Wednesday August 28, 2019

The SUITS pilot will air tonight in place of a new episode.

Season 34 of The Challenge premieres on MTV tonight.

“After a two-hour drive into a Thailand jungle, the action on the set of MTV’s The Challenge is about to begin. But it doesn’t exactly start with a foghorn and a bunch of competitors clashing. The moment production-van doors open to reveal lush green surroundings, the skies open and the wind picks up, taking a tent with it and sending this season’s 32 reality stars scrambling for cover in craft services with the crew. The producers and cameramen are unfazed and laughing off the incident. This is nothing, they say. Last season, the entire elimination set washed away in a flash flood just four days before the first face-off. Moments later, the rain stops and, after a few adjustments to the freshly muddied obstacle course, the first challenge of season 34 — dubbed War of the Worlds 2, pitting teams of new and returning American and British players against each other and premiering Wednesday — is underway. EW is the first publication to witness that fun firsthand — and here’s what we learned:

1. Everyone gets paid.
2. Alcohol consumption is regulated.
3. Everyone is a little stir-crazy.
4. Reentry into real life can be rough.
5. The new season is more eco-friendly.
6. TJ Lavin really is the best.

Season 2 of Yellowstone wraps up this evening.

Here is the trailer for Sacha Baron Cohen’s The Spy. “The Spy, starring Sacha Baron Cohen, is inspired by the real-life story of former notorious Mossad agent, Eli Cohen, who successfully goes undercover in Syria and ultimately changed the course of Israel’s history.”

HBO has renewed A Black Lady Sketch Show for a 2nd season.

Leslie Jones is exiting SNL.

Instead, she’ll be hosting the proposed reboot of Supermarket Sweep. Doesn’t seem like an upward move.

The final season of Mr. Robot is set to bow on October 6.

Kurt Sutter told fans at the season 2 premiere of Mayans M.C. on Tuesday that he will step down from his executive producer role should his Sons of Anarchy spinoff earn a third season from FX. ‘It’s time for the white man to leave the building,’ he told the audience at the Hollywood screening. He went on to say that a person of color should run the writers’ room since it’s a drama about a Mexican biker gang on the California-Mexico border. Elgin James, his fellow EP on the show since season 1, will assume showrunner duties in the future.”

Shark Tank’s Kevin “O'Leary tells TMZ, ‘Late Saturday night I was a passenger in a boat that had a tragic collision with another craft that had no navigation lights on and then fled the scene of the accident. I am fully cooperating with authorities.’ He goes on ... ‘Out of respect for the families who have lost loved ones and to fully support the ongoing investigation, I feel it is inappropriate to make further comments at this time. My thoughts are with all the families affected.’ A rep for O'Leary tells TMZ Kevin's wife was driving the boat at the time of the crash, and she was administered a DUI test that night and passed. He also says a third person was in Kevin's boat and was injured -- she went to the hospital, received stitches and left. O'Leary's rep wanted to clarify ... it was the other boat that fled the scene. As we reported below, a source connected to the owner of that other boat said it was Kevin's boat that fled.”

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Per Variety, “HBO Max has been on a buying spree, with the nascent streamer snatching up a number of high-profile original projects as it visits the WarnerMedia vault to extract existing properties. While the final product is still under wraps until spring, the underlying ethos of the subscription video-on-demand service is starting to take shape. Its budding rival service from NBCUniversal, on the other hand, is still something of a mystery.

“‘We have a very broad service, from preschool programming to classic films — we are an alternative to other services,’ HBO Max chief content officer Kevin Reilly tells Variety. ‘HBO is more male-skewing, so [HBO Max] will be filling out with more female and younger viewers. That is the SVOD audience.’

“This backs up what sources have been telling Variety: that WarnerMedia has been shopping for content with women viewers in mind.

“Some of the early series orders at HBO Max include the romantic comedy anthology series Love Life, with the first season set to star Anna Kendrick, who will also executive produce alongside Paul Feig; the drama Tokyo Vice” starring Ansel Elgort; an animated Gremlins series; a new Gossip Girl series; and Dune: The Sisterhood, a series with Denis Villeneuve attached to direct the pilot.

“HBO Max also recently announced a string of pilot orders that includes a Practical Magic prequel, while sources say that several other well-known pieces of IP are in development as potential series as well. The service will be the exclusive home of legacy Warner Bros. content like Friends and Pretty Little Liars upon launch.

“A Gossip Girl spinoff and all 10 seasons of Ross and Rachel might not seem like a natural companion to Chernobyl and Watchmen, but the core HBO brand will remain plenty distinct from its surrounding village, even as it shares part of a name with HBO Max.

“‘This product is differentiated as an experience and in its content,’ says Reilly.

“Meanwhile, development around NBC-Universal’s streaming service has been much more opaque. Almost no series commitments have been made at this point, prior to its 2021 rollout.

“Among those in the mix: Single-cam comedy AP Bio, revived for a third season after NBC canceled it back in May. The company also announced in August that two projects — a pilot based on the book One of Us Is Lying and a Queer as Folk reboot — are set up at the new streamer. The former was previously in development at E!, while the latter was being readied at Bravo. The service will also be the exclusive streaming home of The Office when the show’s deal with Netflix expires in 2021.

“While there are more projects in development yet to be announced, multiple agency sources who spoke with Variety say that NBCU has lagged behind other streamers in terms of outlining a programming strategy to agency partners. One source says that NBCU is beginning to ramp up its development slate, but it currently has nowhere near the appetite of HBO Max.

“But perhaps patience is in order: The NBCU programming that has been announced so far is not indicative of any larger strategy, according to a separate source familiar with the matter. The company plans to announce its initial slate for the NBCU streaming platform in the fall, though an exact date has not yet been specified.

“Snippets of NBCU’s overarching content philosophy can be gleaned from on high. NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke said on Comcast’s July 25 earnings call that the service will be ‘very different’ from Netflix. He does expect most of the NBCU streamer’s content to be leveraged from existing sources — noting that acquired programming makes up the bulk of Netflix’s content by volume — though NBCU is investing
in originals.

“‘We have a number of originals that are actually tied to libraries that we currently own,’ said Burke. ‘But I would expect the vast majority of the consumption in the beginning would be acquired.’

“At this stage in the game, HBO Max and NBCUniversal — and streamers Disney Plus and Apple — will have to contend with Netflix’s powerful footprint of 151 million subscribers worldwide, including about 60 million in the U.S.

“Calling Netflix a ‘one-and-done system,’ TBS and TNT general manager Brett Weitz told Variety at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in July that he believes the streamer is beginning to show ‘not cracks, but slight adjustments in the consumption behavior.’ The comments came just a few days after Netflix’s second-quarter earnings report, when the company lost U.S.
subscribers for the first time in eight years.

“Meanwhile, Weitz highlighted WarnerMedia’s ‘sophisticated pipe infrastructure’ that allows for robust linear, theatrical and SVOD experiences, musing that HBO Max could be a ‘catchall for all of those infrastructures.’

“Where HBO Max has an advantage over Netflix is in its ability to tap into the large network of media IP under the WarnerMedia umbrella, wielding its traditional channels as brand tentacles. Weitz said that a program that first streams on HBO Max could have a linear window on TNT, TBS or TruTV and vice versa.

“And in what will likely become an increasingly common move, streamers have begun taking on projects that have long been in development at linear channels owned by the same media conglomerate.

“NBCU’s streamer has pulled in multiple projects from the company’s cable channels, including One of Us Is Lying and Queer as Folk. HBO Max series The Flight Attendant, with Big Bang Theory alum Kaley Cuoco set to star and executive produce, as well as the drama Crime Farm, with Nicole Kidman attached to executive produce, were in development at Warner Bros. before landing at the streaming platform.

“The moves are not altogether surprising, given that linear television ratings have been on a slow, steady decline for years, while digital viewing has increased exponentially.

“Questions remain, however, about how much original scripted programming will air on these conglomerates’ linear channels versus their streaming services in the years to come.

“‘Originals are the No. 1 reason you sign up for an SVOD service, so I think they’re critically important,’ says media analyst Rich Greenfield. ‘I think catalog gives you reason to stick around and fill more time and increase engagement, but I don’t think anyone signed up for Netflix to watch Friends or Grey’s Anatomy.’”

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From the I Am Never Going To Watch It Department: “Josh Berman will be using experience from his years working on CSI on his new project Murder House Flip, a true-crime home renovation series for Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman’s shortform video platform Quibi. It hails from Berman, Chris King (Penny Dreadful), author Katherine Ramsland and Sony Pictures TV.

Murder House Flip is described as an unconventional home-renovation show that takes on the country’s most infamous homes — the ones known for the mysterious murders and incredible intrigue committed within their walls. Homeowners turn to the colorful cast of forensic specialists, spiritual healers and high-end renovation experts to uncover the true crimes, shocking secrets and scandalous history of their homes. Then, cleansing renovations remove the stains of the past and take these homes from morbid to marvelous.

“Berman, King and Ramsland executive produce. Sony Pictures TV is the studio.

“‘We are excited to partner with Quibi to deliver a spin on a home makeover show in unique short form content,’ said Berman. ‘Murder House Flip combines home renovations with the intriguing elements of a true crime series. Bringing healing and solace to families living in the aftermath of tragic events by transforming dark places into healthy spaces.’

“‘We are thrilled to bring this one of a kind series to life and dive into a world that combines America’s two biggest TV obsessions: true crime and home renovation,’ said Elyse Seder, SVP Alternative & Syndicated Programming for Sony Pictures Television.

“Berman created Notorious, which aired for one season on ABC, as well as Lifetime’s Drop Dead Diva. He recently served as executive producer on Daytime Divas and consulting producer on The Blacklist. Berman worked on the first six seasons of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, rising to executive producer for Season 6.”\

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As someone who grew up just one town away, I found this interview to be extra interesting….from Vulture: “Name-dropping is a hideously gauche practice, a transparent and humiliating way to make oneself feel fleetingly interesting by proxy in a world where technology and Glossier have flattened everyone into the exact same person. The whole thing becomes even worse when you begin the sentence with ‘When I was in high-school theater …’ Anyway, I am going to do both right now.

“To most people, Rachel Brosnahan is synonymous with Midge Maisel, the crackling wit at the center of Amazon’s runaway hit The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. To me, however, she is synonymous with Slutty Secretary No. 2 in the 2004 Highland Park High School production of STUNTS. (I regret to inform you that this is an acronym for Student Theatre Under No Teacher Supervision.) I was, of course, Slutty Secretary No. 1 in the same play, which at the time was reviewed by dozens of local parents as ‘… great!’

“Though Rachel is a couple of years younger than I am, we both attended HPHS at the same time and were in at least one theater production together, possibly more, though the sands of time have softened both of our brains enough that we can’t actually remember, and this interview only served to confuse us both further. Over the years, I’ve watched Rachel with a completely unearned pride as she was murdered on House of Cards, sat proximate to a nuclear bomb on Manhattanand eventually went on to win Golden Globes and Emmys for her performance as the preternaturally talented Midge Maisel. When she was nominated for an Emmy yet again this year, it occurred to me that it might be amusing for us to stroll sluttishly down memory lane together and discuss the most important role of our youth — and how it shaped her as a professional thespian:

Long time, no chat!
I know, it’s been a minute.

Are you on set right now?
I’m actually coming from having my head cast for something I can’t talk about yet. It was a very interesting experience. I’ve never done that before. Kind of horrifying. [Laughs.]

Full plaster?
Full plaster, full silicone. I had little holes for my nose and eyes. It was really claustrophobic.

I would absolutely never be able to do that. A nightmare. By the way, congrats on the Emmy nom! Where were you when you found out?
I was at the dog park, walking the dog. I spend a good deal of my time there. The dogs were not amused.

Since you’ve already won, does it still feel like a big deal? Or is it kind of icing on the cake at this point?
It’s never not gonna be a big deal. Have you seen my category? It’s insane. I’m still a weirdo about it. But it’s also icing on the cake. We’ve had a really great run, and hopefully this means we’ll get to do it a bit longer.

So a big reason I’m specifically doing this interview is because I told my editor we went to high school together and both played slutty secretaries in one of our school plays.
Oh my God. We did. [Laughs.] I forgot! What a hilarious thing. Urinetown, right?

No, it was the student-written play! STUNTS.
Oh, I thought we were in Urinetown together. Am I insane?

I don’t remember being in Urinetown, but it’s extremely possible that I was and have no memory of it.
I played a slutty secretary twice, then!

So did I, actually. We were typecast.
Yeah, what’s up with that? Let’s talk about that. But how amazing that we went to a high school that had a program like that? That gave students control over their own storytelling at such a young age and trusted us to put on a full production in our pretty substantial high-school theater. What do you remember from it?

I remember my name was Gertrude, and I think you had a similar name. 
I think that’s right.

I have this vivid memory of us standing backstage, waiting to go on in these nightgowns. We had to wear, like, sheer nightgowns onstage.
Oh my God, yes, I do remember that.

And I think I was a junior and you were a freshman, right?
Yeah! That was my first STUNTS. That was so overwhelming because I couldn’t believe I was in it. I remember my callback for it. I had to sing Defying Gravity and obviously could not. I wasn’t really a singer, and suddenly I was called back at 14 years old and had to get up onstage in front of my peers and sing “Defying Gravity.” It did not go well. But I was just relieved to be in it. Even as a slutty secretary.

How do you draw on your experience as Slutty Secretary No. 2 in your current role?
[Laughs.] I would no longer use the term slutty secretary, I have to say. But we have one on Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and I get to hate her a lot because my husband cheated on me with her!

Very full circle.
Very full circle[Laughs.] Oh man. To be totally honest, now I have a much different relationship to that word. We’ve grown a lot since we were calling ourselves and all of our friends casual sluts. Such a terrible word that I could never use now.

I mean, the whole thing is a relic.
I know! I know. It’s so screwed up! I guess maybe that’s how I was inspired: I so despised the word and the term, and I threw all of that toward despising the secretary on the show.

What other plays were you in in high school?
Well, I didn’t make the musical my freshman year. I wasn’t in Beauty and the Beast.

For some reason, I thought we were in that one together, too.
No, I was very sad about it. I started wrestling instead because I didn’t make the musical. I’ve told this story before, but I feel like you’re the first one who can relate to it. I was trying to figure out what to do with that season, that winter. So I joined the wrestling team. And then I was in The Scarlet Pimpernel and Cats and Urinetown, where I played the other slutty secretary.

I was not a good actor, so I deserved no role other than Slutty Secretary, but I did have a sense that our theater program was rather … political. Did you get that sense?
I have vague memories of feeling like there was a core group that was definitely in all of the things. And mostly I was in the ensemble. I can’t really sing or dance, so I don’t know that I should have had a different role. [Laughs.] My senior year, though, I was in The Diary of Anne Frank as Margot Frank. But there was definitely a core group, and in the end, that was motivating for me — not ever having the part in the school play that I wanted. That led me to seek additional training outside of school. I took a class in downtown Chicago and went to drama school. On the first day at NYU, our teacher said, “I know you were all the stars of your high-school theater program, but I want you to know that this is not the place for that ego.” And I was like, Well, that won’t be a problem! [Laughs.] 

But I still feel like I learned so much because our high-school theater program was so well funded. We had great teachers, great productions, and they took real risks. I can’t remember whether they did it or not, but there was this big fight for us to do Equus. Remember?

I can’t remember what happened either …
But I appreciate that they fought for it! That’s pretty risqué. We received a really decent theater training in high school. When I went on to become an actor, I’d learned so much in high school already. And then we had Focus on the Arts, where they made every student take time out of class to learn from real working professionals in the arts. That’s unheard of. We were really lucky.

Have you been asked back to present at Focus?
Yeah, but I haven’t been able to go yet. But I really hope to one day.

I remember reading that your parents didn’t want you to be an actor. When were they like, “Okay, this is fine.”
To be fair, what parents do want their kids to become actors? [Laughs.] It’s such an uncertain profession, signing up for a lifetime of rejection and uncertainty. No parent wants that for their child. They weren’t the biggest fan of that idea, but they’ve always been really supportive. I don’t think they believed it was real until after the first Golden Globe that I probably wasn’t gonna be moving back into their basement anytime soon.

To be honest, I think the real moment my dad realized I was having success is when his massage therapist said to him that he saw House of Cards. My dad was so surprised that anyone else in the world had seen anything I’d done. [Laughs.] That was the first time he really believed I was doing okay.

What do you make of the line of criticism that Midge is too perfect to be real, that she’s sort of a superhero?
There’s definitely a fantasy element to the show. It’s not 100 percent reality at all times. But I think she’s far from perfect, personally. I think she’s tried to be perfect her entire life and is becoming more comfortable with the other side of things. She’s not a perfect comedian, a perfect friend, a perfect mother or daughter or sister. Those are the things I’m most interested in as I work to bring her to life. The picture-perfect image of her world and herself is being constantly challenged. That feels pretty real to me, even if the ways she does it in are more related to fantasy.

You aren’t Jewish, but you’ve said before you took inspiration for Midge from growing up around so many Jewish people in Highland Park. Which part of Midge is based on me?
[Laughs loudly.] Oh my God. I definitely borrowed some things from people, specifically from one of my good friends’ mothers growing up. The part where Midge measures her baby’s head, I had some experience to draw upon from my friend’s mom. Growing up in Highland Park meant having exposure to and a thorough education about Judaism and its culture and community and history — we learned so much about that in school. I’m not sure you have that same level of Jewish education in other parts of the country.

But there are so many things about Midge that are really different from me. She’s a mother. She’s a stand-up comedian. She’s Jewish. All of these things are so different from who I am. And I want to be able to play them truthfully and authentically. But I realized through this process that the people I knew the least about and found the most intimidating were stand-up comedians. It was so unbelievably far from me, so that’s where I focused most of my efforts and research.

The Jewishness of our town means we all went to 800 Bat Mitzvahs. What was the weirdest Bar or Bat Mitzvah theme you remember attending?
The weirdest was somebody who had no theme, like, Forget about it. We’re not making the effort. It was a little bit strange and directionless. What about you?

Hmm. I went to one with a Russian pop star.
What? That’s so weird! I did not have anything that crazy. All of mine were like “Skateboarding.” Or “Under the Sea.” Or “Candyland.”

Do you still have any of the million sweatpants we got as giveaways with the person’s name printed on the butt?
I have so many pairs of Bar Mitzvah sweatpants. They’re really, really comfortable.

What’s it like for you to go back home now? Are people hounding you in Port Clinton Square?
I don’t make it home very often, unfortunately. I usually meet up with my family in New York. It’s changed a lot. I hardly recognize downtown Highland Park. I’m just relieved Michael’s is still there.

Me too. What’s been the most surprising part of fame for you?
That people become objects. Sometimes on set, people throw phones up in our faces like we’re not real people. It’s less about my own experience and more just that’s where we’re at culturally — that having evidence that you saw something is that crucial. And sometimes they don’t even say anything at all; they just throw a camera in your face. It’s so odd.

For me, this is a really funny and random and cool thing to be interviewing you in this capacity so many years later. What’s it like for you to be on the other end of a conversation like this?
[Laughs.] I love it. It’s so cool. We’re both doing something we love, and we started from a similar place. I’m so proud to be talking to you right now. It’s really cool that you’re a working journalist. How do you feel?

That’s so nice. I’m just happy we’re both famous actors. I love to tell people about our shared theater past. You give me some street cred.
[Laughs.] I’m happy to be of service.”

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“‘Life’s been very interesting,’ Madison LeCroy told Decider last week at the Bravo offices in New York City when we sat down to chat about this season of Southern Charm. While it was her first time appearing on the show, it’s clear she’s learned a lot in the four months it’s been airing. Compared to the first time we spoke, she clearly thinks before she speaks and is deliberate with her words, choosing them carefully and ending her sentences early, as the twinkle in her eye indicates she has much more to say, but knows better.

“LeCroy had an eventful season on the Bravo series, which seemed like it set out to chronicle her on/off relationship with boyfriend Austen Kroll…until the crew headed to Colorado for a trip and she let it slip that she heard Shep Rose gave Danni Baird chlamydia. It’s a topic that had the internet talking and is sure to do the same in part two of the reunion. When asked about the event LeCroy says, ‘I think it went well.’

“‘I feel good,’ she continued of her time on the couch with the cast. ‘I definitely feel like I was able to get out what I needed to. I had some time to think about it and just made sure that I went out there and was true to myself.’

“Another topic sure to arise at the reunion is the existence of Kroll’s YouTube video, where LeCroy finds him with two women who spent the night at his place. When I ask about why she was so shaken once those women arrived at the finale party (on the arms of Rose and Craig Conover, no less), she responded, ‘They’re walking in two deep and I’m alone. They were hyped up.’ She also explained that she had taken a red-eye from Utah for work, was on two hours of sleep and went straight to the party. ‘I had a lot of emotions that day but I think Austen and I did well at standing strong. I wanted to make sure he knew that I had his back.’

“In a surprise move, it was Baird who also had LeCroy’s back at the party, helping her to calm down (and face down) the women. ‘That’s a very good trait to have,’ LeCroy said of her. ‘I can learn from that because I’m not so forgiving at times. Honestly, I just drag it out.’

“So, has Baird continued that forgiving streak after the two opened old wounds at the reunion? ‘We’re fine,’ LeCroy reported of their current friendship status. ‘I mean, I think. I don’t know if we’ll ever be [besties]. But also Kathryn has told her about our friendship and I think she’s getting a little more understanding of that. So I think possibly we’ll move forward.’

“When I asked if there’s any chance of a friendship moving forward with fellow frenemy, Rose, she said, ‘You know, I haven’t talked to him. I will say I feel bad for him in a way. I feel like he’s getting it a lot. And now that I’ve kinda gone through that a little bit, I know how it feels when everything feels like it’s crumbling down. In a way I have a little sympathy even though I think he’s an asshole, but hey. It is what it is. How boring would it be if we were all the same?’

“That sympathy certainly lessens when I ask how she felt about him revealing that (allegedly) Kroll spelled out ‘butt stuff’ in rose petals for Valentine’s Day and she obliged. ‘Pfft,’ she said with an eye roll. ‘I’m like, really? We didn’t do butt stuff but sure, whatever. It was a joke. I just thought that was pitiful, man.’ Though not everyone disliked hearing that story. ‘I’ve gotten messages from guys like, so you do butt stuff? I’m like, no. Are you kidding me?’ LeCroy said, laughing it off.

“LeCroy estimates the majority of the messages she’s receiving (not about butt stuff) are coming from women, specifically working single moms that ‘say I helped in a way, which is very honoring because I’ve been there.’ She adds, ‘That’s why Kathryn and I get along, I know she’s in the middle of her things,’ referring to the fellow Southern Charm cast member’s intense custody battle. ‘It’s good to have that positivity that I’m getting right now,” LeCroy said, admitting that it’s been “up and down.’

“That includes the mother and daughter that came to her salon and requested a picture, asking if they were the first people to do so, and LeCroy fibbed and told them they weren’t — but they were. In fact, the pressure of being so public hit LeCroy just about a month ago, when she arrived with pal Patricia Altschul at Kroll’s launchparty for his beer, Trop Hop, at Uptown Social in Charleston. ‘I had my first panic attack,’ she revealed. ‘I hadn’t been around people that recognized me I guess, so to have people pulling on Patricia’s hair and our clothes…obviously when everyone sees Patricia they’re like, holy shit, she’s real. I said hello, and we immediately left and went to Halls [Chophouse]. Totally worth that. But we were there, we supported Austen. I’m so proud of him. I think he’s gonna do great.’

“It’s too bad we never got to see her interact with the season’s other lightning rod, Ashley Jacobs. When I ask if they’ve ever met, LeCroy tells me they did, in fact, meet at Cameran’s baby shower in 2017, where Jacobs showed up wearing white gloves.

“In reflecting on the season behind her, LeCroy reveals that she ‘would’ve done a lot of things different.’ She thinks for a moment, and says, ‘I do think I was provoked, but I knew better. I’m an adult and I’ve always said that I’m not gonna let someone get me to the point where I embarrass myself.’

“What she hopes others take away from the experience is simply, ‘I hope that people can stop judging me based off comparing themselves to me. My situation and who I am as an individual is my own person. I hate that people judge and say things that they shouldn’t. I’m true to myself and I am anti-bully,’ noting that when she was in school, ‘people definitely picked on me. People were nasty. So I’m used to it. I’ve had to have this tough shell for a while.’”