Friday September 6, 2019

Sacha Baron Cohen’s The Spy is now available on Netflix. “In the 1960s, Israeli clerk-turned-secret agent Eli Cohen goes deep undercover inside Syria on a perilous, years-long mission to spy for Mossad.”

Good Talk With Anthony Jeselnik premieres tonight on Comedy Central.

Showtime premiers Couples Therapy tonight.

Here’s a review.

CBS has ordered a 22nd season of Big Brother.

Season 2 of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan will be available on Amazon Prime on November 1.

Paramount has ordered a 2nd season of its Wife Swap reboot.

The upcoming Mad About You revival will air on Spectrum Originals in two six-episode batches, the company said on Thursday. The revival of the 1990s-era NBC sitcom, starring Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt, will debut its first six episodes ad-free on Nov. 20, with the later six dropping on Dec. 18. Spectrum Originals also released a brief teaser. Charter’s Spectrum ordered the limited series back in March. According to Spectrum, the series will explore the fertile ground of modern marriage through the eyes of the Buchmans as newly minted empty-nesters after dropping their unpredictable, hard-to-control daughter Mabel (Abby Quinn) off at college.”

Sean Hannity defended President Donald Trump last night on Fox News, claiming that weather maps prove he was correct that Hurricane Dorian could have hit Alabama. Huh?

Patty Jenkins is putting down roots with Netflix. The Wonder Woman director and I Am the Night executive producer has inked an overall TV deal with the streaming giant. Sources say the three-year deal is worth a total of $10 million. Under the pact, Jenkins will create, develop and produce new series exclusively for Netflix.”

Viceland hired Morgan Hertzan as EVP and GM. Hertzan was formerly GM of Lincoln Square Studios. Talk about a guy who has 9 lives.

“Hulu is no longer moving forward with its plans of developing its own shared TV universe based on John Grisham’s novels, an individual with knowledge of the project tells TheWrap. The first two series were going to be adaptations of Rogue Lawyer and The Rainmaker. Both were being overseen by Michael Seitzman and Jason Richman. Hulu was working with ABC Signature on the project, with Grisham set to executive produce. Dubbed ‘The Grisham Universe,’ the two series were designed so that they would stand on their own, but would share characters and have plotlines intersect with each other. Viewers could watch each season independently or bounce from the first episode of Rainmaker to the first episode of Rogue Lawyer, then back to Rainmaker, etc.”

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From Variety: “A group of friends hang out in a bar. It’s a typical sitcom setup. But It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has never been typical — and FX Entertainment president Eric Schrier can attest to that. He was one of the executives ‘laughing our asses off’ a decade and a half ago at a screening of the show’s pilot.

“‘I think what was so great about it was that it was an alternative version of a sitcom, where you had these crazy characters that said and did all things totally politically incorrectly,’ he says. ‘But there was a smarter understanding behind the show. They were dealing with societal issues, so there was this great combination of a highbrow side of it masked with a very broad-based lowbrow side.’

“The single-cam series, which debuted in 2005 on FX, will air its 14th season this month. In doing so, it will tie The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet for longest-running live-action TV comedy in history, making it an unlikely entry into the television pantheon. Always Sunny has now aired more seasons than Cheers, MASH, Seinfeld, Friends or Frasier.

Always Sunny was one of FX’s first originals, airing alongside early hits like The Shield, Rescue Me and Nip/Tuck. It is also FX’s longest-running show, period. Its core cast — Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton, Charlie Day, Kaitlin Olson and Danny DeVito — has remained intact virtually throughout its run. 

“The show has endured in part because of its willingness to push the boundaries of comedy. Topics lampooned on the series have included pedophilia, incest, racism, alcoholism, abortion and the gun debate — and that was just in Season 1. Its main characters all work at a fictional Philadelphia bar called Paddy’s Pub, where they engage in various schemes and illicit dealings for personal gain or simply to undermine each other.  

“The show also helped redefine what a comedy, particularly one on basic cable, was capable of in the early aughts. One need only look at the shows that were up for the best comedy Emmy in 2005 — Everybody Loves Raymond, Arrested Development, Will & Grace, Scrubs and Desperate Housewives — to see how the landscape has changed in the years since Always Sunny started. 

“The show connected early with college-age men. But DeVito notes that longevity has brought with it a broader audience. 

“‘I’ve experienced this where 11-year-olds will come up to me on the street,’ DeVito says. ‘Almost the same fans as Matilda! I expect them to say, “I’m such a big fan of Matilda,” but this kid goes, “My favorite was the water park episode!” I think of it, and I say to myself “Holy s–t, I was running around in that one talking about having AIDS to get to the front of the line of a water slide.”’

Always Sunny has never been a favorite of the awards community. In fact, the show did an entire episode spoofing exactly that in its ninth season. The plot revolves around the gang trying to win the award for best bar in Philadelphia; the episode ends with Day’s character singing a song to awards voters in Paddy’s Pub that culminates with him belting out, ‘Go f–k yourselves,’ and spitting on the bewildered patrons. 

“Yet the series remains popular even after more than a decade. According to FX, the 13th season averaged just over 3 million viewers per episode in multiplatform viewing. That’s up from 2.2 million multiplatform viewers in Season 10. 

“Part of the show’s early appeal was its almost homemade aesthetic, which was influenced by the original pilot that McElhenney, Day and Howerton shot for next to nothing with a digital camera before pitching it to various networks. 

“‘We knew what we liked, but we didn’t know how things were supposed to be done,’ Howerton says. ‘It was sort of that bullheaded attitude and being told, “You can’t do it that way,” that emboldened us.’

“All three agree, however, that they’re glad they knew so little going in about making a show, something McElhenney calls a ‘trial by fire.’ He does say there’s one thing he would change though: ‘To remember to enjoy the process a little bit more, which we certainly started to do as time went on,’ he says. ‘When we started, I was 25 or 26, and I so desperately didn’t want to wait tables anymore that I was willing to do anything and everything to make sure that this was going to succeed. We just killed ourselves to make sure that it held up to a certain standard, which I’m proud of doing, but at the same time it wasn’t as enjoyable as it could have been if we lightened up a little bit.’

“That early effort has clearly paid off, with all of the core cast members pursuing successful projects since the show began. DeVito continues to star in films like the live-action Dumbo; Howerton toplines the comedy series AP Bio, which was recently revived for a third season at the NBCUniversal streaming service after two seasons on NBC; Olson starred in the Fox series The Mick; and McElhenney and Day are prepping a comedy series for Apple.  

“Howerton is also branching out within Always Sunny, making his directorial debut in the new season. He says it was always his intention to start directing on the series, but he held off until now. ‘The reason I haven’t done it before, besides the fact it’s hard to do because we shoot multiple episodes at one time, is I have a tremendous amount of respect for directors and what that takes,’ he says. ‘I never wanted to just jump into it like, “Oh, I could do this.”’

“But one of the drawbacks of being on a series as successful as Always Sunny is that network executives are essentially expecting the same show when they hear about a new project. 

“‘Rob and I went through that with our Apple show,’ Day says. ‘There’s always some expectation that they’re going to get Sunny, but then there is always the hope that they are going to get us as a cast. Sunny, beyond the writing, is us performing and the chemistry that we have together. So there is the hurdle of saying, “Well, you’re not going to get that, but you are going to get something great.”’

“Olson echoes that sentiment, saying she’s often pitched projects in which she would basically be playing her character from Always Sunny,' adding those shows ‘just aren’t as well written.’ ‘I would love to play some other characters in some different endeavors, but it’s nice to be able to come back here because I realize how great we have it.’

“‘I really feel like I hit the jackpot,’ she continues. ‘It’s hard to imagine another show ending up as fun and as special as this one.’” 

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Per Deadline, “USA Network has ordered limited series Evel, based on the story of larger-than-life ’70s daredevil Evel Knievel. Starring and executive produced by This Is Us‘ Milo Ventimiglia, it hails from from McG’s Wonderland Sound & Vision, UCP and Atlas Entertainment.

“Written by Etan Frankel (Animal Kingdom)Evel falls into USA’s wheelhouse of ‘heroes, rebels & icons’ focused on big stories about big American characters.

“The limited series is based on the story of Evel Knievel (Ventimiglia) as he prepares for his greatest death-defying feat — the historic Snake River Canyon jump. Evel is an exhilarating portrait of a complex man living the American dream, juggling meteoric celebrity and raising a family — and facing the very real probability that his next jump will kill him.

“Frankel will executive produce with McG, Mary Viola and Steven Bello of Wonderland Sound & Vision; Alex Gartner, Charles Roven and Topher Rhys-Lawrence of Atlas Entertainment; and Ventimiglia. Ventimiglia’s longtime producing partner, Russ Cundiff, will co-executive produce via the duo’s DiVide Pictures. Filming is expected to begin in 2020.

Evel had been in the works at USA for a while. It got on a fast track once Ventimiglia sought it out and came on board to play the daredevil icon. For McG, this brings to fruition a longtime passion — he signed up to direct an Evel Knievel feature biopic, Pure Evel, more than seven years ago. It was in development at USA and UCP sibling Universal Pictures.

“‘USA Network is known for big event series that celebrate heroes, rebels and icons, and what could be bigger than the story of one of the greatest thrillseekers of all time?’ said Chris McCumber, President of Entertainment Networks – USA Network and Syfy. ‘The incredible life and journey of Evel Knievel lends itself to a dramatic retelling, and we are excited to be partnering with Milo, McG, UCP, Atlas and Wonderland to bring this iconic American tale to our viewers.’

“In addition to the Universal Pictures project, in the past few years there have been two other attempts at doing an Evel Knievel feature film by Paramount and Sony.

“There have been two produced Evel Knievel movies to date, the 1971 feature starring George Hamilton and the 2004 TNT TV movie headlined by George Eads.

“Ventimiglia  stars in the acclaimed NBC drama series This Is Us as family patriarch Jack Pearson, a role that has earned him three Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. In 2016, he reprised his role as Jess in the continuation of the drama Gilmore Girls, which returned with four 90-minute episodes. His other television credits include Heroes, Frank Darabont’s Mob City and American Dreams.

“Ventimiglia is onscreen alongside Kevin Costner and Amanda Seyfried in the feature film The Art of Racing in the Rain, an adaptation of the international best-selling novel by Garth Stein. His other film credits include the romantic comedy Second Act, Rocky Balboa, Adam Sandler’s That’s My Boy and Grown Ups 2.

“Frankel worked as a writer-producer on John Wells’ adaptation of UK comedy-drama Shameless from 2011-16, rising to executive producer on the flagship Showtime series. He then segued to another Wells-produced series based on a format, TNT’s Animal Kingdom, as an executive producer.”

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From The Hollywood Reporter: “Joseph Gordon-Levitt is teaming with Apple.

“The multihyphenate is set to star in, write and direct a dramedy about a teacher titled Mr. Corman for the tech giant's forthcoming Apple TV+ streaming platform. The show centers on the title character, who teaches in the San Fernando Valley while coming to grips with adulthood.

“Apple declined comment.

“The project comes to Apple on the heels of its scrapping of the revenge drama Bastards, starring Richard Gere, which was said to be too dark and at odds with the aspirational programming Apple wants to offer on its service, which is set to launch later this year.

Mr. Corman comes from A24 and Gordon-Levitt's HitRecord. It would mark his first regular role on a scripted series since he left NBC's 3rd Rock From the Sun in 2001, though he also fronted the variety show HitRecord on TV for the short-lived Pivot network earlier this decade.

“Apple has yet to announce a launch date for Apple TV+, though it is expected to launch in the fall with series including the Jennifer Aniston-Reese Witherspoon drama The Morning Show, the Hailee Steinfeld starrer Dickinson and the space-race drama For All Mankind among the first original offerings.”

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Thought this was a great piece from The Ringer, especially if you’re a Scrubs fan: “This is some housekeeping information that may be helpful as you work your way through the rest of this article:

  • Scrubs was a television show that ran for nine seasons from 2001 to 2010.

  • It was about a group of people working in a hospital called Sacred Heart.

  • There were many, many characters on the show, but the main seven were: Dr. John ‘J.D.’ Dorian (a staff intern who eventually becomes an attending physician; he’s also the show’s narrator); Dr. Christopher Turk (a staff intern who eventually becomes the chief of surgery); Dr. Elliot Reid (a staff intern who eventually moves over to private practice); Carla Espinosa (a nurse who eventually becomes the head nurse); Dr. Bob Kelso (the chief of medicine who eventually retires); Dr. Perry Cox (an attending physician who oversees the development of J.D. and Elliot and several others; he eventually becomes the chief of medicine); and Janitor (a janitor who remains a janitor the entire time).

  • All of their relationships get mushed together and smushed around, but by the end of the series a fair evaluation of them would be: J.D. and Turk are best friends; Turk and Carla are husband and wife (and father and mother); Elliot and J.D. are on-again-off-again love interests who (we’re led to believe) eventually get married; Dr. Cox and J.D. are in a mentor-mentee relationship that J.D. openly loves and cherishes and that Dr. Cox openly hates but secretly loves and cherishes; Janitor hates J.D.; and Dr. Kelso and Dr. Cox dislike each other but occasionally are aligned philosophically.

  • The show used to be on Netflix but now it’s on Hulu.

  • No show has ever been better than Scrubs at pivoting from being totally and completely silly in one moment to dropping a fucking anvil of sadness on your chest in the next. It’s remarkable how great every character was at doing that exact thing. Even on your third, fourth, and fifth rewatch, they’re still able to sweep your feet out from under you. Judy Reyes as Carla could do it (you can see her do it in a sad way in this scene where she has to say goodbye to someone she loves). Zach Braff as J.D. could do it (you can see him do it in a happy way in this scene where he watches his future play out on a projector screen). Dr. Cox could do it (more on this in a minute). Even several of the guest stars could do it (you can see Glynn Turman do it in a substantial way in this scene where he plays a guy who struggles with accepting that he’s going to die). And yet, despite that fact:

  • Scrubs has never gotten the widespread critical praise that it deserves. And I say that on a macro scale (the show only won two Emmys during its tenure, neither of which were in any of the big-ticket categories) and on a micro scale (when The Ringer created its list in 2018 of The 100 Best TV Episodes of the Century, Scrubs appeared on the list exactly zero times).

  • There is potentially an argument to be made that Scrubs is the most underrated TV show that’s ever existed (and if not the most underrated, then perhaps the most underappreciated, which is a different thing).

  • But I don’t want to do that right now.

  • I just want to talk about Dr. Cox.

  • Specifically, I just want to talk about one specific Dr. Cox moment.

“There has never been a time when I asked someone whether they liked Scrubs and they responded with something like, ‘I mean, it’s OK, I guess.’ There have only been times where I asked someone whether they liked Scrubs and they responded with something like (a) ‘I’ve never seen it,’ or (b) ‘Obviously I like it because it’s beautiful. Why would you even ask me that question, you stupid idiot?’

“The one specific Dr. Cox moment happens during the fifth season in an episode called My Fallen Idol. There are a few different story lines happening all at once, but the primary one is that Dr. Cox has fallen into a state of severe depression after three of his patients died following organ transplant surgeries.

“(The three deaths happened in the episode prior. There were two patients in the ICU who needed organs immediately or they were going to die. A third patient in the ICU also need an organ but, unlike the other two, he still had a few weeks before things were going to get serious. Dr. Cox et al. got the organs they needed from a woman who had died of an apparent drug overdose, which J.D. was taking especially hard because he thought he’d missed an opportunity to save her life. It turned out, though, that the woman had died of rabies and not a drug overdose, which absolved J.D. but put Dr. Cox in the blender because that meant the organs were bad and he was the one who OK’d using them for the three transplant surgeries.

“J.D. was able to talk Dr. Cox off the ledge after the first two patients died, explaining that they were going to die whether or not the organs took. It was a callback to a scene earlier in the episode when Dr. Cox made sure to try and help J.D. feel better when he thought he was partially responsible for the woman’s overdose. But then—and this is a thing Scrubs did from time to time—they just kept on pressing the all-caps SADNESS button over and over again on you, killing off the third guy and sending Dr. Cox spiraling. He walks out of the ICU in tears, his heart in a billion pieces and his otherwise broad and powerful shoulders shrunken and mushy. John C. McGinley is undeniably brilliant as Dr. Cox in that stretch, from when the patients start dying up to when he can’t take it anymore. But it’s at the end of the next episode when we see precisely how gifted of an actor he is. Which, again, is the moment I want to talk about. So …)

“There are a few different story lines happening all at once, but the primary one is that Dr. Cox has fallen into a state of severe depression after three of his patients died following organ transplant surgery. He’s stuck at home and he can’t get off the couch and he can’t stop drinking. It’s all bad and miserable and awful and unbearable. After five seasons of the show building him up into a carved-out-of-marble Medicine Adonis, he’s just there, limp and lifeless, eyes red and swollen, his body cocooned in a blanket. He’s of course technically the same person, but you can barely recognize him. Carla comes over and tries to cheer him up. Dr. Kelso comes over and tries to cheer him up. Turk comes over and tries to cheer him up. Elliot and her boyfriend come over and try to cheer him up. Nobody’s ever able to stir anything out of him other than emptiness or anger. He doesn’t say a single word to anyone. And then J.D. shows up.

“Of all of the people on Scrubs, nobody was better than J.D., played by Braff, at navigating the deep water of a serious scene with Dr. Cox. J.D. walks in, sits down, Something Else by Gary Jules starts playing in the background, and then Braff and McGinley put on a fucking top-level masterclass in acting.

“J.D. gives a monologue about how he’s always wanted to be in Dr. Cox’s apartment and how he actually did sneak in one time during a Super Bowl party, and how he’d avoided going to see Dr. Cox until that moment because he was scared to see him in whatever condition it was he knew he was going to find Dr. Cox in. And Braff is perfect in the moment. His eyes avoid McGinley’s, except for when they don’t. His body is curved inward, open and vulnerable, same as always, except with a certain amount of strength this time. He makes a couple of soft jokes without ever really laughing at them, but he does it in a voice and tone that lets you know he understands the seriousness of the situation, and that there will be a larger point he’ll be arriving at soon. And then he finally says what it is he’s gone there to say.

“‘Anyway, I tried to convince myself the reason I didn’t come earlier was because of you coming into work drunk,’ J.D. says, not looking at Dr. Cox until he gets to the you coming into work drunk part. ‘But that’s not it,’ he continues, and he sits with what he’s about to say before he says it. ‘I was scared. I guess after all this time, I still think of you as, like, this superhero that will help me out of any situation I’m in. I needed that. But, that’s my problem, you know? And I’ll deal with that.’

“Dr. Cox doesn’t speak. He just keeps listening.

“‘I guess I came over here to tell you …’ says J.D.—and he looks at Dr. Cox again right here because he needs for him to know how substantial this next part is—’... how proud of you I am. Not because you did the best you could for those patients. But because after 20 years of being a doctor, when things go badly, you still take it this hard. And I gotta tell you, man, I mean, that’s the kind of doctor I want to be.’

“Again, Braff is perfect in that moment. Just truly, truly perfect. The faces he makes, the looks he gives, the intonations he allows for certain words to have; it’s all flawless. It’s an actor who is in complete control. And McGinley, who has zero words during the monologue, sits there and absorbs it. And he’s perfect too. You can see every single thing his character is supposed to be thinking, feeling, experiencing. Every blink feels mammoth, every gaze feels like a 15-minute soliloquy. There’s pain, there’s anguish, there’s hurt, and then finally, after J.D. is done, there’s hope. And love. And the beginning of light. It’s remarkable to watch. It’s dazzling the first time, and then somehow it just gets more and more impressive with each subsequent viewing. He puts your body up on a rack and then twists it all to bits without ever even having to talk.

“J.D. pours himself a glass of a brown liquor on the table, takes a sip, and then immediately regrets it. And that’s when Dr. Cox finally talks. ‘You don’t drink scotch,’ he says, stretching out the word ‘scotch’ until it’s a two-syllable word. It’s an innocuous sentence, but only because what he’s saying isn’t really what he’s saying. He’s saying ‘You don’t drink scotch,’ but what he’s SAYING is ‘I’m going to make it out of this now because of you.’ How many actors are able to do something like? How many actors are able to say as much as he does there without even saying it? (‘Not a lot’ is the answer.)

“The next scene is Dr. Cox in a bar with all of the important people from Sacred Heart, everyone celebrating because they know Dr. Cox is going to be all right. J.D. is sitting alone at the bar watching Dr. Cox mingle. He turns away and keeps to himself. Dr. Cox notices him, walks over, then very simply says, ‘J.D.’ It’s one of a very small number of times he says J.D.’s name out loud. J.D. turns around and sees him. Dr. Cox can barely look at him. J.D. turns back around and stares forward. Dr. Cox gathers up all of his courage and all of his appreciation, moving aside years and years of jabs and insults he’s lobbed at J.D., then finishes his thought: ‘Thank you.’ He waits for J.D. to respond (‘You’re welcome’), then pats him on the shoulder and walks away.

“The whole scene, from the time J.D. walks into the apartment until the time Dr. Cox thanks him at the bar, is less than three minutes. And Dr. Cox says only seven words during that time. But it’s all you need to watch to know that McGinley is a gifted actor, and that his Dr. Cox is a transcendent TV character.”