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I love movies! I’m addicted to television! And in order to keep up with everything that’s going on in the world of movies and television I read lots of entertainment news. Not the trashy gossipy stuff about who’s sleeping with who or what latest scandals are going on in the personal lives of celebrities. I’m talking about what TV shows have been renewed or canceled. What our upcoming plot lines of TV shows going to cover? What new movies are coming out or are in production?

So I read lots and lots of entertainment news to find all this stuff and I like to share that information with friends and family who are as addicted to TV and movies as I am. From time to time I would forward a link from an article to one friend or another but assumes I would hit the “send” button I would find yet another article. So finally I just put the mailing list together of all of my TV/movie addicted friends and I just get all the links in one big e-mail and send them to everyone on the list.

This blog is just a collection of those e-mails so that I can post a link from this blog to Facebook and share my entertainment news research with more people. Like I said before you will read about the tabloid gossip stuff. This is just hard-core entertainment news for movie and TV addicts like me.

Entertainment News: Charlie Brown back on broadcast; Wonder Woman to HBO Max; and more.

Pandemic News

  • New Orleans has canceled all Mardi Gras parades for 2021 due to Covid
  • Guns N’ Roses announced the all have the first stadium concert tour since Covid. It will start with dates in New Zealand and Australia in November 2021.

Renewals, Coming Soon, and Casting News

  • Fans were outraged when they learned that “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” were moving to Apple TV+ from the previous home on ABC. Now it has been announced they will also have special airings on PBS.
  • The film “Wonder Woman 1984” will be released to theaters and HBO Max on Christmas Day.
  • The Walking Dead seasonable 10 will resume on February 28.
  • “For All Mankind” the alternate history moon landing drama from Apple TV+ will have season 2 starting February 19.
  • “The Mysterious Benedict Society” based on a series of YA novels has moved from Hulu to Disney+ before it’s 2021 premier. This is the first time a TV series has switched streaming services before even premiering.
  • Netflix has renewed “Space Force” for season 2 and says it will get a “creative revamp” whatever that means.
  • Netflix has canceled its supernatural series “The Order” after 2 seasons.
  • Nick Jonas will replace Gwen Stefani as a judge on “The Voice”
  • Hulu has renewed “Woke” for season 2.
  • Conan O’Brien will leave his late-night timeslot after 28 years in June 2021. Will have a weekly variety show on HBO Max.

Politics and Showbiz

  • A Fox news anchor in Milwaukee has been suspended for staying he wished which McConnell had died instead of Alex Trebek. Which makes him more of an idiot? Saying it or thinking he can get away with saying it?

Miscellaneous News

  • Several Wall Street analysts have up their ratings on Disney despite the pandemics impact on film and theme parks. It’s because of better-than-expected earnings from the streaming media divisions.
  • Iconic franchise “Tower Records” which declared bankruptcy 14 years ago is returning as an online venue selling vinyl records, cassettes, and CDs.
  • Comedian Sinbad is recovering from a stroke.

In Memoriam

  • Paul Hornung Heisman Trophy winner, Green Bay Packers and Notre Dame star who appeared in many TV commercials. Age 84.
  • Doug Supernaw country music singer age 60
  • Walter C Miller TV director for CMA, Emmy0, Grammys, Tony awards. Age 94
  • Lynn Kellogg daytime Emmy winner was in the original Broadway production of “Hair”. Age 77
  • Ben Watkins who participated in MasterChef Junior. Age 14 cancer.
  • Herbert F.Solow an executive at Desilu Production who took Gene Roddenberry’s original pitch for Star Trek as well as other TV executive positions. Age 88.

Links of Interest

Entertainment News: Farewell Trebek; Umbrella renewed; Edgy Dave Chapelle monologue double standard; and more

Delayed premieres of primetime series are finally starting to hit the airwaves. Stay in touch with my Facebook timeline for daily announcements of what premieres tonight. Also check out the previous installment of this blog for my review of the new CBS sitcom “B Positive”. I checked out the new Showtime comedy series “Moonbase 8” starring Fred Arneson and John C Riley. It’s about simulated moon base located in the Arizona desert to prepare for eventual permanent base on the moon. It’s so ridiculous and not funny that I didn’t bother writing a review. If for some reason your huge fans of these guys you might check it out just for them but it did nothing for me.

Pandemic News

  • MSNBC political commentator Rachel Maddow in staying home and self quarantining after being exposed to Covid 19. She has tested negative but will sit out the remainder of the election coverage.
  • During production of “Jurassic World: Dominion” they used 40,000 Covid tests on cast and crew.
  • Billionaire SpaceX/Tesla founder Elon Musk develops flulike symptoms he had 4 antigen Covid tests in the same day taken by the same nurse on the same machine. Two of them will positive and 2 were negative.
  • Disneyland hotels are no longer taking reservations as California shutdown deepens.
  • Good Doctor star Richard Schiff has Covid.

Renewals, Coming Soon, and Casting News

  • ABC has ordered a primetime celebrity Wheel of Fortune.
  • Netflix has renewed “The Umbrella Academy” for season 3.
  • “The Outsider” has been canceled that HBO and is being shopped to other outlets.
  • Disney+ has announced the new Marvel Cinematic Universe series “WandaVision” will premiere January 15.
  • The launch of NASA astronauts aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 Dragon spacecraft will be aired live Saturday on Discovery Channel and Science channel in addition to the usual coverage on NASA and numerous YouTube channels.
  • Dolly Parton will have a Christmas special on CBS December 6
  • Comedian ventriloquist Jeff Dunham will have 3 comedy specials on Comedy Central. The first will be Friday after Thanksgiving and the other two will premiere in 2021.
  • Reality competition series “Lego Masters” has been renewed for season 2 with host Will Arnett returning. This was a guilty pleasure of mine for season 1 even though I never played with Legos.
  • Former “The Walking Dead” star Danai Gurira will appear an upcoming biopic “The Fighting Shirley Chisholm” about the iconic African-American congresswoman.

Politics and Showbiz

  • Twitter announced that once Donald Trump leaves office he will no longer be exempt from being banned from the platform for inappropriate tweets. Up until now they’ve simply been flagging is questionable messages but because he is a public figure of importance they’ve not been completely shutting down his account.
  • Dave Chapelle is being lauded for his edgy opening monologue on last week’s SNL in which he went from bashing Trump to calling for unity. But I’m surprised there has been no comment about the fact that he dropped the N-word multiple times during the monologue and later as a sketch. This further reaffirms the double standard that black people can use the word but it is so offensive if a white person uses that it can destroy their career. Words either are offensive or they are not. If we’re going to have zero tolerance then let it be zero tolerance.
  • CBS has announced that at least 50% of its non-scripted shows such as Survivor, Amazing Race, and Big Brother will be minorities setting a diversity goal.

Miscellaneous News

  • The Notre Dame upset of number one ranked Clemson was the highest-rated Notre Dame game in 15 years.
  • Former “Prison Break” star Wentworth Miller says no longer is interested in playing straight characters. That means no more sequels or reboots of Prison Break. One can only imagine the outrage if a straight actor declared he would never play a gay character.
  • Former St. Elsewhere star Norman Lloyd recently celebrated his 106th birthday.
  • Disney+ now has 73.7 million subscribers. ESPN+ tops 10 million.

In Memoriam

  • A: The most iconic game show host in history who just passed away at age 80 of pancreatic cancer. Q: Who Is Alex Trebek? Episodes of “Jeopardy!” That he had already taped will air through December 25.
  • Norm Crosby standup comedian who was the master of the verbal malaprop. Age 93
  • Ken Spears cocreator of Scooby Doo. Age 82.
  • Tommy Heinsohn MBA announcer and basketball Hall of Famer. Age 86

“B Positive” is Morbid Humor but It Works

We will have to give CBS’s new sitcom “B Positive” credit for having an original premise. Our main character Drew played by Thomas Middleditch is a recently divorced man with a teenage daughter who discovers he’s in total renal failure and in need of a kidney transplant. While at a friend’s wedding he bumped into an old friend from high school Gina played by Annaleigh Ashford. She is a hard partying, hard drinking, drug addicted train wreck. When she’s sober, she works driving a shuttle bus full of elderly people from an assisted living home taking them to doctor’s appointments, chemotherapy etc. She decides to offer him a kidney and hilarity ensues.

Really?

Oh I forgot to mention she has a split personality. Her party persona is Rebecca and her responsible self is Gina.

Like I said… We’ve not seen this premise before. But can we really laugh at a man facing his own demise? He might never get to see his daughter get married, have kids etc. Is it really funny that his fate depends on such an irresponsible person who constantly cracks jokes about the mortality of the people that she drives around in her bus?

The answer is… we might be able to laugh at that. As I’ve said in this blog many times before – the ultimate test of a sitcom for me is “Does it make me laugh?” On numerous occasions this one did for some reason. But these are not very likable characters. Drew is an okay guy but given the enormity of what he’s facing along with regrets over his divorce and disappointing his daughter he’s not a very happy guy. Gina/Rebecca are not at all likable. And if she really does have dissociative personality disorder (formerly known as split personality) can we really make fun of her?

It had its funny moments. It made me laugh. I’ve got a very dark (sometimes sick) sense of humor. My guess is lots of people won’t find it funny and some might even be offended. I guess spending my whole life these past 65 years thinking that I didn’t have very long to live has given me the ability to laugh in the face of mortality.

We don’t know to what extent the old folks who ride Gina’s shuttlebus will play in the show but I did recognize one familiar face in the back of the bus. Veteran comic character actor Bernie Kopell who is most known as playing the Doc on the old 1970s romantic comedy series “Love Boat” makes an appearance on the bus.

The double entendre of the show’s title encourages us to “be positive” in the face of these tragedies and I suppose it partially succeeds. Even though I kind of liked it I’m not sure how many more episodes I will watch. I’m going to give this one a cautionary “Could be watchable” but this one is going to be an acquired taste that some people won’t acquire. Travel with caution.

In case you never noticed before, any actors names or TV or movie titles in these blogs will link you to the IMDb page so you can see what other roles they’ve had or who played in those programs or films. I don’t always list actor’s credits in the text so if you’re wondering who someone is just click on the links.

Entertainment News: Farewell 007; Johnny Depp fired; Connected goes online only; and more.

The delayed premieres of a number of series will be coming up soon. Check my daily Facebook messages to see what’s new tonight. If a new series appears that’s worth reviewing we will review it.

Meanwhile new seasons of Star Trek: Discovery and The Mandalorian are looking really good. Highly recommend both. Now on with the news.

Renewals, Coming Soon, and Casting News

  • Former Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams will star in a new dark comedy for HBO Max called “Two Weeks to Live” starting November 5.
  • A reboot of “Tiny Toons” has been ordered for 2 seasons at HBO Max and Cartoon Network.
  • “Ted Lassio” the Jason Sudeikis comedy has been renewed for season 3 at Apple TV+
  • Remember the juvenile novels you read that as a kid about inventor Tom Swift? CW network is planning a spinoff from Nancy Drew based on Tom Swift. There’s a twist. He’s now African-American, gay, and a billionaire.
  • CBS has renewed “Big Brother” for season 23.
  • Peacock streaming service has canceled “Brave New World” after just one season.
  • Fox is spinning off a show from “The Masked Singer” called “The Masked Dancer” that will premier in December.
  • CW announced delayed premiere dates in January/February for most of it series. See the link at the bottom for details.
  • HBO Max has secured rights to a number of older Comedy Central shows including Dave Chapelle, Key & Peele , Inside Amy Schumer and others.
  • Fox has canceled “Filthy Rich” and “Next” after just one season. Current episodes will complete.
  • Dave Chapelle will host next week’s Saturday Night Live
  • NBC has moved its social distancing TV show “Connecting” off the air and will be on streaming service Peacock.
  • NBC has extended its contract with Jimmy Fallon for three more years.
  • Hilarie Burton real-life life of Jeffrey Morgan will play Negan’s wife in a flashback scene in the” The Walking Dead”.
  • Hulu has announced “Castle Rock” has been canceled after 2 seasons.
  • Christopher Nolan film “Tenet” will be available on home video December 15.

Politics and Showbiz

  • Kanye West has received approximately 60,000 votes in 12 states in his bid to be president.

Miscellaneous News

  • Netflix standard plan is going to cost $14 per month up from $13 per month. The premium plan will increase from $16 up to $18.
  • “Baby Shark” is now officially the most viewed video on YouTube
  • Jeannie Mai has dropped out of the season “Dancing with the Stars” because of an abscess in her throat that led to infected tonsils and other areas. She had emergency surgery and is doing okay.
  • Today show weatherman Al Roker remove he has prostate cancer. He will undergo surgery and the prognosis is good.
  • Johnny Depp has lost a libel lawsuit against the newspaper that claimed he was a wife beater. The judge ruled that the statement was essentially true. As a result Warner Bros. has filed him from any upcoming “Fantastic Beasts” films. The part of Gellert Grindelwald will be recast. “Fantastic Beasts 3” has been filming step September but it is unknown if he had shot any scenes yet.

In Memoriam

  • Iconic Scottish actor Sean Connery the most famous 007. Age 90.
  • British comedian Bobby Ball age 76 Covid 19
  • Nikki McKibbin who reached the final three of season 1 of American Idol. Age 42. Aneurysm.
  • Charles Gordon Oscar-nominated producer of “Field of Dreams”, and “Waterworld”. Age 73. Cancer.
  • Eddie Hassell actor who appeared in “The Kids Are All Right” and “Surface” age 30. Shot outside his girlfriend’s apartment. No suspects or motive.
  • Jeremy Stevens Emmy-winning writer for “Everybody Loves Raymond”. Age 83 renal failure
  • Actress Carol Arthur who appeared in “Blazing Saddles” and “Hot Stuff” and was the wife of Dom DeLuise . Age 85
  • John Sessions Scottish actor and comedian who appeared on “Whose Line Is It Anyway?. Age 67. A heart condition.
  • Character actress Elsa Raven who was the “save the clock tower” lady in back to the future. Age 91
  • Ken Hensley Keyboardist for classic rock band “Uriah Heep” age 75.

Links of Interest

Entertainment News: Discovery extended; Away goes away; schedule shortened; and more

In our section below titled “Renewals, Coming Soon, and Casting News” we occasionally announce a TV show that has been canceled but rarely have we ever had to announce an entire streaming platform. “Quibi” has been shut down after just six months of operation. See the link from USA Today at the bottom of the blog which explains rather succinctly why it was a service that nobody wanted. The services scheduled to shut down on a about December 1.

Pandemic News

  • In light of the pandemic, CBS has cut its usual full season of 22 episodes for a variety of series including the NCIS franchise, Blue Bloods, Bull, The Neighborhood, SEAL Team, Magnum PI down to 16-18 episodes. The Unicorn originally scheduled for 13 will remain at 13. Still uncertain are sitcoms such as Mom, Young Sheldon, and other series which are expected to be in the 16-18 episodes range.
  • “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” will be one of the first shows to walk back and live in studio audience starting October 28.

Renewals, Coming Soon, and Casting News

  • Star Trek: Discovery has been renewed for season 4 just one day after season 3 premiered.
  • Offbeat comedy “Miracle Workers” has been renewed for season 3 at TBS.
  • Netflix has canceled sci-fi series “Away” starring Hilary Swank. It was one of the least scientifically accurate pieces of sci-fi I have seen in ages. Interesting characters. Great acting. Horrible story. Goodbye.
  • HBO has renewed “The Vow” for season 2
  • ABC has given six more episodes to “black-ish” increasing the season total to 21 episodes.
  • Adele will be hosting Saturday Night Live next weekend. She has been on as a musical guest but never as host.
  • Classic fantasy movie “Willow” will be made into a TV series for Disney+. Warwick Davis will return to the title role.
  • John Mulaney will host Saturday Night Live next weekend.
  • CW has renewed another season of Canadian TV shows “Coroner” and “Burden of Truth”
  • Netflix has renewed “Narcos: Mexico” for season 3

Politics and Showbiz

  • Disney+ has updated a disclaimer that appears before Peter Pan, Dumbo, Fantasia, and Lady and the Tramp (original versions). The statement now reads “This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures. These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together. Disney is committed to creating stories with inspirational and aspirational themes that reflect the rich diversity of the human experience around the globe.”

Miscellaneous News

  • Actor Jeff Bridges has announced he was diagnosed with lymphoma.
  • Singer-songwriter Arlo Guthrie known for his song “Alice’s Restaurant” and who performed at Woodstock announced his retiring after 50 years of performing. A series of strokes and other health issues that to his decision.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger is doing well after heart surgery.

In Memoriam

  • Spencer Davis bandleader of The Spencer Davis Group who produced hits such as “Keep on Running” and “Gimme Some Lovin”. Age 81.
  • William Blinn Emmy-winning screenwriter who created Starsky and Hutch and wrote “Brian Song” age 83.
  • Jerry Jeff Walker songwriter who penned “Mr. Bojangles” age 78

Links of Interest

Entertainment News: Dexter returns; Tony nominations; RIP “Two and a Half Men” housekeeper; and more

I mentioned previously I was watching the new Amazon show “Utopia” and my initial impressions after 2 episodes were positive. However as the series progressed it turned extremely dark and disturbing. Check out my full review here.

Amazon’s “Utopia” is of Questionable Taste and Not Just Because It’s About a Pandemic

Also I had previously reviewed very positively the new HBO Max series “Raised by Wolves”. While the first four or five episodes were really good it seemed to go downhill from there and a final episode really “jumped the shark” as they say in the TV industry. A bizarre finish which unfortunately left plenty of room for a second season. Go ahead and check it out if you want but be prepared for a strange ending.

Finally check out the links at the bottom. TV Line has updated its broadcast TV renewal scorecards which also contains links to renewal scorecards for cable and streaming services. Also a list of this year’s Tony award nominees and other items.

Pandemic News

  • Production on daytime soap “Days of Our Lives” has been suspended 2 weeks for Covid

Renewals, Coming Soon, and Casting News

  • HBO Max has ordered to series “Green Lantern” and it will revolve around multiple Green Lantern versions of the DC comics superhero.
  • Showtime has announced its bringing back “Dexter” about the serial killer CSI. It will be a limited 10 episode series reboot starring Michael C.but Hall returning to the role. Will start production in 2021 for fall premier 2021.
  • ABC has confirmed that Bobby Bones will return as in-house mentor for the next season of American Idol
  • HBO says “His Dark Materials” season 2 will premier November 16 and scripts are already being prepared for a potential season 3 not yet officially approved.
  • Spectrum Original as canceled “LA’s Finest” cop show starring Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba after 2 seasons.
  • The Tracy Morgan comedy “The Last OG” has been renewed for season 4 at TBS however Tiffany Haddish will not be returning.
  • Showtime has announced “Black Monday” a Wall Street satire has been renewed for season 3

Politics and Showbiz

  • The Commission on Presidential Debates has officially canceled the October 15 event after they changed it to a virtual event and Trump refused to participate. Competing town halls were held with Joe Biden on ABC and Trump on NBC. That programming move by NBC created serious backlash. In the end Biden won the ratings war over the two events.
  • Gal Gadot is moving from Wonder Woman to Cleopatra however she is being criticized for taking on the role of an addiction Queen because she is Israeli.

Miscellaneous News

  • Yahoo has announced that it shutting down its social media platform Yahoo! Groups which has been around for 20 years. It will shut down December 15.
  • Google is shutting down Google Hangouts in favor of Google Chat

In Memoriam

  • Game show host Tom Kennedy from “Name That Tune” age 93
  • Margaret Nolan actress who was painted entirely in gold in the James Bond film Goldfinger. Age 76.
  • Hall of Fame Yankees pitcher Whitey Ford, age 91
  • Hall of Fame Cincinnati Reds second baseman Joe Morgan was also ESPN commentator. Age 77.
  • Conchata Ferrell actress who played the housekeeper on “Two And A Half Men” one of my favorite character actresses. Age 77.
  • Herbert Kretzmer who wrote the English lyrics for the hit musical Les Miserables. Age 95.

Links of Interest

Amazon’s “Utopia” is of Questionable Taste and Not Just Because It’s About a Pandemic

Several days ago in one of my Facebook posts about entertainment news I mentioned that I was watching Amazon’s new series “Utopia” based on a British series of the same name. I had only watched about two episodes and made some positive comments about it but said I would wait to review it until I had seen more. I’m glad I waited because this series which was already dark humor turned extremely dark and cynical and got worse as the series progressed to a depressing finale. Minor spoilers ahead but I’m careful not to spoil major plot twists or the conclusions.

One could ask do we really want to watch a TV series about a pandemic in these times? I initially didn’t let that stop me from giving it a fair shake. And as mentioned, after a couple of episodes I was really intrigued. I thought it was a very funny yet dark comedy. The initial premise is that there is a group of fans of an underground comic book called “Dystopia”. Someone cleaning out there late grandfather’s home finds the manuscript for a sequel comic called “Utopia”. They announce that it will be for sale to the highest bidder at an upcoming comic convention. The five fans who had never met each other in person make plans to meet up, pool their resources, and purchase the manuscript.

The reason there is such fascination about this hidden treasure is that the original “Dystopia” comic contained all sorts of hidden clues about various diseases and viruses such as Ebola, swine flu, SARS and others. While some just enjoyed it as a quirky bizarre underground graphic novel, others based huge conspiracy theories around the story. At the comic convention, bidders were each allowed to see one page of the manuscript and then place a bid and leave contact information. At the convention, 2 mysterious people show up and start tracking down everyone who has seen the comic.

They end up murdering the people who discovered the comic, finding the list of bidders, murdering all them and framing one of them for the murders. Our main characters managed to escape this fate including a young boy named Grant who manages to steal the comic from the high bidder as the bad guys are murdering the new owner.

In what appears initially to be a side plot, a rich tech mogul Dr. Kevin Christie played by John Cusack has introduced a new food product he calls SimPro which stands for “Simple Protein”. It is a laboratory created meat substitute. He has sold it to school districts around the country for school lunches but mysteriously a fatal flu outbreak starts killing children in the schools where his product is used. The conspiracy theorists believe that “Utopia” has more clues to this and other future pandemics which makes it an even bigger hot commodity.

Suddenly a kick ass young woman appears and is also chasing down the new comic and teams up with our young heroes. She claims to be Jessica Hyde which is the name of one of the characters in the comics. Her claim is that everything in the comic is true especially the part about her life story.

While this started out as a dark, funny satire on comic fandom, cosplay, conspiracy theorists, and nerd culture, the story goes darker and darker by the minute. The hitmen who are killing off everyone who has seen the comic are especially brutal. Jessica herself is also a brutal killer having no qualms about torturing or murdering anyone who gets in her way. She is in search of her father who was somehow involved in the entire conspiracy.

While Cusack’s company is cleared by the FDA of having any wrongdoing in the pandemic deaths of the children, we slowly begin to discover that he is involved in a much more nefarious plot. Again I’m trying not to give way too much of the plot but let’s just say he is one of the most ruthless, evil, and heartless characters you’ve probably seen in some time. Especially troublesome about the entire story is the way that children are manipulated and used as pawns in this game. Children are brutally murdered, they are driven to murder, and their parents are killed in front of them. The casual disregard for human life in general but especially are treated is quite disturbing.

Throughout the show we still have these same funny, quirky nerd characters that you sort of fell in love with in the first couple of episodes. But the brutally dark nature of everything else detracts from any feel-good aspects of the show. I managed to watch all eight episodes mostly just because I was sucked in and wanted to see where it was all going.

As I said in the title to this blog, the fact that it deals with a fatal pandemic is not the most disturbing thing about this series. I know people (my sister for example) who seriously disliked “The Hunger Games” because it was about kids killing kids for sport. But at least in that series of books and films you felt like they were fighting the good fight against the repressive government. Although these characters try to be heroes to stand up against the evil corporation, these are not really very heroic people.

While the series attempts to be social commentary about things like nerd culture, politics, greedy corporations, conspiracy theorists and a number of other topics, ultimately it’s just a disturbing mess. By the way the violence isn’t particularly bloody or gory. Most people are killed execution style with a silenced gunshot to the head. However the lack of blood and gore only furthers to underplay the fact that we are really murdering people in cold blood.

As I mentioned I watched all eight episodes and it was good enough to hold my interest throughout. However I’m not really sure if I can recommend it or not. I think what fascinated me to stick with it was just to see how dark and sadistic it could become. Unfortunately the ending was not particularly satisfying and leaves itself open to another season if they managed to dare to attempt one. I guess for the lack of a better term I’m going to give it a rating of “could be watchable” but just keep in mind it’s not going to be a fun ride. The parts that make you stop and think are not exactly worth the effort to get there. I hesitate to say “skip it” because it does have its moments and it is thought-provoking. It just depends on what kind of thoughts you want provoked. Travel at your own risk.

Entertainment News: Many Movie delays; Broadway dark until May; other news

Be sure to check out recent installments of this blog for reviews of a couple of new primetime game shows that are watchable as well as a new sci-fi show from Fox called “Next”. Also coming soon is my review of Amazon Prime’s “Utopia” which shows great promise. I’m really enjoying it after 2 episodes but I will wait till I finished for my final review. Now on with our regular features.

Pandemic News

  • The film version of “Dune” has been moved from December 2020 until October 2021. “The Batman” which was scheduled for that month has been pushed to March 2022. Matrix 4 moved to Christmas 2021. Shazam 2 has been pushed to 2023. “Jurassic World: Dominion” has been moved from June 2021 to June 2022.
  • Broadway will remain closed through May 2021.
  • Disney plans to lay off 28,000 people from its theme parks because of the pandemic.
  • The XFL football league will be skipping the entire 2021 season and will return in 2022.
  • The latest James Bond film “No Time to Die” has been delayed yet again from November 20 to April 2, 2021. In response Fast and Furious 9 has moved from that weekend to Memorial Day weekend.
  • Cineworld announced that Regal Cinemas in the US and Picturehouse cinemas in the UK will be shut down temporarily because of the pandemic. AMC theaters as well as Cinemark plan to remain open.
  • Saturday Night Live has canceled musical guest Morgan Wallen after video surfaced of him partying without a mask. He will we be replaced by Jack White as musical guest.
  • Filming of the new Jurassic World movie has been suspended for two weeks because crewmembers tested positive.
  • New York Covid rules audience members have to be paid staff or crew. So Saturday Night Live paid its audience members $150 to get around the restrictions.
  • California Gov. Newsom says Disneyland will not be reopening anytime soon.

Renewals, Coming Soon, and Casting News

  • Agent Johnson is back! Actor stuntman Daniel Barnhart has signed on for the upcoming Matrix 4 sequel.
  • Director Barry Levinson is making a scripted film about the making of “The Godfather”. Oscar Isaac will play Francis Ford Coppola and Jake Gyllenhaal will play Robert Evans.
  • NBC has renewed run-time game show “The Wall” for season 4
  • “Billions” has been renewed at Showtime for season 6.
  • Netflix announced its spinoff of “The Karate Kid” Cobra Kai has been renewed for season 4. Season 3 will premier in January 2021.
  • Steve Carell will return to Apple TV+ series “The Morning Show” for season 2.
  • Sterling K Brown will play Leo McGarry on the HBO Max “West Wing” reunion show October 15. The late John Spencer had the role in the original TV series.
  • Netflix has canceled “GLOW” about female wrestlers and will not proceed with its planned fourth and final season. Pandemic is to blame.
  • Netflix has canceled “Teenage Bounty Hunters” after 1 season.
  • Disney television has renewed syndicated daytime talk show Tamron Hall for a third season.
  • Kate Mulgrew will reprise her role as Capt. Janeway for Nickelodeon’s animated “Star Trek: Prodigy” series.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch will reprise Doctor Strange in the next Spider-Man movie.
  • Disney/Pixar movie “Soul” is skipping theaters and moving to Disney+ on December 25. Unlike its release of “Mulan” it will not cost extra.
  • TNT announced that “Snowpiercer” season 2 will premier January 25.

Politics and Showbiz

  • The Commission on Presidential Debates announced less than 24 hours after the September 29 debate that they would be proposing format changes for a more orderly discussion.
  • Netflix has been indicted on felony charges by a grand jury in Texas over the French movie “Cuties” for promoting “lewd visual material against peace and dignity of the state.”

Miscellaneous News

  • Gabrielle Union and NBC have reached a resolution in their dispute over her firing from America’s Got Talent amid allegations of racism and a toxic work environment.

In Memoriam

  • Legendary rocker Eddie Van Halen age 65.
  • Helen Reddy known for her hip song “I Am Woman” age 78
  • Singer-songwriter Mac Davis who also appeared in the film “North Dallas Forty” age 78
  • Bonni Lou Kern one of the original Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeers from the 1950s. Age 79.
  • Larry Rosen producer of “The Partridge Family” and “The Mike Douglas Show” age 84 pancreatic cancer.
  • Thomas Jefferson Byrd actor from roles in Spike Lee films “He Got Game” and “Clockers” age 70. Gunshot wounds.
  • Murray Schisgal Broadway playwright and Oscar-nominated screenwriter of “Tootsie” age 93.
  • Actor Clark Middleton who played Glenn Carter in “The Blacklist” for 13 episodes. Age 63 West Nile virus.
  • Edward S. Feldman Oscar-nominated movie and TV producer who produced “Witness” age 91.
  • Singer-songwriter Johnny Nash who wrote “I Can See Clearly Now” age 80
  • Tommy Rall dancer who appeared in “Funny Girl” and “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” age 90.
  • William Bernstein cofounder of Orion Pictures age 87

Links of Interest

“Next” is Classic Artificial Intelligence Run Amok

Serious scientists and engineers have been warning us that the day is coming soon that they call “The Singularity”. It’s a day when an artificial intelligence computer actually becomes a self-aware living being that looks out for its own self interests. Of course the fear is that those self-interests are contrary to the human race.

It’s been a recurring trope of sci-fi for many years. The most famous examples are HAL-9000 from “2001: A Space Odyssey” and its sequels, V-ger from “Star Trek: The Motion Picture“, Skynet from the “Terminator” franchise and many others. Some of my favorite cheesy evil AIs are Colossus from the 1970 film “Colossus: The Forbin Project” and even cheesier yet Proteus from the 1977 film “Demon Seed“. Minor spoilers here if you’ve not seen any of these. None of these self-aware computers were defeated. All of them had some sort of evil intent. Only HAL-9000 turned out to be a good guy in the end and sacrificed himself to save his crew. The bottom line of all of these cautionary tales is that artificial intelligence is beyond our control and there is little or nothing we can do about it.

AI already exists in our world. Image recognition software, facial recognition, and even the recommendations of websites like Netflix and Amazon depend on artificial intelligence. The scary thing about this software is that it rewrites itself. Typically AI creates a method for deciding something for example “Is this an image of a cat?” You feed it thousands or even millions of images and it tries to guess what is or isn’t a cat. You tell it whether it succeeded or not. It creates thousands of algorithms or models that try to perform this prediction. It throws away the models that don’t succeed above some particular threshold. Then it makes thousands of more versions of the models that do succeed. And it repeats this process thousands or even millions of times until it finds a model that solves the problem reliably. The problem is… Nobody really knows how it works. Programmers set this thing in motion and it goes off and figures it out on its own getting smarter with each iteration.

So far AI is only employed for simple pattern recognition types of applications. But the principles behind it can be applied to lots of things. The idea that the code rewrites itself is what makes the experts so fearful.

Back in the 1970s when I was a computer science student at IUPUI I wrote a simple program to solve a trivial chess problem. One player has a king only. The other player has a king and a rook. The advantaged player has to get a checkmate without causing a stalemate by having the exact board position reoccur three times. I came up with a set of rules where the two pieces would gradually corner the loan king and achieve checkmate. But on a couple of occasions, the program went about it in a way I didn’t expect it to. I cannot begin to describe how creepy it was that my program took the rules that I generated and came up with a solution that I had not anticipated. While this is a trivial example, it helps me understand why people are so fearful of artificial intelligence.

So now we come to the new sci-fi series on Fox called “neXt“. (Yes the weird capitalization is how they spell it in the show.) The main character is FBI Special Agent Shea Salazar played by Fernanda Andrade. A friend of hers is involved in a near fatal traffic accident. He leaves her an ominous videotape recording saying that he has found strange code fragments floating around the Internet attacking websites and other computer system. He’s making the recording because he fears for his life. Shortly thereafter he dies in the hospital under mysterious circumstances.

She begins investigating and recruits tech mogul Paul LeBlanc played by John Slattery. He recognizes the code fragment as being part of an artificial intelligence program that he was developing for his company. He tried to shut down the AI program for fears of what it would become and was eventually ousted from his own company. Now he is certain that his work on artificial intelligence has continued in his absence and gotten out into the Internet to do God knows what.

There are some indications that LeBlanc might be crazy but he eventually convinces everyone that the threat is real. It is revealed that his company has continued the AI project under the codename “neXt” and despite their precautions to keep it from getting out onto the Internet, it does.

Of course once such a program makes it on to the Internet it can copy itself onto any number of servers and is going to be virtually impossible to shut down.

Basically this is just the same old AI run amok story we’ve seen over and over again. It’s hard to tell from the opening episode where the story goes from here. There are side characters that will fit in somehow including a young boy who is being befriended by the program as it comes through his Alexa style personal assistant device.

I don’t have a lot of high hopes for this series but I will probably continue watching it for a few episodes just to see if they come up with a new twist. If this wasn’t an entertainment desert during the pandemic I probably wouldn’t give it much attention. But given there is nothing else new on right now I’m going to give it a try. It earns a cautionary tentative “could be watchable” rating.

New Game Shows Aren’t Great but Are Fun During a Boring Pandemic

I generally don’t review reality competition shows. I never watch the Bachelor/Bachelorette/Love Island dating type shows. I am a big fan of Survivor and The Amazing Race and have never missed an episode of either of those. But with the regular season delayed until late October the networks are turning to more game shows to try to fill the airwaves. I thought I would talk about a couple of guilty pleasure shows you might want to check out.

The Weakest Link

A new American version of this British quiz show classic premiered recently on NBC. The British version of “The Weakest Link” had a total of 1693 episodes most of them hosted by Anne Robinson. Unlike most quiz shows, this format openly invites a hostile competition between the contestants. After a round of questions for each contestant, everyone votes off who is the weakest link. It’s sort of a combination of Jeopardy and Survivor. And also unlike the friendly hosts on most quiz shows, Robinson takes a snarky condescending attitude towards the contestants berating them for missing various questions. When I heard that Jane Lynch was going to be the host of this American reboot “Weakest Link” I was really excited. I knew that she could re-create that sarcastic snarky attitude when delivering the show’s catchphrase “You are the weakest link… Goodbye!”

I was only a tiny bit disappointed in Lynch. While she had the appropriate condescending tone that you expect from the show, I didn’t think her final “Goodbye” to each eliminated contestant was quite sarcastic enough. But she still does a pretty good job of doing and Anne Robinson impersonation.

it’s faster paced than shows like “The Wall“. The questions are not as esoteric or academic as “Jeopardy! ” for example. Some of the contestants’ wrong answers were low hanging fruit for Lynch to make fun of them. For example “What African-American astrophysicist is director of the Hayden planetarium?” The contestant fumbled for a moment and then hesitatingly said “Einstein?” Lynch asked the girl “What is your occupation again?” The girl replies “a model”. Lynch “that figures. Even if you didn’t know Neil deGrasse Tyson you should’ve known Einstein wasn’t African-American.”

Overall I like it and will continue to watch while nothing else good is on TV. I love Jane Lynch as a host. She’s not as much fun as she is in Hollywood Game Night but then again the format requires somebody even more snarky and condescending and she does a great job. I rate it “I’m watching it” and recommend you check it out for a fun diversion.

I Can See Your Voice

I Can See by Your Voice” is a new competition show from Fox. I only watched this new show from Fox so I could see just how bad it was. I actually was pleasantly surprised. It airs just after the hit show “The Masked Singer” and is hosted by comic actor Dr. Ken Jeong who is also a judge on “The Masked Singer”. The premise of this show is sort of the opposite of the NBC singing competition “The Voice“. In “The Voice” the judges get to hear a contestant sing but initially cannot see their performance. In “I Can See Your Voice” you can watch the performance as they lip-synch to a track but you can’t actually hear them sing. The trick is to figure out who is really a good singer and who is faking it.

There is a single contestant for the entire episode. They are presented with 6 singers and it is up to the contestant to identify the good singers from the bad singers. They are assisted by a panel of 5 celebrities. The first episode featured Nick Lachey, Kelly Osborne, Arsenio Hall, Cheryl Hines, and Adrienne Houghton.

In the first two rounds, three of the six singers lip-synch a song. If they are a good singer, they are lip-synching to their own voice and if they are a bad singer they are lip-synching to someone else. The contestant then decides which of the three should be eliminated as a bad singer. If the eliminated person is indeed a bad singer, the contestant banks $10,000. There is no guarantee how many good or bad singers are among the six. The celebrity panel advises the contestant on who they think is the real deal and why but the contestant has the ultimate decision.

After the first round there are other rounds in which you get to hear the singer perform with a distorted voice. We also get clues about the back story which either do or don’t add up and help you decide who is faking and who is real.

When you get down to the final of the six singers, the contestant has generally banked about $30,000. They are then given the opportunity to walk home with that money or risk it all for $100,000 if they think the final singer is a good singer.

As ridiculous as the entire thing is, for some reason it works. You find yourself forming your own opinions and guessing right along with the celebrities and the contestants. If you’re the kind of person who is a big fan of “The Masked Singer” it’s likely you will like this show as well. This is not in any way sophisticated entertainment. It definitely falls into the “guilty pleasure” category but is just silly enough that I kind of like it. I rate it a weak “I’m watching it” and if it sounds like fun to you, you should check it out.