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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 secures Knives Out at $450 million
ALSO: The BBC builds £87 million Eastenders set. AND: Well, a lot more.
Netflix has Knives Out for its viewers
Knives Out was a fun murder mystery film from Rian Johnson (director of Looper and the best of the Star Wars movies, The Last Jedi). Daniel Craig starred as Detective Benoit Blanc, a Hercule Poirot type of murder-mystery figure. The mystery of Knives Out may have been solved, but Detective Blanc has other murder mysteries to solve.
Netflix are paying a cool $450 million for another two Knives Out films with both Rian Johnson and Daniel Craig returning. This is a smart investment for the streamer - it is buying known IP of a monster smash film. Netflix doesn’t have a lot of immediately recognisable franchise titles and buying into this gives the platform a leg-up while competing against the IP-driven competition who will bombarding audiences with known properties.
On April 2, 1978 the first episode of Dallas went to air. Next month will mark 30 years since its cancellation. Series star Patrick Duffy (seen since in Step By Step and as Scuzzlebutt’s left leg) looks back at his time on the show in a short interview for TV Insider:
Now understand that, that last episode of Dallas, in my opinion, went off the rails. It wasn’t even Dallas at that point. And I was not in favor of that episode, so I don’t know how that happened. But at the wrap party, we were still anticipating a follow-up year. The idea was we knew that JR didn’t actually shoot himself (which he does in the last moment of the last episode). Lenny would say, “The script is going to be that you come upstairs, he’s not dead. He shot the mirror.”
But when we went to the wrap party, dancing and singing and doing the thing, Leonard pulled me aside and just whispered, he said, “We’re being canceled. Just so you know.” So I scuttled over to my wife and my sons who always went to the wrap parties and I said, “Dad is out of work. Everybody stop spending money. Daddy’s out of work. So we’ve got to figure out what to do.” But it didn’t come as a shock. We had pretty much worn out the storylines and it was time. It was getting tired and it was time.
Back in 2006 Matt Reeves, still riding the success of the TV show Felicity, pitched an idea to ABC - a what-if drama about a man in three different realities. The viewer would see the decisions that would lead him down different life paths. Basically, Sliding Doors the movie.
Matt Reeves has since made some life choices that led to him making some very good Planet of The Apes movies, a new Batman movie (due next year), and he also made a much-better-than-people-credit-it-for remake of Let The Right One In called Let Me In. Oh, and he directed the huge success Cloverfield.
Leveraging that success, he has gotten his 2006 idea Ordinary Joe picked up by NBC for a series going forward in the next TV season. James Wolk (Mad Men) stars as the titular Joe.
Between 2006 and 2021, I feel like we’ve already seen enough alternate reality shows and movies for this not to seem like a particularly novel idea. The 2012 Jason Isaacs show Awake being a key example. But, cast James Wolk in any show and I’m very much there for it.
Dexter Fletcher’s career has certainly had some strange shifts and turns over the years. His late career success as a director has now taken him to helming The Offer, a TV series for Paramount+ about the production of The Godfather. Read: THR
If you’re a bit confused by all things Godzilla, this list of Godzilla movies that places them all in chronological order will not clear things up. Read: Collider
CBS has ordered a new series Ghosts, based on the BBC One series. Rose McIver from iZombie will star in the new show. Read: Variety
HBO Max has greenlit a remake of Head of The Class. Read: Variety
NBCUniversal is considering a plan to stop selling its movies to third-party streaming services and instead hold onto them for its own streamer Peacock. Read: Bloomberg
Vice will shut down the UK linear TV channel Vice, formerly known as VICELAND. Read: TBI
Anna Cathart is expected to lead a spin-off series of Netflix’s To All The Boys TV movie franchise. This will be an ongoing series. Read: Deadline
Celebrating Tex Avery
There’s a great read by Matt Prigge over at Polygon that looks at the career of animation legend Tex Avery.
Best known for his work on Bugs Bunny cartoons, Avery was a creative force who had a wonderfully darker view on the world. As Prigge says in the article: He’s not trying to play nice, like Disney, who he often mocked in his cartoons.
The Wolf cartoons tend to not get slipped into children’s cartoon programming. After all, they’re unambiguously thirsty. They’re also reminders that cartoons from the ’30s to the ’60s weren’t strictly kiddie fare. They played in movie theaters, before the features. They had to appeal to everyone. Only when they wound up on television, often as Saturday-morning-cartoon fodder, were classic Looney Tunes and the like rebranded as children’s entertainment.
But Avery more than most leaned toward the adult portion of the theatrical audience. The scholar Jane Gaines argues that Avery, who moonlit drawing training films for the U.S. Army Air Corp, made the Thirsty Wolf cartoons for sex-starved soldiers fighting overseas during World War II. (It also played gangbusters for sex-starved people back home.)
It seems like it has been in the works for years at this stage, but a CNN limited series examining the history of late night talk shows is finally set to air.
CNN will air The Story of Late Night in the US starting Sunday May 2.
There will also be a companion podcast hosted by the great Bill Carter. Behind the Desk: Story of Late Night debuts on April 22 in the various places one listens to podcasts. Bill Carter quite literally wrote the books on US late night, so his involvement here is greatly appreciated.
The Story of Late Night, which comes from Cream Productions, looks at late-night television’s most memorable moments over the past 60 years. It explores how the genre engaged with, adapted to and influenced society.
It features archival footage of late-night legends Johnny Carson, Jay Leno and David Letterman, alongside interviews with Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Chelsea Handler, Trevor Noah, Conan O’Brien, Seth Meyers, James Corden, Amber Ruffin, Desus & Mero, Whoopi Goldberg and W. Kamau Bell, as well as behind-the-scenes decision-makers including Lorne Michaels and Jeff Zucker.
One of the great frustrations with CNN’s original series is that they rarely get aired on CNN International, which means we might be waiting a while to see this series outside of the US. In Australia, local cable service Foxtel has a new exclusive deal with CNN - hopefully it includes on demand access to originals like this.
A shy teen with the power to turn invisible must get it under control to help defend his neighborhood, putting aside the pursuit of his artistic dream.
Amanda Seyfried stars in the new film Things Heard and Seen - it debuts on Netflix 30 April.
A Manhattan couple moves to a historic hamlet in the Hudson Valley and come to discover that their marriage has a sinister darkness, one that rivals their new home's history. Based on the acclaimed novel by Elizabeth Brundage.
What’s next? Tomorrow.
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