Tuesday July 30, 2019

I spent the day on the set of HGTV’s upcoming Rock The Block yesterday. That’s going to be a fun show when it airs in the fall and that’s all I’m allowed to say.

Facebook Watch has ordered a 2nd season of 9 Months With Courteney Cox.

Netflix has picked up a 2nd season of Trinkets.

Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj will return to Netflix August 4.

A&E premieres 60 Days In: Narcoland tonight. More below.

Whitney Cummings’ new Netflix special is now available to stream.

Here’s a look at the trailer.

The annoying Bachelorette will supposedly pick her man tonight.

Night 1 of round 2 of the Democratic debates airs tonight at 9pm ET on CNN.

Cristin Milioti is headed to HBO Max. The Fargo and How I Met Your Mother grad has been tapped to topline the forthcoming streamer's comedy series Made for Love. Picked up straight-to-series last month, Made for Love is based on the novel of the same title by Alissa Nutting. The tragicomedy is described as a dark, absurd and cynically poignant story of divorce and revenge and examines how far someone will go for love — and how much further others will go to destroy it. Milioti will topline the comedy as Hazel Green, a 30-something woman on the run after 10 years in a suffocating marriage to an unstable, needy, possibly sociopathic tech billionaire. Soon she discovers that her husband has already implanted a revolutionary monitoring device — the Made for Love — in her brain, allowing him to track her, watch her and know her thoughts and feelings as she tries to stay alive.”

Rogers & Cowan and PMK*BNC are merging if that means anything to you.

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Per TheWrap, “Better Call Saul has a plan for Gene Takovic, and it will likely factor into the Breaking Bad prequel’s ending, series lead Bob Odenkirk says.

“‘I think they intend to take that character somewhere and land it,’ Odenkirk told TheWrap.

“Each season of Better Call Saul begins with a brief, black-and-white vignette following Saul Goodman after the events of Breaking Bad, which sees him struggling to live an uneventful life as the manager of an Omaha-area Cinnabon. ‘It would be something that they would want to resonate through Gene’s life as he comes to terms with his inability to stay undercover.’

“At the beginning of Season 4, Better Call Saul left Gene heading home from the hospital after collapsing at work due to a panic attack. He further panicked because the hospital asked for his personal information, a typically mundane question but fairly difficult for someone who is hiding from the police under an alias. Odenkirk said that Gene is starting to unravel over since he has to remain incognito.

“‘I don’t think he can stand it. I think he’s cracking up,’ he said.

“Though Odenkirk admits he doesn’t know the plan for Gene just yet, he believes it will touch on all three forms — Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman/Gene Takovic — of the same character he’s played since the second season of Breaking Bad. ‘It would be a combo aggregation and journey of all of these [characters],’ Odenkirk said.

“As Better Call Saul inches closer to the Breaking Bad timeline (Odenkirk figures it’s between a year and a half to two years away), there is still one last obstacle to clear before Jimmy McGill fully inhabits his new Saul Goodman moniker: Rhea Seahorn’s Kim Wexler.

“‘When Kim goes away that’s probably a kind of a bigger and deeper schism to tie him, where he cannot be Jimmy anymore,’ Odenkirk said, adding that he doesn’t know how that will happen. ‘It will be interesting to see, I don’t know how we get there.’

“When TheWrap spoke with Gould after the Season 4 finale, he said that they were ‘closer to the end’ of the series. David Madden, AMC Network’s entertainment president, agreed, though, he assured that the upcoming fifth season would definitely not be the final one.

“‘Safe to say Season 5 will not be the end. How much longer it goes past Season 5? It’s in Peter and Vince’s hands,’ Madden said, adding that he will wait until the two come back for Season 6 to map out the end of the series. ‘I think only then they will know how much longer it has past Season 6.’”

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From Deadline: “Netflix has greenlighted The Big Show Show, a half-hour multi-camera family comedy series starring WWE superstar Big Show (real name Paul Wight). Also starring on the 10-episode series are Allison Munn (Nicky, Ricky, Dicky and Dawn) and young actresses Reylynn Caster (American Housewife), Juliet Donenfeld (Pete the Cat) and Lily Brooks O’Briant (The Tick).

“The live-action comedy comes from WWE Studios and writers Josh Bycel (Happy Endings) and Jason Berger (LA to Vegas). Filming is slated to begin Aug 9.

“In The Big Show Show, when the teenage daughter of Big Show (Wight), a retired world-famous WWE Superstar, comes to live with him, his wife and two other daughters, he quickly becomes outnumbered and outsmarted. Despite being 7 feet tall and weighing 400 pounds, he is no longer the center of attention.

“Bycel and Berger executive produce and will serve as showrunners. Susan Levison and Richard Lowell executive produce for WWE Studios.

“Wight is an American professional wrestler and actor who performs on the WWE SmackDown brand under the ring name Big Show. He began his career in World Championship Wrestling, where he was known by the ring name The Giant, initially introduced as The son of André the Giant. He is one of 9 wrestlers to win both the WWF/WWE and the WCW world heavyweight titles.

“This marks Wight’s biggest TV role to date. His previous TV acting credits include mostly guest-starring/recurring stints on series airing on NBCU’s USA and Syfy tied to his WWE star power as USA is home of WWE Raw and SyFy and USA had been carrying SmackDown. Wight has done major arcs on Syfy’s Happy! and Van Helsing. 

“In features, he is known for his role in Fighting With My Family co-starring as former WWE star who has successfully crossed over to acting, Dwayne Johnson. It was produced by WWE Studios in association with MGM and Johnson’s Seven Bucks Production.

The Big Show Show is Netflix’s latest project with WWE Studios, following the recent announcement of the family film The Main Event. The comedy joins a growing slate of live-action family series featuring kids and teens, including Family Reunion, Malibu Rescue, No Good Nick, Alexa & Katie and the upcoming series The Letter for the King and The Baby-Sitters Club.

“WWE Studios’ recent projects include Andre the Giant, an Emmy-nominated documentary in partnership with HBO, as well as hit reality shows Total Divas andTotal Bellas on E! and Miz & Mrs. on USA. WWE Studios is currently in production on The Main Event, a feature film for Netflix, and Fight Like a Girl, an unscripted series for Quibi.”

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Per The Ringer, “[t]he opening words of the fourth season of Last Chance U, Netflix’s intimate docuseries on junior college football, are ominous. They leave no room for interpretation. This season centers on Jason Brown, the cocksure coach of Independence Community College in southeast Kansas. A resident sums up in a few words what viewers experience over the course of eight episodes. ‘[Independence Community College] made a deal with the devil,’ Bob Wullenschneider says. ‘The coach is a good coach, but not a good man.’

“While watching the season, I often found myself coming back to those words. Brown’s tirades are profanity laden, his interviews are equipped with stogies or booze, and he seems perpetually ready to explode at a moment’s notice. He leaves an unfixable crater in the lives of those who cross his path at Independence. Worse, he doesn’t appear to care. Season 4 of Last Chance U is a snapshot of the promise of second chances in football, and how the coaches who make those promises sometimes act like offering second chances gives them carte blanche. It’s also, perhaps more than any previous LCU season, a look at the dangerous realities of playing underneath leadership more committed to self-serving principles than mentorship.

“Take the second episode, titled The Eye in the Sky. It focuses on the plight of a player named Bobby Bruce, a 21-year-old Florida native who was arrested in June 2018 in connection with an armed robbery. In the case, $450 and an iPhone were stolen and a victim was lured into a trap through Snapchat. The charges were later dropped. At the end of Season 3 of Last Chance U, a message informs viewers that Bruce isn’t expected to return to school at Independence. As Season 4 begins, though, Brown lets him back on the team, explaining the decision by saying that he loves him.

“Brown has a funny way of showing it. Near the beginning of the season, a student tells ICC residence directors that he’s missing cash and has been robbed. Security cameras show Bruce and other players entering rooms that aren’t theirs, and Bruce exiting a room with a bag that he didn’t have when he entered. Bruce says he had only food. Nothing is discussed or explained beyond the poor optics, and yet Brown upends Bruce’s universe nonetheless: The coach repeatedly calls Bruce a failure, disinvites him from a team meeting, and tells the roster that he kicked Bruce off the squad.

“When the other players tell Bruce what happened, the linebacker is bewildered. ‘Coach Brown ain’t tell me nothing like that,’ Bruce says, growing visibly dejected. ‘He could’ve just told me that man to man.” Brown, for his part, is unbothered. “We’ve done everything we could for Bobby Bruce,’ Brown says. ‘I have 150 other kids I have to try to see if they’ll meet me halfway. Bobby didn’t meet me halfway.’

“In the season finale, it’s revealed that Bruce was not allowed to receive his transcripts. His classes were dropped, and he was left about $4,000 in debt to ICC. He wasn’t allowed to transfer until everything was resolved.

“Brown is similarly disingenuous when it comes to quarterback Jay Jones. Jones transferred from Georgia Tech to Independence to gain the experience necessary to return to college football’s highest level. Yet he gets benched for Malik Henry, a QB featured prominently in the last LCU season, and whom Brown brings back to campus under the pretense of being exclusively a scout-team QB. But Henry plays poorly and Brown turns back to Jones, who flings off his helmet and refuses to go into the game. ‘Fuck! Send him home then!’ Brown yells in Episode 5, The Hangover. “Send these motherfuckers home!” He says later, ‘Motherfucker got no competitive spirit, man!’

“Brown’s M.O. is apparent in how he treats the people around him. His players are all different pejoratives. Defensive lineman Kailon Davis is ‘ugly.’ Wide receiver Markiese King is told to ‘get your dark ass out of my seat’ during a meeting. After losses, players on the team are called ‘some fuckin’ hoes’ or ‘slapdicks.’ Journalists looking to write stories about Brown are ‘motherfuckers’ and a ‘fuckin’ bitch.’ Garden City Community College coach Jeff Sims is labeled a ‘cowardly, cunt bitch’ after winning a game against Independence. ‘This is the real fuckin’ JB,’ Brown says in Episode 6, S Show, when threatening to cut his players. It’s a rare moment of transparency for the coach: He’s selling hope to mostly black children out of self-interest, not selflessness.

“His peers around Kansas JUCO football largely recognize Brown’s role in this dynamic. He acts like he owns the lives of the people he is supposed to protect. Gary Thomas, the former head coach of Dodge City Community College, describes him as a bull in a china shop. Sims likens him to a product of Hollywood. Brown isn’t a coach. He’s a made-for-TV star. ‘There’s a lot of schools in this conference that offer a lot more to these kids than a television show and Adidas shoes,’ Sims says.

“And while Brown insists that he’s not a rockstar—he’s just a football coach, man—he still does TMZ interviews flaunting the number of kids who want to play for him and the ‘single females” emailing him. He didn’t meet up with any of them, though. Not because of possible violations. Because he didn’t know whether he could. ‘I’m in the middle of nowhere, man. Shit. I don’t know. I don’t know if I can or not or what,’ Brown says when asked in Episode 1, Dream U, whether he’s gone on dates with any of his suitors. ‘I’m just a single dude. … Hate me now or love me later.” He goes out of his way to mention how “a porn star hit me up.’

“This is the behavior of a man without remorse for his actions, or the ability to believe he’s done wrong. After kicking Bruce off the team, Brown dares to say, ‘I truly believe he wanted to go home.’ Football is notorious for grinding players down, chewing them up, and then spitting them out when their talent, eligibility, or on-field impact has dried up. The guise of a school being a Last Chance U, a savior for some of these boys, is unraveled when those in need of second chances are given false promises instead.

“Watching this play out over this LCU season is sobering. Players and coaches can feel the toxicity. ‘How much more before you mentally break down? Before you physically break down?’ a player asks in Episode 5, which shows players crying in the locker room from the stress of their coach. It is gutting to endure.

Last Chance U is built on this drama. The latest season takes a narrative that’s long existed in football circles—that black boys need the help of white coaches to overcome the restraints of their American realities—and shows precisely why it’s so flawed. It’s poverty porn for college football fans. And it’s a con. This isn’t the first time players entered a year with championship hopes only to close it with shattered dreams and broken lives. It makes me wish more people decided that these players deserved to be loved.

“Brown is eventually dismissed from Independence after he texts a German-born player, ‘I’m your new Hitler.’ Last month, the coach was indicted on 10 charges, including eight felonies relating to blackmail and identity theft. It is alleged that Brown posed as a lawyer from Johnnie Cochran’s law firm to communicate with some Kansan newspapers about their coverage of his football team. Incredibly, through these mountains of turmoil, he found time to write a book.

“Season 4 of Last Chance U is the story of a man who cares more about the brand he’s building than the lives he’s supposed to be molding. It’s a tale of someone who would rather perpetuate the evils of the sport than provide mentorship for those hurt by America’s systems. It’s a damning portrait of a football coach who, sadly, isn’t an anomaly in his line of work. ‘I’m not a fucking actor,’ Brown tells his team in Episode 1. ‘This ain’t a Hollywood script.’ That’s what makes these episodes so hard to stomach. Promises are often only as strong as emerald turf.”

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From Realscreen: “A&E is gearing up to investigate the narcotics trade inundating small-town America with the launch of Lucky 8 TV’s 60 Days In: Narcoland.

“The 8 x 60-minute series will trail six participants as they go undercover across six counties in Kentucky and Indiana – one of the biggest drug trafficking corridors in the country – to provide first-hand insight into how cartels have infiltrated America’s Heartland.

“Viewers will follow the undercover participants on the streets within Clark County and Bullitt County, Kentucky, accompanying local law enforcement officials within the Narcotics Unit on ride alongs in an attempt to gain a comprehensive view of the epidemic. Teams will also infiltrate some of the most dangerous and drug-infested areas in the Midwest, including Indiana’s Clark County Jail.

“In addition to gathering intel inside the jail’s walls, four other participants – a private investigator, a motivational speaker, an addiction specialist and a former addict turned recovery advocate – will insert themselves into the drug scene within Clark and Bullitt County in an attempt to identify hot spots, dealers and discover where the drugs are originating from.

60 Days In: Narcoland serves as a spin-off docuseries of Lucky 8′s acclaimed jailhouse docuseries 60 Days In.

“Lucky 8′s Kim Woodard, Greg Henry, Jeff Grogan and Kelly McClurkin serve as executive producers alongside A&E’s Elaine Frontain Bryant, Shelly Tatro and Molly Ebinger.

“Ahead of the premiere, Realscreen caught up with Lucky 8 co-presidents Woodard and Henry to discuss the production challenges of 60 Days In: Narcoland and what sets the fly-on-the-wall docuseries apart from its original:

How did the idea for 60 Days In: Narcoland come about?

Greg Henry: Part of the genesis was: what if we took a slice of what we’re seeing in 60 Days In and really amplified and looked specifically at it because there’s been a lot of great work done about addiction and there’s been a lot of great work done about the trade globally, but looking at how that trade really hits anywhere in America. That was one piece of it.

Kim Woodard: For us, once you’re looking at folks who are in jail, you’re looking usually at people who are part of the problem of demand for drugs. But the problem that we have with drugs in our country obviously is it’s both supply and demand. And so to be able to really look at the ecosystem of the drug trade requires that you go outside the jail walls to really understand what’s happening with the supply. That’s what drove us to see how this was coming into the community and what that looked like beyond jail walls.

What does the move into a narcotics-focused series add to the franchise as a whole?

KW: 60 Days In is about the ecosystem inside jail walls, but with Narcoland we’re looking at a community ecosystem and we’re seeing what happens as drugs move through that community. In many ways it’s very different. It’s taking the approach of 60 Days In, which looked at the community inside jail, and now we’re applying that approach to looking at a problem within a town.

When Greg came up with the concept for 60 Days In, it was driven by the fact that we’ve done so many programs about what life is like in prison. But when viewers saw those programs they came to it with the belief that the officers, the inmates who were talking to you had their agenda, and so there was this sense on the viewers part that they weren’t getting the real story. You answer that by [casting] real everyday people. Real everyday people are objective and are going in to look at this with fresh eyes and share their experience inside the community of what they see happening with the flow of drugs, how they’re getting drugs – that’s how we can get a more accurate look at what’s actually taking place with the drug trade in small towns across America.

What are some of the production or development challenges that come with working on an ambitious project like 60 Days In: Narcoland?

GH: An incredible amount of time gets spent going through possibilities and scenarios, and trying to figure out how are we going to react in any given situation, because at the end of the day safety and security is of the utmost priority. When you step out of the jail walls, it’s really playing through all the different things that you are gaining and losing from a production standpoint, but with an eye towards safety and security.

Really it just is that when you’re entering into something that hasn’t been done before, being extra diligent, extra serious about it and really understanding that the more work you put into the preparation, the greater the likelihood for a good outcome on the other side.

How does this project fit into Lucky 8′s brand? Why is it so important to your portfolio?

KW: We like to push the envelope. Certainly whenever we see something that is becoming an issue in America, we try to think about how we’re going to find a way of telling that story. For us, the idea of doing something about drugs in America, that was our interest – it wasn’t how do we do a 60 Days In spin-off. For more than a year we were spending time thinking about how do we do the story of narcotics in America today and what’s taking place. There was just this natural convergence where we had an approach that has worked very well with 60 Days In and if we actually pivoted and applied it to this new problem in America what would that look like?

How do you ensure that Lucky 8′s content stands out against the noise of the saturated unscripted market in order to remain competitive?

KW: We pour ourselves into the project. We didn’t create this company to become rich – we created this company because we’re storytellers and we care about the stories that we tell. It’s curating which projects we take on, and just pouring ourselves into those projects. You can see that difference in what we do – we’re not turning out a hundred episodes of the same. Instead we’re working really hard and pouring our hearts and souls into stories that we think matter. When you do that, it does cut through.

What strategy do you have in place to create factual and fact ent content catered to the U.S. and international markets? 

GH: It’s a couple of things. One is staying true to the way that we do business – constantly looking for new opportunities, new partners, new ideas that feel as if they could stand out, or even taking an old franchise and looking at how to reinvent it. The other thing is finding partnerships with, sometimes, celebrity talent, other times really top notch directors – finding those right partnerships to elevate ideas and bring things out that could come through in the marketplace. It always starts with really strong content but then the hopes are always that whether it’s through promotion from the network or partnerships that you can have those things break through.

KW: We’re at a slightly different place in our company. We were really lucky to have 60 Days break through when we were very young, it was our second year. So now being in our sixth year, we’re at a place where we have the opportunity to work with people who are bringing their own incredible track record to a concept, and that’s really exciting. It’s wonderful when we are working with a brand name in the creative field and have the chance to really play and do something together. As I think about what we have ahead as a company and what we’re spending more time in, it is the well-chosen partnerships with individuals where we feel like together our storytelling voices can do something really special.”