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Discussion Starter #37,401
TV/Production Notes (Cable)
MTV VMAs will be held outdoors 'with limited or no audience' in attendance
By Lauren Huff, EW.com - Aug. 7, 2020

The MTV Video Music Awards are going to look a little different this year.

The annual awards show, which was slated to be held at the Barclays Center in New York, will now be held outdoors instead as an added safety precaution amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Although MTV has not announced specifics yet, a statement provided to EW on Friday said the performances would be held outside in accordance with health and safety guidelines, with limited or no audience in attendance.

"The 2020 VMAs will be held on Sunday, August 30th and pay homage to the incredible resiliency of New York with several outdoor performances around the City with limited or no audience, adhering to all state and city guidelines," the network said in a statement. "In close consultation with state and local health officials‎, it became clear at this time that outdoor performances with limited or no audience would be more feasible and safer than an indoor event. The VMAs will highlight the boroughs in an exciting show and return to Barclays Center in 2021. MTV will continue to work closely with the Department of Health, state and local officials, the medical community, and key stakeholders to ensure the safety of all involved."

With most awards shows choosing to go virtual so far this year, the VMAs are being touted as the first live awards show since the pandemic started. Hosted by Keke Palmer, the 2020 VMAs will air live on Sunday, Aug. 30, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Source: MTV VMAs will be held outdoors 'with limited or no audience' in attendance
 

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TV/Production Notes (Streaming)
Bill Lawrence teams up with Jason Sudeikis for soccer comedy ‘Ted Lasso’
By Lauren Sarner, EW.com - Aug. 7, 2020

Writer/showrunner Bill Lawrence has entered the streaming series world with the Apple+ comedy “Ted Lasso.”

Premiering Aug. 14
, it follows Ted (Jason Sudeikis, the show’s co-creator and star), an affable American college football coach who’s hired to run a Premier League soccer team in the UK — despite having no knowledge of the sport or the region. The British press, players, and fans are all skeptical about Ted, and for good reason — it turns out the team’s owner, Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham, “Sex Education”), secretly hired him in hopes he would lead the team into failure so she could avenge her soccer-loving philandering ex (Anthony Head, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”)

“I didn’t have to do much research about soccer because Jason and I are Ted Lasso — we don’t know the game,” says Lawrence, 51, best-known for “Scrubs” and “Cougar Town.” “We did hire some British writers who knew the fan world of British Premier football. [Jason and I] both love sports and wanted to do our version of an iconic sports movie.

“Every American grows up watching ‘Rocky.’ We wanted to do that classic underdog story.”

“Ted Lasso” was filmed in and around London, using Selhurst Park Stadium, home of Crystal Palace Football Club, for its action scenes.

“The first burden for anybody who’s made a sports movie or TV show is that it’s really easy to make one that looks fake,” says Lawrence. “The football aspects of it needed to look real. We were lucky enough to use real venues.”

The Ted Lasso character originated in ads that Sudekis did for NBC Sports’ coverage of the English Premier League in 2013.

“I had seen those videos Jason did a few years back when he was promoting the Premier League,” says Lawrence. “Years later, I was chasing him down to do a TV show [together] because I think he’s an iconic funny leading man and affable actor. And he said, ‘I get recognized more as Ted Lasso when I leave the country because football is so big overseas.’ ”

The rest is history, as the duo set about fleshing out the character and his story into a 10-episode series.

Ted strolls into the UK with an upbeat attitude and a thick Midwestern twang. Initially, he’s viewed as a joke — but
slowly his genuine nature starts affecting everyone around him, from the team to Rebecca.

“I don’t want to take any shots at cynical snarky comedy because I’m a comedy writer, I do it myself,” says Lawrence. “With this, we wanted to make a hopeful and optimistic show and a character that embodies kindness — maybe at a time when it’s nice to have escapist entertainment.

“If I met Ted Lasso, we’ve reached a time and era that my initial reaction would be, ‘There’s no way this dude is this sincere!’ And then you feel like a jerk a week later,” he says. “That was kind of the basis for this show. Even when he’s ignorant, he’s curious. That’s where Jason and I overlap.

“He knew I had a history of doing shows with emotional depth and heart to them.”

Source: Bill Lawrence teams up with Jason Sudeikis for soccer comedy ‘Ted Lasso’
 

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TV Sports/Health Notes
NCAA has hope for fall sports but says path forward will be 'difficult, to say the least'
By Steve Berkowitz, USA Today - Aug. 7, 2020

NCAA president Mark Emmert and the association’s chief medical officer, Brian Hainline, each made blunt assessments Friday night about schools’ ability to conduct fall sports amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"This is going to be difficult, to say the least, going forward,” Emmert said.

Said Hainline: “I think we're in a place that is exceptionally narrow. The boundaries are … there's not a lot of places to move one way or the other. Almost everything would have to be perfectly aligned to continue moving forward.”

Their comments, during an interview on an NCAA Twitter site, came at the end of a tumultuous week for college sports. Among other developments, leaders of the association’s Division II and Division III schools canceled their groups’ NCAA fall sports championships. In addition, the NCAA Board of Governors, the association’s overall policy-making panel, implemented a series of requirements for schools that want to conduct fall sports.

Noting that a number of Division I conferences already have decided not to have fall sports, Emmert said during Friday’s interview: “We may well see more as they look at the requirements that the Board put in place and (make) determinations that they just can't conduct sports in a way that that would be consistent with those guidelines given resources or their localities because of this hot-spot phenomenon” with COVID-19.

But Emmert and Hainline did express hope that schools can find a way to comply with those mandates.

“We're all really hopeful that can be done,” Emmert said. “Obviously, everybody wants to have kids back on campus. Everybody wants fall sports to return. But we can't do it unless we can find a way to do it with minimized risk for these young people.”

Hainline said the NCAA’s medical advisory panel, and the national experts with whom that group has been consulting, have at least been able to chart what they believe is a road map to play. Whether schools will be able to follow it is another matter, and one that is dependent not only on the college athletics world, but also campus environments at large.

“It's balancing what the national guidance says with what's happening at your local level,” Hainline said, adding, “If everyone does everything right and we can't control the virus, but we can control our behavior, we'll say there is optimism within that narrow path.”

University of Kentucky president Eli Capilouto, a member of the Board of Governors, talked during Friday's interview about the numerous steps his school has taken in an effort to have the student body return to campus for fall classes. When it comes to sports, he said: “We're realistic about what we're facing. And I agree with Brian that it is a narrow path.”

However, Capilouto — who has a doctorate in health policy and management from Harvard — added: “Let's not give up on this generation (of students). Someone told me this morning that in World War II, there were some British engineers who had an expression that says, ‘We can do it, whether it can be done or not.’ And I hope our students give us that kind of attitude.”

Emmert, a former college president, knows this will not be easy.

“One thing you know is that trying to control the leisure hours of college-age men and women is a challenge under any circumstances,” Emmert said. “So I think it's going to be very difficult.

“We're hopeful that those things work. But we also know that there are going to be cases that occur. We know there will be outbreaks in some situations and that it becomes a matter of how quickly you respond, how quickly you can isolate the problem and quarantine individuals if you can continue to operate your campus.”

Source: NCAA has hope for fall sports but says path forward will be 'difficult, to say the least'
 

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TV Review (Cable)
'We Hunt Together' (Showtime)
By Inkoo Kang, The Hollywood Reporter - Aug. 7, 2020

The first kill on the new Showtime mystery We Hunt Together is a no-brainer. The victim, who dies instantly by a knife thrust into the base of his skull, is a would-be rapist who, were he to survive the night, would have gotten Baba (Dipo Ola), a former child soldier waiting for British immigration officials to grant him asylum, deported back to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Each subsequent murder, though, gets harder to justify.

That's one of the few ways that We Hunt Together maintains its narrative momentum, which is frequently undercut by writer Gaby Hull's pulling the rug out from under the audience again and again, until there's little reason to care about his characters or their fates. The pulpy, too-twisty six-part thriller (which aired earlier this summer in the UK on the Alibi channel) follows Baba's star-crossed romance with Freddy (Hermione Corfield), a young woman who delights in her ability to make her new boyfriend do terrible things to men who've wronged her. Those include their initial target, whose attempted sexual assault on Freddy was thwarted by Baba.

Searching for the couple, also on the "hunt," are newly paired detectives Lola (Eve Myles) and Jackson (Babou Ceesay). Jackson's Ned Flanders-esque sunniness and storied background in internal affairs immediately brings out the retreating hermit in Lola — for good reason. She's got big secrets to hide, especially from a cop willing to tell on other cops, even if Jackson's unflappable cheerfulness makes him akin to a pair of blinding white sneakers just out of the box secretly begging to be dirtied up. Their gradually defrosting partnership, with each just a bit too condescending at the start, makes for a natural, though not particularly compelling, contrast to Baba and Freddy's volatile alliance.

Unfortunately, the bulk of We Hunt Together is dedicated to the stubbornly underwritten Baba and the only theoretically intriguing Freddy. The latter is meant to be a smug mastermind, but in nearly every episode, she makes the kind of basic mistakes even a casual viewer of crime procedurals would know to avoid, like letting the detectives questioning her know that she believes herself to be smarter than they are. Frequent flashbacks to Freddy's teenage years (with Freya Durkan playing her younger self), when she was sent away by her parents after an unspecified tragedy, suggest there might be a righteous if morally compromised logic to her targets — a promise of thematic complication that's undermined by another ostensibly shocking reveal. At least Corfield, unlike her co-stars, gets enough layers in her character for a memorably multi-dimensional performance.

In contrast, the characterization of Baba is a lurid letdown, his trauma mostly an excuse for hallucinatory jump scares and a convenient efficiency in his and Freddy's killings. Admittedly, We Hunt Together isn't striving for a sensitive depiction of the rehabilitation of ex-child soldiers. But for a character who's seeking redemption for his past actions, he's bizarrely willing to compromise his ethics — or risk his immigration status — for a woman he's just met, especially one as obviously disturbed as Freddy.

Despite the best efforts of Corfield and Ola, as well as series director Carl Tibbetts' gorgeously haunted London, Baba and Freddy's neon-lit affair never quite gels, which makes the later episodes, in which their feelings for each other are harshly clarified, particularly numbing. Tibbetts reliably wrings suspense out of individual scenes, but after just a few episodes, the tension between wanting this harebrained Bonnie and Clyde to be caught and to be free had completely dissipated. All the fluorescent pinks and purples in England can't cover up the haze of indifference that remains.

We Hunt Together
Premieres Sunday, Aug. 10, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime
The Bottom Line: An auspicious premise undermined by too many twists.

Source: 'We Hunt Together': TV Review
 

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TV/Production Notes (Streaming)
HBO Max and Ava DuVernay are making a series based on the @OnePerfectShot Twitter account
By Julia Alexander, TheVerge.com - Aug. 7, 2020

Ava DuVernay is partnering with HBO Max and the team behind Twitter’s popular One Perfect Shot account to create a half-hour documentary series of the same name, the company announced today.

One Perfect Shot will look at an iconic shot from different films, with the directors of those films walking viewers through a detailed breakdown of how it came to be. Each episode will feature a different director “walking through the scene in 360 moments that allow viewers to join an immersive exploration of moviemaking,” according to a press release. Essentially, think of the show as a celebration of cinematography. DuVernay, who directed A Wrinkle in Time, Selma, 13th, and created Netflix’s When They See Us, is set to narrate and executive produce the series. One Perfect Shot is designed around the actual act of filmmaking — the technology and behind-the-scenes work that goes into making movies.

“I’ve long wanted to create a series about the art of directing,” DuVernay said. “To chronicle the craft of great filmmakers is a dream come true for me and all of us at ARRAY Filmworks.”

The One Perfect Shot Twitter account, which has just over 560,000 followers, was started in 2013 by filmmaker Geoff Todd. In 2016, the account’s ownership was given to publisher Neil Miller and became a part of the Film School Rejects portfolio. Since then, the account has grown and Miller has launched a newsletter under the same name to further talk about the art of filmmaking. Here’s a brief excerpt on why Miller and Todd believe that One Perfect Shot has become as popular as it has online:
We’re fans of the work. We obsess over every scene, every frame, and every filmmaking technique. We’re often attracted to sophisticated, detail-oriented filmmaking and storytelling. We love filmmakers who use the entire frame, regardless of their medium. And most of all, we love learning about the craft of filmmaking. Whether it’s the director’s commentary track on a home video release, a deep-dive essay that explains a filmmaking technique, a thoughtful video essay, or a conversation with anyone who works on set, we are always seeking to learn about how the things we love are made.
There’s no estimated premiere date for the show or a list of which directors are attached right now.

Source: HBO Max and Ava DuVernay are making a series based on the @OnePerfectShot Twitter account
 

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TV/Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Aug. 8, 2020

SUMMER UNDER THE STARS: CHARLIE CHAPLIN
TCM, 3:00 a.m. ET
Today’s “Summer Under the Stars” salute is devoted to Charlie Chaplin, one of the early cinematic auteurs who made the movies shine, and sparkle – and who made the movies, period. Turn to TCM at sunup, and stay until sunup tomorrow. The day’s menu includes one gem after another, including 1921’s The Kid (at 8:30 a.m. ET), 1925’s The Gold Rush (9:30 a.m. ET), and 1940’s The Great Dictator (5:30 p.m. ET), perhaps the one Chaplin picture you should take great pains to watch today, given our life and times. Also on the bill: 1931’s City Lights (8 p.m. ET) and 1936’s Modern Times (9:45 p.m. ET). For a taste of what’s in store all day, check out what I said, and presented, yesterday on our TV Worth Watching YouTube Channel for our “Best TV Tomorrow” video. It’s not a silent movie… but in the clip that concludes the video, Charlie Chaplin is far from silent himself.

RICHARD JEWELL
HBO, 8:00 p.m. ET

Clint Eastwood directed this 2019 movie drama, based on the bombing at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, and cast Paul Walter Hauser in the title role of the security guard unjustly accused of terrorism. Hauser already had established himself as an actor capable of portraying an Olympics-related characters who didn’t fare well under the glare of the media spotlight: In 2017, he played Shawn Eckardt, former bodyguard and co-conspirator of Olympics ice skater Tonya Harding, in I, Tonya. Hauser’s co-stars in Richard Jewell, by the way, are very well chosen by Eastwood and company, and include Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde, Jon Hamm, and Kathy Bates.

Source: TV Show Reviews, Recommendations... TV Worth Watching!

* * * *

TV/Critic's Notes (Cable)
National Geographic Announces Plans for Their Channels
By Mike Hughes, TVWorthWatching.com's 'Open Mike' - Aug. 5, 2020

Storm chasing, it seems, just isn't fair. The storm never obeys borders; the chasers have to.

For Category 6 – a new show filming storms for the National Geographic Channel – that problem comes with the pursuit of Tropical Storm Isiasis. The show is following it up the Atlantic coastline, producer Lisa Bloch told the Television Critics Association (TCA). But "come New Jersey, the storm (will) have to go on without us."

Blame COVID for that: Governor Murphy of New Jersey says people from 34 states and territories of the U.S. (at the time of this writing) must quarantine 14 days after entering New Jersey.

The storm, however, is free to zoom ahead, unpursued.

Such complications abound these days. As the TCA's virtual sessions with cable networks began Monday, the emphasis was on getting by. "We've gone from 4-to-8 person crews to one," Bloch said.

And a crew of any size still has trouble getting there. "The rules are changing so rapidly that we're often at the mercy of the gate-attendant," said Jon Kroll, producer of Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted.

For National Geographic, that gets especially complicated. When production temporarily halted on March 13, said network chief Courteney Monroe, the channel had people in a dozen countries, working on 77 different projects, planning 394 hours of television.

And yes, there might be some good coming from a pause.

Just ask Vanessa Berlowitz, producer of Queens, which films female-led animal communities. There were already plans to encourage media in other countries, she said. "This sort of accelerates our plan to use local filmmakers."

There's another benefit to a shutdown, said Anthony Hemingway, the Genius: Aretha producer. "Many of us were excited" by the break, "because it was so exhausting."

Now that break has stretched well beyond the welcome point.

The Aretha Franklin mini-series was expected to debut on Memorial Day weekend, but filming stopped after five of the eight episodes. There's still no plan for when shooting will resume.

That's a scripted show, which is the most difficult to do while social distancing. The non-fiction shows have tended to resume, but cautiously. "We shoot in relatively (remote) places anyway," Kroll said of Ramsay's series. "We think we're relatively safe."

Crews are smaller now – which has always been the case for Joel Sartore, working on a Photo Ark project to photograph every species. "The crew is usually me," he said.

Even in the wild, however, the concerns are there. Berlowitz said there are worries about passing COVID on to other creatures; it's difficult to "be socially distant from a monkey" who is curious.
But the channel pushes ahead, including projects that were filmed before the pandemic.

It's currently in its Sharkfest marathon with, Monroe said, ratings up 11 percent from last year. On Sunday (Aug. 9), the marathon moves over to the Nat Geo Wild channel – on the same day that Discovery launches its Shark Week – and the main channel moves on. It has upcoming projects: one produced by James Cameron (Akashinga: The Brave Ones, about an all-female anti-poaching army in Zimbabwe), and another directed by Ron Howard (Rebuilding Paradise, about a California town destroyed by wildfire).

And in November, the channel and the magazine plan a sweeping project: Virus Hunters will view the history and the future of pandemics, said Susan Goldberg, the National Geographic editor-in-chief. "This goes way back…. We totally should have been prepared for this. We knew it was coming."

Source: National Geographic Announces Plans for Their Channels
 

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TV Sports/Business Notes (Streaming)
ESPN Plus Price Getting Hiked to $6 Monthly for New Customers
By Todd Spangler, Variety.com - Aug. 7, 2020

ESPN Plus is about to get pricier for sports fans who sign up for the streamer’s monthly plan.

Now that sports have started back up after the months-long COVID hiatus, the Disney-owned programmer has decided to raise the price of ESPN Plus by 20%: Starting Aug. 12, the monthly price of an ESPN Plus subscription for new customers will go up to $5.99 per month, versus the $4.99 monthly price that the streaming service launched with in April 2018.

According to ESPN, existing monthly subscribers will continue to pay $4.99 monthly for at least the next 12 months — although that is subject to change.

In addition, the one-year ESPN Plus subscription will remain $49.99 annually. Also, the price of Disney’s three-way bundle — with Disney Plus, ESPN Plus and Hulu with ads — will remain unchanged at $12.99 per month.

It’s the first price hike for ESPN Plus’ base monthly subscription since it launched more than two years ago, although starting in 2020 the service hiked the price of UFC’s pay-per-view events to $64.99 each (up from $59.99 previously).

ESPN Plus had racked up 8.5 million paid subscribers as of June 27, gaining 600,000 in the most recent quarter and more than tripling year-over-year. The relatively low price point has been a big draw, and we continue to invest in both live sports and original programming.

By raising the monthly price of ESPN Plus to $5.99, Disney obviously is looking to boost revenue. But the change also seems to be aimed at driving subscribers to lock into the one-year plan or opt for the ESPN Plus/Disney Plus/Hulu bundle.

Disney likes the bundle and the one-year plans because it results in less churn (the rate of people canceling month to month). In fact, Hulu separately today announced a new one-year pricing plan: Available starting Friday, in addition to Hulu’s $5.99 per month ad-supported plan, subscribers will have the option to get a one-year subscription to Hulu (with ads) for $59.99 — a 16% discount.

For the June 2020 quarter, Disney said ESPN Plus delivered “higher results” thanks to subscriber growth and higher income from UFC PPV events, but the company didn’t break those out.

While the subscribers are growing, average monthly revenue per paid subscriber for ESPN Plus declined over the past year: dropping from $5.33 in June 2019 to $4.18 in the most recently quarter. That, according to Disney, is because of the rollout of the bundled subscription package of Disney Plus, ESPN Plus and Hulu beginning in November 2019 as well as lower per-subscriber advertising revenue.

ESPN Plus has advertised more than 12,000 live events annually, although with the COVID-19 pandemic the schedule has been massively disrupted. In addition to live sports, the service includes thousands of hours of on-demand content including original shows and series, documentaries, features, past show episodes, classic events and selected replays.

Live sports programming currently scheduled to be on ESPN Plus in late summer and early fall include MLB games, UFC Fight Nights, PPV, and Contender Series, Top Rank Boxing, Bundesliga soccer, Serie A soccer, FA Cup soccer, MLS, English Football League soccer, PGA Tour, Big 12 and American Conference college sports, and U.S. Open Tennis.

Source: ESPN Plus Price Getting Hiked to $6 Monthly for New Customers
 

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TV/Washington Notes
AMC Networks Files FCC Complaint Vs AT&T For Abusing Market Clout, Favoring Own Networks
By Jill Goldsmith, Deadline.com - Aug. 7, 2020

AMC Networks has filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission accusing AT&T of penalizing the The Walking Dead broadcaster in favor of its own competing channels like HBO and TNT by insisting on “discriminatory” terms to renew its affiliation agreement.

AT&T called AMC Networks’ complaint “without merit.” In a statement it said, “We treat all programmers fairly and will continue to work with AMC Networks to provide its content at a price that is reasonable to our customers. The cost to provide AMC Networks’ programming to our customers should reflect that AMC Networks’ shows have been declining in popularity as compared to their peers for several years.”

In the heavily redacted filing for public inspection directed to the Chief of the FCC’s Media Bureau, AMC claims that AT&T’s “onerous and stifling terms and restrictions” are an abuse of the vertically-integrated market power gained in the 2018 acquisition of Time Warner and that AT&T is taking advantage of one of the nation’s few remaining independent programmers.

AT&T, the complaint says, does not impose the same terms on its own networks and is disregarding communications law and a commitment it made in the Time Warner merger to keep a level playing field.

That deal combined AT&T, the nation’s second largest MVPD after Comcast, and Time Warner, which operates networks including TNT, TBS, CNN, and HBO.

The terms in question were redacted but AMC indicated that they include an attempt to bar AMC from some online distribution. “While MVPDs commonly ask programmers to refrain from making popular content available on the Internet for free, they do not seek to bar programmers from being part of online services,” the complaint said.

“AMCN thus brings this program carriage complaint to seek relief from AT&T’s discriminatory conduct that violates Section 616 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and the Commission’s program carriage rules. The Commission should order AT&T to carry AMC and AMC+ (along with AMCN’s other programming networks) on fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory rates, terms and conditions,” the complaint said.

Popular AMC shows include Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Into the Badlands, Killing Eve and Better Call Saul. AMC asked that the Commission use its regulatory powers – in this case, the program carriage rules – “to address AT&T’s discriminatory and anticompetitive use of the disproportionate bargaining power that it now has as a result of the AT&T-Time Warner merger to unlawfully disadvantage a programming competitor.”

AMC noted the uphill battle independents face in today’s market as solo operators with limited funds as the cost of content rises.

“AMCN’s networks face unique challenges in maintaining access to the top content that distinguishes their programming line-ups. Its networks are forced to compete with the numerous networks affiliated with MVPDs, which often have access to greater resources, as well as networks affiliated with major film studios or sports teams, which are able to obtain preferential licensing arrangements for popular movies and sporting events.”

Source: AMC Networks Files FCC Complaint Vs AT&T For Abusing Market Clout, Favoring Own Networks
 

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Discussion Starter #37,409 (Edited)
TV/Production Notes (Broadcast)
Legends of Tomorrow: Olivia Swann Will Be Back as Series Regular in Season 6
By Vlada Gelman, TVLine.com - Aug. 6, 2020

Earthbound Astra is sticking with the Legends of Tomorrow. The character’s decision to explore the human world in the Season 5 finale cast some understandable doubt about her future, but TVLine has learned that Astra’s portrayer, Olivia Swann, will return as a series regular for Season 6.

The English actress first appeared in a pair of Season 4 episodes before becoming a full-time member of the cast the following year. In the Season 5 ender, Astra gave Constantine’s soul coin back to him and announced that she wants to try living a normal life on Earth.

“A lot of times with characters, we bring them on, and you just have this sneaking suspicion that there is more to explore,” executive producer Phil Klemmer previously told TVLine. Like with Jes Macallan’s Ava Sharpe, Tala Ashe’s Zari 1.0 and Maisie Richardson-Sellers’ Amaya in their own early days on the series, “you just kind of had this nagging suspicion of like, ‘Oh, God, I know there’s so much more that you can do, but we just ran out of time,’ and Olivia’s one of those performers. When you saw the sorority episode, that was her first chance to sort of exist out in the world. You get to see that she’s got all these sort of hidden gears.”

With Astra free from Hell now and trying her hand at human life, “She’s got a lot to figure out, and that could be super, super fascinating,” Klemmer continued. “And she’s great for Constantine as well. Their history really provides a great dynamic.”

Plus, “we need more bad people! Like, let’s be honest,” Klemmer added with a laugh. “We can’t have everybody fully rehabilitated. I guess you [can] just call her totally amoral and cutthroat. That’s an awesome energy to have on our gang of big-hearted sweeties.”

As previously reported, the makeup of the Waverider will, come Season 6, once again look different: Shayan Sobhian, who plays Zari’s younger brother Behrad, has been promoted to series regular, while Richardson-Sellers, who most recently portrayed Charlie, will not be back.

Legends of Tomorrow Season 6 is slated to debut in or before Spring 2021 on The CW.

Source: Legends of Tomorrow: Olivia Swann Will Be Back as Series Regular in Season 6
 

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TV Notes
On The Air

SATURDAY AUG. 8, 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 - America's Funniest Home Videos
(R)
9PM - Shark Tank (R)
10PM - The Good Doctor (R)

CBS:
8PM - 2020 PGA Championship: Third Round (Continued from 4PM, LIVE)
10PM - 48 Hours - Chacey Poynter: Witness to Murder
(R)

NBC:
8PM - NHL Hockey: Philadelphia Flyers vs. Tampa Bay Lighting (LIVE)
* * * *
11:29PM - Saturday Night Live: Daniel Craig hosts; The Weeknd performs (94 min.)
(R)

FOX:
8PM - Boxing - PBC: Jamal James vs. Thomas Dulorme (120 min., LIVE)
* * * *
11PM - Ultimate Tag
(R)

PBS:
8PM - Austin City Limits: Miguel; Alessia Cara (60 min.)
(R)

UNIVISION:
7:30PM - Fútbol Mexicano Primera División:
Cruz Azul vs. León (LIVE)
10PM - Nosotros Los Guapos
10:30PM - Nosotros Los Guapos


TELEMUNDO:
7PM - Minuto Para Ganar (55 min.)
7:55PM - Movie: The Condemned (2007)
9:55PM - Fútbol Mexicano Primera División: Guadalajara vs. Puebla (LIVE)

TNT:
6PM - NBA Basketball: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Indiana Pacers (LIVE)


BBC AMERICA:
8PM - Earthflight: Africa (70 min.)


CBSSN:
8PM - PBR Bull Riding:
PBR Dakota Community Bank & Trust Invitational (120 min., LIVE)

ESPN:
8PM - NBA Countdown (LIVE)
8:30PM - NBA Basketball: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Dallas Mavericks (LIVE)

LIFETIME:
8PM - Movie -
Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret: Special Edition (2013, 123 min.)
10:03PM - Jodi Arias: Cellmate Secrets (Special)

NBCSN:

8PM - NHL Hockey, Stanley Cup Qualifier: Teams TBA (LIVE)
10:30PM - NHL Hockey, Stanley Cup Qualifier: Teams TBA (LIVE)

NICKELODEON:
8PM - Danger Force: Secrets Revealed! (5 min.)
8:05PM - Nickelodeon's Unfiltered
8:35PM - All That

OWN:
8PM - Love & Marriage: Huntsville
9PM - Family or Fiancé
10PM - Girlfriends Check In

TLC:
8PM - Say Yes to the Dress (60 min.)

HALLMARK:
9PM - Movie: Love on Harbor Island (2020)

ADULT SWIM:
Midnight - Dragon Ball Super
(R)
12:30AM - JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind (R)
1AM - Fire Force (R)
1:30AM - Black Clover (R)

SYFY:
Midnight - Dallas & Robo (Series Premiere, 34 min.)


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

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TV Sports/Business Notes (Streaming)
ESPN Plus Price Getting Hiked to $6 Monthly for New Customers
By Todd Spangler, Variety.com - Aug. 7, 2020

ESPN Plus is about to get pricier for sports fans who sign up for the streamer’s monthly plan.
One thing I've never been sure about: Does ESPN+ still require the fee even if you already have ESPN as part of your cable bill? Or is it included, as say, HBO Max is if you already have an HBO subscription (for at least the next year)?
 

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TV/Production Notes (Cable)
MTV VMAs will be held outdoors 'with limited or no audience' in attendance
By Lauren Huff, EW.com - Aug. 7, 2020

The MTV Video Music Awards are going to look a little different this year.
I have two comments
1)MTV has carried little if any music related programming since last year's show.

2)there has been little if any REAL music out
 

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One thing I've never been sure about: Does ESPN+ still require the fee even if you already have ESPN as part of your cable bill? Or is it included, as say, HBO Max is if you already have an HBO subscription (for at least the next year)?
It is in addition to your existing ESPN channel.
 

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It is in addition to your existing ESPN channel.
Dang. It's already the most expensive channel in terms of the subscriber rate they charge the cable/sat channels, by a considerable amount. Which of course, makes everybody's cable bill higher whether they are interested in sports or not. What a money-making machine ESPN is.
 

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Obituary
Lorenzo Soria, President of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Dies at 68
By Mike Barnes and Scott Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporter - Aug. 7, 2020

Lorenzo Soria, who served five terms as president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, died peacefully at his home in Los Angeles on Friday, according to a family member. He was 68.

Soria had battled lung cancer.

The good-natured Soria headed the HFPA — the organization behind the annual Golden Globe Awards — in 2003-04, 2004-05, 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2019-20. He joined the organization in 1989 and served on its board for years.

Born in Buenos Aires in 1951, Soria was 11 when his family moved to Milan following the death of his father. He edited and wrote for the Italian publications L'Espresso (starting in 1977) and La Stampa and had lived in Los Angeles since 1982. He was a Fulbright scholar.

Soria "covered politics, technology, society and other topics," the HFPA said in a statement, "but what he loved most were his interviews with Hollywood talent and reporting about trends and changes in the film and television industry."

On Instagram, Venice International Film Festival director Alberto Barbera called Soria "a beautiful person, kind, helpful, generous. Rare qualities, not really frequent especially in the environment to which it belonged. For this he had earned the respect and affection of all."

"Lorenzo Soria was a man with great integrity, talent and vision," publicist Tony Angellotti said in a statement. "More than that, he was a gentleman, a kind man, funny as hell, and he loved life through all the ups, and the downs, he experienced. Especially of late. … During this damned plague he and I kept our exchange of sardonic emails going, as recently as a few days before he passed. And he never failed to lift my mood."

And Doug Vaughan, executive vp specials programming at NBC Entertainment, described Soria as "a wonderfully kind soul, amazing partner and friend to us for many years who served as an incredible ambassador for the HFPA. Working hand-in-hand on the Golden Globes was always an absolute pleasure as Lorenzo was undoubtedly one of the most thoughtful and insightful people in the business."

Survivors include his wife, Lilla; son Max; sister Donatella; and mother Diana.

"He was deeply committed to the movie industry's power to heal the world and shine a spotlight on injustice," his family said. Details about a memorial "will follow in the coming days."

Source: Lorenzo Soria, President of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Dies at 68
 

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Nielsen Overnights (Broadcast)
Friday Ratings: WWE Friday Night SmackDown Features ‘Retribution’ Chaos For The Win
By Bruce Haring, Deadline.com - Aug. 8, 2020

Fox’s WWE Friday Night SmackDown once again led the ratings demos for the dog days evening, scoring an 0.5 to lead a rerun-heavy night.

The show was highlighted by the appearance of Retribution, an Antifa-like group dressed all in black and bearing baseball bats. The mysterious group attacked the ringside area and battled developmental wrestlers seated ringside, concluding by spray-painting the ring and its surrounding plexiglass, with a chainsaw-wielding member cutting the ring ropes.

Among other original programming on Friday, CBS’s Greatest #AtHome Videos came in at an 0.4 in the third segment of the Cedric the Entertainer show, which spotlights the best of social media contributions. It also had the night’s largest total audience with a P2+ of 3736.

The CW ran a new Masters of Illusion to kick off its evening, the show clocking an 0.1, followed by a repeat episode.

Later, The CW debuted reality show Being Reuben, a vehicle for boy makeup social media influencer Reuben de Maid and his family. Back-to-back half-hour segments both scored an 0.0.

Source: Friday Ratings: WWE Friday Night SmackDown Features ‘Retribution’ Chaos For The Win
 

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TV/Cultural Notes (Streaming)
Zoë Kravitz Calls Out Hulu for Lack of Diverse Shows After ‘High Fidelity’ Cancellation
By Jordan Moreau, Variety.com - Aug. 8, 2020

One day after Hulu canceled her series “High Fidelity” after one season, star Zoë Kravitz called out the streaming service for not having shows with much diversity.

Kravitz took to her Instagram on Thursday to post some behind-the-scenes photos with her “High Fidelity” cast members after news broke that the show was canceled.

“I wanna give a shout out to my #highfidelity family. Thank you for all the love and heart you put into this show. I’m in awe of all of you. And thank you to everyone who watched, loved and supported us. #breakupssuck,” she wrote.

Several actors, including Tessa Thompson, Reese Witherspoon, Halle Berry and others, commented on the photos, offering condolences that the show will not continue.

“I will miss you alllllllllllll so much,” Thompson commented.

Kravitz replied to her, “It’s cool. At least Hulu has a ton of other shows starring women of color we can watch. Oh wait.”

“High Fidelity” was a gender-bending, modern reimagining of the 2000 film starring John Cusack, with Kravitz playing his role. She starred as Rob, a pop culture-obsessed owner of a record store. Jake Lacy, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and David H. Holmes rounded out the cast of the single season, which was critically praised.

On an episode of Variety and iHeartRadio’s “The Big Ticket” podcast earlier this year, Kravitz had spoken about the fan feedback she’d gotten about the representation on “High Fidelity.”

“The amount of comments, DMs, things on Twitter, articles written about Brown women who love music, were afraid of commitment, who’ve never seen a person like them on television — they feel seen for the first time,” she said. “I have a friend who — one of his best friends loves punk music and is gay — it’s like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe I’m watching a gay man in a Minor Threat shirt. I’ve never seen that before.’ Just breaking away from the stereotypes, I feel like people need that. So I feel very lucky to have been able to deliver that, because one of the most important things for me was authenticity and bringing a real world to life. I’ve lived in New York for a long time, and in a lot of ways this was a love letter to New York with all its messiness and diversity.”

A representative for Hulu did not immediately respond to Variety’s request for comment.

Source: Zoë Kravitz Calls Out Hulu for Lack of Diverse Shows After ‘High Fidelity’ Cancellation
 

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TV/Critic's Notes (Streaming)
National Geographic streaming series 'Rogue Trip' hosted by journalist Bob Woodruff
By Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy, Rockland/Westchester Journal News - Aug. 7, 2020

In 2006, Bob Woodruff was severely injured by a roadside bomb while reporting on the war in Iraq for ABC. He suffered life-threatening injuries as shrapnel and other debris from the explosion lodged in his brain, causing him to spend 36 days in a medically-induced coma.

“It's been a long recovery; it’s been more than 14 years now and for me and my family there's always been hope," said Woodruff, a longtime Rye resident who raised four children in the village with his wife, author Lee Woodruff.

What never waned was Woodruff's interest in exploring countries around the globe. He also wanted his kids not to grow up fearful just because of what happened to him.

Woodruff has combined both goals by hosting a new National Geographic series with his 29-year-old son, Mack.

The father-son duo are featured on Rogue Trip, a series that is streaming on Disney+. Over the course of the six-part series, the duo travels to six countries including Colombia, Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Lebanon and the Ukraine.

"Rogue Trip," which premiered two weeks ago, was shot over four months starting in July 2019.

After years of covering wars and environmental issues for ABC, Woodruff said the series offered him a chance to change peoples’ perspective on regions or countries not generally found on a tourist’s list.

“Nothing ever gets back to the way it was before. And sometimes things can be better than they were before,” said Woodruff. “Life can get better and countries that I reported on can do the same.”

Bob and Lee Woodruff


For Mack, a professional photographer and an aspiring on-camera journalist, the series offered a chance to learn from the best.

“The ins and outs of interviewing someone and how to ask the right questions and to be an active listener and all those skills were developed as I went on,” he said.

“I was also feeling a little bit less intimidated by the idea of going up to strangers and asking them questions. But then the more I did it, the more comfortable I was and realized that they're just as curious about you as you are about them. So that became pretty natural a few weeks into the project.”

Among the adventures featured in the series: The duo explored the drainage tunnel system underneath Kiev, Ukraine, to find abandoned nuclear bunkers from the Cold War era and experienced a turtle rodeo in Papua New Guinea.

“We were chasing these sea turtles on a small boat. Once they get tired out, you can jump right onto their back and pull them out of the water. We were doing it so that we could tag them for science, but it was also something that I didn't know was possible,” said Mack Woodrfuff, who spent the last two years living in Sydney, Australia.

“So it was a really cool experience to be helping these marine biologists, but also having the time of your life while doing it.”

As a photographer and a journalist, the duo often gravitate toward different things.

“I was drawn to the beautiful scenery or the cinematic light that was hitting people's faces and taking portraits of things and people; he was more interested in getting information from people and trying to find out what their stories are, who they are, where they're from, what they do, why they do it,” said Mack Woodruff, whose photography and video clips have made it into the series. “I think we compromised a little bit.”

For Bob Woodruff, 59, curiosity about the world is what led to his journalism career.

After obtaining a law degree from the University of Michigan, Woodruff said he was fascinated by the changes taking place in China in the late 80s. He moved to China in the first year of his marriage to study Mandarin and teach law in Beijing.

CBS News hired him as an on-screen interpreter during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Woodruff was 30 years old; it was the start of his career as a journalist. Since 2015, he has been ABC's primary correspondent throughout Asia.

He said having the chance to bond with his son was one of the highlights of doing the Nat Geo series.

"Parents have a chance to spend a lot of time with their kids until they reach adolescence and then they kind of disappear for a long period of time," Bob Woodruff said. "And then they come back and they're not living with you anymore and you have great Thanksgiving dinners, but you don't get a chance to go and spend four straight months with your child again, to be at the center of your life. So it was amazing."

While both father and son had a hard time picking their favorite out of the six countries, Pakistan seems to have clearly made a special impression.

“My dad spent a lot of time there after 9/11. And so, a lot of the news that he reported from that country was about a place that was harboring terrorists, Taliban and such,” said Mack. “So I expected a somewhat dangerous place. What I saw was pretty much the opposite. It was incredibly generous people with incredible food and the most stunning, jagged mountains I've ever seen in my entire life.”

Source: National Geographic streaming series 'Rogue Trip' hosted by journalist Bob Woodruff
 

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TV Review (Cable)
'Surviving Jeffrey Epstein' (Lifetime)
By Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter - Aug. 8, 2020

"There's no strength in being quiet. Your strength is in your voice."

Those words come from Chauntae Davies, a survivor of sex crimes perpetrated by Jeffrey Epstein, speaking as one of the featured figures in Lifetime's two-night, four-hour documentary Surviving Jeffrey Epstein.

Davies clearly makes the case here for why there's no harm in Surviving Jeffrey Epstein arriving less than three months after Netflix's Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich, another four-hour documentary (as in, four hours without commercial padding) about the wealthy financier and his decades of sexual assaults and sex trafficking — also with Davies among its central heroines. Honoring and giving a platform to survivors, amplifying voices that for years were silenced or marginalized, is an absolute good that goes well beyond any qualitative evaluation of either series.

Having both series out there and available, empowering so many survivors who remain young women, is in all ways important. But if you watched Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich, are there still reasons to watch Surviving Jeffrey Epstein? If you're fascinated by the story, should you pick one or the other or both? That's a more complicated question.

Especially on much of its first night, Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern's Lifetime doc is close to interchangeable with Filthy Rich. The focus is primarily on survivors of Epstein's cycles of assault in Florida, using probably two-thirds of the same interview subjects — survivors and their crusading attorneys — for a comparable narrative establishing the power Epstein wielded and how he used it to prey on young women from lower-income parts of Palm Beach, detailing his predatory patterns and tracing the tragic backstories that made some of the survivors particularly vulnerable. Filthy Rich featured more survivors from this particular period of Epstein's criminality and more figures from the Florida legal community, making for a fuller exploration of the repugnant 2008 plea deal orchestrated by former Labor Secretary Alex Acosta under shady circumstances.

If Surviving Jeffrey Epstein has an advantage in that first night, it's in better fleshing out the so-called "sexual pyramid scheme" with Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell at the top. Sundberg and Stern are far better sourced in Epstein's Manhattan backyard — they directed last year's The Preppy Murder as well — and, as a result, they're able to explore his targeting of aspiring models, as well as the contributions of the four named co-conspirators from that 2008 plea deal. In many ways, seeing how complicated and tiered an infrastructure Epstein's operation was built around only adds to the horror; each recruiter, each intermediary introduces a new layer of betrayal and, in some cases, victimization.

It's in the second night that Surviving Jeffrey Epstein begins to really differentiate itself from Filthy Rich, eschewing a lot of the tawdry details that the Netflix doc dedicated time to — and that, if we're being honest, some viewers will want and be disappointed not to have. Surviving Jeffrey Epstein offers no speculation at all on the nature of Epstein's death, and it's weakly sourced on the salacious details coming from Epstein's private island. The filmmakers avoid any direct implications about any of the rich and powerful people under Epstein's sway other than Prince Andrew, accused but not on-camera, and Alan Dershowitz, who probably needs to learn to say "No" to some of these documentaries, because he once again fails to do himself any favors with anything he says.

Sundberg and Stern were deep into editing in July when Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested on sex trafficking and perjury charges, and while I can't say what material was scrapped from the original cut to make it possible, the documentary becomes much more focused on Maxwell as a result. Maxwell's incarceration has opened another door for the survivors to get legal justice — an opportunity thwarted by Epstein's death — and there's a greater willingness on all parts here to delve into Maxwell's psychology and complicity. This brings new, nightmarish nuance to a story that could otherwise be built around Epstein as a smirking bogeyman. Those Manhattan connections, including several former friends and acquaintances of Maxwell's, make for a more rounded perspective.

Surviving Jeffrey Epstein also boasts a clearer call to action — especially as it relates to survivors' desire to push for legislation to change statute of limitation laws when it comes to sexual abuse of minors. (Lawyers and psychologists offer insight into the failure of current laws to understand why victims often remain silent for so long). The call to action is the best justification for why this documentary, even with its changing focus and the ongoing nature of Maxwell's proceedings, was rushed to air for what has now become a semi-arbitrary date timed to the first anniversary of Epstein's death.

The rush — the documentary contains interviews and news reports from things that happened just weeks ago — results in some real narrative unevenness that probably would have been smoothed out if a premiere could have been pushed to September. (Maxwell is introduced on the first night as an accomplice and then the second night as more of a demonstrable perpetrator.) Heck, by pushing this to September, Surviving Jeffrey Epstein might have become Surviving Ghislaine Maxwell.

Some of the production's liabilities wouldn't have been correctable. Like Filthy Rich, Surviving Jeffrey Epstein suffers from a limited visual scope, so the same childhood pictures of the survivors are utilized over and over again, as is the notorious shot of Epstein, Maxwell, Donald Trump and Melania Trump (an association Sundberg and Stern can't capitalize much on, though at least they now have Trump's "I wish her well" press conference answer to drive home that relationship).

Ultimately, Surviving Jeffrey Epstein is, like Filthy Rich, an admirable tribute to survivors and an opportunity for some measure of catharsis. It's also constrained by legal considerations when it comes to approaching Epstein's network — and by being unable to anticipate what will or won't come from Maxwell's current legal situation. That all means that the next four-hour Epstein documentary should be heading our way next year.

'Surviving Jeffrey Epstein'
Airs Sunday, August 9, and Monday, August 10, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime
The Bottom Line: Worth watching, though perhaps less so if you already saw Netflix's Epstein doc.

Source: 'Surviving Jeffrey Epstein': TV Review
 

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No political comments, please.

Technology/Washington Notes (Mobile)
Huawei says it’s running out of chips for its smartphones because of US sanctions
By Kim Lyons, TheVerge.com - Aug. 9, 2020

Huawei, the world’s biggest smartphone vendor, says it’s running out of processor chips because of US sanctions against the company, The Associated Press reported. And according to Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s consumer business unit, as of next month the Chinese phone manufacturer will no longer be able to make its own Kirin chipsets due to the ongoing economic pressure from the US.

“Unfortunately, in the second round of U.S. sanctions, our chip producers only accepted orders until May 15. Production will close on Sept. 15,” Yu said at a conference August 7th. “This year may be the last generation of Huawei Kirin high-end chips.” Huawei’s upcoming Mate 40 phone, scheduled for release in September, could be the last phone with a Kirin chip.

The US has accused Huawei of building backdoors into network infrastructure, ostensibly to aid Chinese government spying efforts. Huawei has denied the Trump administration’s accusations of spying. But the Trump administration placed Huawei and 114 of its affiliates on its Entity List in May 2019, which meant US firms were unable to sell technology to the company without explicit US government approval.

It also meant Google was barred from doing business with Huawei, preventing Huawei from being able to obtain an Android license and keeping Google apps off Huawei devices. The order used the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to justify the ban, and reads that “openness must be balanced by the need to protect our country against critical national security threats.”

Trump later extended the order to May 2021. Then in May, the US Commerce Department issued an amended export rule to block shipments of semiconductors to Huawei to “strategically target Huawei’s acquisition of semiconductors that are the direct product of certain US software and technology.”

That rule prevented foreign manufacturers of semiconductors who use American software and technology in their operations from shipping their products to Huawei unless they first obtained a license from the US. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), the largest semiconductor manufacturer in the world, reportedly halted orders for Huawei’s HiSilicon unit in May following the new US rule.

Despite the ban in the US, earlier this year, Huawei bested Samsung as the world’s biggest smartphone seller, shipping more phones between April and June than any other company, according to analyst firm Canalys.

The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday that American chipmaker Qualcomm had asked the Trump administration to ease the restrictions on the sale of components to Huawei, and allow it to sell chips to Huawei for use in its 5G phones.

Source: Huawei says it’s running out of chips for its smartphones because of US sanctions
 
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