Bill Bellamy Joins Octavia Spencer Netflix Series ‘Madam CJ Walker’

Bill Bellamy has joined the cast of the forthcoming Netflix limited series “Madam CJ Walker,” which tells the story of the black hair care pioneer and mogul. The four-part series hails from executive producers LeBron James and Octavia Spencer, who will also star as the titular Madam. The series is inspired by the book “‘On Her Own Ground’ […]

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Netflix Sets Premiere Date for Peaky Blinders Season 5

Peaky Blinders premieres August 25 on the BBC in the UK, but international viewers don’t have to wait too much longer for their fix of Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) and his enterprising crime family to return. Peaky Blinders’ Season 5 release date on Netflix has been announced – mark your calendars for Friday, October 4, when US and international audiences will be able to binge the entire six-episode season and see what kind of mischief Tommy gets up to after becoming a member of parliament.

Season 5 “finds the world thrown into turmoil by the financial crash of 1929. When Tommy Shelby MP is approached by a charismatic politician with a bold vision for Britain, he realizes that his response will impact not only the future of his family but that of the entire nation.”

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How to Unblock and Stream US Netflix or US Amazon Prime Video Content from the UK

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Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for the latest deals and follow IGN UK Deals Amazon Storefront for our curated lists of best games, tech and accessories.

IGN Exclusive VPN Deal: Stream US Amazon Prime Video or US Netflix Content from the UK

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Diesel Teams with Netflix Series “La Casa de Papel”

JOINING THE HEIST: Let the binge-watching – and purchasing – begin. Diesel has revealed a partnership with hit Netflix series “La Casa de Papel,” also known as “Money Heist.”
Created by Álex Pina in 2017, the Spanish show revolves around a long-prepared, multi-day assault on the Royal Mint of Spain in Madrid conceived by a criminal mastermind and executed by eight thieves whose identities are undisclosed. Over the arc of just two seasons, the series gained worldwide popularity, with some of its signature elements becoming part of the pop culture, including the red uniforms; the Salvador Dalí-inspired masks worn by the protagonists during the heist; and the Italian anti-fascist song “Bella ciao” played multiple times in emblematic scenes as a metaphor of resistance and freedom.
For the third season of the show, which will be released on July 19, Diesel’s design team created the red hooded jumpsuits worn by the key characters. As part of the collaboration, the brand will also offer a limited number of jumpsuits worn on set to aficionados of the show and consumers through an online contest.

La Casa de Papel’s signature red jumpsuit uniform. 
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In addition, Diesel will release a limited edition capsule collection dedicated to the series. Offered in a color

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‘The Society’ Renewed for Season 2 at Netflix

Get ready for more of “The Society.” Netflix has renewed the drama series for a second season. Series creator Chris Keyser will return as showrunner and executive producer on Season 2, with Marc Webb also returning as executive producer. The second season will go into production later this year for a 2020 launch date on […]

Variety

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Best Horror Movies on Netflix Right Now (June 2019)

From a guy named Freddy and a guy named Jason finally meeting up to Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to three Final Destinations to Spielberg’s Jaws and beyond, there are a lot of good scary horror movies to choose from on Netflix…

Are you looking for the best horror movies streaming on Netflix right now? We’ve got you covered with our monthly updates on the best scariest new movies on Netflix.

It’s as wild and as varied as a film genre gets — from indie stories of terror to digital features of killing to high-brow masterpieces about evil — and whatever the brand of horror you’re in the mood for, there’s something on the service for you. So let’s take a look at the best scary new releases in horror to stream on Netflix right now, including many of the top recent horror films from 2019, 2018, 2017, and 2016, as well as many of the best, all-time greatest classics. We’ve picked splatter thrillers, terror-inducing nightmare fests, schlocky tales, blood-curdling flicks, and more. It’s horror for fans of all kinds to watch, whether it’s Halloween or not!

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Can Netflix Have It Both Ways With Its Planned Purchase of the Egyptian Theatre?

Netflix is a digital disruptor that’s done more than almost any company to upend the media business, and yet so much recent chatter about the streamer revolves around movie theaters. Last week’s news that the streaming giant was in negotiations to buy Hollywood’s iconic Egyptian Theatre from the American Cinematheque is Netflix’s latest brush with […]

Variety

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Netflix Is Launching a Comedy Radio Station

Netflix is launching its first audio-only channel that will broadcast snippets from the streaming platform’s comedy specials around the clock, in addition to other original content.

Netflix Is A Joke Radio will launch on April 15 and air on SiriusXM’s Channel 93.

The station will be home to highlights from a stable of talent including Adam Sandler, Aziz Ansari, Bill Burr, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Ellen DeGeneres, Gabriel Iglesias, Jerry Seinfeld, John Mulaney, Ken Jeong, Ricky Gervais, Sarah Silverman, Sebastian Maniscalco, Trevor Noah, Wanda Sykes, and more.

“Netflix Is A Joke Radio on SiriusXM will be an audio extension of our award winning stand-up comedy on Netflix,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, in a press release via TechRadar. “We are thrilled to feature some of the greatest and funniest performers in the world with highlights from Netflix shows as well as original programming that further celebrates the art of comedy, and we are excited to do this in partnership with SiriusXM.”

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Ants vs. Killer Fungi in Exclusive Netflix Clip

Netflix is joining forces with the people behind the award-winning Planet Earth series, bringing you a new visually captivating and informative look at nature with Our Planet, hosted by Sir David Attenborough.

Premiering on Netflix on Friday, April 5, Our Planet is an 8-episode journey that will take you to scorching deserts, frozen worlds, and lush rain forests. For an exclusive look at the series, check out the clip below, featuring Attenborough’s melodic voice describing what happens to ants when they come across killer fungi.

According to a synopsis from Netflix, “The ambitious four-year project has been filmed in 50 countries across all the continents of the world, with over 600 members of crew capturing more than three and a half thousand filming days, and will focus on the breadth of the diversity of habitats around the world, from the remote Arctic wilderness and mysterious deep oceans to the vast landscapes of Africa and diverse jungles of South America.”

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‘Umbrella Academy’ Renewed for Season 2 at Netflix

Netflix has renewed “The Umbrella Academy” for a second season, Variety has learned. Season 1 cast members Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher, and Justin Min will all reprise their roles in Season 2. In addition, Steve Blackman will return as showrunner. The second season, which will consist of 10 […]

Variety

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How to Watch American Netflix Content or American Amazon Prime Video Content in the UK

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Recently, VPNs are becoming increasingly popular because they can ensure your security and privacy when browsing the web. Another reason is that they can get you access to another regions content on video streaming services such as Netflix. After the news that Netflix is once again raising its subscription prices in the United States, getting a VPN to watch American Netflix has never been more worth it.

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‘Wedding Crashers’ Director Boards Will Ferrell Comedy at Netflix (EXCLUSIVE)

“Wedding Crashers” helmer David Dobkin has signed on to direct the Netflix comedy “Eurovision,” with Will Ferrell attached to star. Ferrell is also on board to co-write the script with Andrew Steele. The “Anchorman” star will produce through his Gary Sanchez Productions along with Jessica Elbaum and Chris Henchy. Adam McKay will exec produce. The […]

Variety

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Netflix Establishes Production Hub in Toronto, Leasing Nearly 250,000 Square Feet of Studio Space

Netflix is taking on close to 250,000 square feet of studio and office space in Toronto, as part of its agreement to invest in Canada’s entertainment industry. The company announced pacts to lease two studio spaces in Toronto: with Cinespace Studios for around 164,000 square feet of space, including four sound stages, and with Pinewood […]

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Transformers Anime Prequel Series Headed to Netflix in 2020

Netflix has ordered a new Transformers anime prequel series, Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy, and it will premiere in 2020.

Netflix and Hasbro have partnered with Rooster Teeth to bring War For Cybertron to life and Polygon Pictures will act as the animation studio.

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“In this Transformers origin story, we will explore the expansive universe of Cybertron in a way that audiences have never seen before – to the delight of both existing fans and those coming to the franchise for the first time,” said John Derderian, Director of Anime for Netflix. “The Transformers brand is a global phenomenon and we are thrilled to partner with Hasbro, Rooster Teeth and Polygon to bring this exciting new anime series to our members around the world on Netflix.”

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‘F Is for Family’ Renewed for Season 4 at Netflix

Netflix has ordered a fourth season of animated comedy “F Is for Family.” The series was created by Bill Burr and Michael Price and follows the Murphy family, an Irish-American clan living in the 1970’s, a time when political correctness was the last thing on people’s minds. Burr voices family patriarch Frank, while Laura Dern, Justin […]

Variety

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Netflix Original Series Viewing Climbs, But Licensed Content Remains Majority of Total U.S. Streams

Is Netflix moving fast enough to bulk up on originals to offset programming that’s about to get pulled by studios like Disney, Fox and WarnerMedia? Original content accounted for 37% of Netflix’s U.S. streams in October 2018, up from 24% a year earlier (and just 14% in January 2017), per video-measurement firm 7Park Data. But […]

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‘The Umbrella Academy’ Superheroes Series Premiere Date Set on Netflix

The dysfunctional-family superheroes of “The Umbrella Academy” are landing on Netflix worldwide on Feb. 15, 2019. The live-action series is based on the “Umbrella Academy” comic books created and written by Gerard Way and illustrated by Gabriel Bá, published by Dark Horse Comics. The Netflix original series comprises 10 one-hour episodes. “The Umbrella Academy” stars […]

Variety

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‘Narcos: Mexico’ Renewed for Season 2 at Netflix

Netflix has renewed “Narcos: Mexico” for a second season, Variety has learned. Originally intended as a fourth season of “Narcos,” which focused on the rise of the cocaine business in Colombia under Pablo Escobar and his Medellín Cartel, “Narcos: Mexico” became a new series, shifting the focus to the beginnings of the Mexican drug trade and […]

Variety

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Ellen DeGeneres’ New Netflix Special Tackles Everything From Her Mega Fame to Emotional Support Animals

Ellen DeGeneres: RelatableEllen DeGeneres is back. What do we mean “back”? She’s back on stage, doing stand-up for the first time in 15 years and she’s got a Netflix special to prove it.
“The…

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Netflix to Order African Original Series in 2019

Netflix plans to order original series from Africa next year, on top of the shows it’s already producing in Europe, Asia and Latin America, said Erik Barmack, the streaming giant’s vice president of international originals. Netflix’s Europe team is “in the process of looking at opportunities in Africa. It’s definitely the case that we’ll commission […]

Variety

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AT&T Plans 3-Tiered WarnerMedia Streaming Service to Take On Netflix

AT&T, trying to reassure investors it can capitalize on its big acquisition of Time Warner, plans to offer three versions of a new streaming video service next year that will feature original movies and television series from Warner Bros., Turner and HBO.
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‘Ingress: The Animation’ Coming to Netflix Timed to October ‘Ingress Prime’ Launch (EXCLUSIVE)

“Ingress,” the original mobile phone augmented reality game created by the team behind “Pokemon Go,” is getting its own animated series this fall, company founder John Hanke told Variety. “Ingress: The Animation” will created by animation studio Crafter under the direction of noted computer-graphics artist Yuhei Sakuragi and with character design by “Neon Genesis Evangelion’s” […]

Variety

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Netflix, ‘Dragon 3,’ ‘Ralph,’ Great Female Animators: 10 Takeaways from Annecy

1.NETFLIX Netflix took Annecy. It held a presentation, its first ever at Annecy, an effective coming out to the world animation industry. You could here a pin drop as Melissa Cobb, the highly popular ex-DreamWorks Animation executive, now Netflix EVP, expounded on Netflix priorities on stage. The audience warmed to Chilean Fernanda Frick’s exposition of […]

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Netflix Turning Too Blue? Republicans’ Perception of the Brand Has Dropped, Data Shows

Hollywood’s left-leaning politics has made the industry a bête noire among conservatives for decades. But Netflix has made some recent moves that have especially rankled Republicans. In March, the streamer named Susan Rice — former national security adviser to President Obama, and a conservative target in the Bengazi scandal — to its board of directors. […]

Variety

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‘The Rain’ Renewed for Season 2 at Netflix

Netflix has renewed “The Rain” for a second season, the streaming giant announced Wednesday. The series is Netflix’s first Danish original series.  The series will go back into production later this year, with the second season slated to launch in 2019. The series was created by Jannik Tai Mosholt, Esben Toft Jacobsen, and Christian Potalivo. […]

Variety

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Netflix, Atresmedia Close Deal for New Third Part of ‘La Casa de Papel’

MADRID — Netflix fanboys – and fangirls – delight. After huge speculation, and anticipatory Tweets, Netflix has closed a deal with Spanish broadcast network Atresmedia for a new third part  of “La Casa de Papel” (“Money Heist” in the U.S.). Atresmedia’s Sonia Martínez and Vancouver Media’s Alex Pina, “La Casa de Papel’s” creator, produced the […]

Variety

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Netflix Q1 Preview: Another Blockbuster Quarter Despite Price Hikes?

When Netflix reports first-quarter 2018 earnings Monday after market close, investors again will laser in not on revenue or profits — but on the number of net adds, a key indicator of the subscription streamer’s momentum. For Q1, Wall Street analyst consensus estimates are for 1.48 million net streaming subscriber adds in the U.S., and […]

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Amazon, Netflix Gain Ground in Japanese Streaming Market

Amazon nearly doubled its share and Netflix grew strongly in Japan’s streaming market last year as the two global services try to raise their profiles in Asia. dTV from Japanese telco NTT DoCoMo topped the list of SVOD services in Japan in 2017, with a 20.3% share, but that is 3.8 percentage points lower than […]

Variety

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Netflix Announces ‘Bright’ Sequel

Following the success of “Bright,” Netflix is moving forward with a sequel. Will Smith and Joel Edgerton are expected to reprise their roles and David Ayer will likely return to direct. The streaming service recently announced that the first pic was viewed by 11 million people over three days. “Bright” stars Smith and Edgerton as […]

Variety

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Netflix and Marry? Watch Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant Help These Fans Get Engaged

Drew Barrymore, NetflixThere are memorable marriage proposals and then there are marriage proposals that call in Drew Barrymore to help.
Netflix came to the aid of Conor who wanted to have a memorable proposal…

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International Newswire: Netflix Leads Streaming Pack in Oz

In today’s International Newswire, Netflix is top dog among streaming platforms in Australia; Studio Hamburg launches Paradise Papers documentary; ‘The Divine Order’ opens Zagreb Film Festival; and South Africa’s M-Net 101 picks up “Dancing with the Stars.” In a new report on subscription VOD in Australia, London-based research group Ampere Analysis found that Netflix is […]

Variety

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Netflix, Prodigo Films Team for Fourth Brazilian Original Series, ‘Coisa Mais Linda’

Netflix’s push into original localized content in Latin America was bolstered today with the announcement that the streaming giant has secured the services of Brazil’s Prodigo Films to produce “Coisa Mais Linda,”(“So Beautiful”) a period romance set during Rio’s rich Bossa Nova movement of the late ’50s and early ’60s. The series will be the […]

Variety

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The Power of Lorelai & Rory: More Viewers Finished Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life in 24 Hours Than Any Other Netflix Series

Gilmore Girls, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the LifeAre you a binge racer? Apparently there are 8.4 million Netflix binge racers around the world. What is a binge racer? According to Netflix, a binge racer is a new type of fan, one who finishes a…

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Topshop Links with Netflix on “Stranger Things 2” Takeover, Screenings

TOPSHOP TAKES A TRIP: Topshop has teamed with Netflix on a zeitgeist-y deal that will see stores across the U.K. channel the spirit of the hit, Eighties-inspired TV series “Stranger Things,” which stars Winona Ryder and teen actors Millie Bobby Brown, Caleb McLaughlin, and Gaten Matarazzo.
In the run-up to Halloween, Topshop and Topman will be working with Netflix to promote “Stranger Things 2” with in-store cinema-style screenings at the Oxford Circus flagship in London, themed setting from the TV series and an accompanying capsule collection that will go on sale at Topshop stores in the U.K. on Oct. 20.
Topshop has described the Netflix collaboration as a “360 relationship” that will fuse fashion, culture and entertainment ahead of the season two release on Oct. 27.
Sheena Sauvaire, global marketing and communications director at Topshop, said in an interview that the worlds of entertainment, culture, fashion and tech are all colliding and that the Netflix tie-up made sense for the retailer’s young customer. “Plus, we’ve always admired how Netflix has disrupted entertainment,” she said.
Sauvaire added that the in-store takeover plays to the Topshop customer’s obsession with retro styling right now, and in particular the look of the “Stranger Things” characters who all live in

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Lady Gaga Opens Up About ‘Fear, Body Pain, Anxiety’ in Trailer for Netflix Documentary (Watch)

Lady Gaga is vulnerable and reflective in the trailer for her Netflix documentary “Gaga: Five Foot Two.” “When producers wanted me to be sexy, I always put some absurd spin on it that made me feel like I was still in control,” she says in the trailer, as images flash of the pop star in… Read more »

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Netflix Renews and Expands International Deal With Orange

Netflix has renewed its deal with France’s leading telco group Orange to be distributed on Orange TV customers in France. Expanding on the initial deal, which was signed upon Netflix’s launch in France, the streaming service will now be made available in 29 countries across Europe, Africa and the Middle East, where the Orange Group… Read more »

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Trailer for Angelina Jolie’s Netflix Drama ‘First They Killed My Father’ Debuts (Watch)

Angelina Jolie’s latest directorial effort has an official trailer. The Netflix film “First They Killed My Father,” which is slated to screen at this year’s Toronto Film Festival, is a thrilled that chronicles the journey of a childhood survivor of the Pol Pot regime during the Khmer Rouge years in Cambodia. “Her eyes,” title pages… Read more »

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Kevin Spacey Playing Author Gore Vidal in Netflix Original Biopic (EXCLUSIVE)

ROME – Oscar winner Kevin Spacey is playing writer Gore Vidal in a new Netflix original biopic, “Gore,” which is in production in Italy. U.S. director Michael Hoffman (“The Last Station”) is helming the 1980s-set film about the late American author, playwright, and occasional political candidate. “Gore” is currently shooting in Rome but will move… Read more »

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Netflix To Bow First Spanish Comedy Show, Joaquin Reyes’ ‘ Una y No Más’

MADRID — Netflix will make available on Sept. 8 its first Spanish comedy show, “Una y no más,” a stand-up set featuring one of Spain’s leading comedians, Joaquin Reyes. Produced by Globomedia, part of the Mediapro Group, and shot this January at Madrid’s La Latina theater, the 70-minute “Una y no más” marks the third… Read more »

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How Hollywood Got Hacked: Studio at Center of Netflix Leak Breaks Silence (EXCLUSIVE)

“Hello Rick.” “Hello Jill.” Larson Studios president Rick Larson and his wife and business partner, Jill Larson, didn’t recognize the number that sent them these two short text messages via their personal cell phones two days before Christmas last year, so they simply ignored them. “We didn’t really think much of them,” said Jill Larson…. Read more »

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IGN UK Podcast #384: Our Dream Witcher Netflix Cast

In an INCREDIBLE COINCIDENCE, the Witcher’s getting a Netflix show just as Game of Thrones comes to a close. So, what better people to cast it than Gav and Dale, who have almost no knowledge of the games?

We also discuss why The Handmaid’s Tale is so good Joe can’t bring himself to watch it anymore, why Farpoint is so VR-y that Dale can’t play it anymore, and why Iron Maiden’s beer is so beef-like that Gav can’t drink it anymore.

Plus, your ever-excellent feedback, and another listener-submitted Keyword Countdown. Get it up your ears, stat.

IGN UK Podcast #384: Our Dream Witcher Netflix Cast

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Netflix Hacker Also Claims Theft From ABC, Fox, IFC, National Geographic

The hacking group that goes by the name The Dark Overlord doubled down on its piracy of the new season of Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black” by claiming to have absconded with content from four other networks as well. ABC, Fox, National Geographic and IFC were specifically cited in a tweet issued late Friday… Read more »

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Global Streaming Giant Netflix Plays Catch-up in Asia

Global streaming giant, Netflix this week signed a deal to acquire some 600 hours of scripted and unscripted TV shows from South Korea’s JTBC. The agreement was unveiled at the Asia-Pacific Video Operators Summit (APOS) where the streaming giant was a constant topic of conversation. But the high-powered convention also made it clear that Netflix… Read more »

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Netflix Considers Limited Theatrical Release in France for Cannes In-Competition Films

After facing pressure from distributors in recent weeks, Netflix is considering a limited theatrical release in France for its movies that are playing at the Cannes Film Festival. This marks the first year that Netflix has opened films at the prestigious film festival in the South of France. Two of its titles will be debuting… Read more »

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Nick Graham Dressing Bill Nye for Netflix Series

Nick Graham has expanded his relationship with Bill Nye and is dressing the scientist and educator for his new Netflix series, “Bill Nye Saves the World.”
The 13-episode show started on Friday.
“Bill is one of those rare personalities that combines a strong compassionate message with his slightly irreverent, but always brilliant observations of the world,” Graham said. “Besides that, he has always had an enormous sense of style that he has made his own, and so all I had to do was take a bit further.”
Nye said: “Nick is incredibly creative and it’s reflected in his clothes. I love wearing his suits. And besides, they fit me right off the rack.”
On each episode of the Netflix show, Nye will take on a specific science-related topic or concept with panel discussions and correspondent reports. The set, which is designed as a modern science lab, is an extension of his popular series in the Nineties, “Bill Nye the Science Guy.”
Nye also walked in Nick Graham’s fall men’s show, titled “Life on Mars,” in January, which garnered over 1 billion impressions and 385,000 likes for Nye on Instagram, according to Graham.
The designer collaborated with Nye on a limited-edition collection of quirky, science-themed bow ties in November of 2015,

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This ‘Addams Family’ Netflix Trailer Is Mysterious And Spooky (And Fake)

Tragically, we aren’t getting a Netflix remake of “The Addams Family” anytime soon. But a fan-made trailer posted to Facebook late last week is here to show us what we’re missing.

Cleverly combining clips from existing shows including “Penny Dreadful,” “Crimson Peak” and the 1991 “Addams Family” movie, the minds behind an unofficial news page for the streaming service crafted an all-together-ooky idea of what the revamped Addams household might look like.

An eerie dollhouse, a pale and dark-haired girl’s mischievous smile, an anonymous figure chopping buds off a bunch of roses ― they certainly nailed the tone of the original 1964 series. And, judging by the comments below, the trailer fooled a fair number of TV fans, if only for a single, blissful minute. (”This pulled straight at my heart,” wrote one.)

Commenters began throwing out spot-on casting suggestions ― Eva Green as Morticia, Oscar Isaac as Gomez ― that any future remake would now require.

We regret to report that the original episodes aren’t available to stream on Netflix, nor is the 1991 film. In their absence, we will have to settle for “titles related to” the kooky series.

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Martin Scorsese’s Next Movie Is Heading To Netflix

Netflix has acquired its most prestigious title yet: a Martin Scorsese movie. 

“The Irishman,” a $ 100 million gangster flick starring Robert De Niro, was initially set up at Paramount, which released Scorsese’s previous movie, “Silence.” But with 12-year Paramount chief Brad Grey leaving the studio after a financially spotty 2016, Scorsese and his team opted to package the movie elsewhere, according to IndieWire.

“Scorsese’s movie is a risky deal, and Paramount is not in the position to take risks,” a source reportedly told IndieWire. “This way, he can make the project he wants.”

In other words, Scorsese’s team wants to work somewhere that executives won’t panic about box-office numbers. That’s presumably a response to “Silence,” which cost $ 46 million but earned only $ 7.1 million domestically after proving difficult to market to mainstream moviegoers.

First announced in 2008, “The Irishman” is an adaptation of the Charles Brandt book I Heard You Paint Houses, which follows mob hitman Frank Sheeren, who confessed to killing labor-union leader and organized-crime honcho Jimmy Hoffa. Steve Zaillian (”Schindler’s List,” “Gangs of New York”) wrote the script. 

“The Irishman” will mark Scorsese’s ninth movie with De Niro. It also stars Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, who have worked with Scorsese before, too. 

Even if the financials behind this decision seem logical, it’s a surprise move for a director known as a disciple of traditional cinema. Scorsese has long preached about his preference for shooting on film instead of digitally, the medium most directors opt for nowadays. Still, he hasn’t shied away from television, co-creating “Vinyl” and directing the “Boardwalk Empire” pilot for HBO.

‘‘Cinema is gone,’’ Scorsese told the Associated Press in December. ‘‘The cinema I grew up with and that I’m making, it’s gone. The theater will always be there for that communal experience, there’s no doubt. But what kind of experience is it going to be? Is it always going to be a theme-park movie? I sound like an old man, which I am. The big screen for us in the ’50s, you go from Westerns to ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ to the special experience of ‘2001’ in 1968. The experience of seeing ‘Vertigo’ and ‘The Searchers’ in VistaVision.’’

Regardless, this is a boon for Netflix, which jump-started its original features with the 2015 Oscar hopeful “Beasts of No Nation.” At the Sundance Film Festival last month, the streaming service acquired more titles than any traditional studio, even snagging the festival’s strongest Oscar contender, the World War II race drama “Mudbound,” for a pricey $ 12.5 million

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Netflix Knows About Your Binging Breathers, And What You Do With Them

Fulfilling its role as wise omnipotent narrator, Netflix has surveyed its vast subscriber base of 86 million happy couch potatoes and discovered patterns in our binging once again.

We like TV. But we still aren’t bored with movies. After we finish watching all available seasons of a TV show on Netflix, most of us (59 percent) take at least a one-day breather ― the average is three days ― before committing to another show.

In a report released Wednesday, Netflix says most people who take breaks (61 percent) like to watch a movie or documentary during that time between shows “to keep the binge feeling alive,” a statement reads. The streaming service also noted the types of movies viewers are likely to go for based on which series they’ve just finished. 

For a lot of TV-movie pairings, the rationale is clear. After “House of Cards,” some moved on to “Beasts of No Nation,” which features a different ruthless leader, and after “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” some move on to “The Princess Bride,” another quirky comedy. Many “Gilmore Girls” viewers moved on to pop culture classics “Sixteen Candles” and “Dirty Dancing”; many “Luke Cage” viewers switched to U.S. criminal justice documentary “13th.”

The exception is when viewers choose a comedy flick. According to Netflix, people tend to choose comedies when they need a change of pace ― after watching the scary series “American Horror Story” or “Stranger Things,” for example. 

“It’s interesting that in this golden age of television, movies are consistently in demand on Netflix,” said Ted Sarandos, the company’s chief content officer. “What we’ve come to figure out is that movies are really an important part of people’s viewing routines and complementary to the way they watch and enjoy TV.”

Take a look at some of their other findings below:

The company looked at viewership data from 86 million subscribers. To find popular TV-movie pairings, Netflix analyzed over 100 TV series to identify which movies were paired “most frequently per market.”

The report comes on the heels of an announcement this week that Netflix will spend a cool $ 6 billion on original content in 2017, up from a measly $ 5 billion in 2016.

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You Can Now Watch Netflix Anywhere You Want Without The Internet

It’s the moment all Netflix addicts have been waiting for. 

On Wednesday, the streaming service revealed its new download feature, which will let users watch some of their favorite shows and movies whenever and wherever they want, without internet.

The download feature for offline watching is currently available today for Netflix shows “Orange is The New Black,” “Narcos” and “The Crown,” with more internet-free binging to come.

To watch shows offline, all you need to do is update your app. In the latest version, a download button appears beside the “play” button on select shows. You can specify the video quality (standard or high quality), too.

“While many members enjoy watching Netflix at home, we’ve often heard they also want to continue their Stranger Things binge while on airplanes and other places where Internet is expensive or limited,” Eddy Wu, Netflix’s director of product innovation, said in a statement.

The new feature is available for all iOS and Android users. 

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The 8 Stages Of Watching ‘Batman & Robin’ On Netflix

For whatever masochistic reason, the film “Batman & Robin” is trending on Netflix, and has been for a few weeks or so. Helmed and steered clear off a cliff by Joel Schumacher, “Batman & Robin” stars George Clooney as the caped crusader with nipples on his batsuit.

One of the plot points is that Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred is dying, and you see him in various scenes privately wincing from some unknown pain. Well, it’s clear now that just being in this movie was probably physically paining the actor who played Alfred, Michael Gough.

It’s an awful movie. And I fell for watching it.

It began like any other Saturday: no pants, a vague sense that I had embarrassed myself the night before, and the urge to drown my brain in some mindless Netflix viewing.

Thus began the eight stages of watching “Batman & Robin” on Netflix.

 

STAGE 1 – Optimistic Amnesia

Maybe it wasn’t as bad as I remember! I mean, it was goofy, I remember that much, but maybe it’s goofy in a “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” kind of way.

 

STAGE 2 - Regret

I’ve made a huge mistake.

 

STAGE 3 – Confusion

Who green-lit this? OMG, they just go-go-gadgeted ice skates from their boots. And now they’re fighting hockey team henchmen. Did Robin just pull out a laser gun? This feels wrong …

 

STAGE 4 – Uncomfortable Laughter

The only entertaining thing is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ice puns, because by comparison to the rest of the so-bad-it’s-funny film, those are high quality hilarity.

 

STAGE 5 – Pun Delirium

You no longer have a reasonable grasp on reality and your brain is quickly liquifying. 

 

STAGE 6 – Full-On Joker Dementia 

You’re a zombie. A jolly, smiling zombie.

 

 STAGE  7 – Discombobulation

The standard notions of direction and position have lost all meaning. You are lost in a multi-dimensional spacial hellscape for which there is no escape.

 

STAGE 8 - Death

There’s no chance of resuscitation at this point. Like telling your friends you’ll stop out for “just one beer.” Once you’ve begun, it’s already too late.

 

 

Anyway, hello from heaven! It’s pretty nice up here! It’s all the Arnie puns you can handle, you get to watch Joel Schumacher try to direct his way out of a paper bag for all eternity, and the batsuits don’t have nipples! 

PARADISE.

 

Huge thanks to fellow lover of puns Kate Bratskier for taking a flurry of photos for me and being so … cool.  She snows what’s up. (Also, apologies to Kate Bratskier for the previous sentence.)

 

 

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Netflix, Binging And Quality Control In The Age Of Peak TV

Matt Singer posed a timely question today: Why is it that the original programs made by Netflix — the place that perfected binge-viewing — aren’t necessarily all that binge-able? 

By downplaying the importance of individual episodes in favor of longform narratives, the company has also downplayed the propulsive storytelling style and shocking cliffhangers that define the best binge-watch shows. A television show structured as a one giant 13-hour story can be highly absorbing. But without those big hooks and twists at the end of every episode, it’s very difficult to make it addictive.

Singer’s onto something here: I’ve spent the summer rewatching “The X-Files,” and there’s something about traditionally made, pre-“peak TV” dramas that often makes them deliciously binge-able. Writers on the kinds of shows that eventually made binging a thing were often under pressure from networks to hook viewers, through juicy relationship arcs, propulsive stories, exciting mythology reveals and hints that something big was coming in the next week. Not all good “binge-ers” have those elements, but many of the good ones are very good at serving up self-contained episodes, distinctive characters and moments so entertaining that you just want another hit of whatever they’re selling. 

Obviously television’s ambitions have expanded since the heyday of binge-inducers like “Alias,” “Lost” and “24,” and Netflix is among the many outlets testing the boundaries of what kinds of television can sustain an audience for a binge or a leisurely stroll, even as TV redefines what success means in an era of micro-niches and all manner of nonlinear viewing opportunities.

That said, my first reaction to Singer’s piece on the binge-resistance of Netflix’s dramas consisted of a question: I really wonder how much of that is intentional. It may not be a feature, but a bug.

Singer’s theory is that Netflix executives don’t really care if it takes a few months to watch one of their original series; that’s actually a good thing, if the slow pace keeps a subscription active. That makes sense from a business perspective, but, based on statements Netflix executives have made and the shows they’ve released, I wonder if that’s their primary intent.

My theory’s different: I think Netflix and Amazon executives give their creative types a lot of rope, and I’ve often had occasion to wonder is they’re giving them too much rope. It’s common for their dramas to get tangled up and slow down, even at the pilot stage, and in the middle of seasons, Netflix dramas often sag and meander, and — as Singer notes — they take a long time to work up a head of steam. 

My first reaction to Singer’s piece on the binge-resistance of Netflix’s dramas consisted of a question: I really wonder how much of that is intentional. It may not be a feature, but a bug.

But this isn’t just the case at streaming services: It’s happening a lot in the more ambitious realms of television. Maybe it’s just me, but when it comes to many shows, especially dramas, in the cable, pay-cable and streaming arenas, I see a trend toward laxness and a lack of energy and dynamic tension. There’s more ambition than in a derivative NBC or CBS procedural, sure, but there’s also often a lack of urgency within an episode and, most notably, over the course of a season.

It’s also fairly common to find that the character development is not strong and vivid enough to make me want to revisit these shows while they figure out how to crank up the narrative drive, as was the case with Amazon’s “Bosch” and USA’s “Complications.” I did finally begin to enjoy AMC’s “Halt and Catch Fire,” especially in its second season, but most people had checked out well before it kicked into high gear, and that may have doomed the show (though I hope not). 

Of course, it’s unfair to cherry-pick the best examples, but let’s face it, this wasn’t too often the case with with the best binge-ers the Commercial Television Machine produced. Even in a bad episode of “The X-Files” or “Lost,” the Mulder and Scully banter or the Hurley quips make up for a lot. Hence my current obsession with what I call B-movie TV: Genre fare that is smart and subversive but also energetic and not overly concerned with being Important. (The two best new shows of the year, Lifetime’s “UnREAL” and USA’s “Mr. Robot” may not neatly fit in the B-movie TV category, but both were pleasingly knotty, had great characters and were suspenseful from the jump. They’re binge-ers, for sure.)  

Sag and drift problems have cropped up throughout TV history, obviously. But I think it’s telling that it’s cropping up a lot lately, often at places that could and should know better (despite its great cast and terrific moments, I gave up on the rudderless “Masters of Sex” near the end of Season 2 and haven’t seen a compelling reason to jump back on board). As Todd VanDerWerff has pointed out, TV is fumbling for direction in the age of binging and stacking and all episodes of television existing simultaneously everywhere (well, not really, but it feels that way sometimes). So as TV figures out the creative implications of the nonlinear era, some sloppiness and experimentation is to be expected.

But I think there’s more to it than that. The competition for talent and the huge desire lock down hot writers while also trying to create Signature Programs has led to situations where executives have let way too much bad writing slide.

There’s an enormous scramble for content at the moment, so much so that multiple seasons are being ordered at an accelerated pace and it’s almost normal for shows to be renewed before they debut. That was decidedly not normal only a few years ago. But Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and any number of other new players have changed the game, just as cable did a decade or so ago.

As I’ve argued elsewhere, this is a good thing, overall. Not every show in Ye Olde Golden Age was a keeper, but almost every network was forced to raise its game and give writers more leeway. Hooray!

But there was sigh-inducing side to that revolution: There was too much imitation and a blind pursuit of uninspired dramas about tortured white guys. These days, as TV expands into what FX president John Landgraf has called peak TV, there’s a lot of great TV, but the signal-to-noise ratio is not necessarily heading in a reassuring direction. As TV competes to keep eyeballs on its ever-expanding array of content, we’re being subjected to a lot of empty spectacle and rote brand extension. And it’s worth pointing out, as Linda Holmes does in her great essay series on TV’s growing pains, that the kinds of people who get to make TV now are usually the kinds of people who always have gotten to make TV. Diversity is a buzzword executives know they should throw around these days, but their commitment to it seems tenuous at best.

So this revolution has its frustrations, among them the problems Singer neatly delineates. And given that the issues he noticed and I’ve described are mostly taking place in the streaming, cable and pay-cable arenas, the following statement mostly applies to them: Maybe its because they have too many shows to keep track of, or maybe it’s because they’re working with writers they think might try to get a better deal somewhere else, but I get the sense that a number of networks and executives are not exercising the quality control they used to. It’s a problem.

Too many times lately, with too many shows that are well cast and clearly expensive, I’ve wondered why the people in charge appear to be asleep at the switch. “Fear the Walking Dead” is repetitive and boring, but AMC wants to keep “Walking Dead” mogul Robert Kirkman in the corporate family, so that show’s going to be what Kirkman wants it to be, for good or ill. The last two seasons of “American Horror Story” haven’t been very good, but they’ve been noisy enough to get a lot of eyeballs, and FX wants to be in business with Ryan Murphy, so that show will continue to be variable and frustrating (and maybe occasionally excellent, who knows). “Bloodline” assembled various prestige TV markers without going anywhere all that compelling with them, but it seems like the kind of show Netflix should be making — and if they didn’t make it, someone else might — so it got renewed. And so on.

The power dynamics in the industry are unstable — only in certain places, of course, and only for certain people. But the current scramble for talent has given some writer/producers more power than these kinds of folks have ever had in the past, and the side effects of that development aren’t always good. For one thing, in part due to talent flight, drama pilots on the broadcast networks have been mostly lame and terrible for years, with a few rare exceptions, because those who don’t want to deal with a lot of network interference are going elsewhere. (The CW, which has been on a roll, is the exception among the broadcast networks, but that’s a story for another day.)

The current scramble for talent has given some writer/producers more power than these kinds of folks have ever had in the past, and the side effects of that development aren’t always good.

As many writer/producers head to what they perceive to be greener pastures, executives are doing whatever they can to lock down talent, and the end result of this whole process can sometimes be self-indulgent and lazy television. Drift, repetition and laxness are things a good executive can spot, catch and help correct. With the good or improving shows, that’s likely at least part of what’s happening. Given the glut of bad, lazy or directionless dramas, that’s not happening enough, or some creatives just aren’t listening. When a drama like “True Detective” goes that off-course and wastes that much potential, it’s not just a chance to have fun with memes and hashtags, it’s a sign that something has seriously gone awry in the quality-control systems that helped TV get to where it is now. 

HBO, once the strutting king of the TV scene, can’t openly criticize newcomer Nic Pizzolatto, lest he bolt and the network’s reputation as a welcoming haven for top talent take a hit. Netflix and Amazon go further: They openly celebrate their hands-off approaches. Executives at both places have basically said that because they’re not married to the usual commercial television models, they’re letting their talent do … whatever. 

“We are not really in the solid outcome business, you know,” Amazon Studios head Roy Price said at an Amazon executive panel at the Television Critics Association press tour recently. “We are not really in the programming business.”

“It’s not the intent to draw the biggest audience from any single show,” Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos said at TCA. “The shows are built and designed and we invest in them based on the audience that we believe the show can attract. And it’s successful if it attracts that audience segment.”

Joe Lewis, Amazon’s comedy chief, said something similar: “I think we are … just looking for shows that are our customers’ favorites.”

That all sounds good, in theory. And in practice, it’s occasionally resulted in wonderful television. Netflix’s “BoJack Horseman” is as weird a concoction as I can think of, but it’s incisive and funny even as it goes to some heartbreaking places. I’m glad that Amazon is betting big on “The Man in the High Castle,” which may supply the smart sci-fi I’ve been searching for. And of course, all of television is a crapshoot; most shows fail, good ones are always hard to make and great ones are always rare.

But these streaming executives are indicating that they think non-interference is the only way to get good shows.

“[W]e built the company on this in this internal culture of freedom and responsibility, and we really did apply that to our showrunners too,” Sarandos said at TCA. “We decided it would be our role not to coach the creatives because it really wasn’t our wheelhouse. It was going to be our role to pick the right projects, pick the right worlds, pick the right talent to run those shows, and then really try to create an environment for them to do the best work of their lives.”

This statement kind of floored me, honestly. If the executives not there to make shows better, what are they there for? Also, can I have an executive job at Netflix? Because I would really like to make a lot of money to not do things. They give many millions to those making their shows, but telling them how to spend that money wisely? LOL, pass. 

Of course, some of this is just the kind of chest-thumping tech-exec hyperbole that “Silicon Valley” lampoons so well. And that’s the analogy I’ll stick with: Amazon and Netflix executives don’t seem to consider themselves TV executives, and it may be more useful to think of them as the kinds of guys who run Uber and other boastful, well-funded startups. They hacked television, bro, and they’re going to do it better.

Except … really? They think they’re going to do it better than the kinds of people responsible for the Commercial Television Machine? I mean, maybe someday they will, and if they get to that point, break out the Champagne. But their track record isn’t nearly there yet, and it’s more than a little grating that they’re so dismissive of the kind of TV-making processes that led to the creation of so many good and great shows — the very binge-able content they so eagerly bought up and built their businesses on top of. 

And that brings me back to my reaction to Singer’s essay, which boils down to this: Giving people a lot of rope is not necessarily how the best TV gets made. It can produce good results, in the hands of a disciplined professionals who know what to do with that freedom — and what not to do with it. If the discipline, vision and restraint are lacking and are not supplied by the showrunner or by executives, the results are usually ponderous messes (“House of Cards,” “Hand of God,” “Low Winter Sun”).

It’s worth noting that Jill Soloway (“Transparent”) and Jenji Kohan (“Orange Is the New Black”), who created the best shows in the streaming realms, are longtime veterans of the Commercial Television Machine. And all that has happened before has happened again. Long before those shows were a gleam on some site’s server, Ron Moore reinvented “Battlestar Galactica” by taking the best of what he’d learned in a long career as a writer for various “Star Trek” TV series and blowing up the rest. I really wish streaming executives wouldn’t valorize throwing out the baby with the bathwater, at least not until their rosters have more shows like “Transparent” and “OITNB” and “Battlestar Galactica” and fewer sludge piles like “Hand of God” and “Marco Polo.”

Quality control matters in television; look at how USA nurtured “Mr. Robot” into an accessible yet deeply adventurous show, and the showrunners of “The Americans” often talk about how executive input helped the show go from good to great, to name just two examples. And this concept matters even more when you think about the fact that Amazon and Netflix — like many networks — are ramping up their content machines. The efficacy of quality control is partly related to volume, and it’s moderately terrifying that this phenomenon of peak TV could result in 400 primetime scripted shows in 2015 alone.

 At TCA, Landgraf said he’s capping the number of shows FX and FXX make.

“I really don’t care how much money a business has to spend. As someone who struggles every day to program good and great television, who still reads nearly every script and watches every rough cut of every episode we program, I believe it’s impossible to maintain quality control with too many shows,” Landgraf said.

 His Peak TV speech contained a lot of food for thought, some of which good critics are still chewing on, but he’s right about that. Despite my fears for my sanity, I generally think Peak TV is a good thing — without it, we don’t get weird gems like “Rectify” and “BoJack” and a more diverse array of creators and protagonists. Given how many more shows are being made and how many of them have less experienced or inexperienced showrunners, however, now’s not the time for executives to just let people sink or swim, but signs of floundering are already all over the place. All in all, I am very concerned about whether we’re going to get more good TV, or just more TV. 

There are certain kinds of quality control that Netflix and Amazon executives seem amused by or appear to think is unnecessary. And stories of the excesses of overly controlling, uninspired and unhelpful networks executives are not hard to find and easy to mock, but the good ones are also partly responsible for sweetest fruits of the Commercial Television Machine. 

Of course, writers, actors and directors are incredibly important when it comes to a show’s quality, but knowing how to shepherd, shape and market a show — these are real and important skills. If you read Difficult Men and The Revolution Was Televised, you’ll come across many instances of writers doing their best to rebel against whatever network strictures had frustrated them in the past. But you’ll also come across TV executives who knew what they were doing and helped birth great shows and unquestionably helped turn those programs into the juggernauts that they became. These are the shows we all binged at some point or want to binge someday — and they didn’t appear by magic.

Covering TV for the past 15 years has taught me that the best shows tend to have two elements embedded in their DNA: Collaboration and tension. I don’t mean conflict, not exactly, which is not unknown on the sets of ambitious shows, of course. Conflict is inevitable when grown people work together on any project for any length of time. But what I’m referring to is the kind of creative tension that exists when people who work together don’t always agree but find ways to let the better and smarter ideas win. Sharp people questioning each other, pushing each other, testing each other and leading each other to epiphanies — those are among the conditions that can lead to great TV, and sometimes those exchanges involve executives who care and know television. They exist, and right about now, I wish there were more of them. Maybe they exist at Amazon and Netflix, but if so, I wish their bosses weren’t so disparaging of the work they were (possibly) hired to do.

Every writer I’ve ever spoken to has told stories about executive notes that were dumb — and notes that were brilliant. Dealing with feedback from an executive — even an executive a creator doesn’t much like — can force a writer to better articulate her vision. Probing questions can lead to stronger and clearer choices and even dumb questions can lead to breakthroughs. As Joss Whedon has said, “It’s very important to know when to stick to your guns, but it’s also very important to listen to absolutely everybody. The stupidest person in the room might have the best idea.”

Who is asking questions these days? How smart or dumb are the ideas under consideration? And is anyone listening? As we head into the uncharted waters of peak TV, those are some of the questions I have. 

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Netflix, Binging And Quality Control In The Age Of Peak TV

Matt Singer posed a timely question today: Why is it that the original programs made by Netflix — the place that perfected binge-viewing — aren’t necessarily all that binge-able? 

By downplaying the importance of individual episodes in favor of longform narratives, the company has also downplayed the propulsive storytelling style and shocking cliffhangers that define the best binge-watch shows. A television show structured as a one giant 13-hour story can be highly absorbing. But without those big hooks and twists at the end of every episode, it’s very difficult to make it addictive.

Singer’s onto something here: I’ve spent the summer rewatching “The X-Files,” and there’s something about traditionally made, pre-“peak TV” dramas that often makes them deliciously binge-able. Writers on the kinds of shows that eventually made binging a thing were often under pressure from networks to hook viewers, through juicy relationship arcs, propulsive stories, exciting mythology reveals and hints that something big was coming in the next week. Not all good “binge-ers” have those elements, but many of the good ones are very good at serving up self-contained episodes, distinctive characters and moments so entertaining that you just want another hit of whatever they’re selling. 

Obviously television’s ambitions have expanded since the heyday of binge-inducers like “Alias,” “Lost” and “24,” and Netflix is among the many outlets testing the boundaries of what kinds of television can sustain an audience for a binge or a leisurely stroll, even as TV redefines what success means in an era of micro-niches and all manner of nonlinear viewing opportunities.

That said, my first reaction to Singer’s piece on the binge-resistance of Netflix’s dramas consisted of a question: I really wonder how much of that is intentional. It may not be a feature, but a bug.

Singer’s theory is that Netflix executives don’t really care if it takes a few months to watch one of their original series; that’s actually a good thing, if the slow pace keeps a subscription active. That makes sense from a business perspective, but, based on statements Netflix executives have made and the shows they’ve released, I wonder if that’s their primary intent.

My theory’s different: I think Netflix and Amazon executives give their creative types a lot of rope, and I’ve often had occasion to wonder is they’re giving them too much rope. It’s common for their dramas to get tangled up and slow down, even at the pilot stage, and in the middle of seasons, Netflix dramas often sag and meander, and — as Singer notes — they take a long time to work up a head of steam. 

My first reaction to Singer’s piece on the binge-resistance of Netflix’s dramas consisted of a question: I really wonder how much of that is intentional. It may not be a feature, but a bug.

But this isn’t just the case at streaming services: It’s happening a lot in the more ambitious realms of television. Maybe it’s just me, but when it comes to many shows, especially dramas, in the cable, pay-cable and streaming arenas, I see a trend toward laxness and a lack of energy and dynamic tension. There’s more ambition than in a derivative NBC or CBS procedural, sure, but there’s also often a lack of urgency within an episode and, most notably, over the course of a season.

It’s also fairly common to find that the character development is not strong and vivid enough to make me want to revisit these shows while they figure out how to crank up the narrative drive, as was the case with Amazon’s “Bosch” and USA’s “Complications.” I did finally begin to enjoy AMC’s “Halt and Catch Fire,” especially in its second season, but most people had checked out well before it kicked into high gear, and that may have doomed the show (though I hope not). 

Of course, it’s unfair to cherry-pick the best examples, but let’s face it, this wasn’t too often the case with with the best binge-ers the Commercial Television Machine produced. Even in a bad episode of “The X-Files” or “Lost,” the Mulder and Scully banter or the Hurley quips make up for a lot. Hence my current obsession with what I call B-movie TV: Genre fare that is smart and subversive but also energetic and not overly concerned with being Important. (The two best new shows of the year, Lifetime’s “UnREAL” and USA’s “Mr. Robot” may not neatly fit in the B-movie TV category, but both were pleasingly knotty, had great characters and were suspenseful from the jump. They’re binge-ers, for sure.)  

Sag and drift problems have cropped up throughout TV history, obviously. But I think it’s telling that it’s cropping up a lot lately, often at places that could and should know better (despite its great cast and terrific moments, I gave up on the rudderless “Masters of Sex” near the end of Season 2 and haven’t seen a compelling reason to jump back on board). As Todd VanDerWerff has pointed out, TV is fumbling for direction in the age of binging and stacking and all episodes of television existing simultaneously everywhere (well, not really, but it feels that way sometimes). So as TV figures out the creative implications of the nonlinear era, some sloppiness and experimentation is to be expected.

But I think there’s more to it than that. The competition for talent and the huge desire lock down hot writers while also trying to create Signature Programs has led to situations where executives have let way too much bad writing slide.

There’s an enormous scramble for content at the moment, so much so that multiple seasons are being ordered at an accelerated pace and it’s almost normal for shows to be renewed before they debut. That was decidedly not normal only a few years ago. But Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and any number of other new players have changed the game, just as cable did a decade or so ago.

As I’ve argued elsewhere, this is a good thing, overall. Not every show in Ye Olde Golden Age was a keeper, but almost every network was forced to raise its game and give writers more leeway. Hooray!

But there was sigh-inducing side to that revolution: There was too much imitation and a blind pursuit of uninspired dramas about tortured white guys. These days, as TV expands into what FX president John Landgraf has called peak TV, there’s a lot of great TV, but the signal-to-noise ratio is not necessarily heading in a reassuring direction. As TV competes to keep eyeballs on its ever-expanding array of content, we’re being subjected to a lot of empty spectacle and rote brand extension. And it’s worth pointing out, as Linda Holmes does in her great essay series on TV’s growing pains, that the kinds of people who get to make TV now are usually the kinds of people who always have gotten to make TV. Diversity is a buzzword executives know they should throw around these days, but their commitment to it seems tenuous at best.

So this revolution has its frustrations, among them the problems Singer neatly delineates. And given that the issues he noticed and I’ve described are mostly taking place in the streaming, cable and pay-cable arenas, the following statement mostly applies to them: Maybe its because they have too many shows to keep track of, or maybe it’s because they’re working with writers they think might try to get a better deal somewhere else, but I get the sense that a number of networks and executives are not exercising the quality control they used to. It’s a problem.

Too many times lately, with too many shows that are well cast and clearly expensive, I’ve wondered why the people in charge appear to be asleep at the switch. “Fear the Walking Dead” is repetitive and boring, but AMC wants to keep “Walking Dead” mogul Robert Kirkman in the corporate family, so that show’s going to be what Kirkman wants it to be, for good or ill. The last two seasons of “American Horror Story” haven’t been very good, but they’ve been noisy enough to get a lot of eyeballs, and FX wants to be in business with Ryan Murphy, so that show will continue to be variable and frustrating (and maybe occasionally excellent, who knows). “Bloodline” assembled various prestige TV markers without going anywhere all that compelling with them, but it seems like the kind of show Netflix should be making — and if they didn’t make it, someone else might — so it got renewed. And so on.

The power dynamics in the industry are unstable — only in certain places, of course, and only for certain people. But the current scramble for talent has given some writer/producers more power than these kinds of folks have ever had in the past, and the side effects of that development aren’t always good. For one thing, in part due to talent flight, drama pilots on the broadcast networks have been mostly lame and terrible for years, with a few rare exceptions, because those who don’t want to deal with a lot of network interference are going elsewhere. (The CW, which has been on a roll, is the exception among the broadcast networks, but that’s a story for another day.)

The current scramble for talent has given some writer/producers more power than these kinds of folks have ever had in the past, and the side effects of that development aren’t always good.

As many writer/producers head to what they perceive to be greener pastures, executives are doing whatever they can to lock down talent, and the end result of this whole process can sometimes be self-indulgent and lazy television. Drift, repetition and laxness are things a good executive can spot, catch and help correct. With the good or improving shows, that’s likely at least part of what’s happening. Given the glut of bad, lazy or directionless dramas, that’s not happening enough, or some creatives just aren’t listening. When a drama like “True Detective” goes that off-course and wastes that much potential, it’s not just a chance to have fun with memes and hashtags, it’s a sign that something has seriously gone awry in the quality-control systems that helped TV get to where it is now. 

HBO, once the strutting king of the TV scene, can’t openly criticize newcomer Nic Pizzolatto, lest he bolt and the network’s reputation as a welcoming haven for top talent take a hit. Netflix and Amazon go further: They openly celebrate their hands-off approaches. Executives at both places have basically said that because they’re not married to the usual commercial television models, they’re letting their talent do … whatever. 

“We are not really in the solid outcome business, you know,” Amazon Studios head Roy Price said at an Amazon executive panel at the Television Critics Association press tour recently. “We are not really in the programming business.”

“It’s not the intent to draw the biggest audience from any single show,” Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos said at TCA. “The shows are built and designed and we invest in them based on the audience that we believe the show can attract. And it’s successful if it attracts that audience segment.”

Joe Lewis, Amazon’s comedy chief, said something similar: “I think we are … just looking for shows that are our customers’ favorites.”

That all sounds good, in theory. And in practice, it’s occasionally resulted in wonderful television. Netflix’s “BoJack Horseman” is as weird a concoction as I can think of, but it’s incisive and funny even as it goes to some heartbreaking places. I’m glad that Amazon is betting big on “The Man in the High Castle,” which may supply the smart sci-fi I’ve been searching for. And of course, all of television is a crapshoot; most shows fail, good ones are always hard to make and great ones are always rare.

But these streaming executives are indicating that they think non-interference is the only way to get good shows.

“[W]e built the company on this in this internal culture of freedom and responsibility, and we really did apply that to our showrunners too,” Sarandos said at TCA. “We decided it would be our role not to coach the creatives because it really wasn’t our wheelhouse. It was going to be our role to pick the right projects, pick the right worlds, pick the right talent to run those shows, and then really try to create an environment for them to do the best work of their lives.”

This statement kind of floored me, honestly. If the executives not there to make shows better, what are they there for? Also, can I have an executive job at Netflix? Because I would really like to make a lot of money to not do things. They give many millions to those making their shows, but telling them how to spend that money wisely? LOL, pass. 

Of course, some of this is just the kind of chest-thumping tech-exec hyperbole that “Silicon Valley” lampoons so well. And that’s the analogy I’ll stick with: Amazon and Netflix executives don’t seem to consider themselves TV executives, and it may be more useful to think of them as the kinds of guys who run Uber and other boastful, well-funded startups. They hacked television, bro, and they’re going to do it better.

Except … really? They think they’re going to do it better than the kinds of people responsible for the Commercial Television Machine? I mean, maybe someday they will, and if they get to that point, break out the Champagne. But their track record isn’t nearly there yet, and it’s more than a little grating that they’re so dismissive of the kind of TV-making processes that led to the creation of so many good and great shows — the very binge-able content they so eagerly bought up and built their businesses on top of. 

And that brings me back to my reaction to Singer’s essay, which boils down to this: Giving people a lot of rope is not necessarily how the best TV gets made. It can produce good results, in the hands of a disciplined professionals who know what to do with that freedom — and what not to do with it. If the discipline, vision and restraint are lacking and are not supplied by the showrunner or by executives, the results are usually ponderous messes (“House of Cards,” “Hand of God,” “Low Winter Sun”).

It’s worth noting that Jill Soloway (“Transparent”) and Jenji Kohan (“Orange Is the New Black”), who created the best shows in the streaming realms, are longtime veterans of the Commercial Television Machine. And all that has happened before has happened again. Long before those shows were a gleam on some site’s server, Ron Moore reinvented “Battlestar Galactica” by taking the best of what he’d learned in a long career as a writer for various “Star Trek” TV series and blowing up the rest. I really wish streaming executives wouldn’t valorize throwing out the baby with the bathwater, at least not until their rosters have more shows like “Transparent” and “OITNB” and “Battlestar Galactica” and fewer sludge piles like “Hand of God” and “Marco Polo.”

Quality control matters in television; look at how USA nurtured “Mr. Robot” into an accessible yet deeply adventurous show, and the showrunners of “The Americans” often talk about how executive input helped the show go from good to great, to name just two examples. And this concept matters even more when you think about the fact that Amazon and Netflix — like many networks — are ramping up their content machines. The efficacy of quality control is partly related to volume, and it’s moderately terrifying that this phenomenon of peak TV could result in 400 primetime scripted shows in 2015 alone.

 At TCA, Landgraf said he’s capping the number of shows FX and FXX make.

“I really don’t care how much money a business has to spend. As someone who struggles every day to program good and great television, who still reads nearly every script and watches every rough cut of every episode we program, I believe it’s impossible to maintain quality control with too many shows,” Landgraf said.

 His Peak TV speech contained a lot of food for thought, some of which good critics are still chewing on, but he’s right about that. Despite my fears for my sanity, I generally think Peak TV is a good thing — without it, we don’t get weird gems like “Rectify” and “BoJack” and a more diverse array of creators and protagonists. Given how many more shows are being made and how many of them have less experienced or inexperienced showrunners, however, now’s not the time for executives to just let people sink or swim, but signs of floundering are already all over the place. All in all, I am very concerned about whether we’re going to get more good TV, or just more TV. 

There are certain kinds of quality control that Netflix and Amazon executives seem amused by or appear to think is unnecessary. And stories of the excesses of overly controlling, uninspired and unhelpful networks executives are not hard to find and easy to mock, but the good ones are also partly responsible for sweetest fruits of the Commercial Television Machine. 

Of course, writers, actors and directors are incredibly important when it comes to a show’s quality, but knowing how to shepherd, shape and market a show — these are real and important skills. If you read Difficult Men and The Revolution Was Televised, you’ll come across many instances of writers doing their best to rebel against whatever network strictures had frustrated them in the past. But you’ll also come across TV executives who knew what they were doing and helped birth great shows and unquestionably helped turn those programs into the juggernauts that they became. These are the shows we all binged at some point or want to binge someday — and they didn’t appear by magic.

Covering TV for the past 15 years has taught me that the best shows tend to have two elements embedded in their DNA: Collaboration and tension. I don’t mean conflict, not exactly, which is not unknown on the sets of ambitious shows, of course. Conflict is inevitable when grown people work together on any project for any length of time. But what I’m referring to is the kind of creative tension that exists when people who work together don’t always agree but find ways to let the better and smarter ideas win. Sharp people questioning each other, pushing each other, testing each other and leading each other to epiphanies — those are among the conditions that can lead to great TV, and sometimes those exchanges involve executives who care and know television. They exist, and right about now, I wish there were more of them. Maybe they exist at Amazon and Netflix, but if so, I wish their bosses weren’t so disparaging of the work they were (possibly) hired to do.

Every writer I’ve ever spoken to has told stories about executive notes that were dumb — and notes that were brilliant. Dealing with feedback from an executive — even an executive a creator doesn’t much like — can force a writer to better articulate her vision. Probing questions can lead to stronger and clearer choices and even dumb questions can lead to breakthroughs. As Joss Whedon has said, “It’s very important to know when to stick to your guns, but it’s also very important to listen to absolutely everybody. The stupidest person in the room might have the best idea.”

Who is asking questions these days? How smart or dumb are the ideas under consideration? And is anyone listening? As we head into the uncharted waters of peak TV, those are some of the questions I have. 

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