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.
Judge Judy kills off her show! Long live Judy Justice!
ALSO: RIP James Lipton. AND: FX on Hulu debuts
Inside The Actors Studio host James Lipton has died at the age of 93.
Actor. Writer. Producer.
He won his first professional acting job in the 1940s, when the live radio program “The Lone Ranger” cast him as the voice of Dan Reid, nephew of that Western’s intrepid title character. Still, as a young man, Mr. Lipton, shied away from immediately pursuing a career in theater, having associated the arts with his delinquent father. Instead, he enrolled at Wayne State University in Detroit determined to be a lawyer.
A stint in the Air Force cut those studies short, and he eventually headed to New York, where he was enrolled for a time at Columbia University. In need of an income, he sought out acting jobs.
He trained with the prominent acting instructor Stella Adler and, later, with Harold Clurman and Robert Lewis, but more often than not he appeared in failed productions or in limited engagements that could hardly catapult him to stardom.
There was one exception: For about a decade, until 1962, Mr. Lipton portrayed Dr. Dick Grant — the surgeon with the golden hands — on the soap opera “Guiding Light.”
Disney’s move into streaming took a big step forward yesterday with the launch of FX On Hulu. It’s a tab within its streaming platform Hulu that has on-demand access to a library of shows from basic cable channel FX along with shows commissioned by the team at FX exclusively for Hulu.
If you’re not following this closely, here’s why this is important:
Disney realised it needed to get involved with streaming, replacing the dying cable TV distribution model. It already owns a huge library of kids/family content along with some content for older viewers. To make the shift, it needed to compete at Netflix scale.
But it didn’t have enough content to do that. It needed to scale up. When the opportunity presented itself, it bought almost all of Murdoch’s Fox entertainment assets (ie everything except Fox News, the newspapers, and the Fox broadcast linear channel). Now it has a much bigger library and more units that are developing & broadcasting content.
The future of Disney is three key products: Disney+ (for families/kids), Hulu (for teens/adults), and ESPN (for sports).
To make Hulu work, it would not only have to ramp up the number of original shows that Hulu was producing itself, but it would also need to leverage the well-oiled production machine that is FX. Disney know that the biggest and buzziest titles it launches on Hulu will come from the team at FX.
The launch of FX on Hulu is instrumental to building up Hulu as a strong entertainment destination. Next year Disney will be starting to take out Hulu internationally and when it does, that FX content will be a key driver of subscriber take-up.
Library titles that are available via FX on Hulu today:
A Christmas Carol.
American Horror Story.
The Bastard Executioner.
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
What We Do in the Shadows
Sons of Anarchy
Man Seeking Woman
Sex, Drugs, & Rock ‘n Roll
You’re The Worst
Debuting later this week are comedies Dave and Breeders. The big, exclusive launch title is Devs. It launches on March 5 and is a mini-series directed by Alex Garland (Ex Machina) and stars Nick Offerman, Alison Pill, Sonoya Mizuno, and Zach Grenier.
Mark Ruffalo is in talks to appear in the She Hulk TV series as He Hulk (that’s the characters name, yes?).
Jim Carroll, Director of News and Current Affairs at SBS, will retire from his role on 31 August. I’ve only had a few interactions with Jim over the years - I met him first interviewing him for Mediaweek. When I worked at SBS, my paths only crossed with him a few times, but I’ll forever be thankful for the help he offered one day with an issue I was dealing with. I also used to really like that in meetings he’d sit off to the side on nearby furniture - it’s the same journo move Michael Keaton does in The Paper and Spotlight.
Often forgotten is that Snap Inc are producing Snapchat Originals on its instant message chat app.
For Snap, it means rethinking what TV on their platform looks like:
It’s tempting to define Snap Originals by comparing them with more familiar formats, but they’re not TV and they’re not movies chopped up into little pieces. They’re not YouTube videos, either, or half-baked snippets of other content spliced for Facebook. They share some qualities with TikTok, but that platform’s user-generated, ultra-short home-movie-style videos don’t have the money, production value, or long-arc storytelling of a Snap series. None of those mediums have radically rethought how episodic narratives can exist on mobile in the way Snapchat has. YouTube videos, for instance, can be of any length, and they’re made for a standard horizontal frame; Snap shows are designed for a vertical one, and they play without asking viewers to flip their phones sideways. This may seem minor, but in practice it has been an enormous shift, requiring the company to completely reconsider the directing and editing process.