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.
The fall of Ellen DeGeneres?
ALSO: In Treatment is back! AND: Ewan McGregor gets back on a motorcycle.
The Washington Post has a guide on the impending downfall of Ellen DeGeneres. There’s blood in the water at the moment. WP takes us from a 2018 article in the New York Times, Jason Zinoman’s Ellen DeGeneres Is Not as Nice as You Think, to the current investigation into the workplace culture surrounding the show.
It’s not exactly a fall of Cosby proportions, but the current climate is hostile to anyone who has been a problem in the past.
*I’m joking. I met Larry once with my mum and he was beyond lovely to her. She was thrilled. He seems very nice.
On the 30th anniversary of the Disney animated film Ducktales The Movie: Treasure of The Lost Lamp, Collider takes a look back at how the film completely changed the course of Disney animation during a turbulent time of change for the division through the 80s.
Disney Television Animation was established by newly installed Disney CEO and chairman Michael Eisner as a way of expanding the brand and bringing high-quality, cost-effective animation to the small screen. Eisner and President and COO Frank Wells had been installed in the company earlier that year. Disney was in rough shape; it had been neglected since Walt’s death and had just survived (barely) a hostile takeover attempt by corporate raiders and given into a costly greenmail scheme. Eisner had to rejuvenate the brand and put it places it had never been before, like broadcast television.
In Treatment is coming back for a fourth season. The HBO series went off the air a decade ago, but is a perfect socially distant format with a small cast that can include just 1-2 patients on a couch with their therapist. It’s unknown whether Garbriel Byrne will be back to play the therapist.
The new series has just received a $6 million production incentive to film in California. Previously, it had filmed in New York.
Aussie pay TV provider Fetch has announced it’ll start rolling out a new user-interface in the coming months (when you get it will depend on what sort of Fetch box you have/where you got the box from).
While no doubt a big deal internally, watching the How-to video below that outlines the new features show that it isn’t a huge deal.
Generally, I like Fetch - I think it has a good selection of channels for viewers still interested in a linear experience. I also like that it has brought to Australia channels we haven’t received before (I spend a lot of my day with MSNBC on in the background).
I don’t really understand why the core Fetch service still has such an emphasis on the linear grid and moving backward/forward on the grid to watch shows on demand. Yes, it’s a point of difference from the paid services users can access through the box (probably the biggest benefit of Fetch is that it can be used to access Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Stan, Hayu, etc), but it is such an antiquated way of searching for content to watch. The on-demand sections on Fetch seems very sparse with every channel offering its own small library of shows available. Is this due to rights agreements, or just poor architecture?
US made for TV network Lifetime has just announced two of it’s Christmas TV movies - both seeking to increase the diversity seen on screen.
The Christmas Set-Up is its first to feature an LGBTQ story at its core:
Hugo, a New York corporate lawyer and his best friend Madelyn head to Milwaukee to spend the holidays with his mom Kate, who is also in charge of the local Christmas celebrations. Ever the matchmaker, Kate arranges for Hugo to run into Patrick, Hugo’s high school friend and secret crush, who has recently returned after a successful stint in Silicon Valley. As they enjoy the local holiday festivities together, Hugo and Patrick’s attraction to each other is undeniable and it looks as though Kate’s well-intentioned Santa-style matchmaking is a success. But as Hugo receives word of a big promotion requiring a move to London, he must decide what is most important to him.
A Sugar & Spice Holiday will feature a Chinese-American family:
Suzie, a rising young architect, returns to her small hometown in Maine for Christmas where, her Chinese American family runs the local Lobster Bar. Following the loss of her beloved grandmother who was a legendary baker in their community, Suzie is guilted into following in her grandmother’s footsteps by entering the local gingerbread house competition. Teaming up with an old high school friend Billy, who grew up to be a catch, Suzie must find the right recipes and mix of sugar and spice to win the competition and perhaps find some love in the process.
There’s a shake-up expected on MSNBC with its daytime line-up as efforts are made to break out talent both on-air and digitally. MTP Daily host Chuck Todd will have his show moved, but he’ll also be given an increased presence on streaming service Peacock and the streaming NBC News channel. Meanwhile Nicole Wallace’s show Deadline: White House will expand to two hours.
Part of this is an effort to increase the ad revenue generated by MSNBC. While it out-rates CNN, it has declined in revenue this year with fewer 25-54 viewers tuning in.
MSNBC’s 2020 ad revenue is seen falling to $672.4 million from $728.9 million in the previous year, according to market-research firm Kagan, part of S&P Global Marketing Intelligence. The network is seen capturing more advertising than CNN this year – $619.2 million – but less than Fox News Channel, which is predicted to take in more than $1.16 billion.
The problem getting younger viewers, I’d suggest, is that the channel doesn’t really do enough to court deeper conversation. 25-54 year-olds are used to in-depth chats via podcasts these days - Rolling news and opinion with short segments that feature the same guests spouting off similar 2-3 line talking points day after day doesn’t cut it.
Broadcasting icon Larry King was duped into recording an ‘interview’ that was then used for Chinese state propaganda.
It’s a deeply fascinating read:
An Israeli with designer clothes, a buzz cut and a long history of failed businesses and inflated credentials, Niv had known King for nearly a decade. King sometimes taped Niv’s promotional videos at the same Glendale, California, studio where the longtime television host filmed “Larry King Now” and “PoliticKING” for Ora Media, the digital TV network he started with his wife, Shawn. The crew resented the way Niv would stride into their homey, basic studio, bringing extra work for them. But he had ingratiated himself with King, in part by sending him lavish floral arrangements and other expensive gifts on Jewish holidays, King and others said.