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.
Luke Perry dead at 52. Plus: Inside the final Game of Thrones season, Apple execs interfering with its shows, and more!
Always Be Watching is curated by Dan Barrett who is feeling it this morning.
Oooof, this was difficult news to hear when I woke up this morning. Luke Perry died at age 52 following the stroke he suffered last week. The reason the death of Luke Perry hurts so much isn’t just because he was a beloved figure from my youth (I don’t feel like the passing of any of his co-stars from 90210 would have hurt the same way), but rather it feels like we failed Luke Perry as viewers.
Perry, moreso than the rest of that cast, had greater aspirations beyond being a celebrity heartthrob. He always seemed to be pushing himself to get more challenging roles where he could. And he leaves behind a decent body of work.
But, as an audience we were just never there for it. We should have celebrated him more while he was alive.
In the final season of Game of Thrones, expect to see a monstrous battle on screen. Production was so intense on it that it reportedly took three months to film.
Directing three of the final six episodes was David Nutter:
“The fans will not be let down,” says director David Nutter. “There are a lot of firsts in these episodes. There’s the funniest sequence I’ve ever shot on this show, the most emotional and compelling scene I’ve ever shot, and there’s one scene where there’s so many [major characters] together it feels like you’re watching a superhero movie.”
Interesting new FX series that has just entered pre-production: Gone Hollywood is a look at talent agents in the 1980s. Cool idea, but will they be able to capture the lavish excess of 80s agency-land on a TV budget?
Ted Griffin of Terriers-fame will write and direct the pilot. I am very much on board for this.
We all know that Fox News does the bidding of conservative politics in the US, but is it a propaganda network? The news network make it difficult not to label it as such, particularly with its evening opinion-driven programming. And how much more egregious has it become since Trump?
Jane Mayer writes:
Nothing has formalized the partnership between Fox and Trump more than the appointment, in July, 2018, of Bill Shine, the former co-president of Fox News, as director of communications and deputy chief of staff at the White House. Kristol says of Shine, “When I first met him, he was producing Hannity’s show at Fox, and the two were incredibly close.” Both come from white working-class families on Long Island, and they are godfathers to each other’s children, who refer to them as “Uncle Bill” and “Uncle Sean.” Another former colleague says, “They spend their vacations together.” A third recalls, “I was rarely in Shine’s office when Sean didn’t call. And I was in Shine’s office a lot. They talked all the time—many times a day.”
You often hear from talent working with Netflix that the reason they like working with the streaming giant is because of how hands-off the executives are. That hasn’t been the case with those working on Apple’s new series where Apple execs, including Tim Cook, have been incredibly hands-on. Demands have been made to keep shows as family friendly as possible, reducing meanness of characters, and ensuring positive depictions of technology.
“They are making big changes, firing and hiring new writers. There’s a lack of clarity on what they want,” the producer said. “A lot of the product is not as good as they hoped it to be,” he said.
Netflix are currently fighting a PR battle against Spielberg who is trying to make it harder for Netflix films to be Oscar-eligible.
There is this tweet, that’s difficult to argue against:
Nicely timed for their campaign is the release of the JC Chandor film Triple Frontier. Its stars have been out promoting the film and speaking favourably of Netflix along the way. Ben Affleck:
Affleck, on Today, said “the business is changing,” and reeled off past challenges to the film industry status quo such as sound, color and TV. “Movies survived and I think they will,” he said. “People are working to try to define how that’s going to be.”
New WarnerMedia CEO Bob Greenblatt has given his first interview after being made the boss.
Australian pay television company Foxtel is ramping up efforts on a new streaming product to maintain relevance against the rise of Netflix and local competitor Stan in the market. What the shape and form of the new product will be is yet to be revealed, but it seems likely to me that linear streaming channels will not be part of the offer.
If that is so, the question I have is this: Without streaming linear channels, what future is there digitally for news services in Australia? Will there be a way for any cablecutters/cablenevers to access services like Fox News, BBC World News, CNN, etc? In Australia we have never gotten MSNBC, which is a personal frustration.
Local news service Sky News will find a way to continue on fairly easily, whether that is via a dedicated app, or streamed via the various NewsCorp websites around the country.
Meanwhile, in the US there is talk that AT&T are planning to beef up CNN’s digital presence - so that may lead to a strengthening of its international online offering too. I actually quite like rolling news channels, so it would be a shame to see them start to vanish…