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You learn a lot when you talk with the main manager of your local location. IMAX is so paranoid that they still send HDDs to the locations containing the movies. All of the regular movies are sent via Ku satellite to the location's servers.
Interesting because the idea originally was to use satellite for the regular theaters but the studios were too paranoid for that so shipped films on HDDs. My local theater here in the burbs was about the first all digital theater in the SF Bay Area but it seems they were running a consulting service for theater owners wishing to convert to digital (this was over 10 years ago).


They keep a union projectionist on staff who mainly fills the popcorn and drinks. Any real problems the projector company sends in a tech.
 

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Interesting because the idea originally was to use satellite for the regular theaters but the studios were too paranoid for that so shipped films on HDDs.
Ya, they did originally ship HDDs. When I was talking to him I thought that was the case, but he informed me that they were switched over to satellite. I do not know when that happened.
 

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Finally, Jimmy Fallon continues to pay a price for his playful Donald Trump hair ruffle down the homestretch of the 2016 presidential campaign. He has since publicly regretted this, but to no avail. For the second straight year (after being nominated in the two previous years), Fallon’s Tonight Show is not among the six finalists in the “Outstanding Variety Talk Series” category.
My reasons for not nominating Fallon would have less to do with his interview of Trump than with his non-existing interviewing skills in general. For a show to be "outstanding," in my opinion, it needs to do the things essential to its genre better than its competitors, and Fallon may be the least engaging interviewer on a major talk show.
 

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Nielsen Overnights (Broadcast)
CBS Has A Good Friday Night In Total Viewers
By Bruce Haring, Deadline.com - Jul. 14, 2018

It’s summertime, which means outdoor activities, vacations, and other seasonal lures typically make for a quiet night in ratings.

Friday saw CBS score in the total viewers race, with a 9 PM re-run of Hawaii Five-O luring 3.57 million total viewers (0.4/2 rating share among adults 18-49), followed by Blue Bloods aggregating 4.34 million viewers in the 10 PM slot (also a 0.4/2 rating share).

But ABC’s 20/20 led the overall rating/share on Friday, copping a 0.6/3 rating share among adults 18-49 in its 10 PM slot and with 3.48 million viewers. Still, that was below the CBS total viewership numbers.

NBC’s Dateline and a re-run of American Ninja Warrior also had a 0.6/3 rating/share on Friday, but brought also brought in lesser total viewers than the CBS shows.

In the 8 PM slot, the premiere of the Whistleblower series on CBS looked at a pediatric dental chain and a pharmaceutical giant in its study of alleged corporate wrongdoing. The show drew a total of 3.07 million total viewers and a 0.4/2 rating share.

Elsewhere at 8 PM, ABC’s Quantico held steady at a 0.4/2 rating share and 2.69 million viewers. CW’s Masters of Illusion maintained its 0.2/1 rating share for 8 PM and 8:30 PM, drawing 1.09 for the first half-hour and just under a million viewers at 8:30 PM.

At 9 PM, What Would You Do? had a 0.5/2 rating share and 2.60 million viewers, while a Fox re-run of The Orville scored a 0.2/1 ratings share, tied with the CW’s Penn & Teller: Fool Us in rating share, with both shows under a million viewers.

Rounding out the evening at 10 PM were the strong 0.6/3 rating/share performances by ABC’s 20/20 and NBC’s Dateline, with CBS’s Blue Bloods (0.4/2) drawing the biggest total viewing audience.

https://deadline.com/2018/07/ratings-cbs-has-a-good-friday-night-in-total-viewers-1202426706/
 

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TV Review (Cable)
Showtime's 'Who Is America?'
By Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter - Jul. 14, 2018

Back in 2000, when Da Ali G Show premiered, people still had a modicum of shame.

In Michaelangelo terms: If the grotesques targeted by Sacha Baron Cohen in his genre-bending smash were perfect statues of ugliness, "shame" was the extraneous rock that covered them in their public personae, the temporary impediment Cohen had to carve away in his mission to reveal human nature.

It's 2018 and shame is dead. The proudly deplorable parade through the street in their hateful finery and tweet their slurs and ignorance with pride, sometimes with anuran avatars and coy usernames, but just as often associated with their own faces and names. Your typical neo-Nazi need not hide as a block of marble when he can walk proudly in his native form.

[If you're coming to this review from the right, simply substitute ***** hats and proud adherence to socialism in that paragraph.]

Shame was the secret ingredient in Da Ali G Show, the obstacle that had to be circumvented to make us believe that the effort Cohen put into devising characters, picking his targets and insinuating himself into their lives on-camera was worth the trouble.

Shame is the missing ingredient in Cohen's Who Is America? and, unfortunately, it's not an ingredient that proves merely incidental. It's the difference between shocking and not shocking, between hilarious and simply fleetingly funny.

Cohen's new comedy, set to premiere on Sunday (July 15) night on Showtime and already available online on all of Showtime's digital platforms, arrives shrouded in the oddest sort of secrecy insofar as Showtime only acknowledged the existence of the show last week and has been able to mostly sit back and let figures like Roy Moore and Sarah Palin handle publicity themselves. Whereas frustrated victims on Da Ali G show were frequently embarrassed by the things they had been captured saying and doing on camera, the Moores and Palins of the world are more offended by the mere act of the duping. If you're Roy Moore or Sarah Palin, the malicious acts of a misleading British comedian are far worse than anything that might have been revealed or exposed about themselves, since whatever fans those two have, they already know what they stand for. Ditto whatever adversaries they have.

The disappointing reality of Who Is America? is that Cohen hasn't really gotten anybody to espouse any ideology that they wouldn't and haven't advocated proudly without the subterfuge. We live in a world in which barriers between public brand and private ideology have essentially been erased. This show reveals Cohen, working under gallons of latex that must somehow play more realistically in person than on screen, as a comic magician taking the stage after the prior prestidigitator revealed how all the tricks were done. The degree to which you haven't been paying any attention to the world will mirror the degree to which you're amazed and probably amused by what Cohen has perpetrated, just as the degree to which the subjects on-camera are willfully myopic mirrors the extent to which they were duped.

The gimmick of Who Is America? fits within the parameters of Cohen's established work. Over the two episodes I've seen — the second of which I'm barely allowed to acknowledge I've seen — he plays five or six characters. Those characters include, but are not limited to, an InfoWars-esque conspiracy theorist with a Texas accent and a mobility scooter, a balding NPR lover prone to apologizing for his cis-gender white male privilege and a former Mossad agent with a thick "Israeli" accent and very permissive feelings about gun control. Though I'm plenty skeptical about how oblivious you'd have to be in order to be proximate to these characters and not notice their rubbery artificiality, I'm not skeptical of Cohen's gifts as a sketch comic. Each of the characters arrives accompanied by an initial wave of amusement and several are good for a couple chuckles. Not one of the characters gets better with additional screen time and not one of the characters gets funnier based on spontaneous interaction with Cohen's targets. I laughed several times at Who Is America? and each of my laughs was based on something carefully scripted either that Cohen did or that he got a subject to read.

Showtime would like as few details about the series revealed as possible and to keep them restricted to the first episode, that starts with the right-wing conspiracy theorist talking to Bernie Sanders. The white-haired paragon of the far left sets what will be a template for Cohen's early approach, which is intent on getting liberals to fight with him until they get frustrated enough to give up and conservatives to eagerly join him and follow him over a cliff. I guess that approach also should also hint at the answer to the show's titular query.

Though Sanders is the biggest name in the first episode, his segment stops well before either he or Cohen do anything interesting. The premiere's showcase segment finds the Mossad character rounding up gun rights activists for an advertising campaign and it's absolutely outrageous, or at least it's absolutely outrageous if you've never seen Philip Van Cleave of the Virginia Citizens Defense League or radio/Twitter troll (and former congressman) Joe Walsh in the news previously. If those gentlemen or Dana Rohrabacher or Larry Pratt or Matt Gaetz have been at all on your radar, you'll know why all of the outrage directed at the show thus far as been about how Cohen got them to be on camera at all and not what he got them to say or do.

There's at least one probable exception in the second episode, but I can't tell you who he/she is or what they do other than to say that they'll only be embarrassed by what they do and not any of the words out of their mouth — words that are indistinguishable from on-the-record statements they make happily.

I also can't tell you about the closing segment of the second episode, why it was so woefully unfunny and how it's such a perfect illustration of why Cohen's approach only works when he's punching up and becomes infuriating bullying when he's punching down.

So who is America?

America is irreparably polarized and diminished, prone in certain corners (on both sides of the aisle) to being vapid and easily mislead. It's a truth nobody was really hiding or denying. I'm confused by the identity of people who would find these observations perceptive or revelatory and yet I'm equally confident that there are viewers who will be blown away by Sacha Baron Cohen's latest.

WHO IS AMERICA?
Premieres Sunday, July 15 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime
The Bottom Live: A whole lot of latex, very little true outrage.


https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/who-is-america-review-1127051
 

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TV Notes (Streaming)
‘Queer Eye’ Renewed by Netflix for Season 3
By Daniel Holloway, Variety.com - Jul. 13, 2018

Netflix has renewed “Queer Eye.”

The third season of the reality series revival is set to begin production in Kansas City, Mo., on Monday. Co-hosts Antoni Porowski, Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Jonathan Van Ness, and Tan France will return for the new season, which is slated to premiere on Netflix in 2019.

“Queer Eye” was nominated Thursday for Primetime Emmy Awards in the categories of structured reality program, casting, picture editing and cinematography.

David Collins, Michael Williams, and Rob Eric executive producer”Queer Eye” for Scout Productions. Jennifer Lane is the showrunner and executive producer. David George, Adam Sher, David Eilenberg and Jordana Hochman also serve as executive producers for ITV Entertainment.

The first two seasons of “Queer Eye,” a reboot of the Bravo unscripted hit from more than a decade ago, debuted this year to broad critical acclaim. In his review of season two, Variety‘s Daniel D’Addario wrote, “‘Queer Eye’ seems to have decided that facing challenges and adjusting expectations shouldn’t solely be the province of its experts. As a result, it’s as fascinating as it’s ever been, a document of gay men in 2018 — proud but uncertain about Pride, liberated but carrying wounds from an all-too-recent past — that feels unexpectedly vital.”

https://variety.com/2018/tv/news/queer-eye-renewed-netflix-1202872814/
 

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TV Notes/Q&A (Cable)
HBO's Robin Williams film explores late comic's life, 'extremely difficult' final months
By Patrick Ryan, USA Today - Jul. 13, 2018

Think of HBO's new Robin Williams documentary as a celebration.

"You can feel the sadness throughout the film, but it's also very uplifting," says Marina Zenovich, whose "Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind" premieres on HBO Monday (8 EDT/PDT). "It was a fine balance of getting the nuance of the laughter and melancholy right."

The two-hour movie breezes through the life of the late comic, who died of suicide in 2014 at age 63, months after he was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. Through interviews with exes, co-stars and friends including Billy Crystal, David Letterman and Steve Martin, the documentary charts his rise to fame through stand-up comedy, his breakout sitcom "Mork & Mindy," and his eventual screen success in "Dead Poets Society," "Mrs. Doubtfire" and "Good Will Hunting," for which he won an Academy Award.

"Mind" also doesn't shy away from his struggles with addiction and depression, taking viewers through his tragic final months in a way that's less revealing than Dave Itzkoff's recent biography "Robin," but no less moving.

USA TODAY chats with Zenovich about the film.

Question: You’ve made documentaries about other complicated men such as Richard Pryor and Roman Polanski. What drew you to Robin's story?
Marina Zenovich:
I never set out to make movies about famous people, but they have to have something intriguing about them. With Roman, it was the (sexual abuse) case; with Richard, it was the darkness and fire. With Robin, I was a fan but didn't know a lot about him. I wanted to do a deep dive into who's this amazing character, where he was from and where he got his spark of madness.

Q: The interview with Billy Crystal was particularly moving. Do you have any favorite anecdotes that he shared about Robin?
Zenovich:
He talked a lot about how Robin really loved (Crystal's) family, and how Robin would come to his family events. It really seemed like Billy was a bit of a rock for him. It was interesting to me how, when everyone was single hanging out at the Comedy Store and Canter's Deli, Billy was a young father. From the beginning, he was kind of seen by Robin as someone who was responsible and had a family. The Billy Crystal interview moved me incredibly. When I got there, it was almost like he didn't want to go there (emotionally), but he was willing to for his friend.

Q: Something that became clear through many of the interviews was Robin's desire to be loved, his vulnerability, and the validation he got from laughter. Where do you think that came from?
Zenovich:
When he was little, he spent a lot of time alone, so maybe he was predisposed to that. It's kind of a combination of nature/nurture, but who knows? We really tried to show that through different people who knew him and his son, Zak, speaks very well to that. He did have a need. That laugh, as Billy Crystal said, is like a little extra-special hug that you can only get from strangers. We all know what it feels like when people laugh — I mean, imagine that at Robin Williams' level.

Q: Billy said that he had never seen Robin afraid until he told him about his Parkinson's diagnosis. What did you learn about his final months and days that wasn't in the media coverage surrounding his death?
Zenovich:
He was having a really hard time. He was going to doctors and therapists, and was on medication. This is something people go through when they don't know what they have, and especially for someone like Robin, whose mind is his greatest tool. So I think his last months were extremely difficult. His family and friends tried to figure out what was wrong, and hopefully the film is seen as a celebration for all that he was. People have been asking me, "Who is the next Robin Williams?" And I don't know that I can think of any.

Q: Is there a performance of Robin's that helped you gain a greater appreciation for him while making this film?
Zenovich:
I love "Live at the Met." I mean, it's 1986 and he's talking about gun control and the possibility of having a female president? The guy was intelligent.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/tv/2018/07/13/hbo-robin-williams-documentary-come-inside-my-mind/780480002/
 

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TV Notes
On The Air Tonight
SUNDAY 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 - Jul. 15, 2018

WORLD CUP 2018:

TELEMUNDO:

10:30AM - Copa Mundial de la FIFA 2018, La Gran Familia: Francia vs. Croacia (LIVE)
1PM - Copa Mundial de la FIFA: Homenaje al Campeón (Special, LIVE)

FOX:
10AM - FIFA World Cup Live
11AM - 2018 FIFA World Cup, Championship Match: France vs. Croatia (LIVE)
1PM - FIFA World Cup Today
* * * *
Midnight - FIFA World Cup Tonight (Finale, LIVE)

* * * *

ABC:
7PM - America's Funniest Home Videos
(R)
8PM - Celebrity Family Feud: Sherri Shepherd vs. Ian Ziering; Tommy Chong vs. Derek Fisher & Gloria Govan
9PM - The $100,000 Pyramid: Kathy Najimy vs. Yvette Nicole Brown; Vanessa Williams vs. Gary Cole
10PM - To Tell the Truth: Oliver Hudson; Candace Cameron Bure; Kal Penn; Ross Mathews

CBS:
7PM - 60 Minutes
8PM - Big Brother
9PM - NCIS: Los Angeles
(R)
10PM - NCIS: Los Angeles
(R)

NBC:
7PM - Running Wild With Bear Grylls: Uzo Aduba
8PM - America's Got Talent (120 min.)
(R)
10PM - Shades of Blue

FOX:
7PM - One Strange Rock (Special)
(R)
8PM - The Simpsons
(R)
8:30PM - Bob's Burgers
(R)
9PM - Family Guy
(R)
9:30PM - Ghosted

PBS:
8PM - Poldark on Masterpiece
(R)
9PM - Endeavor on Masterpiece (90 min.)
10:30PM - The Tunnel: Vengeance

UNIVISION:
6PM - Fútbol, Supercopa de México 2017-18: Monterrey vs. Club Necaxa (LIVE)
8:30PM - Fútbol Mexicano Primera División, Campeón de Campeones: Tigres UANL vs. Club Santos Laguna (LIVE)

TELEMUNDO:
7PM - Viva el Mundial y Más (Finale, LIVE)
8PM - Lo Nuevo de Telemundo
9PM - Luis Miguel, La Serie
10PM - Don Francisco Te Invita

ESPN:
6PM - MLS Soccer: Portland Timbers at Los Angeles FC (LIVE)
8PM - USA Softball International Cup: A1 vs. B1 (LIVE)
10PM - SportsCenter (90 min., LIVE)

ESPN NEWS:
8PM - 2018 Wimbledon Championships: Men's Final (3 hrs.)

LIFETIME
8PM - Movie: The Nanny Is Watching (2018)

NBCSN:
8PM - 2018 Tour de France: Stage 9 (3 hrs.)

TLC:
8PM - 90 Day Fiancé: Happily Ever After? (3 hrs. 11 min.)

E!:
9PM - Total Bellas
10PM - Very Cavallari

FX:
9PM - Pose (63 min.)
10:03PM - Pose (63 min.)
(R)

HBO:
9PM - Sharp Objects
10PM - Succession

HGTV:
9PM - Lakefront Bargain Hunt
9:30PM - Lakefront Bargain Hunt
10PM - Caribbean Life (Season Premiere)
10:30PM - Caribbean Life

SHOWTIME:
9PM - The Affair
10PM - Who Is America? (Series Premiere)
10:30PM - Our Cartoon President

STARZ:
8PM - Power
9PM - Power
(R)

TNT:
9PM - Claws
10PM - Claws
(R)

TV ONE:
9PM - Unsung: Michel'le (Season Finale)

AMC:
10PM - Preacher
* * * *
11:01PM - Preacher
(R)

ADULT SWIM:
11:30PM - Robot Chicken
11:45PM - Robot Chicken
(R)
Midnight - Mostly 4 Millennials: Interfacing
12:15AM - Mostly 4 Millennials: Entitlement


https://tvlistings.zap2it.com/?aid=gapzap
 

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Media Notes
Zombieland 2 is officially happening
By Andrew Liptak, TheVerge.com - Jul. 14, 2018

Ruben Fleischer’s 2009 zombie film Zombieland is officially getting a sequel, with the director and original cast set to return, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The movie is expected to begin production in January, and hit theaters in October 2019.

Zombieland 2 will reunite Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, and Abigail Breslin, and will reportedly take the group “from the White House to the American heartland as they face off against new kinds of zombies that have evolved since the first movie, as well as some new human survivors.”

The 2009 film was Fleischer’s first, following Columbus (played by Jesse Eisenberg) — the survivors have taken on the names of cities to avoid becoming attached to one another — as he traveled from his college dorm room in Texas to Columbus, Ohio to see if his family was still alive. Along the way, he meets a man calling himself Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), and accompanies him north. The two then meet Wichita (Emma Stone) and her sister Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), and despite their initial distrust of one another, end up going to California to Pacific Playland in Los Angeles, which is supposedly free of the undead.

The film was successful when it hit theaters a decade ago, and at the time, the creators indicated that they had wanted to do a sequel of some sort, but moved on to other projects. Writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick went on to write Deadpool and Deadpool 2 while director Ruben Fleischer helmed the soon-to-be-released Venom. Sony Pictures planned a television adaptation in 2011 that never materialized, while Amazon Studios developed and released a pilot for the show, but never picked it up for a full series.

https://www.theverge.com/2018/7/14/17572198/zombieland-2-woody-harrelson-jesse-eisenberg-ruben-fleischer
 

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My reasons for not nominating Fallon would have less to do with his interview of Trump than with his non-existing interviewing skills in general. For a show to be "outstanding," in my opinion, it needs to do the things essential to its genre better than its competitors, and Fallon may be the least engaging interviewer on a major talk show.
Fallon would have been perfect in the variety show era of television. He is extremely talented and entertaining, but I agree that interviewing is not his strong suit.
 

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Fallon would have been perfect in the variety show era of television. He is extremely talented and entertaining, but I agree that interviewing is not his strong suit.


Of the three Kimmel is a little snarky, Colbert to much politics, Fallon is escapism he’s not hard hitting, goofy and for me great for the end of the day.
 

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My personal fav is Seth Meyers. Here is a sample from a few years ago .. Jon Snow at a dinner party.



https://youtu.be/BabsgCQhpu4


Seth’s delivery is off to my ear even on SNL if what he said was funny he just do it for me. The format of his show and the band are horrible, I’m far from young and hip but IMO Corden eats him for breakfast lunch and dinner.
 

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Ya, they did originally ship HDDs. When I was talking to him I thought that was the case, but he informed me that they were switched over to satellite. I do not know when that happened.
Do they still use JPEG 2000 as a codec? That's what I read way back when these digital theaters started up. Open source so no royalty to pay.;)
 

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Do they still use JPEG 2000 as a codec? That's what I read way back when these digital theaters started up. Open source so no royalty to pay.;)
I do not know. I suspect that a google search will turn up that info.
 

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TV Notes (Streaming)
‘UnReal’ 4th and Final Season Gets Surprise Release on Hulu
By Patrick Ryan, USA Today - Jul. 13, 2018

“UnReal” fans got a special treat on Monday when Hulu made the entire fourth and final season of the former Lifetime drama available to stream with no warning.

As TheWrap previously reported, Hulu made a deal with “UnReal” producers A+E Studios to be the new home for the show’s fourth outing, which has now officially been confirmed as the show’s last.

Season 4 follows Rachel (Shiri Appleby) and Quinn (Constance Zimmer) as they return to the set of the dating show-within-a-show “Everlasting” for an “All Stars” themed season. With former contestants, and a new format, it is poised to be even more dramatic than ever.

Prior to the debut of season 3, Lifetime announced that the drama from co-creator Sarah Gertrude Shapiro and showrunner Stacy Rukeyser had been picked up for a fourth edition. However, when season 3 premiered to weak and declining ratings, it opted to pass the already-produced fourth season to Hulu instead.

New cast members for the season include François Arnaud, Natalie Hall, Meagan Holder and Alejandro Muñoz. Zimmer and Appleby have both directed episodes this season, including the Appleby-helmed series finale.

“‘UnReal’ has captivated audiences on Hulu since season one, so when this opportunity came to us, we knew we couldn’t miss out,” said Craig Erwich, Hulu senior vice president of content. “This is a unique way to both satisfy fans of the show, while also continuing to introduce it to new audiences.”

“We love season four of ‘UnReal’ and its visionary creativity in bringing back many favorite characters for an all-star competition. When the opportunity to partner with Hulu arose, we immediately saw the huge benefit to ‘UnReal’s’ loyal fans, as well as a unique way of recruiting first-time viewers to this ground-breaking series,” said A+E Studios’ Barry Jossen. “‘UnReal’ has been an incredible ride filled with awards, critical recognition, committed fans and, best of all, insightful cultural dialogue throughout its run.We expect season four to deliver another great round of cultural influence with its timely themes.”

https://www.thewrap.com/unreal-4th-final-season-gets-surprise-release-hulu/
 

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TV Sports/Nielsen Notes (Tennis)
Wimbledon Ladies’ Championship – ESPN Saturday Ratings Up
By Bruce Haring, Deadline.com - Jul. 15, 2018

Saturday’s Wimbledon Ladies’ Championship on ESPN was the network’s highest-rated match since 2015, earning a 2.1 overnight rating from Nielsen, up 27% from a 1.7 in 2017 (Garbine Muguruza vs. Venus Williams). The 2015 match garnered a 2.2 for Serena Williams vs. Muguruza.

The rating for Saturday’s 75-minute match peaked at 2.4 in the final quarter hour (12:15-30 p.m. ET).

The full ESPN telecast – starting at 8 a.m. ET with the continuation of the Rafael Nadal – Novak Djokovic Gentlemen’s Semifinal and concluding with the Gentlemen’s Doubles Championship – scored a 1.3. That represents an increase of 86% over last year (0.7).

The semifinal – to determine who was to face Kevin Anderson in Sunday’s Gentlemen’s Championship – picked up with Djokovic leading two sets to one after being suspended the night before at 6 p.m. (11 p.m. in London, per local ordinance). In the Ladies’ Championship, Angelique Kerber defeated Serena Williams 6-3, 6-3 to win her first Wimbledon title.

The Gentlemen’s Doubles Final was a five-setter won by the American team of Mike Bryan and Jack Sock.

https://deadline.com/2018/07/wimbledon-ladies-championship-espn-saturday-ratings-up-1202426845/
 

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TV/Business Notes
As cord-cutting prices rise, here's what you can do to keep costs down
By Rob Pegoraro, USA Today - Jul. 15, 2018

For the growing ranks of cord-cutters who fled cable- and satellite-TV services for cheaper streaming options, recent weeks have brought an unsettling run: rate increases that look too much like the price hikes that plagued traditional pay TV for years.

First, the Dish Network-owned Sling TV announced at the end of June that its entry-level Sling Orange service would increase by $5 to $25. Days later, AT&T was notifying subscribers to its DirecTV Now that its three tiers of service would also go up by $5 a month, raising its starter rate to $40. And Sony PlayStation Vue said it, too, would increase rates by $5 a month to bring its cheapest plan to $40.

Google’s YouTube TV, in turn, had led off this mini-trend in March with a $5 increase that brought its standard rate to, yup, $40.

It’s true that online streaming operations face the same underlying inflation from studios and networks as cable and satellite.

“Costs for content producers and networks continue to rise faster than the general inflation rate,” said Brett Sappington, senior director of research, Parks Associates, in an e-mail interview. “As long as that happens, they will face pressure to increase the amounts that they need from their distributors to cover those costs.”

He noted that online services--often called “over-the-top” services because of how they arrive on another company’s broadband connection--themselves contribute to some of this inflation with motion picture-level budgets for some exclusive series.

“Netflix and other OTT video services are spending big on original series,” he said. “As a result, the bar has been raised for broadcasters and networks in spending and quality.”

But subscribers to online services remain better-positioned to resist this rate creep than those with cable- or satellite-TV bills.

First of all, they have more options to replace almost all of a traditional pay-TV bundle: DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue, YouTube TV, Sling TV, fuboTV and Hulu’s live-TV option.

They may now all charge about $40 a month -- if you factor in Sling’s combination of the Orange bundle and the Blue bundle that adds some regional sports networks and other channels that match the entry-level offerings at the other three. But that still leaves you with multiple options if any one decides to push through another hike.

If you stick with cable and can’t get satellite, you probably have no other choices. And you’re probably also stuck in a contract that will punish you for switching service early. With online video, you can switch at will--so you should make a habit of seeing which service offers the best deal.

(Please ignore commentary suggesting your true cost of online viewing involves paying for more than one of these core services. If you really watch that much TV, you should stick with cable or satellite.)

Second, you can look past them to cheaper online services that omit some of the most expensive sports channels that have long ranked among the top drivers of pay-TV rates. Philo, for instance, starts at just $16 a month if you can live without ESPN, while fuboTV offers an extensive array of more than 105 channels, including many non-ESPN sports channels, for $44.99.

Third, if you have good over-the-air reception of local stations, you can buy an antenna and drop online options for broadcast TV. That could let you stick with Sling’s $25 Orange plan instead of upgrading to its $40 Orange + Blue bundle, for instance. It might also eliminate the need to pay for single-network online feeds such as CBS’s $5.99-with-ads All Access.

Finally, whatever else happens, the online services don’t make you pay $5, $10 or more a month to rent a box just to tune in channels. That’s money you’ll keep saving every month.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/2018/07/15/cord-cutting-price-hikes-hit-heres-what-you-can-do/780456002/
 

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Obituary
Robert Wolders, Actor and Longtime Audrey Hepburn Companion, Dies at 81
By Mike Barnes, The Hollywood Reporter - Jul. 15, 2018

Dutch actor Robert Wolders, the longtime companion of Breakfast at Tiffany's star Audrey Hepburn who starred on the 1960s TV Western Laredo and appeared in films like Beau Geste, has died. He was 81.

Wolders died Thursday "surrounded by loving family," according to Ellen Fontana, executive director of the Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund. She said his family did not wish to divulge any other details of his death. He was a member of the board of directors of the fund.

Wolders was the fourth husband of actress Merle Oberon (Wuthering Heights, The Scarlet Pimpernel), married to her for about four years until her death in 1979 at age 68 from stroke complications. They starred opposite each other as lovers in the May-September romantic drama Interval (1973), her final film.

The actor met the Oscar-winning Hepburn in 1980 as her marriage to Italian psychiatrist Andrea Dotti was winding down, and they were together when the icon of Hollywood and style died from a rare cancer of the appendix on Jan. 20, 1993. She was 63.

"I have a wonderful man in my life, I have my Robert," Hepburn said in a 1989 interview with Barbara Walters. "We have so much in common, he's so good to me, he takes great care of me. He gives me that marvelous feeling that I'm protected and that I'm the most important thing to him."

"After I'd met her, a mutual friend prompted me to ask her out for dinner, but she said she had a night shoot," Wolders told People magazine last year. "I thought it was her gentle way of rejecting me.

"The next day she invited me for a drink at the Pierre hotel, which turned into a three-hour talk. At one point she said, 'Do you mind if I order some pasta?' After many long phone conversations, we realized we were meant to be together. She asked me if she could take time to prepare [her son] Luca and Andrea, her soon-to-be-ex-husband. When she saw him, Andrea came over and said, 'You look very beautiful, you must be in love,' and she said, 'I am.'"

Hepburn was a longtime UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and Wolders accompanied her on many of her missions for the children's charity, including her last one, to Somalia, in 1992.

After Hepburn's death, he dated Gigi star Leslie Caron and then had a two-decade relationship with Shirlee Fonda, the fifth wife of late actor Henry Fonda.

"The odd thing is that Shirlee was a great friend of Audrey and a great friend of Merle. In the same circle. Maybe it sounds odd," Wolders said in a 2012 interview. "They were friends, each one, and I knew that Merle would have approved of me being with Audrey certainly, instead of becoming the extra man. And Audrey would have approved of Shirlee."

Wolders was born on Sept. 28, 1936, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The son of an actress, he came to the U.S. and enrolled at the University of Rochester, then studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. He appeared on a 1965 episode of NBC's Flipper and signed a contract with Universal.

Wolders played the French soldier Fouchet in the 1966 remake of Beau Geste that starred Guy Stockwell and was a military man who is slain in the Rock Hudson-George Peppard drama Tobruk (1967).

Wolders joined NBC's lighthearted Laredo for its second and final season, 1966-67, as Erik Hunter, a rookie Texas Ranger from somewhere in Europe who wore colorful clothing. He once described his character as "a combination of Errol Flynn, 007 and Casanova."

The handsome actor also played Paul Van Dillen, a charming ski instructor who has a superficial romance with Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore) that draws all kinds of reactions from her co-workers, on a 1974 episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Wolders also appeared on series including The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Dan August, Peppard's Banacek and Hudson's McMillan & Wife and in a 1975 CBS telefilm, The Legendary Curse of the Hope Diamond, which marked his last acting appearance.

Rhett Bartlett contributed to this report.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/robert-wolders-dead-laredo-actor-audrey-hepburn-companion-was-81-1127177
 

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TV Review (Streaming)
The undies-wearing superhero gets his own Netflix show, 'The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants'
By Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times

"The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants," born as a series of massively successful books by Dav Pilkey, has become a charmingly subversive, knockabout cartoon series, streaming as of Friday on Netflix.

Last year saw a big-screen adaptation, the computer-animated "Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie," but the series, also from DreamWorks Animation, is closer to the multi-form meta-fictional spirit of the books, which are as formally close to experimental literature as books for elementary school kids ever get — when it wants to break into a third dimension, it brings in clay figures or felt puppets or cutouts on Popsicle sticks.

Introduced at the top of each episode, as they are at the top of the books, are George Beard (Ramone Hamilton) and Harold Hutchins (Jay Gragnani).

"George is the kid with the tie and the flat top; Harold is the one with the T-shirt and the bad haircut. Remember that now," says narrator Sean Astin.

They are prank-loving fourth-grade students at Jerome Horwitz Elementary, where they are the principal nemeses of the school principal, Mr. Krupp (Nat Faxon), who sits behind a desk bearing the sign "Hope Dies Here" and is tallying their infractions, as numbers are called at a delicatessen counter; when they get to 500, he can expel them.

More significant, they have inadvertently hypnotized Krupp into becoming, at the snap of their fingers, a superhero named Captain Underpants — he wears only underpants and a cape; other pairs of underpants, pulled from the elastic of waistband of his tight, white Jockey-style shorts, are used as weapons. (Water turns him back to Krupp.) This is all covered in the theme song, which Astin will point out (and replay) in case you weren't paying attention.

The Captain comes in useful when with episodic reliability, through various science-fictional accidents that are more than likely our heroes' own fault, the familiar characters of an elementary school existence are transformed into monsters bent on destruction, or at least on giving out homework. These encounters are sometimes predicted, not in a magical way, by the comic books George and Herbert draw in their tree house.

And these are facts you may already know. You or someone related to you may have grown up on them, or grown young on them, as the case may be. The series has sold many tens of millions of books in 20 languages, raising objections among the easily scandalized along the way, for being funny about things kids find funny. Imagine Dick and Jane, say, breaking wind. (Run, Spot, run!) That sort of thing. The first episode is titled "The Frenzied Farts of Flabby Flabulous,” so there you are.

Overseen by Peter Hastings ("Animaniacs," "Pinky and the Brain," "Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness"), the show plays off some of the visual world-building of the movie, but is presented in a 2-D style more appropriate to Pilkey's jaunty drawings, and more than usually reminiscent of classic cel animation, with bold outlines and bright, angular, askew backgrounds. (Backgrounds are not something Pilkey typically bothers with.) As in the books, every episode is divided into chapters and contains a "comic-book" portion, rendered in childlike scrawl and narrated manically — maniacally? — by Hastings himself.

Nothing serves children better on the road to maturity — I say this as a one-time child fairly happy with how he turned out — than letting them know that the world is as absurd as they suspect it is, and that much of what has been constructed upon it is arbitrary and even stupid.

Like the books, which regularly issue warnings to the viewers of something potentially distasteful ahead — perhaps a kind of trolling of the series' critics — the cartoon keeps calling attention to the terms of its own construction, with lines like "We can't actually show the collision because that's not nice, but we can show you this big cloud of smoke and stuff drawn in an elaborate anime style — so cool," and references to "the red tablecloth cleverly established earlier in the scene."

The humor is smart and silly, qualities more closely linked than adult society likes to give out. (The show has something of the feel of "If 'Rocky and Bullwinkle' and 'Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide' had a baby," which, I know, could not happen.) There is a joke about "Iffypedia, the Free, Yet Very Questionable Internet Encyclopedia," and a series of hellish school dances with names like "Night of Magic Spelling Dictation," "Midnight Standardized Placement Test Jamboree" and "Enchanted Waiting Room." One of the boys fills out a 10,000-word paper by signing it with 2,011 middle names. So, he got caught. Whatever! There’s always tomorrow. This is good, healthy stuff.

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/tv/la-et-st-captain-underpants-review-20180713-story.html
 
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