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.
Scarlett Johansson sues Disney
Black Widow wants to get paid!
When Warner Brothers announced that it would release its 2021 movie slate on HBO Max the same day it would release films into cinemas, it promised it would make creative participants financially 'whole'. That is to say that anyone working on the film whose payment was dependent on box office takings would not experience a shortfall.
Disney made no such promises of this. Black Widow was released to both cinemas and Disney+ on the same day. And so Black Widow star Scarlett Johannson has filed a $50 million lawsuit against the company.
The lawsuit claims that, by steering audiences to Disney+, the media conglomerate wanted to grow its subscriber base and boost its stock price. Yet that was at the expense of Johansson, whose compensation would “largely be based on box office receipts,” according to the lawsuit, while she “extracted a promise from Marvel that the release” of Black Widow would be a theatrical release.
Meanwhile Disney executives pay bonuses are tied to take-up of the direct-to-consumer streaming products.
I'd expect to see a settlement quickly over this. I can't imagine Disney would want to let this one stretch out. The optics aren't great. Even if Disney can argue quite rightly that the film wasn't released as a free add-on like HBO had been offering - Disney+ subscribers were still required to pay US$29.99 to view it.
Hawkeye gets a date
New Marvel Disney+ series Hawkeye, whose titular hero was last seen on screen saved from death by Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow character, will debut on the streamer Nov 24.
The new series has Jeremy Renner returning to the role he played un-memorably in a number of Marvel films alongside a new archer played by Hailee Steinfeld.
And the good news is that through some Internet trickery, Always Be Watching can announce it has an exclusive on the new Hawkeye trailer:
A Rickrolling milestone reached
On Wednesday the Rick Astley prankster classic Never Gonna Give You Up passed 1 billion views on YouTube.
Astonishingly, the song is the fourth song from the 80s to pass the magic 1 billion mark. It joins Sweet Child o’ Mine, Take on Me, and Billie Jean. I have never followed a link to any of those songs.
Astley has previously commented on the Rickrolling phenomenon — and he’s cool with it. “I think it’s just one of those odd things where something gets picked up and people run with it. That’s what’s brilliant about the internet,” the singer said in a 2008 interview with the L.A. Times.
Doctor Who needs a new Doctor. And showrunner.
Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall is leaving the show alongside the series star Jodie Whittaker. Both will say goodbye to the kids show with a special in 2022. A new showrunner and series star is yet to be announced.
Streamer Peacock to launch in the UK
As Peacock passes 54 million sign-ups in the US thanks to it's Olympics coverage, the streamer has announced a UK launch. The service will be made available to Sky subscription TV customers at no additional cost. Not mentioned is whether the product will be made available direct to consumers without a Sky subscription, but it seems like it may be available only via Sky.
The UK and Europe are the first step in a Peacock global roll-out:
The streaming service would arrive in its first international territories in the coming months, with Sky implementing the outlet at no cost to customers across its 20 million households in the UK and Europe. After its Sky debut, the company plans to roll it out globally via third-party distributors.
My mind immediately goes to Australia - currently streamer Stan has a content arrangement with NBCU for Peacock original series. Could we see a Peacock tab appear on Stan in the coming months? As local streamers seek a competitive edge in the local market, serving as the local Peacock affiliate would undoubtedly be highly sought after. The streamer that could really benefit from it is linear service Fetch TV, which has felt highly stagnant these past few years...
A Spanish-language adaptation of Aussie format No Activity is in the works for HBO Max in Spain. Is this a show that now has more adaptations than has ever had viewers? Read: C21
The delightful Sweet Tooth has officially been confirmed for a season 2 pickup by Netflix. Read: Variety
Bob is going to be okay
Yesterday's concern for Bob Odenkirk was warranted, but he's set to be okay. It was a heart-related incident.
Representatives for Odenkirk said in a statement, “We can confirm Bob is in stable condition after experiencing a heart-related incident. He and his family would like to express gratitude for the incredible doctors and nurses looking after him, as well as his cast, crew and producers who have stayed by his side. The Odenkirks would also like to thank everyone for the outpouring of well wishes and ask for their privacy at this time as Bob works on his recovery.”
Without Ron Pompeii, there would be no infomercial business. A true television pioneer, he launched his first infomercial ads in 1959 with a low-budget, minute-long black-and-white commercial for the Ronco Chop-o-Matic.
"But wait... there's more" and "As seen on TV" - that's the work of Ron Pompeii.
Remembered as much for their oddly charming unabashed hucksterism as for any actual product utility, the commercials often went viral before viral was a thing, turning advertising boasts into kitschy catchphrases. “Hey good lookin’, we’ll be back to pick you up later!” said a curly-haired teen cruising in the back of a convertible to promote the pre-karaoke machine known as Mr. Microphone.
Pompeii died this week in Los Angeles, aged 86. He went peacefully.
Brooklyn Nine Nine returns for its final season on August 12.
I Heart Arlo debuts August 27 on Netflix.
Billions returns for part 2 of its fifth season Sept 2.