Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Monday, December 13th, 2021
The case for talking to the press.
Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Monday, December 13th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities, where AllYourScreens HQ will be spending a lot of Monday writing reviews.
EVEN IN THE STREAMING ERA, THE PRESS STILL MATTERS
Last Sunday, The New Yorker released a profile of Jeremy Strong, the actor best known for playing Kendall Roy in HBO's Succession. The interview has been a non-stop topic of conversation in the industry ever since, even prompting Aaron Sorkin to release a typically passive-aggressive complaint letter to social media via actress Jessica Chastain.
The profile with Strong garnered so much attention in large part because it was honest and much more unvarnished than the typical celebrity feature piece. Strong comes off as complicated and a bit quirky/difficult to work with. But it's not a hatchet job and it's not mean-spirited. It's a fair and nuanced profile of an actor that few people had heard of before Succession. The fact that it's received so much pushback from people in the industry is an illustration of how rare it is to read an interview that hasn't been PR-micromanaged into blandness.
Anne Helen Peterson wrote about the state of the modern profile in her most recent newsletter and she makes some points that really highlight the challenges of interviewing celebrities in 2021. And while she focuses on the stars of the industry, I think many of these observations also apply to dealing with media executives:
The history of celebrity is the history of power swinging back and forth between the stars and the press that buttress their stardom. Right now — thanks, in particular, to social media — the stars hold nearly all that power. They’ve largely become their own paparazzi, their own gossip industry, their own fan magazines. Social media and reality celebrities/influencers in particular have created fully integrated monopolies of self: they control (and can profit from) the production, distribution, and consumption of their own images.
There’s just so little need for outside press. Which means that when stars do venture outside of their own channels, they’re able to determine the parameters of the vast majority of interactions with the press: how long an interview will be, how much the publication will have to pay photographers and glam teams in order to have original photography that meets their standards, whether or not they have final image approval, what things an interviewer can and cannot ask about, and even, in some cases, final approval over the article, or the person chosen to write the piece. (In other points in history, when Hollywood stars were more desperate for coverage, many were willing to give the publication days of access, and relinquish any form of say over the final product).
Today, if a publication won’t agree to terms? The celebs and their agents say screw it. They can always just go live on Instagram, or make a TikTok, or just tweet. Publications realize as much, and thus — out of necessity, lest they all turn into People Magazine, stuck republishing the Instagram captions of the celebs who’ve stopped answering their calls — concede to most demands.
This trend is related to the core reason why Netflix has launched the web site Tudum, an entertainment news website offering fans news and videos about all things Netflix. Now there's nothing wrong with hiring some journalists and creating a bunch of marketing-friendly stories about your content. But it's worth noting that when the company made the announcement, they laid out a future for the site that includes everything from premiere dates to exclusive interviews. The content will also be matched to a user's Netflix viewing habits. So if you sign onto the site with a browser where your Netflix subscription has been accessed, Tudum will use your viewing habits to decide which stories and features to highlight for you.
Netflix touts this as "personalization," and that is certainly true to a certain extent. But it also means that readers will be less likely to see stories about content that is outside of their recent viewing habits. Or more likely to see stories about content Netflix wants to highlight for some reason. And that leaves shows and movies at the mercy of Netflix's internal priorities. There are already plenty of producers and stars who feel as if they need to hire outside PR firms to promote their content. In part because Netflix just has way too much stuff in its pipeline to adequately promote everything equally. But also because not all projects are prioritized the same way internally. And for every unexpected breakout like Squid Game, there are a couple of dozen other shows that sank without a ripple.
But you know who can highlight those shows? A vibrant, independent entertainment press. I love highlighting shows that aren't receiving their proper due. In fact, helping viewers discover underpromoted content is pretty much my business model.
So if you are doing PR for a show that isn't Succession, it's worth spending the time to reach out to outlets. To provide interviews that aren't hemmed in by lots of often silly restrictions. For all of the things in The New Yorker profile that Jeremy Strong didn't like, what I am sure he appreciates is the attention he is receiving from the piece. It's been a career boost for him and it's attention that wouldn't have happened if he had simply done some piece for a house magazine.
THE FINANCIAL UPSIDE OF BEING PART OF THE INSURRECTION
While you might not recognize her name, Jennifer Leigh Ryan is a real estate broker from Frisco, Texas, who is going to federal prison for 60 days after being convicted of being part of the violence at the U.S. Capitol building on January 6th. She made news by initially claiming that she wouldn't go to jail because she’s a white woman with blonde hair.
While the two-month jail sentence is no doubt inconvenient, she seems to have figured out a way to turn the experience into a mini-moneymaking machine. She has a Tik Tok account devoted to her preparations for incarceration and she said on Friday that she has signed an "exclusive deal" to make an appearance on The Today Show this week. So while she says she can't appear on other news programs until after that appearance, fear not. Her "prison consultant" is making the rounds for her, most recently appearing on Banfield.
So while Ms. Ryan might have been wrong about the jail time, she was right about the ability of a blonde-haired white woman to monetize the revolution.
ANTHONY BOURDAIN'S SECRET DIARIES
Rolling Stone has a piece on some secret posting Anthony Bourdain was doing on Reddit in the years before his death:
Eventually, the tone and rhythms, the distinctive attitude in NooYawkCity’s writing, started to become recognizable to savvy Redditors. These, they suspected, were the musings of Anthony Bourdain, the celebrated chef, author, and TV star, who died by suicide in 2018 at the age of 61. Bourdain’s wife, Ottavia Busia — who had introduced him to Brazilian jiujitsu — later confirmed as much, as has an additional source close to the No Reservations host.
While the world had come to know Bourdain’s unfiltered writing style, his Reddit posts brought an exceptional sort of candor. NooYawkCity’s prose was not going through an editor, directed toward a book or TV audience. This was the truest Anthony Bourdain, writing simply for the sake of it, unburdened by his reputation. He’d previously chronicled his passion for food and travel, and now, he needed an outlet to write about his new love: Brazilian jiujitsu.
It's the mark of a gifted writer that their style is so clean and strong that you recognize it even if it didn't come with a byline. And some of these posts just scream "Bourdain!"
58 years old and getting so gassed during warm ups, that when we start to roll, I end up sticking my own head into an obvious guillotine — just to take a break. An utterly humiliating class yesterday, yet showed up for a private today with 250 lbs of muscle and bone so I could get pounded like a chicken fried steak. Why am I doing this? I don’t know. I’m like a dope fiend at this point. If I can’t train I start going into withdrawal. Wander around, twitching, restless and pissed off. At least with dope, you feel GOOD afterwards. After training, I feel like a rented and unloved mule. All the other (much, much younger) white belts all seem to be coming back from long breaks because of injury. Strangely enough, so far so good for me. I may feel like a fragile box of stale breadsticks but I’ve managed to avoid injury (if not discomfort). I have never enjoyed pain. I don’t care if it’s Gisele Bunchen coming at me in thigh boots wielding a riding crop, I’m not interested. Yet I insist on getting squashed on the mats every day and feel bereft if I can’t. This is not normal. When I talk about BJJ, Old friends look at me like I have an arm growing out of my forehead. But I Won’t stop. Can’t stop.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
WHAT'S NEW FOR MONDAY
Here's a quick rundown of all the new stuff premiering today on TV and streaming:
American Auto Series Premiere (NBC) - [video: American Auto B-Roll]
Gordon Ramsay's Road Trip: European Vacation (Fox)
House Hunters Ho Ho Home (HGTV)
Let's Get Married (VH1)
Maps And Mistletoe (Lifetime)
Street Gang: How We Got To Sesame Street (HBO)
The Larkins (Acorn TV)
The Rise And Fall Of LuLaRoe (Discovery+)
VH1 Family Reunion: Love & Hip Hop Edition (VH1)
Click Here to see the list of all of the upcoming premiere dates for the next few months.
SEE YOU TUESDAY!
If you have any feedback, send it along to Rick@AllYourScreens.com and follow me on Twitter @aysrick.