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.
Hank Azaria to quit voicing Apu
ALSO: Get ready for HBO's Betty
Breaking news this morning is that Disney chairman Bob Iger is stepping down. Iger will officially step down at the end of 2021 with theme park division head Bob Chapek taking over. Iger will remain with the company in a creative capacity.
Always Be Watching understands that Chapek got the gig as the most senior executive named Bob in the company. We’ve reached out for official comment.
During the week a new Australian series Stateless made its world debut at the Berlinale film festival. The show stars Cate Blanchett and Dominic West. It debuts this coming Sunday night on ABC. Announced late yesterday was the sale of the show to Netflix. It’ll debut globally on the streamer later this year.
A timely story five years in the making, the series follows four people caught up in an immigration system that severely impacts their lives, with each character confronting issues around protection and border control in a different way. Australia, in particular, has a troubling track record around immigration and its handling of refugees looking to enter the country.
You might be thinking: Come on - these are just a couple of footy documentaries. But no, a recent deal between Amazon Prime Video and Jam TV (the television arm of Collingwood President Eddie McGuire’s McGuire Media) has ticked off a whole bunch of people.
The series of docos are, on the face of it, pretty unexceptional. Six people from football clubs will be interviewed over the course of a entire season. Each team featured will offer interviews with the senior coach, president, chief executive, a senior player, a player in the middle of his career, and a junior player.
Sydney are one of several clubs who have shown interest, including Richmond, Carlton, West Coast, Gold Coast and GWS.
So, what’s the problem?
Fox Footy, the Foxtel subscription TV channel, has paid $1.3 billion over six years for a share of the broadcast rights and they feel they’ve been sidelined by the deal. It’s difficult to sell subscribers on the idea that Fox Footy is the home of AFL in Australia when there are billboards everywhere showing such an in-depth documentary series on Amazon.
Oh, and producer of the show Eddie Mcguire is also a well-paid commentator and face of Fox Footy.
Couple that with industry concern that an overseas tech player may come in and swoop up the rights to the game - a foundational block to Foxtel’s entire service in Australia.
It’s official: Hank Azaria will no longer voice Apu in The Simpsons.
As per the New York Times:
Azaria now says that he will no longer play Apu on “The Simpsons.” It is a choice he said he made for himself after a yearslong process of examining his own feelings and listening to others who explained how they had been hurt by Apu, who was for years the only depiction of an Indian person they saw on TV.
“Once I realized that that was the way this character was thought of, I just didn’t want to participate in it anymore,” Azaria told me in a recent interview. “It just didn’t feel right.”
And confirmation from the Producers:
“Apu is beloved worldwide. We love him too. Stay tuned.”
Which begs the question: Who are they getting to voice Apu? It feels right to me if they at least made an offer to Hari Kondabolu, the comedian whose documentary The Problem with Apu took this conversation mainstream.
Dropping today is the trailer for the new HBO youth dramedy Betty. It’s a show about New York-based skaters. The trailer has my attention
The show is being run by Crystal Moselle and Lesley Arfin (co-creator of Netflix show Love). It’s a spin-off from Moselle’s movie Skate Kitchen, which starred the same cast as Betty.
If you are curious, this is the trailer for Skate Kitchen:
As you might be aware, I have become passionate about dubbing foreign language TV shows and movies. It is where the industry and consumer expectation is headed. Anyone still clinging to the idea that a dub is culturally inferior needs to re-examine what it is that is actually important about being able to watch foreign language storytelling.
Indiewire has a smart look at the industry of creating quality dubs and subtitles. My biggest takeaway from the article: A good dub costs ten times the amount of creating quality subtitles.
Probably worth it for any streamer or broadcaster who actually wants people to finish watching shows on their platform:
…his clients have seen evidence that customers streaming a foreign language episodic series were more likely to finish the series if they chose dubbing over subtitling. While there is no conclusive, publicly available data that dubbing increases engagement, that most major streaming platforms are now treating a dub version as standard deliverable in many markets, including English speaking ones, speaks for itself.
Take a read (Or pay someone to audio record it and play it back to you): Indiewire
Are Seven West Media planning to stop producing children’s TV?
The Kerry Stokes controlled media company advised Communications Minister Paul Fletcher of the decision in a letter last week after posting a $66 million half year loss. It comes as commercial television networks confront a weak advertising market and rising competition from online streaming services.