Underway at the moment is the Allen & Company conference in Sun Valley, Idaho. It takes place every year, but with the annual event skipped last year due to COVID, there's a greater intensity to the interest in it this year. The conference attracts a who's who of executives from the world's biggest media and tech companies as they discuss the future of their respective industries.

Like any conference, the scheduled events are not where the value of the conference lies. It is about networking. But, specifically at the Allen & Company conference, it is about the deals being struck.

The big questions floating around right now - is Shari Redstone looking for a buyer for ViacomCBS? Probably. Is David Zaslav from Discovery (soon to be the head of Warner Bros Discovery) ready for talks about buying NBC Universal from Comcast? Quite likely. Will Zaslav make friends with the about to be ousted WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar? They'll chat.

This is the real life Game of Thrones. And if that's too grand a title, it's a less witty Succession. Ultimately, whatever happens behind closed doors - whatever deals, whatever conversations - we won't really know about them. At least not for some time. Not until deals are done.

But these conversations are happening. And at stake is how we consume media globally, along with the jobs of hundreds, if not thousands of industry professionals who are about to see their jobs threatened by further (inevitable) media consolidation.

As for what’s next — “Clearly, the two companies everyone is focusing on are ViacomCBS and Comcast,” said Naveen Sarma, Senior Director of S&P Global Ratings.

Comcast execs have reiterated over the past month that it doesn’t need to do anything. “If you think of them as a cable company with media that’s an offering that helps support the distribution business, they don’t necessarily need scale to be able to do that,” agreed Sarma. “If they want to compete globally against Netflix or Disney, yes they need scale.”
“We’re Not Done Yet” – Discovery CEO David Zaslav At Sun Valley As Moguls Gather In Pared Down, Fully Vaccinated Deal Mode
ViacomCBS chair Shari Redstone in a pink cardigan and black backpack, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell in short sleeves, Discovery chief executive David Zaslav in dark shades and a signature vest and Co…

It's Pride & Prejudice - the reality dating show

New Peacock series Pride & Prejudice: An Experiment in Romance is basically The Bachelorette, but classy with bonnets and stuff.

Transported to a Regency-style England, a group of eligible hopeful suitors will have to win the heart of our heroine, and her court. Housed in a castle on the countryside, set on a beautiful backdrop of rolling hills, the heroine and suitors will experience that with which dreams are made of. From carriage rides and boat rides on the lake to archery and handwritten letters to communicate, they will be immersed in a time-traveling quest for love. In the end, our heroine and her suitors will discover if the ultimate romantic experience will find them true love.
Bridgerton Meets The Bachelor in New Dating Series Ordered at Peacock
Lady Whistledown is going to blow a gasket when she hears about this. Peacock is riding Netflix’s Bridgerton-esque coattails, ordering a Regency-style dating series

TeeVee Snacks

  • An interesting story will be the launch of Black Widow this weekend. It is expected to outperform F9 in the US (though it's international numbers will be softer as there isn't a release date set for China). The key difference between the release of Black Widow and F9 is that BW is getting a simultaneous release via Disney+. How much will that eat into ticket sales? Or, might Disney walk away with an even bigger haul with excited fans double-dipping? Read: Variety
  • Meanwhile, Boss Baby 2 on Peacock outperformed Cruella on Disney+ Premier. It was about 20-25 bucks cheaper though. Read: Deadline
  • Great news for fans of high quality, prestige TV - Netflix has already filmed Too Hot To Handle season 3. Read: Esquire
  • Bill Cosby is planning a five-part docuseries that will tell his life story. But, one would assume, it probably won't tell all of it. Good luck finding any network/streamer who will buy this. Read: TMZ
  • Details are starting to emerge about new anime series Blade Runner: Black Lotus (set in the Harrison Ford films universe). Read: Collider
  • What is the future of MGM now that Amazon owns it? Chairman Michael De Luca speaks. Read: NYT
  • How many people watch community TV in Australia? The numbers likely won't surprise you. Read: TV Tonight
  • Zack Snyder has revealed his next film for Netflix: Rebel Moon. Read: thefutoncritic

I never saw Dr Ross or Nurse Hathaway in a pool

Daytime soap General Hospital is unveiling a new set that it plans to use over the summer months - a rooftop pool. I guess it's on top of the hospital?

I'm not expecting many people reading Always Be Watching to be particularly interested in a new set for General Hospital, but it's worth thinking about how sets are constructed to best facilitate the day-to-day needs of a show. For example:

Most sets on soaps have secret alcoves or corners so that characters can eavesdrop when it’s time to reveal or learn information and this new hotspot is no exception. “If I had a dollar for each time that we read someone ‘listening from a place of concealment,’ we could be retired,” chuckles Evashchen. “We always work that into sets.”
First Look: ‘General Hospital’ Unveils New Pool Set at Metro Court Hotel Rooftop
Plus, Eden McCoy teases what could happen at the pool this summer between Joss and Cameron.

Dismissing fan reads

Fans are increasingly vocal about a trend they see - studios like Pixar are building queer themes into films, but when LGBTQ+ fans embrace them and project their own readings onto the films, the studios back away. Faefyx Collington at Polygon looks at the issue following a dismissal of fan readings about the Pixar film Luca.

And these explicit narratives are not a direct substitute for queer readings of other pieces. Cisgender, heterosexual people grow up being able to project themselves onto everyman characters in almost all media. Seeing themselves represented in this way is a part of the development and learning about their place in the world: on some level, it tells them that they are accepted. For LGBTQ+ folk to be able to do the same, it can be necessary to find space for queer reads of popular characters.
Luca may not be a gay narrative, but it’s absolutely a queer one
The director drew heavily from queer stories for drama — then shut down queer fans who related to Luca’s story

Trailer Park

The Kissing Booth 3 debuts on Netflix August 11.

It's the summer before Elle heads to college, and she's facing the hardest decision of her life: whether to move across the country with her dreamy boyfriend Noah or fulfill her lifelong promise to go to college with her BFF Lee. Whose heart will Elle break as The Kissing Booth trilogy comes to an end?

Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage debuts on HBO Max July 23.

McCartney 3,2,1 debuts on Hulu and Star July 16.

Paul McCartney sits down for a rare, in-depth, one on one with legendary producer Rick Rubin to discuss his groundbreaking work with The Beatles, the emblematic 70s arena rock of Wings and his 50 years and counting as a solo artist.

Resort To Love debuts July 29 on Netflix.

Christina Milian plays an aspiring singer on a journey to find herself in paradise - but what she actually finds is her ex-fiance (Jay Pharoah), his new bride (Christiani Pitts) and a hunky fling (Sinqua Walls) in the destination rom-com we all need right now.

Brisbane-based company Halfbrick have yet another Fruit Ninja game set for release - Fruit Ninja VR 2. This version will let you shoot bows and arrows at fruit. Just like real ninja.

I, uh, guess this is a trailer. Comedian Conner O'Malley is launching something called Endorphin Port. Find out more?