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TV/Media Notes (Broadcast)
Oscars Pushed Back to April 25, Eligibility Window Extended
By Scott Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporter - Jun. 15, 2020

As a result of the global pandemic, the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony has been pushed back from Feb. 28 to April 25, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and its Oscars broadcasting partner ABC announced on Monday. In turn, the Oscars eligibility period for feature films — which began on Jan. 1, 2020, and was set to expire at the end of Dec. 31, 2020 — has been extended to Feb. 28, 2021. The Hollywood Reporter exclusively reported on Sunday that this was set to happen.

While highly unusual, these moves are not unprecedented. The Oscars has been delayed three times before — due to L.A. flooding in 1938; following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968; and after the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in 1981. And, as I noted back in March, the Oscars eligibility window was extended beyond the traditional 12-month period once before, ahead of the sixth Oscars. (That ceremony, in March 1934, was preceded by a 17-month eligibility window spanning Aug. 1, 1932, through Dec. 31, 1933, so that thereafter the eligibility period could be the actual calendar year preceding each ceremony, Jan. 1 through Dec. 31.)

In a statement, the Academy indicated that the Oscars will still be held "at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood" and "will air live on ABC," an apparent rejection of the possibility of a pre-taped and/or virtual gathering. And the Academy emphasized, "The intent going forward is to ultimately return to awarding excellence for films released in the January-December calendar year."

A number of other major changes were also announced.

The Oscar submission deadline for general entry categories — among them best picture, original score and original song — is now Jan. 15, 2021. The submission deadline for specialty categories — best animated feature, documentary feature, international feature, animated short, documentary short and live-action short — is now Dec. 1, 2020. Oscar shortlist voting will now run from Feb. 1 through Feb. 5; nomination voting will now run from March 5 through March 10 (nominations will be announced on March 15); and final voting will now run from April 15 through April 20.

Meanwhile, the Academy's annual Governors Awards, a gala dinner, usually held in the second week of November, at which the organization, for the past 11 years, has presented honorary Oscars and, in some years, the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, will not take place this fall. "Additional information about the ceremony and selection of honorees will be provided at a later time," the Academy said, suggesting that honorees may still be chosen and feted ahead of or even at the Oscars ceremony.

And the Academy's Scientific and Technical Awards presentation, which was scheduled for a June 20, 2020 ceremony in Beverly Hills, has been postponed to a later date still to be determined.

Additionally, the Academy also announced two key dates pertaining to its long-gestating Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which was previously expected to open on Dec. 14, 2020. It will now be unveiled to a select audience at a gala event a few days ahead of the Oscars, on April 17, and will open to the public a few days after the Oscars, on April 30.

"For over a century, movies have played an important role in comforting, inspiring and entertaining us during the darkest of times," Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said in a statement. "They certainly have this year. Our hope, in extending the eligibility period and our Awards date, is to provide the flexibility filmmakers need to finish and release their films without being penalized for something beyond anyone’s control. This coming Oscars and the opening of our new museum will mark an historic moment, gathering movie fans around the world to unite through cinema."

Karey Burke, ABC Entertainment's president, added, "We find ourselves in uncharted territory this year and will continue to work with our partners at the Academy to ensure next year's show is a safe and celebratory event that also captures the excitement of the opening of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures."

And Academy Museum director Bill Kramer chimed in, "I speak for all of us at the Museum when I say that we have been eagerly awaiting the moment when we can share the Academy Museum with movie lovers everywhere. With the unprecedented and devastating pandemic happening around the world and our commitment first and foremost to the health and safety of our visitors and staff, we have made the difficult decision to wait a few more months to open our doors. Thankfully, with COVID-19 safety protocols in place, exhibitions continue to be installed. We look forward to April 2021 when Los Angeles and the world will be able to join together as the Academy celebrates the Oscars and the opening of its long-dreamed-of Museum."

Here is a full breakdown of the revised key dates related to the 93rd Academy Awards and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures...

Preliminary voting begins
Monday, February 1, 2021

Preliminary voting ends
Friday, February 5, 2021

Oscar Shortlists Announcement
Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Nominations voting begins
Friday, March 5, 2021

Nominations voting ends
Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Oscar Nominations Announcement
Monday, March 15, 2021

Oscar Nominees Luncheon
Thursday April 15, 2021

Finals voting begins
Thursday April 15, 2021

Museum Gala
Saturday, April 17, 2021

Finals voting ends
Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Oscars
Sunday, April 25, 2021

Museum Public Opening
Friday, April 30, 2021

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/race/oscars-pushed-back-april-25-eligibility-window-extended-governors-awards-canceled-1298417
 

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TV Sports/Business Notes
Sports Broadcaster BeIN Scores in WTO
By John Eggerton, NextTV.com - Jun. 16, 2020

Qatar-based sports broadcaster beIN Media Group has won a victory at the WTO in its efforts to protect transmissions of major soccer league action.

The World Trade Organization has concluded that Saudi Arabia has been "directly or indirectly...preventing beIN from obtaining Saudi legal counsel to enforce its IP rights through civil enforcement procedures before Saudi courts and tribunals."

That came in a report following a year-and-a-half of study of the allegations leveled by beIN, including declarations in support of the allegations by Premier League, FIFA, UEFA, LaLiga, Bundesliga and others.

“Today’s WTO ruling is a historic vindication of intellectual property rights. The decision is founded on rules that 164 nations have agreed to apply," said Stephen Nathan QC, Blackstone Chambers, counsel for beIN Media Group. "The WTO has established that, since 2017, the Saudi government has played a central role in enabling and promoting beoutQ’s theft of world sport and entertainment – the most widespread and damaging piracy operations that the world has ever seen. Saudi Arabia’s breach of international law is clearly established; the damage to the Premier League, other rights-holders and broadcasters has been colossal and it has been brought about by Saudi Arabia’s promotion and support for the beoutQ piracy, coupled with its abstention from taking any meaningful steps to stamp it out as the WTO panel has held.”

BeIN has argued that Saudi Arabia-based network beoutQ "consistently steals content from both international leagues and networks for illegal broadcasts."

BeIN says that since the network's launch in 2017, beoutQ has illegally broadcast billions of dollars worth of entertainment content. The site was launched following the WTO's agreement to consider Qatar's claim that Saudi Arabia has failed to provide "adequate protection" for intellectual property rights, particularly those of Qatari-based entities like beIN.

Then there are the IPTV apps, which beoutQ set-tops use to stream pirated movies and TV shows, says beIN.

Saudi Arabia has countered that it regretted Qatar's request to WTO and that it "diligently protects the legitimate rights of all IP owners properly registered in Saudi Arabia." It also said that given the severing of diplomatic ties, WTO dispute resolution is impossible given the need to protect its security interests.

"[We agree] with the WTO panel’s recommendations and demands that KSA takes the necessary steps in order that it conforms to its obligations under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement with immediate effect in order to protect legitimate media rights partners, such as BeIN, and also football itself," said FIFA in a statement. "The WTO panel’s recommendations are clear and piracy of football matches is an illegal activity and will not be tolerated on any level."

https://www.nexttv.com/news/sports-broadcaster-bein-scores-in-wto
 

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TV/Production Notes (Cable)
Debra Messing to Lead Starz Comedy Series ‘East Wing’ From Ali Wentworth, Liz Tuccillo
By Joe Otterson, Variety.com - Jun. 16, 2020

Starz is developing a new comedy series titled “East Wing” with Debra Messing attached in the lead role, Variety has learned.

The series hails from writers and creators Ali Wentworth and Liz Tuccillo, with Wentworth also set to star alongside Messing. The show is inspired by Wentworth’s mother, who who served as Social Secretary in the White House during Ronald Reagan’s presidency in the 1980s. It tells the story of Hollis Carlisle (Messing), a hostess extraordinaire who juggles her threatened husband, rebellious children, Nancy Reagan’s Chief of Staff and a crippling social anxiety disorder. Ali will reoccur as Hollis’ best friend, Kelly Forbes, a stay at home mom who is threatened by her friend’s success.

Messing will executive produce in addition to starring, with Wentworth and Tuccillo also executive producing along with Howard Klein of 3 Arts and Molly Madden. Lionsgate Television will produce.

“The charm and relatability Debra brings to every character she inhabits will captivate audiences once again as she brings Hollis to life on the screen,” said Christina Davis, president of original programming for Starz. “This is a whip-smart comedy that despite its 1980’s set dressing, is a pointed commentary on politics and the politics of being a woman today that will be a valuable addition to our slate of premium programming by and for women. Debra, Ali and Liz will most definitely not be pulling any punches.”

Messing is best known for her Emmy Award-winning role on the NBC comedy series “Will & Grace.” She also starred in television series such as “The Mysteries of Laura,” “Smash,” “The Starter Wife” and Lionsgate’s TV remake of “Dirty Dancing.”

She is repped by 3 Arts Entertainment, Gersh and Goodman, Genow, Schenkman, Smelkinson & Christopher, LLP.

“Debra is a singular talent with whom we’ve had the honor of working in the past, and we couldn’t be more excited to reunite with Ali to bring her mother’s incredible story to viewers,” said Lionsgate Television Group Chairman Kevin Beggs. “Ali, Debra and Liz are shepherding a witty and empowering series right in the wheelhouse of our Starz premium platform.”

Wentworth previously wrote and starred in the Pop series “Nightcap,” which was also produced by Lionsgate. She also created, starred in, and executive produced the Starz series “Head Case.” Tuccillo’s previous writing credits include “Sex and the City,” “Smash,” “Divorce,” and “Sweetbitter.”

She is repped by ICM and Hansen Jacobson. Tuccillo is repped by Felker Toczek.

https://variety.com/2020/tv/news/starz-debra-messing-east-wing-1234637134/
 

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TV Notes
On The Air
WEDNESDAY JUN. 17, 2020 Network Primetime/Late Night Options
(All shows are in HD unless noted; start times are ET. Network late night shows are preceded by late local news)
From Zap2it.com's TV Grid

ABC:
8PM - Movie: Toy Story 3 (2010)
10PM - Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
* * * *
11:35PM - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Sarah Paulson)
12:06AM - Nightline
12:36AM - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Sarah Paulson)
(R)

CBS:
8PM - Game On!
9PM - SEAL Team
(R)
10PM - S.W.A.T.
(R)
* * *
11:35PM - The Late Show With Stephen Colbert (Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.); Milky Chance and Jack Johnson perform)
12:37AM - The Late Late Show With James Corden (Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.); Doja Cat performs)

NBC:
8PM - Chicago Med
(R)
9PM - Chicago Fire
(R)
10PM - Chicago PD
(R)
* * * *
11:34PM - The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (Sean Penn; author Robin DiAngelo; Weezer performs)
12:37AM - Late Night With Seth Meyers (Hank Azaria; lawyer Josie Duffy Rice)
1:38AM - A Little Late With Lilly Singh (Comic Phoebe Robinson)
(R)

FOX:
8PM - MasterChef
9PM - Ultimate Tag

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

PBS:
8PM - Spy in the Wild: A Nature Miniseries
(R)
9PM - NOVA - Australia's First 4 Billion Years: Awakening
(R)
10PM - Prehistoric Road Trip: Welcome to Fossil Country (Premiere)

UNIVISION:
8PM - Te Doy La Vida
9PM - Amor Eterno
10PM - Como Tú No Hay Dos

TELEMUNDO:
8PM - Cennet
9PM - 100 Días Para Enamorarnos
10PM - La Reina del Sur 2: Edición Especial

ESPN 2:
6PM - NBA2K League: The Tipoff Tournament, Day 2 (6 hrs.)

NBCSN:
7PM - Motorcycle Racing, Monster Energy Supercross: Salt Lake City (3 hrs., LIVE)
10PM - Monster Jam: Champion Review (60 min.)

MTV:
8PM - The Challenge (90 min.)

TNT:
8PM - All Elite Wrestling: Dynamite (120 min., LIVE)

USA:
8PM - WWE NXT (120 min., LIVE)

VH1:
8PM - Nick Cannon Presents: Wild 'n Out (YBN Cordae; Biz Markie)

BET:
9PM - Tyler Perry's The Oval
10PM - American Soul: Fame

BRAVO:
9PM - The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
10PM - Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen (Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.); lawyer Rachel Lindsay)
10:30PM - Cash Cab
* * * *
11PM - Cash Cab

NAT GEO:
9PM - To Catch a Smuggler: Secret Stash - Decoys, Diversions and Drug Busts (63 min.)
10:03PM - To Catch a Smuggler: Secret Stash - Narco Ghos

TRUTV:
10PM - At Home With Amy Sedaris

TBS:
10:30PM - Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
* * * *
11PM - Conan (Sam Richardson)
(R)

COMEDY CENTRAL:
11PM - The Daily Show With Trevor Noah: The Daily Social Distancing Show -- June 17, 2020 (45 min.)

E!:
11:30PM - Nightly Pop


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

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TV/Production Notes (Cable)
Debra Messing to Lead Starz Comedy Series ‘East Wing’ From Ali Wentworth, Liz Tuccillo
By Joe Otterson, Variety.com - Jun. 16, 2020

Starz is developing a new comedy series titled “East Wing” with Debra Messing attached in the lead role, Variety has learned.

https://variety.com/2020/tv/news/starz-debra-messing-east-wing-1234637134/
We need a new political drama like West Wing. With Designated Survivor and Madam Secretary gone, there's a void that needs to be filled. You'd think there would be plenty of material for writers to create something new.
 

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You'd think there would be plenty of material for writers to create something new.
No thinking required. Plenty of material is there for several seasons worth. :D
 

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We need a new political drama like West Wing. With Designated Survivor and Madam Secretary gone, there's a void that needs to be filled. You'd think there would be plenty of material for writers to create something new.
No thinking required. Plenty of material is there for several seasons worth. :D
'The West Wing' was successful for a couple of reasons. One, it painted a picture of an idealized administration headed by a brilliant, compassionate president fighting the good fight with the best interests of the people always in the forefront, something that represented a kind of wonderful utopian ideal of how government could work if you just elected the right guy. Americans responded to that. Unfortunately, we actually experienced the very real limitations our political reality imposed on such a president just a few years later. That fantasy is unlikely to resonate as strongly now.

The second reason was the brilliance of it's creator, showrunner and head writer (sometimes the only writer), Aaron Sorkin. He's kind of a once-in-a-lifetime talent. Without a guy like him running the show, the show is not likely to run for long.
 

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Well, I liked Designated Survivor and Madam Secretary. Clearly the shows were different and not as good as West Wing, but I'm pretty sure someone else could do it. Sorkin is great, and if he got off his butt he could put something together if he really wanted to. But someone else should be able to do it.
 

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Sorkin is great, and if he got off his butt he could put something together if he really wanted to. But someone else should be able to do it.
He got burned on his last two television projects, 'Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip' and 'The Newsroom', which had relatively short lifespans before being cancelled. Smart people liked them, but that's a limited audience. His latest project was on Broadway, the revival of "To Kill a Mockingbird". It was quite popular. Don't know what he's up to now, but given his work ethic and creative compulsion, I doubt he's sitting on his butt. Probably writing a screenplay. (Or three, according to IMDB.)
 

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TV Notes/Q&A (Broadcast)
ABC Sets "Cascading" Fall Schedule That Leans Heavily on Unscripted
By Lesley Goldberg, The Hollywood Reporter - Jun. 17, 2020

ABC, like CBS and NBC, is hoping for a swift return to production.

The Disney-owned broadcaster revealed its schedule for the 2020-21 season, without using the word "fall" once. Instead, the Karey Burke-led network hopes that its scripted and unscripted fare can return to work soon enough so that the network's originals can return either in September or as late as November.

In debuting its schedule, the network is relying heavily on unscripted series (fall favorite Dancing With the Stars, summer staple The Bachelorette and spring hit Who Wants to be a Millionaire?) to help carry the load and reduce the number of scripted originals that will likely need extra time to film episodes with safety protocols put in place amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. With that in mind, ABC has scrapped its Tuesday comedy lineup, and ditched its hour of scripted comedies on Fridays. Holding for midseason are Black-ish and spinoff prequel Mixed-ish, recently renewed For Life as well as the next cycles of The Bachelor and American Idol. ABC is also open to additional new series orders from its current crop of pilots, whose scripts are now being evaluated. (Only some of which will be produced.)

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Burke — ABC's Entertainment president — expressed cautious optimism that the network's favorites, including hits like Grey's Anatomy, would be back on with original episodes in the fall though she conceded programming would return on a show by show basis depending on when production is able to resume with guild-sanctioned safety protocols in place.

"I'm hopeful it's fall," Burke told THR. "This will be our schedule whenever we're able to get back in production and get on the air. It's our sliding schedule. That said, I'm cautiously optimistic that we'll be able to return these shows if not in mid-September, late-September or early October."

ABC's schedule is similar to fellow broadcasters CBS and NBC. The latter two networks also opted for a best-case scenario when it came to their schedules and will also look to return to their standard programming as production begins to ramp up for a return to work. Meanwhile, Fox and The CW opted instead to "corona-proof" their schedules and opted to go with "gently used" programming that was already completed to help supplement their schedules. Fox, for example, rolled two scripted shows that were earmarked for spring to the fall and added Spectrum import L.A.'s Finest to sub for 911. The CW, meanwhile, acquired a number of foreign shows and previously aired seasons of CBS All Access' Tell Me a Story and DC Universe's Swamp Thing as it holds original programming like The Flash for 2021. Both of those strategies give productions additional time to get back on track, though such gently used scripted fare are likely to be less than favorable among ad buyers.

As for changes to ABC's schedule, the network tapped Roseanne offshoot The Conners to take Modern Family's former slot on Wednesdays at 9 p.m., with The Bachelorette set to film in quarantine and air Tuesday nights followed by David E. Kelley's new drama, Big Sky. Joining ABC's Wednesday comedy block is Kari Lizer's comedy Call Your Mother, starring Kyra Sedgwick. Fridays see Shark Tank moving back to its former home at 8 p.m., while Leslie Jones-hosted Supermarket Sweep settles in on Sundays followed by Millionaire.

Below is ABC's schedule, followed by an interview with Burke.

MONDAY
8 p.m.: Dancing With the Stars
10 p.m.: The Good Doctor

TUESDAY
8 p.m.: The Bachelorette
10 p.m.: Big Sky

WEDNESDAY
8 p.m.: The Goldbergs
8:30 p.m.: American Housewife
9 p.m.: The Conners
9:30 p.m.: Call Your Mother
10 p.m.: Stumptown

THURSDAY
8 p.m.: Station 19
9 p.m.: Grey's Anatomy
10 p.m.: A Million Little Things

FRIDAY
8 p.m.: Shark Tank
9 p.m.: 20/20

SATURDAY
8 p.m.: Saturday Night Football

SUNDAY
7 p.m.: America's Funniest Home Videos
8 p.m.: Supermarket Sweep
9 p.m.: Who Wants to be a Millionaire
10 p.m.: The Rookie

When are you expecting this schedule to launch?
I'm hopeful it's fall. We have such confidence in the schedule. This will be our schedule whenever we're able to get back in production and get on the air. It's our sliding schedule. That said, I'm cautiously optimistic that we'll be able to return these shows if not in mid-September, late-September or early October.

Walk me through the decision to keep a business as usual schedule amid this current landscape. The numbers in L.A. are inching up as everything is reopening.
It was important to share the schedule now so we had something to work toward and generate the inertia we need to launch this slate, when and if we're able. If we discover down the line that we need to make adjustments, we will pivot. We do have contingency plans as to what we will do. We didn't look at this as business as usual because we're putting The Bachelorette on in the fall. We're leaning more heavily on unscripted programming than we ever have before in a traditional fall schedule. It's fewer new scripted shows than we would have in a normal year. It's not business as usual.

We thought we could continue the schedule as is and when we're able to get up and running, we'll be OK. We needed to replace Modern Family and wanted to create a couple spaces to launch new hits. Those were the priorities with moves or ordering new series. Other than that, it's stability and leaning on unscripted. I've seen plans for all of our unscripted tentpole shows to return and I'm pretty confident in their ability, again, once we have clearance and safeguards in place.

How do you do The Bachelorette safely in our new world?
The thinking right now is to quarantine the cast and crew in one specific location with no travel. And to use testing and some social distancing. They have a thoughtful plan they presented to the studio [Warners] and the government that's in the process of being vetted and approved. I'm hopeful, not certain — anyone who says they're certain right now is not speaking the truth — barring a second spike or a second shutdown that we will be able to get these shows up and running.

Is the expectation that all the shows will premiere around the same time or could this be staggered based on when certain productions are able to deliver episodes given when they can safely get back to work?
We're not looking at Premiere Week. We're looking at a cascading schedule of when these shows would get back on the air. It's all contingent on their unique production realities. Some shows might be ready to go sooner, and others may not be up and running until later in October. We have the NBA Finals, which we will be programming; we have a lot of political content this year. And we have alternative programming that's going to help us get through this.

How much of this schedule was designed to make it appealing to ad buyers vs. a perhaps more realistic "corona-proof" schedule like The CW or Fox? I'm sure it's easier to sell an ad against this hopeful schedule and then maybe offer a make-good when and if you can't deliver new episodes.
Honestly? None. That's not good business, to sell an unrealistic schedule. We waited until now to announce what we think our schedule will look like when we return [to production]. This is a premiere schedule, this could premiere in October or November. Worked closely with our ad sales team to message that so we are not selling a bill of goods. Otherwise, we would have done this during our upfront conversations. We thought it was helpful to wait until we had more information and we certainly have far more than we did a month ago. And we'll have more in another month. Even though we have been given the go-ahead by the [California] governor and mayor, we're still in deep in conversations with the guilds and we won't move forward until there's a safe set of standards and have those practices in place. And when we do, production will be slower — and we're prepared for that. For us, I use "cautious optimism" because there's cautious optimism baked in here. The reality is we do have contingency plans should we need to pivot.

What do you do if you have a star who, even with the safeguards in place, doesn't want to go back to work?
We're in the middle of those conversations. It's being led by the studios and the safe practices that they have put in place with the guilds. It's our hope that once the guilds are comfortable, their members will be comfortable. But we're going to be reactive to and supportive of what our talent is concerned about. I hope that's not a bridge we're going to cross. That's why the conversations with the guilds are so deep and thoughtful — they're intended to be representative of all the myriad concerns that could come up.

You have content from Disney+, Hulu, FX and even Freeform, among others, at your potential disposal. What sort of contingency programming are you looking at?
Our partners have been gracious in opening those conversations with us. We are looking at a lot of options. And we actually already started: we've been airing Disney movies over the past month in partnership with Disney+, which has ben win-win for both ABC and Disney+. We didn't need to go outside to third parties to reach for gently used programming. We also have our own pipeline. We pivoted quickly and ordered some unscripted shows that we haven't announced yet that are easier to get up and running that we could turn to should we need to.

Are you having any conversations about windowing any scripted originals on ABC, if push came to shove? Are you trying to get The Mandalorian?
We certainly would be very happy if they wanted to air The Mandalorian on ABC but we really haven't. Early on, when there wasn't a clear sense of any kind of timeline, we opened the conversations — not around any specific one show or content — but around the idea of some content sharing. Each platform has their own distribution agreements. It's not something we'd want to heavily rely on but it is something we can draw from. I'm hopeful we won't need to but it's nice to know it's there if we need it.

Your schedule relies heavily on shows returning to production. What backup plans do you have if there's a second wave and production has to shut down again? You will have a lot of holes to fill.
[Scheduling head] Andy Kubitz and I have stared at that schedule and it's not pretty but it's not the end of television as we know it. We've proven that we can be flexible and innovative with getting original content on our air. I'll continue to draw upon that muscle that we developed during this time and we'll continue to innovate and get creative. We already have some ideas about how to get through that and have some things we haven't announced yet. There's a lot of ideas in the pipeline; some require partnering with our news division — who is able to produce in a different way than entertainment units can — some require partnering with other partners within the Walt Disney Co. Some are shows we have greenlit but not yet announced that are unscripted and innovative in the way they produce. We have a lot of contingency plans that, should we need them, we'll be able to pivot. As you'll see as we do announce some of these things in the coming weeks, you'll be able to see that they have dual purposes.

What do you do when you run out of summer originals and the "fall" debuts aren't ready yet? What happens if the NBA can't come back?
Right now, that's not a problem. We're going to have NBA back, which is helping us fill that gap. Should they not be able to able to resume play, we will have to pivot again. And we have a plan for that, too. Nobody thought American Idol — a live, studio-based show — would be able to stay on the air. Nobody knew how Jimmy Kimmel would air. We produced Millionaire with no audience. We have a well of innovation here that I'll continue to lean on in order to continue to try to bring good shows to our audience.

When production does resume, episodes will take longer to produce. Is your plan still to do 22-24 episodes of most of your scripted series?
I think it's going to be tough this year to get to those numbers. Even in my glass half full scenario, as I've seen it lay out, we just may not. If we're aren't premiering until late September, late-October or beyond, we will need shorter orders.

And you still have all these pilots in the mix. How many of your current pilot crop are you going to produce? What becomes of that slate? Will some roll to next season?
It's all a game of Dominoes. We had to shut production down on all 12 pilots. All 12 are still in consideration. We ordered backup scripts on all of them. And now that we've put the framework for what our schedule might look like, we'll turn our attention to evaluating those. We felt so confident in the back-up material we saw from David E. Kelley and Kari Lizer that we did make the decision to go straight to series on those two. The rest of the crop, we will not be able to make all of them. Some of them will possibly go into consideration for midseason series and some could be considered for early fall for next year.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/abc-sets-cascading-fall-schedule-leans-heavy-unscripted-1298901
 

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Nielsen Overnights (Broadcast)
‘AGT’ And ‘World Of Dance’ Top Tuesday; ‘Let It Fall’ Ratings Solid
By Patrick Hipes, Deadline.com - Jun. 17, 2020

NBC’s summer duo of America’s Got Talent and World of Dance teamed to top Wednesday’s broadcast primetime, a night that included ABC’s re-airing of John Ridley’s seminal L.A. riots documentary Let It Fall.

AGT scored a night-leading 1.3 rating in the adults 18-49 demographic and 8.44 million viewers, both on par with a week ago. World of Dance (0.9, 4.41M) ticked up in the demo week-over-week. NBC was the No. 1 network overall for the night in both metrics.

ABC was second in the demo thanks to Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992 (0.5, 2.64M), Ridley’s 2017 documentary about the racial tensions in the city that led to the 1992 riots sparked by the acquittal of four LAPD officers who had beaten Rodney King.

The network followed that two-hour broadcast with a fresh episode of The Genetic Detective (0.4, 2.73M), which was even with last week.

The CW was the only other broadcaster to air original programming last night, with DC’s Stargirl (0.2, 930,000), which was even, followed by The CW Happy Hour (0.0, 310K).

https://deadline.com/2020/06/americas-got-talent-ratings-world-of-dance-let-it-fall-tuesday-1202961658/
 

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Technology/Business Notes
AT&T to lay off thousands of workers and close 250 stores
By Jon Porter, TheVerge.com - Jun. 17, 2020

AT&T has confirmed that it’s cutting thousands of jobs and closing hundreds of stores, Axios reports. While the company has not confirmed the total number of jobs affected, the cuts reportedly include 3,400 technician and clerical jobs as well as managerial and executive roles. And 250 retail locations will be closed, including both AT&T and Cricket Wireless branded stores, the Communication Workers of America confirmed — although AT&T said most of these employees will be offered alternative jobs at the company.

In a statement, the company blamed “changed customer behaviors” for the job cuts, as well as the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Axios notes that the company is facing a very different market now that T-Mobile has merged with Sprint (in a move that’s resulted in its own layoffs).

Although AT&T said that the store closures had been planned previously, the pandemic has reportedly caused it to bring these plans forward. “With more customers shopping online, we are closing some retail stores to reflect our customers’ shopping practices,” AT&T said.

Any workers who lose their jobs will get severance pay and up to six months of health care from the company where eligible. AT&T also says that many of its retail employees have already transitioned towards customer support roles while stores are temporarily closed due to COVID. Finally, the company said that “virtually all” of its wireline technician redundancies are currently voluntary, and that its worked on an enhanced severance package for these employees. “Reducing our workforce is a difficult decision that we don’t take lightly,” AT&T said in its statement.

It’s not just the US where phone stores are closing. Back in March, UK-based Dixons Carphone announced that it was closing its 531 Carphone Warehouse locations, previously the country’s largest chain of phone stores. At the time, the company blamed changing consumer habits, with people replacing their phones less often and opting to buy them separately or as part of flexible bundles.

https://www.theverge.com/2020/6/17/21294153/att-layoffs-store-closures-phone-market-legacy-products-cricket
 

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Technology Notes (Gaming)
A new Pokémon Snap game headed to Switch, finally
By Nicole Carpenter, Polygon.com - Jun. 17, 2020

A new Pokémon Snap game, called New Pokémon Snap, is coming to the Nintendo Switch, The Pokémon Company announced Wednesday. Finally!

The Pokémon Company announced New Pokémon Snap during its Pokémon Presents broadcast on Tuesday morning. According to the company, New Pokémon Snap will be based on Pokémon Snap, originally released on Nintendo 64 in 1999. For those unfamiliar, the general idea is this: Instead of catching Pokémon, you take pictures of them. It’s a really unique game for The Pokémon Company, radically changing what players thought of as a “Pokémon game.”

Here’s the description of New Pokémon Snap, straight from The Pokémon Company:

The New Pokémon Snap game for the Nintendo Switch system is based on its namesake, which was first released for the Nintendo 64 console in 1999. This game will take Trainers on an adventure to unknown islands overflowing with natural sights such as jungles and beaches, where they can research various Pokémon in their natural habitats. They will take photos to make their very own in-game Pokémon Photodex, all while discovering new, never-before-seen Pokémon expressions and behaviors.

A release date hasn’t been announced for New Pokémon Snap, but we do know it’ll be developed by Bandai Namco Studios, and not the original creator, HAL Laboratory.

https://www.polygon.com/2020/6/17/21294057/new-pokemon-snap-game-nintendo-switch-pokemon-company-details
 

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Retail/Cultural Notes
Uncle Ben's follows Aunt Jemima in move to phase out racial stereotypes in logos
By Jordan Valinsky, CNN.com - Jun. 17, 2020

Uncle Ben's owner Mars is planning to change the rice maker's "brand identity."

In a statement on its website Wednesday, Mars wrote that "now is the right time to evolve the Uncle Ben's brand, including its visual brand identity, which we will do."

"We don't yet know what the exact changes and timing will be, but we are evaluating all possibilities," Mars added.

Earlier on Wednesday, Quaker Oats announced it's retiring the 130-year-old Aunt Jemima brand and logo. "As we work to make progress toward racial equality through several initiatives, we also must take a hard look at our portfolio of brands and ensure they reflect our values and meet our consumers' expectations," the Pepsi (PEP)-owned company said in a statement.

The moves are an acknowledgment of the brands' origins in racist stereotypes, a consideration brought to the forefront during the nationwide reckoning on race following the death of George Floyd in police custody.

According to the Uncle Ben's website, the name was first used in 1946 in reference to a black farmer known as Uncle Ben who excelled in rice-growing. The man depicted in the logo is a "a beloved Chicago chef and waiter named Frank Brown."

However, the imagery evokes a servant and uses a title that reflects how white Southerners "once used 'uncle' and 'aunt' as honorifics for older blacks because they refused to say 'Mr.' and 'Mrs.,'" according to a 2007 New York Times article.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/17/business/uncle-bens-rice-racist/index.html
 

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TV/Production Notes (Streaming)
HBO Max Greenlights Adult Animated Series ’10-Year-Old-Tom’
By Joe Otterson, Variety.com - Jun. 17, 2020

HBO Max has ordered a new adult animated series titled “10-Year-Old-Tom.”

The series hails from writer and executive producer Steve Dildarian, with Nick Weidenfeld also attached as an executive producer.

“Not only is Steve insanely funny, he is one of the rare talents that can write, draw and do voices. He’s the triple threat that is the foundation of all great animated shows,” said Weidenfeld

In the series, Tom grapples with being corrupted by the grownups around him each day just by leaving his house. Bad influences seem to lurk around every corner — litigious parents, drug dealing bus drivers, and band teachers who want to sleep with his mom. If he sets up a lemonade stand, he gets sued for gross negligence. If he plays baseball, he is encouraged to “dabble with roids.” And if he visits the school nurse, he is introduced to the world of insurance fraud. The grownups in Tom’s life all mean well, but somehow just can’t manage to lead by example.

The series will also be executive produced by Marty Adelstein and Becky Clements of Tomorrow Studios, a partnership between Adelstein and ITV Studios. ITV Studios will handle international distribution.

“I’m so excited to be making this show, and couldn’t ask for better partners than HBO Max, Nick Weidenfeld and Tomorrow Studios,” Dildarian said. “I can’t wait to tell these stories through the eyes of Tom, an innocent kid trying to navigate a world that seems to get crazier by the day.”

The series marks a reunion of sorts between Kevin Reilly, chief content officer HBO Max and president TNT, TBS, and TruTV, Suzanna Makkos, executive vice president original comedy and animation, and both Dildarian and Weidenfeld. Reilly and Makkos had a development deal with Dildarian during their tenure at Fox. During that same time Reilly created the animation studio ADHD run by Weidenfeld.

“Steve is a singular comedic voice and also a brilliant visual artist,” Makkos said. “Combined with Nick’s animation acumen, they make for a winning team. We are thrilled to bring that unique combination to HBO Max as they explore the complications and hilarity of being a child in modern America.”

This is one of several adult animated shows HBO Max has commissioned. The recently-launched streamer is also prepping shows such as a revival of “The Boondocks” and new shows “Santa Inc.” and “The Prince.”

https://variety.com/2020/tv/news/hbo-max-greenlights-adult-animated-series-10-year-old-tom-1234638172/
 

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TV/Legal Notes
That '70s Show star Danny Masterson charged with raping three women
By Rosy Cordero, EW.com - Jun. 17, 2020

Danny Masterson has been charged with "forcibly raping three women in separate incidents occurring between 2001 and 2003," Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced Wednesday.

The That '70s Show star was arrested at 11:30 a.m. PT and was released after posting bond on a $3.3 million bail shortly before 3 p.m. Masterson denied all charges via a statement released by his attorney, Tom Mesereau.

“Mr. Masterson is innocent, and we’re confident that he will be exonerated when all the evidence finally comes to light and witnesses have the opportunity to testify," the statement said. “Obviously, Mr. Masterson and his wife are in complete shock considering that these nearly 20-year old allegations are suddenly resulting in charges being filed, but they and their family are comforted knowing that ultimately the truth will come out. The people who know Mr. Masterson know his character and know the allegations to be false.”

According to the release from the L.A. County District Attorney's office, Masterson is accused of raping a 23-year-old woman between January and December 2001. Then in April 2003, the actor allegedly raped a 28-year-old woman, and between October and December of that same year, he is accused of raping a 23-year-old woman he had invited to his Hollywood Hills home.

Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller of the Sex Crimes Division, who is prosecuting the case, said all the alleged crimes occurred at the defendant’s home. If convicted as charged, Masterson faces a possible maximum sentence of 45 years to life in state prison. Arraignment is scheduled for Sept. 18.

The charges follow numerous accusations of sexual misconduct against the actor. In August, four women filed a lawsuit against Masterson and the Church of Scientology, alleging they were stalked and intimidated after accusing the actor of sexual assault.

The actor's ex-girlfriend Chrissie Carnell Bixler, Marie Bobette Riales, and two anonymous Jane Does accused Masterson and the church of engaging in stalking, physical invasion of privacy and a conspiracy to obstruct justice, among other allegations, claiming that they and their families were harassed in an effort to silence them, according to the complaint obtained by PEOPLE. (Bixler’s husband is also a plaintiff.)

“This is beyond ridiculous,” Masterson said in a statement to PEOPLE through his attorney in 2019. “I’m not going to fight my ex-girlfriend in the media like she’s been baiting me to do for more than two years. I will beat her in court — and look forward to it because the public will finally be able to learn the truth and see how I’ve been railroaded by this woman. And once her lawsuit is thrown out, I intend to sue her and the others who jumped on the bandwagon for the damage they caused me and my family.”

In a statement at the time, a litigation counsel for the Church of Scientology told PEOPLE: “From everything we have read in the press, this baseless lawsuit will go nowhere because the claims are ludicrous and a sham. It’s a dishonest and hallucinatory publicity stunt. Leah Remini is taking advantage of these people as pawns in her moneymaking scam.” (Remini, 50, was a member of the church for 35 years before making her exit public in 2013.)

According to the plaintiffs’ complaint, Masterson has been under investigation over the sexual assault allegations by the Los Angeles Police Department and the L.A. County District Attorney since 2017. He has repeatedly denied the claims.

The District Attorney’s Office also declined to file sexual assault charges against Masterson in two other cases, one for insufficient evidence and the other based upon the statute of limitations for the crime alleged.

Masterson was dropped from the Netflix series The Ranch and by his agency, UTA, in the wake of the allegations. The four women who accused Masterson of raping them in the early 2000s claim in the lawsuit that they were systematically stalked and subsequently suffered emotional distress after filing reports with the LAPD.

https://ew.com/tv/danny-masterson-charged-raping-three-women/
 

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Obituary
Dame Vera Lynn, World War II forces sweetheart and 'We'll Meet Again' singer, dies at 103
By Hannah Yasharoff, USA Today - Jun. 18, 2020

Dame Vera Lynn, the World War II forces sweetheart who serenaded British troops abroad and sang "We'll Meet Again" during the U.K.'s times of distress, died early Thursday, her family said. She was 103.

She was surrounded by her close family, the statement to the Associated Press said.

“The family are deeply saddened to announce the passing of one of Britain’s best-loved entertainers," it added.

During the war and long after, Lynn got crowds singing, smiling and crying with sentimental favorites such as “We’ll Meet Again,” and “The White Cliffs of Dover.”

Last month, Queen Elizabeth gave a speech for the 75th anniversary of VE Day before the 103-year-old Lynn led a national singalong of "We'll Meet Again." In April, the queen referenced the song during a rare speech offering hope and gratitude to the British people amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again,” she concluded.

In this 1969 file photo, British wartime singer and actress Vera Lynn attends a reception in London.
Lynn possessed a down-to-earth appeal, reminding servicemen of the ones they left behind.

“I was somebody that they could associate with,” she once told The Associated Press. “I was an ordinary girl.”

She hosted a wildly popular BBC radio show during the war called “Sincerely Yours” in which she sent messages to British troops abroad and performed the songs they requested. The half-hour program came on during the highly coveted slot following the Sunday night news.

“Winston Churchill was my opening act,” she once said.

Lynn had thought the war would doom her chance of success.

“When war first started, when it was declared, I thought, ‘Well there goes my career.’ You know, I shall finish up in a factory or the army or somewhere,” she recalled. “You imagined all the theaters closing down, which didn’t happen except when the sirens sounded. And everybody, if they wanted to, they could stay in the theater and the show would go on.”

In September 2009, long after her retirement, Lynn topped the British album chart with a best hits collection titled “We’ll Meet Again — The Very Best of Vera Lynn.” It reached No. 1, despite competition from the release of remastered Beatles’ albums.

The singer, songwriter and actress was nonplussed at becoming the oldest living artist to lead a British music chart.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson mourned Lynn Thursday on Twitter: "Dame Vera Lynn’s charm and magical voice entranced and uplifted our country in some of our darkest hours," he wrote. "Her voice will live on to lift the hearts of generations to come."

https://www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/music/2020/06/18/vera-lynn-world-war-ii-well-meet-again-singer-dies-103/3212357001/
 

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TV/Awards Notes
Emmys Expand Comedy and Drama Series Categories to 8 Nominees Each
By Dave Nemetz, TVLine.com - Jun. 17, 2020

The Peak TV era is an embarrassment of riches — and the Emmys are reflecting that.

The Outstanding Drama and Comedy Series categories will now have eight nominees each year, the Television Academy announced on Wednesday. This rule change goes into effect with this year’s 72nd annual Emmys; nominations will be announced on Tuesday, July 28.

Other categories may have up to eight nominees as well, depending on the number of submissions received by the Academy. (If a category receives 240 or more submissions, for example, it will have eight nominees.) But the Comedy and Drama Series categories will always have eight nominees, regardless of the number of submissions. The Academy reports that overall submissions for this year’s Emmys are up 15 percent from the previous year.

“The increase in submissions is a reflection of the number of new voices, new television platforms and a tremendous growth in content from existing platforms across our industry,” Television Academy chairman and CEO Frank Scherma said in a statement. “Despite production suspension resulting from COVID-19, there is a wealth of excellent work submitted for this year’s competition.”

Traditionally, the Drama and Comedy Series categories had five nominees each, but in recent years, with the explosion in cable and streaming content, the categories have expanded to six or seven nominees. Last year, the Emmys had eight nominees in the Drama Series category for the first time, while the Comedy Series category had eight nominees in 2018.

Jimmy Kimmel is returning to host this year’s Emmys, set to air on ABC on Sunday, Sept. 20 — but after the Oscars and the Tonys were postponed by the global coronavirus pandemic, there’s still no word on whether the Emmys might be similarly delayed. ABC has promised that more details on this year’s ceremony will be announced “soon.”

https://tvline.com/2020/06/17/emmys-nominations-categories-8-nominees-rule-change/
 

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TV Review (Cable)
Perry Mason: A Fantastic Cast Helps HBO's Reboot Almost Find Greatness
By Keith Phipps, TVGuide.com - Jun. 17, 2020

Some shows take their time to tell you what sort of series you're watching. Others get right to it. HBO's Perry Mason reboot lays firmly in the latter category, opening on a gray, Depression-era Los Angeles that's home to a couple in crisis, Emily (G.L.O.W.'s Gayle Rankin) and Matthew Dodson (Nate Corddry). Their new baby Charlie has been taken for ransom and though they've agreed with the kidnappers' requests, they're about to discover the already horrifying crime has become even worse than they could have imagined. When the Dodsons retrieve their child, as arranged, from downtown L.A.'s Angels Flight after watching its railway car descend from the vantage of a nearby hotel, they discover Charlie is dead and that his eyes have been sewn open to make him appear alive from a distance. The series lingers on the image in all its grisly detail — all before the first episode has hit the three-minute mark.

If showrunners Rolin Jones and Ron Fitzgerald wanted to establish right away that this Perry Mason would be unlike any Perry Mason viewers might have encountered elsewhere, then mission accomplished. Jones and Fitzgerald took on the project after Nic Pizzolatto left to revive True Detective for a third season, but it still has some of Pizzolatto's trademark dancing-to-the-edge-of-nihilsim moodiness. (Pizzolatto's version would also have starred Robert Downey Jr., who remains aboard as an executive producer.) "It's a dark tunnel," Perry Mason (Matthew Rhys) tells his associates as they look over the details of the case. "Long, long deep, dark tunnel." And at this point, even Mason doesn't know just how deep and dark things will get.

In reviving Perry Mason, Jones and Fitzgerald have both a long history on which to draw and a blank slate on which to write. The creation of lawyer-turned-pulp fiction writer Erle Stanley Gardner, the mystery-solving Mason — a defense lawyer with the habit of making guilty parties crack and confess their crimes in court — made his debut in the 1933 novel The Case of the Velvet Claws, then returned for 79 more installments until Gardner's death in 1970. Along the way, Mason appeared in movies, radio dramas, and, most famously, on television where he was played for nine seasons by Raymond Burr between 1957 and 1966, then played by Burr again in a string of TV movies that began in the 1980s. That's a lot of source material, yet you could absorb it all and still know little to nothing about Mason, his secretary Della Street, his investigator Paul Drake, or his frequent antagonist, District Attorney Hamilton Burger. Neither Gardner nor others who handled the character had much use for backstory.

Enter this new Perry Mason, which, over the course of eight episodes, delves into Mason's past while redefining him for a new age of television driven by complex characters, richly detailed worlds, and season-long storylines. It manages those first two elements so well that it's a shame it keeps tripping over the third.

Trading '80s wigs of The Americans for rumpled '30s hats but retaining his ability to convey soul-deep dread, Rhys stars as Mason who, as the series begins, isn't yet a lawyer. In fact, he's a disheveled, directionless man just inches away from finding rock bottom. The dairy farm he inherited from his parents has fallen into disarray, he's drinking too much, he has an ex-wife who wants nothing to do with him, a kid who's starting to forget him, and he's barely scraping together a living doing others' dirty work as a private eye. And the work gets pretty dirty. Hired to find out what a Fatty Arbuckle-like movie star does in his downtime — it involves starlets and pumpkin pie — he tries to up his fee for a powerful studio boss with some added bit of blackmail only to see the scheme backfire. That leaves him with a fresh scar to go with some old war wounds and without any money to show for his trouble, much to the distress of associate Pete Strickland (Shea Whigham), a former vice cop who now makes a living helping out Mason (while enjoying the sleazy fringe benefits of exploring L.A.'s underbelly).

Fortunately, Mason has a line on some more respectable work courtesy of E.B. Jonathan (John Lithgow), a colorful, respected defense attorney who takes on the Dodson case after the Dodsons themselves fall under suspicion (in what way and how that focus shifts is a twist best left unrevealed). Also in Jonathan's employ: Della Street (The Knick's Juliet Rylance), a secretary in title only without whom the office wouldn't run at all. In one of the first episode's best scenes, each draws on their own stash of hidden liquor — Prohibition is still nominally in effect, after all — as they mull over the details of the case, each making their own valuable contributions. It's the sort of working relationship that doesn't happen overnight, and the camaraderie is clearly one of the few elements keeping Mason from sinking into despair.

Rhys plays Mason as part of a long tradition of tortured protagonists that stretches from The Sopranos to, well, The Americans and beyond. That he has a better calibrated moral compass than some of his predecessors at times makes his life that much harder. World War I and his busted marriage haunt him and the city keeps reminding him that virtue won't help him survive. This is a vision of Los Angeles deeply informed by the L.A. of Raymond Chandler and James Ellroy. The cops are mostly crooked. (Andrew Howard's especially good as the nastiest of the bunch.) Money buys power and silence. And even the churches have an angle, particularly a popular, celebrity-endorsed church built around the teachings of the charismatic, silver-haired Sister Alice (Tatiana Maslany, playing a character inspired by Aimee Semple McPherson).

HBO veteran Tim Van Patten directs the lion's share of the episodes, all of them meticulously detailed, beautifully photographed, and moody in ways that match the Terence Blanchard score. They're just as rich in character as in historical details. Rhys makes for a fine lead as his Mason haltingly recovers a sense of purpose. He's surrounded by standout performances both expected (Whigham, Lithgow, Stephen Root as an oily DA) and otherwise. He develops a smoky chemistry with Veronica Falcón — a veteran of many Spanish-language projects who hasn't often been seen outside of them — who plays a pilot with little use for romantic attachment. The standout among standouts, however, is Chris Chalk (When They See Us), who plays Drake, reimagined here as a black policeman trying to hold onto his integrity in the midst of a system that doesn't even want him there in the first place. Chalk makes the character feel consistent even as his Drake constantly has to code switch based on his surroundings, letting his guard down at home, staying deferential to white cops he doesn't respect in order to keep his job, and turning flirtatious while fishing for clues in a nightclub.

Perry Mason has all the ingredients of a great show but a less-than-compelling narrative keeps it from becoming one. At eight episodes, the kidnapping case feels stretched to the breaking point and as good as Maslany is as the charismatic preacher (ditto Lili Taylor as her quietly controlling mother), the megachurch subplot frequently seems extraneous. In the end, it plays less like a season of television than an eight-hour pilot that, by the end of the finale, has finally put all the pieces in place and is ready to get down to business of defending the innocent and sniffing out the guilty along the way. By this point the show has even found ways to lighten the tone, particularly in a fake-out sequence that lovingly tweaks the Burr series. Anyone not already exhausted by the trip into the long, dark tunnel will likely find themselves looking forward to a second season that tries to find out what's on the other side.

Perry Mason premieres Sunday, June 21 at 9:00 p.m. on HBO
TV Guide Rating: 3/5


https://www.tvguide.com/news/perry-mason-reboot-review-hbo-matthew-rhys/
 

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Media/Health Notes
Movie theaters set to reopen with reduced capacity, cashless tickets and staggered showtimes
By Theresa Braine, New York Daily News - Jun. 17, 2020

Contactless tickets. Sparkling surfaces. Half-empty theaters. No refills.

These are just a few of the changes that will be in effect as the largest movie theater chains begin opening up worldwide, with safety as a priority, two major companies said Wednesday.

Both Regal and Cinemark announced they would start showing movies this month and next, introducing options such as cash-free online transactions, staggered showtimes, reduced theater capacity, lots and lots of cleaning and other measures to decontaminate surfaces and ensure social distancing protocols.

Movie chains across the U.S. are starting to reopen as restrictions loosen.

The protocols involve thoroughly disinfecting contaminated surfaces, though less clear was how airborne droplets would be eradicated — especially since, in places where masks are not legally required, each company said guests would be “encouraged” to wear them.

Regal will reopen beginning July 10 with new health and safety measures based on guidelines provided from the CDC and other public health organizations, the company said in a statement. “The plan also includes safety measures based on feedback received from employees and moviegoers they have deemed most important for their return.”

Concessions and tickets will be available via contactless payment, Regal said. In addition, every auditorium and seat will be sanitized after every movie showing, using state-of-the-art electrostatic “fogger” equipment, a “form of deep sanitization [that] is highly effective in disinfecting all materials with a non-toxic formula that is fast drying,” Regal said.

High-contact points will be sanitized frequently at both Regal and Cinemark, and floor markers will guide guests on how far apart to stand.

Employees will undergo daily health screenings, such as temperature checks, be required to wash their hands every 30 to 60 minutes, depending on their job, and wear masks “where required by local governance,” both Regal and Cinemark said.

Greeters will be on hand in Regal’s lobbies to assist people with the new procedures, wall-mounted hand sanitizer will be liberally available, vending machines and water fountains will be shut down, and in many cases arcade games will be closed.

The chain’s 549 theaters offer 7,211 screens in 42 states, plus American Samoa, the District of Columbia, Guam and Saipan.

Inside the theater, only 50% capacity will be allowed, with two empty seats between each group, a practice Cinemark also said it would put in place.

“Auditoriums will have limited capacities that meet or exceed local ordinances, and the seats adjacent to parties will be automatically blocked upon ticket purchase,” Cinemark said in a statement. “In accordance with CDC recommendations, guests are strongly encouraged to wear face masks. Where applicable, Cinemark will adhere to local policies that require residents to wear face masks in public.”

Cinemark outlined similar measures amid plans to open in Dallas as early as Friday, with the bulk of the openings taking place between July 3 and 17, parent company Cinemark Holdings Inc. announced. The theater chain operates under the Century, Tinseltown and Rave logos, in 555 theatres with 6,145 screens in 41 states, plus in 15 countries throughout South and Central America.

“The reopening of our theatres is going to be a celebration, and we invite moviegoers to join us for special welcome back pricing on what we’re calling ‘Comeback Classics,’ as well as traditional concession favorites,” Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi said. “Our teams are trained, prepared and eager to once again entertain movie lovers in an environment that cannot be replicated in-home.”

https://www.nydailynews.com/coronavirus/ny-coronavirus-regal-cinemark-movie-theaters-reopening-lockdown-20200618-5aytcl3fsrfcvan43nm3orewbu-story.html
 
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