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Discussion Starter #17,521
Technology Notes (Digital)
DirecTV Now to Test Cloud DVR This Summer
By Mike Farrell, Multichannel News - Jul. 13, 2017

DirecTV Now is expected to begin beta tests of a long-awaited cloud DVR service this summer, part of a broader launch of features earmarked for the streaming video service this fall.

The cloud DVR is the latest in a series of announcements AT&T has made for the over-the-top offering since its launch on Nov.30. Other OTT services like CenturyLink Stream, YouTube TV, fubo TV, Sling TV and others already offer varying versions of cloud DVR service.

According to AT&T, customers of its satellite TV service DirecTV also will a crack at the new platform, but may have to wait a while. For now it is inviting DirecTV Now and DirecTV companion app users to participate in beta trials this summer, but said the new platform will be available to other customers of AT&T video services “in the coming years.”

The next-generation platform is supposed to eventually unify its user interface across all platforms, providing a “consistent look and feel across AT&T consumer video services throughout the United States.”

Beta testing for the next-generation video platform begins this summer and is expected to be more widely available to streaming customers in the fall. Invited DirecTV Now customers will be part of the beta program, will be the first to experience cloud DVR and other new features and will provide feedback about the new user interface. Additional features, including live TV pausing and parental controls, should be available after the new platform exits beta testing later this year. Other features like user profiles, download and go, and 4K HDR are planned for 2018.

“We all want easy and quick access to our content, regardless of where, when or on what device we watch it,” said AT&T Entertainment Group chief marketing officer David Christopher in a statement. “By developing for a single video platform, we’ll deliver new features and platform innovations in a faster, more efficient way. And it will be simple and consistent wherever you watch—TV, phone or tablet.”


63,410 Posts
Discussion Starter #17,522
Technology Notes (Digital)
Emmy Snubs & Surprises: No Love For ‘The Leftovers,’ Oprah, ‘Girls’ & Jimmy Fallon
By Dominic Patten, Deadline.com - Jul. 13, 2017

Ineligible because of their late debut dates, past winners Game of Thrones and Orphan Black were nowhere to be found today among the nominees for the 69th annual Primetime Emmy Awards, but neither were the final seasons of The Leftovers and Girls nor The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

As Hollywood woke up this morning to hear Veep’s Anna Chlumsky and Criminal Minds alum and S.W.A.T. star Shemar Moore announce this year’s nominations along with TV Academy boss Hayma Washington, there were raised hopes and bitter pills all over town. Moore also had the honor of announcing that his co-host Chlumsky garnered a nomination this year.

For This Is Us, the latest installment of Fargo, House of Cards and Grace and Frankie‘s Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin getting nominations today well positions them for a big win at the September 17 shindig hosted by Stephen Colbert and broadcast on CBS. However, for those who were snubbed today, a certain amount of heat has been taken off their summer.

Check out some of those we believed got the harsh medicine today and saw their Emmy aspirations end before they really even started — and tell us who we missed.

The Leftovers – Some of the best television of this era of Peak TV, the third and final season of the Damon Lindelof-Tom Perrotta series had the end of the world, presidential assassinations, love lost and, in a fulfilling finale, love found again. Snubbed before, and even with a nom for star Carrie Coon for her Fargo performance and Ann Dowd’s guest actress nom, the Peabody-winning show itself once again was not even an afterthought for Best Drama Series, even with that big campaign HBO put behind it.

The Americans – Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys individually received nominations, but FX’s acclaimed Cold War drama was left out of the Best Drama category — again. Was this Hollywood flexing an anti-Russian backlash?

Billy Bob Thornton – Earlier this year the Oscar winner took home the Golden Globe for Best Actor for his performance in Amazon’s Goliath, but there was no repeat today.

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon – In a tight battle with CBS’ The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, some have said the NBC late-night host’s shtick just isn’t jiving in Donald Trump’s America. Looks like it fell flat with the TV Academy too.

Issa Rae – How could Emmy voters overlook the distinct talent and voice of HBO’s Insecure star and co-creator? That is not very confidence building Hollywood, not at all.

The Walking Dead – Some might have found that the most recent season of AMC’s zombie apocalypse blockbuster lagged a bit after the brutal and fatal beating of Glenn (Steve Yeun) and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) by Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s villainous Negan in the opening episode. However, with fine acting (especially by The Good Wife alum) and maintaining its hold as the biggest show on TV, TWD deserved this year to break through the genre prejudice that has denied the show significant Emmy recognition. But this was obviously not the year for that bold move.

Asia Kate Dillon – A breakout on the second season of Billions as the brilliant gender-nonbinary analyst and then CIO at the Damian Lewis-run Axe Capital, Dillion pushed the envelope and the right of equality and decided to enter the Supporting Actor category this year. That stance for a striking performance did not get an Emmy nomination this year, but Dillion surely will be back.

Homeland – An Outstanding Supporting Actor nomination for Mandy Patinkin, a directing nom for Lesli Linka Glatter and Outstanding Sound Editing is not exactly nothing for the Showtime spy drama today. Yet, to see past winner Claire Danes not even in the race, Rupert Friend ignored and the 2012 winning show itself left off the list of Outstanding Drama Series contenders, that was a hand grenade tossed into the drama categories.

Rami Malek – Last year, the star of USA’s Mr. Robot won the Emmy for the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. This year, the TV Academy pulled the plug on the actor and the show and left it in the dark.

American Gods – Even with Game of Thrones off the field, there was no divine intervention today for Starz’s spectacularly sprawling and genre-busting series based on Neil Gaimans’ best seller. Pray harder for next year, I guess

Oprah Winfrey – The OWN owner saw nothing for her and Ava DuVernay’s Queen Sugar, which was not very sweet. Even more sour for the media mogul and former Oscar nominee had to be getting left out for her startling lead performance in the HBO TV movie The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which itself got a nom.

Girls – The end of Lena Dunham’s groundbreaking HBO series went out with an Emmy whimper when it deserved at least a firework or two beyond Guest Actor & Actress categories and Music Supervision.

Empire – The biggest drama on the Big 4 got some real competition in its third season from NBC’s This Is Us. What the Lee Daniels- and Danny Strong-created Fox drama and its lead Taraji P. Henson did not get, yet again, was a chance to bring its game to the Emmy race – which is a bum note all round.

Rashida Jones – Over the three seasons since Angie Tribeca’s debut in January 2016, the Parks and Recreation alumna has proved comic gold on TBS’ guest-star-rich mock cop show. A past nominee for her work on the now-shuttered NBC comedy, this year should have seen a repeat of sorts.

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah – Its been almost two years since the South African comedian took over Comedy Central’s flagship show from Jon Stewart. After an uneven start, Noah has really found his footing in recent months but seems to be too little too late for Emmy voters, who have handed The Daily Show 23 Emmys and 60 nominations in the past.

Transparent – Two-time past Emmy winner Jeffrey Tambor is rightly nominated again this year, but the Jill Soloway-created Amazon show itself saw no love from the Comedy category.

Desus & Mero – Broadcasting straight out of Brooklyn, Viceland’s late-night duo commonly went where their cable and Big 4 rivals feared to tread with Donald Trump and more – with hilarious, often insightful and fresh results. Since their debut in October, getting a personalized rainbow from the Bodega Boys of podcast fame has become an essential stop for the likes of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Black-ish’s Anthony Anderson and hip-hop superstars like Big Boi – but not Emmy voters, who stuck with a lot of the same old format.

The Good Fight – The Good Wife was an Emmy favorite for years, flying the flag for the Big 4 against the cable and streaming onslaught, but CBS All Access’ sequel of sorts did not receive the same verdict, except for a nomination for its theme music. While that is the first nomination for Les Moonves’ streaming service, it is even more surprisingly amidst the otherwise overall Good Fight shutout that lead and past Emmy winner Christine Baranski was left out; that is not a fair fight at all.

The CW – We’ve been here before with the home of Arrow and Riverdale and the now-ended The Vampire Diaries hitting the wall at Emmy time. Hulu broke through today thanks to The Handmaid’s Tale, and the Mark Pedowitz-run net will get its time in the TV Academy sun, but today the snub clouds hung heavy


63,410 Posts
Discussion Starter #17,523
Nielsen Overnights (Broadcast)
'Big Brother' Viewers Don't Seek 'Salvation'
By Michael O'Connell, The Hollywood Reporter's 'Live Feed' Blog - Jul. 13, 2017

With Wednesday night's Nielsen ratings and 2017 Emmy nominations coming in at the same time on Thursday morning, the overnights almost slipped by unnoticed — which probably would have been the preferable scenario for Salvation.

CBS rolled out its latest summer drama on Wednesday night to unassuming returns. Despite a particularly strong assist from Big Brother, which dominated the night with a 1.9 rating among adults 18-49, Salvation joined the schedule with a limp 0.7 rating in the key demo and a not-too-shabby 4.8 million viewers. (In the key demo, that's a scant 37 percent retention.) The network isn't likely crying over the modest same-day haul. Salvation, like Zoo and previous summer scripted efforts, has a lucrative streaming deal (at Amazon, in this case), which cools the pressure.

No. 2 status belonged to ABC's annual coverage of the ESPYS. The sports kudos, where the winners win for winning, brought a 1.4 rating among adults 18-49 and 5.3 million viewers, off by a modest percentage by both measurements.

Fox aired new episodes of MasterChef (1.0 adults) and The F Word (0.6 adults), while NBC posted a new Little Big Shots: Forever Young (0.9 adults) and a new episode of The Carmichael Show (0.7 adults).


63,410 Posts
Discussion Starter #17,524
TV Notes/Q&A (Cable)
Here’s How Much Freedom Game of Thrones Directors Really Have
By Daniel D'addario, TIME.com - Jul. 14, 2017

From the Red Wedding to Queen Cersei's brutal Walk of Shame to Daenerys taking flight, David Nutter is the director behind some of Game of Thrones' most memorable. Nutter has directed six episodes of the series. Nutter's work, including episodes of Band of Brothers and The Pacific, is noted for a steady hand with character even amidst chaos. In "Mother's Mercy," his Emmy-winning Thrones episode, for instance, we are locked in on Cersei (Lena Headey) as she undergoes a hellish walk amidst her subjects, and internally reckoning with her mistakes. For a cover story on Game of Thrones, whose seventh season premieres July 16 [on HBO], I spoke to Nutter in March. This is a lightly edited transcript of that conversation.

How much detail is there in the script? Does it leave room to improvise?
They give me the allowance to say, "Here’s the world" and then they really respect the director. They want the director to direct. I commend them. The great thing for me—I do a lot of pilots, and doing pilots I’m dealing with who are we going to hire as a designer, what the initial look’s going to be, the casting of the stars, which is another area where you’re getting involved with the studios or the networks. The great thing for me is the fact that there’s already a wonderful group of actors in place, and I can just worry about the director thing and not worry about the producing. It’s not a situation where they say, “Here, David, we’d like you to do it this way.” They give me all the freedom in the world to do that. I’ve never been on a show where they respect the director so much, and that’s why I love the freedom to be there so much.

The Red Wedding sequence, which you directed in the episode “The Rains of Castamere,” is to my mind the moment that Game of Thrones kicks into a higher gear.
I agree!

Knowing you’d direct such a pivotal scene, what was the thought process and the preparation?
Fear. Just because you’re given something so special and so important that you want to do your very best. I was fortunate that they liked the work I did in season 2, and in that period, they were thinking about me to direct the Red Wedding in season 3, that I didn’t even know about. So when I finished season 2, they said, “We’d like you to come back for a very special episode.” But the situation—when I get something like that, the most important thing to do is sit down with Dan and David and get a sense of intent, get a feeling about the characterization so I know what to focus on. That’s the most important part of any storytelling, point-of-view.

I’m such a big believer in rehearsal. It’s important to rehearse with the actors so they can understand where they’re at. A lot of times, it can be a situation where you’re working so much on so many different things, the actors have to come in and figure out what’s happening so the crew isn’t standing around waiting for them. I walk the actors through all the activity prior to that, so they can focus on their characterization and what they’re supposed to be doing in the scene and not worry about having to self-direct or “what am I supposed to do now?”

What worked out best was the last shot of the sequence and the last shot of shooting was Catelyn Stark’s death. It was really a personal experience for the crew and the cast because they’re losing such a loved character and we were all so moved by it. We were swept up in the Red Wedding, as far as the crew was concerned.

What were your responsibilities in terms of mood management? I imagine it must have been hard for everyone to do their jobs in the moment?
As the director, my job is to be the Pied Piper. My job is to make sure that I know what we’re going to do next. In some situations, people kind of wing it, and I understand that. But for me, I need to be prepared, and I need to know what the next ten steps are. As long as the crew feel like they’re in good hands and they feel like they’re moving in the right direction, then they can be more creative and be more free with what they’re doing. I want the crew to be emotionally invested. Part of my job is to make sure they’re feeling something, because if you don’t feel it when you’re doing it, I won’t feel it in the audience watching it. As Robb Stark is overlooking his slain wife, bleeding to death, he held the look for just a few seconds to allow the welling-up and emotions and feelings, and [assistant directors] were crying in the background, caught up in the emotion of it all. I think what’s important in this moment—if you work from your heart, and do it from that direction, I think that’s the only way to get anything done. I think it really showed that this wasn’t just a job, it was a mission to do something just and to give these characters a proper farewell and make this as shocking as it possibly could be.

Your friendship with Lena Headey dates back to directing her on The Sarah Connor Chronicles. What is it like to direct her through the pain of the Walk of Shame when she's being paraded through the streets of King's Landing?
I think it’s a situation in which everyone know what was coming, where it was headed, and what was happening, and my goal was to see her, as she did this. I wanted there to be empathy. I wanted us, as the viewer, to feel empathy for a character who’s so hated and so loathed. She’s not the bad guy—I always tell people in those roles never to feel that and never to think that way, but she’s a wonderful talent and you don’t need to talk to her about that.

Several days before shooting it, I walked the walk with her, so she had an idea of what would happen where. And I was very specific about, this is going to happen here, this is going to happen there, now you’re going to see the Red Keep, now you’re going to get closer to that, you’re almost done, and then you get the hate of the people, and you go deeper into the world of the city, and the scorn for you is barely bearable. It takes that part of you that makes you who you are—that last-ditch effort of strength. My total goal was that the audience would have empathy with a mother, something as simple as that—what she’s willing to go through to be that.

“The Dance of Dragons” was the first episode of Game of Thrones to depict Daenerys flying a dragon. What was it like to introduce that motion-capture technology?
Everything leading up to that moment has to feel real and you have to believe what’s going on. There has to be a credibility to it all. So I think that if everything leading up to that moment where the dragon appears is credible, then acceptance of what happens next—a lot of your job is done. So I think that, talking about storyboards and figuring it all out, figuring out what the emotional beats are—sometimes you’re in a story where you can’t find the emotional moments, or there’s an emotional beat that is not written, but that you have to feel and find as you’re doing it. Emilia [Clarke] is quite special in that respect of understanding what that’s all about. The whole ability to work with the actors relies on their knowing exactly what they’re doing in this situation. When a dragon appears, it’s all about that interaction with Daenerys. So as long as you get proper reactions from people as things are happening, then there’s a connection, as if the dragon’s in fact there.

For all the outsized spectacle of Game of Thrones, human reactions like the ones you’re describing are what make the show.
It’s nothing without that. We’ve all seen too many would-be Game of Thrones killers that have come to the fore. If you simply don’t care about the people you’re watching, it doesn’t matter. Size doesn’t matter in that respect. It’s about having a heart you care about and believe in. It’s the characters you can relate to—and if you find characters who can affect you in an emotional way, you’ll follow them anywhere.

How have you seen the experience of working on the show change between season 2 and season 5?
Only the room got bigger. The integrity and intensity of the actors stayed the same. They were given a bigger playing field, which is kind of my attitude. Back in the day, I directed for the first three seasons of The X-Files. We had no money at that time to do the show, so we realized that if the audience doesn’t see stuff, if they’re in the dark, it’ll be scarier. You don’t need to show them everything, you just need to create a world that’s real, create a world that they can understand. My mission statement is this: Create a world that’s real, whether it’s a fantasy word or [our] world, whatever that may be, create a world where what the characters are doing is just and believable, then you lean in to watch something and you begin to care. And when you begin to care, the rectangle of the television set diminishes. You become involved. That to me is the secret, to care about the characters. Then you can throw the wild and crazy at them, and it’ll affect them in a whole different way. It’ll affect them emotionally. The Red Wedding is the perfect example—three years of hard work, character development, interesting twists and turns. People were watching this with their heart and I find that to be the most important part of everything.

I’m a writer, and I don’t think I have a strong visual aesthetic at all. It's interesting to me that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are writers who do weigh in on the look of the show.
Very much so, and their writing is so visual. Their perspective and the description in their scripts, you can take so much from what they say and how they say it. Sometimes you’re working on a show and [the writers] kind of say “Create the rest yourself.” They have wonderful, specific ideas and thoughts about stuff. Once I pare that down to go through the step-by-step process of it all, we talk together. Sometimes I say “This may not work—what if we did this?” We go through each of the beats, and once you go through it, there’s so much support to go and make that happen. I’m always using them as a sounding board as it goes further and further.

Is there a sense of anticipation when you get the script? It’s “your” episode, and I imagine you have to hope that yours will feature more violence or big battles or plot movement.
As far as I’m concerned, I am so fearful and afraid of my own performance anxiety that I can’t think of anybody else’s stuff. There’s no ego. Ego is rather foreign to me. People like Miguel [Sapochnik] and Alan [Taylor], I so admire their work, and I really feel that, I’m really quite astounded by the work they do. It’s all about for me, how do I best tell the story? My goal as a director is to not get in the way or the middle of that. My goal is that everything I do with the camera and the action never should draw attention away from the heart of the emotional arc of the story and these actors. If I take away from that, I’ve failed. There never should be a situation where you’re watching a sequence and something happens and you go “What a cool camera shot that was!” I’ve failed, because that didn’t support the story. I’m supposed to be underneath. I’m supposed to be invisible.


63,410 Posts
Discussion Starter #17,525
Critic's Notes
In a wide-open year, the Emmys got it mostly wrong
By Kelly Lawler, USA Today - Jul. 14, 2017

I suppose for the Emmys, Westworld is the next best thing to Game of Thrones.

HBO’s fantasy epic Thrones, which won the best-drama Emmy in 2015 and 2016, is ineligible this year due to its summer start date, leaving the drama category more open. And the series’ closest cousin reaped the most rewards.

Westworld tied Saturday Night Live for the most nominations, with 22. The HBO sci-fi series has made nothing but noise since its fall debut, with its violence, nudity, fan theories and big — if not Thrones-sized — ratings. But is it one of the best dramas of the year? Probably not.

In a year when the big winner was off the table and the increasingly packed TV landscape offered new and diverse voices, Emmy voters embraced what they knew, and, for better or worse, the loudest and buzziest of the newcomers. And in general, it was for the worse.

Westworld is a prime example of the problem. In many ways, the show represents the worst sins of Game of Thrones — a penchant for sexual assault and violence — in Western garb. Stranger Things, too, made a deafening entrance into the TV landscape last summer but had structural problems. HBO's The Leftovers, which just concluded its final season to wide acclaim, or a 2016 nominee, FX's The Americans, would have been stronger choices.

On the comedy side of things, it's even worse. There's been an explosion of new and exciting series, but it's tough to break through the noise, at least to get the Television Academy's attention. HBO's Veep and Silicon Valley continue to rake in nominations as they age, yet the singular Insecure was stronger than both this season.

Modern Family also earned its eighth nomination, after five wins, while other ABC family sitcoms Speechless and Fresh Off the Boat find more interesting stories to tell. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt's third season was painful to watch, yet made it, while Netflix's smart Norman Lear sitcom revival One Day at a Time was left out.

The trend expands beyond the top two categories. Saturday Night Live’s Donald-Trump-lampooning season vaulted three actresses into the supporting category (Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Vanessa Bayer). They’re all great but at the expense of nominating Lena Dunham or anyone else from Girls? Or legendary Rita Moreno on One Day at a Time?

Did Shannon Purser (Barb from Stranger Things) get a guest-star nomination through the sheer willpower of Internet memes? Stephen Colbert's Trump-bashing Late Show was recognized — instead of last year's nominee, Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show — but Seth Meyers' critiques of the president are routinely funnier and more incisive than Colbert's and his Late Night didn't make the cut.

Certainly there were bright spots on the nomination list, particularly when it comes to recognizing more diverse voices that make their own fair share of noise. Donald Glover, creator and star of FX’s superb Atlanta, received nominations for writing, acting and directing. RuPaul’s Drag Race was nominated for seven awards, including best reality-competition series, after RuPaul won for hosting last year.

And the drama race did benefit by including some of those buzzy shows. The Handmaid’s Tale, This is Us and The Crown backed up their talked-about political commentary, emotional drama and flashy looks, respectively, with substantive shows that earned their nods.

The nominations don't mean that Westworld or Stranger Things will take the prize in the Sept. 17 ceremony. The Emmys are always a mixed bag. Hopefully, the winners list will reflect the more deserving nominees. Or we can always wait for Game of Thrones next year.


63,410 Posts
Discussion Starter #17,526
TV Notes
On The Air Tonight
FRIDAY Network Primetime/Late Night Options
(All shows are in HD unless noted; start times are ET. Network late night shows are preceded by late local news)
From Zap2it.com's TV Grid - Jul. 14, 2017

8PM - Shark Tank
(R - Feb. 24)
9:01PM - What Would You Do?
10PM - 20/20: Friends of O.J. Simpson
* * * *
11:35M - Jimmy Kimmel Live!
12:37AM - Nightline

8PM - MacGyver
(R - Sep. 30)
9PM - Salvation
(R - Jul. 12)
10PM - Blue Bloods
(R - Feb. 10)
* * *
11:35PM - The Late Show With Stephen Colbert (Guests TBA)
12:37AM - The Late Late Show With James Corden (Kurt Russell; Thomas Middleditch; comic Russell Howard)
(R - Apr. 27

8PM - America's Got Talent (120 min.)
(R - Jul. 11)
10PM - Dateline NBC: The Fire Inside
* * * *
11:34PM - The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (Kate McKinnon; John Cena; Mac DeMarco performs)
(R - Jun. 9)
12:37AM - Late Night with Seth Meyers (Will Ferrell; Laverne Cox; Jeff Tweedy performs; Daru Jones sits in with the 8G Band)
(R - Jun. 20)
1:38AM - Last Call with Carson Daily (Adam Pally; Froth performs; Fahim Anwar)
(R - Mar. 28)

8PM - MasterChef
(R - Jul. 12)
9PM - Beat Shazam
(R - Jul. 13)

8PM - Masters of Illusion
8:30PM - Masters of Illusion
(R - Jun. 30)
9PM - Penn & Teller: Fool Us
(R - Jul. 13)

8PM - Washington Week
8:30PM - Charlie Rose: This Week (Season Premiere)
9PM - The Great British Baking Show: Botanical
10PM - Willie Nelson: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song (90 min.)
(R - Jan. 15, 2016)

8PM - José de Egipto
9PM - La Doble Vida de Estela Carrillo
10PM - Rosario Tijeras

8PM - Jenni Rivera: Mariposa de Barrio
9PM - La Querida del Centauro
10PM - El Señor de Los Cielos

8PM - K.C. Undercover
8:30PM - K.C. Undercover
9PM - Bizaardvark

8PM - Killjoys
9PM - Dark Matters
10PM - Wynonna Earp

9PM - Bellator MMA Live: Brandon Girtz meets Derek Campos (2 hrs. 15 min., LIVE)

9:30PM - Best of Showtime Boxing 2016
10PM - ShoBox: The New Generation (2 1/2 hrs., LIVE)

11PM - Playing House
11:30PM - Playing House (Season Finale)

11PM - VICE: Power to the President


63,410 Posts
Discussion Starter #17,527
TV Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Jul. 14, 2017

Netflix, 3:00 a.m. ET
In the opening sequence, the words of this comedy’s title come up one at a time – so for a second, the first thing you see is a sitcom named Friends. But though Netflix would love for you to confuse this with that classic comedy – after all, it’s about a half-dozen friends who seemingly can’t stop hanging out together, despite other relationships in their lives – there’s no way. In Friends from College, the college is Harvard, the graduates are getting together in New York 20 years later, and they all seem aggressively self-centered. Imagine Friends as populated by the characters from Seinfeld, and you’ll be close. Imagine some of them having vocal sex or secret affairs with one another, and you’ll be closer. But why would you want to be? This sitcom employs some talented performers I really like a lot: Fred Savage from The Wonder Years, Cobie Smulders from How I Met Your Mother, Keegan-Michael Key from Key & Peele, and such supporting players as Greg Germann from Ally McBeal. But only Germann and Savage elicit the right amount of empathy and humor. For the rest, it’s nothing more than Alumni Behaving Badly, and not really worth the time.

Netflix, 3:00 a.m. ET
This documentary is commendably aggressive in its approach. It shows the majestic beauty, color and variety of coral reefs around the world – then shows ones that are dead or dying, in a compare-and-contrast exercise that is little short of mortifying. But rather than be all doom and gloom, Chasing Coral suggests what can be done next – especially by young people willing to help, in both documenting and improving those crucial undersea worlds.

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

Wednesdays and Fridays this month, TCM is working its way through “50 Years of Hitchcock” – and I’ve seen most of them, and recorded the rest, because I’ve never seen them in order like this. What a treat. What a showcase, Tonight, the tribute continues, with 1943’s Shadow of a Doubt at 8 p.m. ET, 1944’s Lifeboat (10 p.m. ET), 1945’s Spellbound (midnight ET), 1946’s Notorious (2:15 a.m. ET), and 1948’s The Paradine Case (4:15 a.m. ET). Watch, in particular, for the Salvador Dali dream sequences in Notorious, and, of course, for Alfred Hitchcock’s playful cameo appearances in each and every film. How, for example, does he show up in Lifeboat, which is set entirely upon a cramped lifeboat adrift at sea?

PBS, 9:00 p.m. ET

Tonight’s episode involves “Botanicals,” and how hard can the challenges be? After all, the contestants all will be baking with… flower. Check local listings.


* * * *

No political comments, please.

Critic's Notes
'SNL' and 'Westworld' Lead Emmy Nominees
By Ed Bark, TVWorthWatching.com's 'Uncle Barky's Bytes' - Jul. 13, 2017

Saturday Night Live makes Donald Trump grate -- again and again.

Thursday’s 69th annual Primetime Emmy Award nominations were further evidence that his presidency has been very good for shows and performers that lampoon it.

SNL tied HBO’s first-year series Westworld for the most overall nominations with 22. Paced by Alec Baldwin’s almost weekly sendups of Trump, SNL received a rather astonishing total of nine acting nominations, including in guest categories. Melissa McCarthy of course made the cut for her brawling guest impersonations of White House press secretary Sean Spicer. SNL regulars Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Vanessa Bayer also got Emmy nods.

The streaming network Hulu put itself on the map in a big way with 13 nominations for The Handmaid’s Tale, which will compete for both best drama series and in the lead actress category with former Mad Men co-star Elisabeth Moss trying to break through for her first win.

Hulu also notched five nominations for the Ron Howard-produced The Beatles: Eight Days A Week -- The Touring Years. Its total of 18 nominations were a quantum leap from just two last year -- and also good enough to beat rival streamer Amazon’s 16. But Netflix still reigns supreme in the streaming world, amassing 91 nods compared to 54 in 2016. Its big scorers this time around are the freshman drama series Stranger Things (16 nominations) and The Crown (13).

Besides the wealth of nominations for SNL, NBC also will be a strong contender in the best drama series category with its acclaimed first-year ratings hit This Is Us. It has 11 nominations and joins Westworld, Stranger Things, The Crown, The Handmaid’s Tale, AMC’s Better Call Saul and Netflix’s House of Cards among the category’s seven finalists.

Emmy’s best comedy series nominees are FX’s freshman Atlanta and six repeat finalists from last year -- HBO’s reigning champ Veep, ABC’s black-ish, ABC’s Modern Family, Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Netflix’s Master of None and HBO’s Silicon Valley. Amazon’s Transparent is the only dropout from the 2016 field.

HBO again led all networks and streamers with 110 nominations, up from 94 last year despite Game of Thrones being ineligible because it didn’t have a new season premiere episode during the eligibility period of June 1, 2016 to May 31, 2017. Besides Westworld, HBO received double-digit nominations for Veep (17), Big Little Lies (16), The Night Of (13) and Silicon Valley (10).

FX slipped slightly from 56 to 54 nominations, but is likely to take home multiple trophies for Feud: Bette and Joan, which tied Stranger Things for the second most Emmy nominations with 18.

The third season of FX’s Fargo made another strong showing with 13 nominations. Feud and Fargo will square off as finalists in the “Outstanding Limited Series” category, where the other nominees are The Night Of, Big Little Lies and National Geographic’s Genius, which made a substantial impression on voters with a total of 10 nominations for its bio of Albert Einstein.

In the “Outstanding Television Movie” division, the nominees are PBS’ Sherlock: The Lying Detective, NBC’s Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love, Netflix’s Black Mirror: San Junipero, HBO’s The Wizard of Lies and HBO’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which surprisingly did not receive a nomination for Oprah Winfrey’s standout performance.

Two other notable Emmy snubs left HBO’s The Leftovers with just one nomination in a guest actor category and NBC’s The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon with a lone nod for best interactive program.

Fallon may have paid a price for the paucity of Trump jokes in his monologues and for a now infamously toothless interview in which he playfully ruffled the future president’s hair without asking anything close to a pointed question.

In contrast, CBS’ Late Show with Stephen Colbert, one of six nominees in the “Outstanding Variety Talk Series” category, has vaulted past Fallon in the late night total viewers ratings with opening monologues devoted almost exclusively to ridiculing Trump.

Three of the other nominees in this category -- TBS’ Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher and HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver -- also have made Trump the focal point of their barbs. The other finalists, ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live and CBS’ Late Late Show with James Corden, have gone a bit softer on him.

NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers, a reliable Trump antagonist, also failed to make the cut, leaving the Peacock starkly without major nominations for its two Monday through Friday after-hours shows. SNL oddly is a nominee in the lesser “Outstanding Variety Sketch Series” category, even though all nine of its acting nods are under the “Comedy Series” umbrella.

EMMY NUGGETS -- This year’s Emmy strikeout king is Kevin Spacey, who has received 10 previous nominations but still hasn’t won. Five of them have been for his portrayal of sinister Frank Underwood, who’s now president in House of Cards. Spacey’s House of Cards co-star, Robin Wright as Claire Underwood, likewise is still winless.

***Moss also is hoping to make a first-time acceptance speech. The star of The Handmaid’s Tale now has eight total nominations, with six of them for Mad Men and the other for Top of the Lake.

***Robert De Niro has his first ever Emmy nomination as Bernie Madoff in The Wizard of Lies. Other notable maiden Emmy voyagers are Wizard of Lies co-star Michelle Pfeiffer, Martha Stewart (Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party), Reese Witherspoon (Big Little Lies) and venerable Gerald McRaney, who finally and deservedly broke through for his guest appearances on This Is Us as wizened Dr. Nathan Katowski. First-timer Donald Glover of Atlanta made it a trifecta with nominations for acting, writing and directing.

***In contrast, Julia Louis-Dreyfus is up for what would be her sixth consecutive “Lead Actress in a Comedy Series” win as venal politician Selina Meyer in Veep. If this happens, she’ll tie Cloris Leachman for the most total Emmys (eight) won by a female performer. Louis-Dreyfus also took home one Emmy apiece for Seinfeld and The New Adventures of Old Christine. She also could break her three-way tie with Candice Bergen and Don Knotts for the most Emmys won by a performer in the same role and same series. Each currently has five.

***The aforementioned Colbert will be this year’s Emmy host when the major awards ceremony is televised Sept. 17th on CBS. The Creative Arts trophies will be handed out the night before on FXX. For a complete list of all nominees, go here.


8,643 Posts
It would be very easy for them to limit a login to one stream at a time. It would also be very easy for them to limit it to one IP address at a time (that's trivially easy to bypass with a VPN though). But they don't. So they've given tacit approval for password sharing. Not to mention their CEO says its cool. Odd thing to get morally outraged about.
Not to mention to access Netflix 4K content you need a four user account. ;)

3,263 Posts
Lot's of things in the 'digital world' are illegal, and yet widespread. P2P and sharing passwords are among them.
Neither is always illegal.

The legality of P2P depends on the material being distributed.

Password sharing is surely illegal more often than not, but within parameters imposed by the target site it could have limited permissibility.

A lot of P2P and nearly all sharing of passwords are illegal, but not 100% of either.

1,209 Posts
In regards to Netflix accounts. I have a son who has his own profile on my account so our preferences do not get mixed up. This is perfectly allowable by Netflix. Now if my son travels somewhere and accesses his profile from his mobile device is that stealing or simply operating within the bounds that Netflix allows? Once he goes to college would not the same rules apply? How about when he is out on his own, same rules right? Again they ALLOW this and it is not stealing. We are not cheating the content creators out of one single cent. They made the streaming deal with Netflix, not with me, so they got paid for their work and set the rules on how their content will be available via Netflix when they agreed to allow their content on the service. Plain and simple. This is not the same as copying a blu-ray disc and giving it away. The people who allow their work on Netflix know that it will be streamed by people on different devices at multiple locations since this is simply how Netflix works. If they do not like those terms they do not have to allow their content on the service.

Now of course Netflix could change their policies at the request of shareholders but as of right now this sort of activity is completely within the rules of having a Netflix account.


2,508 Posts
It's all fine and dandy until Hollywood has a bad year and blames it on password sharing. As soon as they think they're being ripped off, it's game on.
To me the term "password sharing" inherently implies giving a password to someone who doesn't have legal access to the account. Of course whether the legality is enforced is a separate matter...
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2,035 Posts
TV Notes
Emmys 2017: Full List of Nominations
By Variety.com Staff - Jul. 13, 2017

Short Form Variety Series
“Behind The Voice”(YouTube)
“The Daily Show – Between the Scenes” (TheDailyShow.com)
“Epic Rap Battles of History” (YouTube)
“Honest Trailers” (YouTube)
“The Star Wars Show” (YouTube)

Did the episode with Julia Child laying a smackdown on Gordon Ramsay secure the nomination for ERBH?

2,035 Posts
It's all fine and dandy until Hollywood has a bad year and blames it on password sharing. As soon as they think they're being ripped off, it's game on.
Some people would say that anyone who pays to watch TV programming is getting ripped off. With broadcast TV received OTA, you don't have to pay anything beyond the cost of the TV set and the antenna. Sure, one could argue that the companies that advertise on TV recoup some of their expenditures by raising the prices of the products that they sell, but nobody is required to actually buy what they're advertising.

63,410 Posts
Discussion Starter #17,536
TV/Legal Notes
OJ Simpson’s Parole Hearing Next Week Set to Be Televised
By Carli Velocci, TheWrap.com - Jul. 14, 2017

For the first time since 2013, the public will see O.J. Simpson live next week when he appears at a televised parole hearing.

The hearing will take place at 10 a.m. PT on Thursday, July 20, from Nevada and will be broadcast in a video pool, with networks including ESPN airing it live.

The televised Trial of the Century back in 1995, in which Simpson was acquitted in the double murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, captivated the nation. All eyes will no doubt be on the former USC and Buffalo Bills football star once again, though Simpson, who just turned 70, will look very different.

Understandably, the Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners stated that there has been “overwhelming media and public interest” in Simpson’s possible parole.

ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap will anchor a special 90 minute “Outside the Lines” on Thursday about the events surrounding the hearing. Earlier this year, the network won its first Oscar for the highly-accalimed “30 for 30” event series, “O.J.: Made in America,” directed by Ezra Edelman.

The hearing will be streamed from the Lovelock Correction Center, where Simpson has been a resident since 2008. The former football star was sentenced to nine to 33 years for armed robbery and kidnapping following a scheme to break into a room at the Palace Station hotel in Las Vegas to steal sports memorabilia.

Simpson denied that he broke into the room and that he held people at gunpoint, but did admit to taking the items, which included memorabilia that he said belonged to him.

He was sentenced exactly 13 years after he was acquitted on charges of murdering his ex-wife Nicole and Goldman.

Simpson was granted parole on some of the armed robbery convictions in 2013, but still had to serve at least four more years due to assault with a deadly weapon charges and other weapon-related charges.

If paroled, he won’t see the outside of the prison until October 2017.


63,410 Posts
Discussion Starter #17,537
TV/Business Notes (Production)
Viacom Signs Exclusive Pact With Tyler Perry
By Jon Lafayette, Broadcasting & Cable - Jul. 14, 2017

Viacom says it has signed an exclusive partnership with prolific producer and actor Tyler Perry that will include television, film and short-form content.

Perry will begin working with Viacom on TV projects when his agreement with Oprah Winfrey’s OWN expires in 2019. OWN is a joint venture with Discovery and Perry also produces a show for Discovery’s TLC.

Under the agreement, Perry will produce about 90 episodes annually of original drama and comedy series for BET and other Viacom networks. Viacom will have exclusive licensing rights to this programming.

Viacom will also have distribution rights to Perry’s short-form content.

The film portion of the Viacom’s agreement with Perry goes into effect immediately. Viacom’s Paramount Pictures will have exclusive first look rights for any feature film concepts from Perry.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

“Today’s announcement represents an important step forward as Viacom continues to make swift progress against our new strategic plan. By prioritizing efforts to work with the best, most versatile talent in the entertainment industry, we are better positioned to deliver must-watch content across our brands and platforms,” said Viacom CEO Bob Bakish.

“Tyler is a prolific creative force, and I’m excited that this collaboration will bring his signature humor and powerful storytelling to Viacom’s audiences while further cementing BET’s position as the leading home for bold, relevant African-American programming and scripted content,” Bakish said.

Under Bakish's predecessor, Viacom suffered from a talent drain as Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee and others left the company.

"Viacom has a rich tradition of reaching my audience through their TV, film and digital platforms and I am excited to partner with them,” said Perry. “I am eager to have one home where I can leverage all of their assets to tell my stories to an even wider audience. I have been very blessed to have worked with the incredible people at Lionsgate and OWN over the last few years and I look forward to continuing my work with them on a non-exclusive basis.”

Perry’s TV series have included Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, Meet the Browns, Love Thy Neighbor and The Haves and the Have Nots.

“I am delighted that we are deepening our longstanding relationship with Tyler,” said BET CEO Debra Lee. “BET co-funded Tyler’s very first feature film, we’ve aired his movies and many of his series with great success on our networks, and we’ve honored his tremendous talent with our signature awards. This partnership will allow us to work even more closely with him and bring more of his iconic content to our viewers.”


63,410 Posts
Discussion Starter #17,538
Washington/Technology Notes
Can the FCC really put the kibosh on robocalls?
By Mike Snyder, USA Today - Jul. 14, 2017

The Federal Communications Commission is trying to rally industry to its side to prevent robocalls, especially those seeming to come from a local number.

Robocalls and unwanted telemarketing calls are the biggest consumer gripe hurled at the FCC, which gets about 200,000 complaints annually about them. Nearly 15 billion robocalls were made in the U.S. during the first half of 2017, according to YouMail, which provides anti-robocall services.

But can the FCC really put a dent in robocalls when scammers and telemarketers constantly deploy new technologies to get to your landline and smartphone?

"Robocalls are the scourge for wireless customers, so the FCC has to lay down the rules, but FCC action alone cannot solve the problem," said Roger Entner, founder of Recon Analytics.

The FCC has started to slap big fines on the most egregious robocall firms. A more effective route to prevent calls before they hit consumers phones could involve telecom carriers and the tech companies working on systems and software to thwart these mass telemarketing firms.

On Thursday the agency took the first steps, beginning processes to get input from companies and individuals on possible standards for improved authentication of calls and identification of fraudulent spoofed ones, and the handling of reassigned phone numbers.

Figuring out which calls are faked could help prevent caller-ID spoofing or neighborhood spoofing. This is a common form of robocalls that use local area codes and the first three numbers of the recipient's own phone number to get people to answer. A database for reassigned phone numbers — that is, when a new phone subscriber gets a phone number that may have already been used — could help separate legitimate calls from frauds.

The agency will now collect public comment on these two notices of inquiry, which represent "additional, potentially potent lines of attack against illegal and unwanted robocalls," FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said.

In March, the FCC voted to give call providers more power to block illegitimate calls and began a rulemaking process to help fight robocalls. And last month the agency levied its largest fine ever of $120 million on a Florida-based robocall network, which the FCC says made nearly 100 million calls over the last three months of 2016.

The agency issued another fine Thursday of $2.88 million against New Mexico-based Dialing Services, which developed software used by clients to make more than 4.7 million robocalls to cell phones in three months. After being cited by the FCC, Dialing Services subsequently was responsible for more unauthorized robocalls, the agency said.

All of this is unlikely to completely solve the robocall problem, "but it will move things in the right direction," said Alex Quilici, CEO of YouMail, which has anti-robocall voicemail apps for consumer smartphones and systems for businesses.

If these technologies are implemented, carriers would be able to block calls coming from unassigned numbers and from numbers where calls do not typically originate from, such as corporate 800 numbers, he says. And a database for authenticating calls would also prevent spoofing, Quilici says. "These are all good things to try to stop bad guys from being able to make calls," he said. "It won't solve the problem, but at least it puts a dent in it."

The FCC action is important whether it results in new rules or serves as guidance for the industry to voluntarily combat the practice, says Chris Drake, chief technical officer at iconectiv, which is among companies developing industry standards that verify caller IDs to combat robocalls and illegitimate calls.

"There will need to be many tools because what will happen is these fraudsters, when they find out what is being stopped, will find another way to do it," Drake said. He expects iconectiv to file comments with FCC, as it did earlier this year.

That's true, Entner says, as spammers have already embarked on "the next frontier on robocalling," which delivers calls directly to your cell phone's voicemail. "The phone doesn’t even ring, but a voice mail shows up," he said.

"Some people are going to listen," Entner said, "and the marginal cost of doing this is so low that anybody (the robocallers) get is a win."


63,410 Posts
Discussion Starter #17,539
Business/Critics' Notes
Should Actors’ Contract Negotiations Be Public Like Athletes’?
By Kevin Lincoln, Josef Adalian, Kyle Buchanan, Jen Chaney, and Maria Elena Fernandez, Vulture.com (New York Magazine) - Jul. 14, 2017

Last week, the latest front opened in what you might call Hollywood’s Parity Wars. Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park left the CBS show Hawaii Five-O after reportedly seeking, and being denied, equal pay to their white co-stars, Scott Caan and Alex O’Loughlin. In doing so, they joined a growing group of women and actors of color who have spoken out against the entrenched pay disparity that exists in both television and film, including Natalie Portman, Hillary Swank, Amy Adams, Robin Wright, Taraji P. Henson, and many more.

At the same time the Hawaii Five-O boondoggle was boondoggling, an interesting process was happening: NBA free agency. A new concept — the $200 million club — began to take root in professional basketball: Two-time MVP Stephen Curry signed a contract that will pay him $201 million over the next five years to remain with the reigning champs, the Golden State Warriors, and then just days later, the All-Pro James Harden topped Curry’s record deal, with the Houston Rockets guaranteeing their star guard $228 million over the next six years.

What’s notable for an industry observer isn’t the size of these deals: It’s the fact that, like just about all sports contracts, they’re public knowledge. Anyone with internet access can determine with a Google search how much any of their favorite athletes make, and then they can compare this information across teams, leagues, and races. The reasons why these contracts are public knowledge is complicated — it has to do with league salary rules, including caps and luxury taxes, as well as the inherent value for athletes to be able to compare their earnings to each other — but it raises a fascinating question: What if salaries in TV and film were public as well? Could we avoid the disparities and injustices that seem to plague entertainment? Or is comparing athletes and actors apples and oranges, considering the hugely different nature of their respective businesses?

Jen Chaney: When it comes to the NBA, and other professional sports, too, the players’ unions allow that salary information to become public because, as you suggested, Kevin, it gives the players negotiating power. As a general rule, I think that kind of transparency is advantageous to what I’ll call “the workers” in any environment. I’ve written a little bit about this issue in the past, and I’ve been told by people in Hollywood that what actors are getting paid is not usually a secret to the people working on a particular film or TV show. That information gets shared among agents and managers for the same reason it gets shared with regard to sports figures: so the playing field is established and actors can advocate for a raise or walk away from a job if they feel it’s not paying them adequately. Emma Stone talked about this recently when she said some of her male co-stars have taken pay cuts so that she — who was being offered a lower fee — could have parity with them. She and her co-stars could not have done that if they hadn’t been aware of what everyone else was getting paid on those projects.

The value of having that information be more public is clear for the actors: Everything is laid out there on the table so they know who is getting what and can use that information to advocate for themselves without the need for any guessing games. (This may not be good news for agents since their ability to find out all this information would no longer be as valuable.) I also think it would be a good public service around issues akin to the Hawaii Five-O situation, where we can blatantly see patterns where people of color or women are not being paid at the same level. Transparency is crucial to addressing those problems.

What’s hard, though, is that the reasons why some actors get paid more than others are often vague at best. If you’re a player like Steph Curry, your stats and your draw as the star player on the Warriors provide data points that can be used in negotiation. If you work in, say, government, where all salaries are made public, there are specific salary ranges that apply at certain levels. Seniority works in your favor.

But all actors have are their last couple of quotes, i.e. what they were paid for their most recent projects and a perception of their appeal, which is just that: a perception. If an actor was in a movie, the box-office success of that film can be a data point. But if she was in a super-buzzy Netflix show, how does an actor demonstrate that it’s a big deal when Netflix doesn’t release viewership numbers? Show the studio all the tweets from people who loved her character? It’s tricky.

I’m still in favor of the kind of transparency you’re describing, which I think would have to be spearheaded and pushed for by the Screen Actors Guild. But I also think the way that actors’ salaries are determined is a much more ambiguous process, and that’s part of the problem that would need to be addressed, too.

Joe Adalian: I think Jen’s last point is key to this discussion: Actor paydays are determined by factors far less clear-cut than those of athletes. There are metrics in Hollywood, too, and in some parts of the industry, it is possible to tie salary directly to performance. If you’re a solo recording star, or part of a band where all members contribute equally, it’s pretty easy to negotiate a deal that gives you $2 for every digital download or sale of a CD. You sing, people pay, you get your cut. But TV (and movies) are different. They’re almost all ensembles of a sort, whether small (like Five-O’s four-person main crew) or massive (the small army of Orange Is the New Black regulars), and not every part of said ensemble is equal. And I don’t mean “not equal” in terms of perceived star power, though that’s also a fact of life in Hollywood.

I’m talking about the fact that even when there’s a core ensemble on a show, not every actor is asked or expected to carry the same creative weight. Someone may appear in every episode and take up roughly as much screen time, but from the point of view of the writers — and the networks paying for the show — that actor simply isn’t as crucial. In the case of Five-O, New York Times TV critic Mike Hale — a consistent viewer of the CBS drama— made the case that no matter how beloved Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park are among fans of the show, they simply haven’t been at the show’s core. “For better or worse, Mr. Kim’s and Ms. Park’s characters — Lt. Chin Ho Kelly and his cousin, Officer Kono Kalakaua — are definitively supporting characters,” Hale wrote. “They’re onscreen as much as the leads, and they get their own story lines. But the show is built around the bantering, bromantic, Lucy-and-Desi relationship between Steve and his sergeant, Danny (a.k.a., Danno) Williams (Mr. Caan).”

It’s this disparity that likely explains why CBS couldn’t bring itself to pay all four leads on Five-O the same amount of money. Salaries might not be public, but as Jen noted, agents are pretty darn good at figuring out who’s making what. Other agents would’ve found out, and they’d have used it as leverage the next time the co-stars of, say, NCIS: Los Angeles try to negotiate new deals. Adding another layer of transparency and making the salary figures public wouldn’t have changed CBS’s negotiating stance, not one bit.

Kyle Buchanan: I think the thing that might hinder that salary transparency in the movie world is that it’s no longer about earning a titanic upfront fee, as Jim Carrey did when he was paid $20 million for The Cable Guy. Nowadays, paychecks are derived from a complicated formula combining upfront pay, back-end deals (like a percentage of the film’s eventual box office), and sometimes an additional producer credit. And though some big stars used to make top quote even for mid-budget dramas, those movies are getting increasingly squeezed out of the marketplace, and the notion of a quote has become modular. Jennifer Lawrence is not charging Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! the same figure she charged Sony to co-star in Passengers.

The upside here can be vast for a star: If your movie is a hit and you took a reduced fee upfront in exchange for a big chunk of the back end, you could make many millions more than the traditional ceiling on upfront pay. However, I do think it turns salary transparency into something of a shell game: With so many variables that make up a paycheck, it’s harder to know where to look when comparing your salary to a co-star’s. Steve Carell and Emma Stone deserved equal pay on Battle of the Sexes, but did they negotiate as a team? Likely not, and if their contracts involved bonuses and back end that each star’s reps bargained for separately, there’s no guarantee they’ll earn the same amount when all is said and done.

Kevin Lincoln: I think one of the most interesting things you guys have touched on is the abstract quality of what actually makes an actor quote-unquote worth the money. It’s interesting: In sports, the matter of signing a player to a certain amount of money over a certain number of years is a process that comes with a great deal of uncertainty, risk management, and value judgement, but over time, a consensus opinion will form regarding whether that contract is good or bad — whether that player produced in accordance with the number of dollars they’re making, or whether they did not. And while there can be different opinions regarding what success means — for example, with the Golden State Warriors, it’s championship or bust — there’s still a clear metric by which it can be measured: winning.

Sports isn’t perfectly fair, not by a long shot — otherwise, Colin Kaepernick would be on a football team right now. But a reasonable valuation can be applied consistently across athletes’ performance. With actors, and the ultracomplicated ecosystems they’re a part of — which include directors, writers, crew, financiers, distributors, and a whole mess of unions — such a standard seems highly unlikely, especially when the precedent is obviously going to favor the people with more experience, access, and systemic power, a.k.a. white males. Do you think that’s true? Or is there a better way to handle this issue that has so far eluded the industry?

Maria Elena Fernandez: So very true. Salary negotiations for TV actors can seem completely arbitrary. What are the factors? Experience? Star power? Critical acclaim? How much does an Emmy nomination or win boost a salary? How are levels of raises established? There are no rules. And even white men aren’t immune from what can seem like really random decisions. Take Two and a Half Men. Chuck Lorre created that show with Charlie Sheen in mind. Even though there were two men in the title, and both men — Sheen and Jon Cryer — had an equal amount of screen time, Sheen was billed as the lead and came in with a higher salary, eventually making him the highest-paid actor on TV at $1.8 million an episode. During the course of the show, Sheen earned four Emmy nominations. Cryer, always considered a supporting player though his character was pivotal, won two Emmys and was nominated five other times. Even when Sheen imploded and was fired from the show, and Cryer was elevated to “lead” status, his highest salary on the show was $620,000. Ashton Kutcher, who was brought in to replace Sheen, earned $750,000 an episode. (Sheen then went on to star in an FX comedy, where he eventually made $2 million an episode.) Those at the top of the game are making so much money, are they going to be willing to play in a system where somehow it all becomes even and they give up this sense of status, privilege, and prestige? I doubt it.

JA: Maria is so right about just how random actors salaries can be in TV. Jeffrey Donovan makes around $175,000 per episode to star in Hulu’s Shut Eye, pulling down more coin than the per-episode fee Variety estimates Mandy Patinkin earns for Showtime’s hit Homeland ($150,000 per episode) or Scott Bakula makes for CBS’s NCIS: New Orleans. We don’t know exactly how many people watch Shut Eye, but it’s not exactly broken out as a buzz magnet, and odds are it’s almost certainly far less than the weekly tune-in for any show on CBS. But Hulu really wanted to be in business with Donovan and, before The Handmaid’s Tale, it was desperate to make a splash with a drama. Other networks were also said to be high on Donovan, making it easier for Hulu to give him what he wanted. And that, perhaps, is the real issue: Who’s making the decisions about which actors are “hot” and deserve that extra salary bump or piece of the back end? What sort of (possibly messed-up) notions do they have about what makes a star and who will put butts in seats? Fact is, TV networks (and streamers) are still dominated by white executives, despite some progress toward diversifying corporate suites. I think changing that fact would go a lot further toward closing the pay gap in Hollywood than publishing every actor’s salary.

JC: This is what these conversations always eventually circle back to: Who are the decision-makers, and are they the kinds of people who will be inclined to, for example, make Daniel Dae-Kim and Grace Parks the leads of their own series, thereby bumping up their salaries and making their quotes higher for whatever show or film offer may come next?

That’s the crux of what made that Hawaii Five-O issue so frustrating to so many. The fact that their characters may have been envisioned as supporting players invariably leads to the question: Well, why isn’t there more of an opportunity for them to be the leads? Ultimately, making salaries transparent isn’t something that should be done for the sake of public information. I see it as a one of many steps in the process toward ensuring that there’s more equity for people of all genders, races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations, and better representation onscreen as well. The two things are intertwined, which is why, as Joe noted, it’s so important to have producers and people at the executive level who really feel strongly about achieving those goals. You can be a white man and feel strongly about that, of course. But these issues will naturally resonate on a much deeper level with people who have dealt with them in their own lives and understand how important to see African-Americans, Asian-Americans, women, etc., taking center stage.

Television has been a little bit better on this front than movies; its landscape is so vast at this point that there’s bound to be better representation. But even on the TV side, the process of getting from greater inclusion to, say, Issa Rae getting paid Jeffrey Donovan money, is slow.


63,410 Posts
Discussion Starter #17,540
TV Notes (Cable)
‘The Expanse’: David Strathairn Cast In Key Role In Syfy Space Drama Series
By Dense Petski, Deadline.com - Jul. 14, 2017

David Strathairn has been tapped for a major recurring role in the upcoming third season of Syfy’s hit space drama The Expanse. Syfy is keeping details under wraps, but it’s described as a substantial character with a significant arc.

Based on the bestselling book series written by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck (under the pen name James S.A. Corey), The Expanse is set 200 years in the future and follows the case of a missing young woman who brings a hardened detective (Thomas Jane) and a rogue ship’s captain together in a race across the solar system to expose the greatest conspiracy in human history.

Strathairn, Oscar-nominated for his portrayal of famed broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow in Good Night, and Good Luck, also is known for his role as Dr. Lee Rosen in Syfy’s Alphas. He recently was cast opposite Peter Dinklage in Sacha Gervasi’s HBO movie My Dinner with Hervé and also appears in Gervasi’s upcoming film November Criminals, which will be released in November. His other recent TV credits include Amazon’s Z: The Beginning of Everything, NBC’s The Blacklist and Showtime’s Billions. He’s repped by ICM Partners and Madeline Ryan/Ryan Entertainment.

The third season of The Expanse, from Alcon Television Group, is filming in Toronto and for a 2018 premiere.

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