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.
Conan O'Brien and the death of cable TV.
ALSO: The Crown... fake? AND: What's a Nubia?
Conan cancelled. Conan reborn. Cable dead.
On the surface, this isn’t a huge deal. But dig slightly deeper and this is the most important news story of the year in TV-land (that isn’t related to the COVID shutdown).
US cable channel TBS is cancelling late night talk show Conan. The final episode will air in June 2021. Host of the show Conan O’Brien will then launch a new weekly variety show on streaming service HBO Max. In addition to the weekly show there will be regular specials (still seen on TBS) throughout the year with Conan travelling around the world, Conan Without Borders.
Big enough news. But - why so consequential? It’s what this move represents. WarnerMedia moving O’Brien from traditional cable exclusively to its streaming video platform is a tipping point. This is WarnerMedia actively telling audiences that HBO Max and streaming is the future of TV.
Don’t forget, O’Brien isn’t just any TV host - he is the longest-serving late night talk show host in America with generations of viewers growing up with him. Conan is only two years shy of the length of time Johnny Carson served as the host of The Tonight Show. Only Dave Letterman has a longer run.
Media commentators are looking at this news today and recognising it as a tipping point. With Conan heading to streaming, the last thing to look for… the final nail in the coffin of traditional cable… is sports. Particularly ESPN. Once major sports are available on a streaming-first basis, you may as well cut that cable because, really, what’s the point of keeping it.
Peter Morgan has hit back on criticisms that there are events in The Crown that never happened. Do these critics realise that this is a dramatised retelling of the story?
Peter Morgan (on the fourth season return of the show):
"I made up in my head -- whether it's right or wrong -- what we know is that Mountbatten was really responsible for taking Charles to one side at precisely this point and saying, 'Look, you know, enough already with playing the field. It's time you got married and it's time you provided an heir,'" Morgan said.
"I think everything that's in the letter that Mountbatten writes to Charles is what I really believe -- you know, based on everything I've read and people I've spoken to, that that represents his view.
"We will never know if it was put into a letter, and we will never know if Charles got that letter before or after Mountbatten's death but in this particular drama, this is how I decided to deal with it," he added.
Wowser Hugo Vickers, historian and author of The Crown Dissected:
"People actually do believe it because it is well filmed, lavishly produced, well acted with good actors. You can't just dismiss it as tabloid rubbish.
"In this particular series, every member of the royal family, in my view, comes out of it badly, except the Princess of Wales," he said. "It's totally one sided, it's totally against Prince Charles."
There’s a Wonder Girl TV show in the works. While there have been different incarnations of Wonder Girl at DC Comics over the years, this version is a new one based on an upcoming comic series. This version is Yara Flor, a Latina Dreamer who was born of an Amazonian Warrior and a Brazilian River God. Read: Deadline
What’s the DC Comics problem? The TV shows are focusing on diverse characters to create a greater sense of inclusionism. And that’s all good and well. But it also means that they need to create characters to do that because when you look at DC Comics it is slim pickings.
Earlier this month Marie Javins was appointed Editor in Chief at DC Comics. In the media release was this quote:
“As a young girl devouring comics of Wonder Woman, Nubia, and Supergirl, I never dreamed that decades later, I’d be at the helm of the mighty DC Comics.” said Javins.
I am a life-long DC Comics reader. I know Wonder Woman. I know Supergirl. Who the heck is Nubia? After some quick Wiki trawling, I found out that she’s the first black female superhero at DC Comics. But, let’s be honest: historical footnote aside, she’s a little-used character that exists in obscurity.
There’s getting to be a weird disconnect with the DC Comics TV shows and the comics. If the TV shows are needing to create entirely new characters to meet modern expectation… when do they stop being DC Comics TV shows?
Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood… the novelization
Quentin Tarantino has signed a two-book deal with HarperCollins imprint Harper. The first book will be a novelization of his film Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, which will expand the world of the movie with more detail. Unknown is whether the book will offer definitive evidence of whether Cliff Booth killed his wife.
(My theory still stands, which is that the wife never existed and it is a rumor that got out of hand, starting initially as a way to protect Cliff from being outed as a gay man.)
The book will be released as a paperback, ebook, and audio book. A deluxe hardcover will follow later.
Richard Schiff is now in hospital for COVID-19 treatment. Read: Variety
If you’re looking for a fun feature story deep-dive into the Animaniacs revival series, this will be what you’re looking for. Read: NYT
10 has dumped shitbag Pete Evans from its show I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. Good. But also, don’t congratulate 10 too quickly. He may not have been posting neo-nazi memes, but he was still publishing a lot of harmful trash prior and they still hired him for their show. Read: TV Tonight
Happy anniversary Pennywise
Let’s give a cheery Always Be Watching shoutout to beloved children’s entertainer Pennywise The Clown.
The mini-series It first went to air on 18 November 1990 - 30 years today.
Terrence Winter out at Gotham Central
The TV series spin-off/tie-in to the new film The Batman is about the cops in Gotham City. It was to be written by Terrance Winter (The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire), but will instead now be written by somebody else.