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TV Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Jul. 17, 2018

2018 MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL ALL-STAR GAME
Fox, 8:00 p.m. ET

Baseball is a game of percentages – not only how it’s played and strategized, but also how many stats are compiled and compared. But tonight, the most significant percentage, as the National and American Leagues prepare to field teams for the 2018 All-Star Game, may well be 70 percent. According to the National Weather Service, that’s the chance of precipitation during tonight’s game, with thundershowers likely.

10 MONUMENTS THAT CHANGED AMERICA
PBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

Tonight’s continuation of the 10 [INSERT PLURAL NOUN HERE] That Changed America series of PBS specials looks at Monuments – which, culturally, can be quite controversial, whether you’re talking about Mt. Rushmore or, say, a monument to some Confederate Army battlefield or general. Check local listings.

DRUNK HISTORY
Comedy Central, 10:00 p.m. ET

In tonight’s episode, on “Death,” conspirators try to kidnap the body of Abraham Lincoln, while Robert E. Lee’s estate becomes a burial ground for Union soldier. I guess that’s why no one ever asks who’s buried in Lee’s tomb…


http://www.tvworthwatching.com/

* * * *

TV Review (Streaming)
Acorn Brings 'Hidden' to the U.S. from Wales
By David Hinckley, TVWorthWatching.com's 'All Along the Watchtower' - Jul. 16, 2018

It’s not the most original premise ever: The body of a teenage girl is pulled out of a river in a remote corner of Wales, and unsavory secrets slowly begin to surface.

Anyone who remembers Broadchurch, or a dozen similar police dramas from recent years, will feel immediately comfortable with Hidden, an eight-part Welsh series that comes to the U.S. Monday on the streaming service Acorn.

Besides, what matters in television is execution, so to speak, and Hidden tells its grim tale well.

Detective Inspector Cadi John (Sian Reese-Williams) recently returned to her hometown to help her two sisters care for her ailing father, Huw (Ian Saynor).

He was the chief of police in his youth and passed his love of the job on to Cadi, who was an apparently successful detective in a big city. We say “apparently” because Cadi, like pretty much every cop on television, has more trouble figuring out the missteps in her own life than she has figuring out the misdeeds of others.

Hidden’s story begins when the body of 16-year-old Mali Pryce washes up, and John immediately notes that she has deep slashes on her wrists, consistent with being shackled.

The plot thickens when it’s discovered that Mali was reported missing five years earlier. The news of her death thereby proves understandably infuriating to her father Alun (Owen Arwyn) and her sister Lea (Lara Catrin). They want to know why the police didn’t track Mali down before she was dead, and Alun thinks he knows why: because he’s an ex-con and therefore his family isn’t worth the trouble.

There isn’t much Cadi and her partner Owen Vaughan (Sion Alun Davies) can say, but Alun’s question does become one of the many they must try to answer, particularly after there are indications Mali may not be the only victim.

Hidden doesn’t throw a lot of information at viewers right away. The first episode instead introduces us to a number of seemingly random people around town, including nurse Lowri Driscoll (Lois Meleri-Jones), who is being stalked by a psycho acquaintance named Marc, and an introverted factory worker named Dylan Harris (Rhodri Meilir), who seems to live at home with his very angry mother Iona (Gillian Elisa) and his young daughter Nia (Elodie Wilton).

We also meet Megan Ruddock (Gwyneth Keyworth), a university student who seems to be severely depressed.

So this isn’t the happiest band of campers anywhere, and Hidden has placed them all in a remote, rugged and quite lovely corner of Wales.

Let the sordid secrets begin to spill.

Hidden scores points for some well-turned asides along the way, including the way Owen’s eye keeps wandering to detective constable Alys Mitchell (Sarah Tempest).

Like many recent crime-driven miniseries, Hidden doesn’t startle us with any new approach to its subject or any heretofore unseen resolution. Rather, it works at telling a story through flawed characters whose ultimate mission seems compelling enough so we want to see how it turns out.

We do.

http://www.tvworthwatching.com/BlogPostDetails.aspx?postId=16746
 

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TV/Production Notes (Streaming)
Anne Rice's 'Vampire Chronicles' Lands at Hulu
By Lesley Goldberg, The Hollywood Reporter - Jul. 17, 2018

EXCLUSIVE: Two years after being put in development, Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles TV series has found a home.

In a competitive situation with multiple outlets pursuing the drama, Hulu has landed Vampire Chronicles. The streamer, home to Emmy darling The Handmaid's Tale, has put the drama in development.

Bryan Fuller, who boarded the Paramount Television and Anonymous Content drama as showrunner in January, exited the project six months ago. Fuller opted to step back from the project rather than step on the toes of longtime friends Anne Rice and her son, Christopher Rice, who penned the original script. (Christopher Rice is a four-time New York Times best-selling author and recipient of the Lambda Literary Award.)

Anne and Christopher Rice will exec produce the potential series alongside Anonymous Content's David Kanter and Steve Golin.

Paramount Television and Anonymous Content optioned the rights to 11 books from Rice's Vampire Chronicles franchise back in April 2017. More than 100 million copies have been sold worldwide. Rice's Interview With the Vampire was first published in 1976 and served as the basis for the 1994 feature of the same name starring Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Kirsten Dunst and Antonio Banderas.

The Vampire Chronicles deal extends Paramount Television's with Hulu beyond the George Clooney limited series Catch-22. Paramount TV's scripted roster includes Netflix's 13 Reasons Why, Amazon's Jack Ryan, TNT's The Alienist and more.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/anne-rices-vampire-chronicles-lands-at-hulu-1127585
 

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TV Notes (Cable)
Walking Dead Taps Lauren Ridloff to Play AMC Drama's First Deaf Character
By Michael Ausiello, TVLine.com - Jul. 17, 2018

Tony nominee Lauren Ridloff is joining The Walking Dead‘s ninth season as a deaf character who uses “her senses to read people, situations, and trouble,” reports EW.com. Ridloff, who is deaf herself, earned a 2018 Tony nomination for her starring role in Broadway’s Children of a Lesser God.

The actress will appear in multiple episodes as Connie, a seasoned survivor who communicates via American Sign Language (ASL).

As previously reported, Season 9 of Walking Dead kicks off with a significant time jump. “[It’s] big enough that the world has changed around our characters,” new showrunner Angela Kang recently told TVLine. “We’ll see some new looks and new feels to the show, and there will be more instances of man-made things breaking down and nature kind of taking over. [Our survivors] will also be using more hand weapons, because there’s just not enough ammo.”

Kang, meanwhile, declined to comment on the series’ presumed new setting of Washington D.C. “I don’t want to spoil too much for the fans,” she hedged, “but there are some interesting things coming up.”

https://tvline.com/2018/07/16/the-walking-dead-lauren-ridloff-season-9-cast-connie-deaf/
 

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TV Notes
On The Air Tonight
TUESDAY 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. 17, 2018

ABC:
8PM - The Middle
(R)
8:30PM - The Middle
(R)
9PM - Blackish
(R)
9:30PM - Blackish
(R)
10PM - The Last Defense
* * * *
11:35AM - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Jonah Hill; director Bo Burnham; Jim James performs)
12:37AM - Nightline

CBS:
8PM - NCIS
(R)
9PM - Bull
(R)
10PM - NCIS: New Orleans
(R)
* * *
11:35PM - The Late Show With Stephen Colbert (Chrissy Metz; comic Lewis Black; Luke Combs performs)
12:37AM - The Late Late Show With James Corden (Will Ferrell; Eva Longoria; comic Jo Koy)
(R)

NBC:
8PM - America's Got Talent (120 min.)
10PM - World of Dance
* * * *
11:34PM - The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (David Spade; Lily James; Charlie Puth performs)
12:37AM - Late Night With Seth Meyers (Joel McHale; singer-songwriter Beth Ditto; comic Nimesh Patel; Emmanuelle Caplette sits in with the 8G Band)
1:38AM - Last Call With Carson Daly (Omari Hardwick; Youngr performs; Matilda Lutz)
(R)

FOX:
8PM - 2018 MLB All-Star Game: American League at National League (LIVE)

THE CW:
8PM - The 100
9PM - The Outpost

PBS:
8PM - 10 Monuments That Changed America
9PM - No Passport Required: New Orleans
10PM - Frontline: Blackout in Puerto Rico
(R)

UNIVISION:
8PM - El Rico y Lázaro
9PM - La Bella y Las Bestias
10PM - El Chapo

TELEMUNDO:
7PM - Exatlón (120 min.)
9PM - Sin Senos Sí Hay Paraíso
10PM - El Señor de Los Cielos

FREEFORM:
8PM - The Bold Type

NBCSN:
8PM - 2018 Tour de France: Stage 10 (3 hrs.)

NICKELODEON:
8PM - Double Dare

TV ONE:
8PM - We're the Campbells

USA:
8PM - WWE Smackdown! (120 min.)
10PM - Chrisley Knows Best (32 min.)
10:32PM - The Cromarties (Season Finale)

FOOD NETWORK:
9PM - Chopped (Season Premiere)

LIFETIME:
9PM - Married at First Sight (63 min.)
10:03PM - Seven Year Switch (Season Premiere)

MTV:
9PM - The Challenge
10PM - Fear Factor (Season Premiere)
* * * *
11:01PM - Fear Factor

OWN:
9PM - The Haves and the Have Nots
10PM - Love Is...

SYFY:
9PM - Face Off

TNT:
9PM - Animal Kingdom
10PM - Animal Kingdom
(R)

BET:
10PM - Hit the Floor

TVLAND:
10PM - Younger (36 min.)
10:36PM - Teachers

COMEDY CENTRAL:
10PM - Drunk History
10:30PM - The Jim Jefferies Show
* * * *
11PM - The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Musician Wiz Khalifa)

AMC:
11PM - Humans
12:01AM - Humans

TBS:
11PM - Conan (Eva Longoria; Luke Hemsworth; Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite perform)
(R)

WGN AMERICA:
1AM - 100 Code


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

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TV/Production Notes (Broadcast)
‘Batwoman’ TV Series From Greg Berlanti in the Works at The CW
By Jennifer Maas, TheWrap.com - Jul. 17, 2018

The CW is adding yet another superhero to its team. The network has a “Batwoman” TV series from executive producer Greg Berlanti in development for 2019, with a lesbian character taking over the titular role.

Here is the official logline for the project: Armed with a passion for social justice and a flair for speaking her mind, Kate Kane soars onto the streets of Gotham as Batwoman, an out lesbian and highly trained street fighter primed to snuff out the failing city’s criminal resurgence. But don’t call her a hero yet. In a city desperate for a savior, Kate must overcome her own demons before embracing the call to be Gotham’s symbol of hope. Based on the characters from DC.

As The CW announced at its upfront presentation in May, Batwoman will first appear as part of the network’s DC crossover event in December. No casting news has been released for the series yet.

https://www.thewrap.com/batwoman-tv-series-greg-berlanti-works-cw/
As my Mom used to say, oy.
 

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Media/Business Notes (Streaming)
Walmart Plots Rival to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video
By Jessica Toonkel, Tom Dotan and Priya Anand, TheInformation.com - Jul. 17, 2018

Walmart is considering launching a subscription streaming video service to compete with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, people familiar with the situation told The Information. Such a move could be enormously costly for the retailer but would demonstrate its determination to compete on multiple fronts with Amazon in particular.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer sees an opportunity to undercut Netflix and Amazon on price. Walmart is thinking of a service priced below $8 per month, according to one of the people. Netflix has been steadily raising the price of its service, which now costs between $8 and $14 a month, while Amazon charges $8.99 a month for its Prime Video service. Walmart is also considering an ad-supported free service.

Discussions are still ongoing, and the retailer may eventually decide against offering a service. But Walmart executives believe their customers, particularly in the middle of America, would be interested in a lower-cost option than what is currently available, the person said. Netflix and Amazon are seen as more popular with people on the East and West Coasts of the U.S., one of the people said. A Walmart spokesperson had no immediate comment.

While Walmart already offers an online video on demand service called Vudu, that hasn't become popular. Launch of a subscription service would be a major expansion in entertainment. In taking such a step, Walmart would join numerous tech and telecom companies that see TV shows as a way to attract customers. Apple is now financing production of shows for a new service, while Facebook has launched a video offering called Facebook Watch. AT&T is investing heavily in entertainment, through the purchase of Time Warner and DirecTV. The competition has increased the amount of TV shows being produced, making it harder for any one service to draw viewers.

One big question is whether Walmart has the appetite to spend the billions of dollars necessary to line up programming. While cable TV services make lots of money, cheaper online video services introduced in recent years tend to lose money because of the high cost of programming. Netflix, for instance, has said it will burn through $3 billion to $4 billion in cash this year, which it is financing by raising money in the bond market.

But Walmart has plenty of money. Last year it generated $17 billion in cash, after what it spent on property and equipment, its financial statements show. Dividends consumed $6 billion, but even so, Walmart could easily match what Netflix is burning through. But Walmart’s shareholders may have less patience for a major money-losing investment in video, given the intense competition that already exists and the uncertainty about the return that Walmart would get on the investment.

It is possible that Walmart could raise outside cash from media-focused private equity firms, to help it finance the production or acquisition of shows and movies. Walmart also could acquire a studio to get access to its library—there are some smaller studios like Lionsgate or MGM that are potential acquisition targets.

It’s also possible that a cable network company could invest money in a Walmart service in exchange for an ownership stake, as a way of getting its programming on the service. Broadcast networks NBC, Fox and ABC took stakes in Hulu to ensure they could get their shows on that service.

Walmart first dipped its toes into entertainment in 2010 when it bought Vudu, a video-on-demand service that currently offers 100,000 titles of movies and shows. But Vudu draws a fraction of the viewership of rival services. In May, users spent almost 18,000 hours on Vudu, compared to more than 897,000 hours watching Netflix and over 315,000 hours on Amazon Prime, according to Comscore. Walmart hasn’t given up, however: It has been hiring people to work on it in Los Angeles.

Competition between Amazon and Walmart has been ramping up across various markets. Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods last year pitted it squarely against Walmart in the brick-and-mortar retail area, and also made it easier for Amazon to offer same-day delivery for online grocery orders. Walmart has responded by rolling out same-day deliveries. Walmart has already purchased bargain ecommerce site Jet.com and online clothing brands like Bonobos.com. It has invested heavily in engineering resources.

In India, Walmart beat Amazon in a bidding war for local e-commerce firm Flipkart. Amazon has invested heavily to build its own business in India, however, so the two companies are now direct competitors there.

https://www.theinformation.com/articles/walmart-plots-rival-to-netflix-amazon-prime-video?eu=Ep4B_RcGsAVLXvZOTkkaHw&utm_medium=email&utm_source=sg&utm_campaign=article_email
 

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Obituary
Henry Morgenthau III, producer who helped shape public television, dies at 101
By Tara Bahrampour, Washington Post

Henry Morgenthau III, a TV producer and documentarian who helped shape public television in its early days and provided a forum for the nation’s civil rights conversation in the 1960s, died July 11 at a retirement community in Washington. He was 101.

The cause was complications from aortic stenosis, his daughter Sarah Morgenthau said.

A scion of a prominent German-Jewish family, Mr. Morgenthau was a son of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s treasury secretary, a grandson of the U.S. ambassador to the Ottoman Empire under President Woodrow Wilson, the older brother of former Manhattan district attorney Robert M. Morgenthau, and a cousin of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Barbara W. Tuchman.

He grew up moving comfortably among Washington and New York political and literary society, although he said his Jewish heritage made him often feel like an outsider at times. That contradiction would inform his professional life as a teller of stories, on screen and in print.

His years as a producer at WGBH in Boston, from 1955 to 1977, coincided with the birth of public television. Mr. Morgenthau was inspired by “the whole concept of using television to educate and also tell stories of marginalized people in society,” his son Kramer Morgenthau said.

He was among the first American TV producers to bring a crew into apartheid South Africa. He also produced “Prospects of Mankind,” a weekly show hosted by former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt featuring roundtable discussions of foreign and domestic affairs with political, academic and media experts.

As executive producer at WGBH, one of the country’s premier public television outlets, his shows won Peabody and Emmy awards, among other honors. His 1963 program “The Negro and the American Promise” consisted of one-on-one interviews with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and James Baldwin. It aired at a fraught period, after Alabama Gov. George Wallace defiantly declared support for “segregation forever” and before the March on Washington. Footage from the Baldwin interview appeared in the Oscar-nominated documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” (2016).

In 1991, he wrote “Mostly Morgenthaus,” a book about his family that chronicles the lives of his great-grandfather, a Bavarian cigar maker who moved to New York in 1866, and his grandfather, Henry Morgenthau Sr., who unsuccessfully pushed the U.S. to intervene in the 1915 Armenian genocide.

His father, Henry Morgenthau Jr., played an integral role in designing the New Deal and in financing U.S. participation in World War II. He pushed for the U.S. to do more to help Jews suffering persecution in Europe, and continued to help shape foreign policy after the war.

“He grew up at a time when the government — and certainly the New Deal — was looking out for the underdog of society,” said Kramer Morgenthau. “That was tremendously inspiring to him, and at the same time he had tremendous pressure on him to live up to his family’s reputation. . . . I think he needed to find his own voice.”

Henry Morgenthau III was born at home in New York City on Jan. 11, 1917. He was the oldest of three children of the former Elinor Fatman and Henry Morgenthau Jr., and a great-grandson of Mayer Lehman, a co-founder of the securities firm Lehman Brothers.

Notable deaths so far this year
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The family had a home near Roosevelt’s estate at Hyde Park, N.Y., and the young Mr. Morgenthau later recalled slipping out of bed to listen to the adults talk over dinner, with Roosevelt’s sonorous baritone and contagious laughter rising above the other voices.

His assimilated Jewish family inhabited their religion uneasily. His youth was shaped by deep strains of anti-Semitism during the run-up to World War II. In his book, he recalled a playmate asking him, then 5, what religion he was. He asked his mother, who winced and answered, “If anyone ever asks you that again, just tell them you’re American.”

Mr. Morgenthau attended Princeton University, where he majored in art history, ran cross-country, joined the glee club and served on the editorial board of the student newspaper. Despite his family’s social prominence he was, along with several other Jewish students, denied entry into the university’s prestigious eating clubs.

The following year, he “transcended his hurt and transformed a personal attack into a kind of mitzvah,” author David Michaelis, a longtime friend, wrote in an email to Mr. Morgenthau’s children after his death.

Each week during that winter, Michaelis added, “Henry had gone to the rear doors of the most selective of Prospect Street’s eating clubs, and from the African American cooks there in those kitchens, he had received the kindness of large quantities of leftovers and scraped food from the club tables, and he had transported this Depression-era manna back across campus and down Witherspoon Street to the African American parish that ran a food kitchen for the neediest in the community.”

After graduating in 1939, Mr. Morgenthau served in the Army in Europe during World War II and received the Bronze Star Medal.

In addition to his work at WGBH, he also was acting program manager at WNYC in New York, worked with Eleanor Roosevelt on a radio and TV production business, and served as manager of a communication research institute at Brandeis University.

While working on a documentary about Tanzania, he was introduced to Ruth Schachter, an African politics expert who taught at Boston University and later at Brandeis. Her Jewish family had fled Vienna in 1938, and their relationship nudged Mr. Morgenthau to embrace his own religion more fully. They married in 1962.

His wife died in 2006. Survivors include three children, Sarah Morgenthau of Washington, Henry “Ben” Morgenthau IV of Danville, Calif., and Kramer Morgenthau of Los Angeles; his brother; and six grandchildren.

Mr. Morgenthau settled in Washington from the Boston area in 2010 and took up a new vocation: writing poetry. Just before turning 100 he published his first collection, “A Sunday In Purgatory.” The poems draw on his memories coming of age in 1930s New York; his father’s account of Franklin Roosevelt’s final dinner; and musings on old age and mortality.

The poems also explored what he called his lifelong fears of being “uncovered,” that somehow he did not meet expectations. “I try to tell you the truth,/half hoping you don’t hear me,/as I desperately try to expel/something stuck in my soul/I can’t bear to live with,/but don’t want to die with.”

“I don’t know just what or why I started,” he told The Washington Post last year. “I showed it to a few people and I was encouraged to go on. It developed in sort of conflicting ways. On the one hand it was a way of separating myself from my heritage of a distinguished family.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/henry-morgenthau-iii-producer-who-helped-shape-public-television-dies-at-101/2018/07/14/6af48dcc-86bc-11e8-8f6c-46cb43e3f306_story.html?utm_term=.d1669de77901
 

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Technology/Business Notes
Amazon estimated to sell $3.5 billion during Prime Day sale, even after outage
By Elizabeth Weise, USA Today - Jul. 18, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO — Why did Amazon's site and app go down in the first hour of Prime Day? Amazon's not saying, but the outage shows that online shopping is not yet an infallible replacement for brick and mortar.

The 36-hour sale launched at noon Seattle time on Monday and immediately there were problems that kept users from using three Amazon channels — the Amazon.com website, the mobile shopping app and the digital voice assistant.

The glitch was embarrassing but wasn't likely to put much of a dent in Amazon's sales for the event, analysts said. Zentail, an e-commerce operating system, estimated that as of midnight Tuesday Seattle time, Amazon had sold $3.5 billion worth of goods. Amazon shares hit a record high Monday and Jeff Bezos became the richest man in modern history, assuming bragging rights once held by Bill Gates.

The problems of the world's second largest e-commerce provider during its much-hyped sale are a reminder that despite more than 20 years of growth in online sales, the shift to the Internet is not trouble-free.

It’s not uncommon for retail sites to go down in times of high traffic. Certainly many companies experienced trouble during Black Friday and Cyber Monday in last year's holiday shopping season.

And last week YouTube went down in the middle of the World Cup soccer semifinal match between England and Croatia.

Sometimes those outages are simply a capacity issue – too many people trying to crowd onto a site that doesn’t have enough storage or computing power to accommodate the requests.

That seems unlikely given that Amazon owns AWS, the world’s largest and most popular cloud computing network, and could easily and quickly add more capacity.

"As the masters of highly-available, scalable public cloud infrastructure, I think we can hold Amazon to a higher standard," said Timothy de Paris, chief technical officer of Decibel, a digital analytics company.

That has led some to believe it was a data problem rather than a hardware problem, because it affected multiple parts of the Amazon system, including the home page and the add-to-cart button, and because it impacted both web and mobile appsacross much of the United States. What's more, the problem was intermittent.

“I won’t be surprised if it turns out to be some type of human error that used the wrong database or ran the wrong process on a data set, or something along those lines,” said Jason Goldberg, senior vice president for commerce at Publicis.Sapient, a consulting company that provides business, marketing, and technology services.

In a statement, Amazon said that it realized there had been issues. "It wasn't all a walk in the (dog) park, we had a ruff start," the statement said, alluding to the photos of cute but contrite dogs that appeared on its mobile app saying there was a problem.

Trouble on Aisle 4

Those problems persisted for much of the first hour of the sale and beyond for many users.

On Amazon.com it was not possible for many users to make purchases well into the second hour of the sale. Users could access their online shopping cart, but when they attempted to purchase something, they got a note saying, "Sorry, we're experiencing unusually heavy traffic. Please try again in a few seconds. Your items are still waiting in your cart."

When users attempted to click on the "Shop Deals by Interest" portion of the main page, the website only allowed users to click through to a page that said "Shop All Deals," which then took them back to the home page in an endless loop.

On smart phones, the Amazon app returned a photo of a contrite-looking dog and the words, "Uh-Oh. Something went wrong on our end." The app came back online after the website did, about an hour and 45 minutes into the sale.

Amazon's voice-operated digital assistant also malfunctioned. Alexa-only offers didn't come through for much of Monday afternoon.

When users asked Alexa for today's Daily Deals, the response said: "I've been busy today. All my deals are sold out. Check back later."

https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/talkingtech/2018/07/17/amazon-estimated-sell-2-4-billion-since-start-prime-day/792466002/
 

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Technology/Business Notes (International)
Google Fined a Record $5 Billion by European Antitrust Officials
By Nick Vivarelli, Variety.com - Jul. 18, 2018

The European Commission has fined Google a record $5 billion (€4.34 billion) for breaching EU antitrust rules, a decision the internet search giant immediately said it would appeal.

The fine stems from Google practices that the commission said were used “to cement its dominant position in general internet search,” according to a commission statement. The statement said Google required handset manufacturers to pre-install the Google Search app and its Chrome browser, limiting rival search engines, and also “made payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-installed the Google Search app on their devices.”

The statement added that Google “prevented manufacturers wishing to pre-install Google apps from selling even a single smart mobile device running on alternative versions of Android.”

Google denied engaging in anti-competitive practices. “Android has created more choice for everyone, not less,” said Google spokesman Al Verney. “A vibrant ecosystem, rapid innovation and lower prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition. We will appeal the commission’s decision.”

The commission accused Google of plotting for years to maintain its stranglehold on the internet-search market. “Google obtains the vast majority of its revenues via its flagship product, the Google search engine,” Wednesday’s statement said. “The company understood early on that the shift from desktop PCs to mobile internet, which started in the mid-2000s, would be a fundamental change for Google Search. So, Google developed a strategy to anticipate the effects of this shift, and to make sure that users would continue to use Google Search also on their mobile devices.”

About 80% of smart mobile devices in Europe and worldwide run on Android, whose original developer Google bought in 2005, the commission said. Google must now bring its practices “effectively to an end within 90 days or face penalty payments of up to 5% of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.”

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, acknowledged during a news conference in Brussels that Google’s version of Android does not prevent device owners from downloading alternative web browsers or using other search engines. But she said only 1% of users downloaded a competing search app and 10% a different browser.

Google’s practices “have denied rivals the chance to innovate and compete on the merits,” Vestager said in the statement issued by the European Commission. “They have denied European consumers the benefits of effective competition in the important mobile sphere. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules.”

This is not the first time European authorities have slapped the internet-search giant with a massive antitrust fine. In June 2017, the European Commission said Google had to pay a €2.42 billion fine for favoring its shopping service in searches, in breach of antitrust rules. Google has appealed that fine as well, and a final ruling is still pending.

https://variety.com/2018/digital/news/google-european-commission-android-5-billion-fine-1202876575/
 

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Nielsen Notes (Cable)
Vladimir Putin Debuts As Ratings Magnet For Fox News Channel Post-Summit
By Lisa de Moraes, Deadline.com - Jul. 17, 2018

Post summit sit-downs with Russian Ruler Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump catapulted Fox News Channel ratings on Monday.

First, Chris Wallace’s riveting tiff with Putin produced an average of 3.2 million viewers, 542K of whom fell into the 25-54 age bracket – impressive 6 PM stats. Wallace’s interview aired in Bret Baier’s Special Report program, which shot up 58% in overall audience and 82% in the demo compared to same night last year.

Putin ran circles around CNN’s Situation Room (1.089M, 376K) and MSNBC’s The Beat with Ari Melber (1.754M, 333K).

Three hours later, when Trump stopped by Sean Hannity’s FNC show, 4 million viewers followed, 800K in the news demographic, which was 87% better overall and 141% better, demo-wise, than same night last year. Hannity’s show, as usual, was the night’s top ranked cable news show, though MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show (3.538M, 765K) came within spitting distance of Trump in the hour.

Trump and Putin proved quite the ratings act for FNC’s primetime, which clocked an average of 3.3M viewers, with 684K in the demo. MSNBC came closest with 2.9M viewers, 625K in the demo, while CNN followed with 1.7M viewers of whom 593K hit the target age bracket.

https://deadline.com/2018/07/vladimir-putin-donald-trump-fox-news-channel-ratings-magnet-post-summit-1202428358/

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Nielsen Notes (Cable)
‘Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind’ Premiere Draws 1 Million Viewers On HBO
By Denise Petski, Deadline.com - Jul. 17, 2018

Monday night’s premiere of Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind drew more than one million viewers on HBO’s main channel, the highest performing Monday night documentary in 12 years, according to the premium cabler.

That is the best performance for a Monday night docu premiere on HBO since When The Levees Broke Pt. 1 & 2, which drew 1.74 million viewers on August 21, 2006, and is the highest overall viewership for a documentary debut since the January 2017 premiere of Bright Lights, which aired on a Saturday night, with 1.55 million viewers.

Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind is an intimate portrait of Williams, told largely by the comedian himself, examining his life, career, and what drove him to give voice to the characters in his mind.

The documentary features never-before-seen footage and in-depth interviews with Billy Crystal, Eric Idle, Whoopi Goldberg, David Letterman, Steve Martin, Pam Dawber, Zak Williams and others.

Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind is directed by Marina Zenovich, produced by Alex Gibney and Shirel Kozak, with executive producers Sheila Nevins, David Steinberg, Kristen Vaurio, and Zenovich.

https://deadline.com/2018/07/robin-williams-come-inside-my-mind-premiere-draws-1-million-viewers-hbo-1202428194/
 

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TV/Production Notes (Streaming)
Amazon Orders Matt Reeves-Produced Sci-Fi Series ‘Tales From the Loop’
By Tim Baysinger, TheWrap.com - Jul. 17, 2018

Amazon Studios has greenlit, “Tales from the Loop,” an hour-long science-fiction series executive produced by “War for Planet of the Apes” director Matt Reeves.

The genre series is based on the famous artwork of Simon Stålenhag. A co-production with Fox 21 Television Studios, the eight-episode series will be helmed by executive producer Nathaniel Halpern, with Mark Romanek directing the pilot episode.

“Tales from the Loop” explores the town and people who live above “The Loop,” a machine built to unlock and explore the mysteries of the universe — making things possible that were previously relegated only to science fiction. In this fantastical, mysterious town, poignant human tales are told that bare universal emotional experiences while drawing on the intrigue of genre storytelling.

“I was immediately intrigued by the idea of bringing Stålenhag’s incredible paintings to life, but it’s Nathaniel’s deeply inspired vision for this world, and the stories he has created from an incredibly passionate and emotional place, that will drive this series and its storytelling. Together with Mark’s brilliant visual sensibility and unique point of view, it makes this a truly exceptional project and the perfect one to partner with Amazon in our studio’s first direct-to-series order at the streamer,” commented Jane Francis, EVP of Fox 21 Television Studios.

Reeves will executive produce “Tales from the Loop” under his Sixth & Idaho company with Adam Kassan and Rafi Crohn also on board as executive producers. Reeves is set to direct Warner Bros.’ upcoming “The Batman” standalone feature (that may or not star Ben Affleck as the Caped Crusader. Earlier this year, he set a first-look deal with Netflix, but was based at Fox before that.

“Simon Stålenhag’s paintings are renowned for their vision of a not-too-distant, futuristic landscape. We are looking forward to bringing that to life and sharing it with our Prime Video audience,” said Albert Cheng, Co-Head of Television, Amazon Studios.

https://www.thewrap.com/amazon-series-matt-reeves-sci-fi-tales-from-the-loop/
 

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TV Notes/Q&A (Broadcast)
‘Simpsons’ Creator Matt Groening Says Debate Around Apu Is ‘Tainted’
By Dave Itzkoff, The New York Times - Jul. 18, 2018

In the nearly 30 years that it has been on the air, “The Simpsons” has perhaps been more accustomed to dispensing cultural criticism than to receiving it. Yet this long-running Fox animated comedy has found itself at the center of a debate over its depiction of one of its supporting characters, a convenience-store owner named Apu.

Apu, who was introduced on “The Simpsons” in 1990, has been criticized by some viewers as a mocking Indian caricature, one who speaks in a stereotypical accent provided by a voice actor, Hank Azaria, who is Caucasian. This argument has gained visibility from works like “The Problem With Apu,” a documentary created by the comedian Hari Kondabolu, and it was hardly quelled by the show’s apparent response, an April “Simpsons” episode in which the characters briefly attempted to address it.

(Speaking directly to the camera, Lisa Simpson said: “Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?” As Lisa glanced at a picture of Apu, Marge Simpson said, “Some things will be dealt with at a later date.” Lisa added, “If at all.”)

Mr. Azaria said he was “happy to step aside” as the voice of the character. But in an interview with USA Today, the “Simpsons” creator Matt Groening seemed to add fuel to the fire by remarking: “I’m proud of what we do on the show. And I think it’s a time in our culture where people love to pretend they’re offended.”

Mr. Groening, who will appear at Comic-Con this week to promote his new Netflix animated series, “Disenchantment,” spoke recently to The New York Times for a coming feature about that show. When the discussion turned to Apu, he shared his feelings about the character and explained why the criticism caught him off guard. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.


The attempt by “The Simpsons” to at least acknowledge the controversy around Apu seems to have only made viewers more upset. How did you feel about that?
Well, I love Apu. I love the character, and it makes me feel bad that it makes other people feel bad. But on the other hand, it’s tainted now — the conversation, there’s no nuance to the conversation now. It seems very, very clunky. I love the character. I love the show.

How will you handle the character going forward?
We’re not sure exactly how it’s going to play out. Back in the day, I named the character after the Apu Trilogy by Satyajit Ray. I love Indian culture and Indian film and Indian music. I thought that the name was a signal that we had, at least, a scholarly intention. I thought maybe a kid was going to grow up and find out what the name came from and go watch the Apu Trilogy, which are the greatest films, basically, in the history of cinema.

Does that mean a moratorium on further appearances by Apu for the time being?
If we come up with a good story we’ll do it, but some of the stuff the show got taken to task for, we covered in an episode a couple of years ago [in 2016’s “Much Apu About Something”]. Oh well.

What did you mean when you said “people love to pretend they’re offended”?
That wasn’t specifically about Apu. That was about our culture in general. And that’s something I’ve noticed for the last 25 years. There is the outrage of the week and it comes and goes. For a while, it was, believe it or not, kids were stealing quarters out of their mothers’ purses in order to go to the video arcade, and that was going to bring down civilization. No one even remembers that, because that lasted a week. I think particularly right now, people feel so aggrieved and crazed and powerless that they’re picking the wrong battles.

Do you believe the people who have raised questions about the depiction of Apu are sincere in their beliefs?
Sure, and my guess is I agree, politically, with 99 percent of the things that Hari Kondabolu believes. We just disagree on Apu. I love the character and I would hate for him to go away. I am sorry that “The Simpsons” would be criticized for having an Indian character that, because of our extraordinary popularity — I expected other people to do it. I go, maybe he’s a problem, but who’s better? Who’s a better Indian animated character in the last 30 years? I’ve been to India twice and talked about “The Simpsons” in front of audiences. That’s why this took me by surprise. I know Indians are not the same as Indian-Americans.

Is this a problem that is unique to “The Simpsons” and its longevity, that it has lasted long enough to span multiple eras of cultural thought and taste?
But there is a thoughtfulness at the core of the show. The fact that the Simpsons are yellow and not the color that passes for Caucasian in cartoons, that Mickey Mouse pink, that’s intentional. It’s taking that pink away, and making it yellow. And then taking yellow away from whatever racist connotation that that has had. And that was intentional. As many people have pointed out, it’s all stereotypes on our show. That’s the nature of cartooning. And you try not to do reprehensible stereotypes. Anyway. I probably said too much.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/18/arts/television/simpsons-matt-groening-apu.html?rref=collection/sectioncollection/television&action=click&contentCollection=television&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront
 

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Nielsen Overnights (Broadcast)
'Bachelorette' Scores Season High
By Michael O'Connell, The Hollywood Reporter - Jul. 17, 2018

The Bachelorette got a solid boost Monday night, easily pushing ABC to wins in the key demo and total viewers.

The series pulled in a 1.6 rating among adults 18-49, matching its season high. Among total viewers, it nabbed a new high 6.3 million viewers. Those lifts between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. also assisted The Proposal, albeit not by much. That ABC dating reality show earned a 0.8 rating in the key demo, making it the No. 2 series for the hour.

NBC saw some modest gains of its own for American Ninja Warrior. Another two-hour episode averaged a 1.1 rating among adults 18-49 before a strong Monday outing for the newsmagazine Dateline (0.9 adults).

The night suffered no lack of new programming. Fox put out a new So You Think You Can Dance (0.6 adults), while CBS tested the waters with an encore of the TKO premiere before flat episodes of Salvation (0.3 adults) and Elementary (0.4 adults). (The latter two really aren't looking so hot.) The CW aired a new Penn & Teller: Fool Us and back-to-back episodes of Whose Line Is It Anyway, averaging a pretty steady 0.3 rating among adults 18-49 throughout primetime.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/bachelorette-ratings-hit-season-high-week-8-1127690
 

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TV Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Jul. 18, 2018

2018 ESPY AWARDS
ESPN, 8:00 p.m. ET

It’s been true for generations now, that some rock stars want to be movie stars and vice versa, and some athletes want to be all three. That’s why the ESPYS is such an interesting variation on the usual awards show circuit: It’s got plenty of representatives of celebrities from all three disciplines, and each one acts like an unabashed fan of the other. But expect some emotional moments too: awards are scheduled to be given to the female athletes who came forward to speak out against the sexual abuse allegedly committed by former USA gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, and posthumous awards given to the coaches who died shielding students from gunfire in the Parkland, FL school shooting. Tonight’s host is race car driver Danica Patrick.

SUITS
USA, 9:00 p.m. ET
SEASON PREMIERE:
There have to be some major changes in store for Suits this year, because after last season, one of this show’s regulars, acting like a real princess, walked off the show. No, wait – technically, she walked off the show to become a real princess. And when Meghan Markle married Prince Harry this summer, the audience for that TV show was even bigger than last spring’s season finale of Suits. So what happens this year, and who are the new faces? Well, one of them is Katherine Heigl, making a return to series TV yet again – and she’s always welcome.

BOBCAT GOLDTHWAIT'S MISFITS & MONSTERS
TruTV, 10:00 p.m. ET

I was surprised by how dark the comedy in Bobcat Goldthwait’s comedy genre anthology series turned in its premiere episode last week – but only until I remembered it was Bobcat Goldthwait calling the shots. Then it was easy to accept, and appreciate, that what he’s doing here with Misfits & Monsters is, essentially, a new live-action approximation of Tales from the Crypt, over-the-top gory moments and all. And tonight, the plot revolves around a werewolf who runs for high office, embracing rather than concealing his inner monster. The episode is titled “President-Elect by Day, Werewolf by Night.” David Koechner plays the Werewolf-in-Chief, and Dave Foley plays his political strategist.


http://www.tvworthwatching.com/

* * * *

TV Review (Cable)
A Significant Plot Shift Comes With the Return of 'Suits'
By David Hinckley, TVWorthWatching.com's 'All Along the Watchtower' - Jul. 18, 2018

USA’s law drama Suits 8.0: new outfit, same style.

Suits, the last survivor from USA’s fondly remembered “Characters Wanted” days, starts its eighth season at 9 p.m. ET Wednesday with a major character reset.

Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) and Rachel Zane (Meghan Markle), two of the core players in the law firm at the center of the law-and-love story, have departed for new pastures, which in Markle’s case meant marrying a prince of England. You might have seen or heard something about that.

Suits is nonetheless keeping a stiff upper lip and carrying on, even though the show from the beginning had centered on the buddy relationship between the precocious Mike and his boss, the firm’s brilliant managing partner Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht).

Perhaps with Mike’s departure in mind, Suits has, over the past season, gradually ratcheted up the personal relationship between Harvey and his long-time loyal aide Donna Paulsen (Sarah Rafferty).

That kind of quasi-substitution wouldn’t work on every show, but since Donna has quietly become the center pole of Suits, the impact of Mike’s and Rachel’s departure has been minimized.

In fact, it’s been minimized enough that both of the departees can be affectionately referenced without making the audience suddenly get all angry that they aren’t there anymore.

For plot purposes, Suits promotes three supporting characters and adds a fourth to flesh out its new major storylines.

Robert Zane (Wendell Pierce), Rachel’s father, has been a recurring rival of Harvey’s firm. Frenemy is probably a good term in this case, and it takes on added intensity when Robert’s and Harvey’s firms merge to start this season.

Among other things, that sparks an immediate and inevitable clash between Harvey and Robert, alpha males and alpha lawyers unaccustomed to taking orders from anyone else.

Each also brings loyal lieutenants to the battle. For Zane, that means newcomer Samantha Wheeler (Katherine Heigl), a fixer with ambitions to become more. For Specter, that includes Donna and Alex Williams (Dulé Hill), an ambitious star who is pushing to become a name partner.

Still in the lineup, too, we have Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman), a social klutz who provides comic relief as the windbag who regularly gets deflated and also surprises us with occasional bursts of poignancy or legal brilliance.

More screen time seems to have opened up for Katrina Bennett (Amanda Schull), another bright up-and-comer who makes rookie mistakes in the season’s first episode.

Since Suits already lost Harvey’s original professional partner, Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres, who’s getting her own spinoff series Second City), it’s safe to say the mothership has done some serious evolving.

It is still managing, however, to maintain its critical original balance between personal relationship crises, which all characters undergo, and the civil wars inside the world of powerhouse New York law.

Season 8 opens with enough strong pieces in place, particularly Harvey and Donna, to keep the show from feeling crippled. Presumably, we will soon find out whether the new Suits will get to do the town for a couple of seasons or whether USA puts it back on the rack when this one wraps up.

http://www.tvworthwatching.com/BlogPostDetails.aspx?postId=16752
 

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TV/Production Notes (Streaming)
Netflix Orders Two Series from Comics Maestro Mark Millar
By Liam Mathews, TVGuide.com - Jul. 17, 2018

On Tuesday, Netflix announced its first two series orders based on the comics of Mark Millar, whose publishing company Millarworld the streaming company purchased last year: Jupiter's Legacy, adapted from Millar's multi-generational superhero epic; and American Jesus, about a 12-year-old boy who realizes he's the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Jupiter's Legacy tells the story of America's first superheroes, who received their power in the '30s and are now revered, and their children, who struggle to live up to their parents' accomplishments. It's based on Millar and Frank Quitely's 2013 comic series. Daredevil's Steven S. DeKnight will serve as showrunner.

American Jesus follows a 12-year-old-boy who can can turn water into wine, make the crippled walk and possibly even raise the dead. Obviously this means he has some responsibilities a 12-year-old boy may not be equipped to handle. The series will contain dialogue in English and Spanish, and brothers Everardo and Leopold Gout will serve as showrunners. It's based on a 2004 comic series by Millar and Peter Gross.

Netflix also announced three movies based on Millar comics: Empress, a sci-fi movie about a queen who escapes her marriage to the worst dictator in the galaxy; Huck, a thriller about a man whose top-secret powers get exposed to the world; and Sharkey The Bounty Hunter, about a blue-collar bounty-hunter tracking criminals across the galaxy in his converted, rocket-powered ice-cream truck.

Netflix bought Millarworld last summer with the intention of developing the prolific Wanted, Kick-Ass and Kingsman creator's properties into movies and shows, and this first announcement is a big one. As has been made clear over and over again, Netflix goes all in.

https://www.tvguide.com/news/netflix-mark-millar-jupiters-legacy-american-jesus/
 

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TV/Critic's Notes (Cable)
The Healing Buzz of "Drunk History"
Sweet, filthy, and forgiving, it’s a corrective to the authoritative, we-know-better tone of most historical nonfiction.
By Emily Nusssbaum, NewYorker.com - Jul. 23, 2018 Issue

In a recent episode of “Drunk History,” on Comedy Central, Ashley Nicole Black—a writer for “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee”—told the stirring story of how Nichelle Nichols, the African-American actress who played Uhura, on “Star Trek,” helped to integrate nasa. But first Black got tanked with Derek Waters, the show’s host. “To infinity and beyond!” Waters announced. “No,” she said, quizzically, but not unkindly. “Live long and prosper.” Then she taught Waters the Vulcan salute—unable to hold his fingers together, he kept drifting into a much dirtier gesture, “the shocker.” The two giggled, because the situation was ridiculous. There was nothing to get mad about.

“Drunk History” is that kind of show: sweet, filthy, and forgiving. It’s a safe space, from before that term was turned into a partisan weapon. It’s informational, but it doesn’t mind that you don’t know everything, because it gets that nobody does. This openheartedness makes it educational television in a broader, emotional sense—it’s like “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” or “Schoolhouse Rock!,” if those shows had more orgies and Nazis. Like “Star Trek,” it’s a vision of cosmopolitan democracy, right as that ideal is under threat. This Fourth of July, the show made for a surprisingly affecting binge-watch, offering some perspective from the bottom of a shot glass. What was I gonna watch instead, “The Handmaid’s Tale”?

The premise is simple. Each episode has a theme—say, heists or civil rights. There are three segments. In each, Waters teams up with a guest storyteller, who is often a comedian. (Every human who has ever done a podcast seems to have appeared during the show’s five seasons.) Many guests are comparative randos, although the current season also features stars like Questlove, Tiffany Haddish, and Rachel Bloom. In a kitchen, Waters and the narrator mix drinks, chitchat, and get to know each other. Once a buzz has been established, the scene moves to the living room, where the guest tells whatever story is on the agenda: maybe it’s about a “ghost army” that artists built during the Second World War, to distract the Germans, or about the 1963 Children’s March, in Birmingham, Alabama, or about an extremely weird medieval trial involving rats. Some stories are slight and others meaty, but they often feature details that would be relegated to footnotes in more standard histories. (Did you know that one of the creators of the Oxford English Dictionary, W. C. Minor, was a murderer confined to a mental asylum? I did not.)

As the drunk guest narrates, we cut back and forth to a fully produced docudrama, starring other semi-familiar names (Weird Al Yankovic, as Adolf Eichmann; Abbi Jacobson, as Gloria Steinem; Method Man, as Grandmaster Flash). These sequences aren’t scripted; instead, the actors lip-synch the words of the drunk person, which means that the dialogue continually adjusts to pauses, burps, and impaired tangents. Just as you get into the swing of the story of Rasputin, for instance, the tsarina gets lost trying to pronounce “aristocracy.” “Aristococracy—aristocross—aristocrocity,” a sloshed Chris Romano mutters, as the actress who plays the tsarina karaokes along. “I need a ****ing word.”

Silly in theory, strangely effective in practice. The lip-synching makes the show pleasurably unpredictable; it also puts the darker bits at a distance, in a way not unrelated to the reasons that people drink in the first place. Although “Drunk History” has solid production qualities (and an assortment of mustaches to rival that of “The Americans”), it disguises itself as amateur hour: an anecdote told badly, acted in a goofy way, broken up by dad jokes, but beautifully edited. The result is that we are immersed in the specific charisma of each speaker, from the flinty zeal of Paget Brewster to the cool swagger of Mark Gagliardi, in a way that suggests the show’s unspoken theme. On “Drunk History,” history is a game of telephone—one that we’re all participating in, whether we like it or not.

In other words, “Drunk History” is a corrective to the oracular, authoritative, we-know-better tone of most historical nonfiction. Even the best documentaries present themselves as definitive, and this is part of their appeal—to learn, consult an expert. Expertise is trustworthy, which often means that it’s stiff and it doesn’t wiggle. While “Drunk History” is often uplifting, it doesn’t skirt the tough stuff: stories have included slavery and the internment of Japanese-Americans. But it wiggles all over the place, and, because the method is Scotch straight up, the tonal possibilities expand. Outrage and excitement, as well as anxiety and doubt, are welcome here, not as impairments but as intensifiers. Emotion seeps to the surface. Alison Rich gets weepy talking about the Pill. Tiffany Haddish shouts with joy about the rescue of some paintings from the Nazis. “Our genitals are these ****ing question marks dingly-dangling off of the front of our ****ing weirdo mashed-potato bodies” is how Gabe Liedman summarizes Alfred Kinsey’s theories.

Waters encourages the hosts throughout, making small jokes, as any good listener would. He teases and gets teased, but he never humiliates anyone. People often apologize for being drunk (“I’m way drunker than I thought” is a frequent refrain); once in a while, someone goes overboard and throws up or passes out—though this was more common in an earlier, fascinatingly raw version of the show, which appeared on Funny or Die. Whenever that kind of disaster does happen, it’s treated with an astonishing compassion, gilding the show in warmth and humility. Similarly, during rare moments when someone resists Waters, or gets competitive about jokes, it feels as interesting as the historical elements. At times, the show seems to be as much about the delicacy of talking to a near-stranger as it is about anything else. That feels political, too.

* * * *

Effortlessness like this takes craft. Drunkenness is not enough, which we know for certain, since the experiment has been tried across the Atlantic. The British “Drunk History”—which you can catch in clips on YouTube—is terrible. It’s depressing. It’s not funny, but that’s not really the problem. It has the same setup: a tanked performer tells a story, which is acted out, via lip-synch, by actors in costume. But there’s no host, no I-Thou dynamic—and therefore no intimacy, no compassion—and so it becomes a show about drinking alone, in public. It’s a show about exposure, not vulnerability. Instead of Waters, we get a horribly chipper narrator (Jimmy Carr), who records a voice-over but who never meets the guest drinkers. Those poor dupes are just shown in the kitchen or the living room, as the screen displays what they drank, like court testimony after a frat hazing. Perhaps as a result, the storytellers are more frequently bored, glib, or snide, the tones people adopt when they’re afraid. In one segment, about the criminals the Kray twins, the storyteller makes a dumb fart joke. He begs the cameras, “Please don’t use that!,” then pauses, drops his eyes, and adds, abashed, “You’re going to have to use that, aren’t you?” No one responds. It’s hard to create chemistry with Big Brother.

It’s easy to create chemistry with Derek Waters, who is an undercelebrated gift to television, very much in the tradition of Fred Rogers—the host as role model. He’s handsome in an accessible way, like a friend’s brother you meet at a wedding. He has dark hair and sympathetic eyes, and he’s not skinny and not fat. Unsurprisingly, he strikes sparks with everyone; this season, during an episode with Mae Whitman, the two ended up swaying in a doorway, seemingly on the verge of kissing. But there’s romance in more platonic interactions, too. Waters maintains a connection even when his guest goes meta, letting us see the frame beyond the frame. “I feel the magic has been taken out of my soul and put onto display,” Mark Gagliardi mumbles from the couch, in one episode. “Well, that’s what happens when you do television,” Waters says, companionably, as he cleans the sink. He drinks, but he doesn’t get drunk. He gets just drunk enough. “To you and me” is the way he begins one toast. There are worse mottoes.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/07/23/the-healing-buzz-of-drunk-history
 

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TV/Technology Notes (Streaming)
Netflix redesigns TV interface with new sidebar and separate sections for shows and movies
By Chris Welch, TheVerge.com - Jul. 18, 2018

Netflix just announced that it has given a major overhaul to the user experience on its TV apps. “The new interface was based on rigorous research and testing around how we can make it easier to find titles on TVs, where navigation can feel a bit tougher when you are restricted to just a few buttons on a remote control,” wrote Stephen Garcia, Netflix’s director of product innovation, in a blog post. The refreshed look is rolling out globally beginning today to Netflix’s apps for game consoles, set-top boxes, built-in smart TV apps, and so on.

The biggest addition is a new sidebar on the left with separate sections for Search, Home, Series (TV shows), Movies, My List, and New. Unfortunately, there’s no breakout section for content that’s leaving Netflix in the near future, which would’ve been a great way to catch stuff before it goes. Netflix’s design looks similar to the sidebar that YouTube uses for its TV-based apps and shares the same, easy-on-your-eyes dark gray color.

The sidebar makes it much easier to get to the content you want. Splitting off shows and movies is a good start. “Our research has shown us that while a member generally isn’t sure what exact title they want to watch, they have a pretty good sense of whether they are in the mood for a quick series episode or a longer movie experience,” Garcia said.

A dedicated area for My List makes it so that you won’t have to scroll down the list of genre rows and recommendations just to reach your own queue. Netflix made it pretty inconvenient to find before, so this was much needed. If you prefer the traditional Netflix menu system, the Home section seems to be exactly that — now with even larger video previews of whatever you’ve selected.

“While this may feel like an obvious update to some, validating that this TV experience was better for our members took extensive research, testing and technology improvements,” Garcia said. Netflix says it will learn from customer feedback and make constant refinements to the new design. This is just one of “many improvements” that the company plans to roll out over the coming months.

https://www.theverge.com/2018/7/18/17585894/netflix-tv-app-redesign-sidebar-easy-navigation
 

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TV Notes
On The Air Tonight
WEDNESDAY 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. 18, 2018

ABC:
8PM - The 2018 ESPYS (3 hrs.)
* * * *
11:35PM - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Magic Johnson; Lakeith Stanfield; Lil Baby performs)
12:37AM - Nightline

CBS:
8PM - Big Brother
9PM - TKO: Total Knock Out
10PM - Code Black (Series Finale)
* * *
11:35PM - The Late Show With Stephen Colbert (Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen; Dominic Cooper; Beck performs)
12:37AM - The Late Late Show With James Corden (Singer Steven Tyler; Morena Baccarin; Kacey Musgraves performs)
(R)

NBC:
8PM - Ellen's Game of Games
(R)
9PM - World of Dance
(R)
10PM - Reverie
* * * *
11:34PM - The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (Amanda Seyfried; Daveed Diggs; Wiz Khalifa and Swae Lee perform)
12:37AM - Late Night With Seth Meyers (Christine Baranski; Niecy Nash; Miranda Lambert performs; Emmanuelle Caplette sits in with the 8G Band)
1:38AM - Last Call With Carson Daly (Jesse Spencer; Makeness performs; Christine Evangelista)
(R)

FOX:
8PM - MasterChef
9PM - Gordon Ramsay's 24 Hours to Hell and Back

THE CW:
8PM - Girl Got Game (Special)
10PM - The Originals

PBS:
8PM - Earth's Natural Wonders -- Life at the Extremes: Surviving With Animals
9PM - Himalaya: Kingdoms of the Sky
10PM - NOVA - Treasures of the Earth: Metals
(R)

UNIVISION:
8PM - El Rico y Lázaro
9PM - La Bella y Las Bestias
10PM - El Chapo

TELEMUNDO:
7PM - Exatlón (120 min.)
9PM - Sin Senos Sí Hay Paraíso
10PM - El Señor de Los Cielos

FREEFORM:
8PM - Young & Hungry
8:31PM - Young & Hungry

HISTORY:
8PM - Alcatraz Escape: The Lost Evidence (Special, 120 min.)
10PM - SIX

NBCSN:
8PM - 2018 Tour de France: Stage 11 (3 hrs.)

NICKELODEON:
8PM - Double Dare

TLC:
8PM - My 600-Lb. Life (2 hrs. 4 min.)
10:04PM - Dr. Pimple Popper (62 min.)

A&E:
9PM - Ozzy and Jack's World Detour
10:01PM - Wahlburgers (63 min.)

E!:
9PM - Botched (Season Finale)

USA:
9PM - Suits (Season Premiere)
10:01PM - Colony

TruTV:
9:30PM - Impractical Jokers: Inside Jokes
10PM - Bobcat Goldthwait's Misfits & Monsters: Face in the Car Lot

OWN:
10PM - Queen Sugar

PARAMOUNT:
10PM - Yellowstone (58 min.)

COMEDY CENTRAL:
11PM - The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Journalist Annie Lowrey)

TBS:
10:30PM - Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
* * * *
11PM - Conan (From 2018 Comic Con: The Cast of Breaking Bad)


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