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post #36121 of 36914 Old 05-22-2020, 08:51 AM - Thread Starter
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TV/Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - May 22, 2020

HOMECOMING
Amazon Prime Video, 3:00 a.m. ET
SEASON PREMIERE:
The first season of this Amazon series, about subliminal subterfuge and a conspiratorial deep state, had a huge box-office draw at its center in Julia Roberts. She’s gone for Season 2, and taking her place at the story’s center is Janelle Monáe. New co-stars include Chris Cooper.

PALEY FRONT ROW: “HBO’S WESTWORLD: A CONVERSATION WITH STARS AND CREATORS”
[email protected], 12:00 p.m. ET

Available on the Paley Center for Media’s YouTube channel and Facebook page, and its own website, the latest edition of Paley Front Row is streamed beginning at noon ET. It’s all about the third, just-concluded season of HBO’s Westworld, and features a panel discussing led by the show’s co-creators and a big component of that season’s prominent cast. Co-creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, who are married, are there, along with actors Evan Rachel Wood (pictured), Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Ed Harris, and Tessa Thompson.

THE SOUND OF MUSIC LIVE!
The Shows Must Go On!, 2:00 p.m. ET
SPECIAL:
In 2013, NBC jump-started the new generation of live televised theater productions with its revival production of The Sound of Music, starring Carrie Underwood as Maria and Stephen Moyer (from True Blood) as Captain Von Trapp. The Shows Must Go On, until now, have been devoted to the musicals of website backer Andrew Lloyd Webber, but for this new offering – available only through the weekend, starting at noon ET Friday – the menu has expanded. This perhaps most famous of all musicals features the music of Richard Rodgers and the lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein II. The original stage production was in 1959; this live TV production was produced by Craig Zadan and Neal Meron, and also features Audra McDonald, Laura Benanti, and Christian Borle. Like Zadan and Meron’s Bombshell benefit streaming special two days ago, this Sound of Music Live! repeat is a fundraiser for The Actors Fund. who were behind the NBC series Smash, which just gave birth to another streaming musical This This CBS News Special examines the pandemic crisis by staying in one place for one week, and embedding its journalists with critical care providers at a hospital hit with a sudden influx of patients showing signs of COVID-19. The hospital is New York City’s Montefiore Medical Center’s Moses Campus, which at the time CBS was there was overwhelmed with nearly 700 patients – 80 percent of whom were diagnosed with COVID-19. If you wonder what such an onslaught is like for the staffers and patients during such a horrific time, wonder no longer. It’s all here, along with the heartwarming, inspirational dedication, bravery and flat-out humanity.

THE LAST WALTZ
AXS TV, 7:00 p.m. ET

In 1978, Martin Scorsese directed this energetic and monumental record of the final concert by The Band, with a roster of guest stars that – well, just check out the list. Bob Dylan. Eric Clapton. Joni Mitchell. Van Morrison. Neil Young. Muddy Waters. Ringo Starr. Neil Diamond. Paul Butterfield. Ronnie Wood. Ronnie Hawkins. Emmylou Harris. Dr. John. The Staple Singers. Oh, yeah, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti…


http://www.tvworthwatching.com/
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post #36122 of 36914 Old 05-22-2020, 09:24 AM - Thread Starter
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TV Notes
On The Air
FRIDAY MAY 22nd, 2020 Network Primetime/Late Night Options
(All shows are in HD unless noted; start times are ET. Network late night shows are preceded by late local news)
From Zap2it.com's TV Grid

ABC:
8PM - The Disney Family Singalong: Volume II
(R)
9PM - 20/20: The Secret in Her Eyes (120 min.)
(R)
* * * *
11:35PM - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Fred Willard Tribute)
(R)
12:06AM - Nightline
12:36AM - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Adam Sandler)
(R)

CBS:
8PM - MacGyver
(R)
9PM - Magnum P.I.
(R)
10PM - Blue Bloods
(R)
* * * *
11:35PM - The Late Show With Stephen Colbert (Nathan Lane; chef José Andrés)
(R)
12:37AM - The Late Late Show With James Corden (Historian Yuval Noah Harari; singer Lewis Capaldi)
(R)

NBC:
8PM - Celebrity Escape Room
(R)
9PM - Dateline NBC: Mystery in Big Sky Country (120 min.)
(R)
* * * *
11:34PM - The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (At Home Edition: Jennifer Lopez; Henry Winkler; Twenty One Pilots perform)
12:37AM - Late Night With Seth Meyers (Colin Farrell; Matt Bomer; journalist Maria Bartiromo)
(R)
1:38AM - A Little Late With Lilly Singh (Comic Adam Conover; Deon Cole)
(R)

FOX:
8PM - WWE Friday Night SmackDown (120 min., LIVE)

THE CW:
8PM - Masters of Illusion
(R)
8:30PM - Masters of Illusion
(R)
9PM - Whose Line Is It Anyway?
(R)
9:30PM - Whose Line Is It Anyway?
(R)

PBS:
8PM - Washington Week
8:30PM - Firing Line With Margaret Hoover
9PM - American Masters: Sammy Davis, Jr. (120 min.)
(R)

UNIVISION:
8PM - Te Doy La Vida (120 min.)
10PM - Como Tú No Hay Dos

TELEMUNDO:
8PM - Cennet
9PM - 100 Días Para Enamorarnos
10PM - La Reina del Sur 2: Edicion Especial
* * * *
Midnight - Boxeo Telemundo (90 min.)
(R)

ESPN 2:
7PM - NBA2K League: Week 3 (4 hrs., LIVE)

DISCOVERY:
8PM - Bering Sea Gold (63 min.)
9:03PM - All on the Line (Series Premiere, 64 min.)
10:07PM - Gold Rush: The Dirt (59 min.)

LIFETIME MOVIE NETWORK:
8PM - Movie: Black Hearted Killer (2020)

VH1:
8PM - RuPaul's Drag Race (90 min.)

A&E:
9PM - Live PD (3 hrs.)

FX:
9PM - AKA Jane Roe (Documentary Premiere, 120 min.)

HBO:
10PM - Real Time With Bill Maher (LIVE: New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman; family physician and author Dr. Cate Shanahan; Academy Award-winning filmmaker and podcast host Michael Moore)
* * * *
11PM - Betty

WeTV:
10:12PM - Mama June: From Not to Hot - A Look Back (Special, 119 min.)

BBC AMERICA:
11PM - The Graham Norton Show (45 min: Will Ferrell; Miranda Hart; Mark Ruffalo; Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones; Billy Porter)

SUNDANCE:
Midnight - The Split: Episode 2 (82 min.)

TBS:
Midnight - ELEAGUE: Super Punch (60 min., LIVE)


https://tvlistings.zap2it.com/?aid=gapzap
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post #36123 of 36914 Old 05-22-2020, 09:27 AM
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TV/Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - May 22, 2020

THE LAST WALTZ
AXS TV, 7:00 p.m. ET

In 1978, Martin Scorsese directed this energetic and monumental record of the final concert by The Band, with a roster of guest stars that – well, just check out the list. Bob Dylan. Eric Clapton. Joni Mitchell. Van Morrison. Neil Young. Muddy Waters. Ringo Starr. Neil Diamond. Paul Butterfield. Ronnie Wood. Ronnie Hawkins. Emmylou Harris. Dr. John. The Staple Singers. Oh, yeah, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti…


http://www.tvworthwatching.com/
I have the BD of that concert, and every time I watch it, it's like watching it for the first time. It never gets old.
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post #36124 of 36914 Old 05-22-2020, 09:43 AM
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TV/Critic's Notes (Streaming)
A Wake for Tuca & Bertie, Which Should Not Have Been Canceled
By Jen Chaney, Vulture.com (New York Magazine) - Jul. 25, 2019

Yesterday Netflix announced it is canceling Tuca & Bertie after just one season. I am sure Netflix has its reasons. Presumably not enough subscribers watched that first season. Also, there are too many TV shows these days anyway. Some of them have to get canceled, right?

Yes, some of them do. Some of them should be. Just not Tuca & Bertie, not after only one season.
Spoiler!
Adult Swim picked up a season 2 for Tuca and Bertie!

https://twitter.com/adultswim/status...70645743636482
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post #36125 of 36914 Old 05-22-2020, 09:48 AM - Thread Starter
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^^^ Indeed.

TV/Production Notes (Cable)
'Tuca and Bertie': Canceled Netflix Comedy Revived for Season 2 at Adult Swim
By Lesley Goldberg, The Hollywood Reporter - May 22, 2020

Tuca and Bertie are back.

In the second deal of its kind, a linear network has revived a Netflix original series. In this case, WarnerMedia-backed Adult Swim has revived the animated comedy from creator Lisa Hanawalt for a second season nearly a year after the first was shockingly canceled by the streamer.

Adult Swim will bring the 10-episode second season of the series from Tornante Co. in 2021 with an option for additional seasons. Tuca and Bertie was canceled after one season at Netflix despite rave reviews for the show and a voice cast featuring breakout comedians Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong. Both, along with co-star Steven Yeun, will return for season two.

“I’ve been a fan of Adult Swim shows since my teens, so I’m thrilled to bring my beloved fowl to the party and be a new voice for a fresh decade of absurd, irreverent, yet heartwarming adult animation,” Hanawalt said. BoJack Horseman creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg, Noel Bright, Steven A. Cohen, Haddish, Wong and Hanawalt exec produce the series, with animation done by Shadowmachine.

Tuca and Bertie is the second Netflix original series to find a new home after cancellation. Scripted multicamera comedy One Day at a Time landed at Viacom-owned Pop following an extensive deal-making process with producers Sony TV and Netflix. Sources say Netflix was also involved in the deal for Tuca and Bertie and likely had to sign off on a new pact at a linear network.

Original programming created specifically for Netflix typically comes with limitations on where else the show might live in the event of a cancellation. As was the case with One Day at a Time, the show was unable to be sold to another streamer (i.e. a Netflix direct competitor) and landed at Pop with a first window before plans to move at some point in the future to CBS.

Hanawalt bemoaned the cancellation last summer on Twitter with a heartfelt thread that also took a jab at Netflix's penchant for axing originals based on cryptic data from an algorithm. (Netflix, like other streamers, does not release viewership data.) "Everyone is still glowing over the reviews and articles and feedback. T&B is critically acclaimed and has repeatedly been called one of the best new shows of the year," she wrote. "None of this makes a difference to an algorithm, but it’s important to me and the way I want to continue making art in this world."

The series debuted May 3, 2019, to strong reviews. The Hollywood Reporter's chief TV critic Daniel Fienberg called the series "a colorful, bold and joyful look at female (bird) friendship." Tuca and Bertie, which was canceled a mere two and a half months after its debut, currently has a 98 percent rating among critics and 66 percent rating among viewers on aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/li...t-swim-1295657
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post #36126 of 36914 Old 05-22-2020, 02:38 PM
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I have the BD of that concert, and every time I watch it, it's like watching it for the first time. It never gets old.
yes .. it's just so captivating .. and never seems to age .. and the BD is magnificent .. that great music always takes me back

Uncle Willie


Oddball: Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves? Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
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post #36127 of 36914 Old 05-23-2020, 04:12 AM - Thread Starter
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TV Notes (Cable)
What We Do in the Shadows Renewed for Season 3 at FX
By Matt Webb Mitovich, TVLine.com - May 22, 2020

FX’s What We Do in the Shadows has been renewed for a third season, and Bat! is very good news to hear.

Two-thirds of the way through its nine-episode sophomore run, What We Do in the Shadows is averaging 460,000 total viewers and nearly a 0.2 demo rating (in Live+Same Day numbers), which is right on par with the acclaimed comedy’s freshman season.

FX claims that across all linear and non-linear platforms, What We Do in the Shadows Season 2 thus far is averaging 3.2 million total viewers, which would mark a 25 percent increase over its first season.

“We’re incredibly happy that critics and audiences are all in on Shadows,” Nick Grad, President of Original Programming at FX Entertainment, said in a statement. “Week in and week out, the producers, writers and our amazing cast continue to make one of the funniest and best comedy series on TV.”

New episodes of What We Do in the Shadows air Wednesdays at 10/9c, and then stream the next day on FX on Hulu. The Season 2 finale is set to land on June 10.

https://tvline.com/2020/05/22/what-w...ewed-season-3/
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post #36128 of 36914 Old 05-23-2020, 04:16 AM - Thread Starter
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TV Sports/Q&A (Golf)
Turner Sports Upbeat About Live Golf Telecast Amid Pandemic
By R. Thomas Umstead, Multichannel News - May 22, 2020

Turner Sports this Sunday (May 24) will take viewers to the golf course for a live competition featuring Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson that is expected to raise $10 million to benefit COVID-19 relief.

Capital One’s The Match: Champions for Charity will feature Woods and Mickelson in a sequel to their November 2018 Turner Sports-distributed pay-per-view golf match, as well as iconic NFL quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. The event is Turner Sports’ first live sports telecast since the COVID-19 pandemic forced most live sports events to the sidelines.

Live coverage of the tournament airing on TNT, TBS, truTV and HLN will feature access with all players having open mics throughout the entire competition, including the capability to communicate directly with other golfers and the broadcast commentators, which will include former NBA star Charles Barkley.

Turner Sports chief content officer Craig Barry recently talked about the origins and production of the event.

How did this event come together in light of the pandemic?
It’s really been months of preparation and it’s touched every part of our organization. Despite the pandemic, and with everyone working remotely, we’ve all come together in support of the event and we’re excited to produce a fun, entertaining event this weekend. We have four of the most iconic athletes on the planet involved and it’s all for COVID-19 relief. We hope fans will be able to take a break and enjoy it.

How big is The Match for sports-starved fans in general and golf fans in particular?
From the response we’ve been seeing, there’s strong interest in this event from both hardcore and casual sports fans. Above all, we hope it will drive meaningful funding for COVID-19 relief, while also offering people a bit of distraction from everything else they are facing in this unprecedented moment in time.

How has advertisers responded to The Match?
We were seeing a very strong marketplace before the pandemic, so it’s not a surprise that this event has generated an overwhelming response from our advertising partners. Capital One, as the title sponsor, and all of our marketing partners have enthusiastically supported both the event and its mission to drive funding for COVID-19 relief. We’re proud that we’ve been able to bring together these partners and hopefully deliver some moments that bring levity to viewers, all while maximizing how much funding we can raise in those relief efforts.

What production adjustments has Turner Sports made to televise the event due to the pandemic?
As you can imagine, our event footprint is significantly reduced to only include those individuals that are essential to the production. Most of those personnel have been hired locally for this event. That said, we’re confident in producing a high quality, entertaining show for our viewers.

What are your viewership expectations for The Match?
The key number we’re focused on for this event is the amount of funding for COVID-19 relief. That’s at the center of everything we’re doing. We don’t project viewership numbers, but we have four of the best athletes in the world on display and we think it is going to be a lot of fun for us and our fans.

Is Turner Sports developing on any other live sports events to televise in the near future?
We’re constantly seeking innovative ways to deliver premium sports content for our fans across all platforms, with this event being the latest example of that commitment. We’re very engaged with all of our partners and we’re going to keep exploring opportunities to provide content that truly resonates with fans.

https://www.multichannel.com/blog/tu...-amid-pandemic
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post #36129 of 36914 Old 05-23-2020, 04:22 AM - Thread Starter
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TV Review (Cable)
'Barkskins' (NatGeo)
By Inkoo Kang, The Hollywood Reporter - May 22, 2020

Two sets of newcomers alight upon the New France settlement of Wobik at the start of Nat Geo's colonial-era drama Barkskins. "Here, you can be whoever you want," promises Rene Sel (Christian Cooke), a young-ish man who has signed up for three years of indentured servitude and what he hopes will be a wide-open future thereafter. Sel's optimism falls on deaf ears. His slightly younger, much more sullen compatriot, Charles Duquet (James Bloor), shrinks at the very thought of arduous work.

Disembarking around the same time are two young women with a similar mismatch in expectations. Striving Melissande (Tallulah Haddon) and anxious Delphine (Lily Sullivan) temporarily move into a convent before they're to find husbands in the colony. Since the men greatly outnumber the women, wives are a much-desired resource, though their scarcity doesn't guarantee them respect or kindness from their husbands. Melissande and Delphine, too, desire the kinds of prospects unthinkable to them in their hometowns. Material comforts are important, but a chance to escape scandal and ill repute perhaps even more so.

Watching these four settlers find their unexpected destinies in the New World is one of the few pleasures of Barkskins. Adapted from Annie Proulx's ecologically minded novel, which follows the descendants of Sel and Duquet for 300 years, the 10-part limited series, set only in the late 1690s, is crowded with scheming characters but thin on reasons to care about them. And the show's Game of Thrones-esque indifference to differentiating its menacing beardos doesn't help.

I've thus far spared you yet another pair of new arrivals, investigative partners Hamish Goames (Aneurin Barnard) and Yvon (Zahn McClarnon) from the nearby English settlement, who are in search of a missing colleague. Also making an appearance in town is local land baron Claude Trepagny (David Thewlis), whose confidence in New France's prosperous future is extreme even for his fellow colonists. Amid the many conniving men is the brutally pragmatic innkeeper Mathilde Geffard (Marcia Gay Harden), who takes in a silent little girl (Lola Reid) found to be the sole survivor of an ostensible Native attack on her homesteading family.

That latter storyline was also featured in HBO's Deadwood, and the comparison is an unfavorable one to the narratively unfocused, terminally humorless Barkskins. If Deadwood brought unusual intellectual heft and David Milch's high-low poetry to the Western genre, Barkskins initially distinguishes itself as a kind of Western without prostitutes or guns — until an ahistorical shoot-'em-up scene necessitates improbably fast-loading 17th-century muskets.

The relatively novel setting of French-colonial Canada makes it ripe for definition, but creator Elwood Reid (with Proulx as an executive producer) seems more interested in recounting the many threats to Wobik than in identifying the French colony's differences from (or similarities to) their more familiar English counterparts.

Alliance, betrayal, alliance, betrayal — so go the well-paced but soap-operatic rhythms of Barkskins. Since we know little about each character's past, the transformations they undergo in the New World resonates little. The production is further hobbled by most of the cast speaking in all manner of French (or French-ish-esque) accents, which can make the dialogue sometimes difficult to understand. With executive producer David Slade serving as the pilot director, the series occasionally achieves a painterly beauty in its shots of nature, but modern details, like the blindingly white shirt Harden wears in one scene, also poke periodically through the screen.

Barkskins takes its name from the woodcutters — many of them indentured servants — who cleared the forests to build New France. But the series' most compelling plights may well belong to its female characters, including a hard-nosed nun (Leni Parker) and Trepagny's half-Native common-law wife, Mari (Kaniehtiio Horn), who bears the would-be empire-builder a son. One by one, the women of Barkskins discover, at least in the first seven episodes, that their destinies lie outside traditional domesticity and family life, and that at least one of them possesses a hunger for revenge that won't be denied. But too much of their distinctness is lost in this thicket of blah.

'Barkskins'
Premieres Monday, May 25, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on National Geographic
The Bottom Line: An ambitious but too-sprawling series.


https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/re...review-1295604
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post #36130 of 36914 Old 05-23-2020, 04:29 AM - Thread Starter
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TV Sports (Hockey)
NHL agrees on 24-team playoff for coronavirus return, issues remain
By Larry Brooks, New York Post - May 23, 2020

Approving a format for the NHL’s contemplated return to the ice this summer should have been relatively easy and the least of the league’s and NHLPA’s problems.

It wasn’t easy at all, but it is done.

More difficult, complex issues lay ahead, and there may be details still to be hammered out, such as bracketing versus reseeding, but the players association’s executive board comprised of 31 team player reps did authorize the union to move forward and negotiate outstanding issues with the understanding that the league would reopen with an expanded 24-team tournament if the parties are able to surmount massive obstacles to stage a summer comeback following the March 12 pause because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It remains to be seen whether outstanding matters involving health and safety protocols; quasi-quarantine for perhaps up to 10 weeks within a hub city and separation from family; rules of engagement on the ice, and financial considerations including the players’ escrow obligations will be as difficult to navigate as this one that proved difficult. And these would seem to be the most pertinent issues.

“The Executive Board of the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) has authorized further negotiations with the NHL on a 24-team return to play format to determine the winner of the 2020 Stanley Cup,” read a statement issued by the union on Friday night. “Several details remain to be negotiated and an agreement on the format would still be subject to the parties reaching agreement on all issues relevant to resuming play.”

The NHLPA held a conference call Thursday night ahead of a vote to accept or reject the NHL’s proposed return-to-play format featuring a 24-team tournament in which the clubs with the top four records in each conference would receive byes into the first round while the teams seeded fifth through 12th would meet in a best-of-five play-in series. The teams with the NHL’s seven worst records would not reconvene.

The Post has been told by several parties familiar with the call that a significant faction of players believe the format does not sufficiently reward clubs for their success before the NHL season was put on pause. These players — or proxies — spoke their piece.

The Penguins, for instance, were in third place in the Metro Division, three points behind the Flyers and four points behind the Capitals, all three with 13 games remaining. Pittsburgh was six points clear of a playoff spot. That has become all but irrelevant. Under this format, the Penguins would play a best-of-five against the Canadiens, 12th in the East and 23rd overall, for the right to advance to the first round. The Habs were 10 points out of a playoff berth when the season stopped and at a games-played disadvantage.

Still, the motion passed overwhelmingly.

Under this scenario, the 11th-seed Rangers would meet sixth-seed Carolina while the seventh-seed Islanders would face 10th-seeded Florida in the play-in round.

There is no timetable attached to a contemplated 2019-20 restart, though the consensus is that training camps likely wouldn’t open until late June or early July.

In addition to the outstanding issues that must be brokered between the league and the union, there are immigration, visa matters and travel restrictions that must be resolved by government agencies before the NHL can plot its return to the ice.

https://nypost.com/2020/05/23/nhl-ag...avirus-return/
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post #36131 of 36914 Old 05-23-2020, 04:34 AM - Thread Starter
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TV/Business Notes (Cable)
Starz OTT Customers Up 23% to 10.6M in Last Quarter
By Mike Farrell, Broadcasting & Cable - May 22, 2020

Premium service Starz said global subscribers to its over-the-top streaming services rose 23% to 10.6 million in the fiscal fourth quarter, the first since the premium service lost linear carriage with the largest pay TV distributor in the country, Comcast.

Domestic linear subscribers to the Starz service fell 6% to about 12.1 million in the period, mainly due to the transition of its carriage deal with Comcast to a primarily over-the-top service. In February, Comcast said it would no longer carry the linear Starz channels, giving consumers the opportunity to buy the premium service directly through the Starz app, or bundled with its broadband-only service Flex. Starz said that about 6.2 million Comcast subscribers churned off the service as a result of that transition, but that it recaptured about 1 million of those customers in the first six weeks.

Domestically, Starz said it had 6.8 million paid OTT customers, which includes the Starz app (with 2 million customers) as well as online subscribers via Amazon Prime Video Channels and other services, up 21% from 5.6 million in the prior quarter. Starz said it expects global OTT customers to rise to between 13 million and 15 million in fiscal 2021.

Despite the gain in OTT customers, Starz Network revenue fell 5% to $337.7 million in the period and segment profit was down 38% to $67.3 million.

For the quarter, Starz parent Lionsgate Entertainment saw revenue rise 3% to $944 million and adjusted OIBDA increase 22% to $126 million.

“The transition to a la carte and OTT is an important one for Starz in terms of terminal value, but we think investors will remain a bit squeamish that another fixed-to-a la carte [transition] could come," Wells Fargo Securities media analyst Steven Cahall said in a research note. "This rocky period is the key reason we’re not more bullish."

https://www.nexttv.com/news/starz-ot...n-last-quarter
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post #36132 of 36914 Old 05-23-2020, 04:38 AM - Thread Starter
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Nielsen Overnights (Broadcast)
ABC’s Game Show Trio Tops Thursday Ratings; ‘Labor Of Love’ Kicks Off Run
By Patrick Hipes, Deadline.com - May 22, 2020

ABC’s game show trio of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and the season premieres of Holey Moley and To Tell the Truth led Thursday’s primetime, which included NBC’s Red Nose Day lineup and the series premiere of Fox’s reality matchmaking series Labor of Love.

Millionaire, which drew a 0.8 rating in the adults 18-49 demographic and dipped a tenth from last week, tied with the Season 2 premiere of Holey Moley (0.8, 4.44M) and NBC’s special Celebrity Escape Room (0.8, 3.80M) for the night’s top honors in the demo. To Tell the Truth (0.7, 3.77M) followed as it returned for its fifth cycle. ABC won the night overall in both metrics.

NBC’s two-hour Red Nose Day benefit (0.4, 1.94M) was even with last year’s two-hour telecast but dipped in viewers.

On Fox came the soft series premiere of Labor of Love (0.2, 910,000), the eight-part series hosted by Kristen Davis in which 15 men will compete to win the heart of Kristy Katzmann, who is looking to start a family ASAP. Its lead-in was Celebrity Watch Party (0.3, 1.41M), steady with last week in the demo but down in viewers.

Also premiering last night was the Season 3 bow of the CW’s Burden of Proof (0.1, 620K). It was followed by a fresh In the Dark (0.1, 540K).

CBS scattered repeats amid fresh episodes of ending series Man With a Plan (0.6, 5.35M), and Broke (0.5, 4.32M), both off a tenth from a week ago.

https://deadline.com/2020/05/holey-m...ay-1202941601/
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post #36133 of 36914 Old 05-23-2020, 04:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Technology/Media Notes (Analysis)
The Podcasting World Is Now Spotify Versus Everybody Else
By Ashley Carman, TheVerge.com - May 21, 2020

In what’s likely the biggest deal ever for a single podcast, Spotify announced this week that Joe Rogan’s enormously successful show, The Joe Rogan Experience, will become a Spotify-exclusive. Combined with a blockbuster spree of other podcast acquisitions over the last year and a half, the company is now set up to become the biggest name in podcasting — and to possibly control podcasting in an unprecedented way.

There’s never been a single podcasting company that sells ads, makes shows, has an already-popular podcast player, and offers the tools to make new series. Spotify now has all of that, and the Rogan deal means it also offers a hit show that guarantees millions of people will regularly use its platform for podcast listening.

The deal also, however, might foreshadow a future for the broader podcasting industry in which two sects develop: one that values privacy and an open ecosystem and another that’s closed-off and built around locked-down shows and targeted ads, like Spotify.

Marco Arment

@marcoa rment
**** Spotify, and **** any “podcast” that’s only playable in one app.
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Spotify made its podcasting ambitions known last year with three key acquisitions. It bought two podcast networks — Gimlet Media (known for Reply All) and Parcast (a true-crime and mystery network) — plus a company called Anchor that offers easy-to-use podcast creation tools. All together, Spotify reportedly spent around $400 million for the three companies combined.

This year, Spotify continued to spend big on talent acquisitions. In February, Spotify acquired The Ringer and Bill Simmons’ flagship show, reportedly for around $196 million. And now there’s Rogan’s deal, which could reportedly cost Spotify more than $100 million. The team spent a lot of money all in an effort to lock down some of the industry’s top content and commit their series — and ads — to Spotify.

Spotify sees a massive business opportunity around podcasts. For one, no single competitor can take the company on by itself. Apple, the biggest name in podcasting up until now, has mostly left Apple Podcasts alone, letting listeners freely come and go and allowing creators to upload their RSS feeds, without Apple trying to take a stake in them. Apple doesn’t make shows right now, and it also doesn’t sell ads, which would go against its privacy-oriented position anyway. Spotify can own this space. Even if Apple wanted to compete, it now would have to find other big shows to acquire, and Spotify has a huge head start.

Even more importantly, though, these podcasts cost Spotify a lot of money up front but could pay off in the future. Whenever someone streams a song on its platform, it has to pay the record label for that listen. But with podcasts, the company doesn’t have to pay a third party. With exclusive deals and its own programming, it’s actually making money off each listen because of the ads it places. Even premium users hear ads in Spotify podcasts, so Spotify double-dips with revenue in those cases.

Podcasts could be lucrative, which is why even though it spent hundreds of millions of dollars on acquiring talent and tools for its platform, it’ll likely recoup that money. Midroll, another podcast ad network, says advertisers can pay anywhere from $18 to $50 per 1,000 listeners that a show reaches. Joe Rogan says his show reaches 190 million downloads per month, meaning he could, on the low end, bring in $3 million in ads per month. Forbes says Rogan made $30 million last year.

Rogan’s show will still be free to listen to on Spotify; people won’t need to pay for Spotify Premium to hear or watch it, although they will pay with their data, which helps Spotify sell more lucrative ads. Spotify will jointly sell the ads for Rogan’s show, so free users will hear those ads, plus any additional ads that run in the course of using Spotify’s platform. Spotify doesn’t need everyone to subscribe because it makes money off them either way.

Big names, like Rogan, might bring people to Spotify, but it’s a large show library that keeps them there. That’s also been part of Spotify’s strategy: offering podcast creation tools so more shows are made, and they pad its catalog. Spotify says it now lists more than a million podcasts, and during the first quarter of 2020, 70 percent of shows were created with Anchor.

On top of all these acquisitions and deals, Spotify has also created new tech for generating playlists and inserting ads. It algorithmically generates podcast playlists and has launched its own advertising tool called Streaming Ad Insertion that lets targeted ads be placed into shows as people stream them, which, again, relies on that critical user data. It launched video podcasts in-app, which might sway some of YouTube’s popular podcasters over to its platform — if not exclusively, at least to cross-publish, to further round out Spotify’s offerings.

All of these moves allow Spotify to control the entire podcasting process from start to finish. Podcasters can make shows with Spotify tools and publish easily to Spotify’s platform. Spotify could eventually sell ads for those shows, and listeners who might already give the company money in the form of a subscription also offer up their data, which informs Spotify’s ad-targeting and purchase decisions.

It’s also setting itself up to become a podcast tastemaker with curators around the world organizing recommendation playlists; this could help it promote its own shows to its millions of users. For the vast majority of shows that aren’t as big as Rogan’s, Spotify offers a dashboard to view their analytics and learn more about their audience’s demographics, which helps them sell their own ads. Creators might be incentivized to encourage their listeners to consume on Spotify because they’ll learn more about their audience.

No other company is operating at this scale and with innovation this quick in the space. Apple has the platform and is the default player for iOS products, but it hasn’t acquired shows or sold ads. NPR makes incredible shows, but it doesn’t have a massively popular player. After only a year and a half of effort on Spotify’s part, the industry now has to contend with its most threatening competitor yet.

This all leads to the bigger question of how all of Spotify’s decisions will affect the broader podcasting industry. Spotify’s complete control over data and its push for ad targeting might lead to a world in which podcast ads more closely resemble web ads in that they’re targeted to individual listeners. That might be okay with some people, but others have already expressed concerns over the privacy implications. Listening data for podcasts is more sensitive than music, for example, because people listen to niche shows about potentially telling topics. Plus, people might end up having to use multiple apps to hear their favorite shows, and one of those, by necessity, might be Spotify.

Just as we’ve seen people on the broader web make decisions about where they browse or what email or messaging service they use based on their privacy, the same thing might happen with podcasting. Podcasting was once equal across all platforms, but it now seems like there will be two podcast worlds: Spotify versus everybody else.

https://www.theverge.com/21265005/sp...t-media-ringer
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post #36134 of 36914 Old 05-23-2020, 04:45 AM - Thread Starter
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TV/Health Notes
The Most Popular Show in Every State During Coronavirus Pandemic
By J. Kim Murphy, Variety.com - May 22, 2020

Shelter-in-place and social-distancing regulations have been keeping many Americans home in the past few months as the coronavirus pandemic continues to loom over the nation. Households have turned to streaming television shows to pass the time, re-watching familiar favorites for comfort and discovering newer series.

CableTV.com recently conducted a survey to discover the most popular television series in each of the 50 states and Washington D.C. Gathering data from nearly 7,000 viewers, the results show some states seek local representation, while others are playing the hits.

Far and away, “Friends” is the top show in the country. The NBC sitcom was named the most popular series in 11 states, including seven of the 10 most populated ones: California, Texas, Florida, New York, North Carolina, Georgia and Ohio, where it tied with “NCIS.”

[CLICK LINK AT BOTTOM TO SEE GRAPH OF EVERY STATE IN UNION]

“Rick and Morty” came in second place, named the top series in four states: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado and Nevada. Considering the popularity of shows that have either been on the air for an extended period of time or have ended their runs, Adult Swim’s animated series scoring the runner-up slot comes as a bit of a surprise. The show is currently airing new episodes of its fourth season.

Another notable phenomena involves some states watching series set in local areas. The Albuquerque-set “Breaking Bad” tied for most popular in New Mexico, alongside “Rick and Morty.” Missouri has taken to “Ozark,” as the Netflix series tied with “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” Illinois has a clear number one, with the NBC mainstay “Chicago P.D.” being the most-watched show. As for the crime procedural’s superlative popularity in Pennsylvania, that remains a more intriguing mystery.

https://variety.com/2020/tv/news/mos...us-1234614559/
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post #36135 of 36914 Old 05-23-2020, 04:52 AM - Thread Starter
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TV/Critic's Notes
'Mythic Quest: Quarantine' is a Lesson in How to Produce Social-Distancing TV
By Mike Hughes, TVWorthWatching.com's 'Open Mike' - May 22, 2020

The art of social-distancing television has advanced quickly.

It’s been like watching evolution at hyper-speed. In just two months, the lowly water slug has transformed into a mighty cheetah. OK, maybe just into a less-lowly land slug. But it’s been impressive, anyway.

The latest example – and the best so far – is a special episode of Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, called Mythic Quest: Quarantine, arriving today, Friday, May 22, on Apple TV+. It’s often witty, briefly warm, and ends with a dandy visual stunt.

The evolution of at-home music came first. We quickly saw it go from primitive – Sam Smith merely staring into a phone – to elaborate, cutting between people in different homes and different continents.

But a scripted show done from separate homes? That’s been more difficult.

The first at-home Saturday Night Live was interesting but had way too many flailing attempts at one-person humor. The second (scheduled to rerun at 11:29 p.m. ET, May 23 on NBC) was a big improvement. It had better one-person bits – Brad Pitt as Dr. Anthony Fauci, Kate McKinnon training her cats – plus some well-developed sketches. The third (the season-finale) was another improvement. But those just involved small sketches. What about a full, scripted show?

All Rise came first, partly succeeding. The personal parts worked well; the actual court case and its preparation were lame.

A Parks and Recreation special followed, doing much better. It had the sort of humor – true to each character -- that the show thrived on.

And now Mythic Quest takes it further.

The series involves a videogame company, and we meet everyone after a long at-home stretch.

Poppy (Charlotte Nicdao) is too hyper, Ian (Rob McElhenney, top, who wrote the episode) is too mellow, and C.W. (F. Murray Abraham), the token old guy, is still trying to figure out all this tech stuff.

David (David Hornsby) is just trying to juggle fragile egos long enough to have a conference call.

Interestingly, we see some surprising layers to Poppy and Ian. We get that brief bit of warmth and then the sight gag. It makes us feel better about the characters, and about the wobbly new art of social-distancing TV.

http://www.tvworthwatching.com/BlogP...x?postId=20092
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post #36136 of 36914 Old 05-23-2020, 04:56 AM - Thread Starter
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TV/Production Notes (Streaming)
David E. Kelley and Netflix developing Anatomy of a Scandal TV adaptation
By Marcus Jones, EW.com - May 21, 2020

Prolific TV writer/producer David E. Kelley has announced his first project for Netflix.

The Big Little Lies Emmy winner is helping adapt the bestselling novel Anatomy of a Scandal into a TV show. Joining him on the project are two Netflix show veterans, co-creator Melissa James Gibson (House of Cards) and director S.J. Clarkson (Jessica Jones).

Written by author Sarah Vaughan, the 2017 novel tells a story of an aristocratic British women who's life is turned upside down after her husband admits an indiscretion to her, and then is accused of a terrible crime involving sexual consent.

While this is Kelley's first show for Netflix, he is no stranger to the world of streaming. The former king of network legal dramas's first shift to streaming was Amazon's Goliath, and now he has shows in development for Hulu and Disney+ as well. Clarkson, who is directing all the episodes of Anatomy of a Scandal, is also producing and directing another upcoming series adaptation of a novel, Made For Love on HBO Max.

No cast has been announced yet for the six episode Anatomy of a Scandal adaptation.

https://ew.com/tv/david-e-kelley-net...tv-adaptation/
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post #36137 of 36914 Old 05-23-2020, 05:11 AM - Thread Starter
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TV Notes
On The Air
SATURDAY MAY 23, 2020 Network Primetime/Late Night Options
(All shows are in HD unless noted; start times are ET. Network late night shows are preceded by late local news)
From Zap2it.com's TV Grid

ABC:
8PM - The Last Dance: Episode 1
(R)
9PM - The Last Dance: Episode 2 (62 min.)
(R)
10:02PM - The Rookie (58 min.)
(R)

CBS:
8PM - MacGyver
(R)
9PM - Magnum P.I.
(R)
10PM - 48 Hours: The Case Against Brooke Skylar Richardson
(R)

NBC:
8PM - Movie: The Secret Life of Pets (2016)
10PM - Saturday Night Live: Fred Willard hosts; Devo performs
(R - Oct. 14, 1978)
* * * *
11:29PM - Saturday Night Live: Kristen Wiig hosts; Boyz II Men, featuring Babyface, performs (94 min.)
(R)

FOX:
8PM - Flirty Dancing: Episode 1
(R)
9PM - Labor of Love: Episode 1
(R)
* * * *
11PM - Beat Shazam
(R)

PBS:
8PM - Austin City Limits: Khalid and Mac DeMarco perform
(R)

UNIVISION:
7PM - Pequeños Gigantes (2.5 hrs.)
9:30PM - Vecinos
10PM - Vecinos
(R)
10:30PM - Vecinos
(R)

TELEMUNDO:
7PM - Movie - Kickboxer III: The Art of War (1992)
8:30PM - Movie: The Hitman's Bodyguard (2017)

LIFETIME MOVIE NETWORK:
8PM - Movie: Killer Prom (2020)

NICKELODEON:
8PM - The Loud House
8:30PM - Group Chat With Annie and Jayden (Series Premiere)
9PM - All That

A&E:
9PM - Live PD (3 hrs., LIVE)

OWN:
9PM - Fear Not With Iyanla Vanzant
10PM - Girlfriends Check In

MSNBC:
10PM - UNICEF: We Won't Stop (Special, 60 min.)

TLC:
11PM - sMothered (60 min.)

ADULT SWIM:
Midnight - My Hero Academia
(R)
12:30AM - Paranoia Angel
(R)
1AM - Mob Psycho 101
(R)
1:30AM - Black Clover
2AM - JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind
2:30AM - Naruto: Shippuden


https://tvlistings.zap2it.com/?aid=gapzap
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post #36138 of 36914 Old 05-23-2020, 07:06 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Sports/Health Notes (Basketball)
NBA in talks to resume play at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
By Ramona Shelburne, ESPN.com - May 23, 2020

The NBA has entered into exploratory conversations with the Walt Disney Company about restarting the remainder of its season at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, in late July, NBA spokesperson Mike Bass said Saturday.

"The NBA, in conjunction with the National Basketball Players Association, is engaged in exploratory conversations with The Walt Disney Company about restarting the 2019-20 NBA season in late July at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida as a single site for an NBA campus for games, practices and housing," Bass said. "Our priority continues to be the health and safety of all involved, and we are working with public health experts and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medical protocols and protections are in place."

The NBA suspended its season indefinitely on March 11, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

It remains unclear whether the NBA will play the remainder of its regular season or proceed directly to the playoffs. But the 220-acre ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, with its three arenas and ample hotel accommodations, would allow the league to restart play while limiting outside exposures.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Friday that the NBA has a board of governors call set for next Friday, which is expected to provide additional details for teams on a timetable and plan to proceed with the season. Teams are expecting the league to instruct them to start recalling players to their team's markets around June 1.

The NBA is discussing a step-by-step plan for a resumption of the 2019-2020 season that includes an initial two-week recall of players into team marketplaces for a period of quarantine, one to two weeks of individual workouts at team facilities and a two-to-three-week formal training camp, Wojnarowski reported. Barring an unforeseen turn of events, many NBA owners, executives and NBPA elders believe commissioner Adam Silver will greenlight the return to play in June -- with games expected to resume sometime before the end of July, sources said.

https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/...sports-complex
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post #36139 of 36914 Old 05-23-2020, 07:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Nielsen Overnights (Broadcast)
Friday Ratings: WWE Friday Night SmackDown Wins The Demo Wars For Fox
By Bruce Haring, Deadline.com - May 23, 2020

On a rerun heavy night, Fox’s WWE Friday Night SmackDown raised its arms in victory, scoring an 0.6 to outpace its somewhat lackluster competition and allow Fox to cop the overall network bragging rights.

The SmackDown featured the return of AJ Styles to the Blue Brand, and Styles won his first-round match against Shinsuke Nakamura to advance in the Intercontinental Championship tournament.

The only other non-rerun programming was a new Masters of Illusion on The CW, which came in at an 0.1 in the 8 PM slot.

A rerun of crime drama Blue Bloods on CBS had the night’s largest total audience, while an encore of NBC’s Dateline was the runner-up in demos at 0.5 for adults 18-49, shooting up to an 0.7 in adults 25-54.

https://deadline.com/2020/05/friday-...os-1202942344/
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post #36140 of 36914 Old 05-24-2020, 06:08 AM
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TOP 10 shows for 2019-20 tv season:

1 SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL NBC 6.0
2 THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL FOX 4.5
3 MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL ESPN 4.1
3 SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL PREKICK NBC 4.1
5 THE OT FOX 3.6
6 THE MASKED SINGER FOX 3.2
7 FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA NBC 2.9
7 THIS IS US NBC 2.9
9 THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL PREKICK FOX 2.4
9 THE BACHELOR ABC 2.4

NFL is the entire top 5 & 7 of the top 10.
SNF is #1 for the 10th yr in a row extending its own tv history record.
This is why theres TNF - like the nets are just gonna blow off #2 & #9 shows.
The walking dead which yrs ago had been near the top is now down to 1.9.

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post #36141 of 36914 Old 05-24-2020, 06:42 AM - Thread Starter
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TV Review (Streaming)
‘Central Park’ on Apple TV Plus
By Caroline Framke, Variety.com - May 23, 2020

Ten minutes into “Central Park” comes the kind of true-blue Broadway group number that brings every character and chord crashing together in a burst of overt ambitions and desires. There’s Owen (Leslie Odom Jr), the quietly competent manager of New York City’s Central Park, determined to make people care about the land’s natural quirks as much as he does. There’s his plucky reporter wife Paige (Kathryn Hahn), determined to chase down a harder news story than her bored editor usually assigns. There’s their daydreaming daughter Molly (Kristen Bell) and son Cole (Tituss Burgess), determined to love and be loved. There’s Bitsy (Stanley Tucci), a malevolent heiress determined to destroy the park, and her long-suffering maid Helen (Daveed Diggs), determined to stick it out until Bitsy finally croaks and leaves her a fortune.

The resulting song interweaves all their storylines and inner monologues with the eager gusto of a kid hopscotching down the sidewalk: sometimes landing outside the lines, but more often just having (and being!) too much fun to care. If you’re at all inclined towards musicals, there’s just no resisting that kind of unbridled enthusiasm, no matter how clichéd or saccharine. When it comes to musicals, naked sincerity is usually half the point — a fact that “Central Park” leans on, hard.

From creators Loren Bouchard, Nora Smith, and Josh Gad, “Central Park” takes the heartwarming pulse of “Bob’s Burgers” and cranks it up to eleven. The musical interludes are frequent and wildly catchy, usually catered to their singers’ strengths. Odom Jr., for example, gets soaring choruses and talky verses that recall his run as Aaron Burr in the original “Hamilton” cast, while Cole’s preteen melodrama lets Burgess belt with his signature flair. On the other end of the spectrum is Hahn’s wonderfully screwball approach to Paige and Tucci’s Bitsy, a perfectly maniacal adversary who doesn’t exactly get to sing so much as smirk through scheming songs while constantly twirling her (metaphorical) mustache.

The one confusing piece of casting, unfortunately, is Bell’s Molly. Bell’s more than capable of voicing an awkward teenager, but Molly’s a biracial teen who spends most of her time drawing herself into a superhero comic in which her afro puffs have powers. Hearing Bell’s voice come out of that character is genuinely jarring, and disappointing, besides. Bell is good, but there are plenty of wonderful black actresses who can sing; why deprive them of the chance to play this character from a more grounded place?

That exception is especially frustrating because, generally speaking, Molly and her family make for some of the show’s best moments, even as the series volleys between the park and the powerful rich people trying to destroy it for their own interests. Even as the show is still honing its particular version of New York City four episodes in, its characters are generally sharp and funny enough to keep it zipping along in the meantime. If it can get a better grip on its setting and give the family comedy at its heart more room amongst everything else, “Central Park” could bloom into something special.

“Central Park” premieres Friday, May 29 on Apple TV Plus.

https://variety.com/2020/tv/reviews/...rs-1234610335/
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post #36142 of 36914 Old 05-24-2020, 06:46 AM - Thread Starter
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TV Notes (Streaming)
Elite Renewed for Season 4 at Netflix — Which Cast Members May Not Be Back?
By Rebecca Iannucci, TVLine.com - May 22, 2020

Netflix is officially re-enrolling at Las Encinas: The streamer has renewed its Spanish-language teen drama Elite for Season 4.

Six cast members confirmed the renewal in a Twitter video, which was filmed remotely from each of the stars’ homes. “I wish I could see your faces when you watch it, because you’re going to flip out,” Georgina Amorós, who plays Cayetana, tells fans of the fourth season. “There are many new things going on you could never think of.”

Set at Las Encinas, an upper-class secondary school, Elite follows the relationships between three working-class scholarship students and their wealthy classmates. As seen in the Season 3 finale, several students — Carla, Lu, Nadia and Valerio — have left Las Encinas behind and are embarking on a new life. (Polo, of course, wasn’t so lucky and was accidentally killed by Lu.) Meanwhile, Omar joined his boyfriend Ander, plus Samuel, Guzman and Rebeca, as a student at Las Encinas, while Cayetana became the school’s new janitor.

The below “goodbye” video heavily implies the departures of cast members Ester Expósito, Danna Paola, Mina El Hammani and Jorge López. A rep for Netflix did not have further comment.

There is currently no timetable for the premiere of Elite‘s fourth season, given the ongoing quarantine caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

https://tvline.com/2020/05/22/elite-...son-4-netflix/
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post #36143 of 36914 Old 05-24-2020, 06:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Technology/Critic's Notes (Gaming)
Quarantine is creating brand-new gamers
By Luke Winkie, Polygon.com - May 24, 2020

A coronavirus diagnosis can keep you inside for a long time, so when Kevin Learst’s mother tested positive in March, he needed to get creative to comfort her during her recovery. He dropped off a Switch and a copy of Animal Crossing: New Horizons at her Michigan home, and beamed to her live over FaceTime to get her up to speed on the horticulture, paleontology, and entomology basics that define Nintendo’s interpretation of anthropomorphic island life. The quarantine and self-isolation periods of a Covid-19 resolution can take as long as a month. What better time to become a gamer?

“I figured it would be challenging teaching her how to play. Especially since we weren’t physically in the room with each other and she’s never been the best at playing video games,” says Learst. “So it was a lot of telling her what buttons to hit. Now a few weeks later I wake up every day and see that she’s already online and is doing really well. She’s figured it all out and even tries to teach me new things about the game.”

Dawn Learst, Kevin’s mother, tells me that the last time she seriously played a video game was the first Legend of Zelda in the late ‘80s. Her Animal Crossing experience was a sudden jump into the dictums and languages of the modern industry, skipping over the previous three decades of trends, ideas, and contextual information.

For the record, Dawn has the same complaints we all do with New Horizons. “It seems like I travel to the same islands over and over, and don’t acquire things I can’t get on my island,” she says. “Also if I throw fish bait I would hope to get something more than a bass.” (That being said, Dawn has caught more turtles than Kevin. It’s a point of pride for her.) But after she decoded all of Animal Crossing’s furtive nuances, Dawn discovered an open secret that’s long been shared among gamers for generations: when the outside world closes its doors, communion with loved ones is only a Dodo ticket away.

“Recovery from Covid-19 was lonely. Playing the game with Kevin and his girlfriend helped me feel connected to my family,” says Dawn. “We have shared a lot of laughs these past few weeks and it has been the closest I’ve felt to my son in a long time.”

It is easy to lose one’s sense of self during a pandemic. These past several weeks of quarantine are marked with moments of mania and disassociation; we’ve all attempted to stay sane by sharpening old hobbies, or discovering new ones. My Instagram feed is now full of amateur bakers kneading their sourdough into obedience. Dormant Goodreads accounts have sprung back to life, as the New Year’s Resolutions we established in January seem more tenable. Freshly dyed pink hair is laying siege to out-of-date Twitter avis all over the country; what’s the worst that could happen? It’s not like we’re going to a bar anytime soon. There is nothing to do, which has opened up a whole universe of things we’ve always meant to do.

And so, the world’s game-curious people have finally found their Eden. Gamer culture has traditionally been calcified in an exclusionary icky attitude, one that has turned off a countless number of potential customers due to a toxic milieu of elitism, sexism, and oily nerd rage. Already though, those gatekeeping forces were atrophying away in the past few years. The Switch, in particular, has attracted more women and a wider age range of customers than its console contemporaries. Coronavirus has only kicked that trend into high gear; Switches are increasingly difficult to find in the wild as a new demographic of lockdown gamers assert themselves in the community.

Take 27-year old Sam Reed, who has quested her Blood Elf mage to around level five. She made her look like Stevie Nicks, and decamped to the verdant forests of Quel’Thalas. The last time Reed was playing video games, she was in middle school and messing around with a Game Boy Advance. Her prodigal return to the hobby, in the form of World of Warcraft, arrived after she was at the end of her rope in quarantine.

“My boyfriend downloaded [World of Warcraft] and was playing it all night, and he was like, ‘Do you wanna play it tonight?’ Literally, it was the last thing I would’ve considered. But it was either that or watching another episode of The Sopranos, or cleaning,” she says. “So I said, sure, why not. I wasn’t expecting to get into it at all.”

Reed enjoyed Azeroth in two distinct ways: It was nice, she says, to participate in a culture her boyfriend was already steeped in, and she was surprised by the quality of Blizzard’s worldbuilding, and how much the developers fleshed out the plight of the Blood Elves. World of Warcraft carries perhaps the most infamous mainstream reputation in the history of PC gaming; one tempered by horrifying stories of addiction and a South Park machinima crossover. Naturally, Reed was surprised to unearth a much different vision of the MMO. She spent years believing that something as mythic as World of Warcraft would naturally be diffuse and complex. Instead, Reed learned that she was more than capable of navigating nerd territory.

“It wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be. I don’t want to touch video games usually, because of how complicated they look. But once you figure some stuff out, you can kinda just do whatever. It was more laid back,” she says. “I pictured dudes wearing headsets and screaming at the television with no contact with anybody for days. Instead I could just hang out. That was really surprising to me. I was better at killing the Mana Wraiths than my boyfriend, which was really encouraging.”

Nathan Smith was similarly sequestered from the games industry as a kid. He grew up in a very religious household, and was only allowed to install Civilization IV and Rollercoaster Tycoon on the family PC — after convincing his parents that they were “educational.” In high school and college, he weaned himself on split-screen skirmishes on his friends’ consoles, but generally, Smith regarded video games as something similar to anime or comic books: a hobby that required a thorough dedication of one’s mind, body, and soul to fully appreciate.

It was only in quarantine, at the age of 25, where Smith dusted off a seldom-used PS4 to dive into Call of Duty: Warzone. Smith was completely new to online multiplayer, but his friends were beckoning, and he quickly found himself routinely up to 4 a.m. every night dropping into Boneyard. “I was hooked,” he says. “I was like, ‘Jesus this is a bit embarrassing, but I guess I’m a gamer now.’”

Smith has quickly gotten to work coloring in the vast back catalogue of the games he’s missed during his lifelong sabbatical. He’s finished Wolfenstein: The New Order, he’s put a ton of time into Burnout Paradise, and he’s started Death Stranding, The Last of Us Remastered, and Resident Evil 2. Smith says he’s been overwhelmed by the titanic amount of lore baked into all the corners of modern game overworlds. He’s the kind of guy who spends a Skyrim playthrough reading every scrap of paper. “I feel like I approach games like books,” he says. “[There’s] Endless items to customize, constant text to read and infographics to analyze, just so much detail and information compared to the games I grew up on.”

Isolation won’t last forever, and when the economy finally opens up and we all have plans for weekend evenings again, Smith thinks he will continue to explore the culture. “I do think I’ve moved from game-curious to full-blown gamer,” he explains. “Gaming feels like a much more satisfying use of time than it used to, but it’s also still really fascinating to me on an intellectual level as someone who is still relatively new to this world.”

Reed is less convinced. When the stay-at-home orders expire, she expects herself to sink back into her old routines — gaming, to her, is a product of a shocking overabundance of free time. “I kinda like to zone out and have things done for me, like watching something,” she says.

But Dawn Learst doesn’t expect to put her Switch down anytime soon. She will continue to furnish her island, and she intends to schedule her priorities like any true gamer; squeezing in a few hours of Animal Crossing in between work and chores. “The one thing I keep hoping is that [my son] doesn’t finish and stop playing,” she adds. “Because I like our game time.”

Let that be one ray of light during this pandemic. The news is chronically dark, and many of us have never felt quite this isolated before. But at the very least, our parents will never ask us again why we play so many video games.

https://www.polygon.com/features/202...amers-covid-19
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TV Sports/Health Notes (Racing)
Memorial Day weekend without the Indy 500: 'It's like the twilight zone'
By Nathan Brown, Indianapolis Star - May 23, 2020

A.J. Foyt spent more than month-straight this spring on his Texas ranch, riding bulldozers to clear some land, all the while dreaming of being back in his second home. And with Memorial Day weekend nearing – the one that made the Foyt family name a brand that will live on long after he’s gone – those emotional pangs are growing stronger.

Texas in May, it’s just not the same. Nowhere near, in fact.

The tug of Indiana, Indianapolis, Speedway and IMS, they’re as magnetic as ever this Friday afternoon, and Foyt is thinking about skipping town on his private jet to step foot where his heart’s meant to be.

“Just to be there, on Memorial Day,” he said. “I guess I’ll just have to wait till they’re back racing there, but I’ll definitely be back, unless I’m six-feet underground.

“That’s how people know me, from Indianapolis. I’ve won a lot of 500-mile races, but nobody knows about them. They know about me from here. Indy’s what made A.J. Foyt. A.J. Foyt didn’t make Indy.”

Others around the IndyCar paddock are coping. Some with a positivity that’s focused on August or a laser mindset already honing in fast on the season-opener at Texas Motor Speedway on June 6. And for still others, there’s apathy, whether it be a survival instinct or disbelief. But one thing’s certain: The lack of an Indy 500 this weekend is a unique experience all its own.

'It's like the twilight zone'

For historians of the sport, particularly ones who grew up in central Indiana and sat in the metal bleachers hauling coolers full of sandwiches and fried chicken, a weekend with the 500 is a perfect chance to dig back into races of years’ past.

Dennis Reinbold says he hasn’t yet lived his favorite Indy 500 “because our team hasn’t won one,” but it doesn’t mean there won’t be cars roaring across his television screen Sunday afternoon.


“We’ve been watching classic races on YouTube,” said the team owner who attended his first race as a fan in 1970. “It’s not like the live competition you’re used to for this month, but (the race) is going to happen, and we’re looking forward to being there and participating, but in the meantime, this is a good carryover.

It’s a chance for Reinbold, not to remind himself of what’s not there, but of what’s to come.

“It’s not frustrating," he said. "It’s part of the history here in the city. I took Donald Davidson’s class a long time ago, and I’ve read so many books on the history of the 500, and there’s just not enough knowledge you can accumulate.

“I grew up hearing cars from my house, and just being a part of this community, with what happens during the month of May, or August, it’s good enough.”

But it’s not “good enough” for everyone. Though Bobby Rahal, the 1986 race winner and current team co-owner, was one of several 500 veterans to sacrifice an appearance at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing in the late 90’s and early 2000’s during open-wheel racing’s split, to have it uncontrollably snatched out of its rightful place in the calendar feels indescribable.

While he’s relished the chance to organize his garage and pour over his racing memorabilia inventory back home during this extended offseason, it’s nowhere near worth being forcibly separated from where he’s spent nearly half his life this month.

“It’s just odd," Rahal said. "It really just feels weird, frankly, and I’m missing it not being there. I don’t know what to do this weekend. Probably cook out, and maybe watch some races, but I’m not too sure, cause I can’t remember what it’s like.

“It’s like the twilight zone.”

Basking in the glory

Simon Pagenuad celebrates after winning the 2019 Indianapolis 500, giving team owner Roger Penske his 18th victory at the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing."

In mid-March, Simon Pagenaud drove himself home from the failed race at St. Petesburg, Fla., a 10-hour trip back to the Charlotte-area, alone with his thoughts.

In part, due to being extra cautious with his health, but also, to prepare mentally for the worst.

This offseason had been a whirlwind of excitement sparked by the unbridled joy of winning his first Indy 500 in 2019. The media tour, the 2020 ticket reveal – all of it was supposed to lead into a chance to become the first driver since Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves in 2001-02 to defend his 500 title.

And when news broke of the postponement of the year’s first four races, with the Indy 500 squarely in danger, Pagenaud needed more than just a moment to think about what that might mean.

“I was so concerned we were not going to race at Indianapolis in 2020,” he said. “For me, (that race) is the No. 1 priority. Nothing else matters. I want to win that again.”

As he waits, the defending champ plans to watch Sunday’s NBC special “Back Home Again”, where he and Alexander Rossi relive Pagenaud’s success and the latter’s letdown in a four-hour cinematic production.

It’s a fitting consolation. And it means he gets to spend a few more months basking in the glory of being the winner before he has to put it all on the line again.

Tony Kanaan knows the feeling, and maybe that’s why he’s been able to put a smile on amidst missing maybe his favorite time of year. That time, he said, is all about a location – not a date. And that date, Aug. 23, is coming.

“I’ve been trying not to get into this ‘sad May’ feeling, because there’s hard times for everyone. There’s a lot bigger problems than not running the Indy 500 around the country,” he said. “Once we get there every year, we drivers don’t know even what day of the week or month it is.

“Today, I thought to myself, ‘It was supposed to be Carb Day,’ but there’s still going to be a Carb Day, and it’s Aug. 21. We’re going to go on.”

For Kanaan, Sunday is a special treat. In the spirit of watching old races, he’ll treat his four kids and his wife Lauren to his triumph in 2013. It’s the first chance, Kanaan said, for his four-year-old son Max to finally watch and connect how his dad landed the Borg Warner trophy that sits in the family’s living room.

“His mom is on the broadcast, and I think he’ll find out some cool things about it,” Kanaan said. “And I still have the milk bottle from that race. I think we’ll toast with some milk.”

Escaping annoyance

Driver Graham Rahal has no desire to think back on last year's Indy 500, preferring to focus on the series' return at Texas Motor Speedway.

But their fellow drivers, the ones who haven’t yet tasted the milk, their focus is elsewhere. Anything but Indy.

For Graham Rahal, who finished on the podium at IMS back in 2011 but suffered a bitter end to his Sunday a year ago, getting caught up in a crash in Turn 3 with less than 25 laps to go and finished 27th, the focus is Texas.

Even Sunday.

“I’ve seen last year’s race. I know how it ends, I’m good,” he said. “It’s weird. I haven’t been in that frame of mind for so long. I’ve been focused on Texas, once we knew that was what was to come. As weird as it is, it’s the truth.

“It’s always an honor every chance you get to go (to IMS). But that’s still going to happen this year.”

For Conor Daly, who finished a personal-best 10th a year ago in the 500, Sunday is more about keeping his mind occupied, whether its Texas, or his series of upcoming simulator tests with Carlin and Ed Carpenter Racing.

Because even with another 500 to look forward to in August, its absence in May is maddening for the driver just getting back into a full-season program.

“There’s not a lot we can do. You still can’t have a party outside, right? It’s gonna be tough. I don’t want to think about it that much or dwell on it, cause I’ll just sit here, burning annoyed, because we can’t do anything,” he said.

Daly does plan to tune into the NBC broadcast, though.

“I want to support anything people are doing. I’m all for it, but I’ll just need to get through another day, get to Texas and get this show on the road.”

A trip six months in the making

This weekend would have been Roger Penske's first as the new owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the NTT IndyCar Series.

If Foyt does hop on his jet with the nose pointed toward Indianapolis, he’ll have company when he arrives.

Because the man that bought the keys to IMS six months ago wasn’t about to let even a global pandemic keep him from his second home.

Talk about a track making someone’s racing career. With 18 victories for Team Penske since Mark Donohue’s in 1972, no one has basked in the glory of the Racing Capital of the World more.

And, Penske jokes, he gets to once again, come Sunday.

“It’s going to be my 19th win!,” Penske laughed in reference to watching Pagenaud prevail on Sunday’s NBC special.

But before he gets comfortable in a chair inside the Pagoda with Mark Miles and the rest of his Penske Entertainment Corp. cabinet, this weekend’s trip has a special meaning for Penske. Since the announcement of his purchase in early November, May 24 was supposed to be a culmination of the first chapter in IMS’s new era.

It still will be, he says, because the person who’s watched him toil over this newest endeavor will finally be able to place eyes on what exactly his near-weekly trips and multi-million dollar investment has been for.

“First thing, I’m going to bring my wife down from Detroit,” he said. “Because she’s seen me down there at least a day or so each week, to show her what we’ve been doing.”

https://www.usatoday.com/story/sport...on/5250647002/
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TV/Health Notes (Cable)
HBO to Donate FYC and Emmy Party Funds to COVID-19 Relief Efforts
By Bryn Elise Sandberg, The Hollywood Reporter - May 22, 2020

HBO is rethinking its FYC and Emmy party spending in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

The AT&T-owned company has decided to donate $1 million that it would typically spend on awards advertising and its lavish post-ceremony bash to the Mayor's Fund for Los Angeles Emergency COVID-19 Crisis Fund. A rep for the network confirms they will not throw an Emmy party this year.

"On behalf of Bob Greenblatt and myself, we are proud to make this contribution from HBO instead of using it for our traditional Emmy party and FYC events," said Casey Bloys, president of HBO Programming. "I am tremendously proud of all of our shows in Emmy contention this year, and I am hopeful they will receive the recognition I believe is richly deserved for all of our talented collaborators, in front of and behind the camera. We look forward to being able to get back to the work we love."

The Mayor's Fund provides essential support to emergent, critical needs identified with the City as it responds to the pandemic, including support for families and small businesses, relief for healthcare workers, critical healthcare equipment, victims of domestic violence and services for the city’s homeless population.

WarnerMedia created a $100 million relief fund in March to help the crews on its shows and movies that have had to pause production during the pandemic.Other entertainment companies have donated money in an effort to support those hit hardest by the virus, too. Netflix set up a $150 million hardship fund for the out-of-work production community, and even launched a marketing campaign that spotlighted some of those crewmembers.

Amazon also converted its "For Your Consideration" billboard plans into a "For Your Community" campaign aimed at promoting COVID-related nonprofit organizations. ViacomCBS, for its part, created a $100 relief fund given to the Motion Picture & Television Fund and The Actors Fund, charitable organizations already supporting impacted industry workers.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/ne...fforts-1295706
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Technology/Mobile Notes (International)
UK reportedly planning to phase out Huawei equipment from its 5G networks
By Kim Lyons, TheVerge.com - May 23, 2020

After resisting pressure from the US for months, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is apparently preparing to phase out the use of Huawei equipment from the UK’s 5G networks, the Financial Times reported. Citing national security concerns, members of the UK’s Conservative party have pushed for Huawei technology to be removed from the UK’s 5G infrastructure and the rest of its telecom network by 2023.

The Trump administration has banned government use of Huawei’s technology, and the president signed an executive order last May blocking US companies from buying foreign-made telecommunications equipment that may pose national security risks. The order doesn’t single out any one company, but is viewed as a way to exclude Chinese firms like ZTE and Huawei from doing business in the US. Last week, Trump extended the ban through May 2021.

The US has argued that Huawei could build backdoors into network infrastructure, ostensibly to aid spying efforts by the Chinese government, a charge Huawei has repeatedly denied.

Trump reportedly called Johnson earlier this year to discuss the matter, and at least one member of Congress said the US was reconsidering its intelligence partnership with the UK.

Johnson had limited how much Huawei equipment could be used for 5G networks in the UK, banning the use of the company’s technology in the most sensitive parts of the network. He said in January that there were not a lot of other options available for the UK’s 5G infrastructure, and telecom Vodafone said removing Huawei equipment from its networks would be extremely costly.

https://www.theverge.com/2020/5/23/2...hnson-trump-5g
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TV/Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - May 24, 2020

WAR MOVIE MARATHON
TCM, 6:00 a.m. ET

Throughout Memorial Day weekend, TCM is bombarding viewers with a nonstop barrage of war movies. The entries include Casablanca tonight at 8 ET, the 1918 silent war movie (and first Oscar winner as Best Film) Wings on Sunday (pictured), and The Great Escape, The Dirty Dozen, and Battle of the Bulge, all on Memorial Day.

TOY STORY MARATHON
Freeform, 4:55 p.m. ET

Toy Story 4 is available right now on Disney+, and for streaming video rental on Amazon, YouTube, and elsewhere. But today, in a three-movie marathon on Freeform, you can the first three Toy Story Pixar films, beginning at 4:55 p.m. ET. On a holiday weekend when lots of kids are around and restless – which, these days, isn’t any different from any other time, I suppose – a triple feature Toy Story telecast should generate a lot of Buzz. And Woody.

NO DIRECTION HOME: BOB DYLAN
AXS TV, 9:05 p.m. ET

Directed by Martin Scorsese and shown originally on PBS’s American Masters in 2005, this lengthy documentary is an excellent, eye-opening, and musically generous artistic biography of Bob Dylan. He’s a notoriously elusive subject, but No Direction Home pins him down about as much as you can – and even has his cooperation. Sometimes, that weakens a documentary. This time, it strengthens it. He’s invisible now, he’s got no secrets to conceal.


http://www.tvworthwatching.com/
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TV Notes
On The Air
SUNDAY MAY 24, 2020 Network Primetime/Late Night Options
(All shows are in HD unless noted; start times are ET. Network late night shows are preceded by late local news)
From Zap2it.com's TV Grid

ABC:
7PM - America's Funniest Home Videos
(R)
8PM - Celebrity Family Feud: The Chainsmokers vs. 5 Seconds of Summer; Boris Kodjoe & Nicole Ari Parker vs. Roselyn Sanchez & Eric Winter
(R)
9PM - Press Your Luck
(R)
10PM - Match Game (Joel McHale, Mayim Bialik, Kal Penn, Sarah Chalke, Donald Faison and Bebe Neuwirth)
(R)

CBS:
7PM - Movie: Titanic (1997, 4 hrs. 16 min.)

NBC:
7PM - Little Big Shots
8PM - Little Big Shots (Season Finale)
9PM - The Wall
10PM - The Wall

FOX:
6PM - NASCAR Cup Series: Coca-Cola 600 (4.5 hrs., LIVE)

THE CW:
8PM - DC's Stargirl
(R)
9PM - Supergirl
(R)

PBS:
8PM - National Memorial Day Concert (90 min.)
9:30PM - National Memorial Day Concert (90 min.)
(R)

UNIVISION:
7PM - Aquí y Ahora
8PM - Movie: No Se Aceptan Devoluciones (2013)
10:30PM - La Familia P. Luche
(R)

TELEMUNDO:
7PM - Movie: Nine Lives (2004)
8:30PM - Movie: Patriots Day (2016)

HLN/TBS/TNT/TruTV:
3PM - The Match: Champions for Charity (5 hrs., LIVE)

NBCSN:
4PM - Trackside Live! (4 hrs., LIVE)

BET:
7PM - A Tribute to Andre Harrell: Mr. Champagne & Bubbles (Special, 60 min.)

CNN:
7:30PM - CNN Special Report: The Pandemic & The President (Episodes 8 and 9, 2.5 hrs.)

BRAVO:
8PM - The Real Housewives of Atlanta: Reunion Part 3
9PM - Married to Medicine Los Angeles
10PM - Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen (Goldie Hawn)

DISCOVERY:
8PM - Naked and Afraid XL (Season Premiere, 3 hrs.)

SHOWTIME:
8PM - VICE
8:30PM - Black Monday
(R)
9PM - Billions
10PM - Penny Dreadful: City of Angels

STARZ:
8PM - Hightown
9PM - Vida (42 min.)

TLC:
8PM - 90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days (120 min.)
10PM - sMothered (Season Premiere, 62 min.)
* * * *
11:02PM - Find Love LIVE (Finale, 58 min.)

TNT:
8PM - Snowpiercer (Special Time)

AMC/BBC AMERICA:
9PM - Killing Eve

ESPN/ESPN 2:
9PM - 30 for 30: Lance (Part 1, 120 min.)*
*
(ESPN airing uncensored version; ESPN 2 showing censored version)

HALLMARK:
9PM - Good Witch

HBO:
9PM - I Know This Much Is True: Episode 3 (62 min.)
10:01PM - Insecure (29 min.)
10:31PM - Run (Finale, 29 min.)
* * * *
11PM - Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
(R)

SCIENCE:
9PM - Unearthed - Twin Towers: The Hidden Secrets
10PM - Forbidden History: Vatican Book of Secrets

FOX NEWS:
10PM - Modern Warriors: A Memorial Day Special (60 min.)

SYFY:
11PM - Harley Quinn: Harley Quinn Highway
11:30PM - Harley Quinn: Devil's Snare
Midnight - Harley Quinn: The Final Joke (Finale)

ADULT SWIM:
11:30PM - Rick and Morty: Childrick of Mort
Midnight - The Shivering Truth: Nesslessness
12:15AM - JJ Villard's Fairy Tales: Little Red Riding Hood


https://tvlistings.zap2it.com/?aid=gapzap
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TV/Nielsen Notes (Broadcast)
‘World News’ Ranks As No. 1 Newscast For 2019-20 Season, ‘GMA’ & ‘Today’ Split Top Morning Show Honors
By Dino-Ray Ramos, Deadline.com - May 24, 2020

ABC’s World News Tonight With David Muir came out on top in all major categories (adults 25-54 and adults 18-49), becoming the No. 1 newscast in America when it came to total viewers during the 2019-20 broadcast season. This is the first time in 24 years that World News Tonight has taken that trophy.

According to current data from Nielsen, World News Tonight (9.65M, 1.96M and 1.33M) eclipsed NBC Nightly News  (8.59M, 1.89M and 1.32 M) by 1.06M total viewers, by 71,000 adults in the 25-54 demo and by 13,000 in the adults 18-49 demo.

The news program ranked No. 1 in total viewers for the fourth season in a row. It doubled its lead over NBC Nightly News from last season (+100% – 1.06M vs. 532,000) to its largest season lead since the 1995-1996 season. In addition, World News Tonight  topped CBS Evening News (6.07M ) by 3.574 million.

World News Tonight topped the season in the adults 25-54 demo leading NBC by its largest news demo margin (+71,000 – 1.96M vs. 1.89M) in 24 years and taking the top spot for the first time in 12 years. World News Tonight also outdid NBC in the adults 18-49 demo (+13,000 – 1.33M vs. 1.32M) for the first time in 24 years. This also marks World News Tonight‘s most-watched season in 16 years.

On the AM side of things, for the eighth consecutive year, ABC’s Good Morning America has taken the prize for No. 1 morning show. For the 2019-20 broadcast season, GMA (3.96M) sped ahead of Today (3.88M) compared to last season (+80% – 81,000 vs. 45,000). This is GMA‘s largest viewership since the 2016-17 season.

Today again was tops in adults 25-54. However, GMA closed the gap with its NBC rival compared to last season in the 25-54 demo (-34% – 102,000 vs. 155,000), marking its closest performance in five years.

In addition, GMA (3.96M, 1.12M and 783,000, respectively) beat out CBS This Morning (3.01M , 744,000 and 507,000, respectively) in total viewers (+947,000), adults 25-54 (+422,000) and Adults 18-49 (+276,000). This marks its largest news demo lead since the 2015-16 season.

https://deadline.com/2020/05/abc-wor...on-1202942641/[
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TV/Health Notes
How Remote Production Is Changing for Unscripted TV — and Where It's Going
By Michael O'Connell, The Hollywood Reporter

On Saturday night, a pretaped LeBron James emceed the multi-network event Graduate Together from a tricked-out (and sterile) studio. The hourlong special, a celebration of the 2020 graduates forced to go without in-person ceremonies during the COVID-19 pandemic, included a similarly glossy studio performance from Alicia Keys and a high-res keynote from former President Barack Obama.

Though a far cry from the TV events that viewers were accustomed to seeing before nearly all traditional production shut down in March, the event better resembled pre-COVID TV than the remote specials cobbled together in the early weeks of lockdown. Production value is on the rise, and unscripted producers are prepping for even bigger improvements in the months ahead.

"We were able to get LeBron in a sanitized studio, all by himself, with everyone else behind glass," says Ian Stewart of Graduate Together producers Done+Dusted. "With the virtual studios that we're starting to use, it does actually look like you are moving through the space," adds Done+Dusted's Katy Mullan, who also produced both iterations of The Disney Family Singalong on ABC. "These things are developing exponentially in a matter of weeks. You're seeing a peppering of production values."

Audience appetite for self-filmed content, as it initially rolled out, is starting to drop off. There is evidence of Zoom fatigue in both ratings and commissions. In a nationally representative Hollywood Reporter/Morning Consult poll conducted from May 7 to May 9, some 36 percent of respondents expressed interest in viewing a remote-filmed TV show, while 48 percent of those surveyed had little interest in such a project.

So the unscripted community is now focused on how to move the chains so that each new effort looks more elevated than the ones that came before it. That includes not just sanitized studios for solo tapings and nicer equipment for remote filming but, further down the line, sealed environments for filming multiple parties.

Graduate Together was not the weekend's only starry tribute to the class of 2020. Instagram and Facebook partnered for Friday's special Graduation 2020, toplined by Oprah Winfrey and Miley Cyrus. And while the program had to rely on dozens of self-filmed dispatches, few looked alike.

"I think all of us were looking for that magic answer to 'What is the perfect technical setup for remote capture?'" says producer Rhett Bachner of B17 Entertainment. "But every situation is different, and there's no perfect answer. I think the content is improving because we're finding ways to improve on processes."

Processes have largely improved as talent have become accustomed to the new way of making content in the time of COVID-19. Sanitized filming kits, often complete with lighting equipment, have upped production value, and talent are becoming more vocal about how they want to see themselves positioned after weeks of dim computer shots at odd angles. "This approach is just so untraditional," says B17's Brien Meagher. "So much can depend on whether or not the talent has good Wi-Fi or whether they want to shoot inside or outside of their house."

Specials are likely to be a constant as the crisis progresses, but orders for quarantine-friendly series continue to come through. Bachner and Meagher recently launched the YouTube series Celebrity Substitute, where Karlie Kloss, Ken Jeong and Janelle Monáe all teach real curricula for children who are likely losing interest in Zoom classes or their parents as tutors.

"A lot of our stuff is always being made under constraints," says CAA alternative agent Rosanna Billow, whose department has closed 71 deals and made pacts for 55 new series since the pandemic started. "I think everybody assumes, when we have the fortune of resuming traditional production, that unscripted shows are going to be the first ones out."

Some less-COVID-specific unscripted programs have already been sold and premiered since the pandemic started. Fox recently approached reality veteran Stephen Lambert about a U.S. version of the popular U.K. format Gogglebox. The long-running Channel 4 series, which chronicles armchair critics commenting on the week in television, promptly shifted from on-site production to remote — and has been breaking its own ratings records since stay-at-home orders went into effect.

The U.S. version, with a shift from the everyman to Fox (and other) talent, debuted May 7 as Celebrity Watch Party. Like many unscripted deals coming through now, it was sold with plans in place for several hypothetical versions: the current one, under the strict COVID-19 regulations; another for under loosened restrictions; and a third for when things are possibly normal again. Celebrity Watch Party, in success, is designed to evolve. After all, no one is kidding themselves that even the improved production capabilities will make sense once the traditional ones are within reach.

"Networks and platforms don't want a ton of lower production shows stockpiled on the shelves," says Alix Hartley, another CAA alternative agent. "Everyone is nervously optimistic that production is going to get going by fall for anything that doesn't have an in-studio audience."

Lambert says fall is "realistic," not optimistic, for at least one of his series. The producer saw his Netflix hit The Circle renewed for two additional seasons since shelter-in-place orders began, and his Studio Lambert is aggressively brainstorming different ways to ensure the series — a sort of self-isolated spin on Big Brother with an aggressive social media component — can tape regardless of what restrictions are in place in a few months.

"We're creating a huge fortress, a sort of sealed environment where we'll be able to control who comes in," says Lambert. "Obviously the subjects are already isolated, so it suits what's going on, but we'll have contestants tested beforehand and we're discussing having them quarantined after they arrive in England."

Lambert says he thinks that the basic groundwork is in place for a relatively normal production. It's the countless variables — catering, days off for crew, quarantine times — that now need vetting. So his team is in talks with health and safety advisers in the U.S. and the U.K. about how to limit risk.

"You can create a closed environment," says Lambert, "but you have to make sure you're plugging all of the holes."

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/li...-going-1294999
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