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.
Felicity Huffman + Lori Loughlin charged over bribery claims! Batman fights the Ninja Turtles! And more Bandersnatch-like TV coming soon!
Always Be Watching is curated every day by Dan Barrett who today didn't have breakfast.
When I woke up this morning and saw a news alert on my phone saying Felicity Huffman was in custody, I rubbed my eyes vigorously. Wait… what?
The Sports Night/Desperate Housewives star has paid off a guy to get her daughter into a special SAT exam in which she would receive extra time and have her incorrect answers altered by an official. Apparently Huffman’s husband, William H Macy was also involved in the $15,000 payment, but has not been taken into custody.
Among the many other parents busted in the scheme was Full House/Summertime star Lori Loughlin who paid $500,000 alongside her husband Mossimo Giannulli (Yes, the owner of the Mossimo clothing brand) to get their two daughters into a USC crew team to ensure entrance to the University of Southern California - neither of the girls row crew.
While funny from the outset, it’s actually pretty serious. These are places that could and should have gone to students who actually put in the work.
“This case is about the widening corruption of elite college admissions through the steady application of wealth combined with fraud,” Lelling said during the press conference. “There can be no separate college admissions system for the wealthy, and there will not be a separate criminal justice system, either.”
There are reports that Marvel will produce a What If…? TV show for Disney+. For those of you who are too cool for comic books, What If…? is a ridiculous comic book series from years gone by in which alternate realities are depicted based on a central question. For example: What if Spider-Man’s powers also gave him 8 arms?
The new series, animated, will be based on the continuity established by the movie franchise.
Speaking of dorky comics-oddity, the Batman vs The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated film now has a trailer:
CBS has just bought out Lionsgate, taking full control of cable network Pop. This is the network that airs Schitt’s Creek and Flack in the US. The acquisition is actually pretty interesting in that it will give CBS an ad-supported cable network. But what the company plans to do with it is perhaps a little bit more interesting. This statement from the announcement caught my attention:
The company views the network “as another important outlet for CBS-produced content, both original series and secondary runs of off-network and library programming,” Nevins wrote.
“Off-network”? Surely that would likely mean a traditional cable TV home for its CBS All Access original shows like The Good Fight and Star Trek: Discovery, among others….
Is there fraudulent voting taking place in the Australian Logie awards? TV Tonight has cited reports of international TV fans voting. This is a problem for the ‘integrity’ *cough* of the Logies - it gives a leg up to shows that have international distribution.
TV Week has disputed the claims:
A TV Week spokesperson told TV Tonight, “Roy Morgan manages the verification of all votes for the TV Week Logie Awards and collectively we are confident the system is fair to all candidates.
“A detailed verification process is in place that eliminates invalid votes from the final tallies. The data verification process is much more complex than Googling and entering an address. Attempts to circumvent the rules do form part of the verification process, though details of the process are not made public.”
I’m going to be in Japan in a week and a half - I’ll give it a go while I’m there.
Maria Fountoura at Rolling Stone has a good Q&A with Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman. In addition to Friends, Kauffman is a co-creator of Dream On and Grace & Frankie. There’s nothing revelatory in the article, but it’s interesting to read her commenting on the current popularity of the show and why she isn’t interested in a reunion.
If you were mildly enthused by Bandersnatch - good news: There’s more interactive Netflix shows on the way.
As per Netflix’s VP of Product Todd Yellin speaking at an event in Mumbai:
“It’s a huge hit here in India, it’s a huge hit around the world, and we realized, wow, interactive storytelling is something we want to bet more on,” Yellin said. “We’re doubling down on that. So expect over the next year or two to see more interactive storytelling. And it won’t necessarily be science fiction, or it won’t necessarily be dark. It could be a wacky comedy. It could be a romance, where the audience gets to choose – should she go out with him or him.”
Also, Netflix plans to double the number of Indian productions next year, then double that again the year after.
I have interactive storytelling ideas, Todd. Call me.