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TV/Production Notes
Julia Roberts to star in her first TV series, Today Will Be Different
By Oliver Gettell, EW.com - Oct. 16, 2020

Julia Roberts is doing something different. The megawatt movie star is set to play the lead role in a small-screen adaptation of Today Will Be Different, Maria Semple’s bestselling novel about a beleaguered Seattle woman whose plan to have a calm, productive day goes sideways.

In addition to starring, Roberts will produce the limited series, which marks the first project announced under Annapurna Pictures’ new TV initiative. Semple will write the adaptation and also serve as an executive producer alongside Annapurna’s Megan Ellison and Sue Naegle. A network is not yet on board.

Published in October, Today Will Be Different chronicles a fateful day in the life of Eleanor Flood, a former wunderkind of the New York art world who is caught in a rut as a half-desperate housewife in the Pacific Northwest.

“I’m giddy that Eleanor Flood will be brought to life by Julia Roberts and am elated to collaborate with Megan Ellison, Sue Naegle and the team at Annapurna on this endeavor,” Semple said in a statement Thursday. “This will be a fun ride!”

Roberts was last seen on TV in the HBO movie The Normal Heart. Semple has written for the shows Arrested Development and Mad About You, and a film adaptation of her sophomore novel, Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, is also in the works at Annapurna, with Richard Linklater attached to direct.

Source: Julia Roberts To Star in Her First TV series, 'Today Will Be Different'
 

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TV Review (Streaming)
'Grand Army' is an ambitious but imperfect teen drama, as Netflix seeks its own 'Euphoria'
By Kelly Lawler, USA Today - Oct. 16, 2020

There's no doubt that "Grand Army," is trying its best.

Adapted by Katie Cappiello from her 2013 play "Slut," Netflix's glossy, gritty new teen drama (now streaming, (★★½ out of four) is trying to say big things about race, gender, classism and poverty. It's also trying to turn an introspective play into an ensemble drama, and to craft an adolescent soap opera from all the politicking and PSAs. It's trying to do so much that it occasionally gets in its own way, and is bogged down by extraneous storylines and buzzwords.

If you strip back some of the excess, there's a gripping teen drama there somewhere. When you find it, "Army" is exquisite. But the show can be a slog when it loses its way.

"Army" follows five teens at the fictional Grand Army High School, which brings together a diverse collection of students from different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Joey Del Marco (Odessa A’zion), a white firebrand feminist with a self-centered kind of activism (who is the main character in "Slut"); Dominique Pierre (Odley Jean), a Black student who has huge potential to succeed but is held back by her need to provide for her Haitian family; Siddhartha Pakam, (Amir Bageria), an Indian-American who struggles with his sexual identity; Leila Zimmer (Amalia Yoo), a Chinese-American girl adopted by white parents who's desperate to fit in; and Jayson Jackson (Maliq Johnson), a naïve band kid.

In the first episode, set in January, the students' world is rocked by a terrorist attack mere feet from the school, which sets off a chain of interpersonal events that shape the narrative of the season. Joey is criticized by a teacher for wearing revealing clothing; Leila is secretly thrilled when she is added to a lewd list of hot girls; Jayson and his friend Owen (Jaden Jordan) get in trouble; Dominique sees $200 that she needs to help her family stolen; and Sid worries about being considered a terrorist because of his race.

From here the plot gets more complicated and darker. Shades of "Degrassi," and more recently, HBO's "Euphoria" are here, as the series tries to get into the lives of its teen characters. Like "Euphoria," "Army" doesn't shy away from the underbelly of modern teen life, including drug use, sexual assault, bullying, revenge porn and other risqué activities that terrify the parents of Generation Z.

Jean and A'zion, daughter of "Better Things" star/creator Pamela Adlon, turn in star-making performances as Dom and Joey, the strongest characters with the most consistently effective storylines. A'zion balances a character who is both infuriating and somehow still likable, while Jean ably handles the inner struggle of Dom, who has to constantly adjust her mood and behavior to satisfy her family, the white teachers at school or her friends.

Apart from those stories is where "Army" falters. Leila is so immensely grating that her appearances stop the show in its tracks (especially when her animated fantasies provide a jarring contrast with the rest of the show). Sid speaks in platitudes and buzzwords about race and sexuality that feel unnatural. Jayson's encounter with the school's disciplinary measures seems more like a morality play than anything that has to do with him or Owen as characters. Here, the big ideas about race and the "school to prison pipeline" are supposed to come out, but there's an inauthenticity to the portrayal.
It's frustrating when the "Army" writers get in their own way. But when A'zion or Jean are on screen, the show instantly rights itself, guided by the sheer charisma of the two young actors.

Like so many high school students, "Army" doesn't get straight A's the first time out. But there's room to try again.

Source: Review: 'Grand Army' is an ambitious but imperfect teen drama, as Netflix seeks its own 'Euphoria'
 

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TV Review (Streaming)
‘Helstrom’ Is a Dull, Scare-Free Horror Series
By Vikram Murthi, Variety.com - Oct. 15, 2020

Hulu’s “Helstrom” might sport an elaborate mythology, but like many comic book stories, it ultimately reveals a simplistic core. Loosely based on Marvel comics characters, “Helstrom” follows Daimon (Tom Austen) and Ana (Sydney Lemmon) Helstrom, two adult siblings with psychic powers and an intimate connection with the demon world. Both use their gift in different ways: Daimon teaches ethics by day and performs secular exorcisms by night, while Ana runs an auction house and kills violent offenders who slip through society’s cracks. They’re reunited when the demon that has possessed their institutionalized mother, Victoria (Elizabeth Marvel), revives the Helstrom’s long-dead serial killer father who wishes to exact his revenge. On top of this, they have to deal with the numerous demons already roaming the Earth, plotting to wreak havoc at all times.

If you’ve ever seen “The Exorcist” or any other exorcism-related films and TV, then you’ll be familiar with most of clichés present in “Helstrom.” The series tries to get ahead of this in Daimon’s introductory scene, when he encounters a child faking his demon possession and lists the litany of tropes that the show presumably won’t be indulging. Nevertheless, Daimon and Ana’s powers, not to mention Elizabeth Marvel’s demonic performance, all fall neatly in line with genre expectations. Characters are often thrown against walls and ceilings by the possessed, and the show’s many demons speak in that recognizable scary baritone voice. Creator and showrunner Paul Zbyszewski turns his focus to the supernatural instead of religion, and he grounds the show in broad issues of childhood trauma, but he gives up the game whenever Daimon puts his magic hand on anyone. He might as well scream, “The power of Marvel compels you!”

Speaking of, “Helstrom” represents the last gasp of Marvel’s TV slate after President Kevin Feige folded Marvel Television into Marvel Studios and phased out the company’s television productions all together. Subsequently, Disney has tried to distance “Helstrom” and its dark tone from the rest of the Marvel name, mostly by removing the word “Marvel” from the title. But while the series features more blood and jump scares than the typical Marvel affair, “Helstrom” has the mark of the omnipresent studio almost from the beginning. Everything from the Joss Whedon-esque quippy dialogue, frequently delivered with one-note sarcasm, to the stodgy effects and fight scenes will be familiar to anyone who has dipped their toes into the MCU. A horror series in name and appearance only, “Helstrom” remains a lame-duck brand property to the core.

It’s a shame if only because “Helstrom” features enough elements to at least be derivative in a different direction. Maybe it’s because the series was filmed in Vancouver, or because Ariana Guerra plays a skeptical Vatican agent in the vein of Dana Scully, but there’s a slight “X-Files” bent to “Helstrom” that suggests a more compelling, procedural version of the show. Instead, the five episodes screened for critics confirm that “Helstrom” is a punishingly on-task origin story that slowly teases out details of Daimon and Ana’s psychological trauma, with almost every scene between and about them connecting back to this theme. On top of that, the writers have to service a seven-person main cast, which includes Caretaker (Robert Wisdom), an occult guardian; Louise Hastings (June Carryl), the head of the psychiatric hospital that house Victoria; and Chris (Alain Uy), Ana’s auction house partner-in-crime. It takes four episodes for most of these characters to team up, but in that time, they have yet to take on distinct identities.

It’s possible the protracted table-setting and myriad subplots will eventually pay off when “Helstrom” ties the threads together. However, even if that’s the case, the actual experience of watching those threads in action remains programmatic and dull, especially for a show that involves demon warriors. “Helstrom” attempts to engage with issues like chronic PTSD and unresolved mental illness, but it can only communicate these mature motivations through its self-serious tone, rarely allowing any of its ideas breathe. It constantly goes through the motions of an “elevated horror” series without at least offering any decent scares or cool monsters. “Helstrom” might be airing in time for the Halloween season, but it’s too tedious to raise anyone’s heart rate.

All ten episodes of “Helstrom” premiere October 16 on Hulu.

Source: ‘Helstrom’ Is a Dull, Scare-Free Horror Series: TV Review
 

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Technology/Gaming Notes (Mobile)
Among Us isn’t just blowing up on Twitch — it’s dominating mobile gaming
By Jay Peters, TheVerge.com - Oct. 16, 2020

Among Us has been one of the biggest games of the year, and thanks to new data from Sensor Tower, we have an idea of just how huge it has been on mobile: it was the top game on both the iOS App Store and Google Play in Q3 2020, according to Sensor Tower’s data. Sensor Tower also estimates that Among Us — which was first released in 2018 — passed 100 million downloads just in Q3 2020, significantly eclipsing the more than 68 million downloads for the next highest-downloaded game, My Talking Tom Friends.

It seems likely that the game will continue to be massively popular for the next little while. As I write this, it’s still at the top of the App Store and Google Play free games charts. And on PC, where it costs $4.99, Among Us is currently the fourth-most-played game on Steam, sitting below only Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, and PUBG.

Among Us has also been a hit on Twitch, up a full 650 percent in hours watched from July to August. The game’s popularity has also trickled over to Discord, which has seen a huge spike in mobile downloads. Developer InnerSloth has canceled a planned Among Us sequel to focus on the first game.

Source: Among Us isn’t just blowing up on Twitch — it’s dominating mobile gaming
 

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TV/Pop Culture Notes
Tab Soda Discontinued: Pink Can Was Staple of ’80s Television and Cinema
By Lawrence Yee, TheWrap.com - Oct. 16, 2020

TaB — the pink-canned diet soda that was a household staple in the late ’70s and ’80s — is being discontinued by parent company Coca Cola, the beverage maker announced in a statement Friday.

TaB, which was introduced in 1963, is one of several brands — including Odwalla, Zico Coconut Water and Diet Coke Feisty Cherry — that will be phased out as part of Coca Cola’s “global portfolio refresh.”

“We’re forever grateful to TaB for paving the way for the diets and lights category, and to the legion of TaB lovers who have embraced the brand for nearly six decades,” Kerri Kopp group director, Diet Coke, Coca-Cola North America, said in the release. “If not for TaB, we wouldn’t have Diet Coke or Coke Zero Sugar. TaB did its job. In order to continue to innovate and give consumers the choices they want today, we have to make decisions like this one as part of our portfolio rationalization work.”

TaB hit peak popularity in the late ’70s and ’80s, and was seen in blockbuster films including “Kramer vs. Kramer” (1979), “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982), “The Terminator” (1984) and “Ghostbusters” (1984).

Although not seen on camera, TaB was name-dropped by Michael J. Fox’s Marty McFly in “Back to the Future” (1985), which you can watch below:

“Gimme a TaB,” McFly asks the man behind the cafe counter.

“Tab, I can’t give you a tab unless you order something,” the man replies, confused. (In case you’re curious, Marty then asks for a Pepsi Free, the since phased out original name for Pepsi’s caffeine-free sodas.)

TaB cans were also seen in more recent shows set during the height of its popularity, including “That ’70s Show,” “The Americans” and “American Horror Story: 1984.” According to the Product Placement Blog, a site that tracks brand placements in movies, TV series and music, TaB was featured in at least eight episodes of “That ’70s Show.”

TaB had a small but fiercely dedicated group of fans — known as Tabaholics. However, according to the WSJ, TaB only represented 0.1% of the $22 billion diet soda market in 2019 (by comparison, its sister brand Diet Coke represented 35% of sales).

TaB will be phased out by Dec. 31 or early, so if you’re a Taboholic, stock up now.

Source: TaB Soda Discontinued: Pink Can Was Staple of '80s Television and Cinema
 

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TV/Critic's Notes (Streaming)
‘The Queen’s Gambit’ Tries a Risky Play: Betting Chess Can Be Good TV
The new Netflix series, starring Anya Taylor-Joy, puts a self-destructive female player at the center of a male-dominated sport. But how to glean high drama from all that staring?
By Alexis Soloski, The New York Times - Oct. 16, 2020

Garry Kasparov, one of history’s greatest chess players, doesn’t think much of most onscreen chess scenes. “You can see that chess is being used unprofessionally,” Kasparov said, speaking on a fuzzy telephone line from Croatia. “Very often, the positions are not making much sense.”

Chess, a sport in which two people, usually men, sit opposite each other and barely speak or move, sometimes for hours, seems an unlikely screen star. But chess has fascinated film since the silent era, infiltrating thrillers, romances, comedies, biofilms, documentaries, classy literary adaptations and cartoons. Few other pastimes have inspired both Ingmar Bergman (“The Seventh Seal”) and Pixar (“Geri’s Game”). On television, chess has guest-starred on “Columbo,” “Star Trek,” even “Friends.”

Which makes “The Queen’s Gambit,” a seven-episode limited series that premieres on Netflix Oct. 23, both familiar and unusual. A glamorous and wrenching view of chess, set in the 1950s and ’60s, it centers on the fictional character Beth Harmon (first Isla Johnston, then Anya Taylor-Joy), a child prodigy who discovers the game in a Kentucky orphanage. Despite punishing addictions to alcohol and tranquilizers, Beth, clad in Gabriele Binder’s elegant period costumes, plays and trains obsessively, rising through the rankings until she faces the world’s best. Which makes her something like the thinking woman’s Rocky.

With its troubled protagonists and climactic matches, “The Queen’s Gambit” resembles other chess dramas. Its focus on a woman has precedent, chiefly Mira Nair’s “Queen of Katwe,” which Kasparov recommends. But when it comes to chess positions — the particular arrangement of pieces on the board — no other work rivals this one in terms of both number and painstaking accuracy.

“It is as close as possible to the authentic atmosphere of chess tournaments,” said Kasparov, who consulted on the series.

It’s also exceedingly faithful to its source material, a slender 1983 novel written by Walter Tevis, an author with a knack for books that Hollywood wanted: “The Hustler,” “The Color of Money,” “The Man Who Fell to Earth.” Tevis, a respectable club player, could delight even non-players with chess’s rhythms and language: the Sicilian Defense the Semi-Slav Variation, the Falkbeer Counter Gambit, the Ruy Lopez. The book borrows its name from an opening move in play since the 15th century.

In the early 1990s, the screenwriter Allan Scott (“Don’t Look Now”) acquired the rights to the novel and wrote a film script. The director Michael Apted expressed interest, as did Bernardo Bertolucci. Molly Ringwald was likely to star. In 2008, Heath Ledger, a chess enthusiast, signed on to direct, with Ellen Page as Beth.

Then Ledger died of a prescription drug overdose before preproduction began. The project stalled.

“It was a very tough movie to get made,” William Horberg, a producer long involved with the property, said.

But it didn’t have to be a movie. A few years ago, the writer and director Scott Frank, who had read the book in the ’90s, took an interest. Having written and directed “Godless,” a feature script that evolved into an Emmy-winning limited series for Netflix, Frank thought that “The Queen’s Gambit” could be redeveloped in a similar fashion. Netflix agreed.

Which may have been a risk. The novel is brief. Dialogue is spare and the action beyond the gameboard minimal. But Frank, who created the series with Scott, wanted the space to fill in histories and themes that the novel elided.
“If you did it as a movie, it becomes a sports movie: ‘Is she going to beat the Russian guy?’” Frank said. “And that’s not what the book is about. For me, it’s about the pain and cost of being so gifted.”

He wrote six episodes, then realized he needed seven. Why? “Chess takes time,” he said.

It certainly can. In 2018, the first game of the championship match at the world chess championship lasted as long as the series. (It ended in a draw.) So that became Scott’s challenge: how much chess to show, how much time to give it. Too much time spent on the games and you risked alienating non-players. Too little and you lost the sports underdog story that gives the series its shape. “The Queen’s Gambit” may be more than just a sports story — with extremely chic uniforms — but that remains its deep structure.

Before production began, Frank hosted what he called a “chess summit.” In Berlin, where Frank would shoot the series, he and the editor Michelle Tesoro met with chess experts to try and learn as much as they could about the look and feel and even the smell of chess tournaments. They quizzed experts on the style of the pieces, the thickness of the board, the arrangement of tables and audience.

The celebrated chess coach Bruce Pandolfini, who had advised Tevis on the novel, created a bible of games and positions for the series, signifying key moments in Harmon’s play. He tried for moves with symbolic heft, like an exchange of pawns or a queen sacrifice. Kasparov inspected these positions and also designed the moves for the most significant games.

Kasparov also gave the production some tips about tournament play, even as he doubted that any series could reflect the real atmosphere of a chess competition with complete accuracy.

“But trust me,” he said. “This is as close as one can have it.”

Very few of the actors were chess enthusiasts. So Pandolfini coached them on how to look like players — how to hold the pieces, when to hit the chess clock. Even viewers who didn’t know chess might pick up on false gestures, Pandolfini reasoned.

Actors had to learn move after move in sequence, so Pandolfini developed mnemonics and visual cues to help them. “When it came to the actual chess sequences, my background as a dancer really helped,” Taylor-Joy said. “It’s basically just choreography with your fingers.”

Conveying Beth’s complicated inner life while sliding a queen’s pawn forward wasn’t a problem for her. “Her deep passion for chess is the passion that I have for my art,” Taylor-Joy said. “It felt easy to transfer the emotion.”

“The Queen’s Gambit” includes more than 300 games, some glimpsed only in the foreground or background. To keep each match and each tournament from blending entirely into the next, the production designer, Uli Hanisch, developed unique color palettes to distinguish one locale from another. Steven Meizler, the cinematographer, varied the angles. The sounds the pieces make against the board change, as do the rhythms — from allegro to adagio.

No traditional match plays out fully from start to finish. (A few speed chess sequences come close.) Typically, the camera captures only a few moves. Novice viewers rely on sportscasters or whispers among the audience or the gestures of the characters — drummed fingers, blinked eyes, pursed lips — to understand the dynamics and stakes.

For Beth, abandoned first by her birth parents and then by her adoptive family, the stakes tower. Only while playing does she feel a sense of purpose and belonging. In a later episode, Beth overhears some Russian champs discussing her. “She’s like us,” a grandmaster says. “Losing is not an option for her.” (This was dialogue Kasparov suggested.)

Beth struggles with her addictions, believing that tranquilizers enhance her play. The accuracy that defines the chess scenes perhaps falters here — could someone play excellent chess while doped? “I can’t tell you I’ve ever heard of a chess player performing on Valium,” said Jennifer Shahade, a two-time United States Women’s Champion.

Pandolfini’s response: “This is entertainment.”

Whether a woman could play this well ever, on or off tranquilizers, has been a source of debate since the novel was released. One Times reviewer wondered whether women had the “extreme aggressiveness” required. Another doubted that women lacked the “physical stamina.” Those views didn’t end in 1983.

At chess camp, Shahade remembered, a visiting lecturer told the girls that women lacked the I.Q. Shahade sees the lack of great women players as more of a social one: Women don’t see other women playing so they don’t take up the game themselves.

“Girls have other interests,” Kasparov said, when asked why so few women play.

Tevis doesn’t seem to have based Harmon on any particular woman. It took another two decades after his novel was published before a female player, the Hungarian grandmaster Judit Polgar, broke through to the Top 10 in 2005. “She could beat anyone,” said Kasparov, who dropped a game to her in 2002, the first time a female player had bested the world’s top player.

Beth has an intuitive style, similar in glancing ways to that of the current world champion, Magnus Carlsen. She also plays with unusual aggression. If she resembles any player, it’s probably Bobby Fischer, the American world champion who struggled with severe psychological problems.

Are many women in chess troubled? “Oh God no,” Shahade said. “They’re very adaptable and strong.” But this, as Pandolfini said, is entertainment, and the prospect of a sports story about an athlete, even a mental athlete, who starts strong and stays that way might not compel.

Some chess dramas show the game as destructive, a pursuit that deranges its disciples. Others portray chess as liberating, redemptive, a lifesaver in 64 squares. “The Queen’s Gambit” has it both ways, although it ultimately argues for chess as Beth’s deliverance, which Kasparov likes. “It helps to remove the stain on the name of chess, that it turns people crazy,” he said.

Could Kasparov identify with a troubled, brilliant, awfully improbable character like Beth? He could. “Chess is her language, she lives for the game,” he said. “And that’s how I played.”

Source: ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ Tries a Risky Play: Betting Chess Can Be Good TV
 

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Technology/Business Notes (Gaming)
Atari Seeks New Cachet With Crypto — And a Return to Hardware
By Olga Kharif, Bloomberg.com - Oct. 16, 2020

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As Microsoft Corp. and Sony Corp. prepare to launch their new video-game consoles, another legendary player, Atari, is readying its first new hardware in more than 20 years. The Atari VCS will come with a twist -- a way for gamers to spend a cryptocurrency while they play.

First teased several years ago and expected to ship in November, the Atari VCS is being called a mini-console or a gaming computer. The product will offer access to more than 100 Atari arcade games and home classics, like Pong, plus new titles. It will have internet connectivity and let consumers buy products using Atari Tokens, which will go on sale in late October.

“We have a brand, we have a following -- we think we are going to get some attention in any case,” said Chief Executive Officer Frederic Chesnais, adding that his competition is more the iPhone than an Xbox or PlayStation. “After that the product has to be good.”

On Oct. 29, Bitcoin.com Exchange will start selling $1 million worth of Atari Tokens for 25 cents apiece to retail investors outside of the U.S. The tokens will be used for in-game purchases and for partner games, as well as eventually in the broader gaming ecosystem if Atari’s effort to create a standard currency for the industry bears fruit. The company is also working on a gaming stablecoin, which won’t be as volatile as most tokens. But it isn’t close to launch, said Chesnais, who led Atari out of its 2013 bankruptcy.

The push is part of Chesnais’s seven-year effort to revitalize Atari SA, making it more modern and relevant. While Atari’s predecessor companies raised a whole generation of gamers with arcade and home titles like Asteroids and Missile Command in the 1970s and 1980s, it has long been sidelined by stronger, bigger rivals. The company has been split into pieces, merged and emerged from bankruptcy. Today’s Atari is tiny, with only about 20 staffers. Its Paris-traded shares have languished below 50 cents since 2018, when the company announced a cryptocurrency effort.

But Chesnais has great ambitions for Atari, which largely hinge on nostalgia for the brand.

“The consumer going for the retro systems is different than what the new consoles are targeting,” said David Cole, CEO at digital entertainment researcher DFC Intelligence. “And yes, that is an opportunity.”

So far, more than 11,500 people have preordered the new hardware through the crowdfunding site Indiegogo, where Atari ran a campaign for the player and took in more than $3 million.

The company is facing economic headwinds. While Covid-19 has led to a surge in people staying home and playing games, many millions have lost their jobs or fear losing them. That could limit their spending this holiday season and push consumers to opt for major players’ new consoles, instead.

There’s also the pricing. Atari’s all-in bundle, which includes an 8-gigabyte Atari VCS, a wireless controller, a wireless classic joystick, and 100 classic arcade and console games, costs $390. The Xbox Series S starts at $300.

“I am kind of pessimistic, to be honest, because you are going head to head with Xbox and PlayStation 5,” said Lewis Ward, an analyst at researcher IDC. “Obviously if you are a huge fan of Atari games, there’s always a nostalgia basis. But simply on a price-to-value ratio, I don’t see how this becomes more than a niche product.”

Covid-19 had already delayed the VCS -- it was previously scheduled to ship in March. What’s more, Atari faces looming competition even in the retro category. Intellivision Entertainment plans to release its Amico player early next year with a starting price of around $249. That player “is looking more impressive,” Cole said.

Atari’s foray into cryptocurrencies could also be hit or miss. Past efforts to marry tokens with video games haven’t panned out. The good news is that cryptocurrency enthusiasts are also gamers. If Atari’s tokens do take off, they could be an “on-ramp for a major increase in crypto use,” according to Aaron Brown, a crypto investor who writes for Bloomberg Opinion.

“We’ll see how it plays up,” Chesnais said. “We don’t need to sell millions in the beginning, it’s a long-term effort.”

Source: Atari Seeks New Cachet With Crypto — And a Return to Hardware
 

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TV/Production Notes (Cable)
‘Windy City Rehab’ Ends Season, But Legal Troubles Linger For HGTV Series
By Bruce Haring, Deadline.com - Oct. 16, 2020

The popular HGTV series Windy City Rehab has reached the end of its second drama-filled season, as host Alison Victoria Gramenos had to call a time-out in the finale to deal with some bad legal news while on camera.

But even though the season has reached the finish line, the host’s legal problems are apparently far from over.

People reports that the owners of a house featured on Windy City Rehab tried to freeze Victoria’s financial assets amid an ongoing lawsuit. Anna and James Morrissey, who purchased a house featured on Season 1 of the series, filed a motion October 8 seeking to prevent Gramenos from “dissipating her assets, including selling any property which she owns or controls.”

According to Gramenos’s attorney, the court has denied the motion.

The Morrissey’s sued Gramenos and her former business partner, general contractor and developer Donovan Eckhardt, in December 2019. The couple filed a new lawsuit on September 20 of this year, adding the production company for the show, Big Table Media, and Discovery Inc., which owns HGTV.

The lawsuit alleges shoddy work, including “leaks and water penetration,” a crooked front door, crumbling exterior mortar, and problems with the roof and garage.

In the Season 2 finale, Gramenos received a phone call about a second lawsuit from another couple.

“If you only knew what comes into my phone,” she said on camera. “I have people coming out of the woodwork. I have homeowners that are being contacted by the press. All I ever did, and all I’ve ever done, is design. Honestly…Sorry, guys, I’m freaking out.” She then exited the camera interview.

Later, upon her return, she admitted, “I’m just dealing with a nightmare.”

HGTV has not said whether the show will return for a third season.

Source: ‘Windy City Rehab’ Ends Season, But Legal Troubles Linger For HGTV Series
 

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TV Sports
NFL Week 6 schedule 2020: How to watch, TV channel, kickoff times
By Mary Omatiga, NBC Sports/Yahoo Sports - Oct. 16, 2020

Football season is back in action. See below for the complete 2020 NFL Week 6 schedule including TV channels, start times, and how to watch. Here are PFT’s Week 6 power rankings.

Tune into NBC on Sunday night to watch the Los Angeles Rams take on the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium. Coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC (or on the NBC Sports app). Jared Goff and the Rams are 4-1 after their 30-10 win over Washington where they completed their sweep of the NFC East. Defensively, the Rams are tied for first in the league with 20 sacks. DT Aaron Donald has played a major role in that success. Donald had four sacks, three tackles for loss and three quarterback hits in last Sunday’s win. The two-time NFL defensive player of the year also forced a fumble for the second time this season. The league announced early this week that Donald is the NFC defensive player of the week.

The 49ers are coming off a crushing 43-17 loss to Miami where QB Jimmy Garoppolo was benched after the first half. Garoppolo has been dealing with a high ankle sprain and had to miss two games this season but the 49ers remains optimistic about his ability to return to the field despite the fact that the team is riddled with injury. The 49ers are 2-3 already matching their loss total from all of 2019 and have a challenging seven game stretch ahead.

SUNDAY, OCT. 18:
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans, 1:00 p.m. on CBS

Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1:00 p.m. on CBS

Baltimore Ravens at Philadelphia Eagles, 1:00 p.m. on CBS

The Washington Football Team at New York Giants, 1:00 p.m. on Fox


Atlanta Falcons at Minnesota Vikings, 1:00 p.m. on Fox

Detroit Lions at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1:00 p.m. on Fox

Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts, 1:00 p.m. on Fox

Chicago Bears at Carolina Panthers, 1:00 p.m. on Fox

Denver Broncos at New England Patriots, 1:00 p.m. on CBS

New York Jets at Miami Dolphins, 4:05 p.m. on CBS

Green Bay Packers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 4:25 p.m. on Fox

Sunday Night Football: Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers, 8:20 p.m. on NBC

MONDAY OCT. 19:

Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills, 5:00 p.m. on Fox/NFL Network

Monday Night Football: Arizona Cardinals at Dallas Cowboys, 8:15 p.m. on ESPN

Source: https://sports.yahoo.com/2020-nfl-week-one-games-193608562.html
 

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TV/Critic's Notes (Broadcast)
The Remarkable Talent of Sister Rosetta Tharpe
By Mike Hughes, TVWorthWatching.com 's 'Open Mike' - Oct. 17, 2020

It was a time before Elvis or Aretha, a time when "rock" and "soul" were mostly just nouns.

It was when Sister Rosetta Tharpe brought a rocking, soulful feel to gospel music.

Now she's getting fresh attention, via PBS and, eventually, a movie.

"Sister Rosetta Tharpe's contribution to music – specifically to the creation of rock-and-roll – (was) very central to my music taste," said Yola, the singer who gets two chances to inhabit Tharpe.

The first is on Grammy Salute to Music Legends which aired on Friday on PBS (check local listings just in case it hasn't yet aired in your area) but can also be seen on PBS' Great Performances website and the PBS Video app.

Yola sings Tharpe's powerhouse, Up Above My Head, I Hear Music in the Air.

And the second will be in a Baz Luhrmann movie. Sometime.

Luhrmann (The Great Gatsby, Moulin Rouge) had started a film about Elvis Presley, with Yola as Tharpe. "I was supposed to be there for a costume-fitting in April," she said in a virtual session with the Television Critics Association. "April (was) too late, people."

Something called COVID – you may have heard of it – put the film on hold.

Many people might not associate Tharpe with stars like Presley or like Friday's honorees. They include individual performers (Roberta Flack, Isaac Hayes, Iggy Pop, John Prine), a composer (Philip Glass), a record executive (Frank Walker), and two groups (Public Enemy and Chicago).

"It's always inspirational to make those music connections with all the great artists that will be part of it," said Jimmy Jam, the Grammy-winning producer who hosts. "The first concert my parents took me to when I was young was a Chicago concert."

The show also honors Ken Ehrlich, who produced decades of vibrant moments in Grammy telecasts.

Ironically, this PBS special has few such moments. It rarely overcomes the problems of social distancing – especially when it has every member of Chicago give a separate acceptance speech.

But there are glimmering moments early (Cynthia Erivo and Leslie Odom Jr. sing Flack songs), late (a tribute to Prine, who died of COVID in April, at 73), and in between, when Yola sings Tharpe.

"I knew about Sister Rosetta Tharpe, probably from my teens," she said. "Bristol (in England), where I'm from, is very musical, and it houses many a music nerd. So things that might not be so prominent in other parts…of the world would be prominent in Bristol."

That includes the music of Tharpe, who was also profiled by PBS' American Masters in 2013.

She was born in 1915, the daughter of Arkansas cotton-pickers. She sang gospel with her mother at 6, moved to Chicago four years later, and New York at 19.

Tharpe stuck to gospel music but gave a rock twist to her singing and her guitar-playing. It wasn't common, Yola said, "for women in the music industry – let alone women of color – to pick up a guitar."

And it was an electric guitar, played with a fierce distortion. During her British tours – including famed sessions at a train station – Tharpe is said to have influenced Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Keith Richards.

"I heard some of those early recordings and even knew which railway station she was playing in, just outside Manchester," Yola said.

For years, the record industry knew Yola only for singing back-up tracks for Iggy Azalea, the Chemical Brothers, and more, but she also did gigs with bands. It was "this studio-focused life (plus times) I was like a front person for hire."

Then she released her first full, solo album last year and soared. At 36, she received four Grammy nominations – including best new artist – and two chances to inhabit Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

Source: The Remarkable Talent of Sister Rosetta Tharpe
 

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TV Notes
On The Air

SUNDAY OCT. 18, 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:
7PM - America's Funniest Home Videos (Season Premiere)
8PM - Supermarket Sweep (Series Premiere)
9PM - Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (Season Premiere: Tiffany Haddish; firefighter Oliver Fry)

10PM - Card Sharks (Season Premiere)

CBS:
7PM - 60 Minutes
8PM - Movie: Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
10:30PM - Mom
(R)

NBC:
7PM - Football Night in America (80 min.)
8PM - Sunday Night Football: Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers (LIVE)

FOX:

7PM - NFL Football: Regional Coverage (continued from 4:25PM, LIVE)
7:30PM - The OT (LIVE)
8PM - MLB Baseball, Game 7: Atlanta Braves vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (LIVE)

THE CW:
8PM - Pandora
9PM - Whose Line Is It Anyway? (Guest comic Gary Anthony Williams; guest appearance by Jeanine Mason)
(R)
9:30PM - Whose Line Is It Anyway? (Guest comic Greg Proops) (R)

PBS:
8PM - The Trouble with Maggie Cole (Series Premiere)
9PM - Flesh and Blood on Masterpiece
10PM - Cobra

UNIVISION:
7PM - Aqui y Ahora
8PM - Movie: No Manches, Frida (2016)
10:30PM - Sal y Pimienta (30 min.)

TELEMUNDO:
7PM - Movie: The Mummy (2017)
9:30PM - Movie: Rush Hour 3 (2007)


CBSSN:
7PM - Auto Racing: Ferrari Challenge NA
8PM - Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series: Pro Buggy/Pro 2


BBC AMERICA:
8PM - Top Gear (Season Premiere, 60 min.)


DISCOVERY:
8PM - Alaskan Bush People (63 min.)
9:01PM - Alaska: The Last Frontier (120 min.)

HGTV:

8PM - Renovation Inc.
9PM - Good Bones


LIFETIME:
8PM - Movie: Who Is Killing the Cheerleaders? (2020)


NAT GEO:

8PM - Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks (120 min.)

SCIENCE:
8PM - Bermuda Triangle: The New Secrets - Deep Sea Investigation (120 min.)
10PM - Forbidden History: Mystery of Secret Societies


SHOWTIME:

8PM - The Circus: Inside the Craziest Political Campaign on Earth
8:30PM - Our Cartoon President
9PM - The Good Lord Bird
10PM - The Comedy Store
* * * *
11PM - Desus & Mero (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, 30 min.)

STARZ:
8PM - The Spanish Princess
9PM - Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult (Premiere, 58 min.)

TLC:
8PM - 90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way (120 min.)
10PM - Darcey & Stacey
* * * *
11PM - 90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way (60 min.)


AMC:
9PM - Fear The Walking Dead (65 min.)
10:05PM - The Walking Dead: World Beyond (68 min.)

BRAVO:
9PM - The Real Housewives of Potomac (90 min.)
10:30PM - Bravo's Chat Room (30 min.)

FOOD NETWORK:

9PM - Worst Cooks in America: Halloween Redemption (90 min.)
10:30PM - Halloween Freakshow Cakes (Series Premiere)
* * * *
10:30PM - Halloween Freakshow Cakes (30 min.)


HBO:
9PM - Lovecraft Country (Season Finale)
10:01PM - The Vow (Season Finale)
* * * *
11PM - Last Week Tonight With John Oliver

ID:
9PM - Evil Lives Here
10PM - Signs of a Psychopath

CNN:
10PM - First Ladies: Nancy Reagan (60 min.)

ESPN 2:
10PM - 2020 Death Diving World Championship (60 min.)


FX:
10PM - Fargo: Episode 5 (86 min.)

HLN:
10PM - Sex & Murder: After Dark - Sugar Daddy Death (60 min.)


TV ONE:
10PM - Uncensored: Omari Hardwick

ADULT SWIM:

11:30PM - Gendy Tartakovsky's Primal: Episode 8

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

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TV/Production Notes (Cable)
‘Windy City Rehab’ Ends Season, But Legal Troubles Linger For HGTV Series
By Bruce Haring, Deadline.com - Oct. 16, 2020

Anna and James Morrissey, who purchased a house featured on Season 1 of the series, filed a motion October 8 seeking to prevent Gramenos from “dissipating her assets, including selling any property which she owns or controls.”

The lawsuit alleges shoddy work, including “leaks and water penetration,” a crooked front door, crumbling exterior mortar, and problems with the roof and garage.

In the Season 2 finale, Gramenos received a phone call about a second lawsuit from another couple.

“If you only knew what comes into my phone,” she said on camera.

Source: ‘Windy City Rehab’ Ends Season, But Legal Troubles Linger For HGTV Series
Anna and James. If you want it done right, you call Mike Holmes. Everybody knows that.

 

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TV/Nielsen Overnights (Broadcast)
‘Saturday Night Live’ Ratings Slip With Host Issa Rae, Remain Above 2019 Levels
By Nellie Andreeva, Deadline.com - Oct. 18, 2020

The Oct. 17 telecast of Saturday Night Live, with host Issa Rae and musical guest Justin Bieber, drew a 4.5 rating household Live+Same Day rating in the 44 metered local markets and a 2.0 adults 18-49 rating in the 25 markets with local people meters.

That was down a notch from last week’s show hosted by Bill Burr (4.7, 2.2), which in turn was off from the season premiere two weeks ago emceed by Chris Rock (5.6, 2.9). Despite the week-to-week slide, SNL, buoyed by the final stretch in the Presidential election cycle, remains up double digits over last year’s October average (+15% in households, +18% in 18-49).

SNL is a big delayed viewer gainer. The Oct. 3 season opener has already more than doubled its 18-49 rating with delayed viewing, growing by +130% with digital and linear viewership to date, from a 1.84 in Live+ Same Day to a 4.24. The season premiere also has added +6.0 million viewers overall, going from 8.2 million to 14.2 million.

In addition to the Cold Open skewering the two dueling Town Hall specials, the most popular videos from last night as of Sunday morning include the opening segment of Weekend Update focused on Donald Trump, and the Weekend Update skit featuring impersonations of three of Trump’s adult children.

Source: ‘Saturday Night Live’ Ratings Slip With Host Issa Rae, Remain Above 2019 Levels
 

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TV Sports (Broadcast)
Fox Sports' Joe Buck to call major sports event every day this week
By Scott Gleeson, USA Today - Oct. 19, 2020

Fox Sports announcer Joe Buck is covering a full slate of major sporting events this week.

Buck, an Emmy winner and three-time national sportscaster of the year recipient, started his week off calling the Buccaneers' win over the Packers on Sunday.

On Monday he'll be calling the Monday Night Football game of Bills vs. Chiefs. Then on Tuesday he'll call Game 1 of the World Series, Wednesday he'll call Game 2 of the World Series, and Thursday he'll return to the NFL for the Giants vs. the Eagles in Thursday Night Football.

Buck will then return to baseball to call Games 3 and 4 of the World Series, Friday and Saturday, respectively. And if Game 5 is needed between the Tampa Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers, he'll also call that one.

Buck has been the play-by-play voice of the World Series since 1996.

It was announced in September that Buck will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Source: Fox Sports' Joe Buck to call major sports event every day this week
 

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TV Notes (Streaming)
Apple TV+ Renews ‘Snoopy in Space’ for Season 2, Will Produce New Peanuts Shows and Holiday Specials
By Jennifer Maas, TheWrap.com - Oct. 19, 2020

Apple TV+ has renewed “Snoopy in Space” for Season 2 and, just in time for the holidays, is set to become the home of iconic Peanuts specials and create new ones celebrating Mother’s Day, Earth Day, New Year’s Eve and “Back to School” season, the streaming service said Monday.

Apple’s streaming service, which launched the first season of “Snoopy in Space” in November 2019, has made a pact with WildBrain, Peanuts Worldwide and Lee Mendelson Film Productions to create new shows and specials based on Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the gang. While you wait for those fresh installments, you can check out old favorites “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” as they begin to roll out over the coming months,

“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” will premiere on Apple TV+ today, Oct. 19, and be available for free from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1. Apple TV+ will begin streaming “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” on Nov. 18 and offer it at no cost Nov. 25-Nov.27. On Dec. 4, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” will Apple TV+ on December 4 and stream free of charge December 11 until December 13.

Previously announced projects that WildBrain’s animation studio and Apple TV+ are producing together include “The Snoopy Show,” a Peanuts 70th anniversary documentary film from Imagine Documentaries, and “Peanuts in Space: Secrets of Apollo 10.”

Along with its Peanuts content, Apple TV+ is home to originals kids’ programming like “Helpsters” from Sesame Workshop, the “Ghostwriter” reboot, “Fraggle Rock: Rock On!” shorts and an upcoming new “Fraggle Rock” series. The streaming service also recently signed a deal with the Maurice Sendak Foundation and is creating an animated “Harriet the Spy” show starring Beanie Feldstein and Jane Lynch.

Source: Apple TV+ Renews 'Snoopy in Space' for Season 2, Will Produce New Peanuts Shows and Holiday Specials
 

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TV Notes (Cable)
Showtime to Air Election Night Special Hosted by Colbert
By Michael Malone, Broadcasting & Cable - Oct. 19, 2020

Stephen Colbert will host a live election night special on Showtime Nov. 3. Stephen Colbert’s Election Night 2020: Democracy’s Last Stand: Building Back America Great Again Better 2020 goes on at 11 p.m. ET and runs for an hour. Guests include Charlamagne Tha God and Alex Wagner, John Heilemann and Mark McKinnon of Showtime politics show The Circus.

Colbert hosts The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on CBS, corporate sibling of Showtime.

“It’s going to be a great night although my therapist has reminded me America has to WANT to change,” said Colbert.

Colbert hosted an election night special on Showtime in 2016.

Colbert, Chris Licht, Tom Purcell and Jon Stewart are the executive producers of the special, and of The Late Show.

Source: Showtime to Air Election Night Special Hosted by Colbert
 

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TV Notes (Broadcast)
CBS' '60 Minutes' Sets Trump, Biden Interviews
By Alex Weprin, The Hollywood Reporter - Oct. 18, 2020

The CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes will interview President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden for next week's edition.

Correspondent Lesley Stahl announced the interviews at the end of the newscast Sunday, promising "revealing, provocative conversations with the two major party candidates for president."

Stahl will interview Trump at the White House, while CBS Evening News anchor Norah O'Donnell will interview Biden in Delaware. Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris will also be interviewed for the program.

60 Minutes has previously featured both presidential candidates in the same episode back in 2012, when President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney sat for interviews with Steve Kroft and Scott Pelley, respectively. In 2008, Kroft interviewed Obama and Pelley interviewed Sen. John McCain in a similar format.

The interviews of Trump and Biden will take place just a few days after the final presidential debate is scheduled to be held on Oct. 22 in Nashville, Tennessee. NBC's Kristen Welker will be the moderator.

Source: CBS' '60 Minutes' Sets Trump, Biden Interviews | Hollywood Reporter
 

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TV/Streaming Notes (Q&A)
David Letterman Isn’t Here to Cheer You Up This Time
The veteran TV host is back with more episodes of his Netflix interview series and a perspective that has been altered by the coronavirus pandemic.
By Dave Itzkoff, The New York Times - Oct. 19, 2020

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. — A few days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, David Letterman sat behind his desk at CBS’s “Late Show” and shared the story of a rally in Choteau, Mont., to raise money for New York. Getting choked up, he told his viewers, “If that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about the spirit of the United States, then I can’t help you.”

Nineteen years later, with the country in the midst of a monthslong pandemic, Letterman found it difficult to conjure up any similarly inspiring anecdotes. One morning last week, this veteran late-night host, broadcaster and comedian, now 73, was sitting in a park here, contemplating the Hudson River and cracking wise about the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.

“It looks kind of unfinished,” he said through a fabric mask that barely held back his unruly beard. “Doesn’t it look like the new kid got to design it?”

But truth be told, Letterman was in a more melancholy than mirthful frame of mind. Though he, his wife, Regina, and their son, Harry, have remained safe, he knows several people who were stricken by coronavirus, some of whom died from it. And he is deeply frustrated by what he feels have been inconsistent, nationwide efforts to inform people about the pandemic and mitigate its spread.

While hardly its most devastating casualty, the coronavirus also nearly put a halt to Letterman’s Netflix interview show, “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction,” which returns on Wednesday. He had recorded two episodes, with Kim Kardashian West and with Robert Downey Jr., before the pandemic, and believed the season — if not the series — was finished.

Instead, he was able to produce two more episodes over the summer, under substantially different circumstances: one with Dave Chappelle, which was recorded at an outdoor pavilion in Yellow Springs, Ohio; and one with Lizzo, at her home studio in Los Angeles, which had no audience at all.

For Letterman, each of these episodes offered him a further education in the evolution of entertainment and deeper insights as an interviewer and observer of human nature. Even so, he found himself yearning for what he called “the carefree days of nonsense” when he could “bring people into a theater and talk to them for an hour, and when we were done I would go out into the crowd and shake hands, and everybody would want to tongue-kiss me.”

“We don’t do that anymore,” he added.

Letterman spoke further about his pandemic experience, the making of his Netflix series and what he hopes the future might hold for him. These are edited excerpts from that conversation.

How has the pandemic been for you? What is it like for you now?
Like everybody else, you forget about it. Six, eight months into it, you go on talking as though things are normal, and then it’s, oh, no, we can’t do that because of the pandemic. In the beginning, it was more than ghastly. The husband of a woman that worked at [“Late Show”], he died. A teacher at Harry’s school died. Paul Shaffer and his wife both had it. Cathy, his wife, was hospitalized. Barbara Gaines, who was a producer on the show, she and her wife both had it. And on and on and on.

How do you feel when you come into contact with people elsewhere in the country who don’t seem to be taking the pandemic as seriously?
That makes me very sad. Because we learned a lesson that these other people are dismissing. I was talking to a friend of mine, and he was furious at the mayor of his city for keeping it closed, and he said, “Well, that guy will never be re-elected.” And I just thought, do I tell him what this really can be? We’re looking at a quarter of a million people dead soon. But I just didn’t want to have that fight.

After the 9/11 attacks, you gave several “Late Show” monologues where you tried to rally your viewers’ spirits and bring them together. Do you ever feel like saying anything similar now?
Something applicable to these times? I wish I had the wherewithal to say something meaningful. But all of these people who are resisting the idea of prevention, I just keep thinking: What about the families of the 220,000 people who are dead? I wonder how they’re feeling. I don’t get it. I have no solution other than to do what is told: Take care of yourself and your family.

How did the pandemic affect your work on your Netflix series?
I thought we were done for good. Really. In the beginning, it really seemed like, holy God, they’re coming over the wall, we’re all going to die. People keep reminding me that, at my age, I’m particularly vulnerable. Which I don’t appreciate at all. “Dad, you know you’re close to 100, you’d better not go out.”

How did you decide to continue with your season?
We had two more episodes [with Lizzo and Dave Chappelle] in preproduction, and we were eager to do something. We did them within a very short period of time, and then we came home. By that point, there were protocols in place from the production company and from Netflix that we had to observe, gladly, and we got through it OK.

Kim Kardashian West, who is now a prized guest on your Netflix series, was a frequent target for mockery in your “Late Show” days.
Oh, I was at the head of that list. I can remember when she would be booked on the show, it was like, I don’t know anything about her, and I’ve never seen her show. And then when we went to talk to Kanye, I thought, oh, I’ve misjudged this woman.

What changed your mind about her?
After we met with Kanye West [for the previous season of the Netflix series], I had a long talk with her at their home, and I started to think about how I had used her as a joke and regarded her as someone not to be taken seriously. I found that that impression was not the end of the story. She had a family. She has her prison reform program. I won’t comment on the ease of being married to Kanye West. And if she can keep a show like that on the air for all those years, that’s an accomplishment. If you can stay in business on television that long, good for you.

You went to Yellow Springs, Ohio, to interview Dave Chappelle. Did you perform at his outdoor comedy show there?
Yes. I think I did it. [To his publicist] Did I do it? [Publicist answers: “You did it.”] I’m being told I did it [laughs]. It was grand. The setting is unique. It’s outdoors. Everybody’s tested, everybody social distanced. He had three or four comics on and each comic made my heart sink deeper. Because when I was doing comedy, a lot of it was [weakly] “Hey, where you from?” But these men and women, whoa — the level of it, the intellect of it, the presentation of it is so much more than it was when me and my little buddies were, “Hey, how ya doin’, I just got in from Indiana.” Really? No one cares. Get outta here.

Did you come up with a new standup set or use your past material?
Past material [laughs]. Yeah, I keep past material in the treasure chest. Because it’s so valuable that I don’t want others to hurt themselves with it. No, it was all of the moment. I could have said, “Excuse me, I’ve got to tie my shoe” [imitates crowd laughter]. Because once Dave puts his stamp of approval on somebody, it’s not as hard as you think it’s going to be. At first, I thought, oh, God, this is not going to work. And then when it was finished, I thought, wow, this is the most fun I’ll have all summer.

You had previously had Lizzo as a guest on your “Late Show” in 2014, before her career really took off. Is that why you went back to her now?
[Deeply sarcastic] Chronologically, you can make the case that I’m the reason for her success. And I think we — I think I, screw everybody else — I put her on the map. And I stand by that.

Because of the pandemic, this episode has no audience — it’s just the two of you talking in her home studio. Did it make you rethink how you might approach the series going forward?
It felt far more relaxed, and I think that’s all her. She was so lovely and gracious and pleasant, and what really tipped me over was her ability with the flute. I was always the one that thought we had to have an audience, because that’s how you built the show — your timing was generated by the audience. But going forward, the requirement of an audience is not essential. I would be eager to see if it works with more than Lizzo.

Do you ever have moments in these interviews where you feel as if you don’t have a shared frame of reference to talk to some of these guests?
Yes. Because the experience is barely parallel. We’re all in show business, but that’s as close a comparison as you can make, culturally. I did feel like, is this going to look stupid? An old guy here, trying to talk to people who are thriving and alive and dominating the world through social media? I felt like it was a wreck. That’s the inner dialogue.

How do you get past this?
Like anybody else that you talk to, every human being, there are situations that helped develop into what they are. So you’re going to get a story out of anybody. It may not happen in the first five minutes, but in every one of these experiences, there’s always a conduit for mutual experience. “Oh yeah? You think that’s something? Well, one time I choked on a peanut-butter sandwich and nearly died.” You have to make everybody a good interview.

Do you think that late-night television, a genre that you helped to pioneer, has been diminished in recent years — that so much of it has become political comedy that doesn’t really move the needle and crowds out everything else?
I know that people have been hugely successful with it. Stephen [Colbert] has done a great job with my old show — his show now. In my day, the goal was just anything to make the audience laugh. That may be part of the dynamic now. People have this hunger to see the current administration being assailed and embarrassing itself. So I think that’s what [late-night shows] worked toward. I don’t fault them for that. After a while, it wears thin, but the appetite for it has not worn thin. I think they still do enough business to keep people happy.

Do you ever find yourself fearing for the future of this country?
I really did, until recently. And now I am confident — or more confident than I’ve been in the last four years — that we’re changing presidents in a couple of weeks. And it will be a huge victory. Not just for our culture and our government, but the simple act of voting will have been the reason that the rest of our country is put back together and, in many ways, saved from what appears to be tyranny, certainly jeopardy. I think it will be a huge victory on many fronts, not the least of which is calling attention to the valuable freedom of voting.

Please don’t mistake this for a suggestion, but do you ever think about packing it in as a broadcaster entirely?
First of all, you can’t hurt my feelings because I’m dead inside. But the Netflix people put me back in business in a way that has been, for me, really, really fun. On the other hand, I recognize my own shelf life. I’m way overdue. When it happens, I still will enjoy little things here and there, and that’ll be enough. But there’s other people more capable. I got no problem with that. If there is any kind of schedule, it would be when my son is finished with high school. But if it’s tomorrow, that’s fine.

Your son, Harry, is 16 now. Are you worried about how the pandemic is going to affect his life?
I think it’s every parent’s concern, regardless of the age of their kids. But for Harry and his buddies, the junior year of high school is a crucial experience. Now they’re starting to look beyond high school, and it’s not good. For guys Harry’s age and older, it might be a setback. Time takes care of everything, and one hopes that that’s the case here.

How do you talk about these feelings with him?
I had a conversation with my son the other night that went this way. Because of the pandemic and the fact that he’s getting older, I said, Harry, your mother and I have two responsibilities. One is to keep you safe. And other than the time that your mother let you roll off the bed and land on your head, we have kept you safe. The other responsibility is your happiness. And he said, “Have you been drinking?” So that’s how that works at my house.

Source: David Letterman Isn’t Here to Cheer You Up This Time
 

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TV Sports (Hockey)
Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick, Sports Emmy-Winning NHL Broadcaster, Retires After 47 Years
By Jordan Moreau, Variety.com - Oct. 19, 2020

Mike “Doc” Emrick, a veteran broadcaster for the National Hockey League and eight-time Sports Emmy award winner, has announced his retirement after 47 years.

NBC Sports made the announcement on Monday morning, with Emrick reminiscing on the early days of his career.

“It was 50 years ago this fall, with pen and pad in hand at old Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, I got my first chance to cover the National Hockey League. Gordie Howe was a Red Wing, Bobby Hull was a Blackhawk, Bobby Orr was a Bruin,” said Emrick. “A time like this makes me recall that we have seen a lot together. The biggest crowd ever, 105,000 at Michigan Stadium. A gold medal game that required overtime between the two North American powers in Vancouver.”

During his broadcasting career, Emrick won eight Sports Emmys awards for play-by-play, the most of all time in the category. He also called 22 Stanley Cup finals, including the past 15 for NBC Sports, and six Olympic Winter Games. In 2008, he was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, the first broadcaster to be honored.

“Things change over 50 years, but much of what I love is unchanged from then to now and into the years ahead. I still get chills seeing the Stanley Cup. I especially love when the horn sounds, and one team has won and another team hasn’t, all hostility can dissolve into the timeless great display of sportsmanship — the handshake line. I leave you with sincere thanks,” Emrick said.

The prolific sportscaster began his career calling college and minor league hockey games in the 1970s before moving into the NHL, where he announced for three teams, including 20 seasons for the New Jersey Devils. He joined the NBC Sports family full-time in 2011.

“Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick is a national treasure — simply put, he’s one of the best ever to put on a headset in the history of sports broadcasting,” said Sam Flood, executive producer and president of production at NBC and NBCSN. “Doc’s love of the game and his unmatched style produced true artistry, engaged new fans and quickly became the soundtrack of hockey. He lived at the rink on game days, spending countless hours at morning skates to find one more story to seamlessly weave into his frenetic, yet lyrical, call of a game. Doc always found the right words to meet the moment. It’s impossible to put into words the impact Doc has had not only on the game of hockey, but for anyone who has had the distinct pleasure to work with him.”

Source: Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick, Sports Emmy-Winning NHL Broadcaster, Retires After 47 Years
 

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TV/Nielsen Overnights (Broadcast)
Ratings: Supermarket Sweep Tops Non-Sports Fare, as NFL and MLB Dominate
By Matt Webb Mitovich, TVLine.com - Oct. 19, 2020

In the latest TV show ratings: With NBC’s Sunday Night Football and Fox’s NLCS Game 7 coverage dominating the night, ABC’s Supermarket Sweep led all non-sports fare with 4.8 million total viewers and a 1.0 demo rating. TVLine readers gave the Leslie Jones-hosted game show revival an average grade of “C.”

Elsewhere on ABC, the season premieres of AFV (4.3 mil/0.5), Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (3.8 mil/0.6) and Card Sharks (2.6 mil/0.4) were all down sharply from their previous averages, opposite so, so much sportsing.

NBC | Sunday Night Football (10.3 mil/2.8) dipped about 10 percent from last week’s fast nationals.

FOX | The Dodgers’ NLCS Game 7 victory over the Braves drew 6.4 mil and a 1.9.

THE CW | Pandora (407K/0.1) was steady.

CBS | Pending adjustment due to NFL this-and-that, Ferris Bueller (2.7 mil/0.5) was up a tick from last week’s Sunday Night Movie.

Source: Ratings: Supermarket Sweep Tops Non-Sports Fare, as NFL and MLB Dominate
 
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