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.
Why is there so much TV nowadays? ALSO: Netflix commission its biggest movie ever.
Always Be Watching is curated by Dan Barrett who never accepts less than his standard $20 million appearance fee.
Following news that Netflix bigwig Ted Sarandos had told his staff to be more strategic with spending, comes this story about a very expensive Netflix movie. Three of the biggest movie stars on the planet, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Gal Gadot, and Ryan Reynolds, will each pocket at least $20 million to appear in Red Notice.
The budget for “Red Notice” could hit $200 million when additional fees are taken into account, although one insider familiar with the project pegged the budget at roughly $160 million. On Tuesday, Johnson took to social media to thank Netflix for “making its largest commitment ever to a feature film.”
The great Rip Torn has died, aged 88. Despite a long and interesting career, I will never get past his performance as Artie on The Larry Sanders Show. It was a career defining performance for Torn and I loved him in that role so very much.
In real life, Torn was a character:
He lost his cool most notably in 1968, when he was filming “Maidstone,” an underground film written and directed by Mailer. Mailer was also the star, playing a writer running for president. Mr. Torn played his half brother. In a decidedly unscripted moment, and for reasons that have never been made precisely clear, Mr. Torn struck Mailer with a hammer on camera; Mailer responded by attacking Mr. Torn and biting his ear. The fight became the centerpiece of the film.
There’s a must-read in the New York Times today that explores why it is that there is so much TV content around right now. Summing up the current state of play on TV:
All of our screens are now TVs, and there is more TV to watch on them than ever. More dramas, more comedies, more thrillers, more fantasy-adventure series, more dating shows, more game shows, more cooking shows, more travel shows, more talk shows, more raunchy comedies, more experimental comedies, more family comedies, more comedy specials, more children’s cartoons, more adult cartoons, more limited series, more documentary series, more prestige dramas, more young-adult dramas, more prestige young-adult dramas — more, more, more.
There is SO MUCH TV. But why? Reporter Jonah Weiner speaks with each of the streaming companies programming teams to understand each streamers motivations in producing more content. Each company has a different need, but each company is finding the solution being to produce more. More! More! More!
If you are looking for a single answer as to why there is so much TV being produced right now, one of the simple takeaways is this:
Val Shimabukuro, Hulu’s content-scheduling manager, presented next. “When I schedule a show,” she explained, “I ask, Is this gonna be a subscription-acquisition driver, or is this gonna be a show to engage and retain our current subscribers?” These two categories translated, broadly speaking, to “tentpole series” and “smaller, niche shows,” with Shimabukuro trying as much as possible to steer audiences attracted by the former toward the latter.
There’s TV made to be watched. And there’s TV made to attract people to watch the other shows. It all contributes to the volume.
What is your favourite TV cliffhanger? Indiewire asked some TV critics and there’s a good mix of answers.
One finale not mentioned that ranks as one of my favourites was the season 2 finale of The X-Files. Mulder is, for the first time in the show, in a location where there is tangible proof of extra-terrestrial life as he is locked in a buried box car with a bunch of ET bodies… and then the box car is set on fire. Fade to black.
Great finale cliffhanger, but made even better by the fact that this was a show that throughout its second season was starting to generate so much viewer enthusiasm and attention around it. It was on its way to becoming a genuine zeitgeist hit when suddenly it drops a hugely compelling season ending cliffhanger. It only intensified interest in the show.