Tuesday October 1, 2019

Netflix has ordered a 4th season of Stranger Things. Hopefully it’s better than season 3. “[T]he streaming service has signed the sci-fi series’ creators and showrunners, Matt and Ross Duffer a.k.a. The Duffer Brothers, to a multi-year film and series overall deal. And to accompany this announcement, Netflix dropped an announcement video that hints “Stranger Things 4” won’t take place in the fictional Hawkins, Indiana, following the Stranger Things 3 finale’s major post-credits scene cliffhanger. The financial terms of the Duffers’ overall deal with Netflix were not disclosed.”

Nikki Glaser’s new standup special is now streaming on Netflix.

Bravo debuts In A Man’s World tonight. “This eye-opening series follows four dynamic women who embark on the journey of a lifetime as they transform into men to experience life from the opposite side. With the help of Academy Award-winning Special Effects make-up team, Lou and Dave Elsey, and skilled voice and movement coaches, each woman develops her own alter ego and spends two days living in a man’s world. After their frustration at being disregarded because of their gender, the women are looking to flip the script and experience a day without bias from the very same people who held them back in the past.”

Season 2 of Sorry For Your Loss is available on Facebook Watch.

The Rock is coming back to WWE Smackdown. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson will make his first appearance on the weekly show in six years Friday when Smackdown — named after one of Johnson's catchphrases when he was a WWE star — makes its debut on Fox. The show has spent the last nine years on cable (Syfy from 2010-15 and USA from 2016 until last week). The Fast and Furious and Ballers star announced his return on Twitter, saying ‘There's no greater title than the people's champ. And there's no place like home.’"

Jerry Seinfeld has emerged the winner of a legal battle with a former collaborator who claims that he came up with the original idea for Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee [on a technicality IMO]. U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan ruled on Monday to dismiss Christian Charles’ suit on grounds that it exceeded the three-year statute of limitations for civil copyright suits.”

Billie Eillish’s interview with Howard Stern yesterday was quite riveting. Here’s a clip.

A review of Amazon’s upcoming Modern Love.

In the event you’re in the market for some of the clothes worn on Schitt’s Creek, here’s your chance.

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From The Hollywood Reporter: “[This story contains spoilers from the first season finale of Netflix's The Politician.]

“The final hour of The Politician's first season not only caught up with the ultra-ambitious titular character several years after his scandal-plagued run for high school president, but it also introduced the players in his next run for office.

“Payton Hobart (Tony winner Ben Platt) faded into obscurity (and incidentally developed a drinking problem) after his disastrous run for student body president. Instead of Harvard, he settled for NYU (which has produced no U.S. presidents, vs. Harvard's five, or seven if you count advanced degrees), and makes money playing at a piano bar.

“Enter powerful New York State Senate Majority Leader Dede Standish (Judith Light), who's being tapped for a vice presidential run by a Beto O'Rourke-esque Texas senator-elect (Sam Jaeger). Once Dede and her chief of staff (Bette Midler) set their sights on the White House, she begins to neglect her district. When some of Payton's old high school pals realize there's an opening for fresh blood to challenge Dede for her seat, they visit Payton with a proposal: Maybe his political career isn't over after all, and he should run.

“The episode set up a season two that will see Platt and Light go head-to-head in the local race, switching the setting of the series from sunny California to New York City. The specifics, however, are still elusive, even to star Platt.

"‘We really don't know [where the story is headed],’ Platt told The Hollywood Reporter about season two. ‘Every time we think we know, [creators Ryan Murphy, Ian Brennan and Brad Falchuk] really shock us. All I know is that it will be very much focused on mine and Judith's race, and that we'll be in New York now. And we're theoretically a little bit older and coming into our own as adults.’

“The first season focused on a group of teens whose ambition and privilege collided in sometimes disastrous ways. Season two will see those characters adapting to adulthood in a completely different environment than the one in which they were raised.

"‘I think the most interesting thing for all of them is seeing what happens to them when you strip away the context for their personalities that seem very formulaic and that have been developed very pragmatically in reaction to their surroundings,’ said star Lucy Boynton, who plays Payton's high school rival.

“Boynton wants to see how the characters are able to translate the way their privilege and ambition has shaped their personalities into new, very different contexts. ‘How best to thrive and survive in that surrounding has been developed into a persona. Once you pull away the high school surroundings and context, what does that turn into? What survives and what falls by the wayside? We'll see how much Astrid stays true to herself.’

“Platt echoed that sentiment. He's interested in, ‘like Lucy said, seeing how much of our archetype remains when we're out of that environment and in the real world, and how much will remain intact just by virtue of the fact that we're still in a political setting.’

“He added, ‘For Peyton, similarly, I think by the end of the season he's had this taste of if he does strip away his ambition and all of his gravitas and his self-preservation, he can feel all these things and be very connected and empathetic. Obviously, his ambition once again at the very end gets the better of him, and he wants to jump back in the game. So I think it'll be interesting having tasted now both sides of it, whether he can strike any better of a balance or whether he'll have to fall completely back to his old ways. Your guess is as good as mine.’"

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Per Deadline, “Chelsea Handler’s bestselling memoir, Life Will Be The Death Of Me, is heading to the small screen. In a competitive situation with multiple studios bidding, Universal TV, where Handler is under a first-look deal, has acquired the rights to develop the book as a TV series, which Handler will executive produce.

Life Will Be The Death of Me was published April 9 by Penguin Random House. Per the publisher’s official description, the book tells ‘the funny, sad, super-honest, all-true story of Chelsea Handler’s year of self-discovery—featuring a nerdily brilliant psychiatrist, a shaman, four Chow Chows, some well-placed security cameras, various family members (living and departed), friends, assistants, and a lot of edibles.’

“Comedian Handler’s 2008 bestselling book, Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea, a collection of mostly autobiographical essays, was adapted as a TV comedy, which was picked up to series by NBC and ran for one season.

“The deal for Life Will Be The Death Of Me comes on the heels of Handler’s return to stand-up as part of a continuation of her book tour. She recently announced additional stops across North America starting this November.

“Handler’s documentary Hello, Privilege. It’s Me Chelsea, was released on Netflix on September 13. In it, she explores how white privilege impacts American culture — and the ways it’s benefited her own life and career.

“Handler also is executive producing dramedy Unspeakable starring Mary McCormack, which is in development at Hulu, and the streamer’s upcoming animated series Marvel’s Tigra & Dazzler.

“Handler, who headlined talk shows on E! and Netflix and the 2016 Netflix documentary series Chelsea Does, is also the author of bestsellers Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang and Uganda Be Kidding Me.

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From Realscreen: “As networks and media organizations move toward increasing diversity onscreen and behind the camera, it only makes sense that relationship programming would become more inclusive.

“LGBTQ+ identities have been part of the reality TV landscape for decades. The original ‘Fab Five”’made their debut on Bravo’s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy in 2003. Three years before that, Richard Hatch, an openly gay man, won the first season of what was to become an unscripted juggernaut, Survivor on CBS.

“Beyond queer cast members in reality staples such as The Real World and Big Brother, entire shows have been built around LGBTQ+ characters and identities over the last couple of decades. Examples include TRANSform MeThe Real L WordGaycationRuPaul’s Drag RaceFire IslandI Am JazzI Am CaitMy Fabulous Gay Wedding/First Comes Love and Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys.

“Another unscripted sub-genre, however, has been slower to move out of its established comfort zone. With ABC’s The Dating Game premiering in 1965, dating shows are firmly entrenched within popular culture. The basic premise — one man and one woman fall for each other — has been the norm since then, whether in The Bachelor and The BacheloretteJoe MillionaireParadise Hotel or countless other formats.

“But the status quo may be changing, as dating formats buck the trend in favor of greater diversity among participants. Last May, MTV announced that the cast of the latest season of its dating format Are You the One?  would be made up entirely of people identifying as sexually fluid, meaning that any of the 16 participants could potentially pair off with one another, regardless of gender.

“Just a few months earlier, in time for Valentine’s Day, Netflix premiered Dating Around, the global streamer’s take on the dating show, featuring six singles going on dates in New York. Of the six, two went on same-sex dates. Other examples of the shift include E!’s The Bi Life from last year, Logo and VH1′s Finding Prince Charming from 2016 and Logo’s Transamerican Love Story, now more than a decade old, having aired in 2008.

“With Are You the One?, bringing on sexually fluid contestants was prompted by the casting process of previous seasons. Lighthearted Entertainment’s Rob LaPlante, EP and co-creator of the series, says the move was an organic one. ‘We started to see people talking to us about sexuality in a way that was different, interesting, eye-opening, and rather than turn our backs on that and try to make the show continue to be what it always has been, we decided to open our ears and say, what is this thing?’ he tells Realscreen.

“With Dating Around, on the other hand, the premise was always tied to capturing a snapshot of the New York dating scene in all its diversity. For Chris Culvenor, creator and EP for Eureka Productions, that would have been impossible to accomplish while looking through a strictly straight lens. ‘It just felt absolutely natural to us. I think good casting is about being flexible and being able to be nimble when you see something new and different in that process.’

“The two shows approached the question of LGBTQ+ representation from very different vantage points. Are You the One? already had an established fan base. In opting for a sexually fluid cast, it was sticking to an established format while arguably flipping the whole endeavor on its head.

“‘Any time you make a change to an existing franchise like this, you get concerned that you might aggravate the audience in some way, just because they like it — they’re watching it [as it is],’ says LaPlante.

“In the end, the move paid off, prompting coverage from The Atlantic, NPR, ViceSlateThe New York Post, CNN and more. Viewership nearly doubled in its first four weeks on MTV.

“As a new show, Dating Around had nowhere to go but up, and didn’t have a set brand to adhere to. ‘We actively avoided any reference points, because we wanted it to be a distinctly different dating show,’ says Culvenor. ‘I think it was fascinating to see how a 73-year-old person dates, or how a 22 year-old person dates. We didn’t worry about alienating straight viewers, because we thought it was such a fantastic opportunity just to see how different people date.’

“LaPlante and Culvenor both report that MTV and Netflix, respectively, were supportive from the start, pointing to goodwill across the board. MTV even suggested training sessions with GLAAD so that the production team on Are You the One? could learn about how LGBTQ+ communities have been represented — and misrepresented — in the past, helping them avoid certain common pitfalls.

Are You the One? and Dating Around stand out, not only as successful entries in the genre but as formats that do not treat LGBTQ+ identities as requiring a new hook or twist. They are dating shows, full stop, and they can work as-is regardless of who appears on screen. Are You the One? has been a successful franchise for years, while Dating Around features several episodes without LGBTQ+ participants.

“Some previous attempts at integration, however, opted for gimmicks or narrative twists. In 2004, Fox’s Playing It Straight saw a woman on a ranch with a group of men, going on dates with them to figure out which were gay and which were straight. In the UK, Sky1′s 2003 format There’s Something About Miriam had six men trying to woo Mexican model Miriam, with the revelation that she was a transgender woman saved for the final episode. Fox’s 2008 A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila, meanwhile, saw men and women competing for the TV and social media star’s affections, finding out she was bisexual only at the end of the first episode.

“Such shows may have emerged in less progressive times, but perhaps they also served to clear a path to today’s more receptive atmosphere. Doug Ross, creator and EP of Bravo’s 2003 series Boy Meets Boy, fondly recalls the process of pitching a gay version of The Bachelor. While that idea didn’t fly, he was able to get a greenlight when he added a twist — some of the contestants vying for the star’s affections would be straight, and part of the challenge for him would be to suss out the truly eligible contestants before picking one.

“Ross was also producing Gay Weddings for Bravo as he moved forward on Boy Meets Boy. For context on how far society has come, Gay Weddings was produced long before same-sex marriage was legalized in the U.S., and thus contestants prepared for commitment ceremonies that could not be legally termed ‘marriage’ at the time.

“He recalls how, despite what he terms as initial pushback from the show’s star, Boy Meets Boy was a successful experiment in creating empathy while having fun.

“‘The straight guys really had this huge epiphany of, “Oh my God, I don’t think I ever really understood how much I took for granted that I could be who I am, and here I was in a situation where I couldn’t be who I was,”’ says Ross. ‘I don’t think there was one that didn’t think it was a great learning and growing experience.’

“Ross says he would make the show again today, given the chance. ‘I’m sure that we would make some adjustments for 2019-2020, but I still think it would be an interesting experiment, and maybe even more interesting now that the culture has changed so much.’

“‘I really do believe that programs like Boy Meets Boy and the original Queer EyeWill & Grace and a lot of other shows — some employing a lot of stereotypes, some trying to bust stereotypes, some challenging social conventions, some bugging people — helped to generate the current social conversation and get us to where we are today, so that a show like Are You the One? can actually be on MTV and be a hit.’

“‘It’s kind of cool, actually.’”

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“For Variety’s latest issue, we asked Kenneth Lonergan to write a tribute to Kieran Culkin, one of 50 people to make our New Power of New York list. For the full list, click here.

“It’s hard to write about Kieran in this context because I genuinely love and admire him, and genuinely find him aggravating. Only when he is unsure of himself is my first impulse to praise and encourage him. But I have to clarify: His values, for lack of a less dirtied-up word, and his morals — which are way too severe for me — will always restrain him from being obnoxious because he’s doing well. He’s just one of those people who are pleasanter when you have them at a disadvantage, so that’s how I prefer it. Maybe that’s just my own insecurity talking.

“Another reason it’s hard to write about Kieran as a New Power in Hollywood is that apart from the perfectly reasonable desire to make a good living and play good parts, he has never demonstrated the slightest ambition to be anything of the kind. His career has dragged behind his creative interests, not the other way around. That he hasn’t totally sabotaged himself as a result is only partly a testament to what a good actor he is; it’s also a testament to the reassuring if sporadic persistence with which audiences respond to exceptional work even when it’s not under a horrible and garish spotlight. When someone like Kieran does gain the appreciation of a wider audience, it’s so rewarding to your sense of justice that you don’t mind having to strike another name off your private roster of underappreciated great artists.

“It wouldn’t be good for Kieran for me to call him a great artist here, but he won’t mind if I notice that he’s a serious one. As an actor he reaches great depths with no visible effort, and while you could fairly call him a purist, he’s the opposite of precious. In fact he’s astonishingly spontaneous and freewheeling, all the more so because of his great emotional reach; and he’s really funny. I really don’t know anybody like him, and after almost 20 years of watching and working with him I’m still amazed — amazed! — by what a good actor he is. As for his aggravating qualities as a friend, they’re fairly insubstantial — he’s a bad arguer, he’d rather get on your nerves than make his point, he’s never seen a movie pre-1980 and constantly accuses me of only pretending to like them to show off, etc., etc. But these things pale in comparison with his finer points. I mention them only in passing, and as far as I’m concerned he’s welcome to all the Hollywood Power he can handle.

Kenneth Lonergan is a playwright, director and screenwriter. He won an Oscar for his screenplay for Manchester by the Sea.”