Tuesday September 10, 2019

HBO has renewed The Righteous Gemstones for a 2nd season.

Color me impressed Are You The One? cast. More below.

Bill Burr’s new stand-up special is now streaming on Netflix. Here’s the trailer.

MTV premieres Ghosted: Love Gone Missing tonight.

Season 3 of Mr. Mercedes premieres on Audience tonight.

Meet the cast of Survivor: Island of the Idols.

Netflix is doubling down on the business of Ben Platt. Ahead of the launch of his show The Politician later this month, the streaming service is announcing a concert special with the actor-singer. The feature-length special will document the final stop on Platt's debut tour, and be filmed live from his sold-out show at Radio City Music Hall on Sept. 29. An airdate and title for the special have yet to be determined. Platt, who is a Tony, Emmy and Grammy winner, will perform songs at the concert from his debut album Sing to Me Instead and his recent single RAIN, as well as a few covers. Ben Winston's Fulwell73 Productions and live show creator-director Lee Lodge are executive producing.”

$9.99/month for BET’s new streaming service?

Bravo has announced its new limited series In a Man’s World will premiere October 8. From Viola Davis and husband Julius Tennon‘s JuVee productions and Lucky 8, the show follows 8 women as they decide to pose as men to expose the differences in the ways men and women are treated.

Animal Planet wants you — to adopt a new pet. The cable network will premiere Give a Dog a Home Live! today, and its Puppy Bowl referee Dan Schachner has a new offseason gig as host of the show. Billed as cable’s first live weekly animal-adoption series, it will air live from noon-1 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays from the Animal Planet studios. Audiences will visit centers and shelters around the U.S. to meet dogs, cats and other animals available for adoption and those dedicated to their adoptions and care. The series also will feature tips on topics like how to care for a new pet in addition to welcoming in-studio experts and fuzzy-faced guests to join Schachner each week.”

Disney+ is changing gears with its planned new scripted take on The Muppets. Creators Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis (Once Upon a Time) and Josh Gad (Frozen) have walked away from the scripted comedy, called Muppets Live Another Day, which they had been quietly at work on for months, and Disney+ has opted to abandon work on the series. (Though never officially announced, the project has been in the works since at least February.)”

Kevin Nealon is coming clean about his final days at Saturday Night Live. In a new episode of The Daily Beast’s The Last Laugh podcast, the comic said that despite his nine-season run, he never felt ‘really comfortable or secure’ at the iconic sketch show. Nealon went on to reveal that towards the end of his run, SNL boss Lorne Michaels was ‘looking to clean house,’ so he was ‘forced out’ alongside Chris Farley and Adam Sandler. ‘The writing was on the wall,’ Nealon told The Last Laugh host Matt Wilstein. ‘I knew they probably wouldn’t bring me back if I wanted to.’ When asked about his time at Saturday Night Live (he starred from 1987 to 1995), Nealon said that in the early days, he and his co-stars ‘were never really confident that the show would last.’ Their concerns were unfounded, and in 1991, Nealon was assigned to the Weekend Update desk. ‘It was fun. It was a lot of work, too,’ he told Wilstein of his Weekend Update gig. But even with the promotion (and the increased ratings) Nealon said that it’s difficult to ‘ever get really comfortable or secure’ at SNL. ‘Getting that job was almost another layer of fear of getting fired,’ he explained. ‘Because, “Oh, you’ve got the Weekend Update spot. How long are you going to last in that spot? Are you going to get fired?”’”

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From The Ringer: “The Roys were supposed to be on their best behavior. Heading into dinner at the home of the Pierce family, from whom they’re aggressively attempting to purchase the media company PGM, Logan and his progeny’s objective is to make it through the evening without doing anything that could jeopardize the potential deal.

“But as much as the brood try, they can’t keep their worst impulses caged. One by one during an extravagant meal in Tern Haven, the fifth episode of the second season of Succession, the Roys reveal their true selves. For cinematographer Christopher Norr, staging and filming the key scene was a painstakingly fun process. The run time of the sequence is about 15 minutes, but it took at least two days to shoot. ‘The most exhaustion is on the actors,’ Norr says, ‘because it’s a long scene to go through over and over.’

“Tern Haven—the Pierces’ ‘funny little house,’ as Cherry Jones’s matriarch, Nan, nauseatingly calls it—is actually the “Salutation” Housea 48-acre property on a private island near Glen Cove, New York, that was also used as the setting of the 1995 remake of Sabrina. The massive property gave Norr an immediate advantage in framing the clash of clans. ‘It’s a great location because there’s a lot of places to hide the crew,’ Norr says. ‘And sometimes that’s the problem: It’s a great location but where do you put everyone?’

“As the mid-episode scene unfolds, Norr’s goal was to create tension by first capturing the vacuous enormity of the dining room before gradually closing in on the action. ‘It started off more objective,’ Norr says. ‘The cameras were a little further away but using long lenses. So it gave a sense that we were looking in on the dinner. And we progressed in so therefore at the very last act ... the cameras were physically right on their backs. Basically, you’re surrounding the table with cameras, so it felt more intimate, more subjective to whatever character we were over.’

“Right before the meal begins, there’s a brief visit to the kitchen, where chef Rosa takes a massive roast out of the oven and hands it to Nan. Nan then brings out the hunk of meat, curtsies, and is treated to a round of applause. As that ass-kissing is happening, the camera briefly focuses on a straight-faced Rosa, who’s still standing in the doorway of the dining room, watching all of the credit for her hard work go to someone else. It’s a small moment, but it serves to show the audience that the Pierces are, despite their outwardly pleasant demeanor and more palatable politics, just as cutthroat as their guests. ‘These people have a different level of wealth,’ Norr says. ‘Like the Roys, but in a slightly different direction.’

“At one point, Norr recalls, there was talk of putting Nan at the head of the table. Instead she ended up in the middle. ‘It’s more like The Last Supper kind of scenario,’ Norr says. Director Mark Mylod and writer Will Tracy devised the seating chart carefully, thus ensuring maximum juicy interactions among the characters. In a row on one side are Naomi Pierce, Frank, Logan, Marcia, and Tom; on the other are Connor, Kendall, PGM CEO Rhea Jarrell, Nan, Shiv, and Roman. For story purposes, placement is important.

“Take, for example, Nan’s position. Aside from being in the middle like a liberal media elite Jesus, she’s directly across from Logan, her counterpart, and diagonal from the initially sale-averse Naomi, with whom, we’re reminded when they join hands, she’s very close. Naomi is also opposite Kendall. After Naomi says grace, a quote from Shakespeare’s Richard II that begins, ‘The purest treasure mortal times afford is spotless reputation,’ the two start to bond over their shared struggles with substance use. Kendall, who claims to be in recovery even though he’s not, is unsurprisingly drawn to another person struggling with addiction.

“Next there are a handful of light moments, like Roman’s making up a novel called The Electric Circus when asked to recommend a non–Oprah’s Book Club title; Connor’s dismissing Mark Linn-Baker’s Brookings Institution–employed foil’s opinion by saying, ‘It’s just the sort of expert analysis I’d expect from a deep-state wonk with both lips firmly glued to the Soros teat’; and Shiv’s apologizing to Pierce family member Mark for teasing him about his decision to pursue multiple PhDs—as the camera drifts to Logan, scowling as he chews his food.

“Soon the fun really begins. After Nan asks Shiv whether she’s pleased to get out of the dirty business of politics, Rhea (Holly Hunter), interrupts: ‘Made dirtier by a certain cable news behemoth.’ As Nan smirkingly tells her to play nice, Rhea replies, ‘We can discuss the white nationalist elephant in the room, can’t we? Tug on its trunk a bit?’ Rhea, who, unlike most of the people there, is not part of either family, is a wild card to Norr. ‘Her character was very new to me so I was learning as we went along,’ he says. ‘Sometimes on the written page it’s not as clear. … It’s kind of weird when she’s playing both sides of the fence a little bit.’

“Rhea’s calculated verbal grenade sets off an exchange pitting the Roys, who own unabashedly right-wing network ATN, against the Pierces, whose company PGM is far more high-minded. By then, the pleasantries of the beginning of the meal have given way to tense moodiness. That was on purpose. ‘I kind of wanted it to feel like a darker, intimate moment,’ Norr says.

“As the powerful families’ egos collide, attention turns to Tom, who’s recently been put in charge of Waystar Royco’s global news division. As he’s repeatedly insulted and thrown under the bus by the Pierces and Logan, respectively, the camera cuts to the right-wing ogre’s face (his words) as his expressions become more and more infected by worry. When he can’t take it anymore, he deflects by turning his attention to the spinach.

“Which leads to the only respite from the dinner table we’re given, as a damaged Tom and Shiv excuse themselves—to Nan’s amusement—under the guise of concern over their sick dog Mondale. (Shiv claims the pooch has a virus. Tom says it has arthritis.) The camera, which is perched high on the house’s steep staircase, catches an in-crisis Shiv and Tom circling each other.

“‘He’s got me second-guessing myself. I’m wavering on the best strategy on a deal that I don’t even like,’ Shiv admits. ‘I really want this,’ she adds, as the camera captures the perfectly pained expression on her face. To Norr, the focus on Logan’s only daughter is deliberate. ‘I wanted to have an emphasis on Shiv to foreshadow her kind of stepping to the plate and her surprise,’ he says, ‘which is slowly kind of felt throughout the episode.’

“After Shiv and Tom return to dinner, Nan asks Logan about the possibility of Waystar Royco being the target of a takeover, and if the Roys’ internal squabbles have been settled. He easily diffuses the prodding until Nan asks whether he’s chosen a successor. As the cagey magnate avoids answering, the camera quickly passes by Shiv, who looks like she’s trying to contain a giant smile.

“The episode has been building to this moment. ‘There’s so much pre-dinner before Shiv kind of bursts the bubble for everyone and announces the secret,’ Norr says. Over Marcia and Logan’s shoulders, the camera zooms in on an increasingly anxious, reeling Shiv.

“‘For fuck’s sake, Dad,’ Shiv says blurts out after a painful stretch of hemming and hawing. ‘Just tell them it’s gonna be me.’ The camera cuts to a speechless Logan, then Roman, then Kendall, then back to Shiv, who seems to immediately grasp what she’s done. ‘Is that so?’ Nan asks. ‘That is so,’ Shiv replies, now demurely.

“Finally, after a meal’s worth of simmering tension, anxiety, and high-stakes pressure, the drama boils over. For the whole meal, Logan sat with a clenched jaw, but Shiv’s outburst takes the dinner too far off script, and when Marcia asks whether Shiv was being serious, Logan snaps: ‘Would you stop?!’ he yells at his wife. It’s a rare outburst from Logan, who’s never one to show his ass. But the reaction highlights the underlining point: ‘We’re all dealing with stupid rich people that are greedy and selfish,’ Norr says.

“Breaking the awkward silence, Nan suggests that everyone should go stargazing. Tom gets up from the table, Kendall finishes off his wine; as members of both families continue to file out, the camera sticks with Shiv as she stays in her seat. Soon, after the camera follows the organized chaos of the room clearing, just the father and daughter remain.

“‘We tried to implement stillness when she’s alone with Logan, even though the camera’s moving,’ Norr says, ‘but after all the cutting and the activity of the camera, we used stillness … to dramatize it even more.’

“While Shiv can’t bring herself to make eye contact with her father, he begins to clink his glass with his right index finger. ‘Shall we?’ he asks, before walking off screen. The camera finally zooms in on Shiv, who’s standing still and staring straight ahead. In the end, they’re both alone.”

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, “True-crime anthology series Dirty John has found its next case.

“Amanda Peet and Christian Slater are set to star in the second season of the show, which is moving to USA Network after a breakout first run on Bravo. The new installment, subtitled The Betty Broderick Story, will focus on an infamous divorce case that ended in a double homicide.

“The story will begin in the 1960s and span a couple of decades as it tells the story of Betty (Peet) and Dan Broderick (Slater). After years of sacrifice and suffering while supporting Dan through both medical and law school, Betty is finally enjoying the fruits of their labors after Dan becomes a superstar in the San Diego legal community. Until, that is, he hires Linda, a bright and beautiful young woman with whom he can forget the struggles of his past.

“Betty's attempts to fight back and refusal to accept reality only serve to isolate and destabilize her — to the point where she loses her identity. Dan's cold confidence, meanwhile, blinds him to the bear he won't stop poking until it's too late.

"‘The first season of Dirty John was a story of twisted love and coercive control — and both these insidious elements are also present in and integral to the story of Betty Broderick, whom I have wanted to write about since I became a writer,’ said series creator Alexandra Cunningham, who will return as showrunner for season two. ‘I can't wait to see Amanda and Christian bring it to life.’

“For Slater, Dirty John is a continuance of his relationship with USA, where he's starred in Mr. Robot for three seasons (the show is ending with its upcoming fourth season). Peet's recent TV credits include IFC's Brockmire, Amazon's The Romanoffs and HBO's Togetherness.

“Season one of Dirty John was Bravo's most successful scripted series ever, ranking second among 2018's new cable scripted series in adults 18-49 and finishing in the top five in total viewers and adults 25-54. The move to USA will give it a potentially larger platform and make for a good tonal fit with the likes of The Sinner, Queen of the South, the upcoming Briarpatch and repeat staple Law & Order: SVU.

Dirty John comes from Universal Content Productions; Netflix co-produces and has first-run rights to the show outside the United States. Cunningham executive produces with Jessica Rhoades (Sharp Objects), season one star Connie Britton, Atlas Entertainment and Los Angeles Times Studios (season one was based on an L.A. Times series of articles and accompanying podcast). Maggie Kiley (Riverdale) is a co-exec producer and will direct four episodes, including the premiere and finale. Other directors for season two include Kat Candler (Queen Sugar), Meera Menon (The Terror), Shannon Kohli (The Magicians) and Cunningham.”

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From TheWrap: “In a recent episode of MTV’s Are You the One? following one of the cast’s many failed attempts to claim the show’s million-dollar prize, Kari Snow, a self-proclaimed ‘crazy girl from Jersey’ and one of the season’s loudest voices of reason, let loose a heated, yet remarkably clear-eyed torrent of frustration.

“‘We’re representing a whole community of people,’ she said, calling on her castmates to get their heads in the game. ‘I want to win for everyone like us. I don’t want the queer season to be a season that loses.’

“It was one of few moments on the ‘sexually fluid’ season of the reality dating competition in which the show seemed to acknowledge the pressures of attempting to serve an honest portrayal of the LGBTQ dating experience to a mainstream (straight) audience. For the most part, the season hasn’t gone out of its way to cater to the uninitiated, a conscious choice by MTV.

“‘This isn’t PeeWee’s Playhouse, this isn’t PBS. We weren’t trying to have an educational show,” said programming executive Sitarah Pendelton, who oversees the show for MTV. Beyond a ‘cheat sheet’ on gender pronouns — nonbinary cast member Basit Shittu uses they/them but declares early on that their preferred pronoun is ‘Basit’ — and simple introductory segments in the first episode, when it came to the queer experience, the show opted to show rather than tell.

“‘We did think it was important to set that bar,’ Pendelton said. ‘But if you have this baseline, take this ride with us because we promise you that you’re going to learn so much about this experience — and, hopefully, even a little bit about yourself.’

“Because beneath the typical reality TV messiness, romantic drama and sexual hijinks this season are storylines about internalized homophobia, gender expression and other uniquely queer topics common to everyday life but so rarely seen in the committedly heteronormative realm of dating shows.

“Storylines like the on-again-off-again romance between transmasculine lothario Kai Wes and the ‘92% gay’ Jenna Brown, whose instant chemistry was both undeniable and actively self-destructive. Or like the wild-maned Jonathan Monroe’s struggle to reconcile his attraction to traditional masculinity with his obvious compatibility with Shittu. Or the emotional rollercoaster of Max Gentile, whose conservative midwestern upbringing kept him from ever entertaining the idea of a relationship with a man until he fell head over heels for Justinavery Palm, the man who would later break his heart.

“For the unfamiliar, Are You the One? brings together a group of singles, each perfectly compatible with one other person in the house, and gives them 10 chances to guess the exact right combination of couples. But for Season 8 — which bears the cheeky tagline ‘Come one, come all’ — instead of the typical 10 straight men and 10 straight women, the cast is made up of 16 sexually fluid individuals, each of whom could potentially be a match with anyone.

“‘It became clear through the years and in our casting process that there was just a different way that the millennial generation wanted to date, how they love, how they want to experience the world,’ Pendelton said. ‘Every generation kind of adds their own mark, and it was very clear that there were no bounds on love and dating.’

“Pendelton and the producers whittled the field down to about a hundred finalists in search of a cast who would not only make for good TV, but could represent a broad spectrum of the queer experience. They also brought on relationship adviser Dr. Frankie Bashan to avoid any potential blindspots.

“‘It’s hard sometimes having your stories told and having your stories told well,’ Pendelton said. ‘There have been so many times I’ve seen a black girl on TV and I’ll be like “Girl, bye. Nope.”’

“So the goal throughout was to give the younger queer audience a reflection of themselves that they recognize, a goal made exponentially easier by the fact that no one individual bears the burden of standing in for an entire community.

“‘It isn’t just one lane, one person,’ Pendelton said. ‘To be able to have a diverse cast within a diverse cast is amazing. And to see the various stories and even some surprises that came out of it … I mean to see Remy fall hard for Paige was like, wow. I don’t think anyone expected that going in.’

“On social media, the response has been explosive, with fans reveling in the week-to-week drama and obsessively tracking who could potentially be matched with whom in the weeks leading up to Monday’s finale. And with only one chance left for the cast to get it right and make sure the queer season isn’t one that loses, certainly there’s plenty at stake.

“But win or lose, it’s other moments that Pendelton hopes will leave a lasting mark. Moments like the glittery, shameless, celebratory ‘queer prom,’ where no one had to explain or justify their existence to anyone (at least, until it was disrupted by an alcohol-fueled screaming match between two of the cast members. This is still reality TV, after all).

“‘My goal was if we could give that for this community, to have them be like “Yes, come on! Get it! That’s it, that’s what I’m talking about!”’ Pendelton said. ‘As a storyteller, there’s nothing better than that.’

“‘Especially in the world right now where there is so much divisiveness,’ she said, ‘Why not have TV that brings us together and helps us understand and be a part of something?’”

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Per Variety, “Margaret Atwood, upon the worldwide publication Tuesday of her sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, said she was inspired to return to that repressive world because that repressive world had returned to her.

“‘Instead of moving away from Gilead, we started moving towards it, especially in the United States,’ Atwood said in London on Tuesday, in her first public comments upon the release of The Testaments. She said she began writing the novel more than two years ago, notifying her publishers of the project in February 2017 – soon after Donald Trump moved into the White House.

“Since then, parts of the U.S. have moved to restrict women’s reproductive rights in ways reminiscent of the theocratic, reactionary dystopia of Gilead. ‘For a society that claims to value individual freedom, I would say to them, evidently you don’t think this individual freedom extends to women,’ Atwood said.

The Testaments picks up about 15 years after The Handmaid’s Tale, far past the point where the acclaimed TV adaptation has taken the story through its three seasons. MGM and Hulu are reportedly developing The Testaments for television and discussing with showrunner Bruce Miller whether the new book can be integrated into The Handmaid’s Tale series, a fourth season of which has been ordered.

“The narrator in the sequel is no longer Offred (the character played by Elisabeth Moss in the Hulu/MGM series) but instead three women, including the fearsome disciplinarian Aunt Lydia (played by Ann Dowd).

“‘Although I could not continue with the story of Offred, I could continue with three other people concerned in these events and tell the story of the beginning of the end, because we know from The Handmaid’s Tale that Gilead vanishes. It’s no longer present 200 years into the future, because they’re having a symposium on it’ at the end of the original novel, Atwood told a small gathering of journalists in London. ‘How did it collapse? How do these kinds of regimes disappear?….I was interested in exploring that.’

“If The Testaments can be worked into the current TV series, a wardrobe shift will apparently be necessary: The book jacket shows a silhouette of a handmaid in a green robe instead of a red one. ‘There [are] some new costume choices in this book,’ said Atwood, who is Canadian. ‘Human beings throughout time love outfits that tell you who you’re looking at, like football teams and things like that. So yes, we have some new outfits.’

“The author said she was in regular contact with Miller and clued him in, at least in general terms, about where she planned to take the story in The Testaments – for example, her intention to write about Nichole, the baby Offred has with Nick, Commander Waterford’s aide. ‘When I said, “Hands off that baby,” [Miller] said, “Oh, OK,”’ Atwood recalled with a laugh.

“As for the show, ‘I read the scripts; I make notes on them,’ she said. ‘I have influence but no actual power. But luckily we’re in accord most of the time.’

“The anticipation surrounding The Testaments, which comes 34 years after publication The Handmaid’s Tale, has resembled the frenzy that greeted new Harry Potter installments. Crowds gathered at midnight Monday night to lay their hands on a copy at bookstores across Britain. On Tuesday evening, Atwood will speak at a sold-out event at London’s National Theatre that will be live-streamed to 1,300 cinemas worldwide. Actress Lily James will read from the new novel.

“‘I’m very pleased and grateful to the readers who have stuck with me all these years, and to the teams of people both here and in the U.S. and Canada who have been working an amazing number of hours trying to keep a lid on’ the book, Atwood said.

“She has also been impressed with the adoption of The Handmaid’s Tale and its costumes as symbols of resistance around the world.

“‘It’s brilliant as a protest tactic, because you’re not making a disturbance. You’re not saying anything. You’re sitting very quietly and modestly, and you can’t get kicked out for dressing inappropriately, because you’re all covered up…no frightful bare shoulders,’ Atwood said. ‘It’s a very striking visual image.’

“Atwood was one of Variety’s Power of Women honorees last year. She told Variety that she began writing The Handmaid’s Tale in 1984, when Germany was still divided and many countries in Eastern Europe were surveillance states under the thumb of the Soviet Union. ‘My rule for [the book] was, nothing goes in that didn’t have a precedent in real life – somewhere, sometime,’ she said.”