Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Monday, November 22nd, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities, where AllYourScreens HQ is already looking forward to getting out of the office today for a nice Mexican lunch. And maybe even an adult beverage.
As an FYI, just like everyone else this week, I'm taking off Thursday and Friday. So after Wednesday's newsletter, you won't hear from me until Monday. Assuming some crazy story doesn't break over the holiday weekend.
BOBBY FLAY SIGNS NEW DEAL WITH FOOD NETWORK
Celebrity chef Bobby Flay has signed a new deal with the Food Network after contract negotiations between the two sides fell apart about six weeks ago. The news was first reported by Variety's Cynthia Littleton, who also spoke with Flay about the deal:
“I have an amazing family at Food Network and a great foundation. And I have a sizable library of food television here,” Flay said. “I’m a lucky person. I grew up in a time when this country finally decided that food was important.”
Flay hopes to push the boundaries of what is considered food-centric programming now that Discovery has even more outlets for programming in the Discovery Plus streamer. Flay has already been working in different genres such as the upcoming travelogue-focused series “Bobby and Sophie on the West Coast.”
“It’s always been my determination to always evolve. It’s part of why I’ve been able to stay relevant in this genre,” Flay said. “I’m going to be pitching a lot of things that we haven’t seen when it comes to this kind of programing. I’m ready to turn the page and create a new chapter of what (foodie TV) is going to look like.
Details of the deal weren't reported in the Variety piece, but I just got off the phone with someone familiar with the negotiations who told me that Flay was able to extract a couple of things he had been lobbying for: bigger opportunities for his production company (including ownership of the shows) and a role at the network that involved less of the on-camera make work that he felt wasn't appropriate his position at the network. I'm told that Discovery head David Zaslav personally became part of the negotiations, making the point with Flay that the upcoming Discovery/Warner Media merger would offer new career opportunities for Flay while allowing him to stay "in the family."
I also just received the official press release from the Food Network, which mentions that Flay will be appearing in new episodes of his long-running series Beat Bobby Flay. Which is interesting, given that the Food Network has already announced the premiere of the show Throwdown With Michael Symon. Throwdown was the series Flay did before Beat Bobby Flay and he reportedly stopped doing it because he didn't like the idea of having to travel to compete against chefs. Of course, Symon appears to have the same issue, he just did all four episodes of his version of Throwdown at NYC-area restaurants.
The press release also included some of the same Flay quotes used in the Variety piece. Which makes me wonder if the Flay "interview" material used in the piece was actually just some emailed comments or emailed responses to questions. Which explains why his comments feel a bit measured and stilted? I would love to see someone do an in-depth one-on-one interview with Flay, although I suspect that's not something he's interested in right now.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A TV CRITIC?
Eleanor Halls is associate culture editor and music editor of The Telegraph and she recently gave an interview about her work to Music Journalism Insider. While her comments were specifically about the challenges of covering the music industry and how that role has changed, it is just as relevant to the challenges facing TV and media industry reporters:
I think we need to have honest conversations about the role of music journalism and whether much of it still has any value. I worry that music journalism—interviews and reviews—is becoming PR to some musicians. Most journalists are freelance and don’t have the support of editors or publishers, and reply on publicists for talent access so they can get work. It’s no wonder they often feel too intimidated by an artist and their team to write what they really think.
Having been on the receiving end of angry PRs, I would be terrified of having to deal with them without the support I get being on staff. But this means that more and more music journalism I read comes across as if it were written by a breathless fan rather than a journalist. I get it, they want the artist to like—and crucially, share—their work, but we need to be honest with ourselves about whether this is actually journalism.
That’s not to say that I want writers to write sniping takedowns of artists—absolutely not, unkind journalism is totally unnecessary. But I don’t really see the point of a piece that simply presents the artist in the artist’s own terms, as they present themselves on Instagram. Why would you need a journalist for that? I think the majority of fans and music lovers appreciate researched, insightful, fair and honest journalism. But I think stan culture on Twitter has distorted that reality.
COMING THIS WEEK
There was a time when television during the Thanksgiving week was little more that reruns and a few holidays specials. But now it feels more like a slightly less busy normal week of programming. Here are some of the highlights and if you want to see the complete list of the week's premieres, you can find it here.
Here are some of this week's highlights:
Black & Missing (Tuesday, HBO)
The four-part documentary series follows sisters-in-law and Black and Missing Foundation founders Derrica and Natalie Wilson as they fight an uphill battle to bring awareness to the Black missing persons cases that are marginalized by law enforcement and national media. The series, which was three years in the making, takes on new urgency given the renewed national conversation on “missing white woman syndrome”.
Masters of the Universe: Revelation (Tuesday, Netflix)
The war for Eternia continues in the second part of “Masters of the Universe: Revelation,” an innovative and action-packed animated series that picks up where the iconic characters left off. With Skeletor now wielding the Sword of Power, the weary heroes of Eternia must band together to fight back against the forces of evil in a thrilling and epic conclusion to the two-part series.
Hawkeye (Wednesday, Disney+)
Marvel Studios’ Hawkeye stars Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, who teams up with another well-known archer from the Marvel comics, Kate Bishop, played by Hailee Steinfeld. The cast also includes Vera Farmiga, Fra Fee, Tony Dalton, Zahn McClarnon, Brian d’Arcy James and newcomer Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez.
The Beatles: Get Back (Thursday, Disney+)
Directed by three-time Oscar-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson, The Beatles: Get Back is a three-part documentary series that takes audiences back in time to the band’s intimate recording sessions during a pivotal moment in music history. A highlight of Jackson's miniseries is sure to be the Beatles' legendary final concert performed from the rooftop of their London headquarters, which will be shown in its entirety for the first time in history.
A Castle For Christmas (Friday, Netflix)
Famed author, Sophie Brown (Brooke Shields), travels to Scotland hoping to buy a small castle of her own, but the prickly owner, Duke Myles (Cary Elwes), is reluctant to sell to a foreigner. Working to find a compromise, the pair constantly butt heads, but they just may find something more than they were expecting.
How To Win With John Wilson (Friday, HBO Max)
In a uniquely hilarious odyssey of self-discovery and cultural observation, John Wilson covertly and obsessively films the lives of his fellow New Yorkers while attempting to give everyday advice on relatable topics. The awkward contradictions of modern life are eased by Wilson’s candid, unpolished commentary, with season one’s episodes offering up his distinct take on a range of deceivingly simple topics.
ODDS AND SODS
* What should I watch? Ease your mind with these white noise and slow TV channels.
* Q&A: Mel Giedroyc talks about the new Discovery+ series Good With Wood.
* Ridley Scott says 10-episode TV shows based on Aliens and Blade Runner are already written and "on the way."
* The new Shonda Rimes drama Inventing Anna premieres February 11th, 2022 on Netflix.
SEE YOU TUESDAY!