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 Freaks & Geeks star Jessica Campbell
ALSO: Lord of The Rings details emerge. AND: Happy 99th birthday Betty White
Freaks and Geeks star Jessica Campbell dead - age 38
Horrendous news to wake up to today. Jessica Campbell has been found dead after seeing patients at her practice where she worked as a naturopathic physician. A cause of death is unknown.
Campbell had very few screen credits, leaving acting early in what seemed to be a promising career.
Campbell was best known for two roles - she was a scene stealer in the 1999 film Election in her supporting role as Tammy Metzler. The role scored her an Independent Spirit Award nomination for best debut performance.
Her other role was as Amy Andrews in the series Freaks and Geeks in a memorable role as a love interest for Seth Rogan’s character, Ken. Appearing in just two episodes, Amy came out to her insensitive teenage boyfriend as intersex. Her role is one of the most beloved from the series run.
The official Amazon blurb for its Lord of The Rings prequel currently in production in New Zealand has been ‘leaked’. It’s the first indication of what the show will actually be about with very little detail released so far.
Amazon Studios’ forthcoming series brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness. Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.
There are few things as interesting to me as the role of cable TV news and the relationship it has with shaping politics. We see some of the impact here in Australia of the Murdoch-owned Sky News, but it is especially evident in the US with networks like Fox News, MSNBC, and now Newsmax. (Expect to see cable news play a bigger role in UK politcs soon with the launch of GB News and the Murdoch-owned News UK TV).
What is the future for US cable news post Trump presidency? TV has gotten so wild - is the genie out of the bottle? Can Fox News go back to complaining about the President wearing a tan suit and keep an audience engaged?
The business dealings of Biden’s son Hunter and his brother James have given rise to myriad Fox reports about a “Biden crime family,” and the network has become preoccupied with Biden’s age, with a “medical contributor” appearing on Tucker Carlson’s show to talk about atrial fibrillation and cognitive decline. What’s impossible to imagine, though, is how small-bore scandals can possibly satisfy an audience that now thinks an entire presidency has been stolen.
On Jan 17, The Golden Palace star Betty White will turn 99 years old. Entertainment Tonight asked what she’ll do to celebrate her birthday:
"What am I doing for my birthday?," she said. "Running a mile each morning has been curtailed by COVID, so I am working on getting The Pet Set re-released, and feeding the two ducks who come to visit me every day."
"The Pet Set" was White's show from the 1970s in which she and spotlighted animals and some of her fellow famous animal-loving friends.
It’s the social platform for film fans, letting them log, review, and share the movies they have watched. Letterboxd seems to have generated a lot of traction over the past few weeks with a lot of people signing up. This despite a pandemic where people can’t go to the cinema in many countries across the globe.
The pandemic has ravaged the movie industry, as theaters have remained mostly shuttered and high-profile would-be blockbusters like “Tenet” have drastically underperformed. But for Letterboxd, all that time at home has been a boon. “We love talking about movies,” said Gemma Gracewood, Letterboxd’s editor in chief. “And we’re talking even more about what we love lately because we’re all stuck indoors.”
The New York Times has a feature on the service. This means it’s hit the big time. Read: NYT
Podcast Hunting Ghislaine, about Jeffrey Epstein good-time buddy Ghislaine Maxwell, has been optioned to be adapted into a TV series. Read: Deadline
Australian TV production conference Screen Forever will move entirely online for 2021, answering the question in several ABW subscribers minds: Can I even get across the Queensland border for drinks in February? Read: TV Tonight
Saved By The Bell: The College Years star Dustin Diamond is in a Florida hospital. Source: TMZ
CNN will end its dedicated CNN Airport service on March 31. Read: Deadline
Here’s a list of the Apple TV+ shows worth watching. (I’d also add the film Hala) Read: TV Guide
Amazon is rumored to be set to buy the new Chris Pratt sci-fi film The Tomorrow War for a mere $200 million. Read: Variety
HBO’s Insecure will come to an end with season 5. Read: Deadline
To All The Boys: Always and Forever debuts on Netflix on Feb 12, finishing everyone’s favorite movie trilogy.
Studio Ghibli film Earwig and The Witch debuts on HBO Max on Feb 5. It’ll also play in cinemas
Judas and The Black Messiah is released into cinemas and HBO Max from Feb 12.
Owen Wilson film Bliss debuts on Prime Video on Feb 5.
The Night Caller (not Kolchak) debuts on Sundance Now Jan 19.
Doco More Than Miyagi will be available to buy/rent from digital outlets from Feb 5.
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