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.
Hundreds of staff: Fired.
ALSO: Fresh Prince of Bel-Air revived as a drama. AND: Fox Nation goes global.
Today’s ABW newsletter starts at a pretty bleak place: the firing of hundreds upon hundreds of industry staff. These aren’t names of people you have heard of before (though, a couple are). These are people who go to work each day just doing their jobs. Some of these people are doing administrative jobs, others are technicians with very specific skill-sets.
It’s worth noting that some of these closures were inevitable due to the changing shape and contracting nature of the industry. But COVID-19 has certainly accelerated things and it is terrible for anyone to find themselves out of work right now.
10 cuts local news production in Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth
Starting 14 September, the evening news will no longer be recorded in Brisbane, Adelaide, or Perth with the Brisbane and Perth news to be read by Sydney presenter Sandra Sully, while Melbourne’s Jennifer Keyte will anchor the Perth news.
News stories from the impacted cities will continue to be produced locally.
This impacts 10’s News, Operations and Technology departments. Jobs lost include on-air presenters, journalists, and operations staff, believed to total around 25.
Also gone are on-air presenters including: Kerri-Anne Kennerley, Natarsha Belling, Tim Bailey, and Mike Larkan.
Layoffs across WarnerMedia’s various divisions took place yesterday with 650 roles impacted. This includes staff from the Warner Bros film divisions, as well as HBO, and DC Comics (more on that in the next story).
The company is in the midst of an entire re-organisation as the company seeks to re-focus its attention on digital distribution and away from its previous emphasis on theatrical, cable television, and the wholesale TV business.
These layoffs are not due to the performance of HBO Max. But they are being done to better strengthen the business behind distribution channels like HBO Max.
It is also not known if staffers from The Ellen Show are included in the head-count.
As part of the WarnerMedia firings yesterday, senior editorial staff at DC Comics were let go. A new GM is being brought in who reportedly has a history in eSports. Also shuttered was the ambitious DC Universe site which sought to provide a destination for all of DC’s movies and TV content, with an archive of comics thrown in as a bonus feature.
All of this has happened less than a fortnight before DC hosts a 24-hour streaming video fan event featuring all the on-screen stars of DC movies and TV shows, along with key creative talent. To say there’s a black cloud over the DC Fandome event is an understatement.
The comic book community is freaked out by all of this. Word is that a lot of DC comic book titles will be cancelled and the company will have a new focus on selling books digitally, with collected editions still being sold in book stores.
I think people maybe need to look more broadly than that. Think of this more as the potential HBO Maxification of a comic book company. When parent company AT&T bought Time Warner Inc, then-CEO Randall Stephenson said: "We’re going to bring a fresh approach to how the media and entertainment industry works for consumers, content creators, distributors and advertisers.”
The emphasis was on bringing TV and movies online. And that made all the sense in the world. AT&T are a tech company and were interested in the value that such strong video content could bring to their pipes and data business. With DC still retaining 2/3 of their editorial staff (likely younger and less rusted on to the older ways of doing things), the company clearly isn’t giving up on comics. The hiring of an eSports guy indicates to me that they want to push their digital offer into new directions. It won’t just be a matter of selling digital versions of the paper comics online. Expect something more like a Netflix of Comics type of service.
Imagine actually paying for Fox News? Soon you can with Fox News taking its streaming platform Fox Nation international.
It launches in Mexico Aug. 20, then in Spain, Germany, and the UK on Sept. 17. It is expected to launch in 20 countries by the end of the year. Priced at $6.99 per month, the channel will live stream of Fox News’ linear channels and offer 20 on-demand shows.
This is the story all about how Morgan Cooper’s life got turned upside down. The filmmaker released a fake trailer for a gritty reboot of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Will Smith saw it, liked it, and is now pitching it around to streamers like HBO Max, Peacock, and Netflix as an ongoing drama series.
Bel-Air is described as an hourlong dramatic retelling of the beloved '90s sitcom that leans into the original premise of Will’s complicated journey from the streets of West Philadelphia to the gated mansions of Bel-Air. With a reimagined vision, Bel-Air will dive deeper into the inherent conflicts, emotions and biases of what it means to be a Black man in America today, while still delivering the swagger and fun nods to the original show.
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Goosebumps writer R.L. Stine has another popular series called Fear Street. Three stories from that are being adapted to film as a trilogy of sorts. These films were originally to be released by Disney theatrically, but thanks to a deal closed with Netflix, the films will be streaming in mid 2021.
Each film will be released a month apart on Netflix, branded as the “Summer of Fear”. I think the US summer, which is coming to a close this month, already owns that branding.
Perry Mason was a huge success for HBO. Viewership for the finale reached a series high, while viewers continued to find the show through its streaming platform. 9 million have watched the first episode. Source: Deadline
Critic Alan Sepinwall was fairly critical of the finale of Perry Mason. He’s not wrong. Read: Rolling Stone
Shonda Rhimes’ production company Shondaland is now producing podcasts. Expect the best of them to be adapted into TV series. Source: Deadline
Stephen Colbert has left his house. He’s now recording from the offices of the Ed Sullivan Theatre. Watch: YouTube
Vulture asks: Is Dave Chappelle filming a new Netflix special? He’s currently on the road with a bunch of other well-known comedians performing. I think it’d be pretty bold for Netflix to stream Louis CK’s sets from the tour… Source: Vulture
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