Thursday June 6, 2019

Carrie Underwood extended her run as the most decorated act in the history of the CMT Music Awards with her 20th win last night. Congratulations to her on being the most successful product of any singing competition show this country has ever seen.

Season 4 of Queen of the South premieres on USA tonight.

The season finale of Paradise Hotel airs tonight.

The season finale of Project Runway also airs this evening.

A+E premieres Hero Ink tonight. “Hero Ink follows the daily work at Prison Break Tattoos, a unique shop in Houston, TX that specializes in creating meaningful tattoos for first responders. Bringing together artists who have a connection to the world of first responders and understand their sense of duty, Prison Break Tattoos is a haven for clients to share their stories and pay tribute to the moments on the job that have had a profound impact on their lives. Each half-hour episode features stories from several first responders—including cops, firefighters, EMS professionals and members of the military. Prison Break Tattoos owner BK Klev, a 25-year veteran of the Houston police department, matches each client with the artist he feels will connect with them best and help tell their story through a tattoo. Featured artists are Rich who served in the NYPD for 11 years, military wife Janice Danger, former Marine Tony ‘Four-Fingers,’ Zoey who was rescued by police as a child, and current Houston firefighter Robbie – all with a strong connection to the world of first responders. As the artists work to create a permanent tribute, each client shares their personal and often emotional stories of heroism which are brought to life through body-cam footage, news coverage, and personal photos.”

No Klay Thompson, no Kevin Durant and NBA Finals ratings continue to tumble.

Where will J.J. Abrams land?

Denise Crosby (Star Trek: The Next Generation) is joining the recurring cast of Suits for the USA Network series’ ninth and final season. Crosby will play Faye Richardson, a no-nonsense representative from the New York Bar Association. She comes to the firm to deliver a court order, which has serious consequences.” Don’t know who you are Denise, but welcome aboard!!

Comedy Central is prepping to roast Alec Baldwin.

“Lee Daniels and his Lee Daniels Entertainment have teamed with Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman’s Playtone to develop a miniseries about dancer-singer-actor-musician Sammy Davis Jr.” Congrats.

“After being cast as the title character on The CW’s upcoming Arrovwverse series Batwoman, the first TV series to be headlined by an LBGTQ superhero, Ruby Rose was surprised to receive backlash for saying she identifies as lesbian. . . .’Yeah. I came to the States to get into acting, and I couldn’t even get a manager or agent, so I made a short film based on my life because I had the time to do it. I put it online, just to say, “This is something I wanted to do,” and it went viral, which I didn’t ever expect. And then I got an opportunity to audition for Orange Is the New Black because they wanted to have a gender-neutral character. But I’ve also gotten backlash. And that’s when you realize you have to keep up with the terminology. When I got cast as a lesbian in Batwoman, I didn’t know that being a gender-fluid woman meant that I couldn’t be a lesbian because I’m not a woman — not considered lesbian enough.’”

“‘Can you ever really go too far for your company?’ Ryan Reynolds has a new marketing strategy for his Aviation Gin label, and he’s using Fyre Festival documentary standout Andy King to help pull it off. King, as anyone who watched Netflix’s Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened knows, was a mentor of the doomed music festival’s co-founder Billy McFarlane and he described in the documentary how he was ‘fully prepared’ to perform oral sex on a Bahamian customs official in order to get the trucks of water they needed into the country. Following his overnight viral stardom with the premiere of the film, King now makes a cameo in Reynolds’ new gin ad. ‘How far would you go for your company? It’s a question I ask myself every day,’ Reynolds says, and it gets more suggestive from there. ‘When Aviation recently suggested making a signature bottle, I committed to blowing every single bottle personally… and then engraving them by hand,’ the Deadpool actor adds. As King says, ‘He gets it.’”

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From The Hollywood Reporter: “‘So… Rick Grimes is dead.’

Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman begins the letters column of issue #192 with those five painful words, a sentence few readers ever expected to encounter, even after a monthlong cliffhanger in which Rick's life was left hanging in the balance. All the same, the sentence speaks for itself: Kirkman and artist Charlie Adlard have put an end to Rick Grimes once and for all, at least in comic book form; the version of Rick played by Andrew Lincoln is no longer involved in the Walking Dead TV series, but will live on in a series of movies for AMC.

"‘Rick's death was planned longer than any death in this series,’ Kirkman writes in the monthly column, Letter Hacks. ‘I've been working toward this since I started writing… issue #1. It doesn't make it any easier, but it's been something I've been getting more and more used to as the years got down to months and then weeks… I knew it was coming.’

“According to Kirkman, Rick's death in service of preserving the Commonwealth, the most sprawling and functional community encountered in the series to date, has been in the works for the better part of a decade. While his body is only freshly cold, Kirkman insists Rick's legacy will live on in the issues still to come.

"‘I've said in interviews for many, many years that everyone dies in this story, and that even Rick Grimes won't survive until the end,’ he writes. ‘While this was always Rick's story thus far, as written about in the first issue, that doesn't mean he needs to be alive to be a presence in the series. This is the story of a world, not a man… it's the story of a world profoundly affected by that man, as we'll see starting next issue… but it isn't exclusively Rick's story.’

“As for where the series heads next in July's issue #193, Kirkman concluded the Walking Dead letters column with a vulgar clue: ‘See you next month! And with Rick Grimes gone… who will be the focus of this series?! I'll give you one fucking fuckity guess, you fuckers.’ You don't need to be hit in the head with a barbed-wired baseball bat to know Kirkman's referring to the return of Negan, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan in the television series. Perhaps an increased focus on Negan in the coming issues will translated to the AMC adaptation, with Morgan's turn as the hard-hitting survivor leading to even more of a presence in the seasons to come.

“Speaking of the television series, Kirkman used the letters column to stress how Andrew Lincoln's exit from The Walking Dead had nothing to do with Rick's demise in the comics: ‘I don't like addressing the TV show, simply because it has no bearing on this series. This series informs the show, not the other way around. BUT… we did lose Rick Grimes this year on the TV show as well, although he didn't die. So I feel compelled to state for the record that the events of this issue were in no way a reaction to that. As I stated, this has been planned for a LONG time.’

“In an interview with The New York TimesKirkman elaborated on the relationship between the comics and the show: ‘There's coordination. A lot of the changes on the show end up being contractual. If Andrew Lincoln wants to spend more time with his family or wants to take the character in new directions that necessitates a film series as opposed to our television structure, those are things that we have to take into consideration. I don't really have to deal with that in the comics.’

"‘It's still very much the Wild West on this book,’ he added. ‘I can make crazy decisions that could outright destroy this book if I'm not careful. Walking that tightrope is exhilarating.’"

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“A series adaptation of the Wondery podcast Over My Dead Body is in development at the WarnerMedia streaming service from Elizabeth Banks, Variety has learned exclusively from sources.

“Banks is attached to executive produce and direct the series, which follows Dan and Wendi, two attorneys whose wedding is featured in the New York Times. But when this ‘perfect’ couple falls apart, it leads to a bad breakup, a worse divorce, and a murder case involving a menagerie of high-priced lawyers and unexpected co-conspirators.

“Banks will executive produce under her Brownstone Productions banner, with Brownstone’s Max Handelman also executive producing and Dannah Shinder co-executive producing. Wondery’s founder and CEO Hernan Lopez and chief content officer Marshall Lewy will also executive produce. Warner Bros. Television will produce.

“WarnerMedia declined to comment.

“’Over My Dead Body is a story of family conflict worthy of Shakespeare by way of Fargo,' Lopez said. ‘We’re beyond excited to partner with WarnerMedia and Elizabeth Banks on the TV adaptation.’

“This marks the latest Wondery property to potentially get the series adaptation treatment. The Wondery podcast Dirty John was previously adapted into a Bravo series starring Connie Britton and Eric Bana. The second season of that series, which will feature a new cast and new story, will air on USA Network. Wondery recently hired Aaron Hart as vice president of TV and film development to oversee its development slate.

“News of the series development comes after it was announced that Banks would appear in the upcoming FX limited series Mrs. America opposite Cate Blanchett. Banks is also in post-production on a new film version of Charlie’s Angels, which she wrote, directed, and executive produced in addition to starring as Bosley. Banks has also been increasingly active as a producer in recent years, setting up multiple projects and pilots across all of the broadcast networks and cable channels.

“WarnerMedia’s streaming service is expected to launch a beta version later this year, with original series likely to begin airing on the service in 2020. Kevin Reilly, President of TBS, TNT and TruTV and Chief Content Officer of Direct to Consumer for WarnerMedia, previously said that the service will mine in-house properties to generate new content for the service but that not all originals would be based on WarnerMedia IP.”

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From Vulture: “In the Black Mirror episode Smithereens, Topher Grace plays a character named Billy Bauer, the founder and head of a social media company called Smithereen. Billy is on a meditation retreat when he gets a call that a man with a gun (Chris, played by Andrew Scott) has taken a Smithereen employee hostage, demanding to speak to Billy so he can explain how the company has destroyed his life.

“Grace’s Billy is well-intentioned and empathetic about what’s happened to Chris, but he also feels just as powerless to control Smithereen’s role in his life as Chris does. Vulture spoke with Grace about whether his character is based on any particular person, the pleasure of working on Black Mirror, and the parallels between his Black Mirror character and his BlacKkKlansman character David Duke:

Your character in Smithereens, Billy, is someone we hear about for the whole first half of the episode before he appears, and when he shows up he’s this wealthy founder of a giant tech company who’s on a meditative retreat. Is he based on anyone in particular? 
You know it’s funny, I just finished BlacKkKlansman, and it’s kind of the same thing. It’s a character you’re hearing about for the first half, so the legend of this person is getting filled up. When I was reading the Black Mirror script, I wasn’t expecting him to be as evil as David Duke, but I was bracing myself. It’s a testament to how great a writer Charlie [Brooker, Black Mirror co-creator] is that [Billy] is nothing like what I was picturing. I was psyched to play the character anyhow, but then when I got there I thought, Oh man, only a genius writer like Charlie could go the other direction with it.

In terms of who it’s based on, what I liked was that it was different from BlacKkKlansman. That was a real thing, based on a real person, someone that people know. Smithereen is not a specific company, and I felt like Charlie was doing the same thing with [Billy].

When I came into it, I was thinking that what all of these guys have in common is that they’ve created their own legend. They’re good at it. All these tech guys — we didn’t know about their platform and now it’s all we use in every part of our life, and we didn’t know about them, and now they’re like some kind of digital god. The thing they all have in common is they branded themselves beforehand, made it very easy to leap into everyone’s mind very quickly. Richard Branson, the first time I saw him … they just know how to look different in a crowd. Steve Jobs had a different way of standing out. The purpose is to maneuver through the media easily. So I thought this guy, not only would he look like that, but also his relationship with spirituality is probably like that, too.

We don’t get a lot of detail about how exactly Smithereen works as a platform, but I was looking at the costume design for Billy and the idea that he’s on this retreat —
Charlie pointed out to me, which I think is so great, the fact that they can’t get in touch with this guy is just the height of irony.

Ha, yes. To me he seemed a lot like Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, who got so much blowback for this retreat he went on where he was fasting and trying to get away from it all, but also tweeting about it. 
[Laughs.] Yeah. What I thought reading the script was that I was glad it wasn’t one specific person. By the way, I wanted to shave my head bald at first, and they talked me out of it. I really wanted to go at it with a Bic razor, because I think all of these guys have a look. But I was going to do press for BlacKkKlansman after that and it was pointed out to me that I probably shouldn’t do press for BlacKkKlansman with a shaved head.

That does seem wise. 
You know, I don’t want to talk about anyone in particular, but Billy’s relationship with the company and the technology he created is very similar to all our relationships to technology. What I loved about this episode specifically is that it showed the double-edged sword of how much easier it is for this tech company to figure out what’s going on than it is for the government. So that’s helpful. But then there are the inner workings of what’s wrong with the company. He has this relationship with the company where it’s a runaway train for him.

Ten years ago if I told you what all an iPhone would be able to do, you’d be like, “Give me one right now!” And your mind would be blown, right? And you have an iPhone, don’t you?

I am talking to you on one right now. 
Exactly! But you could probably now tell me how that phone has also made your life worse. Not to pick on any one company, but what’s great about the episode is that it shows both sides.

By the end of the episode, you get to this place where there’s a deeply traumatized, suicidal guy who Billy’s trying to talk down — 
And by the way, Andrew Scott? Like, c’mon. He was signed when I read the script, and I just saw this a couple weeks ago and couldn’t believe his performance.

Oh, yeah, fantastic. And so good in Fleabag! But Billy is trying to calm him down, and Billy ends up telling this story about how he also feels trapped by the company, about how he’s also incapable of escaping. Do you think of Billy as sympathetic? Or are we meant to find him ridiculous? 
I was just the actor, you know, and when you’re working with a writer like Charlie and the director James Hawes, you’re putting yourself in their hands and they’re really telling the story. What I can say about it for me is that I just don’t care what the audience’s opinion of the character is. There was a time when I did care more if the character was likable, but maybe I’m older and more secure with myself now. I had a moment a couple years ago where I decided I wanted to play characters who were really challenging. And part of what you’re talking about is the challenge. There’s not just one facet to this character. It’s really confusing when you start to work on them, and rewarding.

I’m still curious about whether you think he actually is as trapped as he says he is. 
Oh, I mean, I don’t know! It’s like one guy is an asshole and to someone else that same person is a savior. That’s just how it is — we’re all right for people and wrong to other people. Who am I to judge? I guess personally, I don’t like people like this! Someone who portrays himself like a mogul, he probably deserves what Billy’s going through, at the very least.

From the outside it’s a fascinating way of trying to get inside his mind. You can imagine once this thing has started, the company would start rolling along and you could start to feel like you’d lost control. But he still has more control than the users, right? It becomes a lie he tells himself.
You know, what I will tell you, in terms of the ambiguity of a character like that, it’s the hardest thing to find! The reason they’re so sparse is because people’s visions become compromised. What’s amazing about what Charlie and Annabel [Jones, Black Mirror co-creator] have going on there, I kept calling it “farm to table.” What you see on the screen is exactly like the script I read. Not every project you’re in — there can be too many cooks in the kitchen. This was exactly Charlie’s vision, and Annabel’s a part of that. It’s such a pleasure to see it up onscreen and say, “That’s what it’s supposed to be!”

You were thinking about shaving your head. How did you end up with the man bun instead?
It was just talking to them about how these guys always stand out. I don’t know whether his relationship with spirituality or whatever he’s into up there is a real thing or not. Who knows how in touch he is with reality. But I just thought, this guy is on the way up. They find some way to separate themselves from the crowd.

Was it a wig? 
Oh, that is not my hair.

So you’ve now played a white supremacist (in BlacKkKlansman) and a tech mogul of a company that ruins peoples’ lives. Which one do you think is more dangerous?
What a loaded question! Well, definitely the white supremacist. There’s no question. But I understand what you’re saying! Everyone has to look at themselves in the mirror. It’s really about — well, it’s there in the title!”

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From The Ringer: “Call Madeline Mackenzie a shit-stirrer, and the odds are good that she’ll thank you for it.

“Drama is, after all, a way of life for Big Little Lies’ queen bee, played with manic aplomb by Reese Witherspoon. Over matters big and small—OK, they’re mostly small—she’s advised to bury the hatchet; as a rule, she responds by digging up hatchets buried by other people and adding them to her arsenal instead. She forms a clique—her, Celeste (Nicole Kidman), and Jane (Shailene Woodley)—of the sort not seen since sixth grade’s first vicious rush of hormones, and uses it to draw battle lines among the other mothers at Otter Bay Elementary School. Chief among them: her dreaded frenemy, Renata (Laura Dern), who insists on aggressively mispronouncing Madeline’s name (Renata says ‘line’ instead of “'lyn’). But that’s just as well: Madeline’s defining line—’I love my grudges. I tend to them like little pets.’—doubles as her raison d’être. Why make nice when the opposite is so much more exciting?

“But a funny thing happened as the first season of Big Little Lies came to a close: Madeline ran out of enemies. Her community theater production of Avenue Q was finally approved by the city, ending her First Amendment crusade. Then, detente was reached between Renata and Madeline’s respective crews when Renata learned at last that Jane’s son, Ziggy, was not the one who kept hurting Renata’s pigtailed Amabella. Madeline’s other favored conflict resolved into niceties as well, in still more dramatic fashion. Much of Season 1 dealt with Madeline’s angst over her ex-husband, Nathan (James Tupper), and his beautiful, cool, enlightened second wife, Bonnie (Zoë Kravitz), who had the nerve to move into the same school district. Then the finale saw Bonnie—whose let’s-just-be-friends overtures had only infuriated Madeline up to that point—charge forward to push Perry (Alexander Skarsgård), husband to and abuser of Celeste, as well as violent rapist of Jane, to his death. It’s not your traditional bonding experience, to be sure—but Season 1 concluded with all five women enjoying a day at the beach together with their children. Mischief managed.

“Except, of course, that Madeline thrives on unresolved mischief. So as we barrel down Highway 1 toward Big Little Lies’ second season, which debuts Sunday on HBO, what’s a drama queen to do? Who will she beef with now that peace has come to Monterey?

“Well, OK—’peace’ is maybe not the right description of ‘aftermath of a grisly death and communal cover-up.’ Season 1 took place within the framing device of the police department’s press conference announcing its investigation into Perry’s death, and initial interrogations of witnesses. As Season 2 gets underway, we can assume that the investigation will dominate—we saw the fivesome’s beachside frolic in part through the binoculars of one of the detectives working the case, so it’s safe to count Monterey PD as a source of friction. (Madeline spending a night in the slammer would be appointment viewing, I’m just saying.) And then there’s the small matter of Meryl freakin’ Streep, who arrives this season as Perry’s mother, intent on finding out what happened to her son and, presumably, seeking justice.

“Some of the old problems remain. Season 1 saw a few bumps in the road for Madeline’s marriage to Ed (Adam Scott)—bumps laid, alas, by a pothole-loving contractor from hell, Madeline herself. Mostly, strife arrived at Chez Fog Beach courtesy of Madeline’s harping on and on about Nathan, whose daughter with Bonnie joined the same kindergarten class as Madeline and Ed’s daughter, Chloe. Madeline raged at everything from Bonnie’s decidedly more laid-back parenting (she took Abigail, Madeline and Nathan’s shared teenage daughter, to Planned Parenthood to get birth control) to Nathan’s audacity to so much as share her airspace: ‘Monterey has 30,000 people and I can’t go to a goddamn yoga class without seeing him and her?’ All this, in turn, made Ed wonder whether her feelings for him were sincere. He tells Madeline, heartbreakingly, that he ‘will not be anybody’s runner-up’ and eventually asks if he’s even her ‘the one.’ She tells him yes—and then steals a kiss with the local theater director, with whom she previously had an affair, seemingly out of boredom. Not exactly inspirational stuff.

“But while Lies’ first season was more interested in what Madeline saw in Ed and whether he could fulfill and, just as importantly, placate her, it might be time to give Ed some space to contemplate what it is that he sees in Madeline. Ed after all, is a catch: smart, thoughtful, romantic, true to himself, funny (if in a decidedly goofy way), and wealthy (an all-important add-on in Monterey); he might be the only truly stable person on the show—’good old steady Eddy,’ as he puts it—let alone the only truly positive role model for all these kids. (Bonnie might have made that list before, but, well, you know.) In Season 1, Ed often found himself exasperated by Madeline’s relentless drama-seeking—at one point, he suggested that he might make an app to keep track of all her feuds, and he made no secret of his growing hurt at his wife’s obsession with Nathan. Surely Ed won’t be thrilled that she’s added being an accomplice to a killing to her list of troublesome side projects.

“Then again, we know how Ed feels about violence. In one of Season 1’s more memorable exchanges, he told Nathan that he was bullied as a child. “'Some 30 years later, it still haunts me that I didn’t beat the shit out of that kid,’ Ed says. ‘So much so, I find myself fantasizing that someone will come along one day and say or do something to me that’ll offer me the chance to redeem myself.’ It could be that Ed—assuming he gets the truth from Madeline, which is a big if—understands what prompted the demise of a veritable monster like Perry.

“Throughout Season 1, it was Ed who worked to keep Madeline’s worst instincts in check, trying to dissuade her from everything from counterprogramming Amabella’s birthday party to escalating disagreements with Nathan and Bonnie to confronting the man she mistakenly believed to be Jane’s rapist. If she loses him in her corner, it will be bad news for Madeline—but great news, perhaps, for those of us who want to see Monterey’s drama rage.”