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.
Netflix and SAG Awards sitting in a tree...
ALSO: Holey Moley ratings sliiiiiide. AND: TV in the age of pandemy.
The ABW newsletter is a little late today due to catching a flight. As such - today’s newsletter is coming to you from sunny Brisbane, Australia. A city so nice that I’m the only person here wearing a mask.
Netflix dominates SAG nominations
The Screen Actors Guild today revealed its annual award nominations, with Netflix dominating.
On Thursday, the actors branch revealed the nominations for the 27th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, where Netflix again far outscored competitors, nabbing 17 mentions, compared to seven for HBO, five for Pop TV, and four for Hulu. The streamer’s display was particularly dominant with regards to the drama categories, where Netflix captured 11 of the 15 possible slots.
When you produce the volume of high profile content that Netflix does, it should be no surprise that they are landing so many noms. Especially during a time where a number of productions have delayed new seasons due to the pandemic with Netflix still having a strong amount of inventory waiting to be streamed.
TV showrunners in the US have had to ask a question: Will they incorporate the COVID-19 pandemic into their series storylines? The cases for and against basically come down to:
For: It would be disingenuous to not include storylines reflecting the pandemic. Against: Viewers are after entertainment that gets them away from their day-to-day lives - do they want to be entertained by the same problem they’re dealing with themselves?
Any TV show including the pandemic into storylines would also need to guess what the future would look like as they wrote episodes months ahead of the broadcast date. Here’s David Shore:
David Shore, the showrunner for ABC’s “The Good Doctor,” knew that scripts written in the summer wouldn’t air until the fall. “That’s a challenge you really don’t face normally,” he said, speaking by telephone. “Usually, when you’re writing a story, you know what the world’s going to look like.”
But then there are other concerns. Here’s sitcom ruler Chuck Lorre:
Most sitcoms, especially newcomer series, wrote around the pandemic, often with an eye toward reruns. “I’ve always been a believer in making comedies that do not carry a heavy time stamp,” Chuck Lorre, the creator of popular CBS comedies past and present (“The Big Bang Theory,” “Mom”), wrote in an email. “A reason to avoid pandemics and bell bottoms.”
Some TV professionals left wondering if they will work again
One of the difficulties of the TV business is that all the work is temporary. Productions usually last just a few months and then people need to jump to the next job. It’s a gig industry. While talent and (some) behind the scenes staff are paid well, most industry professionals are paid average wages and live average lives.
The Guardian spoke to four UK industry professionals who are struggling to find that next gig. Here’s director Tom McNie:
“You’re not meeting any producers, and the films aren’t being screened in person,” he said. “Festivals are struggling to move the social and networking elements of these events online, which is the bit vital to career development.”
Despite this, McNie says he remains positive about the future.
“In other parts of the world where the virus is under control, production remains open. If we can adapt to it over here, and make the virus less transmissible, I’m confident productions will return apace,” he said.
While Holey Moley wasn’t on TV last night, rest assured that it’ll be a big Friday night in with Seven repeating the first three nights back-to-back from 8:30pm.
The Equalizer: Off the assembly line?
Curious about the new Queen Latifah-led Equalizer remake? Mike Hale reviews it and suggests it’s a pretty standard CBS procedural drama:
The gender reversal of the action-figure protagonist doesn’t figure very prominently in the pilot, though McCall is now a single mother to a rebellious teenager. (Laya DeLeon Hayes gives the show some energy as the daughter, who’s bewildered by her mother’s sudden unemployment.)
The biggest change in the structure of the story, in keeping with current practice for network procedurals, is that McCall isn’t the lone wolf of the earlier versions. She lives with her daughter and aunt (Lorraine Toussaint, barely visible in the pilot) and has an ad hoc team consisting of a former agency sharpshooter (Liza Lapira) and her hacker husband (Adam Goldberg), who work in a grand basement lair recalling a much better CBS drama, “Person of Interest.”
Smartmatic, an election technology company, is suing Fox News and three of its anchors for $2.7 billion over claims it aided election fraud. Read: NYT
Golf course owner and former reality host Donald Trump quit his union SAG-AFTRA before they could fire him. Read: CNN
Apple TV+ - doing better than you think? Read: Vulture
Chris Albrecht will run Legendary’s entire TV arm, now branded Legendary Global. Read: Deadline
Amazon has signed a 2-year deal to stream Australian Swimming championship events globally on Prime Video. Read: Mumbrella
This is how you launch a new show in 2021: By making the first episodes available everywhere. New series The Equalizer and Clarice will debut in the US on Pluto TV repeated across multiple channels each day, on Amazon Prime Video, and on YouTube. Read: Deadline
Mattel is developing a movie based on Uno. Why not also add in a TV series as part of the Uno Extended Universe - the UnoEU? Read: Deadline
When the new Law & Order series debuts, Law & Order: Organized Crime will cross-over with star Christopher Meloni’s original series Law & Order: SVU. Read: Deadline
Pele debuts on Netflix Feb 23.
City of Ghosts debuts on Netflix on March 5.
A young girl who discovers stories around her city by communicating directly with the ghosts who inhabit it.
Dealer debuts on Netflix on March 10.
Franck, a music video director, infiltrates a rough neighbourhood in the South of France to film Tony, a charismatic but unpredictable drug gang leader wanting to break into the rap music scene. Using his camera to reveal the hidden, true face of drug dealing, Franck will get caught in a bloody gang war. A fast paced found footage thriller.
Behind Her Eyes debuts on Netflix on Feb 17.
A single mother enters a world of twisted mind games when she begins an affair with her psychiatrist boss while secretly befriending his mysterious wife.
Each and Every Day debuts on MTV Feb 16.
With the rise of teen suicide exacerbated by the pandemic, MTV Documentary Films' Each and Every Day from Peabody winning director Alexandra Shiva showcases the experiences of young people and the urgency of talking about mental health and getting help
What’s next? Tomorrow.
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