Movie Marketers Will Pick Up The Audience In Pieces For Months To Come

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October 24, 2020 8:30am

AMC

What a great time not to be a movie marketer. Theaters half-closed, with COVID-19 again rising. Pipeline dried up. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences asking, in a survey that was due last week, how the pandemic is affecting your craft. Or what’s left of it.

But movie promoters on the whole are an optimistic bunch. (The most optimistic I ever met was the late publicist Howard Brandy; by the lore, a little bit of Howard was designed into the discouragement-proof cartoon character Dudley Do-Right.)

So they are surely looking over the horizon, trying to figure out how films will be sold when the box office is finally more than just another headache for the county health department.

What’s already clear is that recovery will be a patch-work. It will occur in bits and pieces that fall into place, and sometimes fall out again as one zone or another drops back into the theater-free, coronavirus danger zone, as Riverside County did on Tuesday.

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And the jigsaw puzzle won’t just be a matter of geography, with New York suburbs in, but New York City out, Los Angeles County closed, but San Francisco or Atlanta or Miami open enough to make the film Academy’s list of six cities in which a release can qualify a picture for Oscar consideration.

Well into the future, audience demographics will also be another kind of crazy quilt.

Ethnic groups, for instance, may return to the movies at different rates or in proportions that don’t match the pre-virus patterns. That sort of disruption is virtually impossible to quantify in advance. But for months market analyst David A. Gross of Franchise Entertainment Research has cautioned that Black and Latino/Hispanic audiences—if indeed those populations have been particularly hard-hit by coronavirus—may be held back by a resulting, disproportionate economic burden.

For now, that’s an imponderable. But soon enough, an army of marketers will have to go looking for the Hispanics who were 24% of the audience for Avengers: Endgame or the African-Americans who bought 21% of The Lion King tickets. Is their disposable income intact? Does advertising in a faltering venue like sports television reach them, or are new approaches in order? Has the lockdown experience affected their tastes or behavior any differently than other groups?

Sort the audience by age, and potential differences in post-viral behavior may loom even larger. It’s a fair guess, for example, that moviegoers over the age of 60 will be slower to return than will younger viewers for whom the risks in exposure are generally less severe. I love movies. But I’m over 60, and I won’t be visiting even a half-filled theater as quickly as will my son, who is less than half my age.

If others feel the same, how deeply will that bite into the 15% audience share that currently comes from the 60-plus crowd? Will the erosion undercut the sophisticated, awards-type movies that often take root with older viewers? Have those viewers jumped to streaming, or are they just channel-hopping on the cable box, altogether lost to the market for new films?

On the opposite end of age spectrum, similar questions will affect the very young. They seem not to be particularly vulnerable to coronavirus. But parents are protective, and children are hard to control; so the 10% audience bloc between ages 2 and 11 probably won’t be staging a lot of birthday parties at the multiplex, especially, as in San Francisco, where concession sales are barred.

In fact, reopening will mean learning to sell in a market that behaves very differently from the one that closed last spring.

Eventually, executives and publicists will build new models and invent new methods (and maybe that Academy survey will even help). But for many months to come, they’ll be getting reacquainted with the audience, and picking it up in pieces.

President Donald Trump Says He Was Once Targeted By ‘Borat’s’ Sacha Baron Cohen As Ali G: WATCH

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October 24, 2020 8:25am

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HBO

Rudy Giuliani apparently wasn’t the only Borat prank target in the current administration. According to President Donald Trump, he was also once visited by the Kazakhstan journalist.

Speaking to reporters late on Friday, President Donald Trump was asked whether he had seen the footage involving his adviser Giuliani in the new film, The Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, which features comedian Sacha Baron Cohen and Maria Bakalova.

In the film, Giuliani is targeted for a phony interview by Bakalova, and is depicted in a compromising bedroom situation before Borat rushes to the rescue.

Asked about the scene, Trump said, “I don’t know what happened. But years ago, you know, he tried to scam me. And I was the only one who said no way. That’s a phony guy. And I don’t find him funny. I don’t know anything about him other than he tried to scam me. He came in as a BBC – British broadcasting anchor.”

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Trump was vague on the time line of the alleged meeting, leaving it “15 years ago.” The President concluded, “To me, he was a creep. Thank you all.”

The prank was perpetrated by Baron Cohen as another alter ego, Ali G for his HBO show back in 2003. Trump was among a bunch of venture capitalists Ali G pitched on a glove to use while eating ice cream. Here is the clip:

It was revealed earlier that a deleted scene from the new Borat film shows Bakalova actually visiting the White House. The Bulgarian actress was shown being guided into the White House by One America News Network’s Chanel Rion. She also attended a Trump fundraiser, with Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle onstage. The incident allegedly happened Sept. 20.

Some questioned why Bakalova was allowed into the White House press room without having to go through a security check or take a coronavirus test.

‘Happy Days,’ ‘Star Trek,’ ‘Seinfeld’: Why Cast Reunions Became One Of This Cycle’s Hottest Political Fundraising Trends

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October 24, 2020 7:09am

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Cast members of the Star Trek series in a recent Biden campaign fundraiser.

When the Wisconsin Democratic Party announced a cast reunion of Happy Days for this Sunday, all to raise money for the final sprint until election day, one member was noticeably absent: Scott Baio.

The Donald Trump supporter wrote on Twitter that the show was being used as a “political pawn.”

The result, though, was more attention for event, which in fundraising circles is just what is wanted in the final weeks of a presidential campaign, a time when donors are inundated with online appeals.

The last few weeks have seen a flood of reunion events, of casts of old TV shows and cult hit movies, giving a retro, Back to the Future feel to the political money race.

Just this coming weekend saw cast members from Seinfeld get back together for a Texas Democratic Party event on Friday, a Wet Hot American Summer get together for Joe Biden’s campaign on Saturday and the Happy Days event for Wisconsin Democrats on Sunday.

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The idea seemed to take off last month, when the Wisconsin Democratic Party hosted a cast reading of The Princess Bride, raising $4 million and drawing 100,000 donors. That was more than the party raised in all of 2016.

Ben Wikler, the chairman of the state party, said that someone on their team was friends with someone who then contacted Cary Elwes.

“Cary was very excited about the idea of getting the team back together, and went a step further and wanted to do a script read,” Wikler said. “This friend of a friends connection turned into a snowball moment.”

One fan of the movie who was not happy was Ted Cruz, who complained that “every Princess Bride fan who wants to see that perfect movie preserved from Hollywood politics makes it now.” Yet his attention only served to build interest in the event.

Wikler said that the reunion fundraisers have taken off “as soon as people saw what was possible in the quarantine era. Everyone is at home now so it is possible to get combinations of people together in a way that would have seemed like a fever dream.”

The party also has done reunions of the casts of Veep and Parks and Rec. Next week, they are planning a reunion of cast members of Superbad, featuring Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Seth Rogen, Judd Apatow, Bill Hader, Martha MacIssac, Greg Mottola and Evan Goldberg.

What has undoubtedly helped make things easier is Zoom, as organizers no longer have to juggle travel schedules and other arrangements. But there also a sense of urgency among participants. Wikler said that in many of the cases of their events, at least one cast member takes the lead in promoting the event.

Most of the reunion events have focused on the show themselves, with trivia and cast interviews, rather than spending extended periods of time on partisan politics. But they undoubtedly have the bandwagon effect, i.e. if the stars of your favorite shows want Trump out, wouldn’t you?

Back in 2008, Ron Howard starred in a Funny or Die video in which he reunited with Happy Days star Henry Winkler and The Andy Griffith Show star Andy Griffith to support Barack Obama’s campaign, with all of them going back into their old characters.

The Trump campaign has drawn on pop culture figures, too, and with the same kind of pushback. On Sunday the Beach Boys performed at a Trump fundraiser in Newport Beach. Original member Mike Love, a supporter of the president, owns a license to the name. But other members Brian Wilson and Al Jardine gave a statement to Variety making clear that they had nothing to do with the event.

As was the case with Baio, not all cast members agree with the politics of the rest of the cast, and some performers perhaps don’t want to get into the political fray.

Longtime Star Trek fan Pete Buttigieg was among the politicos who participated in the Biden campaign reunion and told the Deadline podcast that the event was somewhat of a dream come true.

“We’re talking about a childhood fantasy about being able to interact with these cast members,” he said. “At one point, there was a cast member, a relatively obscure character from Next Generation that comes back in the more recent series Picard, and I realized that I could reach into my closet and find the old action figure I had of this character. So I was geeking out in a huge way.”

So were others. “We were all absolutely schooled by Stacey Abrams,” Buttigieg said. “She is next level.”

Bill Maher Rails At Voter Suppression; Says Rudy Giuliani “Gets To Eat The Flies That Land On Mike Pence’s Head”

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October 23, 2020 9:26pm

Bill Maher Friday compared Democrats trying to vote to an obstacle course competition show “where a contestant has to get across a terrain of giant bouncy balls and slippery balance beams and swing on frigging ropes like Tarzan.”

“It occurred to me while watching this, watching Ricardo lose his grip on a foam roller, that this is exactly what our voting systems has turned into. It’s American Ninja — Democracy Edition… Try to move forward without getting knocked off the voter rolls!” said the host of HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher.

“For people who say both parties are basically the same, voter suppression is the starkest example that’s not true. This is 100% a Republican thing. They know their policies aren’t as popular, so they catch up with an effective, time-tested political tactic called cheating. I can’t make you vote for me but maybe I can keep you from voting for the other guy.” He showcased Texas, with only one early-voting ballot box for 2.7 million registered voters in Harris County, home of Houston.

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Antsy as Nov. 3 looms, Maher revisited electors, which also worry him, specifically as Americans recently learned some states don’t actually require electors to support the candidate who wins the popular vote. He pressed guest Ben Sheehan, author of OMG WTF Does the Constitution Actually Say? for clarity. Electors declare by Dec. 8. so things should be clear by the 9th, Sheehan predicted, hopefully.

Maher wondered how Americans could force Trump to go if he loses and won’t. “Do you think that American citizens are capable of a general strike? Like they have in France?.. When I can’t get a baguette.”

Rudy Giuliani — most recently seen “tucking in his shirt” on a bed in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm and, just before that trying to drum up a new Biden conspiracy — got dinged. “Because that’s who you want looking into high-tech corruption in the former Soviet Union. Someone who can get fooled by Borat?”

Giuliani “claims he works for Trump for free,” said Maher, “never takes any money. His only compensation is he gets to eat the flies that land on Mike Pence’s head.”

Swerving from politics for a few, Maher chatted virtually with Matthew McConaughey about the actor’s new memoir Greenlights. McConaughey had to forgo movie offers for 20 months — including one for $14.5 million he wouldn’t name but said never got made — as a Hollywood exile to finally land non rom-com roles where he wasn’t shirtless on the beach. After disappearing, “I became the new, good idea,” he said.

Arlo Guthrie Retires – Original Woodstock Performer’s ‘Alice’s Restaurant’ Song Inspired Film

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October 23, 2020 8:45pm

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Singer-songwriter Arlo Guthrie has announced on Facebook that he is retiring after a 50-year career of performing and acting.

Guthrie said ill health caused by a series of strokes led him to acknowledge that he was no longer up for the road. The pandemic and its cancellations also played a part in his decision to hang things up.

His “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” song, commonly referred to as “Alice’s Restaurant,” is a talking blues song that was released as the title track to his 1967 debut album. The song relates his tale of being arrested and convicted of dumping trash illegally, a crime which later saw him rejected by his draft board because of his criminal record. The title is a reference to a restaurant owned by Guthrie’s friends and played no role in the story.

The song served as the inspiration for the 1968 comedy film by Arthur Penn starring Guthrie as himself, with Pat Quinn as Alice Brock and James Broderick as Ray Brock.

The song was selected in 2017 for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress, which honors works as being “culturally, historically, or artistically significant.”

Guthrie, the son of folk singer Woody Guthrie, appeared at the original Woodstock and later was at the 2015 version, the only original performer at the 50th anniversary held in 2019.

He was a four-time Grammy nominee and won a Grammy in 1987 for Best Contemporary Folk Recording for his “Tribute to Steve Goodman.”

NXIVM Sex Cult Leader Keith Raniere Talks To NBC News, Proclaims “I Am Innocent”

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October 23, 2020 7:09pm

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In this April 13, 2018 courtroom sketch, Keith Raniere, center, leader of the secretive group NXIVM, attends a hearing at court in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (Elizabeth Williams via AP, File)
AP

Keith Raniere, the leader of the alleged sex cult NXIVM, has given an interview which aired on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt tonight and will also be featured on the network’s Dateline.

In the interview, Raniere denies his convictions for sex trafficking, racketeering and possession of child pornography. Raniere said he was the victim of unethical prosecution in the interview. He asked for a new trial, but was denied Friday by a judge. He will be sentenced on Tuesday and could face life in prison.

The activities of NVXIM was captured by the documentary series The Vow, which is coming back in 2021 for a second season on HBO. Directors and exec producers Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, to continue to the story of the NXIVM cult and its top leadership.

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Raniere admitted to NBC interviewer Frank Parlato and Dateline NBC that he was the leader of NXIVM, which allegedly kept women as sex prisoners. Parlato had been a spokesman for the group, ultimately exposing its practices. Parlato faces his own charges on tax discrepancies and other issues. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Raniere said federal prosecutors “scared away witnesses” who could have helped with his defense.

“This is a horrible tragedy with many, many people being hurt,” Reniere said. “There is a horrible injustice here. And whether you think I’m the devil or not, the justice process has to be examined.”

Along the way, Raniere and NXIVM ensnared several prominent people, including Smallville star Allison Mack, president Nancy Salzman, her daughter Lauren Salzman, bookkeeper Kathy Russell and Seagram liquor heiress Claire Bronfman. All have pleaded guilty to various charges.

 “You know, one of the things that’s most important in our country is the justice system,” Raniere said in the interview. He added, “Both the devil and a saint should be able to get the exact same treatment under our justice system.”

Despite his pleas of innocence, Raniere said he was “sorry and pained” for his role in the organization.

“I apologize for my participation in all of this– this pain and suffering,” he said. “I’ve clearly participated. I’ve been the leader of the community. And it has come to this. Even if it is by oppression, I am absolutely sorry and pained. This is a horrible situation.”

Disneyland To Reopen More Stores Despite Governor Gavin Newsom’s Refusal On Theme Parks

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October 23, 2020 2:03pm

Kirby Lee via AP

Disney officials on Friday announced they will reopen stores and restaurants in the Disney California Adventure park starting in November, despite the continued closure of theme parks due to reopening restrictions put in place by Governor Gavin Newsom.

Theme park executives from Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, Legoland and the company that operates Knott’s Berry Farm came together on Wednesday to decry what they see as an overly-burdensome edict handed down by the State of California and Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday. Officials say the state guidelines for reopening make it nearly impossible for them to reopen. Some hinted at legal action.

On Friday, Newsom participated in an hourlong news conference and did not once mention the state’s recent coronavirus spike or the theme park issue.

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The reopening of businesses along Buena Vista Street, the main drag at the opening of California Adventure, is a sort of expansion of Downtown Disney businesses, which reopened in July.

“It could show how they could reopen the parks,” said Mike Lyster, a spokesman for Anaheim. “We welcome this plan to expand.”

The social distancing and other measures taken at Downtown Disney “shows how you can safely and responsibly open the park,” Lyster said. “This is another example of that.”

Disney has clinicians from Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian who check temperatures of guests at Downtown Disney, and if there is an indication of fever, they take them into a tent to let them cool down and check the temperature again, Lyster said. If the guest continues to show a high temperature, then they counsel them on symptoms of COVID-19 and recommend they talk to a doctor, he said.

Orange County CEO Frank Kim said that despite the theme park’s closure, this expansion plan is acceptable.

“It’s not a gray area — it is permitted,” Kim said.

Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park has done something similar, opening up the theme park for just shopping as rides and other live entertainment remains shut down, Kim noted.

“Knott’s Berry Farm consulted us before and we gave them some guidance on it, and I think Disney is doing something very similar,” Kim said.

“You can treat it like an outdoor mall, and that is not a gray area. What you can’t do is have live entertainment and large crowds. But if you treat it like an outdoor shopping venue, I think you can do it.”

The stores to reopen are Elias & Co., Julius Katz & Sons, Kingswell Camera Shop, and the eateries to reopen are Trolley Treats, Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe, Carthay Circle Lounge and Smokejumpers Grill, according to Disney.

City News Service contributed to this report.

YouTube Sets ‘Justin Bieber: Next Chapter’ Special Following ‘Seasons’ Success – Watch The Trailer

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October 23, 2020 2:10pm

YouTube Originals

YouTube Originals said Friday that a new one-off documentary special, Justin Bieber: Next Chapter, will launch on the platform October 30. The 30-minute special follows the success of YouTube’s 10-episode original docuseries Justin Bieber: Seasons, the biggest YouTube Originals debut to date with more than 32 million views in its first seven days.

The newly announced special follows Bieber — whose just released two big singles in “Holy” with Chance the Rapper and “Lonely” with Benny Blanco, and just performed them on SNL — for an exclusive look at his life today following the docuseries, which debuted in January and chronicled his life during the making of his latest album of the same name.

Changes, his fifth studio album, debuted at No. 1 on the U.S. album chart when it was released in February.

The new all-access footage hinted at in the trailer (see it below0 includes life in the quarantine and candid reflections on his faith and his success.

Justin Bieber: Seasons director Michael D. Ratner returns to helm the special and he executive produces via his OBB Pictures with Scooter Braun, Allison Kaye and Scott Manson from SB Projects. Scott Ratner and Kfir Goldberg also serve as executive producers for OBB Pictures. Bieber Time Films is also a producer.

YouTube Originals’ Alex Piper, Head of Unscripted, and Cara Casey, Development Lead, oversee Justin Bieber: Next Chapter for YouTube.

Here’s a trailer:

 

Sacha Baron Cohen Slaps Back At Rudolph Giuliani Denial: “He Did What He Did”

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October 23, 2020 1:51pm

Sacha Baron Cohen responded to Rudolph Giuliani’s denial of any inappropriate behavior allegedly caught in that hand-in-his-pants scene from the new Borat movie: “He did what he did.”

Baron Cohen, who created and plays the title character in the new Borat Subsequent Moviefilm on Amazon Prime, appeared with costar Maria Bakalova on ABC’s Good Morning America today, and swatted back at Giuliani’s claim that the scene is “a complete fabrication” and Baron Cohen a “stone-cold liar.”

“If the president’s lawyer found what he did there appropriate behavior, then heaven knows what he’s done with other female journalists in hotel rooms,” said Baron Cohen. “I just urge everyone to watch the movie. It is what it is. He did what he did. And make your own mind up. It was pretty clear to us.”

The scene in question shows Giuliani talking to actress Bakalova, who is in character as Borat’s 15-year-old daughter Tutur. The character is an aspiring journalist who interviews the former NYC mayor and is invited by him to his hotel suite to continue the chat. At one point Giuliani leans back on the hotel bed and puts his hand down his pants. Baron Cohen as Borat then bursts into the room and shouts, “She’s 15. She’s too old for you.”

In a tweet this week, Giuliani said, “The Borat video is a complete fabrication. I was tucking in my shirt after taking off the recording equipment. At no time before, during, or after the interview was I ever inappropriate. If Sacha Baron Cohen implies otherwise he is a stone-cold liar.”

Bakalova said on GMA that she did not feel endangered during the encounter with Giuliani. “I always felt safe with our team, with our crew, with Sacha in my corner…That’s why I’m lucky, because I had them.”

Watch the GMA segment above.

California Coronavirus Update: Governor Gavin Newsom Fails To Address State’s Massive Surge In New Infections At Friday Press Conference

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October 23, 2020 1:28pm

State of California via YouTube

California on Friday reported a massive surge in new coronavirus cases, from 3,707 the day before to 6,141. That’s a number of daily infections not seen in the state since August.

California’s governor, however, failed to mention the high new numbers in a nearly hour-long press conference he participated in on Friday. Gavin Newsom and local officials spoke at length about the governor’s Project Room Key initiative and took questions from the press. No mention was made of the new spike. Nor was any mention made of the recent furor over the governor’s restrictions on theme parks, which earlier this week prompted talk of a lawsuit from operators.

Newsom expressed approval at the line of questions at the event on Friday.

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“This is the only one of these things I have ever done where I got so many questions on the topic the event was about,” he said with a smile.

The lack of comment is even more remarkable since Newsom has addressed the daily coronavirus numbers at virtually every daytime press conference he has held since the pandemic began. It is also noteworthy as counties across the state struggle to move from more restrictive to less restrictive tiers in the governor’s reopening plan.

Friday’s reported increase in cases is, in part, due to a big data backlog that delayed some test results, especially in California’s biggest county — Los Angeles — which saw a near record spike in daily infections to 3,600 recorded on Thursday.

L.A. County health officials estimated that about 2,000 of the newly-announced cases were the result of the backlog. That would set the day’s real total at 1,600, far above the 800-1000 new cases in the past few weeks and still the largest daily case number recorded since August. But even subtracting the backlog, the spike is still the largest daily new cases total in at least two months. And that 2,000 case backlog means that other recent lower counts were inaccurate.

And there may be even more catching up to come. In its daily coronavirus announcement, the L.A. Department of Public Health said it “anticipates receiving additional backlog test results over the next few days.” That could mean more big numbers that bring the rolling average of new cases yet higher.

COVID-related deaths reported in the state also spiked on Thursday to 172 before dropping down to 73.

Coronavirus cases nationally also jumped to highs not seen since the July peak of the pandemic. According to Johns Hopkins University, there were 71,671 new infections reported on Friday. That’s the fourth-highest total ever, and less than 4,000 from the previous peak of 77,362 on July 16.
Daily cases in the country have grown by nearly 15,000 a day in just the past week — infections dipped to 57,519 on 10/17.

The New York Times reported on Friday that hospitalizations have jumped more than 40% across the country in the past month.

Nina Wolarsky Steps Down As Netflix VP Original Series – Drama

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October 23, 2020 1:15pm

Netflix

Nina Wolarsky is leaving her post as VP, Original Series – Drama at Netflix. She will stay on to help with the transition; her last day will be in November.

Wolarsky was one of the first senior executive hires for Cindy Holland’s original content team, joining the streamer from Smoke House in 2012.

The departure is part of the aftershocks from the seismic shift in Netflix’s content TV triggered by the elevation of Bela Bajaria to VP Global TV by co-CEO Ted Sarandos, which led to Holland exiting the company.

The change at the top of the Netflix TV reporting structure tricked down and put Holland’s direct reports and other senior programming executives in play.

Channing Dungey, VP, Original series and head of drama, left to become chairman of the Warner Bros. Television Group.

Wolarsky, who oversaw Netflix’s non-genre drama series team under Dungey, also saw her role changing and opted to depart. At least one other VP-level Netflix TV programming executive is believed to be mulling an exit.

Meanwhile, Jane Wiseman, VP, Original Series and head of comedy, exited last week amid a restructuring as Bajaria is looking to build her senior executive team.

During her eight-year tenure at Netflix, Wolarsky oversaw such shows as Orange is the New Black, The Crown, When They See Us, and the upcoming Bridgerton.

“Nina was part of the team that started original series at Netflix in our early days and she has always brought great passion, creativity and taste to her role over the years,” Bajaria said. “We will miss her, but we’re grateful for her contributions and wish her well for her next chapter.”

Lili Taylor, Tamara Podemski & Tom Pelphrey Join ‘Outer Range’ Mystery Drama Series For Amazon

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October 23, 2020 1:00pm

(L-R) Lili Taylor, Tamara Podemski and Tom Pelphrey
Amazon Studios

EXCLUSIVE: Lili Taylor (Perry Mason), Tamara Podemski (Four Sheets to the Wind) and Tom Pelphrey (Ozark) are set as series regulars opposite Josh Brolin in Amazon’s mystery drama Outer Range, from playwright Brian Watkins, Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment and Amazon Studios.

Created by Watkins, Outer Range centers on Royal Abbott (Brolin), a rancher fighting for his land and family, who discovers an unfathomable mystery at the edge of Wyoming’s wilderness.

Taylor will portray Cecilia Abbott, the matriarch of the Abbott family. Cecilia is a woman of deep faith, which she finds tested as never before. Podemski will play Deputy Sheriff Joy. A life-long cop, Joy is running for county sheriff, and is the first gay Native American to ever do so in Wyoming. Pelphrey is Perry Abbott, the dutiful, eldest Abbott son, who is torn up inside by the lingering mystery of his missing wife.

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Watkins and Brolin executive produce with Zev Borow, Heather Rae, and Plan B Entertainment. The series falls under Amazon Studios’ overall deal with Plan B Entertainment.

Taylor recently appeared in the HBO limited series Perry Mason, and can currently be seen in the independent feature Paper Spiders, as well as the Netflix series Chambers. She’s repped by Untitled Entertainment and APA.

Podemski received the Special Jury Prize for Acting at the Sundance Film Festival for her role in Four Sheets to the Wind. She recently played Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s romantic interest in the HBO comedy Run and starred in the family drama Unsettled. She also recently resumed her role of Alison Trent in the Canadian drama series, Coroner. Podemski is repped by TalentWorks and Edna Talent Management.

Pelphrey will star as Joseph Mankiewicz in David Fincher’s Netflix film, Mank. Most recently, he was seen in season three of the Emmy-winning series Ozark, playing Wendy Byrde’s (Laura Linney) brother Ben. Pelphrey is repped by Gersh and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.

Melissa Francis Off Fox News Amid Reports Of Pay Disparity Dispute

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October 23, 2020 11:32am

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Fox News Media

Melissa Francis, a regular on the Fox News talk show Outnumbered and co-anchor of Fox Business’ After the Bell, has not been on the network since October 7 and her future is uncertain.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Francis is in the middle of a gender-based pay discrimination claim against the company that is in the midst of arbitration.

“Fox News Media regularly considers programming changes, including to its daytime lineup, and will launch new formats as appropriate after the election,” Fox News said in a statement. “These changes are being made independent of any other ongoing matter.” A network spokesperson declined to comment beyond the statement.

Francis joined Fox Business in 2012 and has been a regular on Outnumbered, its popular daytime show, since 2014. She also worked as a reporter for CNBC and CNET.

According to the Times, Francis’ complaint centers on her claim that she is underpaid compared to male colleagues at the network.

Francis is a former child actress who appeared on the later seasons of Little House on the Prairie. In the last tweet she posted, she predicted “Trump will win. 100% . I’m not advocating, I’m telling you to mentally prepare. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

‘Rick And Morty’ Creator Dan Harmon And Cast On The Real Beth And What To Expect For Season 5 – PaleyFest New York

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October 23, 2020 12:40pm

Chris Parnell
Paleyfest

Rick and Morty showrunner Dan Harmon has called the global pandemic a “net zero” on his productivity during a virtual PaleyFest New York panel released Friday. The Emmy-winning writer and co-creator of Adult Swim’s animated juggernaut remarked that the isolating effects of the pandemic has led to some interesting changes to his staff’s workflow.

“It’s all about the removal of humanity, the forced compartmentalization. That’s good creatively for writers who are less socialized for loudness and interruption. There are some fellas that might not be heard when the whole fratty energy is at a full volume. I think in a lot of ways [it’s] a huge improvement and in a lot of ways rolling a boulder up a hill. It comes out to a net balance,” said Harmon.

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Joining Harmon on the panel were Chris Parnell (Jerry Smith), Sarah Chalke (Beth Smith) and Spencer Grammer (Summer Smith).

Filming during the COVID-19 crisis has proven an incredibly difficult task. Productions have been shut down by positive coronavirus tests and some shows have even opted to work entirely in a bubble. However, for an animated series like Rick and Morty, Harmon said that despite the remote working life being somewhat of a boon, he is cautious about being overly excited.

“We were certainly not already doing it the way we’re doing it now, definitely more than our friends in live-action we were able to make a transition. During this time Rick and Morty was already anticipating a shutdown and we were able to because it’s digital,” said Harmon. “I have survivor’s guilt. I like working this way. I can do it in my underwear and I always wanted to do it in my underwear, but the storyboard artists and the sound engineers have to put a little more time and effort. That keeps me from being jubilant about the whole thing. Everything always trickles down to labor and it sucks you don’t want to go ‘this is great creatively.’ We’re more on schedule than we’ve ever been. You have to have a remote bee colony so the honey is made more consistently.”

When moderator Michael Schneider joked that a silver lining of the pandemic is the public might get more episodes sooner than later, Harmon laughed it off. “Yeah I guess,” he replied. “Maybe they’ll suck, though. I don’t know.”

Even though they’ve had time to write since their gigantic 70-episode pickup in 2018, Harmon says there is no general game plan as they’ve written years ahead of the Season 4 finale.

“The last thing we want to do in an environment like that is [to] have a plan. We are the plan because we’re the future. We’re the guys who wrote the stuff they’re now drawing. We make a tremendous effort to stay in the moment and not box ourselves in,” said Harmon.

Chalke alleged she has been kept in the dark about who the true Beth is after the Season 4 finale showed Rick acknowledging both versions of Beth as real after erasing his memory of creating a clone. Harmon tried to clear the air revealing the true intention in writing that mystery. He even teased the second Beth might reprise her role in future episodes.

“You know as much as Rick knows,” he said “I don’t want to keep secrets with the audience. She’s Schrodinger’s Beth right now. The fact she may or may not be a clone is actually the important thing. It’s the profound revelation about Rick’s commitment to non-commitment and how abusive that can be as a parent. That is the important thing here. We’re adding aunts to the family. We’re having fun looking at more options with space Beth.”

Before the end of the panel, Harmon teased what he could about the upcoming fifth season, including a possible love plot involving Morty.

“There’s an episode in Season 5 where Morty has a relationship with another female character that’s not Jessica. It’s a great little story and my longtime friend and collaborator John Schrab wrote it. [Schrab] has a natural directorial instinct. He also is a tender writer, like a very juvenile John Hughes. He feels heartache on a level that a man his age shouldn’t. There’s an episode in Season 5 that my Emmy is going to,” Harmon quipped.

Harmon regretted what good the mundane tidbit of information will serve the public. Hopefully it will be enough to hold us over for the eventual premiere, which has not yet been set.

All of the PaleyFest panels will be available to view at 8 p.m. ET tonight here.

New York’s Movie-Famous Strand Bookstore Says Funds Depleted, Makes Customer Plea

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October 23, 2020 12:26pm

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The Strand, East Village, New York City
AP

The Strand, New York City’s 93-year-old independent bookstore so familiar as an East Village literary signifier that it’s long been a go-to for filmmakers and location scouts, is in danger of closing, its owner says.

The three-story shop and its “18 miles” of new and used books has appeared in such movies and TV shows as Remember Me, The Romanoffs, Absolutely Fabulous, Sex and the City, Six Degrees of Separation, Julie & Julia, Flesh and Bone, Master of None, the 2011 Arthur remake and the 2020 doc The Booksellers, but has seen a devastating decline in revenue since the start of the COVID-19 shutdown.

“Our revenue has dropped nearly 70% compared to last year, and the loans and cash reserves that have kept us afloat these past months are depleted,” says Nancy Bass Wyden, the third generation owner of the Strand, in an Instagram and Twitter message posted Friday. The granddaughter of founder Benjamin Bass posted the message to encourage customer support as a last-ditch effort to keep the doors open.

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Robert Pattinson, in Strand t-shirt at bookstore, ‘Remember Me’
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Bass writes that “while the loan we were given and our cash reserves allowed us to weather the past eight months of losses, we are now at a turning point where our business is unsustainable.” She attributes the business crisis to “the huge decline in foot-traffic, a near complete loss of tourism, and zero in-store events.”

Bass asks for the public’s support through online and in-store purchases, and by sharing the hashtag #savethestrand. The next few months, she says, will determine the bookstore’s survival.

Earlier this week, LA’s Book Soup and its parent shop, Vroman’s in Pasadena, posted a similar plea-for-help Instagram message, calling the last few months “the most difficult in our company’s 126 year history.”

“The fight continues,” writes Book Soup. “This doesn’t end when 2020 does…”

📣 We need your help. This is the post we hoped to never write, but today marks a huge turning point in The Strand's history. Our revenue has dropped nearly 70% compared to last year, and the loans and cash reserves that have kept us afloat these past months are depleted. pic.twitter.com/mI074pigZu

— Strand Book Store (@strandbookstore) October 23, 2020

View this post on Instagram

📚 Thank you SO much for your support of Book Soup and our parent store, Vroman’s in Pasadena! Keep shopping local and keeping community alive. The fight continues! This doesn’t end when 2020 does, so let’s keep spreading the love and voting with our dollars. And read the info below! 💛 Repost @vromansbookstore: Friends, the past few months have been the most difficult in our company’s 126 year history and Vromans needs your help to stay open! Here’s how you can support your local indie (you can also visit the link in our bio for more info): 1) Shop now for books, gifts and gift cards with us and encourage others to do the same. (Shop online with curbside pickup, call us to place an order, or have it shipped. Return to shop in our stores with our new health and safety measures in place) 2) Shop in-store on weekday mornings rather than busy weekends or afternoons. Shop early before the Dec holiday crowds – stores will be far less crowded in Oct and Nov and shipping delays and printing shortages are expected. 3) We also need your help to get the word out. Reach out to your friends and contacts. Visit the link in our bio to download a shareable to post on social media with the hashtag #shopvromans. Don’t forget to tag us! We truly appreciate your support during this critical time and for the past 126 years. Thank you so much and stay well! ❤️📚🙏🏻 . . . . #vromans #shoplocal #shopsmall #indiebookstore #independentbookstore #booksoup #greatandinfamous

A post shared by Book Soup (@booksoup) on Oct 17, 2020 at 1:17pm PDT