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Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Tuesday, June 21st, 2022
Finally, an explanation for 'The Pentavarate'
Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Tuesday, June 21st, 2022.
WONDER WHY NETFLIX THOUGHT 'THE PENTAVERATE' WAS A GOOD IDEA? BLAME THE 'TED TAX'
The Information's Jessica Toonkel has a great piece about Netflix's Ted Serandos and how his love of comedians has led the streamer to greenlight some ill-advised projects. It's behind the paywall, but if you have access, it's well worth the read:
In 2019, when comedian Mike Myers was pitching a new comedy series to Netflix, program executives at the company were skeptical. The onetime “Saturday Night Live” star hadn’t had a hit since the early 2000s and Netflix staffers worried a new series wouldn’t attract an audience, according to people familiar with the discussions.
But Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos was undeterred. A fan of comedians ranging from Jerry Seinfeld to David Spade, Sarandos greenlit the show, “The Pentavarate,” which came out last month—to wide scorn from reviewers, who panned it as an unfunny farce.
The episode wasn’t unusual. Sarandos—a powerful figure at Netflix, who has run its content side since it was a DVD rental service and who eventually became co-CEO—has made the streaming giant a magnet for Hollywood talent in part by his friendliness to talent. He frequently backs stars and directors over his own staff, so much so that Netflix’s finance team at one time dubbed spending on shows and movies he wanted “the Ted tax,” said three people familiar with the situation. Others refer to such projects as “Ted specials.”
I completely believe this take, because I have heard similar things from producers. And Sarandos is well-known for his love of comedy and comedians. He's taken a chance on comedians that might have had trouble getting a special produced otherwise and generally speaking, he's seen as someone who is protective of comedians he sees as talented and worth promoting.
But this piece is also a bit funny, because it goes against the narrative that claims most decisions at Netflix are driven by data. While the streamer might depend on it more than most studios, in the end a lot of decisions still come down to some executive trusting their gut and ordering a show they believe in, despite the data that argues against the move.
It's refreshing, although in the case of The Pentaverate, it's difficult to know what Sarandos saw in that painful and awkward project. Gut decisions are good, but sometimes you should really trust the data and the opinions of people around you.
IN THIS CASE, THIS TV SERIES REALLY IS LIKE A LONG MOVIE. WELL, FOUR LONG MOVIES
Kevin Costner's long-awaited fourth directorial effort Horizon begins production in August and he's taking a very different approach to the project. His plan is to shoot four movies that interconnect, with a new film coming out every three months:
Asked whether the film’s four-part configuration may lend “Horizon” to a streaming play, Costner said the project was sold as an “event television movie” but that “what [the studio does] with it will really be up to them because things change really quickly in how people want to see things and what they want to do.
“I’m happiest because at one point in TV — where you can get your largest audience — they’re going to get to see it the way I intended it to be seen. It will eventually be cut up into [hour-long episodes] or 42 minutes — however TV works. But their first viewing of it will be as four 2 hour and 45-minute movies. And every three months, one will come out. If you’re interested in those characters, the hope is that you’ll really want to watch the next one, but it won’t be in hour segments.”
“Horizon” currently has a shooting schedule of 220 days. While the first film will shoot this fall, the next three will be lensed from April 2023 with the trio of titles shooting “at the same time.”
It's a bit of a tired joke to hear actors or directors describe a short-run series as "a long movie," but in this case, the description fits pretty well. And it's a fascinating experiment. Release the movies, sell the movies to streamers and also sell a TV series that is essentially the movies edited into episodes. The trick would be to shoot extra scenes and other content along the way, so that the resulting television series would be more like an extended director's cut of the films than just a bunch of artificially chopped up one-hour episodes.
THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT - FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION (sponsored ad)
THERE IS NOTHING DEADLINE LOVES MORE THAN A VAGUE STREAMING DATAPOINT
Unfortunately for those of toiling away in the entertainment media news mines, most of the viewer data points we receive from the various streamers tends to come in form of random factoids with no context. And let's be honest, how seriously can you take a talking point along the lines of "most watched original series with two words in the title?"
That doesn't seem to bother the good folks at Deadline, because they continue to highlight streaming "ratings" numbers that are basically useless. Today we learn that Father Of The Bride is HBO Max's biggest audience for a streaming-only movie:
Father’s Day weekend was the ideal launchpad for Warner Bros’ Andy Garcia-Gloria Estefan romantic comedy Father of the Bride, which wound up being the biggest HBO Max movie premiere ever in its four days, specifically for a title that was exclusively made for the streaming service.
Father of the Bride was the No. 1 title across HBO Max around the world in its first four days since it launched on Thursday, June 16. The film also ranked among the top 10 most-watched title launches on HBO Max to date in Mexico, based on its first four days.
Even better, this bit of non-news is an "exclusive," which might not be the get that Deadline thinks it is.
THE ANKLER RAISES $1.5 MILLION SEED ROUND, WITH A VALUATION OF $20 MILLION
Axios is reporting that Ankler Media has raised $1.5 million in a seed round, according to its CEO and editor-in-chief Janice Min:
While Ankler Media isn't releasing its number of paid subscriptions, it says paid subscriptions has grown 92% since Min joined the company late last year. it has a total of 22,000 subscriptions, both free and paid.
“Were very happy with the number,” Min said of paid subscribers. The company said paid subscription revenue has increased annual subscription revenue by 170% since last year.
For 2022, Min expects revenue from sponsorships to be in the low seven figures. Most of the company’s corporate sponsorship partners are entertainment giants, like Amazon, Hulu and Viacom.
Min said the company is profitable.
I wish them well, and I'm all for having more players in the entertainment media press who aren't owned by the Borg-like Penske Media (which owns The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Billboard, IndieWire, Rolling Stone, Deadline, TV Line, Gold Derby and SXSW, among others).
While I am nowhere near The Ankler's valuation, I can verify that there is a great deal of interest from readers looking to hear new voices and read new outlets.
My TooMuchTV newsletter has a similar number of subscriptions, although I've focused on free subscriptions as a way to increase my reach. And based on the growth of the subscriber numbers, I think my plan is working out okay.
TWEET OF THE DAY
ODDS AND SODS
* A new season of Running Wild With Bear Grylls: The Challenge, premieres Monday, July 25th on National Geographic.
* Dave Chapelle's proposal to defer having his name on his high school’s theater might seem conciliatory. But it’s a big bet on what he believes.
* Jacob Vargas is set for a heavily recurring role in National Treasure, Disney Branded Television’s TV series for Disney+ produced by ABC Signature.
* Deadline is reporting that Netflix is developing a limited series adaptation of John Steinbeck’s classic novel East Of Eden with Zoe Kazan writing and executive producing and Florence Pugh attached to star.
* HBO Max will debut all six-parts of the Max Original documentary The Last Movie Stars, from Ethan Hawke, depicting the extraordinary lives of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, on Thursday, July 21st:
WHAT'S NEW FOR TUESDAY
Here's a quick rundown of all the new stuff premiering today on TV and streaming:
Celebrity Game Face Season Premiere (E!)
Harmonious Live! (Disney+)
Hip Hop My House Series Premiere (Paramount+)
Joel Kim Booster: Psychosexual (Netflix)
Jon Stewart: The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize (PBS)
Love Island UK Series Premiere (Hulu)
Motherland: Fort Salem Season Premiere (Freeform)
The Future Of.... Series Premiere (Netflix)
37 Words (ESPN)
Wild N Out Season Premiere (VH1)
Click Here to see the list of all of the upcoming premiere dates for the next few months.
SEE YOU WEDNESDAY!
If you have any feedback, send it along to Rick@AllYourScreens.com and follow me on Twitter @aysrick.