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.
RIP Buck Henry. PLUS: Party of Five is back!
Always Be Watching is written by Daniel Barrett
RIP Buck Henry. The TV and movie writer/director passed away at age 89. He was the co-creator of Get Smart and ran that show. He also wrote The Graduate and had a hand in so many great movies and TV shows that have shaped our viewing for decades.
Before you head off today to your job in the plastics industry, take a read of this great obit in the New York Times. Or watch Buck Henry in one of his many appearances as a host on Saturday Night Live (he’s in the scene as the guy from the dog rental company):
You can also listen to Buck Henry for almost two hours discussing his career here:
Twitter was abuzz yesterday over the news story that Warner Bros has signed a deal with Cinelytic to use its platform that enables the movie studio to analyse its data and deliver predictive analytics to help guide decision-making when choosing to greenlight a movie or not.
While people were freaked out at the idea that studios will be relying on metrics to decide whether to make movies or not, most of them were ignoring the simple truth: Movie studios do this already and have for decades. This software is replacing teams of staff members who crunch this data for studios. It is part of the general shift to software-driven automation that has already had a huge impact on the accountancy industry.
A French supermarket accidentally priced some big screen TV’s at €30.99 instead of €399. Police were brought in to calm the situation when customers wouldn’t leave the store when the store refused to honour the advertised price.
(Thanks to ABW subscriber Michael Meloni for tipping me off to this story)
The US ABC network has had some success with live television recently and is going to lean into that more through 2020 with at least one big live event each month.
What I don’t understand is:
How it has taken this long for a broadcast network to realise they have a unique point of difference to other video mediums.
Why they’re only looking at one live event each month. The late night talk shows, which are increasingly more news focused, suffer badly from not being able to talk about what has happened between 4:30pm when they tape and 11pm when they start airing. They should be live. Why not have more live sitcom tapings generally - inject some energy into them. TV needs more energy. More vitality. More danger.
"The strategy we've adopted [is to have] at least one monthly tentpole event. Some months we'll have more. Some are legacy parts of our history, some are new like Live in Front of a Studio Audience and The Little Mermaid," Burke said. "Eventizing franchises is part of that strategy. … It's a combination of looking for new properties that feel that they can thrive specifically on broadcast and cater to tens of millions of viewers."
I doubt that will supersede the emotional swells of a pilot in which red-eyed parents are forcibly pulled away from their sobbing children as music plays. The pilot for the new Party of Five isn't subtle and it's a small relief when subsequent episodes begin to move in slightly less manipulative directions (though if your memory is that the original series wasn't manipulative, your youthful crushes on Matthew Fox, Scott Wolf or Jennifer Love Hewitt may be clouding your hindsight). The immigration story doesn't go away, but the family's adjustments make room for love triangles, various teenage rebellions and financial drama aplenty. The more conventional and soapier parts of the series are a release valve, even if they also cause those arcs to feel much less adventurous than the material mined in Freeform shows like Switched at Birth or The Fosters.
Last month the Hallmark channel had a huge PR nightmare regarding the decision to pull an advertisement featuring a lesbian wedding from their airwaves. They faced a drubbing in the media. It’s perhaps not a surprise that they have cancelled their annual party for members of the Television Critics Association.
At a Television Critics Association panel today, FX delivered its annual report on the volume of TV shows being produced out of the US. It’s up again with 532 scripted series made each year.
Burt Ward will soon join his former co-star Adam West with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
What has he been up to in his later years…
Today he and his wife run Gentle Giants Products, a dog food company and dog rescue effort focused on super-sized canines. (The couple routinely have as many as 50 dogs living with them.)
The altruism isn’t accidental. Over the decades since “Batman,” Ward has come to a deep understanding of what his heroic alter ego has meant to generations of viewers.
“I had a gentleman come up to me and say, ‘I could have been on the other end of the law, but because I grew up watching ‘Batman,’ I got into law enforcement. Now I’ve been years with the FBI,’” he says of one recent interaction.
“I realized that we really had a great responsibility when we played those roles to try to be positive influences on people. And I never stopped doing that, whether it’s saving Gotham City or saving dogs.”
Quentin Tarantino has thanked The Golden Girls for being instrumental in enabling him to start his career.
The director appeared in an episode of the show as an Elvis impersonator and credits being able to live off the residual payments from the appearance while prepping his (sort-of) debut film Reservoir Dogs.