A daily newsletter guide to what is happening on your screens - TV, streaming, movies, games, VR, AR
Dan Barrett is an industry commentator & TV critic. He does radio - 4BC & ABC GC and co-hosts the Screen Watching podcast. He's a former Mediaweek deputy editor and content creator for SBS.
30 Rock is coming back in the worst/best way
ALSO: Rove McManus embraces nudes. AND: TV showrunners speak out about cop shows.
30 Rock is coming back for one night only. Sort of.
And it’s also doing it in the worst/best way possible.
This is the description from The Hollywood Reporter:
The hourlong special, set for July 16, will showcase the scale of NBCUniversal's cable brands and was put together by the conglomerate's advertising side.
"At NBCUniversal, we’re excited to produce an upfront that reflects a new reality and celebrates our relationship with viewers and advertisers alike," said Linda Yaccarino, chairman, advertising & partnerships at NBCUniversal.
The primetime special, which sources say will also feature Yaccarino making her pitch…
For literally any other show in the history of mankind, this sounds like the worst thing ever. But, as part of the legacy of 30 Rock which put the value of TV network corporate-driven synergies at the heart of almost every plot, this sounds kind-of perfect.
Returning for the special: Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, Jack McBrayer, and more.
A fun bit of TV coming from SBS: a live 2-hour life drawing special. Not sure why Rove McManus is hosting this - pretty sure it would make way more sense to get someone who is actually known for the subject matter and/or in any way meets the SBS brief of inclusion.
Wait… no…. Maybe I am being too cynical.
Here’s Rove on the subject:
I studied a fine art degree, so I am no stranger to life drawing, but that was a long time ago, so I am more than a bit rusty. We all drew as kids, but I never stopped. I even managed to make a job of it illustrating my own kid’s books. Life Drawing Live gives everyone at home a chance to sharpen their pencils and have a go.
Actually, that’s fair enough.
This TV event sound very SBS. A quote from my old boss:
SBS Director of TV and Online Content, Marshall Heald said: “Whether you’re participating or spectating, Life Drawing Live will be instructive, inclusive and entertaining. SBS will explore the role of drawing and art in reflecting our culture. Life models will be drawn from a range of Australian experiences and backgrounds and artists will be a diverse group of enthusiastic amateurs with various skill levels.”
There’s a few interesting articles around today talking about cop shows.
Variety has a broad piece pooling together a number of quotes from showrunners. I was particularly interested in this from Cord Jefferson, one of the writers on the racially charged series Watchmen:
A large part of the problem, according to “Watchmen” writer Cord Jefferson, is that many cop shows fail to acknowledge or deal with the history of the police force in America and the context in which it exists to this day. The recent HBO series, which touched on the 1921 Greenwood Massacre in Tulsa, Okla., aimed to put things in perspective.
“We wanted to get at the fact that the police force, historically, has had a lot of white supremacists among its ranks,” Jefferson says. “We didn’t want to shy away from the fact that in many places in America, members of the police were also members of the Klan. There are absolutely many parts of America where that is still a problem today.”
[Pictured inset is Watchmen showrunner Damon Lindeloff as it segue’s to this…]
Similarly, The Hollywood Reporter has a roundtable chat with TV showrunners:
Damon Lindeloff - Watchmen
Michelle King - The Good Fight
Courtney Kemp - Power’s
Liz Tigelaar - Little Fire’s Everywhere
Alexander Woo - The Terror: Infamy
You can watch the roundtable HERE. The two quotes that I thought were most resonant:
A week ago, I had not heard the phrase "Defund the police"; now, I'm pushing out that phrase, I understand what it means. It's not as frightening to me as it first was. [So,] the first thing that we have to do, and it's going to sound so Pollyanna-ish and stupid and preachy, is educate ourselves. Like, the moral of the story of Watchmen was, I had not heard of the Tulsa massacre. I educated myself. And now it's our collective jobs to understand the history of policing in this country, and then hopefully that will inform our storytelling.
I just want to say that the two conversations that we're having are connected. If you start hiring more people of color in writers rooms, you will get more nuanced and differing portrayals of police. In other words, the hero cop situation that we have on TV is directly related to the lack of voices of color in the rooms. They're not different. I have never written a hero cop, never, not once. It was not required on The Good Wife in any way when we were there. (Laughs.) But also it just isn't something that I have ever done, and that's because my perspective is different. But again, they are connected ideas. If you don't bring people of color into your writers rooms, there's only one way that that's going to look.
I had a conversation recently with a very well-meaning friend, for whom the police are the good guys, and I'm like, "Well, do you understand why you see it that way? Do you understand where your positioning is that you have the luxury to see it that way?" I'm sorry. I'm going on. I'll stop.
Onto a different, but related news story:
Netflix’s woke credentials are pretty strong, but even they were reluctant to allow Eric Andre to open his new comedy special on Netflix with him dressed as a cop in New Orleans handing out drugs to people on the street.
“I’m like, no, guys!” Andre said. “This is the best time to do these jokes. This is what we need! We need to point out the absurdity of the police department and what a fucking hypocrisy and a disgrace it is. We need to point out police brutality. I am blessed that my stand-up special is coming out in this time.”
Some US cancellations and renewals today. Back for a third season is Manifest. And For Life returns for a second season. Toast: Indebted, Bluff City Limits, and Summerside. All three were kinda terrible. Also cancelled is The Beauty & The Baker, which I thought was kind of fun. Source: Dark Horizons
Palm Springs, the Sundance film that sparked a bidding way won by Hulu, now has a trailer from Hulu ahead of its July release:
Rest easy - The Bold & The Beautiful is back in production. Source: Variety
Kind-of sad news today that Hulu is discontinuing its VR app. The app has seemed like an after-thought to the company for some time and was always a little slow/clunky to use. But, I really liked the environments that they created to watch traditional 2D TV in. I’ve had a great time in the Hulu Don-Draper-esque apartment watching Hulu shows on the huge screen in there with the city skyline in the windows behind.
There is speculation that Hulu may not be entirely done with VR:
It’s uncertain whether Hulu’s virtual ambitions are gone for good however. The company may be preparing some other integration of its video streaming services into a larger app, such as Facebook’s upcoming Facebook Horizon social platform. We’ll leave any further speculation for the comments section though.
(Facebook Horizon is Facebook’s huge push into social VR - it’s essentially exactly where we all assumed Facebook would go with VR when it purchased Oculus. There’s a fun promotional video HERE.)
Yesterday in ABW you may have read stories about Disney/Star Wars fan events.
WarnerMedia is now getting in on the act with a dedicated online DC event. The horribly-named DC FanDome will be a 24 hour event dedicated to all things DC. The movies, the TV shows, the comics, the merchandise, and the Zack Snyder cuts will all be in the spotlight.
What I really like about this is that it isn’t being staged as a US event, but has a global focus. The event will be translated into 10 different languages: Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean and Spanish.