‘The kids would love it,’ she says; ‘Mm,’ he replies. Taffer is not wrong!)

“Reconnection occurs via a series of bonding activities—skydiving, parasailing, salsa dancing, clay-doll modeling. (A husband enthusiastically attaches a pair of ‘boobies’ to his: ‘That’s the best part,’ he says, warmly.) These moments are interspersed with Taffer stomping around like the bouncer at the Bada Bing! club to berate the lovers for being insufficiently warm, caring, interested, honest, and/or trusting. True to form, he tends toward vulgarity and volume: ‘That’s such a crock of shit,’ he tells a wife; ‘FIX IT!’ he shrieks at a husband.

“Does Taffer believe in love? Well. He is a divorcé himself, see, one who subsequently remarried and stayed married, for 22 years and counting, not that he’s counting. He is a bad husband and a good one, an ex-husband and a regular husband, yin and yang. And anyway, he knows an inefficiency when he sees one.

“There is, in fact, a specialist floating around somewhere: The credits mention one Dr. R. Sean Hogan, who is billed as a ‘couples consultant’; his LinkedIn profile says that he specializes in reality TV, having consulted on everything from The Voice to Survivor to Top Chef. The good doctor, however, does not appear onscreen. So far as we know, Taffer alone is left to guide our ailing lovers through their misery. Taffer’s advice isn’t bad so much as simplistic—treat one another as equals; your cheating ass needs to win back trust; shit or get off the pot (really).

“Mostly, everyone seems pleasantly surprised to hear these maxims, though one husband gets so worked up by Taffer’s diagnosis that, basically, the husband sucks (he does!), that he stands up and, enhanced by wristy Italian gestures, shouts at Taffer, ‘Fuck you! I’m from Brooklyn, man!’ Besides that Brooklynite and wife, who depart the resort in a huff, our husbands and wives generally cap their episodes with a vow renewal by the sea, and then a lifetime of happily ever after. Surely.

“In any case, Taffer has proven himself a rescuer par excellence. Some other possibilities of things to be rescued via Taffer’s yelling: cats in trees, overdue library books in the keeping of college students, seagull chicks coated in oil. Paramount—call me.”

Marriage Rescue premieres on Paramount on Sunday June 16.