Monday June 10, 2019

I watched season 5 of Black Mirror and finished Chernobyl this weekend. Just some light entertainment. I recommend both.

Breaking down last night’s season premiere of Big Little Lies.

Big Little Lies author Liane Moriarty, who wrote the story for the second season, told The Hollywood Reporter at the season two premiere that the Mary Louise and Celeste storyline will be a central focus of the coming episodes — as will Bonnie's storyline, which is a significant change from the original novel. (The first season used up all the source material from Moriarty's bestselling book.) ‘Bonnie has a really important storyline to come out,’ she said, ‘But yes, I think [Mary Louise] is the main problem. I think others might disagree with me, I don’t know. Just being the outsider. But there are a couple new characters.’ Said series creator and writer David E. Kelley, ‘I would say we go a little bit broader, but mostly we go deeper. There are more stories to tell when you look at the Monterey Five plus one. But the key at the beginning was not to expand the canvas so much, although we do, but to drill down deeper on what we’ve got, especially when dealing with the malignancy of the lie. And that’s going to live at a very low level and it’s going to take a little spelunking in order to get at with the various characters. The biggest challenge for me was keeping the entertainment and the fun part along with the dark side. And we’ve been blessed with a pretty gifted group of actors.’"

I thought Billions ended on a high note again, although it’s very difficult for that show to disappoint me.

Wasn’t happy to read this: “NBC’s The Good Place will end with its fourth season, creator and executive producer Mike Schur announced Friday night during a For Your Consideration panel discussion at the Television Academy. ‘After The Good Place was picked up for season two, the writing staff and I began to map out, as best we could, the trajectory of the show. Given the ideas we wanted to explore, and the pace at which we wanted to present those ideas, I began to feel like four seasons – just over 50 episodes – was the right lifespan. At times over the past few years we’ve been tempted to go beyond four seasons, but mostly because making this show is a rare, creatively fulfilling joy, and at the end of the day, we don’t want to tread water just because the water is so warm and pleasant. As such, the upcoming fourth season will be our last,’ Schur said in a statement.”

Lisa Vanderpump has officially called it quits on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, sources tell Variety. Vanderpump has been a mainstay of the show since the beginning, but will likely now focus her efforts towards her other Bravo reality series Vanderpump Rules. She had previously told the Daily Mail that she would not be returning, and appeared to make good on her word by skipping the season 9 reunion which filmed on Thursday. During a ceremony to unveil the Real to Reel: Portrayals and Perceptions of LGBTQ’s in Hollywood exhibit on Thursday, at which Vanderpump was being honored with the Legacy of Hollywood Award, Councilman Mitch O’Farrell introduced her as a real housewife, but Vanderpump set him straight. ‘Not any more,’ she replied. The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills premiered back in 2010, and Vanderpump was one of the original cast members alongside Taylor Armstrong, Camille Grammer, Adrienne Maloof, Kim Richards, and Kyle Richards. While all the other housewives left the show at various stages, Vanderpump and Kyle Richards had been the only two to remain throughout the show’s run.”

HBO has canceled Vice News Tonight.

Showtime is further investing in the two key creative forces behind its hit drama Billions. The premium cable network has signed exec producers and co-creators Brian Koppelman and David Levien to an overall deal. Terms of the deal — including its length and financial details — were not immediately available. Under the pact, Koppelman and Levien — who co-created Billionsalongside Andrew Ross Sorkin — will continue to serve as showrunners on the Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis drama, as well as develop new projects for the cabler.”

Showtime has also released the first episode of the Kevin Bacon-led cop drama City on a Hill for free via YouTube, Facebook and SHO.com, ahead of its official series premiere on June 16.

I watched episode 1. It’s ok. Definitely good enough to get me to check out episode 2, but it doesn’t feel like a must watch show just yet. I believe it very well could be though. That said, the soundtrack is fantastic.

CBS has canceled The Red Line. Yeah, the fact that you’ve never even heard of it is likely why it’s not coming back.

HBO has cancelled Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas after two seasons.

Oprah Winfrey is jumping in on the When They See Us conversation. The legendary talk show host will moderate two panels related to the Netflix show to close out the streamer’s Emmy FYSee showcase. Both conversations will be recorded to premiere on Netflix and OWN on Wednesday, June 12 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The first panel will feature Winfrey interviewing the cast of the show, including Niecy Nash, Jharrel Jerome, Michael K. Williams, Joshua Jackson, Asante Blackk, Caleel Harris, Ethan Herisse, Jovan Adepo, and Chris Chalk. While the second will be a conversation with Ava DuVernay, who co-wrote and directed all four episodes of the limited series, alongside the five exonerated men – Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise – who were wrongly convicted in the 1989 Central Park Five case.”

Conan O’Brien is ready for a Deep Dive with Dana. He and master of impressions Dana Carvey, it turns out, had so much fun talking to each other on Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend that they decided to keep it going with a new podcast miniseries coming this August. ‘It’s basically just me setting him up and him doing routines, and it’s been an absolute joy,’ O’Brien said on Conan. ‘We have a very similar sense of humor,” Carvey added. “It’s very acidy, redundant phrases that make our brains happy.’ As a little taste, Carvey teased an impression of Johnny Carson he recorded where the setup involved the former Tonight Show host getting pulled over in his car in the ’70s for drinking too many ‘Strawberry Boom Booms at the Slippery Tim’s.’ There are six episodes of what O’Brien calls ‘silly’ and Carvey calls ‘abstract’ dropping on Stitcher Premium this July 1, but Deep Dive with Dana will then air weekly on wherever you get your podcast fix beginning Aug. 5.”

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Per Variety, “Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman offered an in-depth look at their new short-form video service during the Produced By conference on Saturday in Los Angeles.

“Quibi (short for ‘quick bites’) was first unveiled by Katzenberg and Whitman back in August. The company has already raised $1 billion from investors, though Whitman noted they plan to raise ‘about half that’ again either this fall or next spring.

“The company currently has projects in the works from A-listers like Guillermo del Toro, Antoine Fuqua, and Sam Raimi. Each series is expected to be two to four hours in length, with each one divided into segments that will be no longer than 10 minutes each.

“According to Katzenberg, the service will have two pricing tiers at launch on April 6, 2020. The first will cost $4.99 with one pre-roll ad before each video segment — a 10-second ad if the video is less than 5 minutes and a 15-second ad for 5-10 minute videos. The ad-free option will cost $7.99. Whitman also said they expect to have approximately 7,000 pieces of content available within the first year.

“In terms of programming strategy, they said they are pursuing a range of projects but that they will be diving deeply into viewership data as soon as it is available to better focus their slate.

“‘I said to Meg that, until day one, every decision that we make around content will be driven by instinct,’ Katzenberg said. ‘Minutes after we launch, everything will be driven by data.’

“Katzenberg also went in depth on the financials of a Quibi series. Quibi will pay cost plus 20% up to $6 million an hour. The Fuqua project currently in production, titled ‘#Freerayshawn,’ will be approximately two and a half hours long with a $15 million budget.

“In terms of ownership, two versions of each series will exist. The first will be the Quibi version divided into segments, which will be owned exclusively by Quibi for seven years. At the same time, the creator of the project will edit together a full-length version with no segmentation. After two years, the creator will fully own the full-length version and can sell it globally.

“The assembled producers seemed quite impressed with what they were hearing from Katzenberg and Whitman, with positive murmurs moving through the crowd on multiple occasions.”

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Per Yahoo!, “[f]or his feature directorial debut [available to rent on Amazon], Seth Green is taking the audience — and Macaulay Culkin — on a Thailand vacation. In Changeland, Green plays Brandon, a man at a relationship crossroads who takes his estranged pal Dan (Breckin Meyer) on a Phuket trip he’d originally intended as a romantic getaway. Over the course of boat trips, rainforest treks and an underground boxing match, Brandon’s journey of self-discovery acquires some colorful characters, including an expat boat driver played by Culkin (in his first film role since 2007); a tour guide played by Green’s wife Clare Grant and a mystery man played by WWE star Randy Orton. The contemplative character study may surprise Green’s fans, who know him best for comedies — both as a star (Austin Powers, Can’t Hardly Wait, Family Guy) and a creator (Robot Chicken). But Changeland was a labor of love for the writer-director, as is evident from the beautiful shots of Thailand and the easy onscreen chemistry between Green’s real-life friends. Prior to Changeland’s theatrical and VOD release on June 7, Green talked with Yahoo Entertainment about making the film — and gave us an update on the status of his long-shelved animated comedy Star Wars: Detours:

I have to ask, have you been to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge yet?

I haven’t gone yet! I’ve been crazy busy these past couple weeks. But I also don’t love crowds, so I may wait until I can get in there without it being crazy.

I was thinking about your show Star Wars: Detours. Has there been any talk about bringing that to the streaming service Disney+?

There hasn't been any official talk, but that has seemed to be a really organic path for it. When we were making the show originally, there wasn't a plan for distribution. George [Lucas] wanted to make this show, and his thoughts seem to be that he would manufacture it under his own conditions and then license it to another platform. And then we stopped down our production when the company got sold to Disney, and they announced that they were going to focus on expanding the perpetual existence of Star Wars as a global IP.

We had networks that wanted to put the show on for the next three years leading up to Episode VII (The Force Awakens) coming out. And the conversation that we had with Lucasfilm was: If these next three years are spent programming a sort of deconstructive comedy inside the Star Wars universe to young kids, that's going to be their first brush with Star Wars. And that'll be misinformative for receiving something like Episode VII, or the ongoing future plans for Star Wars, where the specter of Darth Vader is supposed to loom large like the fall of Stalin. And if you spent these three years watching our comedy — essentially a Simpsons in the Star Wars universe — you would see the dynamic between Darth Vader and the Emperor as more of a Michael Scott and a beleaguered Rupert Murdoch. So because I'd had this experience of people saying that they had shown their kids Robot Chicken or Family Guy episodes before they showed them actual Star Wars, I really understood the idea of distorting your kids’ ability to perceive these icons in the same way that I had. And so it made a lot of sense, honestly, to delay the release of the show until this push had been completed.

But now that we're at a place where Episode IX is coming out, and where there is a massive global platform that demands a volume of content, I think it's reasonable to think that we’d get to see Detours at some point. Again, we haven't had any kind of official conversations about it. But I'll say again, I love the show. It was one of the most incredible experiences I've ever had, and the team of awesome people that we assembled both on the writing and production side, but also on the voiceover side, it’s insane. So really, I do hope we get to share it with audiences at some point.

Let’s talk about Changeland. What was it like to shoot in all those beautiful places?

It was actually easier than I would have expected. When I took the vacation that inspired this story, I made a point of taking pictures of everything, and sort of imagining what it would be like to shoot with a small, independent crew there. But I never really imagined the quality of crews available. You don't think of Thailand as a mecca of cinematic infrastructure, but everyone that the local team, Living Films, provided to work on the movie was so top notch that they improved the experience, every step of the way.

I know you and Breckin have been friends for a long time. There’s a scene where you two are in the back of a boat and miming what the driver is doing. Is that something that you guys do in real life?

Yeah, that started more than twenty years ago. Breckin and I were in the back of a van leaving a set late at night, and it was out in the middle of a field and there were like, eight people in the van, and everyone had started to fall asleep. And our driver hit an awkward turn and the back wheel fishtailed. And Breckin and I spent the rest of the trip miming what we thought the driver was doing. [Laughs] Like, making drinks of alcohol, planning to leap from the moving car, sending us over a cliff. It got so silly that it just turned into a gag that we played together all the time, while still keeping it a secret. I made it a little less showy in the movie because I didn't think that my character would be that great at my miming? When Breckin and I do it in our real life, it is far more theatrically creative.

Macaulay Culkin is kind of like the John Malkovich of this movie. He shows up unexpectedly, he's super weird and you don’t know what his deal is, but you just want to see more.

Yeah, yeah! I’ve known Mac for a really long time and we've gotten to work together a bit before. I've just always admired and respected him as a performer, and I love collaborating with him because he's so clever and inventive. But he's also an undeniable movie star, and so you get a real plus from having him appear. When I started writing this, and I knew that character was going to exist and what that character needed to serve for the movie — as a point of possible aspiration for my character — I thought, “Oh, there's nobody better for this than Mac.”

When you’re putting a cast together, you need to take into consideration how the audience is going to receive a particular performer. And sometimes you need someone that's unknown, so that the audience can see that character and not bring any baggage with it. And then sometimes you can actually take what people know about a performer, sort of their public mythology, and then that becomes a shorthand for the audience; the second they see them, they think all of those things about that person, so they're even more predisposed to get your point. And Mac is one of those people. In each one of these roles, I wrote the part specifically for the actor that played them. I tried to make it as foolproof as possible, so that there were things I just wouldn't have to think about while we were shooting.

I’m curious whether your Buddhist monk was an actual monk.

Oh my gosh. So I had spent about two weeks trying to cast that monk. And in the several weeks of prep, I had a small crew with me: our driver, our location scout, that kind of thing. And our driver, this guy Sunny (Sunthorn Boonratnang), he just was the greatest guy with the brightest smile. And I was like, Man, this is what I need. I asked Sunny to audition for me, and he did, and I’m like, “Sonny, you're the guy. Do you know any of these rituals, would you feel comfortable playing this monk?” And he said, “Yeah, I trained as a monk for years before I left the practice.” I was like, of course you did.

Until the credits rolled, I didn’t realize that the voice actors on the telephone were all recognizable people: Rachel Bloom of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend fame, and animation legends Andrea Romano and Rob Paulsen.

That’s just me being greedy at that point. I needed a voice for the phone messages that was a believable actress; there’s only three lines and so it becomes so critical that the audience gets the intent. And I've worked with Rachel Bloom a lot, and I sent her a text like, “Hey, will you do this V.O. for me? You can just do it straight into your phone, just do this line of dialogue and I’ll put you in the movie.” And she was awesome. I think she was even filming the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend finale when I was editing, and in between takes, she was putting down this 10-second track.

And with Rob Paulsen and Andrea Romano, that is the definition of me being greedy and just turning to people that I've known for years and begging them to put a couple lines on tape. Because it makes it better, whether you recognize those voices or not. They're just so good that it makes the whole thing feel seamless.

I also love that I know those last two names because they were on so many cartoons that I watched when I was a kid that I just saw them constantly in the credits.

Oh sure. Well Andrea was the first V.O. director that I worked with where I thought, “Oh, she's really got it down.” And I credit her with my strongest influence of being able to direct voiceover. I learned by watching her for years.

So I interviewed your friend Alyson Hannigan yesterday, who says, “Hi.”

Oh yeah? Hi, Aly!

She wants to know why she wasn’t in the movie.

[Laughs] Well, we talk all the time about what show we would develop together. I love working with her.”

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From The New York Post: “There’s only room for one bachelorette party for the Vanderpump Rules cast.

“While Bravo filmed the celebration of Jax Taylor and Brittany Cartwright‘s joint bachelor/bachelorette parties in Miami, things got ‘uncomfortable’ when another competing bachelorette party got booted from hot spot Kiki On The River on Thursday night, an insider exclusively told Page Six.

“‘The [other] bachelorette party arrived at the same time as the cast and I saw them having a full-on meltdown of excitement when they realized who it was,’ our source said. ‘They started walking back and forth after they finished dinner … and got a little closer with each round, ultimately positioning themselves behind the cast table and in all the shots.’

“The insider added, ‘They kept walking into the scenes and by the table to gawk at the party … The cast security had to have them removed because it was really uncomfortable for everyone involved.’

“Despite the slight hiccup, the castmembers still managed to enjoy their ‘rowdy’ evening, which started with a Moët Champagne parade and a feast of Greek salads, branzino and lemon potatoes.

“Cartwright was seen leaning into her bride-to-be role, rocking a white dress and flower crown as well as a blue garter strap embroidered with the words ‘Kiki Do You Love Me’ (quoting Drake’s song In My Feelings), and Stassi Schroeder‘s boyfriend, Beau Clark, stood up on a chair to toast the couple.

“Also partaking in the festivities were Tom Schwartz, Tom Sandoval, Lala Kent, Scheana Marie and Ariana Madix. Peter Madrigal was also in attendance.

“The cast has been spotted all over Miami this week to celebrate Cartwright, 30, and Taylor, 39, who got engaged last June.

“They started off their festivities with the ladies dressed in wedding dresses at Wall Miami on Tuesday night. Then on Wednesday, they all dined at Katsuya, and then both the girls and guys arrived separately at Ultraclub E11even.

“Cartwright and Taylor are tying the knot later this month in her native Kentucky at the Versailles Castle.”

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From EW: “The Greek reunion isn’t happening yet, but that doesn’t mean it never will.

“On Friday, Greek cast members Spencer Grammer (Casey), Amber Stevens West (Ashleigh), Jacob Zachar (Rusty), Zack Lively (Heath), and Tiffany Dupont (Frannie) and executive producers Shawn Miller and Lloyd Segan reconvened with series creator Patrick Sean Smith at the ATX Television Festival, where they looked back on the ABC Family show. Greek, which aired from 2007 to 2011, garnered a cult following as it told the story of the Greek system at Cyprus-Rhodes University. In 2016, ABC Family’s successor Freeform announced that it was developing Greek: The Reunion, a mini-revival. However, the network scrapped the reunion, which was set to be a two-hour holiday-themed revival, in 2017.

“Although the dream of a reunion isn’t dead — the cast and producers encouraged fans to share their love of the show on social media — Smith was willing to share one of the stories from the script he wrote. ‘There was a script that was written for the reunion,’ he said. ‘The one thing that I was excited about for Casey’s character in that script… it was about Casey’s role in politics.” Smith went on to say that the story was about Casey being a politician and “making a difference.’ He then added, ‘I wish I could’ve seen Spencer knock it out of the park.’

“As for any future scripts, Smith said, ‘I hope we get to do a reunion at some point with somebody who wants to do it.’ Zachar then added, ‘‘It’s gotta make sense. [We] gotta wait for things to happen the right way.’

“Other highlights from the panel:

“Dupont first auditioned for the role of Casey before she was asked back to read for Frannie. But as she put it, she ‘didn’t want to play a mean girl.’

“Miller revealed that Casey and Rusty were the most difficult roles to cast, so when they liked both Clark Duke and Jacob Zachar for the role of Dale, they decided that the skinnier one — Zachar — could be Rusty.

“Miller also revealed that, in casting, they originally wanted Scott Michael Foster, who went on to play Cappie, for the role of Calvin. ‘He was our first choice for Calvin,’ Miller said, adding that Jake McDormand, who played Evan on the show, first auditioned for Cappie.

“When asked about edgy plots that were vetoed by the network, Smith said he wrote a three-way scene for Evan, Rebecca, and another male. The network allowed them to shoot the scene as an option, though Smith couldn’t remember if they ever actually shot it. Although, he did remember being asked to walk outside as they were setting up the scene and pick an extra to play the second male.”