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TV/Critic's Notes (Broadcast)

What Jimmy Kimmel’s lame apology for blackface reveals about the comedy world
By Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times - Jun. 24, 2020

You gotta hand it to Jimmy Kimmel. It’s tough to position yourself as a progressive social warrior while apologizing for your repeated use of blackface, but he did his level best.

Recently criticized by many, on the right and the left, for “blacked up” impersonations of various celebrities on “The Man Show” in the late ’90s and early ’00s, the ABC late-night host finally broke his silence on Tuesday. After a very defensive preface — “I have long been reluctant to address this, as I knew doing so would be celebrated as a victory by those who equate apologies with weakness and cheer for leaders who use prejudice to divide us” — he offered an apology to a strikingly specific group: “those who were genuinely hurt or offended by the makeup I wore or the words I spoke.”

All in all, it was tough to separate the regret from the subtext.

Clearly, Kimmel believes much of the criticism comes from people motivated not so much by their outrage over blackface as by their desire to undercut his continued condemnation of the Trump administration and positions taken by the far right.

He is not wrong about that — conservatives, including Donald Trump Jr., have recently pointed to Kimmel as the epitome of the double standard that decries racism, including past use of blackface, by Republicans but gives liberals, like Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a pass.

But for Kimmel to express frustration “that these thoughtless moments have become a weapon used by some to diminish my criticisms of social and other injustices” doesn’t help his case.

At all.

If you’re going to apologize for using blackface, apologize for using blackface. Don’t call it a “thoughtless moment” because, dude, you wrote the sketches, you rehearsed the sketches and you sat in the chair while someone put brown makeup all over you more than once.

Then — the fallout from Ted Danson’s infamous blackface appearance at a 1993 Friars Club roast of Whoopi Goldberg notwithstanding — you apparently looked in the mirror and thought, “Yeah, you know, this will be hilarious.”

So: not thoughtless moments. Several considered and very bad choices.

Choices that Kimmel was far from alone in making. A few weeks ago, Jimmy Fallon apologized for his use of blackface, and even as Kimmel was addressing his past, cocreators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock requested that several episodes of “30 Rock,” in which various actors appeared in blackface, be pulled from streaming libraries. (Fey is also under fire for the depiction of Asians in her film “Mean Girls” and for her series “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” which features Jane Krakowski, who is white, as a main character revealed to be Native American.)

Many people better versed in the rise of minstrel shows and blackface than I am have recently reminded the general public that, historically, the sole purpose of white people blacking their faces was to cloak racist mockery in the guise of general entertainment.

In case anyone needed reminding.

Kimmel, Fallon, Fey and other white entertainers who have used blackface as entertainment say that racist mockery was not their intent but, frankly, that’s as tough a sell as “My Confederate flag only represents my regional pride.”

Blackface isn’t funny. Not only because it can never overcome its origins but also because it just isn’t humorous. Impersonations can be funny, and many white comedians impersonate famous Black people without resorting to blackface. But when a white person goes to the length to paint him or herself a different color to impersonate — or, as Megyn Kelly absurdly implied in her job-ending defense of blackface Halloween costumes, honor — a Black person, the underlying message is: “I am so essentially different from this person that I cannot possible convey who they are without the paint.”

Also, “Isn’t it funny to think of me being Black?”

There are times when, as in the case of “30 Rock” or “Tropic Thunder,” blackface is used as a way of calling out white privilege and/or cultural appropriation, but that is a perilous road best avoided; as Fey recently said, intent is not an excuse.

Intent is also tricky and way too difficult to parse in a mass-audience film or television show, especially with something as blatantly racist as blackface; the first, most visible layer of intent when using blackface is the affirmation of it as an acceptable form of entertainment.

(Oh, and let’s please not get distracted in any way by “White Chicks” and its use of whiteface. Whiteface is not, nor has ever been a means of oppression. It’s not even really a thing.)

What I really don’t understand is why Kimmel or Fallon or even Fey waited to be called out. They each have a perfect opportunity to lead by example. If this culture is going to finally acknowledge the many layers of racism — and sexism and classism — upon which it rests, the excavation will reveal mistakes numerous enough to go all the way around. A few hundred times.

As his more recent work shows, Kimmel clearly wants to be part of the solution. But it would be more helpful if, instead of assuming the defensive posture, he had gotten in front of the story and taken a few minutes to explain, honestly, what he was thinking when he decided to use a comedy “technique” that had been roundly denounced for years. Maybe, instead of worrying about whether his apology would be taken for “weakness,” he could have had a public discussion with the subjects of his impersonations.

I mean that seriously. Apologies are good; conversations that actually move cultural understanding and antiracism forward are better.

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2020-06-24/jimmy-kimmel-blackface-apology-comedy
 

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TV Notes (Broadcast)
'Council of Dads' Canceled at NBC
By Lesley Goldberg, The Hollywood Reporter - Jun. 25, 2020

NBC's miserable freshman season has delivered its last cancellation.

The network on Thursday axed rookie family drama Council of Dads. The family drama, from Universal Television and showrunners Tony Phelan and Joan Rater (Grey's Anatomy) and exec producer Jerry Bruckheimer, was the last of NBC's freshman class to have its fate determined by the network. Of the seven new series that NBC ordered for the recently concluded 2019-20 broadcast season, only one — Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist — is returning for a second season.

Council of Dads was also NBC's latest attempt to re-create the success of its breakout family drama This Is Us. Last season, NBC and Universal TV launched family drama The Village in an attempt to find a similarly themed scripted series to launch out of creator Dan Fogelman's Disney-owned hit. Like Council of Dads, The Village lasted only one season after it inherited This Is Us' time slot after the series wrapped its 18-episode season.

Sarah Wayne Callies, Clive Standen and J. August Richards starred in the series, which launched March 24 out of This Is Us' season finale. Richards, who cites his experience on Council of Dads for helping him to come out, announced the show's cancellation in a post timed to the now series finale on his verified Instagram page.

The decision to cancel Council of Dads comes as little surprise. The series was not part of the network's optimistic "fall" schedule of new and returning series, with two completed pilots already in contention for midseason 2020 and five more likely to be filmed when it's deemed safe in the fall. The network has already picked up three new comedies and a drama for the 2020-21 season, whenever that starts.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/council-dads-canceled-at-nbc-1300538
 

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TV Notes (Cable)
Jersey Shore Family Vacation Renewed — Will You Watch Without Snooki?
By Michael Ausiello, TVLine.com - Jun. 25, 2020

Who needs Snooki? That appears to be MTV’s position considering the cabler has just renewed Jersey Shore Family Vacation for a fourth season, despite Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi‘s declaration that she is done with the franchise.

The news of Jersey Shore Family Vacation‘s renewal was first reported by our sister pub Deadline, which notes that last week’s Season 3 finale — featuring Polizzi’s exit bombshell — attracted the series’ largest audience in nearly two years. JSFV stands as MTV’s second highest-rated series, behind The Challenge: Total Madness.

It was last December that Polizzi first announced her intention to exit the show that made her famous. “I have to do what’s best for me at the moment, and I am retiring from Jersey Shore,” she said during an episode of the It’s Happening With Snooki & Joey podcast. “I am not coming back to [Jersey Shore Family Vacation] for a Season 4 if there is one.

“When I leave my kids and I film the show, I want to have a good time, and I’m putting myself out there and I just want to come off as a good person,” she continued. “And lately on the show, it’s just been very [dramatic].” She later said that she was not happy with the “direction” of the show, or the viewers who have turned against certain, unnamed costars. “That’s just not how the show works, and that’s how it’s becoming,” she said. “I don’t want that… and I don’t like the person I’m being portrayed as, and this is getting [to be] a little too much.”

Polizzi also alleged that both she and her children have received death threats. “It’s just a lot, and it’s not something that I signed up for with this show,” she said. “I need to exit myself from the situation. I don’t like the narrative of anything. So I’m removing myself.”

https://tvline.com/2020/06/25/jersey-shore-family-vacation-renewed-season-4-snooki-leaving/
 

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TV/Production Notes
Broadcast Series Order Volume Plummets More Than 50% in Coronavirus-Ravaged Pilot Season
By Joe Otterson, Variety.com - Jun. 25, 2020

Like virtually all aspects of the entertainment industry, the volume of broadcast series orders took a massive hit this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic shut down the traditional pilot season, with almost no pilots completing production. But now with the broadcast networks making their series orders for the 2020-2021 season, the true impact is taking shape.

At the time of publication, 15 new shows have been picked up for next season across the five networks. That represents a dropoff of 58% the 36 new shows ordered in 2019 and 2018.

The number of new broadcast show orders has been trending downward for some time, but a drop of this magnitude is staggering. (For context, just five years ago in 2015 the number of broadcast series ordered was 49.) And as has been tradition for the past several years, major stars and well-known IP drove the majority of pickups.

Along with this drop in series orders comes changes to the fall schedule as well. NBC, CBS, and ABC have all released schedules assuming production will be able to resume before the fall. Fox and The CW have released fall schedules that rely heavily on acquired programming and holding shows meant for this season until September, while planning to release most of their scripted originals starting in early 2021.

Networks and studios have for some time been looking to disrupt the traditional pilot-season cycle. ABC practices what it now calls second cycle, in which the network develops shows year round. NBC also announced recently they will film several of their pilots from this year off cycle for potential pick ups.

So the question then becomes will this year be a blip on the radar or the new normal for the broadcasters?

“I think the industry isn’t going to know what works and what doesn’t work until we get to the other side of this,” says Kevin Levy, executive vice president of program planning, scheduling and acquisitions at The CW. “So, we’re all working our way through it. It has certainly given us an opportunity to evaluate the traditional way of doing business and affords us a chance to experiment with some new things. I’m sure there will be some efficiencies we discover through this process but we’re still in the early stages of it.”

Two other TV executives who spoke with Variety echoed Levy’s comments. They both said they expect shooting things outside the pilot season window and more straight-to-series orders to become the norm, with the pandemic giving change an unexpected push forward.

The CW was the only network that actually saw its number of series orders increase year-to-year. The network picked up four shows for next season compared to last year’s three. Among the new shows were Jared Padalecki’s reboot of “Walker, Texas Ranger” and “Superman & Lois,” both of which were ordered straight-to-series before the pandemic hit. The other two are “Republic of Sarah” and a reboot of “Kung Fu.”

Fox saw the heaviest drop off year-to-year, picking up three shows this year versus 10 last year. Fox gave an early commitment to “Call Me Kat” starring “Big Bang Theory” alum Mayim Bialik with Jim Parsons executive producing. Elsewhere, Fox had already given out series orders to the animated comedies “The Great North” and “Housebroken” ahead of the pandemic.

ABC ordered just two shows this year — the drama “Big Sky” from David E. Kelley and comedy “Call Your Mother” from Kari Lizer with Kyra Sedgwick starring. “Big Sky” was ordered straight-to-series before the shutdown. Last year ABC ordered six new series..

CBS has picked up three shows this year, with the network having ordered eight last year. This year’s pickups are the “Equalizer” reboot starring Queen Latifah, the Clarice Starling series from Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet, and the Chuck Lorre multi-cam “B Positive.” “B Positive” was the only pilot that completed filming before the shutdown.

NBC went from nine orders last year to three this year. It should be noted though that one of the nine last year was “Law & Order: Hate Crimes,” which was shelved at the network, while another was “The Kenan Show,” which was rolled to the 2020-2021 season. This year, NBC picked up the comedies “Young Rock” and “Mr. Mayor” ahead of the shutdown, while “Law & Order: Organized Crime” was picked up right after the shutdown started. According to sources, NBC could also pick up the drama pilot “Debris,” with negotiations currently ongoing.

With increased competition from cable and streaming not slowing up any time soon, and people under quarantine desperate for fresh content, the broadcasters find themselves at a crossroads the likes of which the entertainment industry has never seen.

https://variety.com/2020/tv/news/broadcast-series-order-volume-plummets-more-than-50-in-coronavirus-ravaged-pilot-season-1234642925/
 

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TV/Critic's Notes
Finally, Queer Joy Is Infiltrating TV
Queer stories can be more than just trauma and tragedy.
By Pilot Viruet, TVGuide.com - Jun. 25, 2020

In 2003, Degrassi: The Next Generationaired a two-part episode titled "Pride," in which high schooler Marco (Adamo Ruggiero) came out as gay to one of his friends. Viewers already knew about Marco's sexuality, but it remained a secret to the rest of the school, mostly because Marco feared their reactions. In "Pride," after an uncomfortable date, an overwhelmed Marco ends up spontaneously coming out to his friend Spinner (Shane Kippel), the school's bully, who doesn't exactly take the news well. Then, in the episode's second part, a group of homophobic men jump Marco, leaving him bleeding on the ground.

It was easy to see where it was going from the first few minutes -- Degrassi thrived on the Very Special Episode format and teasing out these big moments -- and easy to understand why the series went this route. But it was also disappointing. Degrassi was my favorite show at the time (it probably still is) and Marco was one of the first real, well-rounded LGBTQ characters I ever saw on television. There were other queer characters, of course, in the episodes of Undressed I secretly watched, or John Waters in The Simpsons, or Will & Grace (a show I didn't watch, but certainly had heard of). But for the most part, representation seemed to consist mainly of stereotypical gay men used as punchlines in one-off episodes of '90s sitcoms. (Plus, much of this went over my young head.) With Marco, however, I was old enough to understand the storyline surrounding his sexuality -- and the storyline surrounding my own.

I continued to see numerous TV scenes similar to Marco's gay bashing. I saw teenagers kicked out of their houses, trans characters beaten, and lesbians unceremoniously killed off. Going off nothing but media, I learned that being queer meant having an entire life rooted in secrets, trauma, violence, and self-hatred.

While there are some truths found in these narratives, there's also truth to the opposite: queerness also includes fun, joy, community, crushes, first kisses, and so on. But for a long time it seemed like television wasn't aware of this, or, at least, didn't care enough to show it. Which is why it's been wonderful -- and affirming -- to see happier, funnier, and more casual portrayals of queerness on television lately.

Co-created by father and son duo Eugene and Dan Levy, Pop's Schitt's Creek follows the wealthy Rose family as they lose everything -- except for a small town that was once bought as a joke. Forced to move there, the Roses effectively restart their lives as they get drawn into the weirdness of their new home. Eldest son David (Dan Levy) is openly pansexual, having come out to his friend Stevie (Emily Hampshire) after they hooked up. David's pansexuality (which was never really depicted as a torturous inner secret) is played as casual and straightforward -- there are no Very Special Episodes, there are no long drawn-out conversations about his sexuality, and, perhaps most importantly, there's no hatred.

It's telling that this distinct lack of homophobia led some viewers to respond with confusion or deem it unrealistic -- it's as if we're programmed to start looking for signs of danger whenever we spot a queer character on television. But the choice to eschew those sorts of plots is entirely intentional, according to Dan Levy, who would prefer that the series instead exist in a world that emphasizes love, tolerance, and acceptance. In a January interview on WBUR, he explains:

The result is one of the most caring, hilarious, and jubilant series on television. It's a show that -- after it was added to Netflix -- many of my queer friends started enthusiastically recommending to each other with what we joked was the highest praise we could give to a series with LGBTQ characters: "It's funny, yes, but most importantly no one dies!" After being warned for so long of all the horrible things that could happen to me upon coming out, it was such a tangible relief to see that it was also possible to be welcomed, to be loved.

In lieu of watching David go through the usual overdone motions of the outcast queer trope, we instead see David engage in a loving relationship with his business partner Patrick (Noah Reid). Their relationship is the absolute highlight of the series; a standout scene features Patrick serenading David with an acoustic version of "Simply the Best," and later, the roles are reversed when David lip-syncs the song for Patrick. Both of these tender scenes make me cry every time I watch them -- and I've watched them a lot -- not because of pain but because it's so touching. The scenes' best aspects aren't the performances but the reactions as they each gaze at the man they're in love with. It's touching to see two characters care about each other so much, and especially so when they're both queer men who are afforded the same adorable and natural story arcs that are usually only reserved for straight couples.

There are other recent series that have included a similar approach to LGBTQ couples, throwing out the negative tropes and instead skewing more kind-hearted and comedic. Some of the best, unfortunately, have been canceled: Tig Notaro's One Mississippi, with a second season that effectively functioned as a romantic comedy with two women, and Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher's Take My Wife, which followed a queer couple through the basic mechanics of any marital sitcom. And of course there's recently axed Netflix family comedy One Day at a Time, which was notable for its overall mix of comedy and hot-button issues, including its handling of teen daughter Elena's (Isabella Gomez) coming out in Season 1.

What worked for One Day At A Time is that it knew how to balance out a heavier plot -- Elena's father, at first, disapproves of her sexuality, and this runs through all the seasons -- with all the smaller, happier moments of discovering yourself and finding your first queer love. Some of the best (and most relatable) moments in the show come from Elena's overzealous enthusiasm for being out and proud, her awkward flirting attempts, her first kiss, and her exploration of queer sex. These scenes were all carefully written and delivered through humor while deftly avoiding making lesbians the butt of the joke. The series also introduced Syd (Sheridan Pierce), Elena's nonbinary partner, allowing the writers to also explore gender identity through humor: in a scene that mirrored my own life, Elena and Syd went through a list of silly monikers to figure out the best way to refer to Syd since "girlfriend" doesn't quite work.

Although Elena did get a coming out story, some of television's other best depictions of LGBTQ characters eschew the cliche coming-out narrative entirely, freeing up the writers to explore other stories and, more essentially, present queerness as a casual, normalized part of themselves -- along with the other millions of little things that make a person who they are. Netflix's hit Sex Education, about an awkward teenage who becomes a makeshift sex therapist for his classmates, centers an episode on a newly out lesbian couple who are having trouble with their sex life. NBC's Abby's stars openly bisexual Natalie Morales as also-openly-bisexual Abby, a Latinx military veteran who runs a bar out of her backyard. In the third episode, Abby simply says, "I'm bisexual," and the episode becomes typical sitcom fodder about how the notoriously private Abby hides relationships -- not her sexuality. The CW's Jane the Virgin has found humor in Petra's (Yael Grobglas) awkward attempts to fit in with her new girlfriend; Netflix's Special, about a gay man with cerebral palsy, dedicates an episode to the main character losing his virginity.

Much is said about how important it is to see queer representation, but it's necessary to go a step further: we need to see all forms of queer representation, not just the bad parts. It's why a series like FX's Pose, arguably the best new show of last year, is vital to the television landscape. For much of my life, it was nearly impossible to find a trans character in media who wasn't depicted in stereotypes, or portrayed as a "trickster," or simply murdered for their identity. Seven years after Marco came out, Degrassi introduced Adam (Jordan Todosey), a trans teen. Almost immediately, he was humiliated and later subjected to violence when a student threw him through a glass door. The show eventually, occasionally, began to write the character better... but then he was abruptly killed off in what amounted to a "Don't text and drive" PSA.

In Pose, however, we see a number of well-written, complex, and compelling trans characters, each with their own individual stories and desires. Pose, which takes place in the '80s ball scene, boasts trans talent on and off screen. What's most significant about Pose is how joyous and celebratory it is. The characters have their share of hardships and encounter transphobia, but those aren't the main story, nor are they used as cheap substitutes for personality traits. Instead, they bond the characters together. Toward the end of the series, I realized that I had spent much of it on edge, holding my breath, waiting for the hammer to drop. But it never came -- the finale was instead a triumphant celebration of queerness and community. Like Schitt's Creek, Pose is a series that comes up frequently in my trans group chats -- excited that it exists, and somewhat jealous that we didn't have it when we were younger.

Series like Pose, Schitt's Creek, and others aren't just making strides in terms of representation but making the rightful case that queerness isn't a one-size-fits-all trauma narrative that thrives on pain -- which are the types of stories I was fed as a child. I wasn't shown the flip side of queerness; I wasn't told that it would open up my life to an entire community full of love and support. But television is, thankfully, finally understanding that showing these stories is just as important.

Pilot Viruet is a culture writer and editor living in New York City. Their writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Variety, Vulture, and more. You can read more of their work here.https://t.sidekickopen78.com/s1t/c/5/f18dQhb0S7lC8dDMPbW2n0x6l2B9nMJW7t5XZs5wvLK6W7fcFkW3LPV94VcVQQM56dRlhf88CmgC02?t=https%3A%2F%2Fpilotviruet.contently.com%2F&si=5937232316203008&pi=fb75672a-eff6-4749-dec9-650187647daa

https://www.tvguide.com/news/features/queer-joy-tv-schitts-creek-pose-one-day-at-a-time-pride/
 

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TV/Production Notes (Streaming)
The studio behind Kill la Kill and Promare is making a Cyberpunk 2077 anime for Netflix
By Nick Statt, TheVerge.com - Jun. 25, 2020

Studio Trigger, the anime production company made up of former members of the legendary studio Gainax, is producing a Cyberpunk 2077 anime for Netflix set to premiere in 2022. Called Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, the anime will be a standalone story set in the world of developer CD Projekt Red’s upcoming open-world action roleplaying game.

Here’s how CD Projekt Red describes it:

CYBERPUNK: EDGERUNNERS tells a standalone, 10-episode story about a street kid trying to survive in a technology and body modification-obsessed city of the future. Having everything to lose, he chooses to stay alive by becoming an edgerunner—a mercenary outlaw also known as a cyberpunk.

Trigger, besides being founded by members that worked on seminal anime like Neon Genesis Evangelion, is best known for its highly stylistic, experimental art styles and over-the-top narratives. Its best-known works include Kill la Kill, Darling in the Franxx, and more recently, the hugely successful anime film Promare.

Cyberpunk: Edgerunners will have the studio’s top talent steering the ship: Hiroyuki Imaishi — who worked on Gainax’s Gurren Lagann, as well as Kill la Kill and Promare — is directing along with assistant director Masahiko Otsuka, creative director Hiromi Wakabayashi, and character designers Yoh Yoshinari and Yuto Kaneko (Yoshinari and Kaneko are known best for Little Witch Academia). The screenplay is adapted by Yoshiki Usa and Masahiko Otsuka, longtime veterans of Trigger who worked on Promare and other projects. The original score will be composed by Akira Yamaoka of Silent Hill fame.

Cyberpunk 2077 launches this November for all major platforms, following another delay announced earlier this month to give CD Projekt Red ample time to polish the experience and fix bugs ahead of release.

When it does launch, it’s likely going to be one of the biggest gaming events of the decade, coinciding with next-gen console launches from both Microsoft and Sony. So it’s nice to see that the Cyberpunk 2077 universe is going to keep expanding well into the future, and a new standalone series from a studio as esteemed as Trigger should be extremely exciting news for anime fans everywhere.

https://www.theverge.com/2020/6/25/21303233/cyberpunk-2077-anime-edgerunners-netflix-studio-trigger-2022-release-date
 

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Technology Notes (Mobile)
Google adjusts privacy settings to auto-delete location, search history by default
By Brett Molina, USA Today - Jun. 25, 2020

Google is changing how much of your data it retains as part of location and search histories.

The tech company announced Wednesday that it will set controls for auto-deleting your location or search history after 18 months by default.

Google says that when you turn on Location History for the first time, "auto-delete after 18 months" will be set by default. Users can also enable the option to auto-delete history after three months.

The changes also apply to Web and app history, says Google.

"We believe that products should keep your information for only as long as it's useful and helpful to you," Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said in a statement.

Google will also bring similar changes to YouTube, where users' histories will auto-delete after 36 months by default.

The company is introducing updates to make privacy tools such as Incognito mode and account controls easier to find and update.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2020/06/25/google-auto-delete-location-and-search-histories-default/3258210001/
 

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TV Notes (Cable)
TV Ratings: The 100 Eyes Series Low
By Matt Webb Mitovich, TVLine.com - Jun. 25, 2020

In the latest TV ratings, The CW’s The 100 this Wednesday drew 590,000 total viewers and a 0.1 rating, matching its third smallest audience to date while dipping a tenth in the demo to mark a series low (read recap). Leading out of that, Bulletproof (344K/0.1) hit a new CW low in audience while steady in the demo.

Elsewhere…

ABC | Leading out of a rebroadcast of 2017’s Taking the Stage: African American Music and Stories That Changed America special (3.2 mil/0.4), Agents of SHIELD (1.6 mil/0.3, read recap) rebounded from last week’s audience low while steady in the demo.

CBS | Game On! (3 mil/0.4) slipped to its lowest numbers yet.

FOX | Ultimate Tag (1.6 mil/0.4) was steady.

NBC | A Chicago Med rerun delivered Wednesday’s largest audience: 3.9 million.

https://tvline.com/2020/06/25/tv-ratings-the-100-season-7/
 

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TV Notes (Streaming)
YouTube Gets Back With Demi Lovato With Four-Part Documentary Series
By Peter White, Deadine.com - Jun. 25, 2020

EXCLUSIVE: YouTube has greenlit a four-part documentary series following pop-star Demi Lovato.

The as-yet-untitled series will be directed by Michael D. Ratner, who was a director on and exec produced Quibi’s recent &Music series, and produced by Ratner’s OBB Pictures, which produced YouTube’s recent Justin Bieber: Seasons series.

The new series will follow Lovato returning to show fans her personal and musical journey over the past three years. Earlier this year, Lovato performed the National Anthem before Super Bowl 54 between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs.

This comes nearly two years after the digital platform and the This Is Me singer were set to do a follow-up doc to Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated.

That film, which was directed by Hannah Lux Davis, was released in 2017 and has been viewed more than 32M times. It chronicled the recording of her Tell Me You Love Me record and her life and career including her stint on the Disney Channel and her struggles with bipolar disorder and addiction.

The Google-owned service had been in talks to make a follow-up film in 2018 before Lovato overdosed and that project was put on hold. She is understood to have recently seen the Justin Bieber series and reached back out to YouTube to say she is ready to make another doc.

The news comes ahead of YouTube’s NewFronts presentation to advertisers, where Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl is set to unveil a slew of new originals.

https://deadline.com/2020/06/youtube-demi-lovato-documentary-series-1202969255/
 

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TV Notes (Cable)
Showtime Shifts ‘The Comey Rule’ to Earlier Premiere
By Michael Malone, Broadcasting & Cable - Jun. 26, 2020

Showtime will premiere The Comey Rule, with Jeff Daniels playing former FBI Director James Comey and Brendan Gleeson as President Trump, Sept. 27 and 28. Showtime initially said the four-hour series would air in late November, after Election Day.

Billy Ray directed the project, which Showtime called “an immersive, behind-the-headlines account of the historically turbulent events surrounding the 2016 presidential election and its aftermath, which divided a nation.”

Ray had expressed dismay that the project was slated to air after the election, as had Comey.

Showtime acknowledged scheduling changes “amid the ongoing fluctuations in production operations due to the COVID-19 virus.”

It has picked up six-episode drama We Hunt Together from BBC Studios. Showtime calls it “a gripping twist on a classic cat-and-mouse story” exploring the “intoxication of sexual attraction and the dangerous power of emotional manipulation.”

Eve Myles, Babou Ceesay and Hermione Corfield star. It premieres Aug. 9.

The Good Lord Bird, with Ethan Hawke, premieres Oct. 4. That had been set for an August premiere.

Five-part documentary series The Comedy Store, directed by Mike Binder, premieres Oct. 4.

Four-part documentary series The Reagans begins Nov. 15.

Belushi, an R.J. Cutler documentary about comedian John Belushi, debuts Nov. 22.

https://www.nexttv.com/news/showtime-shifts-the-comey-rule-to-earlier-premiere
 

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TV Review (Cable)
A Killer, a Writer, and the Questions Both Left Behind
HBO’s “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” tells the intertwined stories of the Golden State Killer and Michelle McNamara, the true-crime writer who felt she was born to unmask him.
By Mike Hale, The New York Times - Jun. 25, 2020

True-crime fans who come to the HBO documentary “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” (10:07 p.m. Sunday night) should know in advance that it is not, strictly speaking, a true-crime series about the decades-long hunt for the serial rapist and murderer known as the Golden State Killer.

Instead it’s an adaptation of the book of the same title, which was published, with astonishing serendipity, two months before the sudden identification and arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. in April 2018. And while it does cover the crimes and the seemingly futile efforts of California law enforcement agencies, over more than 40 years, to solve them, its six episodes (beginning Sunday) are focused mainly on the book’s author, Michelle McNamara, and her own progressively more obsessive effort to track the killer down.

The McNamara story is heartbreaking in its own right (and well known, in part because of her marriage to the actor and comedian Patton Oswalt). After years of work on the case of the man she named the Golden State Killer (also known as the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker), she died in her sleep in 2016 with the book unfinished. Oswalt, her publisher and several of her peers in the true-crime community finished it, and it was a best seller when it was published two years later, just before DeAngelo’s arrest.

This presents several challenges to Liz Garbus, the distinguished documentarian (“What Happened, Miss Simone?,” “The Farm: Angola, USA”) who took on the management of the mini-series and directed two episodes.

One was to keep McNamara present in the story, and on that count Garbus succeeds beyond any expectation. She not only makes McNamara a presence, she also makes her the primary storyteller, through a host of ingenious — if not always wholly transparent — strategies.

The most obvious was to have the actress Amy Ryan read excerpts from McNamara’s writing — not just the book but also her true-crime blog, magazine articles and emails — as a form of narration in McNamara’s authorial voice.

But the series makes copious use of McNamara’s actual voice, too, and not only in interviews she filmed during her lifetime. As a blogger and investigator, she recorded her conversations with many people involved in the case, and Garbus uses snippets of those recordings to put McNamara into the flow of the story.

A scene will begin with McNamara on the soundtrack asking a question of a rape survivor or detective and then segue seamlessly into Garbus’s present-tense interview with the same person. In spectral recreations, people who drove to crime scenes or examined documents with McNamara do so again, alone, while we hear them discussing the case with her, as if she were in the room or the car.

It’s an impressive feat of direction and editing (Myles Kane, Josh Koury and Elizabeth Wolff shared the directing with Garbus; Erin Barnett, Alyse Ardell Spiegel and Jawad Metni are the editors). The show’s larger challenge, though, is the balancing of two different dramatic arcs — the story of the criminal and his victims, and the story of McNamara and her crusade — that aren’t as easy to connect as you might expect.

Here the documentary isn’t as successful. There are cursory attempts both to portray McNamara as another victim of the killer and to liken her sometimes maniacal efforts to the killer’s behavior, but neither has much impact. The idea that an obsessive need to solve crimes — to make sense of an irrational reality — was a way for McNamara to cope with her own traumas is more convincing, but not particularly revealing. A visual motif in which McNamara and Oswalt’s favorite film, “The Creature From the Black Lagoon,” is used to represent submerged menace is employed three or four too many times.

There is, finally, an unknowability to McNamara — or a failure on the series’s part to give her real dimension — that results in a flattening, and a sentimentalization, of the sections devoted to her. If McNamara’s ultimate goal was to make sense of her own life, it hasn’t been realized here.

What makes that especially unfortunate is that the other side of the series — the more straightforward account of the crimes, their victims and the marathon investigation — is excellent. The show seems to snap to attention when the survivors and the retired detectives come onscreen, solo, for traditionally staged interviews. The tone tightens up, and you feel the rigor and the dignity that Garbus has brought to tragic stories like “Who Killed Garrett Phillips?” and “There’s Something Wrong With Aunt Diane.”

It’s also too bad that McNamara’s fellow “citizen detectives,” the bloggers and amateur investigators who share her obsession with unsolved crimes, don’t get more sustained attention. The inner hunger that their work feeds is probably more interesting as a societal phenomenon than an individual study is, and McNamara’s real role in the Golden State Killer story was as a rallying point for a shared mission.

The uncomfortable truth is that McNamara’s story doesn’t give Garbus the elements she needs to make the larger tapestry she’s weaving come together. McNamara’s long, exhausting effort didn’t have any role in the arrest of DeAngelo, which was enabled by developments in DNA forensics, and she and her colleagues never knew of him. (DeAngelo, suspected in more than 50 rapes and charged in 13 murders, is on trial in Sacramento and expected to take a plea deal.)

A few stray remarks McNamara made about DNA are dropped into the soundtrack, and the famous final passage of her book, predicting his capture, is invoked. But the connection isn’t direct, and working so hard to strengthen it has the effect of diminishing the power of the scenes involving the actual solution of the case.

It’s unfair, perhaps, not to mention unrealistic, to wonder what Garbus would have made of a documentary about DeAngelo that didn’t incorporate “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark.” (In an interview with The New York Times, she said: “What intrigued me was Michelle’s voice as a writer. I didn’t want to make a series about the Golden State Killer.”)

But it’s not unreasonable. Her best material — the startling interviews with DeAngelo’s relatives and former girlfriend, the brave testimonies of the survivors, the evocation of the period in the 1970s and ’80s when the crimes took place — isn’t connected to the book, and it would fit smoothly in a more traditional true-crime structure. Less might have been more.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/25/arts/television/ill-be-gone-in-the-dark-review-michelle-mcnamara.html
 

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TV Sports/Health Notes (Football)
Roger Goodell Says NFL Plans to Start Training Camps on Time amid Pandemic
By Tyler Conway, BleacherReport.com - Jun. 25, 2020

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league plans on opening training camps next month as planned and is seemingly determined to move forward with fan attendance.

Goodell told reporters the plan is to "get ready for games at our stadiums and to engage our fans both in stadiums and through our media partners" on a conference call Thursday.

While Goodell added that the league office is discussing options with the NFL Players Association, the league has offered no alternative solutions or indicated any plans to change course beyond the status quo despite the COVID-19 pandemic nearing its fourth month in the United States.

Coronavirus cases have been skyrocketing in states that were among the earliest to reopen during the pandemic. Texas and Florida have become rapidly rising epicenters of the disease, with each state setting several records for hospitalizations and cases in recent weeks.

The United States posted its single-day record of coronavirus cases Wednesday.

While the NHL and NBA have put together plans that eliminate fan attendance and MLB's 2020 season will either eliminate or greatly reduce fan attendance, the NFL seemingly plans to move forward without changes to its policies. The league has said it will listen to the medical community, but its plan for fan attendance at events runs contrary to suggestions made by director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

"Unless players are essentially in a bubble—insulated from the community and they are tested nearly every day—it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall," Fauci told CNN. "If there is a second wave, which is certainly a possibility and which would be complicated by the predictable flu season, football may not happen this year."

With COVID-19 cases spiking and state governments showing no signs of going back to stricter guidelines, it's hard to imagine the situation being solved by the scheduled July 28 opening of training camps in a safe enough manner to host fans.

https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2897698-roger-goodell-says-nfl-plans-to-start-training-camps-on-time-amid-pandemic
 

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TV Review (Streaming)
‘The Twilight Zone’ Season 2: The Zone Is Still Hit-or-Miss, but Lands a Legendary Episode
By Kristen Lopez, IndieWire.com - Jun. 25, 2020

“The Twilight Zone” is a beast to write about. On the one hand, the original series is so ingrained in shaping popular culture that to ignore it is all but impossible; if “The Simpsons” didn’t do it first, “The Twilight Zone” almost certainly did. On the other hand, the goal of a reboot is to simultaneously entice fans who didn’t watch the original as well as honor what came before. How do you bridge the two spectrums with a show so iconic as to be all but crystallized in time?

The first season of the Jordan Peele-produced remake had its bright spots, but it also suffered from coming after “Black Mirror,” which, as a “Twilight Zone” acolyte, had already said so much about relationships and technology. Many of the same problems that plagued Season 1 of “The Twilight Zone” reboot remain in Season 2, despite one episode that blows them all away.

The main issue that continues to be a sticking point is the length. For a majority of the history of “The Twilight Zone,” episodes were around 25 minutes — with the exception of Season 4 in 1963, when they were extended to 45 minutes or so to fill a pre-selected timeslot. That fourth season received a mixed critical reaction, and it remains a controversial element of the new series.

In some cases, an extended runtime can help, particularly in the case of this season’s third episode, entitled “You Might Also Like.” Surprisingly, of the three episodes screened in advance for critics, the Osgood Perkins-directed installment is the shortest and uses its 40-minute runtime effectively, as to leave you begging for more. It’s unclear how long the other seven episodes are, but it’d be nice to see more consistency in the runtimes this season; Season 1 saw episodes hit nearly an hour before eventually leaning closer to 30 minutes.

The premiere, “Meet in the Middle” — written by Emily Chang and Sarah Amini, and directed by Mathias Herndl — seems heavily inspired by film noirs, particularly “Double Indemnity.” Jimmi Simpson plays a man unable (or unwilling) to connect with women because they fail to live up to his high standards. But when he starts hearing the voice of an unknown woman named Annie (voiced by Gillian Jacobs), he wonders if he’s truly found his ideal mate.

Chang and Amini have a solid foundation for this episode with Simpson’s Phil being the type of guy who bemoans the fact that all women are vapid and shallow, yet doesn’t care that he acts standoffish and creepy, at one point criticizing a prospective date for not having curly hair like in her profile. If you’ve seen Simpson in “Westworld,” his Phil has several parallels. This episode isn’t nearly as long as Season 1’s premiere, “The Comedian” and that’s to its benefit, especially when Phil is our main source of physical connection.

That being said, this is Gillian Jacobs’ episode, even though she doesn’t appear for the majority of it. As the voice in Phil’s head, Jacobs evokes a cool, warm presence. You can understand why any man would gravitate toward her, and while the scenario plays out a bit too much like “Her,” you want her to be happy. Meanwhile, as the episode shows but never overtly states, Phil kinda sucks. His obsession and entitlement starts to take over, and it’s a shame that the episode ends on more a noirish finale, as it undercuts Phil’s clear desire to own Annie.

Similarly to “Meet in the Middle” is the second episode, “The Who of You.” Directed by Peter Atencio, who’d worked on the Jordan Peele-starring feature “Keanu,” and written by series executive producer Win Rosenfeld, it’s the story of a struggling actor, Harry (played by Ethan Embry) who, in his attempt to rob a bank, realizes he can jump into the bodies of others by looking them in the eye. The premise is highly compelling, especially as Harry jumps into the bodies of a police officer, an Asian barista, a Latina, and eventually a Black psychic played by Billy Porter.

It’s assumed “The Who of You” would be a remake of the segment in 1983’s “Twilight Zone: The Movie,” “Time Out,” wherein a racist learns the error of his ways by inhabiting the bodies of others. Instead, we just watch Harry chase the money he’s stolen from the bank by inhabiting others. He never spends time in one body long enough to interact with others or really learn anything from spending time within them.

It’s a 45-minute episode of “Hot Potato” and, with no real depth, it becomes a gimmick that overstays its welcome. Billy Porter is the highlight and gives a great monologue that would hint at checking Harry’s privilege, but the final frames seem to either lightly enforce that or ignore it entirely. “The Twilight Zone” doesn’t have to have a message with every episode, but a setup like this all but demands it. Ending where it does seems to say something about race, but doesn’t want to say it (or it realized it didn’t say it enough in the subsequent 44-minutes of runtime.)

What might go down as the best episode in the entire reboot’s run is “You Might Also Like.” There are connections, both overt and subtle, to the original series throughout the entire episode, making it one of the few episodes to benefit from repeat viewings. Gretchen Mol plays Janet Warren, a mother and wife living in some form of dystopian society where everyone is preparing for the arrival of their own individual “Egg.” What is it? No one knows, aside from the fact that it’s advertised as making “everything better again. And this time, it’s forever.”

The technical prowess of this episode is unlike the previous two, including complex costume and makeup effects. But at its heart, Perkins tells a story about our struggles to make America great again — free of partisan politics — and how that often ends up being to our detriment. Mol draws from other “Twilight Zone” characters, giving us a woman who has suffered personal loss. While others are finding happiness in materials, Janet knows she’ll never be able to replace what she lost. By the time the final frame comes around, with narrator Jordan Peele delivering one of the best outros, you’ll realize “You Might Also Like” is the timeliest episode of television around.

A majority of the episodes remain unseen, so I can’t accurately judge how well the season will turn out as a whole. These episodes certainly feel more strongly written than Season 1, and if the editing tightens up like it did before, these new entries could be amazing. It’ll be hard for any other episode to be better than “You Might Also Like,” though, which is a pure masterpiece.

“The Twilight Zone” Season 2 premieres all 10 episodes Thursday, June 25 on CBS All Access.
Grade: B-


https://www.indiewire.com/2020/06/the-twilight-zone-season-2-review-1202237803/
 

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TV Review (Streaming)
'Search Party' Season 3 (HBO Max)
By Inkoo Kang, The Hollywood Reporter - Jun. 25, 2020

When Search Party debuted in 2016, shortly after Trump's election, it was widely received as a razor-edged also-ran in the flotilla of satires about (mostly white) millennial Brooklynites that launched in Girls' wake. The mystery-comedy, then on TBS, boasted a flawless comedic cast in Alia Shawkat, John Reynolds, John Early and Meredith Hagner; a formidable joke density in its first season; and pitch-perfect parodies of pampered Park Slopers and pathologically narcissistic 20-somethings. It seemed everyone could agree: Millennials were the worst generation.

And then the last four years happened. The media finally seemed to remember that, until Gen Z came along, millennials were America's most diverse generation — and that rather than being defined by their privilege and penchant for avocado toast, they are, economically speaking, "the unluckiest generation in U.S. history." Even Search Party seemed to get that its raison d'être was quickly fading into obsolescence.

Early in the third season, dropping in its entirety on Thursday, June 25, a prosecutor (Michaela Watkins) determined to make Shawkat's Dory, who has been charged with murder, into a cause célèbre says of millennials, "People love to hate them. It's like a national obsession." Her colleague is slightly more in tune with the times: "I don't think people really care about millennials anymore. I feel like that kind of talk has died down, actually."

Though it was shot two years ago, Search Party's Season 3 is surprisingly relevant to, even prescient of, the political winds of 2020. That's in large part due to the lacerating observation that creators Sarah-Violet Bliss, Charles Rogers and Michael Showalter have threaded through the series since its earliest days: That women — especially highly privileged women — who only see themselves as victims in any situation or context can be alarmingly dangerous to others.

Search Party began with Dory's obsession with a missing-persons case involving her college acquaintance Chantal (Clare McNulty), whom our protagonist automatically assumed was in trouble despite seeing her alive at the end of the pilot. Dory imagined Chantal first at the mercy of a tetchy ex-boyfriend and later a cult, but it turned out that the self-absorbed acquaintance was hiding out in a fancy vacation home, for free, to nurse a broken heart, while her family feared her dead.

But after conjuring so many threats to Chantal, Dory — with the help of her boyfriend Drew (Reynolds) — ended up the villain of her story, accidentally killing, in a paranoid frenzy, the private investigator, Keith (Ron Livingston), that she was cheating on Drew with. And at the end of Season 2, Dory killed her mentally ill neighbor, April (Phoebe Tyers), who attempted to blackmail the hipster couple with a recording of their screamed confessions through their building's thin walls.

Despite a masterful performance by Shawkat, it's a little difficult to square the guileless Dory of Season 1 with the sociopathic conniver that she has become by the start of Season 3. But that's ultimately a quibble with Search Party's thoroughly satisfying third season, which finds a middle ground between the satirical buoyancy of the series' first year and the mournful surreality of its second. Dory and her friends — which include actress Portia (Hagner) and cancer and publishing scammer Elliott (Early) — do become the hated poster children of privilege that the D.A. office engineers to render them.

The irony is that, even in their persecution, they enjoy unfair advantages. Dory and Drew are charged for murder, but only Keith's. For most of the season, the only person who knows that April is dead is Dory, who's haunted by visions of her victim's rage-filled, water-bloated corpse (Tyers gives a bleakly funny turn).

Though it never lets the central quartet off easy, Search Party's third season is less a condemnation of a (narrow slice of a) generation than a portrait of Dory's increasing arrogance and self-delusion. Her smirking mugshot becomes a media sensation, leading to tabloid nicknames like "Gory Dory" and "the Butcher of Brooklyn." When Dory tells the paparazzi parked outside her apartment that, despite the overwhelming forensic evidence, Keith's death wasn't an understandable case of self-defense but wholly unrelated to them, she handcuffs the defense strategy of her Elle Woods-minus-the-charm lawyer (Shalita Grant). Rounding out the guest stars are Louie Anderson and Chelsea Peretti as fellow defense attorneys and Cole Escola in a small but crucial role too delicious to spoil.

The season largely plays out as a just-this-side-of-tolerably-broad legal spoof, with Watkins' prosecutor chronically exasperated that the youth and beauty that she resents in Dory and Drew also present an unfair benefit in the media and courtroom. It's a justified critique but hardly the series' hardest-hitting one. Also missing a parodic edge is the fifth episode, in which Dory's immigrant parents (Jacqueline Antaramian and Ramsey Faragallah) fly in from out of town to help present a supportive facade to the public. It's a rare representation of an Arab-American family in TV comedy outside of Ramy, but the episode's lack of cultural specificity and even character development make it a sorely squandered opportunity.

Still, it's hard not to admire the well-paced plotting of Season 3, as well as its careful attention to tying up the loose ends from the previous season. The 10 episodes constantly veer toward an unreality, with the latter third of the season, in particular, threatening to take the series from dramedy to horror-thriller. But Search Party ultimately remains tethered to our world, full of cautionary warnings about predators who can't see themselves as anything but prey.

'Search Party' (Season 3)
Premieres Thursday, Jun. 25, ET/PT on HBO Max
The Bottom Line: A blast from the past, and yet strangely prescient of 2020.


https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/search-party-season-3-review-1300310
 

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TV/Legal Notes (Streaming)
Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate sues Netflix for giving Sherlock Holmes too many feelings
By Adi Robertson, TheVerge.com - Jun. 25, 2020

The estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has sued Netflix over its upcoming film Enola Holmes, arguing that the movie’s depiction of public domain character Sherlock Holmes having emotions and respecting women violates Doyle’s copyright.

Enola Holmes is based on a series of novels by Nancy Springer starring a newly created teenage sister of the famous detective. They feature many elements from Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, and most of these elements aren’t covered by copyright, thanks to a series of court rulings in the early 2010s. Details from 10 stories, however, are still owned by Doyle’s estate. The estate argues that Springer’s books — and by extension Netflix’s adaptation — draw key elements from those stories. It’s suing not only Netflix, but Springer, her publisher Penguin Random House, and the film’s production company for unspecified financial damages.

The Doyle estate made a similar argument five years ago in a lawsuit against Miramax for its film Mr. Holmes — among other things, it claimed Mr. Holmes included plot details about Holmes’ retirement, which only happens in the final stories. But its new argument is a lot more abstract: basically, if this movie wants Sherlock Holmes to express emotions, its creators need to pay up.

The complaint alleges that in the public domain stories, Holmes is famously “aloof and unemotional.” Then, that changed because of his creator’s life experiences:

After the stories that are now in the public domain, and before the Copyrighted Stories, the Great War happened. In World War I Conan Doyle lost his eldest son, Arthur Alleyne Kingsley. Four months later he lost his brother, Brigadier-general Innes Doyle. When Conan Doyle came back to Holmes in the Copyrighted Stories between 1923 and 1927, it was no longer enough that the Holmes character was the most brilliant rational and analytical mind. Holmes needed to be human. The character needed to develop human connection and empathy.

Conan Doyle made the surprising artistic decision to have his most famous character—known around the world as a brain without a heart—develop into a character with a heart. Holmes became warmer. He became capable of friendship. He could express emotion. He began to respect women.


He also starts liking dogs, which a judge actually has described as a potentially protected trait.

The Hollywood Reporter notes that Doyle’s estate fought the partial public domain ruling by unsuccessfully arguing that Sherlock Holmes slowly became a complex figure who needed full copyright protection to remain coherent. The estate claimed that losing copyright to some of the stories gave Holmes “multiple personalities.”

So the estate now says Springer and Netflix are basing Enola Holmes on the personality that’s still protected. And the new personality’s key traits include relating to other people and reacting with “warmth and emotion” to a female character who happens to be his immediate family — in other words, some of the most basic updates any author might make to a century-old character. The complaint even includes some fun literary analysis about what a hardcore jerk the original Holmes was:

His closest companion, Watson, revered Holmes and was generous in his admiration. But to Holmes, Watson was utilitarian — to be employed when useful, then set aside. Holmes did not treat Watson with warmth. Holmes told him, “You have a grand gift for silence, Watson. It makes you quite invaluable as a companion.” (“The Man with the Twisted Lip.”) Holmes did not even congratulate Watson when Watson told Holmes he was going to marry Holmes’s client Mary Morstan.

Hilariously, it also suggests the copyright specifically covers Sherlock Holmes caring if Watson is injured or kidnapped — which may come as a surprise to the characters’ massive fanfiction following.

https://www.theverge.com/2020/6/25/21302942/netflix-enola-holmes-sherlock-arthur-conan-doyle-estate-lawsuit-copyright-infringement
 

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TV Sports/Health Notes (Baseball)
60 games in 66 days: How MLB's shortened 2020 schedule came together
By Bob Nightengale, USA Today - Jun. 25, 2020

You think you were the only one trying to keep your sanity awaiting Major League Baseball to return?

Meet Chris Marinak, MLB’s executive vice president for strategy, technology and innovation.

He happens to be responsible for scheduling the entire 2020 season, with the schedule being officially announced in the next 10 to 14 days.

“Oh my God, it’s been a long road,’’ Marinak told USA TODAY Sports. “The struggle, the challenge was just not knowing. We all wanted to play as soon as possible, but the virus was going to dictate that. We had to wait, but wanted to be ready to go when we got the word.

“Now, here we are; a pretty good schedule given how much time is left.’’

Never before has a complete MLB schedule been formulated this close to Opening Day, with less than a month to go.

Then again, never has there ever been a season like this, operating at the will of the coronavirus pandemic.

Yet MLB, with an exhaustive 100+ page health and safety operations manual, will attempt to become the first major sport to return on July 23 with two nationally televised games, and the rest of the teams scheduled to start July 24.

It will be the shortest season since 1878, playing just 60 of their normal 162 games (37%), with each team playing 40 games in its own division and 20 interleague games against their corresponding geographical division.

MLB toyed with the idea of realignment, but wanted to keep the traditional divisions, while still playing interleague games and keeping their natural interleague rivals.

So, we will still have the New York Yankees and Mets playing each other six times. The same with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels; the Chicago Cubs and White Sox; the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s, the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds.

Marinak and Chuck Torres, MLB senior director of broadcast operations and administration, spent perhaps as many as 400 hours working on the thousands of permutations of the schedule, keeping in constant contact with every team.

It was exasperating never knowing when the season would start, or how many games would be played.

“You just didn’t know the start date, the end date,’’ Marinak says, “and we were coming up with anything plausible based on the nightly news.’’

The historic schedule, in some ways, was easier to formulate with no fans in the stands – at least at the outset. There was no need to worry about teams complaining about the lack of weekend home games, or having too many home games when school was in session.

Playing games within your own geographical region, eliminating cross-country flights, also lessened the burden of implementing off-days or mandated day games.

And with no concerts or events staged at any ballpark during this pandemic, there were no scheduling conflicts. The only event MLB needed to work around was the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee Aug. 17-20, making sure the Brewers were out of town for a week with the lack of hotel rooms.

A view of an empty Dodger Stadium on what was scheduled to be opening day.
Every team will be at their home ballpark except with the possibility of the Toronto Blue Jays, who need approval from the Canadian government to ease travel restrictions. If the Blue Jays don’t receive approval, they are expected to play their home games in St. Petersburg, Fla., sharing the Tampa Bay Rays’ facility.

“I don’t think we have time to wait,’’ Marinak says, “we’re just assuming that they’ll be in Toronto. But we’re good either way. It’s either one extreme, north or south.’’

This will be a schedule built for primetime TV, with the highest percentage of games during local markets’ prime time in baseball history considering the regional schedule and precious few day games. Without travel to the West Coast, no team in the AL or NL East will have to play a 10 p.m. ET game.

Marinak and Torres tried to eliminate as much travel as possible in this new schedule. Teams who normally stop in New York, Chicago, San Francisco or LA for a three-game series, now will be staying for an entire week. There still will be two-game series, but most will last three and four games.

“It was really about trying to minimize travel,’’ Marinak says, “taking a minimal amount of trips and staying in the same city for multiple series. We did a lot of things in the schedule trying to minimize the potential health risks. Hopefully, this will keep guys fresher.’’

The schedule sure came a long way from the early days of the pandemic shutdown, when MLB thought it could actually return by April 10.

“The first thing we did was, 'OK, we’re down for a couple of weeks, how do we try to pack in games as we can with the games missed,'’’ Marinak says. “Then, it became obvious we weren’t playing anytime soon.’’

Next on the agenda was the potential Arizona Bubble Plan with all 30 teams playing in Arizona. The players nixed that idea before it ever got off the ground.

“That would have been a completely different structure,’’ Marinak says, “but the players didn’t want to do it. It was sort of a military style situation. It would have been too tough to enforce the rules. Playing doubleheaders in Arizona in 120-degree heat, is this really something we wanted to do? Then we looked at playing in Arizona and Florida. Then Arizona, Florida and Texas.

“Nothing went far enough down the road, but we had nothing else to do. We were just sitting around for a month during the worst of it in late March and April with the entire world shut down. So we looked at different models, and simulated as much as we could. Since there weren’t fans (in attendance) or much criteria to worry about, it made it easier to run versions.

“If we went through all of the permutations of all the schedules we did, you could have stacked sheets of paper to the moon.’’

So now MLB can only wait, and pray, that COVID-19 will cooperate, enabling the 60-game season in its entirety, with a World Series to remember. There may be fans at ballparks at some point in the season, but never close to capacity.

“I think people are craving baseball, there’s a pent-up demand,’’ Marinak says. “We’re still positioned to be the first major team sport to be back and running in the U.S. We’ll have a lot of games in late July and early August before the other sports ramp up.

“I also think the novelty of the season will bring more attention. Maybe we’ll have some .400 hitters. Maybe there’ll be pitchers with a really low ERA. You could see some teams break the all-time winning percentage.

“Hopefully, we never have to do this again.

“But I do think this schedule could be pretty cool.’’

https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/columnist/bob-nightengale/2020/06/25/mlb-schedule-60-games-planning/3257280001/
 

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TV Notes
On The Air
FRIDAY JUN. 26, 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 - Shark Tank
(R)
9:01PM - 20/20: Switched at Birth or Stolen? (119 min.)
* * * *
11:35PM - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Regina King)
(R)
12:06AM - Nightline
12:36AM - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Bill Murray)
(R)

CBS:
8PM - 47th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards (Special, 120 min.)
10PM - Blue Bloods
(R)
* * * *
11:35PM - The Late Show With Stephen Colbert (Keegan-Michael Key; Wes Moore, CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation)
(R)
12:37AM - The Late Late Show With James Corden (Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.); M. Ward performs)
(R)

NBC:
8PM - World of Dance
(R)
9PM - The Wall
(R)
10PM - Dateline NBC: The Secret Keepers
(R)
* * * *
11:34PM - The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (Pierce Brosnan; Nicole Richie; Blackpink performs)
12:37AM - Late Night With Seth Meyers (Pete Davidson; Matthew Rhys)
(R)
1:38AM - A Little Late With Lilly Singh (Natasha Leggero; comic Moshe Kasher)
(R)

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

THE CW:
8PM - Masters of Illusion
8:30PM - Masters of Illusion
(R)
9PM - Whose Line Is It Anyway? (Chris De'Sean Lee; guest comic Jonathan Mangum)
(R)
9:30PM - Whose Line Is It Anyway? (Candice Patton; guest comic Jeff Davis)
(R)

PBS:
8PM - Washington Week
8:30PM - Firing Line With Margaret Hoover
9PM - Great Performances - Gloria: A Life (120 min.)

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

TELEMUNDO:
8PM - Cennet
9PM - 100 Días Para Enamorarnos
10PM - Enemigo Intimo

ESPN 2:
6PM - NBA2K League: Week 7, Day 4 (4 hrs., LIVE)

DISNEY CHANNEL:
8PM - Sydney to the Max (21 min.)
8:21PM - Coop & Cami Ask the World (22 min.)

GALAVISION:
8PM - Como Dice El Dicho
9PM - Como Dice El Dicho

LIFETIME MOVIE NETWORK:
8PM - Movie: Deadly Mile High Club (2020)

VH1:
8PM - RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars (120 min.)

CBSSN:
9PM - PBR Bull Riding, Monster Energy Team Challenge: Las Vegas, NV (2.5 hrs., LIVE)

WETV:
9PM - Mama June: From Not to Hot (Season Finale, 91 min.)

AMC:
10PM - Friday Night In with The Morgans

CINEMAX:
10PM - Trackers

FX:
10PM - Pose-a-Thon for Pride (Special, 60 min.)

HBO:
10PM - Real Time With Bill Maher (LIVE: Guests TBA)

TBS:
Midnight - ELEAGUE Super Punch (120 min.)


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

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8,958 Posts
TV Review (Streaming)
‘The Twilight Zone’ Season 2: The Zone Is Still Hit-or-Miss, but Lands a Legendary Episode
By Kristen Lopez, IndieWire.com - Jun. 25, 2020

Chang and Amini have a solid foundation for this episode with Simpson’s Phil being the type of guy who bemoans the fact that all women are vapid and shallow, yet doesn’t care that he acts standoffish and creepy, at one point criticizing a prospective date for not having curly hair like in her profile.
Did the writer even watch the episode? The woman had curly hair at the date and straight hair in the profile. He was complaining that she had curly hair.
 

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37,075 Posts
This really leads to an interesting exploration of what these new rules should be.

In this case you have a mixed-race character, so which half is the one that should be represented? There are far fewer Jewish people in America than there are Black people, but representation isn't going to the smaller ethnic group (which matches Slate's background). Should the tie-breaker go to the less economically-advantaged segment? Or should the producers strive to find a voice-actor that has the same mixed racial background of the actual character?

Does this movement also extend to gender? Should Nancy Cartwright step aside to let a male voice actor take over for Bart Simpson? One can make the case that it makes sense for women to voice male children since they're voices sound similar and are less likely to change over time. But how about John Roberts and Dan Mintz, both voicing female leads from Bob's Burgers? Doesn't this needs to be rectified immediately considering the push for greater representation of female voices in the entertainment industry?

Scott
Unfortunately, some things have been getting out of hand lately.
 

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17,470 Posts
My opinion has always been that the rules of voice-over don't apply the way live action does. You can't see the voice actor and the voice is vital to the character. That means the goal should be to get the right sounding voice.

For example, I can't imagine anyone doing Edna Mode in "The Incredibles" other than Brad Bird. In fact, I believe he tried to get Lilly Tomlin to do the role, but she said he did it better than she would have.

Then, of course, you have some shows where a small number of people do dozens of voices, such as the case of "The Simpsons" or "Thundercats". To cast someone "appropriate" for each character would create an unwieldy budget for such shows, likely limiting the number of characters. I'm not sure we'd get more diversity in the VO booth so much as loose diversity of characters. For example, everyone seems bent on killing off Apu, but he likely wouldn't exist at all if the actually had to have an actual Indian actor voice him.

I'm more disturbed with taking established characters and changing their sex or ethnic background in a live action movie.

We talk about more roles for women, for example, but if I were a woman, I'd be insulted that the solution they've come up with is to simply remake a role that used to be male as female. Why can't we just write better roles for woman and diverse ethnic groups with the idea in mind of broadening culture, rather than the constant "make good" roles that get converted. There are plenty of actors of all backgrounds. Perhaps we should use them in quality roles created for them rather than changing characters someone else already played.

Can you imagine a new version of NYPD Blue with a character names Andrea Sipowicz instead of "Tommy"? What if instead of Laura Croft, they came up with Louisiana Jones?

Obviously, the goal should be to have the actor match the character. If it's that important to have a mixed race character, get a mixed race actor if you can. You can change your religion, but you can't put on a new skin. An actor that shares those attributes can bring that perspective. But, when it comes to voiceover, the voice that projects from the character is vital to how people perceive him or her. That may means you have to go with someone who doesn't match the specs to get the real personality of that character.
 
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