Monday June 17, 2019

Not much to rant and rave about these days. Pass on Amazon’s Too Old To Die Young. I thought HBO’s Euphoria was ok. Ditto for Netflix series Trinkets. Nothing special and nothing you should make sure not to miss.

I did enjoy The Chef Show with Jon Favreau and Roy Choi, which you can stream on Netflix. I’ve only watched a couple of them, but certainly not a bad investment of your time.

All 8 episodes of Das Boot are available to stream on Hulu.

ABC premieres Grand Hotel tonight.

Gloria Vanderbilt has passed away at the age of 95.

Is Marie Kondo a fraud?

Big Brother returns on June 25 and “CBS on Monday unveiled the 16 cast members who will compete on Season 21, including a Broadway dancer, a college soccer star and — most intriguing of all — a ‘wine safari guide.’ This summer’s houseguests are also quite young: With the exception of petroleum engineer Cliff Fogg III, who is 53 years old, the entire cast is comprised of 20- and 30-somethings. (That includes model Jessica Milagros, whose age is described as ‘30-ish.’) The three youngest contestants — college student Ovi Kabir, public health analyst Isabella Wang and the aforementioned Analyse — clock in at just 22 years old.”

Spectrum Originals has renewed L.A.’s Finest for a 2nd season.

I watched the season premiere of season 33 of The Real World on Facebook Watch. My one question, why only 30 minutes?

Spencer Pratt and wife Heidi Montag didn’t celebrate The Hills: New Beginnings with the rest of the cast. The couple was noticeably absent from the group’s ‘family dinner’ at Vandal in New York this week with original cast members Audrina Patridge, Stephanie Pratt, Brody Jenner, Justin Bobby, Frankie Delgado, and Jason Wahler, along with newcomers Mischa Barton, Brandon Thomas Lee, Brody’s wife Kaitlynn Carter Jenner and Jason’s wife Ashley Slack, we’re told. An onlooker also told us that Jenner “happily obliged” fans who asked for selfies while he was at the bar grabbing a drink. The Pratts’ absence comes amid their ongoing feud with Spencer’s sister, Stephanie. The two have been publicly fighting for months, with Stephanie most recently saying her brother is ‘married to the devil.’ Prior to that, Spencer claimed his relationship with his estranged sister was like ‘living with this evil around me.’ As for their absence, Pratt told Page Six on Friday that they had purchased tickets to a Broadway show with their son, Gunner.”

History is gearing up to premiere Prometheus Entertainment’s non-fiction series The UnXplained, hosted and executive produced by William Shatner. The 8 x 60-minute anthology series will look to tackle mysteries such as cursed ancient cities to extraterrestrial sightings. The UnXplained will explore the facts behind some of the world’s most strange and bizarre mysteries, and features top scientists, historians, engineers and researchers who are trying to shed light on how the seemingly impossible can happen. Debuting on July 19 at 10 p.m. ET/PT, The UnXplained is produced by Prometheus Entertainment, the company behind Ancient Aliens.”

You can add Lena Headey to the list of Game of Thrones fans left unsatisfied by Cersei Lannister’s Season 8 demise. In an interview with The Guardian, Headey revealed that she has ‘a few of my own gripes’ with how the final season played out, but she hasn’t gotten a chance to ‘[sit] down drunkenly with [showrunners] David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] yet.’ When she does get to air her grievances, though? ‘I will say I wanted a better death,’ Headey admitted. As Thrones fans will recall, Cersei and twin brother Jaime perished in the HBO drama’s penultimate episode, crushed under debris as the Red Keep fell around them — a result of Daenerys taking over King’s Landing and dismantling it via Drogon’s fiery breath. At the time, quite a few fans voiced their dissatisfaction with Cersei’s death, with many suggesting that a seasons-long villain did not get a meaningful comeuppance.”


Girls creator Lena Dunham is returning to HBO.

“The actress and prolific producer is teaming with newcomers Konrad Kay and Mickey Down for Industry, an eight-episode drama series set in the world of international finance. (It's unclear if Dunham will have an onscreen role.)

“The series is based on Kay and Down's personal experience. It explores the world of international finance through the eyes of ambitious 20-somethings struggling to secure their futures. Industry follows a group of young graduates competing for a limited set of permanent positions at a top investment bank in London — but the boundaries between colleague, friend, lover and enemy soon blur as they immerse themselves in a company culture defined as much by sex, drugs and ego as it is by deals and dividends. As members of the group rise and fall, they must decide whether life is about more than the bottom line. 

“Kay and Down created the series and penned the scripts. The duo will also exec produce alongside Dunham, who will direct the pilot. Industry marks Dunham's first series at HBO since she split with longtime producing partner Jenni Konner. Together, the duo's credits included Girls and limited series Camping, both for HBO. Since their creative split last summer, both have inked solo producing deals with the premium cable network.

Industry hails from Bad Wolf, the British indie production company behind HBO's The Night Of and upcoming His Dark Materials as well as Sundance's A Discovery of Witches. This is the first TV series for Kay and Down, who together wrote and directed feature film Gregor, which earned a Discovery Award at the British Independent Film Awards — where Bad Wolf first took notice of the duo. The company, fronted by founder Jane Tranter, has been working with them since.

"‘Mickey and Konrad’s talent, drive and commitment was obvious to us the moment we met them,’ she said. ‘The scripts for Industry have an energy and direction that comes from their first-hand experience of the trading floor, and their ear for sharp dialogue immediately captured our attention. We're excited to be making their first TV drama series with HBO — who are never afraid to make bold decisions and support new talent.’

“The series, which will be shot in Cardiff this summer, is part of Bad Wolf's commitment to scouting and nurturing new talent. The Cardiff- and L.A.-based company places a priority on providing opportunities for other behind-the-scenes roles on indie-scale dramas and creating a new wave of production talent to meet the growing global demand for quality content.

“Down, Kay, Tranter, Lachlan MacKinnon, Ryan Rasmussen and Dunham will all exec produce the series.”


Per The Hollywood Reporter, “HBO's much-buzzed-about teen drama Euphoria debuted Sunday after star Zendaya warned audiences about the show's ‘raw,’ ‘graphic’ and ‘triggering’ content just hours earlier on Instagram. But what most viewers might not have known when they tuned into the new series is that it’s actually the deeply personal story of creator Sam Levinson.

“The 34-year-old showrunner and son of director Barry Levinson opened up about his own experience with addiction ahead of the premiere of the hourlong drama. ‘Since around the age of 18 or 19 before I cleaned up, I was always playing around with this idea of chronicling a version of myself from birth to, in its own crazy, mad way, discovering drugs and the need for it,’ he told The Hollywood Reporter.

“For Levinson, who spent his teen years in and out of hospitals, rehabs and halfway houses as he tried to quell his anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder, whatever television show he ended up making was always going to explore why he started using drugs. ‘Not that I necessarily have a clear answer for it,’ he says. ‘But it was something that I was always trying to write about in a way that felt universal even though it is such a personal experience.’

“Now 14 years clean, Levinson found a way to infuse his own experiences into Euphoria, which stars Zendaya as Rue, a 17-year-old drug addict navigating high school relationships in the age of social media and perpetual anxiety. The drama, HBO’s first major teen-centered show, doesn't hold much back — but Levinson is hoping that the show's boundary-pushing material will shed light on what it's actually like to be a young person today. ‘I just feel like there is such a disconnect between what young people are going through and what everyone else thinks they're going through,’ he says.

“Levinson sat down with THR to talk about which storylines he drew from his own past (yes, that intense kitchen scene happened in real life), what it was like to capture all the nudity on camera (‘It's just awkward’) and the reaction he's gotten from parents (‘They're fairly inarticulate about it because it is overwhelming.’):

You’ve funneled your own life story into the show’s various characters. In what ways are you like Zendaya’s Rue?

It’s a lot of the actual things that Rue goes through, whether it's rehabs or being prescribed medications at an early age for anxiety and a host of other disorders — some of them valid, maybe other ones not so much. Also, her anxiety and her general outlook on how she is able to make it through life is a hundred percent true. The idea of having a panic attack at an early age [and] going to the hospital and getting valium for the first time and going, “Oh, this is it.” That moment. And just feeling like you’re out of control of your emotions. All of those things are true.

And how are you like Hunter Schafer’s character, Jules?

The story in the pilot between Nate (Jacob Elordi) and Jules, where Jules picks up a kitchen knife and [cuts herself], that's a real story. I was at a party, I was wearing a dress or some outlandish outfit and I was about to get the shit beaten out of me. I thought, “Maybe I can avoid getting punched and beaten up if I hurt myself first.” I don't mean to turn this into a therapy session, but I have a very even temperament on set, yet there was this really surreal moment [in an upcoming episode] where I had to go in the other room and take a deep breath and go, “This is pretty incredible that I was once there and now I'm here re-creating pieces of it and putting it into other characters who can then tell their own stories.” I also think it's a way of telling that version of myself when I was that age that, like, it's going to be okay. Just be easy on yourself.

What did you see in Zendaya, who’d mostly acted on Disney Channel and in family movies up until this point, that made you think she could play this character?

It was an instinct. But if you watch her in The Greatest Showman or K.C. Undercover, or if you watch her in interviews or in Instagram videos, there is a warmth that radiates from her and also a sensitivity and a vulnerability that she tries her damndest to hold back sometimes. And I just thought that for this character, who makes some pretty poor decisions in life and is very easy to judge and to dislike because of the things she does, the audience would be on her side no matter what. I didn't think she would ever do the project.

Why not?

Because it’s tough material and it's graphic in its depiction of drug use. It can be tough to watch for some people. Just given what she had done prior, I thought, “I don't think she's going do this.” Or that her team might not let her do it. But she got a hold of the scripts and the moment I heard she wanted to meet, I was excited. She came in hoodie up with her glasses and she started talking, and even though she has lived a very different life, I just immediately was like, “This is it. She's Rue.”

Were you concerned that some of her younger fans, who will likely want to watch anything she’s in, might not be old enough for this kind of mature content?

As someone who struggled with drug addiction and overcame drug addiction, I'm very sensitive to portrayals of drug addiction, and I understand that she has a large following of young people, but I do think our show is very authentic and responsible in the way in which it depicts drug use. It's not a cautionary tale, it's not an after-school special, but it shows how drugs can destroy your life. It also shows how they can quiet the anxiety and the feelings you may be having in a given moment — but ultimately the consequences are very real and devastating.

Since Zendaya herself has said she hasn’t had a lot of those experiences in life, was there ever a moment where you thought about casting someone who’d actually lived it?

I studied method acting for four years and I'm a big believer in the idea that it's not about the actual experience itself. You don't have to go through exactly what this character has gone through. We don't ever ask Gerard Butler has he ever fought off a terrorist attack in [Washington] D.C. But I believe that if you can find the emotional parallels in your own life, then you can portray it honestly and authentically. And from day one, I was very open with [Zendaya] about my experiences and just the physicality of it. I remember sitting in my office with her, just talking about, “When you're high, you're trying to figure out how to use as few muscles as possible, so you can use your elbow but don't use your wrist and just let it hang there. And you just have to kind of slump into it in a way.” That kind of stuff.

A lot of the young cast has talked about how they trusted you with helping them get to these dark places within themselves. Did you feel at all like you were a parent figure of sorts on set?

Yeah, because I care so deeply about all of them. I want them not only to do good work, but I want them to feel good about the work while they're doing it because it's tough stuff. There are tough places you have to go to just emotionally. So I think it's important to just keep in mind that the work doesn't end when the scene ends. You want to check on someone to make sure everyone’s good, and also create an environment where everyone is rooting for one another.

Did you find yourself having conversations with the actors that weren't even directly related to the show but what were about what they were dealing with in life?

No, because I try to keep it about the work. I'm writing, I'm directing, I'm editing, I'm mixing, I'm showrunning. There is a certain point where it's like, the work is the work. I'm interested in the emotional parallels of their own life, but I'm not a therapist. There are actual therapists out there who people should reach out to if they feel the need to.

That’s fair. Who do you think the audience for the show is?

I think the audience is everyone.

Really? All ages?

I mean, over the age of 17 or 18. I’m not the MPAA or whatever, but I think it's for anyone who is old enough to watch the show and for any generation older than them. Even though older generations may not relate to the specifics of, let's say, some of the issues related to the internet, they'll relate to the emotional world of it. In the same way that like I can watch The Breakfast Club and go, “Oh that feels authentic in some way,” or, “I see myself in this character or that character or this character,” we wanted to look at it from a very human perspective and an emotional perspective, because I think that transcends all ages and groups.

I feel like it wouldn't be hard for kids under 17 or 18 to easily find this show. Do you think they could watch it?

I mean, it's interesting when young people see the show. There were some people who brought their kids to the premiere, and the one comment that we consistently get from young people is, “This feels so real,” which is interesting because I think there is something that it's dealing with that I don't know if young people have seen before. In terms of who should watch it and what age, I'm not the right person to ask. That's a parental question. I remember my parents wouldn't let me watch certain movies when I was younger. I watched them anyway, and I didn't have anyone to talk to about those films that I saw. I think it would've been great if I was able to have that conversation about whatever movie it may have been. So I think if you feel like your kid is going to watch it regardless of what you say, then maybe you should watch it with them and have a conversation about it. But I also completely understand if parents have absolutely no desire for their children to watch it because it's hard to predict how ultimately something affects an individual. Something could be extremely overwhelming, and I'm sensitive to it even with my own son. He's 3 years old, and I don't like when he's watching something and there's a really suspenseful score. I feel like it just soaks into him and it gives him anxiety. But he's also 3. If he was 13 or 14, I would a hundred percent … I mean, I would've had these conversations. I would be talking to him about his life. I just feel like there is such a disconnect between what young people are going through and what everyone else thinks they're going through.

What about your parents? Have they seen Euphoria and if so, what did they think?

Yeah, it's funny, I always send everything to [my mom]. I share every script with her. I feel like she's the perfect audience in some way because she is very emotional, but she has limits. I remember when I gave her the pilot, there was the voiceover for the prologue and then no voiceover [for the rest of the show]. And my mother called me and she said, “I was reading the script and I thought that there was some great stuff in it, but then I got to this scene with the choking and I just thought it was just too much and I threw it in the garbage."

So we have that one scene to thank for Zendaya’s narration throughout the show?

Yeah, and it’s one I’m curious to hear people's opinions on, because I think it's a complicated scene. It's about consent inside of sex, but it's also about agency and being able to own up to what you want, what you don't want, when you want it — and it’s also about acknowledging when you have crossed a line or made a mistake. As much as I love political people and passionate people, I’m not interested in making art that's easy, and I'm not interested in having things that feel like they're teaching a lesson for everyone as opposed to exploring the kind of nuances of what leads to an uncomfortable situation like that. That's something that's very important to me. It's not judging these characters — it’s allowing them to be messy and make mistakes and do things that, like, we may not feel good about. You care about them and you want them to make the right decision, but they don't and that's what it's like to be a parent. They have to find their own way.

There are obviously a lot of sex scenes in the series. How did having an intimacy coordinator help that process behind-the-scenes?

Everyone had the scripts for the first four episodes, so they knew what certain scenes called for — but I think the wonderful part about having an intimacy coordinator is that if an actor doesn't feel comfortable doing something, no matter what they agreed to do before, they have the right to not do it. Our intimacy coordinator's main job was to be an advocate, someone who can talk to the actors. Because I know that the dynamic between the director and actor is ... well, I know that they want to do a good job and it's weird. Talking about a sex scene beforehand or shooting a sex scene, it's all uncomfortable. No one is thrilled about it. They're emotionally draining in that respect, and so it's nice to have someone come in and say, “Alright, so what are you thinking for this?” And I can have a conversation with Amanda [Blumenthal], our intimacy coordinator, and then she can go and she can talk to the actor and tell them, “So this is what he's thinking. What are you comfortable with?” And then she comes back, we talk again, then we all get together and we all have a conversation and we plan for it in the same way that we plan for any stunt scene. It’s just such a weight off of your shoulders as a filmmaker and also a production, too. I would never not work with an intimacy coordinator.

Because there was so much nudity in the show, did it feel like you got more comfortable with it all? Did it get easier along the way?

No, because I'm always sensitive to it. I don't even like getting my picture taken because I feel terrible about the way I look. I'm so self-conscious about things. [Sex scenes are] always tough to shoot. I mean, it's not like we're all sitting around going, like, “Oh, fuck, this is brutal,” or whatever. It's just awkward. Because the stuff that you have to wear and the things the actors have to ... it's all so strange. To have to simulate sex in front of a small, pared-down version of the crew, the fact is it’s an odd thing to do. It's just weird.

Someone was telling me the intimacy coordinator on set could say when you needed to be done with takes if she could see in the actors’ faces that they were tired of doing it. Is that true?

There's funny legalities. Like, “Oh they're not allowed to hook up in the front seat, the rider says that they can only hook up in the back seat.” So if two people are kissing in the front seat of a car and it's, like, heavy petting or something, Amanda would be like, "Sam, you have to cut." I'm like, "Why? They're supposed to hook up." And she's like, "Well, the rider says for the back seat, not the front seat." Just the way HBO legal would do the contracts, it's very specific as to what you can show and what you can't show [based on] how it’s written in the script. There are so many of these kind of technicalities that that’s the beauty of having an intimacy coordinator is I don't have to deal with them.

HBO executive Casey Bloys has said the series “isn’t just sensational to be sensational,” noting that a lot of it is drawn from your own life.

Right, we're not anarchists. We try to be really thoughtful about it just in terms of the conversations that we have between ourselves, between the producers, between HBO, between editorial. Julio Perez, our supervising editor, is someone I rely on a lot. And then also with the actors, the consultants, the intimacy coordinators, the trans consultants. We try to look at it from a number of different perspectives of, how does this feel? How does this land so that we're not operating in an insulated way? It's a really creative and collaborative environment. So I think we're cognizant of what we're doing and trying to depict and where the limits are. There are certain things that we don't want to push, we don't want to bring it into an area that feels exploitative or feels like it fits the universe of it.

How would you rate the show if you had to?

I got an NC-17 on Assassination Nation, even though there is no nudity in the movie, there is a nude watercolor — and they gave the movie an NC-17 rating because of that nude drawing. So I can't even imagine what they would do with this.”

This interview has been condensed


From PEOPLE: “The unlikeliest of house flipping duos is coming to Bravo this summer!

Flipping Exes follows ex-girlfriend and boyfriend Nina Klemm and Michael LeSure, two friendly exes who broke up then went into business together, as they buy, makeover and sell high-end homes for a profit.

“The series, debuting in August, is set in Carmel, Indiana, a town Klemm, a licensed realtor and designer who’s worked with clients ranging from professional athletes to CEOs, calls ‘the Beverly Hills of the Midwest.' And that’s not just real estate jargon. CNN and Town & Country have previously ranked Carmel the number one place to live in America.

“‘It’s a real estate goldmine,’ she says in a preview (above) that premiered exclusively with PEOPLE.

“The homes they flip are high end — and therefore high stakes — adding to the tensions already simmering between the mostly-friendly exes, who can be seen battling it out in the trailer. But their shared competitive spirit makes the business work.

“‘No one flips rundown properties faster than Michael and I,’ says Klemm. ‘People think I’m crazy for going into business with Michael, but despite the fact that Michael and I broke up, we do work well together.’

“‘But we do argue a lot,’ adds LeSure, a former football player and current bodybuilder, oversees construction and operations.

“Amid all the drama, the show, which counts Bobby Flay as one of its executive producers, delivers on super satisfying before-and-after reveals, making it a must-see for the HGTV crowd and lovers of a reality TV throw down.

Flipping Exes premieres Tuesday, August 6 at 10 P.M. ET/PT on Bravo.”


From The Hollywood Reporter: “Stranger Things breakout Gaten Matarazzo has landed a second show at Netflix.

“Matarazzo will host and executive produce Prank Encounters, a hidden-camera series. The eight-episode show is set to premiere later in 2019.

“Netflix describes the series as a ‘terrifying and hilarious prank show’ that takes two complete strangers who each think they're starting their first day at a new job. It's business as usual until their paths cross and their part-time jobs turn into full-time nightmares.

“The series comes from Propagate, whose Ben Silverman, Howard T. Owens and Kevin Healey executive produce with Matarazzo and Rob Hyde (Terrence Howard's Fright Club, Troy). Undercover Boss and Dance Moms veteran Anthony Gonzales directs.

“Matarazzo plays Dustin on Stranger Things; the show's third season bows July 4 and is set in the summer of 1985 and will feature a terrifying new creature. It's the first producing credit for the 16-year-old, who was one of The Hollywood Reporter's Top 30 Stars Under 18 in 2018.

“The actor also plays in a band with siblings Carmen and Sabrina and devotes his time to raising awareness for cleidocranial dysplasia, a condition that affects development of bones and teeth. He helped launch a foundation to help families pay for dental bills for kids with the condition.”