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.
Paint with Bob Ross
ALSO: Aussie guide to the US election. AND: Hrishikesh Hirway.
Bob Ross is now tourism
It’s not quite Dollywood, but fans of the late-painter Bob Ross can now visit The Bob Ross Experience in Muncie, Indiana. It’s a $1.2 million permanent exhibit and painting workshop series located in the city where Ross filmed his TV show from 1983 to 1994.
[If you don’t know what the deal is with Bob Ross, that’s understandable. His show The Art of Painting was kind-of an obscure TV show, but it has hit the zeitgeist in recent years with the show gaining a new fanbase of younger people watching via streaming platforms like Twitch and is now becoming a ubiquitous presence on other streaming platforms.]
So how did America’s television painter end up in a college town in the middle of the country? Before the early 1980s, it’s doubtful that Ross, who was born in Florida, could have placed Muncie on a map. But from 1983 until 1994, the painter visited the Midwest city four times a year to tape his show.
(He had filmed the first season of “The Joy of Painting” in a Washington, D.C. suburb, but the audio and video quality were poor. Ross, who traveled the Midwest teaching painting workshops, wanted to expand his audience beyond the East Coast. So when he advertised on Muncie’s public television station and his classes sold out, he suspected he had something special on his hands — and struck a deal to film the series here.)
You may just think about Quibi through the lens of founders Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg (if you ever think about Quibi at all - I appreciate it is unlikely), but spare a thought for the everyday staff who are now unemployed and looking for work during the pandemic.
Below-the-line workers on Quibi shows, which were all produced by outside production companies or studios, also expressed trepidation about reentering the job market mid-pandemic: “I’m now looking for my next show, but there might be a lot of people looking for their next show,” one crewmember scheduled to work on season two of Chrissy’s Court says — and the holidays are, traditionally, a “hard time to find work,” the person adds. (The crewmember, like so many who spoke to THR, does not yet know the fate of the show post-Quibi).
“The way I’ve seen it is that I’ve been really lucky to be employed on a Quibi show during the pandemic. I was one of the only people I know who was working,” an associate producer on Sexology With Shan Boodram says.
Tom Brueggemann at Indiewire argues that the news channel to watch today is Fox News. Read: Indiewire
Fox News will use tech from Fortnite’s Epic Games to build it’s on-screen graphics. Read: THR
The tech used at CBS News for election night will include a 3-D augmented reality representation of the Senate. Read: THR
Australian coverage of the US election
While ABW tries to be global in how it presents access to TV shows, let’s be honest - the bulk of readership is Australian. If you’re in the US, it isn’t difficult to find election coverage. Turn on any TV channel and you’re going to find something.
In Australia, interest in the US election is exceptionally high and there will be coverage on all of the local broadcasters.
Free to air Commercial networks Seven, Nine, and Ten will each have their own local presenters and experts offering analysis. As will the ABC. But also… does anyone really want that? Unless there’s insight being offered into Australia’s relationship with the elections, it is just layering in an additional filter. I say go to the source - just watch the American coverage. US coverage will have deeper insights,
It’s worth noting that while both Nine and Ten will have their local voices, they’ll also be taking coverage from overseas partners. Nine will carry CNN, while Ten (owned by ViacomCBS) will carry the CBS coverage. I’d expect to see more CNN and CBS on those channels than the media releases indicate.
I understand SBS will take the feed from the US ABC network from 11am.
Pay TV Local broadcaster Sky News will have Australian Sky News presenters live from the US. Not sure why. But that’ll run all day. Also worth noting that Sky News is on free-to-air in some regional areas across Australia.
Foxtel carries CNN and Fox News. So, pick your poison. CNN is usually my go-to for coverage of US elections. If you’re not a Foxtel subscriber, but you just want access to this, there’s the Foxtel Now streaming service. It has a 10-day free trial. The basic pack includes CNN, Fox News, BBC World, Bloomberg, and CNBC. It’s also Chromecast compatible, if you want it on your TV.
Fetch TV is another good option. It carries MSNBC, CNN, Bloomberg, BBC World, CNBC, France 24, Al Jazeera, and CNA (Channel News Asia). The Fetch TV Knowledge pack only costs $6 a month and has all of those channels and more. Annoyingly, there’s no way to just subscribe via your phone. But you can buy the Fetch TV Mini streaming box at most of the big electronics stores (JB Hifi, Harvey Norman, etc) for $169. I wouldn’t buy one just from this, but if you need a box to look after your Netflix, Stan, Amazon Video, etc, maybe it’s worth considering.
If you have a friend that has Fetch TV, you could always sign in with their box’s ID and watch via the Fetch TV phone app.
Streaming Ticker TV will have a local commentary team. But, again… why would you watch locals discussing what is coming in from overseas news services. Just watch the overseas news services. There’s 0% of a chance that what you’ll hear locally will have better information or perspective than the presenters and reporters who actually specialise in this.
Also, let’s be honest. We’re all adults here. If you want access to US news channels, there are less than legitimate options available with a quick Google search. Just be aware that these feeds may not be 100% reliable on a day with so much interest in watching the channels today.
Going behind Song Exploder
I’m fascinated by Song Exploder host Hrishikesh Hirway. You may have seen his recent Netflix series based on his popular podcast. He was also the producer and co-host of The West Wing Weekly podcast. He’s a bit gifted - every project he launches as somewhat of a passion project, but so often it happens to be the exact right project at the right time.
The New York Times has a lengthy feature story about him today.
Hirway’s approach to making new podcasts resembles a songwriter’s approach to writing new songs, driven more by instinct and the thirst for authentic self-expression than by the calculated strategies of a traditional media mogul. But his ultimate goal — for his day job to support his music making, rather than the other way around — has remained out of reach.
“Every time I take on a new job or new project, it’s one more step away from that goal,” he said. “I love being able to scratch all of these different parts of my brain, but when I’m working on music, it’s just a different kind of emotional response.”
One way to correct the balance would be to sell off the podcasts (Hirway says his company, of which he is the sole full-time employee, is profitable, though he declined to share revenue figures) or delegate his responsibilities to someone else. But that may be easier said than done.
In 2019, while developing the Netflix series with Neville, Hirway took a year off from hosting the “Song Exploder” podcast. He temporarily handed the reins to the musician Thao Nguyen, and though Hirway was still involved in booking and editing, some listeners assumed that he was gone for good. Their comments, and the discomfiting feeling they left in the pit of his stomach, were a reminder that sometimes the hardest part of making something is letting it go.
Jimmy Fallon will be stinking up The Tonight Show for more time to come with the host signing a contract extension. Not revealed is for how long. Read: THR
There’s a fantastic David Letterman article at Vulture where he talks about his Trump regrets and also his increasing comfort with performers who say Dave inspired them to do what they do. Read: Vulture
If you like action movies and/or J-Pop, check out HIGH&LOW on Netflix. I knew nothing about it until I read this article and now it is my everything. (Note: I still haven’t watched it, but it looks fab). Read: Polygon
Alan Sepinwall looks at how TV network shows are depicting COVID-19. Likens them to how networks dealt with Sept 11. Read: Rolling Stone
Join the newsletter to receive the latest updates in your inbox.