Friday September 20, 2019

The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards air on Sunday night.

Adios Cliff. Heck of a run.

Producers helped Michie win this week’s POV?

A look at the upcoming season of Temptation Island.

Between Two Ferns: The Movie is now available on Netflix.

As is Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates.

This song randomly popped into my head this morning. A few of you will remember this vividly. Some of you, like me, will also remember the lyrics.

Still cannot believe Mike from The Bachelorette is dating Demi Lovato.

Quibi is going luxe with its latest series. Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman’s shortform digital outlet has greenlighted Empires of Luxury, a docuseries at the family dynasties behind the world’s most desired goods. Created by Crazy Rich Asians author Kevin Kwan and Oscar- and Emmy-nominated documentarian Eddie Schmidt, the series takes viewers inside the rarefied enclaves of legendary brands and global artisans who have honed their crafts and kept their businesses “all in the family” for generations. Empires of Luxury looks at the elite families behind the world’s most exclusive luxury labels spanning the travel, fashion and lifestyle industries, and the millennial members who are helping to guide their legacies into the future.”

A Showtime scheduling shake-up has pushed back two premieres as well as The Affair‘s series finale. The Affair was previously set to wrap its five-season saga on Sunday, Oct. 27, with back-to-back episodes. Instead, it will now air a single episode on that night and then again on Sunday, Nov. 3 aka its series finale. Also on the move: Back to Life, a BBC-produced comedy starring co-creator Daisy Haggard (Episodes‘ sad Myra), has been pushed back a month and will now premiere with back-to-back half-hour episodes on Sunday, Nov. 10 at 10/9c (following Shameless‘ Season 10 opener). Lastly, Jim Carrey’s Kidding, which was originally scheduled to launch Season 2 on Sunday, Nov. 3, now won’t return until Sunday, Feb. 9, in the year 2020, where it will be paired with Homeland‘s delayed eighth and final season.”

“After the failure of her MTV reality series Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club, it seems like Lohan is hatching another TV project. In an interview on Australia’s Studio 10 this week, Lohan revealed that she’s ‘writing a TV series that will come out in America. Almost like a reality show, but not a reality show.’ (She’s currently Down Under filming The Masked Singer.) Lohan went on to say that she will play at ‘kind of being a puppet master,’ and will star in the series with her siblings.” Please don’t.

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From The Ringer: “With his attempted acquisition of PGM in the rearview mirror and Sandy and Stewy’s bear hug growing tighter and tighter, it’s increasingly necessary for Logan Roy to make a move to preserve his autonomy. But what is there for him to do? His kids are incompetent and desperate, and there doesn’t seem to be much time for another moonshot. Our staffers have some ideas:

Send Kendall on a Mata Hari Mission

Katie Baker: I’m worried that Logan is going to come down even harder than he already has on poor broken Kendall, perhaps by deploying him to dig up some vengeful dirt on the Pierce fam that can be used to sully their lovely image. The world already knows about Naomi’s checkered, femur-breaking past, thanks to the work of the Roy family’s tabloids. But what kind of secrets is prim Marnie hiding under that cashmere cape? What bodies are buried under that lil corner of the Tern Haven sky? Maybe Nan has been involved in a Martha Stewart–esque insider trading scandal as juicy as the roast she did not make. Sure, it might be risky dispatching Kendall to, like, ply Naomi with substances and grill her for info—if there is any heavy machinery around to operate and crash, he’ll surely use it—but Logan is desperate and, worse, pissed, which may drive him to count on his number one boy.

Get an Investment From Another Ethically Questionable Source

Dan Devine: After seemingly bagging his white whale following an eventful stay at Tern Haven, Logan Roy raised a glass in celebration and delivered a two-word toast: “Money wins.” Except, thanks to a New York magazine cover story revealing of the contents of Chekhov’s death pit, this time it didn’t. The result: a harried Logan screaming after Nan Pierce’s car as it disappeared into the Aspen night—taking with it, perhaps, Waystar’s best chance of staving off acquisition by a venomous Stewy and an allegedly syphilitic Sandy.

One loss doesn’t change the all-time record, though; money’s still got more than enough Ws under its belt for a plaque in Cooperstown. And since Logan’s not about to just hand over the keys to his castle—the teaser for Episode 7 includes him saying, “I’ve never run away from anything in my life”—maybe he’ll double down on his initial strategy, by trying to fill his coffers with enough coin to keep Waystar afloat in a roiling shitstorm. (OK: maybe not the right time for nautical analogies.)

Gerri found just such a source of scratch in the person of Eduard, the coked-up young Argestes attendee with the shoes potentially “made of human rights activists” and a “hose attached to the central bank” of Azerbaijan. After some cajoling by his mole-woman maternal mistress, Roman shared a bump-fueled bathroom business meeting with Eduard, who’s not champing at the bit for a deal, but did seem pretty open to the idea of the Roys launching a channel covering what our man Wambsgans might call “the many news” of Eduard’s corner of the world with “a positive agenda ... 100 percent independent, but from our point of view.”

Roman wondered whether there’s an argument for ATN’s adopting an “ethical position of ‘fuck it’” for the sake of Eduard’s investment, to which Gerri replied, “Depends on the numbers.” With Waystar’s own numbers looking awfully dicey right now, what’s a little propagandistic spinning to a news operation that already delivers reports like “Gender fluid illegals may be entering the country ‘twice,’” “Is ‘sweetcheeks’ hate speech now?” and “Children should not be vaccinated, says doctor”? Especially if the payoff could be astronomical enough to successfully HGH up the family business to a size that’ll choke Sandy and Stewy like a heaping helping of ol’ Nan’s horse potatoes?

Roman might not be in the mood to offer that sort of lifeline to the monster who just knocked out his tooth for laughing; then again, it wouldn’t be shocking to see a cowed child go the extra mile in hopes of earning the ever-elusive approval of an abusive parent. If he does, expect Logan to act on the tip. When you’re a hammer, every problem looks like a nail, and when you believe money wins, your answer to losing is probably going to be to go get more of it.

Ask Marcia for Some Goddamn Advice

Miles Surrey: As incredible as Succession’s second season has been—and incredible doesn’t nearly explain how exhilarated I felt watching “Boar on the Floor”—if there’s one character who’s been given the short shrift amid all the Roy-related high jinks, it’s gotta be Marcia. She spent most of last season by her husband’s side, helping Logan recover from his brain hemorrhage. But whether Marcia’s behavior was done entirely out of the kindness of her heart or with some ulterior motives in mind is probably the closest thing Succession has to an enduring mystery—especially since Shiv’s attempt at a background check on her mother-in-law completely backfired. (No disrespect, Marcia, but everyone on this show has an agenda, and we’re just trying to figure out yours.)

But all the Marcia intrigue has fallen to the wayside this season as she’s … gotten iced out by her husband? Now, getting sauced on red wine and shit-talking Logan at the Pierce dinner was—and I don’t say this lightly—iconic, but having Marcia do something a little more significant by the end of the season wouldn’t hurt. And if she and Logan can make amends for the Pierce fallout, he might consider taking some of her advice. Logan trusts Marcia enough that she’s part of his actual trust; plus, she knows Kendall’s dirty secret. Couples fight; what better way to reconcile than finding a way to crush your enemies? Let’s get Marcia back into the fold—at least, until she finally shows her hand.

No, Really: Let Marcia Cook

Kate Knibbs: Logan is extremely fucked right now. His kids have proved themselves to be either untrustworthy (Kendall), blustery and incompetent under pressure (Shiv), or untrustworthy and blustery and incompetent under pressure (Roman). (Or they are Connor.) Logan is not the kind of guy to rely on an outsider, though, and so I suspect he’ll rely on the most level-headed person in his immediate circle: Marcia. She has expressed dissatisfaction at how Logan has sidelined her in recent episodes and hinted that she knows a lot more than she lets on. She also floats above the fray and has a shrouded but glamorous-seeming international background, perfect for engaging in some Wendi Murdoch–core business espionage and backroom dealmaking. If Logan knows what is good for him, he’ll realize his wife is his best asset right now.

Go Full Billions

Paolo Uggetti: In the past, there has been talk about the parallels between Billions and Succession. And while it’s true that there are similarities, primarily lots of money, they are two very different shows. Still, I think it’s time for Logan Roy to dig deep and pull out the Bobby Axelrod in him. Or the Chuck Rhoades in him, depending on what kind of maleficent maneuverer you prefer. He’s seemingly out of moves, backed up against the ropes and looking for a way out. This was Plan A, and it failed. What does Plan B look like? Frankly, I need it to involve something slightly illegal, the back room of a bodega, and a sleazy government official. It’s time to see Logan work without his incompetent children.”

Best. Show. On. Television.

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Per Forbes, “[e]very fall a new crop of TV shows debuts, each angling to become the one to see. But watch closely what the characters eat and drink or what’s in their fridges or on their kitchen counters and you’ll notice a common theme: green products. More and more TV characters are carrying their own water bottles, reaching for chia snacks or all-natural gluten-free bars, or even causally composting their food waste.

“Product placement on TV has always been big business, but in the past 7 years there’s been an influx of products that are good for us and the environment popping up in shows.

“‘If we normalize carrying your own water bottle, composting your food waste or having a plant-based product in your fridge, the more these products and behaviors will get integrated into societal norms. You make green normal by showing that being green should be normal,’ says Beth Bell, founder of Green Product Placement, which secures media product placement for green, local and social enterprise products on TV and film sets. 

“Think of Bell and her company as an agent for brands. They work with studios, production companies and production personnel, reviewing opportunities for placement in upcoming episodes and movies and then coordinating to make those placements happen. Sometimes that means simply securing the right amount and type of product for a set where it might appear in a background shot, other times it’s an actor or actress taking a specific action that involves the product, or an onscreen advertising opportunity such as an onscreen bus ad or billboard ad that features the product.

“Do you remember seeing Mamma Chia chia drinks and snacks and So Delicious coconut milk in Silicon Valley? Or Melt vegan butter spread in Love and Superstore? Or Manuka honey drops in The Big Bang Theory and Orange Is the New Black? Maybe not, but that was all the work of Green Product Placement.

“Bell, who has a background in set decoration, set dressing and props, founded her company after an online conversation with documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, about how a production could align itself with good brands.

“‘The product-placement companies at the time only had the chemical-laden conventional brands, so we approached a few natural brands ourselves, and that planted the seed,’ Bell says. 

“Over the past 7 years, Bell says she’s seen an increase in green brands doing placement in general and that now the majority of agencies represent at least one ‘social good’ brand or more.

“The thought is that product placement works on unconscious influence and decision-making and there are studies that show the effect of placing green brands versus conventional brands can be more effective for both brand and marketing consumer attitudes. 

“Something to think of the next time you find yourself reaching for coconut milk at the supermarket.”

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From ZDNet: “University researchers say that smart TVs are leaking sensitive, private user information to companies including Google, Facebook, and Netflix. 

“As reported by the Financial Times, smart television sets produced by popular vendors including Samsung, Apple, and LG, alongside content and app streaming devices such as Amazon's FireTV and Roku, are sending out information potentially without the knowledge or consent of users. 

“Academics from Northeastern University and Imperial College London examined 81 Internet of Things (IoT) devices in the US and UK, including TVs, smart home hubs, and appliances.

“In a paper titled, Information Exposure From Consumer IoT Devices, (.PDF), the team said that 34,586 controlled experiments revealed a total of 71 out of 81 devices send information to destinations other than the device manufacturer; 56 percent of US devices and 83.8 percent of UK products will leak information abroad, and every device involved in the study exposes information via at least one plaintext flow. 

“User and device behavior, in 30 out of 81 cases, can be ‘reliably inferred’ from eavesdropping whether or not information flows are encrypted. This may include our interactions with television sets and other household IoT products. 

“Location data and IP addresses were commonly sent by our IoT devices to third-parties including Netflix, Spotify, Microsoft, Akamai, and Google. The vendors mentioned are not a surprise, given that they all utilize or provide cloud technologies -- which are relied upon by connected devices to operate. 

“When it came to smart TVs, however, almost all of the devices included in the study would contact Netflix -- whether or not a TV was configured with an account for the content streaming service. 

"‘This, at the very least, exposes information to Netflix about the model of [a] TV at a given location,’ the paper reads.  

“The data leaks may be a catalyst for further discussion on the privacy aspects of user data generated and stored by IoT products, but the paper did note that encryption is commonly used -- a protective measure against eavesdroppers, but also a barrier to the team decoding exactly what information was being transferred to third-parties. 

“Facebook told the publication that it was ‘common’ for services with Facebook integrated into them to send data to third-party services. Netflix said that data transfers were ‘confined to how Netflix performs and appears on screen,’ and Google said user preferences and consent levels dictate how publishers ‘may share data with Google's that's similar to data used for ads in apps or on the web.’

“If you are interested in inspecting the IoT network traffic in your smart home, Princeton University has developed and released an open source tool called IoT Inspector. The software uses ARP spoofing to analyze what IoT devices are connected to the Internet, how much data is exchanged, and how often information is traded. 

"‘The acquisition of this sensitive information has continued to raise some pressing questions: how far will it undermine consumer trust in these major technology companies and to what extent is this coming at the expense of consumer privacy?,’ said David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky. ‘It is crucial that people are made aware of the repercussions of having connected devices in their home, and have the option as to whether their data is shared or not.’

“A lack of security standards around our smart devices may not be the only issue IoT product owners have to contend with. Recent reports suggest that Samsung is planning to target ads at smart TV owners based on what they are watching, with tailored marketing reaching the household level in an effort to further monetize the television industry.”

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More from The Ringer: “All awards shows change, but some evolve in less predictable ways. The Oscars, for instance, debuted with Best Director prizes for comedy and drama and effectively two Best Picture winners, one for Outstanding Picture and the other for Best Unique and Artistic Picture. The Grammys have added and dropped category after category (though a 2012 restructuring streamlined some things; goodbye, Best Hard Rock Performance, whatever you were).

“So have the Emmys, which debuted in January 1949 with a mere six awards (one for designing the Emmy Award statuette itself) and now features more than 100 categories, most of which the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences gives out before its awards broadcast itself. (Anyone wanting to find out whether Angela Bassett can beat out Sir David Attenborough in the Outstanding Narrator category will have to look elsewhere for the results.) Emmy categories come and go, but they rarely appear and disappear—then reappear and disappear again years later. Yet that’s exactly what has happened to the Outstanding New Series Emmy, an award that sounds like a good idea yet has never quite worked out.

“Originally named the Best New Program Emmy, the award appeared for three nonconsecutive years in the 1950s then vanished, only to resurface again for the 22nd Emmys, which awarded programming from the 1969-70 season. This second time around it lasted four years, and then once again vanished, never to be seen again after the 25th Emmys in 1973. Why was it introduced in the first place? Why did it go away and come back again before being yanked? And does it have a future? The answers involve plunging into Emmy history and examining the ways that awards shows adapt to changing times through experimentation—and by occasionally repeating the same mistake.

“It also helps to understand that the Emmys began as an attempt to lend respectability to an emerging medium that the more established film and radio fields treated with fear and contempt. The first three Emmy ceremonies limited their nominees to programs produced in the Los Angeles region, but they still established television as a field worthy of awards. ‘In the late ’40s, television was just getting started and was still in a relatively limited number of homes and certainly had low esteem among the power producers and so forth of Hollywood,’ says Tim Brooks, media historian, former TV executive, and coauthor of The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows (the pre-internet TV reference bible). ‘So the Emmys was considered a way to give some prestige to this new and in some ways struggling medium. We think of television as a great success over time, but it took a few years and this was one of the sparks that made it—especially in the Hollywood community—something you can get some prestige from. And as we all know, creative people love prestige.’

“As the Emmys’ scope expanded, so did the number of awards handed out. The sixth Emmys, held February 11, 1954, introduced Supporting Actor and Actress awards, which would stick around, and would later split into subcategories for drama, comedy, and limited series. That show also introduced the first incarnation of the Best New Program award, which created confusion from the start by naming two winners in its first appearance (due to a vote that was close enough to call a tie): Make Room for Daddy, a sitcom starring Danny Thomas; and the dramatic anthology series The United States Steel HourMake Room for Daddy, which later changed its name to The Danny Thomas Show, would go on to run for 11 seasons and make Thomas, already an established star, a TV legend. One of the premier sources of live TV drama, The United States Steel Hour would feature everyone from James Dean to Andy Griffith and boost the career of writer Rod Serling, who would go on to create The Twilight Zone after clashing with Steel Hour producers and sponsors over the content of one of his scripts.

“But the fact that the Emmys awarded both of the shows—a decision made due to a statistical tie—was just the most prominent evidence of the confounding nature of the category, which was also spelled by the lack of a unifying theory. Make Room for Daddy and The United States Steel Hour had little in common with each other, or with the other series nominated: The Loretta Young Show (another anthology drama hosted by the film star), the documentary series Adventure, Edward R. Murrow’s interview program Person to Person, and the wonderfully named Ding Dong School, a show aimed at preschoolers.

“Also confusing: One of the winners also won another award. The United States Steel Hour won for Best Dramatic Program. ‘So, you know,’ Brooks notes, ‘What’s the point? If it’s going to win in one, it has a very good chance of duplicating in another.’ Maybe that’s why the Academy removed the award for two years before restoring it with the ninth Emmy Awards in 1957, when some of the same problems plagued the award—and started a new trend. The nominees in the Best New Program category in the ninth and 10th Emmys included The Ernie Kovacs Show (one of the era’s most groundbreaking series), Leave It to Beaver, the Jack Paar incarnation of The Tonight Show, and Maverick. The awards, however, went to Playhouse 90 (a major dramatic anthology series) and the arts anthology The Seven Lively Arts, respectively. Both of those shows have their places in television history. Both are also the safest, most traditionally prestigious choices, the ones most likely to fulfill the original goal of the Emmy Awards: to burnish the image of television itself.

“Following the 10th Emmy Awards, the Best New Program honor went into hibernation alongside two other categories that had made their one and only appearances (perhaps because they were such mouthfuls): “Best Continuing Performance (Female) in a Series by a Comedian, Singer, Host, Dancer, M.C., Announcer, Narrator, Panelist, or Any Person Who Essentially Plays Herself” and its male counterpart. That doesn’t mean the Emmys gave up on new ideas, however. Like the world around them, the Academy spent the ’60s expanding its mind—or at least its categories—and as the ’60s rolled into the ’70s, the Emmys were ready to try the Best New Program award again, under the new name of Outstanding New Series. But while the times had changed, the problems with the award had not, particularly the oddness of pitting disparate types of shows against one another.

“The Outstanding New Series nominees at the 22nd Emmy Awards included Sesame StreetThe Bill Cosby Show; The Forsyte Saga (a BBC import adapting a series of John Galsworthy novels); Marcus Welby, M.D.; and the winner, Room 222. Of these, Room 222 and The Bill Cosby Show were also nominated in the Outstanding Comedy Series category, while Marcus Welby, M.D. beat out fellow nominee The Forsyte Saga to win the Outstanding Dramatic Series award. Elsewhere, Sesame Street won for Outstanding Children’s Program. ‘It almost feels like, in a lot of these cases for a lot of these awards shows, the new series [award] is sort of a consolation prize,’ says Chris Beachum, managing editor of the awards-focused site GoldDerby. ‘Wouldn’t you think you’re the Best New Series of the year if you’re also the Best Drama of the year?’

“If nothing else, the nominees during the four years that the Outstanding New Series Emmy existed in the early ’70s provides a fascinating snapshot of what happened in television at that heady moment. The second year of the revived category’s existence featured The Flip Wilson Show, a then-rare crossover success for an African American performer, while also speaking to the period’s sitcom renaissance with nominations for The Mary Tyler Moore ShowThe Odd Couple, and All in the Family, the latter that year’s winner.

“That All in the Family also won that year’s Outstanding Comedy award continued the category’s confusing habit of overlapping with other awards. Then there was the category’s old problem of predictably favoring the toniest choices, an issue that started to creep back in during the third year of its revived existence. Nominees for the Outstanding New Program honors at the 24th and 25th Emmys included ColumboSanford and SonThe Sonny & Cher Comedy HourKung FuMaudeThe Waltons, and M*A*S*H. Their winners, respectively: Elizabeth R (a Glenda Jackson–starring historical drama now best remembered by its Monty Python parody; head’s-up: It’s pretty racist) and America: A Personal History of the United States, a 13-part documentary hosted by Alistair Cooke.

“Then the category disappeared again. ‘I think the track record of who the winners were and how it’s set up—two are commercial and two aren’t—kind of put the nail in the coffin for the whole idea of a Best New Show or Outstanding New Series category,’ Brooks says. It’s likely, Beachum suggests, that the trend toward rewarding the most obviously prestigious material might have continued had the category stuck around. ‘I have noticed over the years, especially with something like the Television Critics Association, if you have dramatic- or anthology-type material, it’ll often win over comedy. It’s deemed to be—kind of like at the Oscars—more important. So that could be why you see those two winning in ’72 and ’73. When All in the Family won, it was [up against] two other comedies, a variety show and a show that nobody even remembers. And All in the Family was so groundbreaking. I can see why it won that year. It would’ve been interesting to see if it had been up against an Elizabeth R, which was your typical “Emmy fawning all over something that’s royal and British.”’

“Television has undergone profound changes in the decades since, though the Emmys have been less adaptable, rewarding the same programs and performers over and over until new voices forced their way in. The ’90s saw cable series make inroads into territory that had previously been dominated by broadcast networks, and recent years have seen streaming services vie for the same awards as more established outlets. Still, the spotlight has remained narrow since the major categories have remained largely unchanged. The most common complaint leveled at TV in 2019 continues to be that there’s just too much of it for anyone to keep up with every notable program. Most TV viewers now try to focus on the truly extraordinary and personal favorites. That means living with a nagging sense of FOMO, but awards can play a valuable service by spotlighting programs that might not otherwise be on viewers’ radars. With more new shows being produced than ever before—and with so many of them being of quality—it’s worth asking whether the Emmys ought to evolve, and whether bringing back the Outstanding New Series category is one such way to do so.

“Brooks doesn’t think so. ‘New Show’ is an artificial construct. ‘Best’ is much more representative of what [the Emmys] are supposed to be,” he says. ‘“New” adds another layer of “It happened to start this year.’”Maybe 10 great shows start this year. Maybe no great shows start this year.’ Beachum agrees, making an argument that resembles the outcry against the Oscars’ failed attempt to instill a Best Popular Film award: ‘It’s almost like sitting at the children’s table as opposed to the adult table at Thanksgiving. It feels like a way to shoehorn in some things that they might not want to vote for in the main category. If I was a producer of the show, if I didn’t win both the regular series award and the new series award, it would feel like I had gotten something secondhand almost.’

“Not all awards experts see it this way. Citing recent history, IndieWire’s TV awards editor Libby Hill makes a case for bringing it back. ‘I would love the institution of a Best New Show category,’ she says. ‘The problem the Emmys face that the Oscars rarely have to grapple with is the idea of awards dynasties. If you were a fan of Modern Family, then their five-year stint as Best Comedy Series was probably an Emmy dream come true. But if you were a general television fan hoping to see the TV Academy embrace more series that were breaking down what TV comedies could be—including shows like Orange Is the New BlackGirls, and Transparent—then it was easy to feel as though the Emmys were unable to pivot with the times.’

“Though this year features, in Hill’s words, “a lot of somewhat fresh meat entering the race,” such as FleabagRussian DollBodyguardSuccession, and Pose, that doesn’t mean the Academy has solved its legacy problem for good. With new streaming services debuting nearly as quickly as new series, the need to broaden the reach of the awards’ spotlight will remain a concern. Does moving forward mean reviving a category from the past? Or would a new Outstanding New Series Emmy prove to be, as in years past, less than outstanding? One thing’s for sure: If the Emmys were to give it a try, the Academy could always kill the category if it doesn’t work out. It’s done so twice before, after all.”