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      • Bo Burnham: Inside is a comedy special designed as a warning about living your life online
        Source: SFGate

        "Inside is very much about how the internet, and the world in general, has encouraged everyone to be a reply guy, especially white guys who are needy and bored (check and check)," says Drew Magary of Burnham's pandemic-themed special. "For that purpose, Inside is brilliantly written, convincingly performed, and extremely f*cking funny in its first half." All the raves for Inside are justified, Magary adds, "but they’re also traps. Because Inside is about how Burnham, or at least the character of himself that he’s playing, has been preconditioned by the internet to believe that the outside world is a waste of a time and that living with yourself online — posting sh*tty Instagrams and reloading them to see if they’ve been properly appreciated by others — is the only way to live. This is a harmful act of self-delusion and Burnham goes to great lengths to get that across to you, the viewer, passively watching at home. So if your response to that primal scream is not to go out and enjoy a burger with your friends, but to instead go BACK online to eat more of your own tail, well then you’ve already proven Burnham correct while simultaneously doing the exact thing he doesn’t want you to do. You’re still f*cking around in a hall of mirrors, wasting daylight...If I wanted to issue a contrarian take about Inside — and I’m trained like a seal for such thought exercises — I’d guess that Burnham doesn't actually live alone, and is just cynically exploiting the internet's love affair with itself. Burnham openly wonders if anyone, anywhere, can ever shut the f*ck up anymore. That’s a test no one is willing to pass, and that includes Burnham himself. But if Burnham is operating out of cynicism here, he sure is doing a fantastic job of it. If the man is being disingenuous, he’s sure doing a good job of hiding it, and of peppering some of his opening numbers with brilliant, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it throwaway gags...HOWEVER, I will tell you that Inside ended up exhausting me in the end....his fatigue in Inside ultimately ends up being contagious. You don’t leave this special walking on air. You SPRINT the f*ck away from it at full speed. And if you don’t, then you’re part of the social disease. With Inside, Burnham’s exhaustion is the point...This was a comedy special designed as a warning to you, the online person watching and processing from inside your home. Burnham’s central mission was to make you so aware of your life online that you’re ruined for it after the fact. That was the message. Burnham is a spiritual reply guy like me, and he f*cking hates it. 

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        • Bo Burnham: Inside is really about narcissism, ego and the apocalypse: "The entire excellent special hinges on this idea of attention-seeking, of which Burnham is himself guilty, and where our creative impulses become corrupted by a social media-tinged desire for the dopamine rush that floods the brain with each 'like,'" says Shane Ryan. "This is nominally a special about the pandemic—the 'inside' of the title refers to where we’ve been for the past year, and the cluttered, claustrophobic setting for the entire 87 minutes—but it’s really about narcissism, and ego, and the apocalypse. He explores the theme over and over, usually with himself as an object—'all eyes on me!' he sings, and then yells, in a later song." He adds that Burnham "wants you to wonder at the bottomless of his, and our, ego. If this is his treatise on the stifling narcissism of our time and our generation, he wants you to know that he’s complicit, that he can’t escape it either. This is, after all, someone who made his name with YouTube videos. If he can see the prison a little more clearly, and if he can manipulate the atmosphere inside more deftly, it doesn’t mean he’s any better at escaping it. The special is so rich with this kind of commentary that it’s impossible to recap it all, and each time you scroll to a random spot on the timeline, you’re liable to be met with lyrics like this (from a song called 'Welcome to the Internet')."
        • Burnham uses his special to call out his own missteps: "Nestled in between all of the jokes about white women’s Instagram accounts, sexting, and FaceTiming his mom, is a potent reflection on the comedian’s 15-year-long career, and a call-out for his own missteps as a teenager," says Gabrielle Sanchez, adding: "Inside takes us 15 years after the comedian uploaded his first video. Burnham glares at the younger version of himself projected on the wall singing 'My Whole Family…' Watching Inside and his early work side by side, so much of Burnham’s performing self is the same. He sits in front of a keyboard at home, writing piano ditties that he hopes make people feel something, if not laugh. He holds the same hunched posture and spills the justifications behind every song before playing them. But in Inside, his mannerisms sit on an exhausted, adult face, as he arduously reflects on his career and pieces together the special on his own."
        • Inside comes off as part salvation, part albatross: "On the one hand, Burnham can barely admit he’s been working on 'whatever this is' for a year; on the other, he realizes, 'If I finish this special, that means that I have to not work on it anymore. That means that I have to live my life,'" says Alison Herman. "The most interesting, and polarizing, parts of Inside are the ones that purport to offer a glimpse behind the scenes—of the special’s making, but also of Burnham’s brain. The director, editor, and star of Inside weaves in footage of himself setting up shots, flubbing takes, staring into a laptop, breaking things in frustration, even bursting into tears. On their own, these clips suggest honesty or vulnerability. Together, carefully doled out between candid confessionals, they suggest trying to suggest honesty or vulnerability. How much of this angst is genuine, and how much of it is a performance? The answer, as it tends to be, is likely a little of both. But it also doesn’t matter."

        # TOPICS: Bo Burnham, Netflix, Bo Burnham: Inside, Coronavirus, Standup Comedy

      • Chris Harrison's attorney represented the wife of The Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss when she made abuse allegations
        Source: The Daily Beast

        Deadline's report that Harrison was exiting The Bachelor franchise with a "mid-range eight-figure payoff" also noted that "Harrison lawyer Bryan Freedman (was) pledging to unleash the Shiva of lawsuits exposing a swath of The Bachelor’s alleged dirty laundry unless (Harrison) emerged feeling the financial love." Variety followed up by reporting that "Harrison’s team came to the table with ammo of their own — one example is bringing up former allegations against The Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss, who was accused by his wife of domestic violence, which led to a police probe in 2019. (Fleiss and his wife have since reconciled.)" As The Daily Beast points out, it was Freedman who "represented Fleiss’ formerly estranged wife, Laura Kaeppeler Fleiss, during the couple’s divorce that year." Entertainment lawyer and Sharma Law founder Anita K. Sharma tells The Daily Beast: “Just hiring Freedman was a huge shot across the bow from Harrison from the outset, and shows the level of contentiousness involved." While Kaeppler's information would remain confidential under attorney-client privilege, Sharma says that anything that came from third parties about Fleiss would be under no such restriction. The Daily Beast's Laura Bradley points out that Harrison and Fleiss famously did not get along when they first met. “We hated each other,” Harrison told The Cut in 2015. “It was a five-minute meeting that I was told would take an hour.” Fleiss is quoted as saying Harrison "looked like a guy barfed on by an eight-week-old." (UC Berkeley-educated Fleiss is liberal and anti-Trump, while self-described "conservative Texas boy" Harrison's right-wing-tinged arguments when it comes to race is how he got into trouble in the first place with his Extra interview with Rachel Lindsay.) Fleiss and Harrison eventually did hit it off, but as Bradley notes: "It would appear, however, that their bond has now soured—and that Harrison wanted to send a message with his choice of attorney." “There’s obviously tons of very talented litigators in L.A.—especially within the entertainment business—that he could have used,” Sharma said. Choosing the one who represented Fleiss’ formerly estranged wife in a contentious divorce, Sharma adds, “was definitely a power move.”

        # TOPICS: Chris Harrison, ABC, The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Bachelor in Paradise, Mike Fleiss, Reality TV

      • CNN insiders were shocked by Jeffrey Toobin's return after his Zoom masturbation incident
        Source: The Daily Beast

        Staffers used words like "awkward," "insane" and "a bit inappropriate" in describing Toobin's unexpected return Thursday after a leave of absence following his New York Zoom masturbation incident. "Toobin’s return to CNN after a nearly eight-month absence came on the heels of an aggressive lobbying campaign by his friends, according to two people familiar with the matter," reports The Daily Beast's Justin Baragona and Diana Falzone. "CNN boss Jeff Zucker, while expressing concerns about how viewers would react, was also open to giving the famed lawyer a second chance." As one anonymous female CNN staffer noted: “The way (CNN) brought him back on air was a bit inappropriate in terms of a full segment of mea culpa and then a hard pivot to his legal analysis on air (on another story)." The same staffer noted that the “general feeling” from her co-workers is that while they “trust” The New Yorker’s investigation that the October 2020 incident was the only one of its kind in Toobin’s past, they also wonder if CNN followed through with an internal probe of its own. Another person pointed out that Toobin was welcomed back in the newsroom with hugs. “They seemed happy he was back," that source said. "It’s invisible if people are grossed out because they wouldn’t be the ones to come up to him. The couple dozen in the newsroom seem happy to have him back.” ALSO: Does Toobin's return set a precedent at CNN that the entire staff understands and feels comfortable with?

        # TOPICS: Jeffrey Toobin, CNN, Cable News, Sexual Misconduct

      • Forest Whitaker will reportedly reprise his Rogue One role on Star Wars: Andor
        Source: The Playlist

        Speaking to a Swedish radio station, Whitaker revealed he had “juicy scene” on the Disney+ series as Saw Gerrera, though his appearance hasn't been confirmed.

        # TOPICS: Forest Whitaker, Disney+, Star Wars: Andor, Star Wars

      • Tuca & Bertie's move to Adult Swim allows it to soar in Season 2
        Source: Decider

        "When Tuca & Bertie first premiered on Netflix it felt like a bit like holding a baby chick," says Kayla Cobb. "Most people didn’t fully understand Lisa Hanawalt’s endlessly silly and unapologetically bizarre animated comedy, but the fans and critics who did knew they were witnessing something precious. On Netflix, it felt as though Tuca & Bertie had to be hidden away for its own protection. Now that its home is Adult Swim, there’s a sense it can finally soar. In its second season Tuca & Bertie leans harder into the delicate emotions that made Season 1 so revolutionary while never losing its sense of wide-eyed wonder. The very fact this kindness is being backed by the network known for pioneering animation makes this season feel more rebellious than ever." Cobb adds that "Season 2 continues to challenge traditional animation in another way. Adult animation is typically defined by big, obvious plots and loud, often crass jokes. In its latest installment Tuca & Bertie rejects that mold and continues to play with subtlety. Jokes are still present but they’re less plentiful as the series tackles more interesting questions like why exactly do we use alcohol as a crutch? What does it mean to be lonely but not alone? Why do we focus so much on our own weaknesses when others only see our strengths?"

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        • Tuca & Bertie ushered in a wave of thoughtful, compassionate and much-needed transformation in storytelling of sexual assaults: Season 1's depiction of the aftermath of a sexual assault "was a masterclass in the future of sexual assault storytelling — one in which we don't need triggering, violent assault scenes constructed for the male gaze, and instead center survivors, and explore how this violence has impacted them," says Kylie Cheung. "What started with Tuca & Bertie in 2019 has ushered in a wave of thoughtful, compassionate and much-needed transformation in storytelling of sexual assaults — primarily from more and more women writers and directors, after years of male writers like Dan Weiss and David Benioff of Game of Thrones fame having notoriously subjected audiences to almost countless graphic rape scenes. After all, for lazy, male writers, sexual violence will always be a quick and easy means for 'shock factor,' or the simplest way to make a female character 'grow.' Instead, we can now turn to female creators. From HBO's I May Destroy You to Promising Young Woman, produced by Margot Robbie, we're increasingly witnessing an evolution in the presentation of and dialogue around rape culture in media — starting with the dated idea we need rape scenes at all."
        • On Adult Swim, Tuca & Bertie has a perceived sense of heightened freedom: "With less pressure to appeal to Netflix’s entire general audiences, Tuca & Bertie can push its boundaries further, stretching its wings (sorry)," says Kristen Reid, adding that "where Tuca & Bertie shines most is in its conversations surrounding mental health. The season two premiere features Bertie on the ever-exhausting quest for a therapist that she feels comfortable with. The rate of her panic attacks is increasing, affecting not just her own life and career, but the lives of her boyfriend Speckle (Steven Yeun) and Tuca, as well. Bertie’s guilt over this and her loved ones’ desire to still be there for her is a moving arc throughout the series. Hanawalt doesn’t shy away from talking about the hardest parts of seeking help for mental health and the assembly line of comically bad therapists Bertie meets is a cheeky reminder that there won’t be any immediate fixes, no matter how hard we will it into being. In addition to its commentary on mental health, Tuca & Bertie also addresses the overwhelming impact sexual harassment and assault can have on us, no matter how hard we try to manage it."
        • Season 2 deepens its rich characters while pushing into new territory: "If Season 1 proved striking in how it balanced outrageous humor with profound personal truths, then Season 2 astounds in how deftly it blends and deepens both qualities, without ever settling for easy answers," says Ben Travers.
        • Tuca & Bertie creator Lisa Hanawalt had no problem working on Season 2 via Zoom: "I mean, luckily, I had a while to think about it while we were kind of in limbo waiting for the word," she says. "So we really hit the ground running. I knew what I wanted to say, I knew what I was interested in doing with the characters—in fact, I had too much and couldn’t cram it all into one season, which is always fun. And then our writers’ room is really small and intimate and mostly writers I’d already worked with in person, so it wasn’t too difficult to have a rapport with them."
        • Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong always wanted to work together: "I mean... we met each other really long ago and we were, as Tiffany says, garbage comedians back then," says Wong. "You can say it, we was at the bottom of the barrel," Haddish agreed. "We didn't wear no expensive clothes. She was on her grunge look thing, emo type thing. I was wearing my little, you know, hoe uniform I call it...trying to be sexy on budget. We weren't the funniest at that time. We was learning, we were growing."
        • Hanawalt, Haddish and Wong are excited for their new Adult Swim home: “We feel we’re at the right place. Adult Swim is a perfect home for us,” says Haddish. “They like stuff that’s a little weird, and we’re a little weird but we’re grounded in reality and that’s the good stuff.” Hanawalt adds: “Adult Swim was just like, ‘We want that. We’re gonna get it.’ They recognized the value of the show and they’ve just been great creative partners. It’s nice to work with a network that understands animation.”
        • What gave Haddish and Wong hope that Tuca & Bertie would find a new home?: "We’re amazing—Ali and I are amazing," says Haddish. "You would be a complete idiot not to want to work with both of us, not to have us somewhere. Or: You’re broke; you can’t afford us. And, apparently, Adult Swim could afford us and they’re not dumb. They’re quite intelligent over there at Adult Swim, and they picked us up immediately. You know, we were concerned for a moment—but just a moment—and then we realized we’re amazing (laughs)." Wong adds: "I mean, I wasn’t worried I think mostly because the fans were so—like, immediately the Halloween after the show premiered, there were tons of people dressing up as Tuca & Bertie, and that’s kind of better than an award. That’s a real telltale sign that you’ve got something really special, that means so much to people."

        # TOPICS: Tuca & Bertie, Adult Swim, Netflix, Ali Wong, Lisa Hanawalt , Tiffany Haddish

      • Lupin is still entertaining in Part 2 and Omar Sy is still a gravitational force, but the Killing Eve-style strains are starting to show
        Source: The Hollywood Reporter

        "There are car chases across the French countryside, a spooky near-haunted house, romantic interludes along the Champs-Élysées and the Seine, plus a finale that’s pure Hitchcockian pastiche. Accompanied by Mathieu Lamboley’s score, Lupin has, like its hero and its literary inspiration, a magician’s swagger, daring you to see beyond the sleight of hand," says Daniel Fienberg. "And beyond the sleight of hand, there’s often additional flash and little more. Assane is always four or five steps ahead of everybody to a degree that’s exhausting and, when (George) Kay and the writers skip major logical steps in his process, it’s extra frustrating. The show is still very entertaining, but even in leaving you wanting more — at least fans go into these five episodes knowing that’s it until Part 3 — you can see how it might not be sustainable; it’s a bit like how Killing Eve had one superb season and then the strain of repeating the same tricks became too much. Maybe Killing Eve suffered because the writers understood that both Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer were needed for the alchemy, while Lupin could last because only Sy is required. He has simmering chemistry with (Ludivine) Sagnier and (Clotilde) Hesme, but he could probably have simmering chemistry with a baguette. Watching these five episodes, he gets to be a romantic lead, an action star and a suave model for trench coats, track suits and and some ridiculous disguises. Sy is so good and so versatile that I’m ready for Lupin to really explore what the character’s race means in contemporary France."

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        • Lupin Part 2 tries to sideline so much of the Omar Sy playfulness that made Part 1 great: "The satisfied smile of Assane Diop as he walks away from people he’s just foiled is an incandescent marvel," says Steve Greene. "To say that Lupin succeeds because of the man behind that smile, Omar Sy, is a vast understatement. Take him out of this show — whether in the first five episodes that became an early-2021, word-of-mouth international hit or in the second five that make up what Netflix calls 'Part 2' — and it’s hard to imagine any other part of it equipped to handle what the confidence in that title performance brings. It’s odd, then, that Lupin Part 2 tries its hardest to sideline so much of that Sy playfulness that made up the bulk of what got people hooked back in January. Instead, the show doubles down on its conspiracy side, threads through even more of its time-hopping setups, and makes its way to a finale that seems as stuck in the middle as the episodes that come right before it. Judging by the simple premise that guides them, these episodes definitely don’t have to be as sweeping and frenetic as they often are. Assane is still focused on his overarching goal: seeing that those responsible for framing his father decades ago are brought to the kind of justice only he can dispense. That goal is both complicated and renewed by the events right before Part 2 begins. After a reconciliatory bus ride promises some happier news on the horizon, Assane’s son Raoul (Etan Simon) is kidnapped. Hubert Pelligrini (Hervé Pierre), the man responsible for bringing pain into Assane’s childhood, seems bent on doing it again to him as an adult. Lupin wants to absorb everything that comes along with a crime drama loaded with real, serious consequences, where parents scream in sorrow at their children being killed right in front of them. It also wants to be an effortless charm vehicle, with Sy dancing to the Four Tops while whipping up a tasty meal. It greatly succeeds at the latter and seems to always strain under the weight of the former."
        • Lupin wouldn't work without Omar Sy's captivating performance: "Only an actor who seems equally at home attending gala events in five-figure tuxes, fighting off bad guys with his bare hands and disappearing into an endless series of disguises could sell a character as charming and ingenious as Assane," says Judy Berman. "Though his talents certainly aren’t limited to this kind of role, 43-year-old Sy has emerged as one of the most versatile male action stars of his cohort—one who radiates more warmth than Tom Hardy, more intellect than Ryan Reynolds, more physical strength than Tom Hiddleston or Anthony Mackie, more sophistication than John Cena or Jason Momoa or, really, any of the Chrises. Following the success of Lupin, and with Jurassic World: Dominion due out in 2022, Americans will surely be seeing plenty of Sy on the big screen in the coming years. That’s a wonderful thing. But as TV increasingly overtakes film as our most vital form of audiovisual distraction, I hope we’ll also start to see more shows like Lupin."
        • Part 2's only flaw is being a continuation of the previous series, rather than an adventurous leap in a different direction: "Assane is still subject to the same racism and classism (never be an unfamiliar Black man walking into a Normandy village bar), but his growing notoriety makes it trickier to turn these prejudices to his advantage," says Ellen E Jones. "It was easy to be a master of disguise when the cops couldn’t seem to tell one Black man from another, enabling him to move unnoticed among the city’s all-but-invisible underclass of cleaners and cooks. Now there’s an accurate photofit doing the rounds, plus the kidnap of Assane’s teenage son Raoul (Etan Simon) has raised the stakes."
        • Lupin Part 2 couldn't care less about speed or pace: "It's more content to slow things down, to double and quadruple back upon itself, to examine exactly why what's happening is happening," says Gregory Lawrence. "It's a batch of episodes designed to get us to an explosive meeting of forces, and that eventual collision is quite spectacular. But the journey along the way can feel, at times, frustratingly laborious, over-intellectualized in its timeline-hopping, and just plain 'different' from the first batch of episodes. Then again, this feels like a purposeful choice from creators George Kay and François Uzan, a choice interrupted by the 'Part 1' and 'Part 2' of it all, a choice that's meant to be reckoned with as part of the initial creative statement. I couldn't help but feel a little like the mark on the opposite end of one of Assane Diop's (Sy) capers — confused but admittedly delighted, understanding exactly 'how' he tricked me but still questioning the 'why.'"
        • Part 2 improves upon Part 1: "Lupin: Part 2 largely surpasses Part 1, and it even overcomes a few genuinely deflating rug-pulls to create a season with swift pacing, alluring characters, and a clockwork action climax right out of a spy thriller," says Siddhant Adlakha. "Part 3 has already been confirmed, but this second block of episodes is a fun and satisfying conclusion to Diop’s story — at least, for the time being."
        • How Lupin writers work to continue threading the needle: “With my script editor, Joe Williams, I often say, ‘We need to break into a building. How are we going to do it? What buildings can we use from the books? What ways to break in can we use? What tricks? OK we need to do this — but what if we took that idea from that story, and we used it in a different way to break in somewhere?’” says creator and showrunner George Kay of the writing process. “If we were an Arsène Lupin devotee, what little Easter eggs can we drop into the show? At all times we’re representing the fanbase both on screen and in the writing.”
        • Mamadou Haidara, who plays the younger version of Omar Sy's Assane Diop, was surprised by the Lupin's popularity: “I didn’t see any of it coming,” says the 16-year-old actor. “I saw Twitter and Instagram going up and up — I loved it. I thought the series would do like any other series. But going nuts like that? I never imagined it.” Clotilde Hesme, who portrays Juliette Pellegrini, adds: "I was very moved to see my son and my father watch something together. I loved seeing this kind of well-done family entertainment.”
        • Omar Sy is glad to see French TV and moves embrace diversity without being preachy: “Thank God people of this generation now have the means to express ourselves in fashion, literature, and art,” Sy says. “We speak of ourselves, and we’re stylish and sexy.”
        • Despite the success of Lupin, is happy to continue living in the United States -- even as he tries to keep French culture alive in his house: “We are very happy in Los Angeles,” he says. “I see my children blossoming. That is all one wishes as a parent.”

        # TOPICS: Lupin, Netflix, George Kay, Omar Sy

      • Hacks perfectly encapsulates the current moment of reevaluating real-life, unfairly maligned women
        Source: HuffPost

        "It’s the perfect companion to our larger cultural moment as we start to reckon with how much our culture has mistreated and misunderstood famous women," says Marina Fang. "Deborah’s character shares a lot of similarities with the late Joan Rivers, but brings to mind other women who have been wronged, disbelieved and subjected to sexist media coverage. The last few years have brought public reevaluations — in writing, documentaries, TV shows and podcasts — of the ways our culture unfairly maligned everyone from Monica Lewinsky and Britney Spears, to Janet Jackson and Princess Diana, among countless other famous women. It’s this mirror to real life that makes Hacks surprisingly cathartic."

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        • Hacks went from being a battle of generations to a love story: "What Hacks reveals itself to be, finally, is a love story, a sort of romantic comedy, of two people coming to see one another, to cut one another slack where necessary and to hold one another accountable when necessary," says Robert Lloyd. "One brings the wisdom and arrogance of youth and the other the wisdom and arrogance of age — each can see what the other can’t — and in the language of the rom-com, they complete each other. It is not a master-student or a mother-daughter thing. Deborah has a daughter, a hapless problem child played with affection by Kaitlin Olson, and Ava a mother, a hysteric played by the great Jane Adams, whose frightened vision of Ava moving back home requires her to euthanize the cat occupying her old room."
        • Hacks creators are thrilled with the critical praise Jean Smart is receiving: “There’s so much happening now, with rewriting the narratives of women in popular culture, and I just feel like people have finally caught up to Jean Smart,” says co-creator Paul W. Downs. Fellow co-creator Lucia Aniello, Downs' longtime partner, still marvels at Smart’s willingness to take on any challenge they threw at her. “Often there would be something that we would say, ‘Oh, we can change that to make it easier for you.’ And she would kind of shoot us a look, like, I don’t need anything to be easy for me, I’ll do what the script says,” Aniello says. Smart even wanted to do her own stunts—like when Deborah tries to run Ava down with her Rolls-Royce or jumps into a helicopter. “She is honestly Tom Cruise–level committed to her stunts, and I’m being dead serious,” Aniello adds. “If we told her we wanted her to strap herself to the side of a plane and have it take off, I guarantee you, she would do it.”
        • Hacks subtly recasts the past half century of American comedy as a warped matriarchy, through which we can chart the evolution of the “woman’s voice"

        # TOPICS: Hacks, HBO Max, Jean Smart, Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs

      • Has network TV given up on launching creative out-of-the-box shows?
        Source: TV Insider

        Prodigal Son and Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist were two out-of-the-box network series that were recently canceled as the networks have doubled down on the same-old shows. "Zoey’s situation raises an interesting question: do networks just not know anymore what to do with shows that aren’t straight procedurals, sitcoms, or reality TV?" says Linda Maleh. "Would Zoey’s have been a huge hit had it been put out by a streaming service or a cable network from the start? We’ve seen it before, after all. Lifetime’s You (admittedly not a network show) flew under the radar until it landed on Netflix and support for the disturbing stalker drama exploded. In that case, it seemed people genuinely weren’t aware of the show until Netflix had it, despite a big marketing push from Lifetime prior to its premiere."

        # TOPICS: Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, ABC, CBS, The CW, FOX, NBC, Prodigal Son

      • Queen of the South's final season was a reminder of how it was forced to fight for its place on television as a drama with a Latina lead
        Source: Indiewire

        The Alice Braga-led USA series, which ended this week, "tried its hardest to try to reclaim the narco world away from emphasizing that all Latinos are involved and are thus evil," says Kristen Lopez. "When the series started, Teresa Mendoza’s introduction into the world is through her boyfriend; one of several instances in the series where men were often the first to let women down and proverbially throw them under the bus for their own aims. Braga showed a woman who was a survivor, intelligent, and understood her privilege as a woman. Teresa often used that to help other women, like a case of human trafficking she witnesses. The first three seasons saw Teresa sparring against fellow narco queen, Camila Vargas (Veronica Falcon) and this is where Queen of the South truly set itself apart. In these shows about the drug trade it was rare to get one woman with substance, but the show gave us two compelling women characters who were at the top of their game. They were the ones dominating and their sparring wasn’t petty, but grounded in real issues of this business they were both involved in. Similar to Teresa, Camila also struggled with issues that have defined women for generations. She struggled to have a successful business and a family life. Where women are told they can’t have it all, but should try like hell to do it, Camila was showing the fruits of that labor. But the show’s final season wasn’t just sad because it was the end of her story. It was also a reminder of how Queen of the South was forced to fight for its place on television. This last season benefited the most from USA Network’s advertising strategy of being plastered on all NBCUniversal channels — but for some reason it is not streaming on NBC’s streamer service, Peacock. And despite having a titan like Braga in the cast, it has not been campaigned seriously for Emmy consideration." 

        # TOPICS: Queen of the South, USA, Latinos and TV

      • Regé-Jean Page: "I think of Bridgerton as a Happy Meal but with secret vitamins put in there"
        Source: Entertainment Weekly

        The former Bridgerton star, in a Variety's Actors on Actors conversation with The Crown's Emma Corrin, explained his approach to his star-making role. "I was like, OK, cool. It's a period drama. It's Jane Austen-esque. Why are we doing this now? What does it have to contribute?" Page said, according to EW, explaining his thought process when he first read the script for the Netflix drama. "We have a couple hundred years between Jane Austen and where we're at now, which means we've got like five or six waves of feminism since. And so, in carrying the torch, we need to make some ground with it. Because Simon's an archetype that already exists. He's Darcy. He's Heathcliff. He's a tall, dark, brooding, emotionally stunted man." When Corrin shared that she thought Simon's journey was interesting "in terms of unpacking masculinity," Page took it one step further, likening the show - and the emotional journey of its heroes, both make and female - to a McDonald's hamburger. "We talk a lot with Bridgerton about it being female-centric, but also, what are men looking up to? What am I doing with this icon of masculinity? What's making this meal actually worth eating?" Page said. "I think of Bridgerton as a Happy Meal but with secret vitamins put in there. It's like a secretly healthy, organic burger."

        # TOPICS: Regé-Jean Page, Netflix, Bridgerton, Emma Corrin

      • Daytime soap operas have always been groundbreaking when it comes to LGBTQ depictions
        Source: Entertainment Weekly

        From Ryan Phillippe playing TV's first openly gay teen on One Life to Live to All My Children showing TV's first lesbian marriage, "for a genre that's been around since the Truman Administration, soaps don't always get the credit they deserve for helping to pioneer gay story lines," says Lynette Rice. "Some also assume that daytime audiences aren't nearly as woke as their primetime counterparts, so soaps would never dare to depict same-sex couples. Think again! Here, we look back at some of daytime's groundbreaking LGBTQ characters - and the battles that were sometimes waged in order to tell authentic and relevant stories." As General Hospital executive producer Frank Valentini tells her: "Anything that's been around for a very long time is weighed down with preconceived notions and stereotypes. People think everybody comes back from the dead on soaps, or how there's always an evil twin. People make fun of us."

        # TOPICS: General Hospital, All My Children, Frank Valentini , Daytime TV, LGBTQ

      • High on the Hog host: Positive feedback has exceeded my expectations
        Source: Eater

        "I’m very relieved," says Stephen Satterfield, host of the Netflix docuseries on the history and impact of African American cuisine. "It was really strange to be in limbo with the announcement being made and the show having not yet been released, but obviously we’re past that point. The reception has been wonderful; it even exceeded my expectations." What kind of expectations did he have going into this? "It’s funny, I knew you were gonna ask me that, but the truth is I actually didn’t have any expectations," he says. "I think what I meant to say is that I could have never expected the kind of feedback that we got. We hadn’t seen anything like this in the food and travel genre. The makers of the show, the subject of the show, was really about us reflecting our love for Black people and Black culture and appreciation for all those contributions, and I feel that Black folks throughout the diaspora felt that attention, they felt that care and love. That for me was by far the most gratifying part of the whole experience."

        # TOPICS: High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America, Netflix, Stephen Satterfield, Documentaries

      • How Loki head writer Michael Waldron went from Rick and Morty and Community assistant to launching a Marvel show
        Source: Vanity Fair

        While a student at Pepperdine University, Waldron landed an assistant gig with one of his comedy heroes: Dan Harmon. As he sat outside Rick and Morty's writers' room, Waldron thought he'd catch Harmon's attention by organizing the show into a softball team. “What I knew about him before was that he was a guy that would love a bunch of attention, like everybody,” Harmon says. “When he started coaching the softball team, it became obvious that he deserved attention.” Waldron adds: "We were terrible. We were the worst team in Burbank rec league history. But it was a great opportunity for me to trick everybody into reading my writing" Waldron leaned on his “Southern roots” to channel Friday Night Lights coach Taylor every week. “We lost every single game, and he’d take us out to the parking lot and give us this pep talk,” Harmon says. “What was the point of pep talking this terrible team? He kept on, which was a job that you couldn’t accomplish by being ironic or cynical.” The softball team led Harmon to offer Waldron a writers' assistant job on the fifth season of Community. “I look at all the amazing moments I’ve had in my career, and I’ve been so lucky, I don’t think I’ll ever have anything more exciting than that one,” says Waldron. In 2017, Starz bought into Waldron's idea about a show about wrestling brothers. But Heels proved to be a disaster and was left on the backburner (Heels is now set to premiere in August on Starz.) Meanwhile, Waldron landed a staff writer job on Rick and Morty, a show that Marvel boss Kevin Feige was a huge fan of. Waldron thus became the latest Dan Harmon alum to work in the Marvel world, following in the footsteps of Community directors Joe and Anthony Russo and Rick and Morty writer Jeff Loveness, who is writing Ant-Man 3. “Well, you can’t fight Kevin Feige in the street,” says Harmon. “He’ll just say, ‘Oh, I love that you’re fighting me, this is so wonderful,’ and everyone will start booing you for being a bully. I am honored and validated by the idea that if people leave me, they leave me for Marvel. That’s an amazing legacy.”

        ALSO:

        # TOPICS: Loki, Disney+, Community, Rick and Morty, Dan Harmon, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Waldron, Owen Wilson, Tom Hiddleston, Marvel

      • Netflix's online store could help it take on Disney
        Source: Fast Company

        As Fast Company's Mark Sullivan notes of the recently launched Netflix.shop, "Netflix has never gone large on e-commerce. And there’s a big market for entertainment-themed apparel and accessories. The trade group Licensing International said retailers sold $128 billion worth of the stuff worldwide in 2019. Disney, which has both an online store and a brick-and-mortar store in New York City, gets the biggest piece of that pie. Part of the reason for that is the timelessness of legacy Disney content—you know, Mickey Mouse and Bambi. But Netflix believes hits like Tiger King and Stranger Things might have some staying power, too. When Disney first announced its intent to launch its streaming service in the summer of 2017, it signaled that the race was on between Disney and Netflix, and that the true nature of the competition could be measured by whether Disney could become Netflix faster than Netflix could become Disney. In other words, one of Netflix’s greatest challenges is to branch out into other types of revenue streams like Disney does, which makes most of its money downstream from the actual content, through licensed merchandise and theme parks. Netflix may intend to build a similar type of ecosystem to make money from the franchises it’s created. But it’s taken the company a while to reach this step, while Disney moved quickly to get into streaming video and has made it a success. But Netflix also has some Disney-trained talent to help it get there." ALSO: Netflix's Halston unveils its 10-piece capsule collection inspired by the series.

        # TOPICS: Netflix, Disney, Marketing

      • Lisey's Story director Pablo Larraín prepared by staying at Stephen King's house
        Source: Indiewire

        “I, personally, struggled at the beginning,” the Chilean filmmaker in an Apple TV+ featurette. “I wanted to take everything to a more grounded sort of space, where the narrative was more naturalistic or realistic. And he (King) was like, ‘No, you have to come to my world where all the things happen to the characters.”

        # TOPICS: Lisey's Story, Apple TV+, Pablo Larraín, Stephen King

      • Love, Victor wanted to tell a different coming out story in Season 2
        Source: Variety

        “It would be dishonest for him to come out and for everything to be just fine in his household,” says co-showrunner Brian Tanen. “In 2021, you really just want to see parents hug their kids and tell them everything’s going to be OK. But part of our job on this show was to tell a different coming out story than, say, Simon had in the film." Ana Ortiz, meanwhile, says she compared her Ugly Betty Hilda Suarez character to Love, Victor's Isabel "constantly. They are two sides of a coin, aren’t they? Hilda really would would fight anyone to the death if they looked at Justin cross-eyed. Whereas, I think Isabel is so hung up on what people think of her and her family and of her as a mother. Like, ‘How could you raise a gay son? If it was me, I wouldn’t let them be gay.’ I’ve heard that quite a bit from people in my community: ‘Well, just, no — tell him he can’t be gay. Tell her she can’t do that.'”

        ALSO:

        # TOPICS: Love, Victor, Hulu, Josh Duhamel, Michael Cimino, LGBTQ

      • Betty tackles pandemic-era New York City in Season 2
        Source: Vulture

        "With their feet rooted to their boards and an ability to whoosh in any given direction, they exist as both abiders and defiers of gravity, as the visual definition of freedom," says Jen Chaney. "That was the case in season one of Betty and in Moselle’s 2018 movie Skate Kitchen, which inspired this HBO series. It’s also true in Betty’s second season, which arrives on Friday. But as in the real New York — and the whole world — this time, freedom comes with caveats. The six vibrant new episodes of Betty take place in the late summer and fall of 2020, which means the pandemic’s presence is very much felt. Many of the characters wear masks, although one wishes they would wear them more consistently indoors and in close proximity to others. Perhaps for the sake of capturing the actors’ expressions on-camera, the face coverings often dangle around the chin instead of protecting mouths and nostrils. There are references to PPE loans being denied, leases being terminated, and COVID violations in progress. In the first episode, Indigo (Ajani Russell), who’s working at a grocery store, gets into an altercation with a white customer who refuses to wear a mask, claiming she has a 'medical condition.' This lady is one iPhone video away from being called out as a Karen on social media, and her behavior prompts Indigo to quit and try to make money through means that require even more moral compromises on her part."

        ALSO:

        • Betty is as scrappy and charming as ever in Season 2: "Season Two of Betty, the warm and irresistible HBO dramedy about a group of female skateboarder friends, was filmed and takes place in those cold, harsh New York months when the city was largely shut down due to the pandemic," says Alan Sepinwall. "On the one hand, this turn of events clears out the streets for the women to skate together, and the show’s creator and chief director Crystal Moselle takes full advantage, filming the city with just her characters rolling through it like it’s their own playground. On the other hand, life during Covid makes it even more complicated for each member of the group to find what she’s looking for —  especially since so much of what these skaters care about exists in spaces controlled by men, now more than ever. It’s a messy state of reality that former documentarian Moselle is well-equipped to capture."
        • Season 2 shows Betty characters evolving: "Most of the groundwork laid for the characters in season one becomes fully actualized in season two and viewers get to see substantial development and growth," says Shanicka Anderson. "The Camille we met last season has matured. No longer content to sell her friends out for acceptance into exclusive all-male skate spaces, Camille is fiercely loyal in season two and willing to stand up for herself and stay true to her image—even if it means giving up some crucial clout on skateboarding Instagram."
        • How the reaction to Betty Season 1 impacted its stars for Season 2: "You have to believe in yourself," says Nina Moran. "This show about a bunch of female skaters has made us role models for other girls. People come to me and say, 'I started skating because of the show.' For me personally, I want girl skaters to take away that if they want to skate, they can skate. Nothing should hold them back" Rachelle Vinberg adds: "The show is about making sure you’re true to yourself. With my character, Camille, in both seasons, she’s figuring out who she is and who she cares about. I think that’s a part of growing up: You come into yourself and realize, Oh, maybe I don’t wanna hang out with these people — maybe these other people will treat me better and like me for who I am without having to put on so much of a show."
        • Betty stars on what shows they'd like their characters to visit: "I want Honeybear to be in Law and Order: SVU! You can do that, it’s the same city and everything," says Moonbear, who asked Dede Lovelace: "What about that show on HBO that you like, with the older guy? He’s bald, Larry something?" Lovelace responded: "Oh Curb Your Enthusiasm? Nooooo. I mean, yeah, like a day in the life would make sense."
        • Betty costume designer Cristina Spiridakis on tackling "inherent gender bias" in skating looks: “Especially designing a show like this, it becomes so clear how different the women’s lines are,” Spiridakis tells Variety, referencing the haul of free, but not functional clothes Camille receives in exchange for branded social media posts. “I think a lot of brands tend to not think that women have to move in the same way as men to skate. The pants are all incredibly tight, and it’s tons of crop tops.”

        # TOPICS: Betty, HBO, Cristina Spiridakis, Dede Lovelace, Moonbear, Nina Moran, Rachelle Vinberg, Costume Design

      • AMC's Kevin Can F**k Himself is brutally subversive in the way it takes down domestic sitcoms
        Source: The Boston Globe

        "The ambitious Kevin Can F**k Himself is rooted in a genre of sitcom built around a shlubby guy and his pretty wife," says Matthew Giilbert of the AMC series starring Annie Murphy that premieres on AMC+ on Sunday and AMC a week later. "The husband is the sports-loving man-child with a beer belly, and the audience cackles tirelessly every time he makes a bad joke. She’s the long-suffering shrew, the buzzkill, and the butt of his jokes. He’s the big kid, she’s the babysitter who tolerates his high jinks, her arms crossed over her chest. The long list of these domestic comedies includes Kevin Can Wait, According to Jim, and, of course, as progenitors, The Honeymooners and its animated counterpart, The Flintstones. Kevin Can F**k Himself is a no-holds-barred response to those series — and a dark reflection of the sexism so deeply embedded in them. After watching the challenging show, which premieres Sunday on AMC+ and next Sunday on AMC, you may never again be able to stomach those blindingly bright, laughter-plagued, drearily stereotypical sitcoms. With just a change in context on Kevin, the lowbrow mass entertainments that often rise to the top of the Nielsen ratings turn into abrasive, hateful American cultural artifacts whose cruelties are many — not just sexism, but xenophobia, narcissism, and psychological abuse. Somewhat like the brilliant Lisa Kudrow series The Comeback, Kevin Can F**k Himself — created by Valerie Armstrong — is a brutally subversive take. The semi-experimental format requires a bit of getting used to, as it toggles back and forth between two radically different styles; but ultimately it works in a jagged, and therefore appropriate, way."

        ALSO:

        • Kevin Can F**k Himself is a better idea than an actual series: "We all know the stereotype of the long-suffering sitcom wife, right? She’s way too hot for her proudly immature husband, and she quietly stays in the background while he hogs the spotlight?" says Dave Nemetz. "Well, AMC’s new dramedy Kevin Can F**k Himself ... aims to blow up that stereotype, promising a meta satire that demolishes those creaky old TV clichés. (The title even refers to a particularly infamous example of the genre: the Kevin James-Erinn Hayes CBS sitcom Kevin Can Wait.) But after watching the first four episodes, I’m thinking maybe this was a better idea than an actual series, because the result is a grim, unpleasant mishmash that doesn’t really work on either end. The satire is suffocating… and we end up feeling suffocated, too." Nemetz adds that "it’s a set-up rich with potential, to be sure, and the sitcom scenes are accurate… but that just means they’re awful. Kevin is a grotesque, lazy-eyed lout (he’s a New England Patriots fan, just to make him even more insufferable), and we never get a good explanation as to why Allison would be married to him in the first place, or why she wouldn’t just leave him. And there’s too much of him: For some reason, Kevin insists on working a full-length sitcom plot into each episode, with all the cheesy punchlines you’d expect. It’s well-executed, down to the overly bright lighting and broad performances, but once we get the idea, why do we have to keep seeing it? This is Allison’s hell. Why do we have to live in it, too?"
        • Kevin Can F**k Himself threads a careful needle by asking its audience to suffer, at least temporarily, before inching toward a payoff: "The setup, at first, is purposefully jarring," says Kimberly Ricci. "Especially during the first episode, you might find yourself gritting your teeth at the onscreen banality. There’s, of course, the intrusively loud canned chuckles. There’s garish lighting and beer pong and obnoxiously rendered Boston-type accents that sound terribly 'off' even for a non-East-coaster like myself; the abominable spouse, portrayed (far too well) by Eric Petersen; the ever-present group of friends and a cynical dad. It’s a lot, but to understand the suffering of Allison, portrayed by Annie Murphy of Schitt’s Creek fame, the audience must endure a taste of what she’s coped with for a decade. Kevin’s not simply an annoying nuisance; he’s a slippery soul-sucker, and one wonders why Allison found herself attracted to him, let alone why she’s stayed married to him for a decade. Yet the deeper issue is that, as a species, the sitcom-wife really never had a choice. They wake up in these shows and find themselves in their situations with a laugh track going, and they must perform for the audience. In Allison’s case, she’s also not a housewife; the show is very clear about how she works as hard, if not harder, than he does. She’s also, naturally, doing all of the housework and cooking and putting up with her husband’s ego and putdowns and sh*tty behavior. Meanwhile, the audience’s POV is represented by a neighbor, Patty (Mary Hollis Inboden), who starts out as 'one of the guys,' but the writers do have better things in mind for her. The realization of Allison’s misery is where the second show inside of Kevin Can F**k Himself can grimly shine."
        • Kevin Can F**k Himself pulls off a tricky mix of genres: "As the title indicates, Valerie Armstrong’s show isn’t laughing along with Kevin, or the countless slovenly sitcom husbands he represents, at all. Instead, Kevin Can F**k Himself follows the long-suffering wife offscreen into her actual life to find something more grounded, depressing and perversely compelling," says Caroline Framke. "Swerving between such disparate styles and stories is a big risk. No matter how good the writing, the show might fall apart without a strong cast and directing team that understands exactly the tones they need to hit in any given scene. So it’s a credit to those tasked with bringing Armstrong’s vision to life that the first half of the season screened for critics nails it more often than not — especially once Allison starts finding ways, however small or significant, to push back against her restrictive narrative."
        • Kevin Can F*** Himself's sitcom gimmick ends up hurting the show: The show "hampers itself by being too good at certain things, and in doing so, seems to limit the forward progression of where this show could go," says Roxana Hadidi. "It makes sense to focus on the terrible sitcom mimicry as a way to show how trapped Allison feels in this marriage and in this town. 'Live Free or Die,' though, keeps returning to Kevin’s awful escape room scheme while Allison and Patty are out of town—serving no narrative purpose aside from reminding us how irredeemably unpleasant and frankly stupid Kevin, his father Pete (Brian Howe), and his best friend Neil (Alex Bonifer) are. And that in and of itself is another issue: How long can the show maintain Kevin’s absolute incorrigibility? In a nod toward the stories women tell about surviving domestic and emotional abuse, Allison sneers at someone who asks why she doesn’t just leave Kevin; that’s easier said than done. Kevin Can F*** Himself threatens to write itself into a corner, though, by making Kevin so loathsome and the sitcom antics surrounding him so irksome. The bifurcated approach is the initial hook for Kevin Can F*** Himself, but at a certain point, the show’s experimentation might end up as a distraction rather than a creative expression. In its best moments, Kevin Can F*** Himself brings to mind Dead Like Me, another show that allowed its female characters anger, dissatisfaction, and bitterness about the hand they were dealt by unfulfilling male partners. Murphy and Inboden are more than talented enough to capture the caustic effects of negligence and loneliness. Kevin Can F*** Himself would be better off if it eventually focused on their lives and the overlaps between them instead of focusing primarily on the sitcom gimmick."
        • The show is almost too good at hitting exactly the right patter of bad network comedies: "In some ways, Kevin Can F**k Himself could be a new season of Why Women Kill," says Allison Keene. "It’s not clear at first why Allison might want to take such drastic measures—why did they get married in the first place? Has it been like this for 10 years? Why not get a divorce? But over the course of the first four episodes (out of eight) provided for review, it starts to come together. Kevin may project a childlike innocence that’s annoying, but really he’s extremely controlling. Anything Allison wants for herself, he takes away. He humiliates her and gets applause...There are moments when the show’s scripts feel a little thin, or the sitcom moments belabored (especially when Allison is not sharing a scene with Kevin—Kevin is a POS and I hated seeing more of him in any context. Petersen plays the part too well!) But it does, so far, perfectly convey the horror of Allison’s suffocating, bleak life without lifting her up as a saint."
        • Annie Murphy is excellent as two versions of Allison who read as the same person who’s become comfortable wearing a mask to hide her disillusionment
        • Kevin Can F**k Himself goes about its mission with such skill that you might not even realize that it's wrecking your favorite sitcoms in the process
        • Kevin Can F*** Himself proves that Annie Murphy is so much more than just Schitt's Creek's Alexis Rose
        • Annie Murphy began her preparation for the subversive role by watching early-2000s sitcoms to steep herself in the world the creators were skewering: “It was jaw-dropping to see what was being gotten away with and what was being covered up with laugh tracks,” Murphy says of those seemingly benign family series. “It really challenges people to take a step back and do analysis as to what they’re laughing at, because there is so much racism, homophobia, sexism, and bigotry that we’re just being told to chuckle about.” Murphy also trained with a dialect coach to learn how to speak in a Boston accent — which proved to be a challenge when working with her co-star Mary Hollis Inboden, who plays Patty, Allison’s brusque, tough-talking next-door neighbor. “Mary is from Arkansas, and I was horrified to realize that I am one of those really annoying people that adopts an accent,” Murphy says with a laugh. “So there were times on set where we’d be giggling and shooting the shit and they’d call action, (and) I would start talking with this honky-tonk droll. I had to really check myself.”
        • Kevin Can F*** Himself wanted to re-create the network sitcom without belittling the multicam format: That's why the sitcom portions of the show are written straight. “In our show, we never have a joke that couldn’t be on any CBS sitcom,” says creator Valerie Armstrong. “Somebody would say, ‘That’s too mean’ or ‘That’s too dark,’” she adds. “You would be shocked at what has been laughed at on network sitcoms for years — we don’t reinvent the wheel here.”
        • Why Kevin Can F*** Himself took a hybrid approach: “In its DNA is, how do you make the sitcom wife a real woman?” says Armstrong. “Figuring out how aware she was about how miserable she was was very, very important in creating the pilot. For that woman to be there, she can’t know she’s miserable; she has to be convinced that this is where she’s supposed to be (and) that her happiness will ultimately lie in her marriage because that’s what she’s been told she’s good for. So, in the pilot it’s, ‘Kevin’s funny, Kevin’s a great guy, you just need to know how to work him’ and then getting to this place of understanding he’s not just destructive by accident. It might be masked, it might not be completely intentional all the time, but he manipulates her and has been for a while. And so, honestly as the show goes on I don’t think he gets worse, I think you start to realize his behavior."

        # TOPICS: Kevin Can F**k Himself, AMC, Annie Murphy, Valerie Armstrong

      • Starz's Blindspotting is less a continuation of the acclaimed 2018 movie than a smart expansion of its world
        Source: Rolling Stone

        "Blindspotting isn’t the most obvious candidate for a film-to-TV spinoff," says Alan Sepinwall. "The 2018 movie, co-written by Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs, who star as best friends in Oakland, made less than $5 million at the box office. It was well-reviewed but not a major awards player. And its stories — Diggs’ ex-con Collin finishes out his probation, while Casal’s Miles rails against gentrification — didn’t leave lots of open questions demanding a sequel, on the big or small screen. But Blindspotting the series, debuting this weekend on Starz, is less a continuation of the film than a smart expansion of its world. Some of the original characters are back, but the show is built in a way that doesn’t make the movie required viewing for newcomers. Instead, it feels of a piece with what Casal and Diggs (who return as writer-producers) did earlier while functioning as its own satisfying, serio-comic slice of Oakland life. In one episode, a character even summarizes the events of the film for a new friend, then says, 'Yeah, it was a whole movie. Sh*t is just different now, I guess.'" Sepinwall adds: "The actors — (Jasmine) Cephas Jones and (Helen) Hunt in particular — seem comfortable navigating the series’ slippery tone, where scenes can shift from low-key to magical realism without warning, in the same way that Trish deftly code-switches while seeking a small-business loan when she sees she’s been paired with a black banker. And if Ashley feels initial discomfort about her move, particularly where Trish and her various side hustles are concerned, the ensemble settles quickly into a welcoming hangout vibe. You’re just as likely to hear Earl expounding on why the 1993 Robert Townsend superhero movie Meteor Man is responsible for both Black Panther and the Obama presidency as you are to see him panic about getting busted when a job interview threatens to keep him out past curfew. Like the movie, the series is ultimately a love letter to the multicultural stew of Oakland, even as it acknowledges the way the city, like most of urban America, is rapidly changing."

        ALSO:

        • Blindspotting is as worthy a reimagining as it gets, particularly in the series’ visual flights of fancy: "The series is less a remix than an inspired riff on its source material, with a decidedly female-centric perspective on gentrification, the justice system and the hardships of raising a family amid crisis and trauma," says Inkoo Kang. "Spoken word and spare but evocative dance sequences amplify the characters’ emotions, rendering the show yet another of Starz’s hidden gems about artistically vibrant communities of color under siege (Also see: the strip-club noir P-Valley and the deliciously thorny gentrification drama Vida)." Kang adds: "One of the driving forces of Blindspotting the film was the sense of dislocation you can feel in a place you’ve lived all your life. That feeling carries through — with new valences — in the adaptation. Ashley, in fact, refuses to let herself get too comfortable in Rainey’s home, opting to sleep on the couch instead of with her son in Miles’s room. After a violence-filled childhood, she’s figured out how to put others at ease, and doing so professionally as the concierge at a fancy hotel bought her a nicer life, at least for a while. But as Trish is happy to remind her — always in the form of a jab — Ashley doesn’t quite know how to fit in the neighborhood she grew up in anymore. Her young son might belong even less. Unlike many other film-to-TV adaptations, Blindspotting leans heavily on its episodic structure, lending each chapter a distinct shape and vibe. Ping-ponging between the beach and prison, bookstores and taco trucks and local car-stunt exhibitions (known as 'sideshows'), the series is the rare well-rounded portrait of contemporary Oakland. Even more rewarding are the layers of history between the characters that the season gradually uncovers, especially between Ashley and Rainey, whose lives have intersected for more than a decade. The show’s writers — Diggs among them — delight in rapid-fire verbal play while conveying the struggles of parolees like Earl and parsing out the socioeconomic differences among the Black characters without ever falling into didacticism."
        • Blindspotting is the best film-to-TV adaptation in years: "Where this brilliant series most notably succeeds is in repositioning the same type of story within a new perspective, all while tackling how someone’s actions affect the lives of those around them," says Kayla Sutton. "The show borrows heavily from the film, incorporating verse, fourth wall breaks, and isolating cutscenes, and stretches those moments to fit within Ashley’s perspective. Seth Mann (Homeland, #FreeRayshawn) directs the first few episodes, and his style seems heavily influenced by Spike Lee. But it’s fantastic to see how that influence creates a truly immersive and modern viewing experience."
        • It’s exciting to see a film adapted to television in such a productive way, successfully expanding the world and its characters: "Throughout the six episodes available to review, Casal and Diggs’ writing is a compelling combination of commentary and entertainment, inviting us to think about the larger prison industrial complex and how it affects entire families, while still having moments of levity," says Kristen Reid. "Like the film, the Blindspotting series injects spoken word poetry and rhythm into various scenes as well. Moments of high emotional tension are addressed with fourth wall breaks and verses spoken directly to the audience. Breaking the continuity of the story to blend the narrative with unique sequences defines the show’s aesthetic. In one episode, Ashley walks by a photo of Miles and Collin in their younger days and imagines a version of them dancing through the home. Dramatic lighting choices bring us in and out of these musical moments effectively. Even in the scenes where there aren’t direct breaks in the story, background characters are seen dancing and moving in choreographed synchronicity; music and rhythm remain a core aspect of the Blindspotting world. By expanding the film into a television show, it allows these unique aspects to further develop and create an even stronger story, one with a pointed focus on the struggles of those left behind by a sudden arrest."
        • Starz's Blindspotting may evolve into the definitive version of the story: "I thought the 2018 feature Blindspotting was a mess, but it was the sort of mess more movies should aspire to be," says Daniel Fienberg. "Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal’s screenplay took big thematic swings and Carlos López Estrada’s direction was full of bombastic flourishes — part dark comedy, part musical, part polemic, part Bay Area travelogue. Even the plot beats that didn’t come together were surrounded by big ideas and beautiful things to listen to and see. Starz’s new TV adaptation of Blindspotting lacks what was probably the primary source of the movie’s appeal, namely the rapport between longtime friends Diggs and Casal, and it doesn’t aspire to exactly the same level of finger-on-the-pulse agitprop. But it may end up evolving into the definitive version of this story. Through the six episodes sent to critics, this Blindspotting quickly settles into its own confident voice, and the characters, especially the new faces, are proving to be appealing vehicles for some of the same themes and more...It’s provocative, funny and, like the film, seems initially allergic to subtlety. Jones is a thoroughly sympathetic center to the story and she slays the spoken word interludes, which never feel quite as organic coming from her character as they did from Diggs and Casal. Most impressive is how well the series works when it’s quieter and less performatively dogmatic — traits associated with Collin and Miles — and lets the voices of the new cast of characters take over."
        • Blindspotting proves to be mighty savvy with its expansion, starting with how it echoes the film’s opening credits: "It’s no longer an image of Oakland’s famous Fox Theater playing a movie called Blindspotting; the whole venue has been renamed to Blindspotting, and now the chapters are on the marquee as if they were their own production," says Nick Allen. "It’s a vital nod to how this isn’t just about Oakland, but this entire universe that’s now filled with new characters. Blindspotting the series is not as tense a universe as the film — sometimes it can be a little too slack — and it doesn’t juggle loaded issues as openly. But this show gets you into its new groove, and it leads with the same artistic abandon that made Blindspotting beautiful. In its expansion of the Blindspotting universe, one that started with Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal’s buddies Collin and Miles, the series works from what could be considered a flaw in the movie: the lack of proper screen-time for Ashley, Miles’ girlfriend and a secret weapon from the movie."
        • Blindspotting is wickedly entertaining as dreamlike hip-hop fantasy and gritty, real-world drama -- with a surprising Helen Hunt performance: "Helen Hunt PLAYS Miles’ free-spirited, progressive, bohemian mother Rainey, and while Hunt might not be the first actress you’d think of to take on such a role, she knocks it out of the park as a woman of a certain age who has a live-and-let-live attitude about sex, drugs, relationships, you name it — but is fiercely loyal to her grown children and will do anything to protect her young grandson," says Richard Roeper. "It’s the finest work we’ve seen from Hunt in years."
        • Blindspotting's thematic elements read as undercooked and its visual ambition isn’t smoothly stitched to the primary narrative: "Instead of vocalizing how gentrification is slowly eroding the Bay Area, the writers on Blindspotting carve grating character dynamics," says Robert Daniels. "Ashley and Trish are the biggest culprits, as they share an antagonistic relationship stemming from Ashley advising Miles not to invest in Trish’s idea for her own stripclub run by women replete with a cooperative union. But in actuality, these two invite trouble like ice on a dark highway—Ashley routinely shames Trish for her revealing attire while Trish questions Ashley’s credentials as a mother and member of their family. Speaking of moms, it’s not altogether clear how Rainey fits in these subplots. Hunt pulls together a character who just isn’t a believable mother for Miles or Trish. In other words, how did a hippie white mom raise a black daughter and white son to be hood? This show desperately wants to elicit serious conversations. These explorations, however, always feel half-finished. Part of the underdevelopment stems from the odd framing: how does one explore the effects of prison on a Black mom and son when the incarcerated father is white? Centering Ashley as the chief viewpoint greatly helps."
        • It's a Hamilton summer with Blindspotting arriving on the same weekend as In the Heights: Jasmine Cephas Jones stars in Blindspotting and her Hamilton co-star/real-life fiancé Anthony Ramos stars in In the Heights while also making a cameo on the Starz series, which Hamilton alum Daveed Diggs co-created.
        • Co-creator Rafael Casal recalls being "really opposed" to making the show after spending a decade making the film: "I remember Lionsgate was like 'I think we should make a TV show.' and we were like, 'I don't think we should. I think it's already been done,'" he says. "It's because we were thinking, Miles and Collin longer story. What are we going to talk about with the two of them? (The movie) was the most interesting three days of their lives, but we went into a meeting because Lionsgate are friends of ours and main collaborators. We took the meeting and were like, 'Look, we only want to do it if we could have it be all about Ashley. That's the character we actually wanted more from in the movie,' and they were really on board with that." 
        • Casal was stunned how quickly and completely Jasmine Cephas Jones built out her character while filming the Blinsdpotting movie: “She created an Ashley that felt truly full in her complexity in such a short amount of time,” says Casal. “When somebody uncovers that much about a character in so few scenes, that screams that they need more scenes.”
        • How Helen Hunt ended up on Blindspotting: "I saw the movie and I loved it, and I posted about it (on social media). Rafael commented on my post, and I commented on his comment and we direct-messaged and a week later we were having a drink somewhere," says Hunt. "I love his work, and apparently he didn’t hate mine, so we talked about making some work together, and about all sorts of different things. We struck up a friendship, and with Daveed as well, and the three of us were working on writing something for a while. We spent a good part of the pandemic on my lawn watching old movies on a projector and a screen that I bought. One of the nights they were over they got the call that Starz was going to make Blindspotting into a TV series and they made these little jokes, like 'There’s a little part, but you’re never gonna do it,' and I just let it go by because I know that mixing work with friendship sometimes can be tricky unless people really communicate well. There’s just a thousand ways it can go wrong, so I just didn’t say anything until Rafa (Casal) went, 'We have to talk about it now because it’s real and we really want you. Starz and Lionsgate want to, so what do you think?'"
        • How Jasmine Cephas Jones reacted to Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs writing a Blindspotting sequel series revolving around her character: Rafael and (Daveed) are very good friends of mine and they very specifically wanted to write something for me — something I could shine in — and when you have writers and friends who are really, really talented and want to create a world for you, but also know your talents and what you’re capable of, I knew they were going to write something for me that no one else was going to be able to write," she says. (This includes) all of the heightened things I do and the emotional roller coaster that Ashley goes through. To look at Ashley in a brand-new light and what is her backstory; who was she before Sean, and what was that like, having all of those complications, it was almost like creating a new character because we’re now talking about circumstances and situations Ashley’s in that she wasn’t in the movie and you get to see all of these different sides to her that you didn’t get to see (then)." Jones says of her character: "I don’t think she’s very different from what I’ve always thought of her. I think, just emotionally, seeing how strong she is as a mother and a person, that opened my eyes more to who she is. She does everything she can do for her son, and sometimes it might not always be the best decision but you know deep down she’s doing everything she can under these circumstances. She’s a superhero in a way, like a lot of mothers are, or a lot of women whose other halves are in jail. You don’t usually get to see those stories — we usually see the story of the person that is incarcerated and their journey — but the women hold the family together."
        • Jones calls Blindspotting a "great contrast to the film": "It's like, we got the men's side, and now here is the women's side - and it works," says the Emmy and Grammy winner of the predominately female cast of characters. "It was something that was very important to them, and immediately I was completely down, and I thanked them for giving these women's stories a chance."

        # TOPICS: Blindspotting, Starz, Daveed Diggs, Helen Hunt, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Rafael Casal

    • Earlier news - posted 2 days ago
    • Earlier news - posted 2 days ago
      • Keeping Up with the Kardashians ends 14 years and 20 seasons on a whimper
        Source: The Daily Beast

        The E! series finale capping off 272 episodes was "your typical boring series finale fare," says Jordan Julian. "Not even fans of the Kardashians will find anything interesting or revelatory in this finale. The show is so tangential to their fame now, which exists largely on social media and in their entrepreneurial ventures, that it doesn’t have anything new to say. It hasn’t for years. Once, the Kardashians were unique in the way they shared every moment of their lives with viewers—just look at Kourtney, who gave birth to her son Mason with an entire camera crew in the delivery room. Now, the famous family can’t leave home without being papped, let alone keep news of divorces, relationships, and pregnancies under wraps. With hundreds of millions of Instagram followers, they clog social feeds with snapshots of their children and partners. This renders the show’s dramatic story arcs, like whether Kim and Kanye will split up (they will) and whether Kourtney and Scott will get back together (they won’t, because she’s dating Travis Barker and he’s dating a 19-year-old), irrelevant. It’s a natural end to a show they don’t need anymore. The most striking takeaway from the Keeping Up with the Kardashians series finale is just how effective the titular family’s rabid, wholly transparent pursuit of fame really was. A tired critique of the Kardashians, often leveled snobbishly by people who have never watched the show, is that they are famous for being famous. This is obviously no longer true and maybe it never was. They’re famous for helming million-dollar makeup empires, for coupling up with rappers and athletes, for sharing heavily filtered photos on Instagram, and, of course, for appearing on a hit television show for over a decade. If that means the Kardashians are famous simply for being famous, then the same can be said of countless other popular celebrities. To be honest, the Kardashians deserve much of the credit for originating the brand of social media celebrity that dominates pop culture today, for better or worse." Julian adds: "The Keeping Up with the Kardashians series finale most definitely does not mark the end of the Kardashians. Instead, Thursday night’s episode signifies the end of a 14-year televised experiment in manufacturing modern celebrity, one that—for better or for worse—has proven to be an undeniable success."

        ALSO:

        • Keeping Up with the Kardashians held an unflattering mirror to America: "Watching KUWTK has been like witnessing the story of America unfold — replete with its contradictions, vampiric relationship to Black people, obsession with remaking itself, capitalistic dysfunction and almost comical lack of self-awareness," says Lovia Gyarkye. "The early episodes, running about 30 minutes, were shorter, lower-quality productions that possessed a certain charm. The family was trying to “overcome” Kim’s sex-tape 'scandal,' an endeavor that eventually morphed into an effortful attempt to ascend the mountain of celebrity culture. Seeing the Kardashian-Jenners grasp for a world that did not necessarily want them made it easier to accept their often silly, histrionic behavior — and at times even feel sorry for them. Then, the tides changed. The family figured out the formula to fame, and applied it aggressively. Several of the Kardashian-Jenner women transformed right before our eyes: thickening their lips, hips and butts, rocking box braids, elongating their nails and publicly aligning themselves with influential Black men. They wantonly lifted their aesthetics from Black women, and became cool without acknowledging the source of their inspiration — as many white Americans inside pop culture and out have done, and continue to do. Naturally, they were rewarded: They graced magazine covers, launched business ventures and attended high-profile events like the Met Gala. They were no longer the punchline; they were the plot. After they changed their looks, they changed their stories — or perhaps the two happened in tandem; it’s hard to say. Kim’s sex-tape fiasco was read as feminist (despite her protestations)...The truth behind these narratives was slippery and decidedly not the point. The Kardashian-Jenners, after all, weren’t like other celebrities: They had made themselves, and those selves were aspirational."
        • KUWTK changed the nature of celebrity: "The entertainment landscape was shifting in the late aughts, as reality TV and social media cut into industry gatekeepers’ ability to, well, gate-keep," says  Alyssa Bereznak. "The blockbuster success of American Idol proved there were few things more compelling to an audience than a nobody who was on their way to becoming somebody. So when Keeping Up With the Kardashians debuted on E! that October (2007), it positioned itself as a zhuzhed-up, late-capitalism Brady Bunch: a blended family of well-off strivers who had an insatiable appetite for as much wealth and notoriety as they could muster. The premise immediately struck a chord with Americans, who had long equated fame with success, and—thanks to a hyperactive era of paparazzi and weekly gossip rags—were witnessing up close the breakdown of a hierarchy that once defined the entertainment world. Within a month of its debut, KUWTK became the most-watched show with women 18-34 in its Sunday-night time slot. Still, such botox-injected ambition felt gauche to mainstream critics. The New York Times worried the program was 'purely about some desperate women climbing to the margins of fame.' The show’s haters distilled that critique into a cutting taunt: that the Kardashian-Jenners were simply 'famous for being famous.' Nearly 293 episodes later, the family’s self-perpetuated fame is clearly a feature, not a bug. Far before TikTokers were live-streaming themselves sleeping, Kris and Ko. pulled back the curtain juuust enough so we could see the mechanisms of the celebrity industry."
        • Meet the crew behind KUWTK: "I got to go to so many cool places," says lighting supervisor Landon Hosto. "We went to Greece, Thailand, St. Barts, London, France. Being with them, we didn't stay at the Motel 8. Because production wanted to be close to them, they didn't want to lose any time getting the crew from the cheap hotels to the rich hotels, so you had to stay at the rich hotels." Audio supervisor Erin Paxton adds: "This show has allowed me to see the world: Japan, Cuba, Bora Bora, Costa Rica. I mean, some of the craziest places I never even dreamt of going to. And when we go on these trips, they're these crazy adventures together, and we're all a unit, and it's such a beautiful thing. I've never, ever worked on a show before or after that has been so filled with laughter and craziness."
        • KUWTK will be remembered for exploiting Black women's aesthetics: "The white mainstream popularization of Black style or features by way of Blackfishing, much of which has been perpetuated by the Kardashians and Jenners, presents a sobering paradox: while it shows that beauty and body standards are shifting as they’ve always done, this change comes by way of white women, ultimately to the detriment of Black women," says Cady Lang. "The shape a person is born with is nothing to judge, but Kim and other white women with curves like hers aren’t subjected to the centuries-long objectification, hypersexualization and disdain that Black women have faced for their bodies. In this, the Kardashian-Jenner sisters’ influence is tip-to-toe: while Black women like Florence 'Flo-Jo' Griffith-Joyner were subject to racist and classist stereotypes for sporting elaborate nail art and acrylics—long markers of Black women’s style and self-expression—Kylie was hailed for launching an innovative trend when she began showing off her nail art on social media."
        • E! is ready for its post-Kardashian era: “The Kardashians allowed us to take people inside celebrity the way that we want to, where we celebrate their fandom and not tear it down,” says Rod Aissa, NBCUniversal Television’s executive vice president of entertainment unscripted content. “We’re focused on what else we can do in pop fandom and how we can celebrate all things Hollywood, and we’re hyper-focused on reestablishing the brand and making very strategic moves because the whole landscape has changed. We want to look at our brand and say, ‘This is what we stand for,’ even outside of the Kardashians.”
        • Recalling KUWTK's 10 most memorable moments
        • Watch Jimmy Kimmel's "emotional goodbye" to KUWTK

        # TOPICS: Keeping Up With the Kardashians, E!, Jimmy Kimmel, Kendall Jenner, Khloe Kardashian, Kim Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian, Kris Jenner, Kylie Jenner, Rod Aissa, Reality TV, Series Finales

      • Apple TV+ renews See for Season 3, reveals Season 2 premiere date and teaser featuring Dave Bautista
        Source: YouTube

        Jason Momoa announced the Season 3 renewal and the Aug. 27 Season 2 premiere date Thursday night on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Simultaneously, Apple TV+ released a teaser revealing Dave Bautista as Edo Voss, the brother of Momoa’s Baba Voss. 

        # TOPICS: See, Apple TV+, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Dave Bautista, Jason Momoa, Cancelations, Renewals & Pickups, Trailers & Teasers

      • Brooklyn Nine-Nine wraps filming
        Source: Twitter

        The acclaimed comedy finished shooting its eighth and final season on Thursday night. "We just wrapped Brooklyn 99," tweeted co-creator Dan Goor. "I want to thank our amazing crew and cast. Andy Samberg, Andre Braugher, Stephanie Beatriz, Melissa Fumero, Joel McKinnon Miller, Dirk Blocker, Joe Lo Truglio, Terry Crews, and Chelsea Peretti, thank you. You changed my life." Fellow co-creator Michael Schur followed up Goor's tweet by posting a June 2012 email from him pitching a show about a "Small town police force." Brooklyn Nine-Nine's final season premieres Aug. 12.

        # TOPICS: Brooklyn Nine-Nine, NBC, Dan Goor, Michael Schur

      • Petition calls for James Corden to dump his "Spill Your Guts" segment because it's "culturally offensive" to Asians
        Source: Yahoo!

        A petition demanding that The Late Late Show either drop or revamp its long-running "Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts" segment, which launched in 2016, has received more than 12,000 signatures. "James Corden's The Late Late show features a segment called 'Spill Your Guts,' where guests either have to answer difficult questions he gives them, or eat the foods that are presented to them," writes Kim Saira, who started the petition after calling out the show in a TikTok video that went viral. "The foods that are presented are meant to be 'gross,' as they are supposed to encourage the guest to answer his questions instead. However, many of the foods that he presents to his guests are actually from different Asian cultures. He's presented foods such as balut, century old eggs, and chicken feet, and which are often regularly eaten by Asian people. During these segments, he's openly called these foods 'really disgusting,' and 'horrific.' In the wake of the constant Asian hate crimes that have continuously been occurring, not only is this segment incredibly culturally offensive and insensitive, but it also encourages anti-Asian racism. So many Asian Americans are consistently bullied and mocked for their native foods, and this segment amplifies and encourages it." The Late Late Show has yet to respond to the petition.

        # TOPICS: James Corden, CBS, The Late Late Show with James Corden, Late Night

      • Ranking Jeopardy!'s guest-hosts so far: Mayim Bialik is No. 3
        Source: The A.V. Club

        Ken Jennings is still the best of the nine guest-hosts so far, according to The A.V. Club, while Aaron Rodgers is No. 2.

        # TOPICS: Mayim Bialik, Jeopardy!, Aaron Rodgers, Ken Jennings, Game Shows

      • As it begins production, Sex and the City reboot must remember to have Samantha's spirit
        Source: Vanity Fair

        The And Just Like That HBO Max sequel series is expected to begin filming any day now. As Sonia Saraiya points out, Kim Cattrall's Samantha was an essential part of the original series and movies. "If Sex and the City crossed any boundaries or broke any barriers, it used Samantha to do it while the other characters looked on dumbfounded: She dated a woman, fell for a Black man, got Botox, sneered at marriage, complained about children, and most importantly, lived like a horny teenager well into her 40s, even through the breast cancer treatment she got in the last season," says Saraiya. "She was New York’s femme id, a crusader whose superpower was cock. In a neat package that evaded intra-feminist argument, her desire didn’t embarrass or degrade her, it simply turned her on. In season five, when her friends judged her sex life, she retorted: 'I will wear whatever and blow whomever I want as long as I can breathe and kneel.' It’s not just hard to imagine the show without her, it’s also hard to imagine Sex and the City thumbing its nose at aging without Samantha in a starring role. But it’s possible. After all, an inevitable part of aging is being forced to say goodbye to people you love. Maybe Cattrall’s absence will be explained away by suggesting that Samantha died in the intervening decades? If And Just Like That… can’t have her, I hope it will have her spirit. Too many of these revivals are a warmed-over rehash of what the originals served hot, with a few jokes about Twitter or Trump thrown in. Samantha would never look back with nostalgia. Intent on making a splash and seizing the day, she’d have her eyes fixed on the horizon." ALSO: Sarah Jessica Parker visits Carrie Bradshaw's apartment ahead of filming.

        # TOPICS: Sex and the City, HBO Max, Kim Cattrall, Sarah Jessica Parker