Published on 16 Aug 1919
America Ferrera and Eva Longoria are among the A-list stars that have signed a letter to support the Latino community in light of the recent attacks.
The Superstore star and the Desperate Housewives star were among 200 actors, musicians, artists, activists, and labor and civil rights leaders that have signed the letter, which has been published in newspapers including the New York Times, El Nuevo Herald, La Opinión, and El Diario.
Other top names include Diane Guerrero, Alex Martinez Kondracke, Mónica Ramírez, and Olga Segura, Along With Jennifer Lopez, Gina Rodriguez, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Carmen Perez, Anthony D. Romero, Wilmer Valderrama, Zoe Saldana, Salma Hayek Pinault, Ricky Martin, Rosario Dawson, Diego Luna, Dolores Huerta and Sandra Cisneros.
This comes amid a raft of incidents including the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas that killed 22 individuals and injured 24 others, the sweeping ICE raids that took 680 individuals into custody in Mississippi, the continued separation of families, and the inhumane living conditions of those detained.
“As a Latina, my heart breaks with every attack on our dignity, humanity and lives.  And as an American, I fear for the future of my country when our culture and policies lack a basic decency and respect for human life,“ said Ferrera. “We all have a responsibility to show up in this moment and demand decency for one another and for our country.“
“We're facing a moral crisis in our country, and we chose to use this moment to raise our voices, and speak up,“ said Longoria.  “Integrity starts with looking in the mirror and this letter calls on everyone, not just our community, to choose humanity and decency over hate and violence.“
“This piece is to remind us of our shared humanity,“ added Orange Is The New Black star Diane Guerrero. “We don't have to look far to see what family separation and hateful rhetoric is doing to the people in our country. If we do not act, we will be complicit in one of history's greatest tragedies.“
Published on 15 Aug 1919
Netflix is doing something weird this week &mdash and yes, it does often partake in convention-defying bits of decision-making almost as a rule: On Friday it will premiere the second season of its acclaimed but hardly zeitgeisty drama Mindhunter after choosing not to send out screeners to critics and to only have a fan-based premiere of the first three episodes.
Which is, well, weird. Not completely surprising but a lot surprising, even for Netflix. And it certainly adds to the looming sense that, like it or not, the lead streamer might have to start doing business differently sooner than it thinks.
Because Netflix is the Death Star of the Streaming Wars, it's a little too easy for people to predict its imminent doom, whether from the very real threat of Disney+, easily the most dangerous among a slew of new competitors, declining subscribers and very bad days on Wall Street, perceived Emmy failures, international uproars or, well, just because detractors want it to be so.
Historically, wishful hateful? thinking hasn't done much of any damage to Netflix.
All through the recent years chronicling the once-impending and now well-upon-us Streaming Wars, I've tried to be very dubious about all these predictions of doom. And I firmly believe that's a very long way off. But change is coming and something as seemingly insignificant as a second-season premiere indicates that Netflix, confident and comfortable, is showing zero interest in admitting that this change is something it will worry about right now.
That little promo decision can't be the tipping point, can it? No, but it's indicative of an entrenched attitude. And that attitude is likely to become a predicament &mdash for a lot of reasons.
On Tuesday, in a back and forth discussion about summer TV with fellow THR critic Dan Fienberg, we both looked upon Stranger Things as something popular and fun if repetitive, but hardly an Emmy threat, having won nothing of significance yet losing last year to Game of Thrones. As for the concluding &mdash and excellent &mdash series Orange Is the New Black, we agreed that it was probably the defining original series on Netflix, while acknowledging that such a thing is no longer really a business goal. And by that, I mean that Netflix doesn't seem to care about "defining" itself with a series its brand is volume.
So just for a few fleeting moments there, we were thinking of Past Netflix a little bit more than Present Netflix.
But moving forward, the streamer's "volume" strategy might not be tenable, especially when your volume isn't particularly noteworthy or desirable &mdash and having identifiable hits might be the strategy that eventually wins the day in the Streaming Wars over something as nebulous as "We have all the shows you need, even if you can only name five of them."
And honestly, name five Netflix series right now, off the top of your head, and then see which of them were released in the last 18 months.
To be clear, Stranger Things is easily one of Netflix's most recognizable series and, argue all you want to about invisible ratings, probably one if its more massive offerings. The difference between a legacy series like Orange Is the New Black and Stranger Things is that Netflix, new to the business, really promoted OITNB in 2013 and then worked to sustain it the streamer didn't really know what it had when it "launched" Stranger Things in the summer of 2016. But even then, the find-it-organically-like-a-surprise fit into what was an operationally successful plan. By 2016 Netflix was all about volume and an out-of-nowhere hit like Stranger Things that seemed to surprise the people who bought it validated the concept. "We have all the shows you need" certainly seemed brilliantly accurate back then and, up until about a year or so ago, looked like a recipe that didn't need messing with.
The problem is this Streaming Wars thing is here, on the doorstep. When Disney+ launches &mdash the first real fully-formed threat to Netflix and first of the new wave out of the gate &mdash it not only has volume, it has brand identity, hyper-recognizable IP and is eye-poppingly less expensive. Disney+ also comes with the promise &mdash true or not &mdash that subscribers will recognize future offerings. Why? Because colossally famous things are part of the Disney brand. Put another way &mdash Disney will have fewer series from Norway.
That's why not touting Mindhunter when it had the chance, the budget and the need to create something more identifiable than what the series was in 2017 seems like a missed opportunity. I suspect that it doesn't seem like a missed opportunity to Netflix right now, but it might next year. Is it possible that David Fincher said "no hype, no nothing" to Season 2? Sure. Maybe. But the bigger point here is that dropping shows with no press and not much fanfare when you could be creating something sellable to new subscribers seems...unwise.
Look at it this way: Selling volume is great when you want market dominance over the early-days Hulu or the we-sell-TV-shows-in-addition-to-gadgets-era Amazon. But now both of those streamers have their shit together and are making really good TV series. That's already a problem. Then here comes Disney+, with Apple+ and HBO Max right behind. Then NBCUniversal soon after.
Volume? The whole streaming universe is going to be volume.
Sorry, but you can't sell excess to people who are about to be more overwhelmed with choice than they've ever been.
But you can sell recognizable, desirable, entertaining, quality TV series like Orange Is the New Black, Stranger Things, GLOW, Ozark, The Crown or Russian Doll though I'd argue some of those later ones should have been marketed wider at release Netflix would argue that viewers and Emmy voters found them anyway, validating its approach.
So it will be interesting going forward in the Streaming Wars for everybody, really, but in particular Netflix, the one streaming service that sells ubiquity over specificity. Will it focus on fine-tuning its series to win more Emmys the streamer is obviously heavily invested in getting nominations, but ultimately wins will start to matter as the competition for subscribers heats up. Will it start to change how it makes shows &mdash a little more prestige mixed into the plentitude? Will it change how it markets them? How it promotes them to the press Netflix is famous for oppressive review embargoes or just, you know, not making something available.
All of this, in various ways, matters. It would be nice if Russian Doll broke out at the Emmys, but it's really a dark horse. Ozark and Bodyguard got drama nominations and in any other year that might have mattered it's probably going to be Game of Thrones, you know that. When They See Us did great in the nominations but might be facing too much competition.
With Amazon and Hulu upping their respective creative games, and with HBO and FX as long-standing stalwarts, more competition from Disney+, Apple+ etc. will just make it more essential that, if you want to use the Emmys as a marketing tool for subscriptions, curating and emphasizing individual series will be paramount.
Emmys &mdash nominations and wins &ndash aren't everything, of course. But notable content &mdash as opposed to just content &mdash certainly will be moving forward.
What Netflix does in the face of this looming competition will be kind of fascinating and you can bet others are watching. At the moment it appears there's no evident strategy shift, which means Netflix probably has a new series premiering tonight, no matter what night you're reading this.
Source: Hollywood Reporter
Published on 14 Aug 1919
When it comes to closing out a season, the makers of Netflix’s hit series “GLOW” love nothing more than a game-changing cliffhanger. Co-creators and showrunners Carly Mensch and Liz Flahive ended their first season with some major questions about the show-within-a-show’s televised future, while the second season laid out a plan in which the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling would take their gig all the way to Las Vegas.
More remarkable than those season-ending twists: “GLOW” makes good on them, even when such bold changes could prove daunting to retaining an audience in an increasingly crowded television landscape. And nowhere is more crowded than Netflix, which currently produces hundreds of its own original series. So what makes an s-set series about both the weirdness of the feminine experience and the joys of pile-driving someone into a makeshift ring such a persistent hit?
“I think it’s one of those impossible questions,” Flahive said in a recent interview with IndieWire. “It’s like, how do you continue to stand out? How do you continue to break through when there are so many great things being made? You just have to keep the pressure on your show and keep the focus on your characters and the story you actually want to tell, as opposed to being too focused on what is a very crowded TV slate now, which is only going to get bigger. We try to keep our eye on the ball we started with.”
While the pressure to deliver a hit for the streaming giant is very much real, Flahive and Mensch were concerned with something more immediate: the pressures they put on themselves to deliver a season with so many radical changes that it felt like making a brand-new show.
“We joked that, for Season 3, we kind of gave ourselves the narrative pressure of a Season 3 with the production pressure of a Season 1,” Mensch said. “In terms of having to build all new sets, establish the world, the rules of the world, the visual palette of the world. There was so much just from those internal pressures, I would say we didn’t even have time to think of the kind of external Netflix-glut-of-TV-shows pressure.”
It helps that “GLOW” entered the crowded Netflix marketplace with some proven backing: producer Jenji Kohan, who created one of Netflix’s first bonafide hits, “Orange Is the New Black.” Armed with Kohan’s support and an enthusiastic Netflix team, Mensch and Flahive said they’ve been able to keep making a show that’s very much of their vision.
“The thing that was really miraculous is, they really let us make our show,” Mensch said. “They really let us make our decisions. We pitched the season and we made the season that we pitched them. I think that that many times, you can have interactions with executives where creative questions just get asked over and over and over again until you fold. That’s not how they work creatively, which is really refreshing.”
The duo said that Netflix didn’t flinch when they pitched their big idea for Season 3: moving the GLOW gals and their business to Las Vegas, where they’d go from televised wrestling to a live show hosted by a not-so-glam casino the fictitious Fan-Tan Hotel and Casino, loosely based on the Riviera Hotel.
“When we we pitched them that ending, their followup question was, ‘Are you seriously going to go there?’ And we said, ‘Yup, that’s where we intend to go,'” Mensch said. “They’ve known for a while, there was never an emergency meeting about like, ‘How are we going to pull this off?’ It was again, them being like, ‘Well, if you guys can figure out how to film 1986 Vegas, we support you.'”
And, yes, figuring out how to film 1986 Vegas was a challenge. “The city kind of erases itself every five years, there’s almost no buildings standing from 1986 that you could shoot if you wanted to, that was an immediate artistic challenge,” Mensch said.
But if the ladies of “GLOW” can make their own ever-changing locations and settings work, so could the women who created them. “It was also kind of an opportunity and kind of a parallel of where we were going in our story,” Mensch said. “We wanted to tell a story about a real performer’s Vegas, an outskirts-of-Vegas life, which was largely interiors, living together in a shitty, off-Strip hotel. We were never going to be interested in the version of Vegas that you had already seen.”
Another challenge: they couldn’t actually pack up and go to Vegas. “We still wanted to figure out how to have a season with some exterior life,” Flahive said. “Besides having to build a lot more sets than we’ve ever built on our show, building a casino, building a showroom, the scale of the show was very different this season.”
They only found two hotels in the Los Angeles area that fit the bill. Eventually, they settled on a hotel by the Ontario airport “We called that our version of Vegas,” Mensch joked. “It felt like it was a trek. You were in the desert. Everyone complained on the ride there.” that gave them a surprising amount of artistic freedom.
“They let fully take over their facade and build a neon marquee and redress their lobby and leave our set dressing up and use their kitchen, use the bowels of the hotel, which we really felt like we also wanted to see so you really felt like these girls were sort of like traipsing through the hotel, like a bunch of overgrown Eloises,” Flahive said.
Despite a literal need for more neon, the third season of “GLOW” isn’t all rhinestones and good times. Over the course of a few months in Vegas, the GLOW gals continue to grow and change, often spurred on by tough events this is, after all, a season that opens with the Challenger disaster. The change of venue allowed Mensch, Flahive, and the rest of their writers to explore the inner lives of some of their supporting characters.
“The delicate, magical balance of our show in general is [that] there’s a larger story that we’re always honoring, and a lot of times who we dip into is kind of related to who is tying into that larger story most urgently,” Mensch said. “With Vegas, a lot of our initial questions were, who’s going to change the most Vegas? Who will be the most uncomfortable here? Who will be kind of out of their comfort zone in a way they wouldn’t be in L.A.?”
Flahive added, “If you’re gonna go to the trouble of taking everybody to a new place and building new worlds, you really want to let it hit those characters.”
While leading ladies like Ruth Alison Brie and Debbie Betty Gilpin continue to shine, the spotlight is also turned on fan favorites like Carmen Britney Young, Bash Chris Lowell, and Sheila Gayle Rankin. Mensch also pointed to Jackie Tohn’s Melrose as a prime example of the expectations they hoped to upend, as this season pushes the good-time former chauffeur into new places, including an unexpected romance.
“Before you see our season, your assumption is, the party girl is going to be a pig in shit in Vegas,” she said. “We obviously did not go in that direction, but it felt like a fun kind of expectations reverse and also an opportunity to kind of hit her in ways that, you know, maybe she’d been on autopilot in L.A. in a certain way.”
Being on autopilot isn’t “GLOW” style anyway, but at the conclusion of another expectation-upending season, Flahive and Mensch couldn’t resist tradition: a cliffhanger with big implications for the future of all the show’s beloved characters. Asked what audiences should expect from a Season 4, should the series get a greenlight from Netflix, the duo demurred, while still hinting that the core DNA of their show will never change.
“I will say, more wrestling,” Flahive said with a laugh. Mensch added, “More wrestling. And I will just say, I think we left Ruth in a place where she’s got a road back to Debbie and to wrestling that is at least not [totally] clear based on how we ended it, but that we’re excited to dig into.”
“GLOW“ Season 3 is streaming now on Netflix.
Published on 14 Aug 1919
Last week, Netflix managed to poach Game of Thrones' showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss from HBO with a $200 million dollar deal that announced an undisclosed number of TV shows and movies from the pair.
It's a lot of money, sure, but not the most the streaming service has shelled out for a top-tier creative with a successful track record. Ryan Murphy scored a $300 million handshake with the expectation he'd create ten projects within five years &mdash the first of which is the September slated mini-series, The Politician, about a college-cheating scandal that pre-dates the Lori Loughlin sting. And ABC lost Shonda Rhimes to Netflix in 2017 for a cool $150 million in the hopes that her eight planned series would generate the kind of viewership that her TGIT lineup did on network TV.
In other words, Netflix seems to be banking on established showrunners, those who've delivered rating success, garnered awards recognition, and fueled a social conversation in a time when communal TV watching seems to be dying out. Whether Benioff and Weiss can make good on that implied promise without the aid of source material from other artists, it's hard to tell. Thrones seemed to struggle with its narrative in those final few seasons when the show went off-book, and Benioff and Weiss were solely in the driver's seat. The final season was divisive at best.
But it's not the question mark hovering over the duo's writing capabilities that leaves a sour taste in the mouth after they've been given millions of dollars just to play ball. It's the knowledge that other shows, the work of lesser-known creatives, are being sacrificed to fund the price tag. This year, Netflix has canceled 14 shows and announced the planned endings of a few more. Of those shows, eight were created or co-created by women, and none of them ran longer than the expected three seasons, which used to be the unofficial length an original series would run before Netflix debated its renewal.
Some of these series were cult hits that didn't move the needle, like Trinkets, a series about teen kleptomaniacs, or Chambers, the Uma Thurman-starring mystery thriller about an organ transplant gone wrong. They gained buzz from those subscribers who stumbled across them while scrolling for new fare, but their cancellation didn't cause a blip on the radar of most viewers. Then there were the series that sparked outrage from fans, shows like Brit Marling's The OA, a sci-fi mind-bender that felt like it had more story to tell when it was given the ax Tuca & Bertie, an animated series about friendship and womanhood told from the perspective of two birds or One Day At a Time, the Norman Lear revival that modernized a beloved classic. These shows were also made by women, starred women, and sported big names, but they fell victim to the mysterious “algorithm“ that rules Netflix's decision-making these days.
Admittedly, 2019 is a strange year for the streaming giant to weather. There's competition from fellow behemoths like Disney, from networks wanting to get in on the streaming game, and from established platforms like Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, beefing up their content libraries to rival Netflix's own. There's a need for more content, the kind that gets people talking, which is why Netflix seems to be betting its future on celebrity showrunners so heavily. In a way, it's understandable.
When Netflix first emerged as a streaming service offering original content, it wasn't just a big fish in a little pond, it was the only fish. It could take risks, give multi-season renewals to shows that cost little to make and wouldn't have survived on network TV. Shows like Orange Is the New Black or House of Cards, dramas about women in prison and narcissistic politicians that may not have played well in primetime. Since then, Netflix has grown and earned the ability to greenlight more exciting projects, works of niche art like Stranger Things or weighted social dramas like Ava DuVernay's When They See Us, but the workings of the company, how deals are made and, more importantly, why deals are made, remain a mystery. And that's upsetting people.
Not only are fans seeing promising shows like The OA or Tuca and Bertie cast off after one or two seasons, but they're also left with the more frustrating question of why. Netflix is notorious for refusing to share their viewership numbers unless it benefits them in press releases, so we rarely get an accurate picture of how a show has fared or why it might've failed. Even creators and stars are left in the dark, relegated to casuies of the divine algorithm without much explanation. Tuca & Bertie creator Lisa Hanaw &mdash who also did animation for Netflix's beloved BoJack Horseman &mdash had a revealing Twitter exchange with fans who questioned how Netflix promoted certain shows and the cost of that selective process.
Brit Marling wrote a heartfelt note to fans after her show's cancellation, admitting she “had a good cry“ when she got the news the show would be ending on the cliffhanger of season two. And One Day At a Time's creator Gloria Calderón Kellett famously fought alongside fans for a second life for the show after a confusing cancellation notice from Netflix, despite critical love and a fervent fanbase.
This brings us to the troubling trend from the streaming giant. When Netflix began, it championed little-known creatives pitching risky ideas that lent themselves to diverse, representational storytelling. It gave Jenji Kohan's drama about the trials and triumphs of a bunch of lady criminals a home it brought The Wachowskis' imaginative world of Sense8 to life. Some of its biggest payoffs have come at the hands of creators with no inherent value or waning value attached to their names and actors who weren't wielding that much star power, at least not before their shows aired. These deals Netflix is making with established creatives will most likely produce the kind of elevated content and talked-about stories we all love, but does it have to be at the cost of the smaller, more obscure works of art &mdash shows that push boundaries and reach specific audiences, giving fans a creative palate cleanser and introducing them to new talent? Must there be the sacrifice of discovering and supporting new writers, showrunners, and stars for the sake of a glossy multi-million dollar deal that makes headlines and earns some chatter on social media?
Every streaming service right now is trying to figure out how to come out on top and they seem to all be choosing the same model &mdash throwing obscene amounts of money at well-known names so they can harness their celebrity and attract new subscribers. But is that sustainable? Even more importantly, is that a system that promotes diversity and equality in Hollywood, at a time when both are so heavily scrutinized by the media and demanded by fans? Are services letting truly great shows, created by truly great creatives, slip through the cracks because they're relying so heavily on ratings and algorithms in this time of Peak TV, which often values quality over quantity? Should they champion unique storytelling instead of churning out more crowd-pleasing fare? And when you're an entertainment powerhouse as influential and successful as Netflix, can't you find a way to do both?