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      • Wilford Brimley dies at 85
        Source: TVLine

        The character actor known for numerous movie roles and starring on NBC's Our House and Quaker Oats commercials, as well as recurring on CBS' The Waltons, died Saturday morning at his home in Utah. TMZ reports Brimley was in the hospital on dialysis for the past few days. Brimley was a member of the U.S. Marine Corp and worked as a bodyguard for Howard Hughes before he broke into Hollywood in the 1960s as a riding extra and stunt man in the Westerns at the urging of friend Robert Duvall. Brimley got his first big break recurring as Horace Brimley on The Waltons in 1974. In the 1980s, Brimley was known for looking much older than his actual age. At age 50, Brimley played an elderly man in a retirement home in Ron Howard's Cocoon, co-starring with Don Ameche and Hume Cronyn, who were decades older than him. Brimley was 51 years old in 1986 when he began starring in the two-season NBC drama Our House, playing the 65-year-old grandfather to Shannen Doherty and Chad Allen's characters. “I’m never the leading man,” he told The Dallas Morning News in 1993. “I never get the girl. And I never get to take my shirt off. I started by playing fathers to guys who were 25 years older than I was.” Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Brimley starred in Quaker Oats commercials, followed later on by Liberty Medical diabetes testing supplies service ads. Brimley place in pop-culture was established in Phil Hartman and John Goodman's impressions of him on Saturday Night Live. Brimley also inspired the Brimley/Cocoon Line, a Twitter account making note of celebrities when they enter their 18,530th day of life (about 50 years and 9 months), the same age Brimley was when Cocoon premiered in 1985. "We loved @RealWilfordB’s work and we’re heartbroken to hear of his passing," the Brimley/Cocoon Line account tweeted. "We were so honored that he was amused by what we do here. The Line wouldn’t have been worth mentioning if he weren’t so good at making us believe in his characters. He was great, and irreplaceable."

        # TOPICS: Wilford Brimley, Our House, Saturday Night Live, The Waltons, Advertising, Obits, Quaker Oats, Retro TV

      • Ellen executive producer Andy Lassner tries to shut down cancelation rumors: "Nobody is going off the air"
        Source: People

        Even before the recent allegations of a toxic workplace and sexual misconduct, there have been tabloid rumors that Ellen DeGeneres' talk show was on the verge of cancelation. In the aftermath of Ellen's apology over the toxic workplace, staffers are reportedly "freaking out" in fear that the show is getting the ax. Lassner, the highest-profile of Ellen's three executive producers who is known for his on-air appearances, tweeted in response to one fan's worry about the show's fture shortly after his boss' apology on Thursday. "Nobody is going off the air," he tweeted.

        # TOPICS: Ellen, NBC, Andy Lassner, Ellen DeGeneres, Daytime TV

      • Gabrielle Union slams Terry Crews again over America's Got Talent dispute, prompting his third apology to her
        Source: Deadline

        Speaking on the Spotify podcast Jemele Hill Is Unbothered, Union was asked about Crews and his recent criticisms of the Black Lives Matter movement. “People hit me all day long and are like, what’s happening? And the only thing I know for sure is that Terry Crews gets three checks from NBC," she said. "So, I don’t know if being worried about job stability — which listen, we all know that if you speak up about racism and white supremacy, you absolutely can be shown the door.” Union said. “I don’t know if that’s the motivation.” Hours after Deadline reported on Union's comments, Crews tweeted in response: "This will be my 3rd public apology to Gabrielle Union. If a 4th is needed, I will continue to apologize and push for reconciliation between the world, and more importantly, the culture I grew up in. I'm sorry, @itsgabrielleu. #reconciliation."

        # TOPICS: Gabrielle Union, NBC, America's Got Talent, Terry Crews, Reality TV

      • Bryan Fuller says he fought for Mads Mikkelsen to play Hannibal as NBC pushed for Hugh Grant and John Cusack
        Source: Collider

        Fuller tells Collider: "It was an interesting dance because I’d say, ‘Mads Mikkelsen!’ and they’d say, ‘No, how about Hugh Grant?’ and I’d say, ‘Great, make an offer, he’s gonna say no,’ then they’d make an offer and he’d say no, and I’d be like, ‘What about Mads Mikkelsen?’ and they’d be like, ‘Well what about John Cusack?’ and I’d say, ‘Great, make an offer, he’s gonna say no’ and they’d make an offer and he’d say no, I’d say, ‘What about Mads Mikkelsen?’ That carousel went around for three or four months after we had cast Hugh (Dancy), it was going on for a while. Finally I just said, ‘Mads is the guy, that’s the guy I see in the role and I have to write it and I have to champion it and I have to understand it,’ and Jennifer Salke at NBC bless her heart was like, ‘Okay, that’s your guy. I believe you and trust you and I’m excited about your vision for the show.'"

        # TOPICS: Hannibal, NBC, Hugh Grant, John Cusack, Mads Mikkelsen, Retro TV

      • An anime SpongeBob SquarePants video was removed from YouTube for reportedly violating its "child safety policy"
        Source: TheWrap

        The creator of the video, who goes by Narmak, tweeted of the removal: “My SpongeBob anime Episode 1 was taken down from YouTube,” the creator posted on Twitter on Friday. “They tell me it was because I violated their ‘child safety policy.’ It was marked as not for children. I now have 2 strikes on my channel. One more strike, and my YouTube channel is gone.” YouTube has yet to publicly respond to Narmak's comments.

        # TOPICS: SpongeBob SquarePants, YouTube

      • Harley Quinn is now streaming on HBO Max
        Source: Entertainment Weekly

        The anarchic DC Universe series starring Kaley Cuoco in the title role gives a TV-MA spin on the Batman and DC mythos.

        # TOPICS: Harley Quinn, DC Universe, HBO Max

      • The Mandalorian's first novel delayed by one year
        Source: /Film

        The first original novel revolving around the new Star Wars series was originally scheduled to come out this fall. Instead, it will be released in fall 2021.

        # TOPICS: Star Wars: The Mandalorian, Disney+, Star Wars, TV Books

      • Deadliest Catch deckhand Mahlon Reyes dies at 38
        Source: TMZ

        Reyes died last Sunday after suffering a heart attack in hometown of Whitefish, Montana. Mahlon worked on two Deadliest Catch boats: the Seabrooke and Cape Caution.

        # TOPICS: Deadliest Catch, Discovery Channel, Mahlon Reyes, Obits

      • The Umbrella Academy is a whirling dervish of fan service for fans of everything
        Source: Vanity Fair

        The key to the Netflix superhero series' success is that it's a mashup of epic proportions, says Richard Lawson. "The Umbrella Academy is a whirling dervish of fan service that stumbles as often as it sings," says Lawson. "In many ways it’s a deeply cynical show, pandering so relentlessly on so many vectors. Yet its algorithmic assault is hard to resist. The twists tantalize just enough that you can’t help but let the next episode auto-play." Lawson adds: "The reasons why The Umbrella Academy isn’t buzzy are murky; I suspect it has something to do with Netflix not devoting as much of a publicity effort to the show as it has to other marquee series. But its popularity among viewers is pretty easily understood after watching. Do you like Harry Potter? Or X-Men? Or the Avengers movies? Maybe you enjoyed reading the graphic novel Watchmen before it became a lauded HBO limited series? How about Back to the Future, or Stranger Things, or Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, or Kick-Ass, or The Haunting of Hill House? Chances are, most Netflix viewers enjoy at least one of those major cultural properties, and they will find some reflected glimmer of them in The Umbrella Academy. (Homage would be a generous term for the show’s borrowing.) The series, adapted from Gerard Way’s comic book by former Fargo writer Steve Blackman and developed by Jeremy Slater, is a pastiche of sci-fi and fantasy tropes, a busy assemblage of influences and references that make up an erratic but intermittently satisfying collage. While the story is new, there’s something both cozily and annoyingly familiar about The Umbrella Academy. It’s a noisy machine, smashing bits of pop culture together without much concern for originality, and yet it runs pretty well. The product is solid, consumable in large doses and just artistic enough to give it a soupçon of prestige. For season two, Netflix seems to have allocated more money. The series looks sleeker, more vivid. Its set-pieces are more daring, its visual language crisper and more distinct. Which is another indication that the show has a strong viewership—it proved worthy of further investment."

        ALSO:

        • The Umbrella Academy is delivering what the Marvel Cinematic Universe taught fans to expect: "The cinematic story of the seven superpowered Hargreeves siblings has garnered attention for its style, cast, and perhaps most surprisingly, its emotional latitude," say Petrana Radulovic and Susana Polo. "In corners of the internet, fans of the series create GIF-sets of Vanya dealing with childhood trauma and isolation, and write bulleted headcanons about what the Hargreeves siblings do when they hang out. There’s a sense that Umbrella Academy is reflecting something familiar, even under the wildest circumstances. Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe take a similar approach online, reveling in moments of hardship and struggle, but when compared to the canonized moments in the mega-franchise, the remixes exist more to fill in a void. After two decades of the modern superhero blockbuster, there’s more potential in a comic book property than costumes, clashes, and a cosmic beatdown, and one of the keys to the cult success of Umbrella Academy is that it does what the MCU promised, but never actually delivered: heroes interrogating their own emotional ordeals."
        • The Umbrella Academy feels more like a show of the future than perhaps anything else succeeding on Netflix: "Stranger Things is quite literally a work of nostalgia that, in its pursuit of clear, clean-lined storytelling, is a throwback in form as well as subject matter; for all The Witcher toyed with tone and timeline, it basically wants to be Xena," says Daniel D'Addario. "The Umbrella Academy, like other shows on Netflix (Cursed, a Camelot-remixing curio that zoomed to number-one on the site’s daily most-watched list) and elsewhere (Amazon’s ultraviolent, goofy Hunters) seeks to make a lack of control into a virtue, and in so doing attract viewers unacquainted with or unmoved by the sort of TV that is made with guardrails. It is popular for the same reason its popularity has not seemed to meaningfully extend beyond core obsessives: Because it so very badly wants to be different that what it is, moment to moment, is a moving target; its music is of the variety that sounds discordant to all who expect harmonies and who don’t realize that the discord is the point. It’s a cast and crew of adult professionals elegantly pulling off a bratty teenage rebellion. And it’s the sort of show that, when watching, forces the viewer to realize that there will soon be quite a bit more along precisely its same scrawled and jagged lines."
        • The Umbrella Academy is significantly stronger in Season 2: "The first season of Netflix’s Umbrella Academy...was largely about subverting expectations,' says Sam Barsanti. "Its eponymous team of adopted sibling superheroes was raised as hardened, emotionless soldiers in order to save the world, but they grew up to be emotionally damaged adults who mostly hated each other, their obligation to save the world, and especially their adopted father (Colm Feore’s cold and cruel Sir Reginald Hargreeves). By the time they’d all reunited to prevent a coming apocalypse, the Umbrella Academy had not only failed but actually caused the end of the world. Season one was fun, undeniably buoyed by excellent performances from the core cast; but it also had a bad habit of needlessly dragging out every single bit of backstory and every single solution (even the red herrings) to its many mysteries. A key example is how the show behaved like nobody could possibly predict that the guy with super-strength and the body of a gorilla would have some kind of gorilla body, while treating that reveal like it had the impact of Jon Snow’s true parentage. But what better way to subvert expectations than by coming back for a second season that is actually, thankfully, and somewhat miraculously better in almost every single way? Season two of The Umbrella Academy manages to pull that off, and it has become a significantly better version of itself in the process."
        • Season 2 almost finds a satisfying way out of its apocalypse problem: "In its first season, the Netflix series The Umbrella Academy ... followed its source material predecessor and zeroed in on a handful of adopted family members with incredible abilities," says Steve Greene. "Faced with certainty that a cataclysm of explosions and fallout would come to pass if this ragtag group didn’t act as one, wouldn’t you know it, their actions caused the dang thing. Season 2 burdens this misfit family of Hargreeves with the same directive: prevent global catastrophe. What makes this new round of episodes a slight improvement upon those that came before it is splitting these siblings apart. Flung across time by the same gambit that spared them from annihilation in the opening season’s timeline, the quick thinking of Five (Aidan Gallagher) ultimately leads to each of them hurled into the same Dallas alleyway in separate years across the early 1960s. As each of these brothers and sisters adjust to new lives in this timeline, separate from each other, some realize the version of history they’re experiencing is about to veer from precedent."
        • The twists, the impending apocalypse and, most importantly, the feels are bigger in Season 2: "Let’s face it," says Kimberly Ricci, "a lot of things could have gone wrong while adapting the comic book series for the small screen, but somehow, it all worked, down to a fantastically assembled cast: Ellen Page, striking a careful balance of portraying the sibling who was most the instrumental in triggering an apocalypse while being unaware of those powers for most of the season; Robert Sheehan, boosting his drug-addled, sexually fluid character who communes with the dead into fan-favorite status; Mary K. Blige as a hitwoman in what can only be described as inspired casting. I could go on, but it’s time to discuss whether the second season continues the momentum of the first, which was already a rarity in the inertia-heavy streaming era. Hell yes, it does. The show even manages, in a few instances, to surpass the musical interludes of the first season."
        • Season 2 has a lot of characters and storylines to juggle, but everything is kept moving smoothly: "There’s a tendency with many streaming shows, especially as the season progresses, to tread narrative water here and there to fill out the episode order," says Zaki Hasan, "but they find the sweet spot here, with each 45-minute episode feeling like a full meal while still keeping fans craving the next installment."
        • Kate Walsh compares The Umbrella Academy scripts to plays: "The great thing about this show is, not only is it fantastic and the sky's the limit in many ways, but there are rules to the show," says Walsh. "They write almost like plays, so, you get these long scenes. They're not common in television, where everything's kind of keep going, move, move, move. But you get these three and four page scenes that are just so fun as an actor to play. They all have a beginning, middle and end."
        • Tom Hopper discusses the challenges of wearing a gorilla suit
        • Creator Steve Blackman emphasizes that The Umbrella Academy isn't a Marvel show: “It’s not a superhero show set in the Marvel universe, and I’m not saying that to diss the Marvel universe, because I love it,” he says. “You’re watching characters who are heroic and you sort of want to be them in a certain way. But these characters (in The Umbrella Academy) remind us that we’re all sort of fallible and we all have foibles and that even the superheroes among us are struggling with the same issues.”

        # TOPICS: The Umbrella Academy, Netflix, Kate Walsh, Steve Blackman, Tom Hopper

      • How Strong Black Lead became a key part of Netflix's brand
        Source: Fast Company

        The Strong Black Lead initiative has "organically evolved from a simple suggestion to elevate Netflix’s catalog of Black programming into a deeper conversation and relationship with Black audiences through podcasts, video content, and campaigns that coalesce around the idea that there’s not a monolithic Black experience or single way to be Black," says KC Ifeanyi. Strong Black Lead, he notes, is actually what Netflix’s Black employee resource group called their recruiting events. “They had these shirts and these notebooks and people didn’t even care to get our business card. They were like, ‘But where can I get that shirt, though?'” says Maya Watson, director of editorial and publishing at Netflix.. “If you wear it, then that says something. You identify with that. So that’s how we came up with the name Strong Black Lead—shoutout to our HR partners!” Strong Black Lead went public with the now famous “A Great Day in Hollywood” spot that aired during the 2018 BET Awards. “How do we start to do something that feels artful and impactful? And it’s not just like a sizzle spot,” says Watson. “What we were trying to show is the depth and breadth of the talent that we had on the Netflix service. A lot of Black audiences, we had found in research, didn’t understand that we are one of the biggest producers and creators of Black content in entertainment. We hadn’t really shown the full tapestry of what we had.”

        # TOPICS: Netflix, Maya Watson, African Americans and TV

      • Search Party has been the best show yet at dissecting the stereotypical "gay best friend" trope
        Source: Vulture

        "He’s sassy and vapid and a hoot to be around," says Manuel Betancourt. "He has a clear sense of style and a near-encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture. Quick with zingers and even quicker with barbs, he’s not one to be crossed. Laying out the key characteristics of a 'gay best friend' on television can further stress just how one-dimensional such a character can feel on the page. And while the likes of Jack McFarland (Will & Grace), Marc St. James (Ugly Betty), Mickey Dean (The Comeback), and Stanford Blatch (Sex and the City) clearly broke the mold even as they were enshrining it, more- recent comedies have gone further. Shows like Difficult People, Happy Endings, and Sex Education have been eagerly reshaping what a 'gay (male) best friend' can look like on the small screen, giving characters like Billy Epstein, Titus Andromedon, and Eric Effiong complex inner lives that refuse to be collapsed into the trope they nevertheless call forth. But no show has come close to dissecting the gay BFF so expertly as Search Party. The HBO Max series references the recognizable template as a way to skewer that kind of characterization while also unearthing the darker undertones of such stereotyping. Elliott Goss (John Early), who’s described as 'gay, energetic and a self-diagnosed narcissist' in the show’s pilot script, is the limit case of the gay BFF, all vapid privilege wrapped up in hilarious absurdity, the kind who’d happily take sponsorships from corporations eager to rebrand themselves as LGBTQ-friendly to fund his wedding (#1point2milliondollarwedding), whose theme is 'attention.' ('We do love attention,' he beams.)"

        # TOPICS: Search Party, HBO Max, John Early, LGBTQ

      • Tarell Alvin McCraney has the mastered the TV medium with David Makes Man
        Source: The A.V. Club

        "David is one of those shows that precedes the pithy genre descriptor that will eventually define it," says Joshua Alston of the OWN series that's now available on HBO Max. "Perhaps that’s because the show was created by Pulitzer- and Oscar-winning playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, who’s best known for helping Barry Jenkins transform one of his acclaimed stage plays into 2017 Best Picture winner Moonlight. McCraney’s strength lies in the cultural specificity he brings to his stories of young Black boys with the weight of the world on their shoulders, and David Makes Man is an execution of McCraney’s vision more potent than the movie or the plays that define his career. In fact, an early quibble I had with the show was how topically and thematically similar it is to Moonlight, which for many was a first glimpse into McCraney’s semi-autobiographical work. All the same elements are here: Black bodies saturated with cool-colored light; muggy Miami and its rough-and-tumble housing projects; financial insecurity born of addiction issues; and father figures as faithful to their selected sons as they are unfaithful to the law. And yet, while McCraney is working with the same color palette, David Makes Man’s 10 episodes represent the largest canvas he’s ever had to work with. As storytelling mediums go, television is an especially ravenous beast, gobbling up every clever notion the writer’s ever had. That’s what makes David such a testament to McCraney’s talent and his clarity of vision. Television history is littered with examples of estimable novelists and playwrights who stare into the medium’s gaping maw and are left struggling to feed it. Not the case here, as McCraney’s partnership with showrunner Dee Harris-Lawrence has yielded a drama that often feels like it’s running out of places to store its surplus of ideas. (Oblique references to Game Of Thrones and the Portuguese man o’ war can exist in the same conversation.) It’s also the all-too-rare example of meticulous world-building outside of genre fiction, so while David occasionally feels overstuffed, it never feels like it’s wasting precious fuel."

        # TOPICS: David Makes Man, HBO Max, OWN, Tarell Alvin McCraney

      • Fear City: New York vs. the Mafia's biggest flaw is assuming viewers would side with law enforcement
        Source: The New Republic

        "Decades of sensitive, sophisticated filmmaking about the Mafia means that the average viewer sees a mobster as a human being, not a cartoon murderer," Josephine Livingstone says of director Sam Hobkinson's Netflix docuseries on the FBI's 1980s takedown of the New York mafia. "This is where Fear City falls down. Without providing much in-depth analysis of the mob’s effect on society—horrifying in many cases, to be sure—Hobkinson expects his viewer automatically to be on the FBI’s side. Despite the documentary’s juicy tapes and cinematic subject matter, Hobkinson seems to forget what year we’re living in. If there’s any key theme to 2020’s cultural politics, it’s that American law enforcement, not to mention Rudy Giuliani himself, has completely lost its right to our automatic sympathies. Reagan’s head flashes up in one bit of archival footage, saying that the American family is the key to creating wealth. Isn’t that exactly what the Italian Mafia in New York did—turn family ties into a whole system of social governance? Mobsters kill people. But so do the police. Fear City takes it for granted that you will sympathize with FBI agent Marilyn Luchts when she calls a relationship between (mob boss Paul) Castellano and a maid named Gloria 'sordid' and laughs about the colleague who had to listen to them having sex. That tape came from a bug planted by the police inside a private residence. Castellano was a criminal, sure, but Gloria? She was a regular working-class human being, one in a vulnerable position with her employer, and her treatment at the hands of the FBI (Cantamessa personally lied to her while undercover, extracting her secrets) is downright offensive. Worst of all, Fear City uses one single bit of archival footage featuring Donald Trump, the most famous landlord in New York City, and one bit of surveillance tape mentioning his name—out of context, meaning you can’t understand it. As Wayne Barrett mentions in his 2016 biography of Trump, however, the businessman’s interests in casinos and real estate means that he constantly did business with the Mafia."

        # TOPICS: Fear City: New York vs The Mafia, Netflix, FBI, Donald Trump, Documentaries

      • Netflix's "most popular" list is a wasteland
        Source: The Atlantic

        "If HBO’s Game of Thrones was the last great piece of TV monoculture, then the pandemic has popularized a series of forgettable productions that each offers a fleeting, miniature facsimile of communal attention," says Hannah Giorgis. "Absent the usual summer blockbusters, and with few prestige shows rolling out new episodes, the landscape of American entertainment is barren enough for C- shows and movies to rack up the viewership of B+ productions, if not the associated enthusiasm. The mechanism by which Netflix measures its subscribers’ consumption habits is itself a paragon of low expectations. The company, which has historically withheld actual audience numbers, recently revealed that it counts anything longer than two minutes spent on one movie or show’s screen as a 'view.' Whether because of the content’s mediocrity, or the sheer exhaustion brought on by living through a historical event, few of these 'most watched' works have generated a collective viewing experience that feels cohesive, much less exhilarating."

        # TOPICS: Netflix

      • Kelly Monaco's General Hospital role temporarily recast because she was quarantined
        Source: TVLine

        Passions alum Lindsay Hartley is filling in for Monaco, who had to spend 14 days in quarantine after experiencing a breathing problem with her mask on her first day back on set.

        # TOPICS: General Hospital, ABC, Kelly Monaco, Lindsay Hartley, Coronavirus, Daytime TV

      • How P-Valley pulls off its gravity-defying pole-dancing performances
        Source: Vulture

        “It’s crazy, right? It’s amazing, I love it,” says creator Katori Hall. As Jackson McHenry explains, Hall uses her theater background to outline a specific idea for the strip club dancing in her script. "In order to get that sequence and the many other strip stunts that fill the show to the screen, P-Valley relies on teams of people in front of and behind the camera to dream up, choreograph, and eventually film each performance, using both body doubles and the show’s actors," says McHenry. "The show’s key figures, including Hall, choreographer Jamaica Craft, stunt coordinator Jennifer Badger, episode director Millicent Shelton, and star Brandee Evans, talked Vulture through what it takes to get ideas from the page to the pole." ALSO: Nicco Annan has been perfecting the Uncle Clifford role since 2009.

        # TOPICS: P-Valley, Katori Hall, choreography

      • Last Chance U's Season 5 head coach says the show got one thing wrong: He doesn't ride a Segway
        Source: Esquire

        “I do not have a Segway at practice, by the way,” says Laney College head coach Jim Beam of his Segway-riding that was shown in the trailer and on the first episode. “The cameraman had it, right? And so the kids are like looking at it, and I go, ‘I can ride it.’ And the kids go, ‘Coach, you can't—you think you can do it? ‘I'm like, I'm an athlete, I can do anything.’ That's why I got on the Segway!" Meanwhile, Beam says of watching himself on Netflix: "It was hard, it was hard. You see yourself, right? You know, God was I that guy? You know what I mean?"

        # TOPICS: Last Chance U, Netflix, Jim Beam, Reality TV

      • I'll Be Gone in the Dark tries to figure out why women are drawn to the true-crime genre
        Source: Vulture

        "I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, based on the best-selling book by the late Michelle McNamara, isn’t like most true-crime series," says Jen Chaney. "It’s true that it focuses on the decades-long search for a man who terrorized many and managed to avoid capture, something many similar series have done. But it’s also the story of McNamara’s obsessive interest in solving the case and the degree to which it consumed her mental and emotional energy, indirectly leading to her sudden death in 2016...In I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, the protagonist is McNamara, and she serves a multilayered, simultaneous role as detective, victim, and, as a self-declared true-crime aficionado, a proxy for everyone watching this show and others like it. That last factor enables I’ll Be Gone in the Dark to interrogate the reasons why this genre is so enticing, especially to women, something that other TV true crime has rarely, if ever, done." ALSO: How I'll Be Gone in the Dark filmed its toughest interviews.

        # TOPICS: I'll Be Gone in the Dark, HBO, Michelle McNamara, Documentaries

      • See what comes with HBO's Perry Mason meal kit
        Source: Twitter

        To promote the period drama, HBO and HBO Max partnered with iconic 101-year-old Hollywood Blvd restaurant Musso & Frank Grill, where Quentin Tarantino filmed the beginning of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, on a Depression-era meal kit. Musso & Frank Grill was also featured on Perry Mason.

        # TOPICS: Perry Mason (2020), HBO, Marketing

      • Colin Jost's memoir makes him appear to be a solid dude: funny, self-effacing and a good storyteller
        Source: Slate

        "On-camera Jost is an impenetrable wall of centrist politics and apparent self-satisfaction," Willy Staley writes on the SNL "Weekend Update" co-anchor's new memoir A Very Punchable Face. "That persona is a foundational part of the current 'Update' dynamic: earnest, cautious, privilege-oozing Jost vs. laid-back and eye-rolling—but prickly—Michael Che. Book Jost is different. For one, he possesses interiority, quite a bit of it in fact, and this quality can frustrate even the most committed hater. He takes pains to convince the reader that his path wasn’t as preordained as it seems, but was actually psychologically and emotionally trying. And, as the Russian sojourn suggests, he presents as someone with a measure of artistic integrity, however deeply buried it may be under his thick lacquer of jockish contentment. In fact, he even blames his arrogant on-camera demeanor on his raging insecurities, which prevented him from feeling present in his early 'Weekend Update' days: 'I would get nervous and my reaction was to smile or laugh on camera,' he writes, 'which was unnatural and probably came across as smug.' Though the pro-Jost politics of Punchable are obvious, this doesn’t render his pleading any less earnest. A true snake would never turn belly-up like this."

        # TOPICS: Colin Jost, NBC, Saturday Night Live, TV Books

      • Recalling when The Jenny Jones Show and Ricki Lake fueled 1990s panic over goths and punks
        Source: The Muse

        The 1990s daytime talk shows would try to boost ratings with punk interventions that seemed to stem from feelings of homophobia, and even racism.

        # TOPICS: The Jenny Jones Show, Ricki Lake_(Talk Show), Jenny Jones, Ricki Lake, Retro TV

      • Ken Marino is TV's ultimate "himbo"
        Source: Mel Magazine

        "Marino’s himbo appeal has seen him guest star on many a mainstream, primetime series: He’s shown up shirtless on Grey’s Anatomy and served as a love interest for Katie Holmes on Dawson’s Creek," says Miles Klee. "That he portrayed a junior college professor in the latter does not dampen the himboness he brings to the role, and for comedic projects, he stretches this quality in all directions. There’s Victor Pulak of the cult film Wet Hot American Summer, a permed camp counselor in cutoffs who lies about his sexual experience, then crashes a van in a rush to lose his virginity — he doesn’t get the girl, but does save a raft of screaming kids about to go over a waterfall. He’s unforgettably good in the sitcom Party Down as Ron Donald, the square, softhearted leader of a catering crew; harboring the ambition to one day manage a soup restaurant, he briefly considers a business proposal from a porn producer who catches a glimpse of his huge d*ck."

        # TOPICS: Ken Marino, Party Down

      • Check out a preview of The Office planning party book
        Source: Entertainment Weekly

        The Office: The Official Party Planning Guide to Planning Parties, due out on Oct. 13, promises to offer "authentic parties, recipes and pranks from The Dundies to Kevin's Famous Chili."

        # TOPICS: The Office (US), Retro TV, TV Books

      • Cookie Monster's Sesame Street food truck doesn't make economic sense
        Source: Banner Society

        Does the "Monster Foodies" food truck that Cookie Monster runs with new muppet Gonger actually teach kids about running a business?

        # TOPICS: Sesame Street, HBO, PBS, Kids TV

      • Showtime's The Go-Go’s chronicles the legendary's band's ups and downs
        Source: Los Angeles Times

        Alison Ellwood's "comprehensive and rousing" documentary on the Go-Go's is "well-balanced, digging deep into the development of the band’s music (with the help of some rare demos and live footage) while also reckoning, frankly and sometimes startlingly, with the rifts that began almost as soon as the members started making hit records," says Noel Murray, adding: "Ellwood avoids putting any simplistic spin on the Go-Go’s arc. Every woman in the band gets to say their piece, unfettered — even the ones who were booted out before the first album. They all explain that even at their most strained, the relationships in the band were never totally toxic. They had fun together offstage sometimes; and they were dynamite on stage."

        ALSO:

        # TOPICS: The Go-Go's, Showtime, Alison Ellwood, Documentaries

      • With Muppets Now, Disney has finally made a good Muppet show
        Source: The A.V. Club

        "Keep believing, keep pretending, and in that moment, you too could be a Muppet. That’s the guiding principle of Muppets Now, the Muppets’ new streaming series and Disney’s best effort to date at bringing Henson’s most famous creations back to TV," says Erik Adams of the new Disney+ Muppets series. "It’s not the entirety of what makes the Muppets work (and some of those other qualities are, fortunately, on display here, too), but it’s a good starting point. On Muppets Now, the Muppets get grown adults to answer deeply personal questions, smear their faces with makeup, and splatter a pizza parlor’s entire menu against a wall. It’s the kind of show where a tense taco cook-off between Danny Trejo and The Swedish Chef ends, like Kermit and Joey’s ABCs standoff, in a heart-melting show of affection. Muppets Now largely succeeds at folding flesh-and-blood guests into its proceedings, and for the most part shows no wear from the bumpy ride the characters took to Disney+. It’s an intriguing package to put the franchise in, a variety show with unscripted elements presented as the Muppets’ big foray into subscription on-demand video—with all the teetering on the edge of disaster that implies."

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        • Muppets Now feels like it's using maybe a tenth of the brand's potential, failing to capitalize on what ought to be TV's deepest ensemble of scene-stealers: "You would think that with all of the available characters, and the endless range of unscripted formats, repetition would be easily avoidable," says Daniel Fienberg. "Instead, with four sketches per episode, each of the episodes I've seen features 'Lifesty With Miss Piggy,' a self-improvement show she insists should be 'Lifestyle,' and a cooking competition in which the Swedish Chef goes head-to-head with a celebrity chef making the same dish. Three episodes include a 'Muppet Labs Field Test' segment with Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker destroying things in the process of exploring a single scientific concept, while there are multiple 'Mup Close and Personal' interviews and several installments of a game show hosted by Pepe the Prawn. Leaving aside the reality deficit here — no correspondent-driven show of this sort would be able to maintain a production schedule having so few different types of segments — the result is the world of the Muppets feeling small and insular, which should never be the case. There's a temptation to wonder if the recent COVID-19 quarantine is behind the decision to avoid packing the frame with multiple Muppets. But apparently, the sketches were all shot well before the quarantine, so that head-scratching limitation can't be so easily excused away."
        • Muppets Now is geared towards kids raised on short YouTube videos: "At a brisk six episodes, the series doesn’t waste time with its setup, keeping the meta 'backstage' chatter (a Muppets staple) to a minimum," says Caroline Framke. "As becomes clear in its cold opens, in which a harried Scooter tries to get the final cut locked despite Kermit and everyone giving him dozens of last minute notes, Muppets Now isn’t a variety show in the traditional Muppet sense. Instead, it’s a series of sketches and unscripted demonstrations delivered in the style of YouTube channels, the better to appeal to the generation it’s now targeting via Disney Plus."
        • Muppets Now almost feels like a corrective to ABC's failed The Muppets series: "That it was designed for a family-oriented platform has possibly kept it from the 'adult' excesses of The Muppets, but it also looks for inspiration and substance to The Muppet Show, the late ’70s-early ’80s syndicated series that introduced most of the characters who didn’t come from Sesame Street," says Robert Lloyd, adding: "I’ve seen four episodes, out of six — too few! — and the only segment that felt off to me — and, yes, this probably says more about me than it does about Muppets Now — is one in which Kermit displays his photobombing skills. I mean, it was fine; I just didn’t buy it as a thing he’d be into. (Gonzo, sure; Fozzie, absolutely.) The abuse Beaker takes in the 'Muppet Labs' episodes can be a little distressing — there is an emotional as well as a slapstick component to it — but that always was an asymmetrical toxic relationship. I hope these half-dozen episodes are a token of more to come; I want to see where else they take it. Within the bounds of Muppetness, of course."
        • Muppets Now improves on the failed ABC sitcom because it understands what the Muppets are and why we love them: "They’re not mopey stand-ins for us but wild, demonic imaginings of ourselves, unburdened by impulse control and the laws of physics," says James Poniewozik. "Like Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, the bespectacled scientist of Muppet Labs, this show knows there’s no point in getting access to a budget and a camera if you’re not going to blow things up. But with the segmented format of Muppets Now, you lose the big-scale interaction among characters that animated the 1970s variety show. The connective tissue here mostly consists of Kermit and Scooter teleconferencing. There are some nice throwaway jokes there. (Scooter’s shared computer desktop includes the random folder 'UFOs?') But just like all the Zoom webinars you’re attending these days, it’s not quite the same."
        • The conceit of Muppets Now never feels genuine: "In the end, Muppets Now leaves the Muppets exactly where they’ve been for the last decade: still charming but stymied by a company that continues to see them as irrelevant," says Kristen Lopez. "In this case, the Muppets have taken to the internet — ironic considering Disney’s push a few years ago to put them on YouTube — to release a streaming show called Muppets Now."
        • Muppets Now isn’t a show with a coherent overarching plot or character arcs, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing: "Muppets Now, like the many Muppet-led shows before it, takes inspiration from, homages, and parodies the format of the day," says Michelle Jaworski. "For both The Muppet Show and Muppets Tonight, it was a variety show. For the short-lived The Muppets, it was a mockumentary about what went on behind the scenes of a late-night talk show. Muppets Now is often akin to a YouTube show or a webseries in scope or feel; much of it feels low-tech in that you can believe that the Muppets are pulling all the strings only to tear them apart. Many of the recurring sketches are instantly recognizable to what we’ve already seen online."
        • Muppets Now proves it isn't easy to capture the old Muppets magic: "I really wanted to love Muppets Now, but after seeing half of the episodes that will be rolled out weekly this season, all I can do at this point is like it," says David Bianculli. "That's because as I watch Muppets Now, I remember Muppets then, back when the writing was super sharp and the guest stars were great."
        • Kermit’s character has shifted in the modern era—a little less “Rainbow Connection,” a little more disgruntled dad: "It’s noticeable, in Muppets Now, that Kermit is kind of the group’s boss, and little more than that—there aren’t many segments where he shows up to be a funnyman or a singer," says Sonia Soraiya. "His most frequent recurring bit is in the legal disclaimers that come before Bunsen and Beaker’s science show, where a mammalian lawyer muppet named Joe from legal cackles to the audience that they better not try the experiments at home. Even here, Kermit’s the straight man. If Muppets Now seeks to reclaim the glory of The Muppet Show in future seasons, they will have to find a place for Kermit—his strange sensitivity, his sinuous limbs, his terror of Miss Piggy’s sexuality, and his robust, undying optimism, all rolled into one."
        • Muppets Now benefits from not trying to appeal to adults: "It’s got wit, warmth and charm in abundance, and although it includes adults in its fun it doesn’t cater to them, as so many children’s programs – especially in rebooted form – fall into the trap of doing, by letting an underlying cynicism intrude," says Lucy Mangan. "Not all the segments work all the time but it doesn’t matter. There will be another one along in a minute and there are always enough jokes to keep you going. Muppets Now has the good, pure, funny heart of the Muppets Then and that is phenomenon enough."
        • Executive producer Bill Barretta says his team made sure Jim Henson's heart was infused in Muppets Now along with his sense of fun: “I think the atmosphere of play and that all ideas and suggestions are valuable and valid was something that Jim loved to do as well,” he says. “(Jim) was open to any good idea. So, I really wanted (this) to be a very collaborative experience between the writers and the directors and the performers and the Muppet studio folks who were coming in, just making it feel very collaborative. And so, when people feel like we're moving into a 'new era' now — whatever that means — and that this is a 'new way,' I just think if you stay true to who the characters are, then the characters grow themselves, as we do. They're always growing and changing, but there's a little path that we all walk along that we know when you go too far and when you don't.”
        • Muppets Now is an attempt to get back to basics after other recent efforts to reboot the characters fizzled out: “The thinking is to stop trying so hard to be like everybody else and just be the Muppets,” says Barretta. “Let’s celebrate the fact that they all have to deal with each other and just be silly and play and entertain again.”

        # TOPICS: Muppets Now, Disney+, The Muppets, The Muppet Show, Bill Barretta, Jim Henson's Muppets