Features 2

Features 2 (139)

First Look: 'Gossip Girl'

Written by 28 May, 2021

HBO Max has released a first look teaser for its reboot of Gossip Girl, which premieres on Thursday, July 8th. Developed by showrunner Joshua Safran, a writer and executive producer on the original series, this extension of the pop culture classic takes us back to the Upper East Side finding a new generation of New York private school teens being introduced to social surveillance nine years after the original blogger’s website went dark.  The series is based on the bestselling novels by Cecily von Ziegesar and the original show, developed by Josh Schwartz & Stephanie Savage, which ran from 2007-2012 on The CW.

Gossip Girl explores just how much social media — and the landscape of New York itself — has changed in the intervening years. The series stars Jordan Alexander, Eli Brown, Thomas Doherty, Tavi Gevinson, Emily Alyn Lind, Evan Mock, Zion Moreno, Whitney Peak and Savannah Lee Smith.

Gossip Girl is produced by Fake Empire and Alloy Entertainment in association with Warner Bros. Television and CBS Studios. The series is written, executive produced and developed by Joshua Safran of Random Acts.  Executive producers also include Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage of Fake Empire, and Leslie Morgenstein and Gina Girolamo of Alloy Entertainment. Lis Rowinski of Fake Empire serves as co-executive producer. Karena Evans directs two episodes and original costume designer Eric Daman rejoins the series.

Last modified on Saturday, 29 May 2021 15:15

How The Politics Of 'The West Wing' Ruined America

Written by 09 June, 2021

As someone who has made a living online since the dinosaur days, I am well aware of the fact that the headline of this piece might seem like just another attempt by some random web monkey looking to generate a bunch of cheap clicks. But in the same way that the old adage "even a broken clock is right twice a day" is indeed true, even though this piece has a clickbait premise, it is also an idea that is sadly more true than any of us might want to admit.

Aaron Sorkin's political series The West Wing ran for seven seasons on NBC and it is rightfully considered to be one of the best television series in history. Grounded in Sorkin's beliefs in a country that can be a reflection of our better natures, the show followed the struggles and triumphs of the presidential administration of Martin Sheen's unabashedly liberal Josiah "Jed" Bartlett. An economist and former Governor of New Hampshire, Bartlett and his staff were a group of reflective, driven technocrats who mostly believed that any problem can be solved with the application of just the right combination of facts, persuasion and appeals to patriotism and a sense of what's right. Sure, that are some evil people in the world. But the show is woven together with the belief that, as Martin Luther King, Jr., reminded us, "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

And because the show was so well-written, because it felt as if there was some direct connection between what was on the screen and what took place in real-life politics, a generation of liberals grew up seeing the politics of The West Wing as a portrayal of what Washington politics could be. Despite all evidence to the contrary. This generation saw the arena of national politics as a meritocratic world where smart, well-meaning people argued passionately as they walked down long hallways. Sure, there were some bad players in the world. But the serious people - the ones that wanted to be on the right side of history - found common ground thanks to heartfelt discussions of the facts. Minds could be changed on the right, they believed, if only they would stop and listen to the truth.

In many ways, Barack Obama was The West Wing president. A smart, charismatic outsider who could articulately dissect an obscure economics theory while also talking confidently about each and every tune on his Spotify playlist. He saw himself as being the bridge to people on the other side of the political spectrum and his ability to reach voters who saw his vision led them to believe that even his opponents would have to acknowledge the sincerity and intellectual correctness of his beliefs.

But as it turned out, Obama's opponents did not see The West Wing as a blueprint for the way political discourse should take place. Conservatives were soon arguing that America's first African-American president was "the most decisive president in history" and that he "made everything about race." There were claims that he hated America, was a secret Socialist, an acolyte of radicals, a fraud who wanted to destroy the American way of life. Obama accomplished some important things over his eight years, but it's worth noting that he did it without any help from conservatives or anyone who self-described as Republican. 

Yet it's notable that in recent interviews Obama still seems to be wedded to this Jeb Bartlett view of politics. He will concede that Republicans weren't cooperative and were often actively working against him to block policies he still believes are good for Americans. He has recently admitted that these beliefs might even threaten democracy. But he also still believes that it is possible to change minds, to reach out to opponents, and open their minds in the same way that Richard Schiff's Toby Ziegler changed the conversation by crafting just the perfect turn of a phrase.

And you can see this strain of delusional thinking wrapped inside large swaths of liberal politics and the media. The reflexive need by journalists to weigh the sins and accomplishments of both sides equally in order to be intellectually fair. The unwillingness of liberal media outlets to hone their messaging with the drill-like precision exhibited by conservative media outlets. As I was flipping around the AM radio dial earlier this week, I heard Sean Hannity still pounding away at Hillary Clinton's use of the phrase "deplorables" - a phrase she used so long ago that there are now high school students who weren't alive when she said it. But he repeats it because it's effective shorthand and it sticks in the brains of listeners. As opposed to what I heard on my local progressive talk station, where the host was promising to have a "rational" discussion without shouting. Which is pretty much everything you shouldn't say if you want a broadcast that is both entertaining and effective.

We live in a country where large parts of the conservative world believe Donald Trump is the rightful president, we would have better off if the country has stayed completely open during the pandemic, that every blue state urban area is an Antifa-terrorized hellscape, that government should be weaker and less effective and that the left wants America to be a Socialist, Godless roving crime scene where Whites are hunted down on the streets like big game. There is no clever turn of a phrase that can change these minds. No meeting in the middle where both sides can discover the things they have in common.

That unwillingness to listen to conflicting views is why conservative media figures ranging from Sean Hannity and Hugh Hewitt to Dennis Prager and Dan Bondgino don't have anyone from the Left on their shows. Not only are they intellectually uninterested in a dialogue, a little voice inside their heads worries that listeners hearing an opposing view might realize they are running a factual con job. So for media critics to argue "we have to do more fact-checking on their lies" feels more like something press secretary C.J. Cregg (Allison Janney) would make to the press corps. It's an approach that embraces the political norms in a way that would UK's pre-WWII prime minister Chamberlain proud.

The West Wing is a wonderful television show and it's fine to see it as an aspirational ideal for America. But it's past time for those of us on the left to stop seeing it as a working model for the way America should be governed.

It's time to give up the Sorkin-esque dream of American politics.

Have some feedback about this piece? Email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or follow me on Twitter at @aysrick.

Last modified on Thursday, 10 June 2021 00:48

A Guide To All Of The Quibi Shows Premiering On The Roku Channel

Written by 20 May, 2021

The first round of shows that were produced for the departed short-form video service Quibi premiered today on the Roku Channel.

There are 31 titles, and include stars ranging from Anna Kendrick and Kevin Hart to Chance The Rapper and Dakota Fanning.

If you have a Roku streaming device, you can find the programs listed as "Roku Originals" in the Roku Channel app. You can also stream the shows at this link.

Here is a complete rundown of all of the programs now available. A second round of former Quibi shorts will premiere on the Roku Channel later this year.

About Face
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley gets up close and personal with today's biggest beauty icons including Kylie Jenner, Huda Kattan and more to hear their stories, inspirations, and learn what it takes to build a beauty empire.

Bad Ideas With Adam Devine
Adam Devine travels to different locations with celebrity guests in search of adventures that are already inherently dangerous, only they'll add their own extra special sauce to ensure they are truly terrible choices.

Contractor Tyler Cameron and interior designer Delia Kenza build custom, luxury dog homes for the furry friends of celebrity clientele.

Big Rad Wolf
The story of the American Apparel brand, which was celebrated for its provocative advertising and message of social change; then its founder causes the iconic company to implode.

Highlighting five days during the 2014 NBA playoffs, when Doc Rivers, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and the LA Clippers led an unprecedented movement of athletes to hold racism accountable.

Visionary florist and host Maurice Harris interviews creative artists about their process; as they open up about their journey, Maurice uses his incredible flower design skills to create a beautiful centerpiece that reflects their conversation.

Chrissy's Court
The cases are real, the decisions are legally binding, and Chrissy Teigen is the actual courtroom judge.

Cup Of Joe
As Joe Jonas journeys through eight cities worldwide, celebrity friends will help him experience the cities as a local.

Die Hart
Kevin Hart sets out to land the action movie role of a lifetime, but gets rejected for the role and encounters a leading action movie director (John Travolta)

Dishmantled With Tituss Burgess
Blasted with a mystery food dish, two blindfolded chefs must use their culinary prowess to identify the dish and recreate it in a race against the clock; whichever chef who comes closest to recreating the original dish wins a cash prize.

An aspiring writer (Anna Kendrick) befriends her boyfriend's sex doll and the two take on the world together.

Fight Like A Girl
Ten women are paired with WWE Superstars to find the strength, courage, and ability to transform themselves both inside and out.

Jann and Cricket think they have what it takes to television's newest house-flipping couple; unfortunately, drug cartel members think so too and taps the delusional duo to renovate their mansions.

An accused man's (Stephen James) difficult pathway to exoneration - and survival - hinges upon his trust in a stranger (Laurence Fishburne) and asking a nation to bear witness.

Gayme Show!
Matt Rogers and Dave Mizzoni host as two straight contestants compete in a series of physical, mental, and performance challenges to test their gay knowledge, leading to the title of "Queen of the Straights."

Iron Sharpens Iron
Top pro athletes from different sports grind in the gym together and trade the training secrets they believe gives them the edge to be the greatest.

Last Looks
Dakota Fanning narrates this look at real-life crimes that shook the fashion industry, told by the people closest to each case.

Let's Roll With Tony Greenhand
Joint artist Tony Greenhand designs smokable creations tailored for stoner celebrity clients.

Most Dangerous Game
Desperate to take care of his pregnant wife before a terminal illness can take his life, a man (Liam Hemsworth) accepts an offer to participate in a deadly game in which he is not the hunter but the prey.

Murder House Flip
Home improvement specialists Mikel Welch and Joelle Uzyel renovate infamous homes known for murders and intrigue, taking them from morbid to marvelous.

Murder Unboxed
A samurai sword, tomahawk, a Playboy magazine; unboxing these real-life pieces of evidence and more while hearing from the detectives, prosecutors, and witnesses who helped solve the actual cases.

Sasha Velour and her cast members prepare for the biggest drag showcase of their lives with heart, humor, and a lot of glamour.

Get an inside look at the training of 8 young athletes, each hailed as the next big star in their respective sport, as they prepare for the challenges that lie ahead.

Chance the Rapper plays audacious pranks on unsuspecting celebrities.

Reno 911!
Sheriff's deputies are ready to do what it takes to safeguard their city of Reno, Nev.

Ragtag songwriting duo Sara and Pierce navigate the strange and hilarious challenges of creating great songs for quirky artists.

Shape Of Pasta
In pursuit of pasta perfection, Chef Evan Funke tours Italy uncovering the craft and culture behind some rare and forgotten pasta shapes.

Thanks A Million
Celebrities kick-start a chain of kindness by gifting $100,000 to an unsuspecting individual who has had a positive impact on their lives and asking them to pay it forward.

The Fugitive
Mike Ferro (Kiefer Sutherland) is an innocent man on the run, desperate to clear his name. He is pursued relentlessly by determined Detective Clay Bryce (Boyd Holbrook)

The Music Videos Of 'Royalties'
Music videos from episodes of the series, "Royalties."

You Ain't Got These
An exploration of sneaker culture, fitting in, and belonging to something bigger than oneself.

Last modified on Thursday, 20 May 2021 13:41

Expiring From Hulu: June 2021

Written by 19 May, 2021

Here is a rundown of all the titles leaving Hulu in June 2021:

Intrigo: Dear Agnes (2019)
The Appearance (2018)
FRIDAY, JUNE 11TH, 2021:
Intrigo: Samaria (2019)
LA 92 (2020)
Identity (2003)
28 Days Later (2003)
50 First Dates (2004)
A Low Down Dirty Shame (1994)
A Night at the Roxbury (1998)
A Prayer For The Dying (1987)
A Simple Plan (1998)
A Storks Journey (2017)
The Birdcage (1997)
Blue Streak (1999)
Brooklyn's Finest (2010)
Bug (2007)
Bulworth (1998)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (1974)
Changeling (2008)
Cheech & Chong's Still Smokin' (1983)
Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs (2009)
Convicts (1991)
Convoy (1978)
The Core (2003)
The Devil's Double (2011)
Did You Hear About The Morgans? (2009)
Die Hard (1988)
Die Hard With A Vengeance (1995)
Dude, Where's My Car? (2000)
Face/Off (1997)
The Foot Fist Way (2008)
Frankie & Alice (2014)
The Full Monty (1997)
Garden State (2004)
Get Smart (2008)
Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003)
Guess Who (2005)
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957)
How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998)
I Am Legend (2007)
Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport (2000)
Junior (1994)
Knowing (2009)
Little Women (1994)
Live Free Or Die Hard (2007)
The Long Goodbye (1973)
The Man Who Could Cheat Death (1959)
Monster's Ball (2001)
Mystery Science Theatre (1996)
Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
New in Town (2009)
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009)
The Ninth Gate (1999)
Once Upon A Crime... (1992)
Pandorum (2009)
Paycheck (2003)
The Polar Express (2004)
The Preacher's Wife (1996)
The Princess Bride (1987)
Ramona and Beezus (2009)
Revolutionary Road (2008)
Rio (2011)
Salt (2010)
The Sandlot (1993)
Saving Silverman (2001)
Scary Movie 4 (2006)
Scorpio (1973)
Sex And The City (2008)
Sex And The City 2 (2010)
Shirley Valentine (1989)
Sleeping With The Enemy (1991)
Some Girls (1988)
Something's Gotta Give (2003)
Soul Plane (2004)
The Sum of All Fears (2002)
Thirst (2009)
Vantage Point (2008)
Vertical Limit (2000)
Walking Tall (1973)
War (2007)
The Wedding Planner (2001)
Where the Heart Is (2000)

Last modified on Wednesday, 19 May 2021 01:03

First Look: Jamie Dornan In 'The Tourist'

Written by 18 May, 2021

HBO Max has released first look images of BAFTA-nominated Jamie Dornan as "The Man" desperately searching for his identity in the new drama series, The Tourist. The character-driven six-part thriller is from Emmy-winning production company Two Brothers Pictures (Baptiste, The Missing, Fleabag), created and written by acclaimed writers Harry and Jack Williams for HBO Max, BBC, Stan and ZDF.
Jamie Dornan stars as a British man who finds himself in the glowing red heart of the Australian outback, being pursued by a vast tank truck trying to drive him off the road. An epic cat and mouse chase unfolds and the man later wakes in hospital, hurt, but somehow alive. Except he has no idea who he is. With merciless figures from his past pursuing him, The Man’s search for answers propels him through the vast and unforgiving outback. 

Full of shocking, surprising, funny and brutal turns, The Tourist is set in a world populated by quirky, enigmatic characters and off-beat comedy punctuates high-stakes action. At its heart, however, is a story of self-discovery with a ticking timebomb underneath: as The Man starts to uncover the mystery of who he was, he’s also forced to ask who he is now – and fast. Will he unlock the secrets of his identify before those who are trying to kill him catch up with him?

The Tourist also stars Danielle Macdonald (Unbelievable, Dumplin’, Patti Cakes), Shalom Brune-Franklin (Line of Duty, Roadkill), Ólafur Darri Ólafsson (Trapped, The Missing) and Alex Dimitriades (The End, The Cry). Damon Herriman (Mindhunter, Justified) has also joined the series playing Lachlan Rogers, replacing Hugo Weaving who departed the production due to scheduling issues. 
The Tourist is a Two Brothers Pictures (an all3media company) production for the BBC, in association with Highview Productions, All3Media International, the South Australian Film Corporation, HBO Max, Stan and ZDF. The 6x60 drama has been written by BAFTA-nominated and Emmy-winning producers and screenwriters Harry and Jack Williams (Baptiste, The Missing, Liar), who alongside Christopher Aird (“Baptiste,” “Liar,” “Clique”) and Andrew Benson will serve as executive producers for Two Brothers Pictures and Tommy Bulfin (“Normal People,” “Line of Duty,” “Peaky Blinders”) for the BBC. Lisa Scott (“A Sunburnt Christmas,” “The Hunting”) will produce and Chris Sweeney (“Liar,” “Back to Life”) will executive produce and direct. The Tourist was commissioned by Piers Wenger, Director of BBC Drama and Charlotte Moore, BBC Chief Content Officer. International sales will be handled by global partner all3media International.

Last modified on Wednesday, 19 May 2021 00:26

'Behind The Schedule' With FOX Sports’ Mike Mulvihill And Joe Buck

Written by 13 May, 2021

Following last night’s 2021-22 NFL schedule release, FOX Sports Executive Vice President, Head of Strategy and Analytics, Mike Mulvihill spoke with FOX NFL lead play-by-play announcer Joe Buck about the scheduling process. The two go “Behind the Schedule” to discuss the first things they look for in a new slate of games, how storied franchises play a major role in the process, the return of fans to stadiums and much more.

Last modified on Thursday, 13 May 2021 18:55

First Look: 'Beyond The Pole' Season Two

Written by 07 May, 2021

WE tv’s jaw-dropping series Beyond the Pole returns for an explosive season two set to premiere Thursday, June 3 at 10 PM ET. Friendships are tested, finances are strapped, but through the turmoil, laughter and tears, these ladies are the ultimate survivors and their stories prove there is never a dull moment in the hustle.

This season, Ms. Dime, Angel Kake, Empress, Lyric, Virgo, Gigi Maguire, Ya Ya, Treasure, and Milk Marie “Pinky” are dealing with a world that is changing along with their businesses. Everyone is feeling the stress of quarantine, staying masked-up, healthy, and keeping the bills paid in this new COVID reality. Now that the city of Atlanta has reopened, the women face these challenges as well as the pressure on their friendships, relationships and professional lives.

Always hustling, the women embark on their own individual journeys to transition from the club and establish new and better lives. However, with these changes come secrets and a web of lies the women have kept hidden from the world, and sometimes from themselves.

Last modified on Friday, 07 May 2021 00:38

First Look: 'Too Large'

Written by 06 May, 2021

The brand-new series Too Large introduces viewers to cases of dire obesity with oversized personalities to match. Seven desperate hopefuls each weighing between 400-lbs and 800-lbs seek the help of renowned bariatric surgeon Dr. Charles Procter, as they attempt to lose weight and change their lives forever. Each episode will follow a new case, culminating in either the success or setback of their weight loss journey. Too Large premieres each week beginning Wednesday, June 2nd only on discovery+.

In a special two-hour premiere episode, viewers will meet best friends Meghan and Vanessa. Despite their fun-loving energy and wit, both women are plagued by health problems. Weighing in at 496-lbs, Meghan is tired of living her life connected to an oxygen tank and wants to inspire Vanessa to join her in having bariatric surgery. However, at 440-lbs, Vanessa is not convinced looking at the intense diet and exercise changes they need to make in order to meet Dr. Procter’s weight loss requirements prior to the surgery. In the end, it will take more than a positive attitude and a sense of humor to push these women to save their own lives.

Last modified on Thursday, 06 May 2021 23:36

Mike O'Malley Wants You To Watch His Show

Written by 28 September, 1999

Every fall a mind-numbing number of new shows hit the airwaves, and what people watch and why often has to do with expectations. People want to see a new show because it's written by someone familiar, because it stars some hunky actor or femme fatale hottie, or just because everything else that's on at the same time really sucks.

And it also has to do with the reviews, and the press and the way stories are spun. If you read enough glowing reviews of a new series, you'll watch it--at least once. But if you don't see much press about the show, or even worse, some bad stuff, you'll just blow it off. If it's still around in a couple of months when your favorites are in reruns, or if you start to hear a buzz about it, then you'll tune in. But oftentimes, why a person watches one show and not another is a mystery to even the most veteran of television folk.

Which is why people like Mike O'Malley get frustrated. Here's a guy who's plugging away, doing the show he thinks everyone would want to see, and he just can't catch a break.

Part of it has to with the press coverage surrounding his series--The Mike O'Malley Show. To be kind, the word of mouth from the tv critics has not exactly been glowing. While over-the-top productions such as Snoops garnered glowing reviews from everybody who could even spell David E. Kelley, Mr. O'Malley's Show has been receiving reviews along the lines of "well, it's not as lame as I thought it would be." Not exactly a vote of confidence.

According to O'Malley, the reaction from the TV critics have been more than a bit surprising. "I'm tremendously proud of the work we've done," he told me in a phone interview on Friday. "I don't know what the problem, but for whatever reason, it's just brought out this...anger. Maybe it's because the old pilot was floating around for a long time, maybe it's just people's perceptions. It's as if they wonder why I deserved to have my own show. Why does this guy who nobody knows have his own show?"

To be fair, it's not exactly as if no one knows him. Although most tv viewers probably recognize him from his ESPN spots, and from hosting Nickelodeon's Get The Picture. He's also had a series before, the WB's short-lived Life With Roger..

But what's frustrating for O'Malley is that, even when people think they know a bit about him, they're generally mistaken. "I read all these reviews that say, 'Why do we need another series starring a stand-up?' Which is wrong. #1, I've never been a stand-up. My background is playwriting. I don't know, maybe we shouldn't have put my name in the title. But part of the reason was because it was distinctive. I read this article in the L.A. Times about shows that had similar names..Now And Then, Then And Again, whatever. It wasn't an ego thing. We thought this made sense."

It certainly hasn't helped that most of what little press coverage the show has gotten has focused on behind the scenes machinations. If the press reports are to be believed, O'Malley ended up in an argument with Les Firestein, the show's runner about a "co-created by" credit. A disagreement which ultimately led to a decision by the Writer's Guild that the two would share the billing.

And then there was the matter of the memo. Apparently O'Malley sent a 19-page memo to his writing staff, laying out the direction he thought the show should take in the future. Unfortunately, the memo wasn't received with quite the expected reaction, and the thing was leaked to the press quicker than you can say, "Britany Spears has fake breasts." In fact, after I posted a review of the show last week, I was emailed hunks of the memo, along with a long, rambling note about O'Malley and his alleged horrific behavior.

O'Malley says that "this so-called 'memo,' was blown out of proportion. "I'm in charge of a multimillion dollar show, and you want to make sure you don't lose part of what got you there. Much of my writing involves a man questing for the right way to do things...in friendship..in love..what have you. And I want to make sure they understand that."

It's obvious that his method of expressing himself to the writing staff might have hurt his cause. And nothing can damage a show more than the public perception that it's a show in turmoil. O'Malley told me he's aware that can be an issue, but he hopes the audience will simply tune into the show and decide for themselves. "The show deserves a second look," said O'Malley. "The show does, the cast and crew...I hope I deserve one too. We've worked hard to get here and I'm just fighting for the chance to make this work."


Last modified on Sunday, 02 May 2021 21:36

New On The Roku Channel: May 2021

Written by 01 May, 2021

Here is a rundown of all the new content available on The Roku Channel in May 2021:

Adams Family Values
A Girl Like Grace
An Hour Behind
An Officer And A Gentleman
Bleed For This
Cinderella And Four Knights
Dark Harbor
Down With Love
El Dorado
5 Minute Crafts
Good Luck Chuck
Hope Floats
Hotel Artemis
I Am Sam
Ice Castles
Lights, Camera....Emma
Madea's Family Reunion
Message In A Bottle
Mr. Untouchable
Mythica: The Godslayer
Mythica: The Iron Crown
Rules Of Engagement
Sense & Sensibility
Something To Talk About
Soul Men
Stick It
The Beautiful Beast
The Canyon
The Client
The Neverending Story
The Saint
Warm Bodies
We Own The Night
What Women Want

Last modified on Wednesday, 19 May 2021 00:56