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.
LoTR TV show news! Revisiting mid 00s cannibal fears! PLUS: Seinfeld at 30!
Always Be Watching is curated by Dan Barrett who has his own cannibal fears
Director J.A. Bayona will direct the first two episodes of the newLord of The Rings TV series for Amazon. Bayona has previously directed The Orphanage, The Impossible, A Monster Calls, the first two episodes of Penny Dreadful, and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
Quotes and catchphrases from TV shows were once an immediate shorthand for people to immediately identify with one another. A well-deployed Simpsons reference would signify the pop-cultural depth of a friend - the less obvious the reference, the more sophisticated the deployer.
But both movies and TV have gotten a lot less quotable over the past decade or so. Miles Klee argues that meme culture has replaced the place that quotes once had in our adoption of pop culture into our day-to-day.
In the mid 00s, Garry Linnell was Director of News and Current Affairs for Australia’s Nine Network. Yesterday he reminded us of how completely crazy Australian broadcast TV was during that time with his recollection of stopping a ‘news team’ from the rival Seven Network who were in West Papua to stage a rescue of a young boy who was in danger of being eaten by cannibals.
This really happened.
Seven intended to find Wawa, spirit him away from his small village, place him in a “safe’’ home and then trumpet how they had saved ‘The Boy 60 Minutes Left Behind’.
As the director of News and Current Affairs at Nine, I understood just how much was at stake. A large cooking pot was starting to boil somewhere in the lush jungles of West Papua and Wawa would require just a little seasoning before he was added to the menu.
This was how the Seven Network’s Today Tonight covered it back in 2006:
It’s 2019 and I find it just incredible to believe that anyone still smokes tobacco anymore. It’s a genuine surprise to me when I meet someone who reveals themselves to be a smoker, but admittedly, that seems to happen less and less with every passing year (or am I just meeting fewer new people? Probably both).
Netflix has announced that it will curb the number of on-screen depictions of smoking in its series - particularly on shows that have audiences 14 and under.
The biggest offender was Netflix’s second season of “Stranger Things” and, in response, Netflix says going forward all new shows it commissions with ratings of TV-14 or below will exclude smoking and e-cigarette use.
The same rule will apply for all films rated PG-13 or below, though exceptions will be made for “reasons of historical or factual accuracy”.
Speaking of Netflix, the streamer has just signed a ten-year lease on Pinewood’s Shepperton studios in the UK.
…over the past year more than 25,000 cast, crew and extras have worked on 40 Netflix productions across the UK. These include Sex Education in Wales, Outlaw King in Scotland and The Crown at Elstree Studios. That number is set to increase in 2019, with productions such as Jingle Jangle at Arborfield Studios, Cursed at Langley Studios and Julian Fellowes’ The English Game which recently started filming in Manchester.
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Two noteworthy tweets by Sandman author Neil Gaiman in the wake of yesterday’s news that his iconic comic book series is being adapted to series by Netflix:
Speaking of comics…
If you’re not a comics reader, you won’t be across this, but today saw the release of a comic book series based on Lois Lane. It’s a hard-hitting comic that reflects modern day news issues in the context of the world of Lois Lane. This is a woman who is the wife of Clark Kent/Superman and mother to his child… but is also one of the fiercest journalists working. The book is written by one of the best writers working in comics, Greg Rucka, and is a hugely entertaining read.
The Hollywood Reporter has a piece on the issue here, there’s a review of it over at ComicBook.com which goes a bit into the books interest in gendered power, and you can buy it digitally at Comixology (and read it via the Comixology app) or find it in your local comic book store.
SEINFELD @ 30
July 5 marks the 30th anniversary of the Seinfeld pilot airing in the US. Then titled The Seinfeld Chronicles.
It’s easy to forget just how much of a rule-breaking, revolutionary show Seinfeld was. Script structures, subject matter, and even production styles were wildly different to sitcoms on the air until then. The first episode I ever saw was The Carpark, which was incredibly bold with its single setting in a shopping centre carpark.