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.
$900 million buys a f#@k-tonne of South Park
Who knew people were still this into South Park?
A deal announced earlier today will see South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone paid $900 million over the next six years. The deal will have the two making six more cycles of South Park and 14 made-for-streaming movies. The first of these movies will be South Park related and will debut by the end of this year.
One would imagine the team at HBO Max are feeling pretty dirty about this announcement. In 2019 it licensed the entire South Park library for $500 million. While HBO Max will continue to get new episodes of the show (after airing on Comedy Central) for another two years, it won't get what people will actually be excited by: South Park movies.
What did you expect?
Yesterday Variety broke the news that Jeopardy! Executive Producer Mike Richards is closing negotiations to take over as the permanent host of the show.
Following the death of Alex Trebek late last year, the series has rotated a number of guest hosts through giving audiences the impression that they were auditions for the permanent host. Sony Television never explicitly said that was the case, but let the speculation run rampant.
LeVar Burton led his fans in a campaign to get a shot at guest-hosting, which he eventually did. They were understandably crushed when Burton didn't get the gig. Personally, I found Burton's campaigning a bit distasteful, but that might be my Irish Catholic upbringing where we are taught to never want anything.
Richards appointment isn't a done deal yet, but expect it to be announced. The appointment of an Executive Producer as a TV host sounds a bit funny, but understand that Richards has TV experience, having hosted game shows Divided and The Pyramid for the Sony Pictures-owned cable network GSN (Game Show Network). He also hosted reality shows High School Reunion and Beauty and the Geek.
For those upset that the show has hired yet another middle-aged white guy to take over as host, understand that it was always inevitable. Richards might not be the most exciting choice, but that's exactly why he was chosen. He won't be the focus of the show - the attention will be on the contestants (as has always been the mandate for the show). Also, a generic-looking white guy will ensure that the show has continuity. Nobody is switching off in middle America when Mike Richards appears on their screens. Sony knows that with a figure like Richards, the show will continue on for (likely) decades to come.
It didn't take long for the Mike Richards skeletons to start being pulled out of the closet:
ViacomCBS continue growth thanks to Paramount+ & Pluto TV
I try not to talk too much about quarterly results in this newsletter. They are fairly inconsequential to anyone who isn't a shareholder. But we are in interesting times with fierce competition between large content holders as the future of TV and cinemas are being determined by the rise and fall of these streaming platforms.
So, with that in mind, it is worth noting that Paramount+ saw an increase of 6.2 million subscribers this past quarter (Q2). That brings the streamer up to 42 million subscribers in the US, Canada, Latin America, and the Nordics. Next week the streamer launches in Australia (August 11). Two dozen more countries will launch next year.
Meanwhile free linear streamer Pluto TV now has 52 million monthly active users. Incredible.
Meanwhile, ViacomCBS are partnering with Sky to launch Paramount+ across Europe.
That assumption you have of Netflix being the #1 subscription streamer globally - not quite right. Media Partners Asia report that in Southeast Asia Disney+ is number one (with 6 million subs). Local streamer Viu just took second place (5.2 million subs), with Netflix coming up as third (4.8 million).
Little Voice was just cancelled by Apple TV+. It was a show, I promise. The series marks the first series cancellation by the new-ish streamer. Read: TV Insider
Sam Elliott, Faith Hill, and Tim McGraw will lead the new Paramount+ Yellowstone prequel series Yellowstone: 1883. Read: THR
The Suicide Squad has a post-credits sequence. It sets up the upcoming Peacemaker TV series. Read: The Wrap
In news to surprise nobody, Star Wars: The Bad Batch will be back for a second season on Disney+. Read: The Wrap
CNN fired three staffers who entered the CNN offices unvaccinated. Read: Variety
Bryan Brown and Greta Scacchi will star in new Aussie mystery drama Darby and Joan. It's being made by CJZ for Accorn TV. Read: if
Julia Stiles will lead Amazon Prime Video's first Canadian series The Lake. Read: Deadline
Xena co-star Renee O'Connor will appear alongside Lucy Lawless in an episode of Lawless' current series My Life is Murder. Read: TV Line
It should have just been a movie
One of the great frustrations I have as a viewer and critic is watching a series and it feels like it is in the wrong format. The idea would have been better served as a one-off mini-series or as a movie. Sometimes a movie feels more like a pilot presentation for an ongoing series.
Alison Herman at The Ringer takes a look at this, which is becoming more and more muddled as the worlds of TV and film blur thanks to streaming.
Perry Mason was once a case-of-the-week show; now, it’s more like case-of-the-season, a slowed-down procedural in lieu of just an origin story. There are also instances like Killing Eve, the spy drama that proved unable to sustain its cat-and-mouse game after the departure of creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and acknowledged as much three seasons too late. Killing Eve may not have been billed as a miniseries from the start, but it increasingly looks like it would have worked best as one in hindsight.
The long-awaited Y: The Last Man debuts on Sept 13 on FX On Hulu.
American Crime Story: Impeachment debuts on Showtime Sept 7.
Cobra Kai returns to Netflix for its fourth season in December.
Marlon Wayans: You Know What It Is debuts on HBO Max AUgust 19.vv
Diary of a Future President debuts its second season on Disney+ on August 18.
What's next? Tomorrow.
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