Always Be Watching - 26 October 2018

ABW is written by Dan Barrett who is heading west. I hear life is peaceful there.

Officially, Megyn Kelly is still the host of the NBC Today show. But in the last 24 hours she has lost her agents and has lawyers in with NBC currently discussing an exit from the network said to be worth a mere $69 million.


It’s Fox News, but for the digitally savvy youngster Fox News enthusiasts (so, those younger than 65 years old?). Fox Nation launches on 27 November and will cost users US$5.99 per month.

Fox Nation will not overlap with any shows included on Fox News’s cable broadcast.

Instead, the network is producing a slate of new series exclusive to the streaming service, which will be commercial free at its launch. Among the offerings: a true-crime series hosted by Mark Fuhrman, the former detective who figured in the O. J. Simpson murder trial; “What Made America Great,” a history program with the “Fox & Friends” host Brian Kilmeade; and “The First Family,” described as a look at “the Trump family beyond the headlines.” (Eric Trump, the president’s son, is on board for the pilot episode.)


Netflix has announced five new German original series. Some of the best shows from the last few years have been coming from Germany, so this is very good news.


A new late night talk show launches this coming week on E! - Busy Tonight is hosted by Freaks & Geek’s/Cougar Town’s Busy Phillips. Guests for week one include Mindy Kaling, Vanessa Hudgens, Kristen Bell, and Megan Mullally along with appearances by Jimmy Kimmel, Fred Armisen, and Andy Cohen. Future guests include Julia Roberts, Kim Kardashian West, Tracee Ellis Ross, Camila Mendes, John Stamos, Olivia Munn, Beth Behrs, Lauren Graham, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Emily Ratajkowski, Taran Killam, David Alan Grier, Tess Holliday, and Tom Lenk.

Tina Fey will be on board as the shows executive producer. The show will air Sunday-Wednesday nights.

And sorry Australian Busy Phillips fan, the show hasn’t been scheduled on our local E! channel yet.


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I’ve been thinking about…

Yesterday’s news about HBO hiring an Intimacy Coordinator to look after creative talent filming sex scenes on its shows has been on my mind a bit and taps into some broader ideas I’ve been having about the future of these big brand TV services.

It’s going to soon become very important for every streaming service to have a very clear definition of what its brand and value represent to viewers. Disney (when it launches) will be the source of family and accessible broad culture event TV experiences via its big brands Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, etc. Amazon will be event programming largely based on established IP that adds value to your grocery/retail subscription. Apple will be the free event TV programmer that brings extra value to your technology hardware purchases.

And then that brings us to HBO, which should do well in defining itself as the home of bold, edgy, adult fare. No one else is really in a position to do it. Disney can never go too adult. While Amazon can stray into those waters every so often, it has a huge retail business it needs to keep as accessible and scandal-free as possible. Apple will try and continue to be the squeaky-clean boring home of star-driven TV - don’t expect anything risky there. But nudity, sex, violence, and complicated adult themes completely fit the established HBO brand and will continue to be a point of differentiation going forward. Hiring an Intimacy Coordinator is a positive move for the organisation - if it is going to lean further into this fare, then at least they seem to be going about it in the right manner.

Notice that I didn’t mention Netflix in this? Right now the Netflix brand represents nothing - its only key value to subscribers is that it’s a hodge-podge of different types of TV/movies being delivered via a really clever platform. Mix in more competitors with compelling TV served on sophisticated platforms and subscribers are really going to start questioning what it is that Netflix is offering them.


Issue four of the new West Coast Avengers series features special guest star Jimmy Kimmel.

The cover is a very deliberate homage to David Letterman’s Avengers issue 239 appearance in 1984.


An adult animated comedy based on Star Trek will debut on CBS All Access - written by a Rick & Morty writer, Mike McMahen, Star Trek: Lower Decks will be about the support crew of one of Starfleet’s lesser ships.


The eagerly anticipated Red Dead Redemption 2 launches today with a 98/100 Metacritic score, making it the best reviewed game of the year apparently.

Meanwhile, Polygon has a list of 13 things to know about the game before starting. The most valuable tip: Don’t rush - this isn’t an action game.

It’s also a 65-hour game.


Charlie Brooker reveals why he moved to Netflix from Channel 4:

“Channel 4 said they wanted to make more Black Mirror,” Brooker explained. “We agreed to do four more episodes, but this time they wanted to see detailed synopses of each film in advance, which I thought was outrageous at the time.”

“When feedback came, we were told they weren’t very Black Mirror and they were no longer going to allocate the money for four episodes,” said Brooker.

Jones added, “We were trying to get a meeting to discuss why these ideas weren’t Black Mirror, so we could attempt to understand what the concern was.

“Given the show had won lots of awards and had been really positively received on the whole, it was strange. I think there wasn’t any clarity from the channel. We also felt unchampioned.”

Relationships with talent matters.


I missed that this was made public, but it has been reported that Australian network Seven will be launching a food-themed channel. It is expected to be announced officially at the Seven upfronts this morning.


And finally…

The TV version of Heathers has just debuted in the US. This is a show that I really didn’t care for. Here’s a really negative review of the show from Brian Lowry.