The network upfront presentations, which used to be the cornerstone of every television season, have fallen out of favor in recent years. However, with the pandemic and upfronts being conducted virtually, the news about them have been virtually nonexistent, especially with so much still up in the air regarding the fall season and when production can even start.
The CW has seemingly resolved part of their problem by deciding not to return any of their regular shows until 2021. They will fill the fall schedule with repurposed shows, like DC’s Swamp Thing, Whose Line Is It Anyway? episodes, and the final seven episodes of Supernatural, which ends its 15-season run in the fall. Nothing on the network has yet been cancelled, although Katy Keane is still on the bubble.
CBS is operating under completely different assumptions. As of now, its fall schedule is business as usual, although obviously that may change, depending on events in the world. CBS has bumped Amazing Race, which was supposed to begin this month, into the fall, but Jeff Probst also says that he’s committed to having a 41st season of Survivor on in the fall, as well. Most of CBS’s line-up will return, as is, although there have been a few cancelations: Broke, Patricia Heaton’s Carol’s Second Act, God Friended Me, Matt LeBlanc’s Man With a Plan, and Edie Falco’s Tommy.
NBC, meanwhile, has delayed its upfront presentations, and at the moment, only two shows have officially been cancelled, The InBetween and Sunnyside. However, there are still a number of shows on the bubble — some of which may not return — including Bluff City Law, Council of Dads, Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector, Manifest and Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. NBC will also be rolling out its streaming service, The Peacock, in July, where the third season of A.P. Bio will debut.
Fox is not returning its scripted, live-action staples in the fall, holding those back until 2021. Their fall is what they call a pandemic-proof schedule, with its animated shows, L.A.’s Finest (repurposed from Spectrum), The Masked Singer, several midseason replacement series they bumped to the fall, and a lot of NFL, meaning it is only pandemic-proof if the NFL can return in the fall. Fox has canceled four series, mostly midseason replacements, including Almost Family, BH90210, Deputy, and Outmatched. Meanwhile, The Orville has moved to Hulu.
Finally, over on ABC, there have been a few painful cancellations. Bless this Mess with Dax Shepard and Lake Bell has been canned, along with The Goldbergs spin-off, Schooled and Single Parents after their respective second seasons. All three of those were well-liked. Emergence with Alison Tolman, Grand Hotel, Kids Say the Darndest Things, and Reef Break have also been canceled.
Formula E isn’t an eSports circuit by nature, but an electric car racing outfit that’s gone online in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Just like NASCAR, which ran a series of iRacing events before returning to action last weekend, the series has had to deal with some big adjustments in competing from home. But now we know that a driver didn’t compete in at least one event he claimed to run.
The Race reported on Sunday that driver Daniel Abt was fined by Formula E and retroactively disqualified for an event in which he “officially” placed third. That’s because after an investigation the sport’s governing body declared that he didn’t actually drive in his “home” race, instead employing a ringer to run the event as Abt while he presumably did something else.
— ABB Formula E (@FIAFormulaE) May 23, 2020
Formula E announced Sunday that Abt was disqualified and professional simracer Lorenz Hoerzing banned from racing in future virtual events following the Formula E Race At Home Challenge, which took place on Saturday. Abt finished third, but controversy started immediately when other drivers — Stoffel Vandoorne and Jean-Eric Vergne both accused Abt of using a different driver in his place. That happened after a controversial finish in which race winner Oliver Rowland passed both Vandoorne and Abt’s No. 66 car in a turn, which you can see for yourself here.
— ABB Formula E (@FIAFormulaE) May 23, 2020
Afterward, several drivers openly accused Abt of not actually racing in his car. His camera wasn’t working during the event, leading to direct questions about whether he was actually at the wheel.
[via The Race]
“Really not happy here because that was not Daniel driving the car himself, and he messed up everything. Really ridiculous,” he said on his Twitch stream.
Abt’s feed showed his cockpit prior to the race but his face appeared obscured by equipment. He did not appear for post-race interviews after finishing in third place.
Formula E champion Vergne also questioned whether Abt took part in the event saying: “Please ask Daniel Abt to put his Zoom next time he’s driving, because like Stoffel said I’m pretty sure he wasn’t in.”
An investigation soon followed, and Abt was swiftly disqualified and ordered to make a “compulsory donation” of 10,000 euros to a charity because it was revealed that Hoerzing was actually behind the wheel of the virtual Audi. According to The Race, organizers “cross-referenced IP addresses” and found it was impossible that Abt actually drove his car in the event on Saturday. There was plenty of anecdotal evidence that something was amiss on Saturday, as Abt didn’t do any of the virtual tie-ins that have become common with these events.
A feed of Abt on a 20-driver view Zoom page during the live broadcast showed a figure in a sim rig but his face was constantly obscured by a piece of equipment which is believed to have been a microphone.
Additionally, Abt’s twitch stream stopped functioning yesterday afternoon and after the race he was also unable to converse with TV presenters after apparent connection issues. No footage of Abt racing at Berlin is currently available on his Twitch stream.
As the site noted, it had been his best finish since the series had began running virtual races, which map the traditional Formula E courses but require a significant amount of practice to translate traditional racing skills to the virtual circuit. Apparently, Abt was frustrated with his less than stellar finishes and had a more seasoned virtual racing pro step in to boost his results in an event organized to raise funds for UNICEF.
“I would like to apologize to Formula E, all of the fans, my team and my fellow drivers for having called in outside help during the race on Saturday,” Abt said in a statement to The Race. “I didn’t take it as seriously as I should have. I’m especially sorry about this, because I know how much work has gone into this project on the part of the Formula E organization.”
Abt had tweeted and retweeted about competing in the Race At Home series as recently as Friday, though considering the ruling that seems pretty silly now. It’s unclear if he will still participate in the Race At Home Challenge though, in a way, it seems that ship had already sailed.
[via The Race]
As has become almost routine on AMC’s delightful weekly chat show, Friday Night in the with Morgans, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and his wife Hilarie Burton always bring in someone from the AMC family. A few weeks ago, it was Michael Cudlitz and Sarah Wayne Callies — who revealed the one thing that Andrew Lincoln could not do well — and last week, it was Rhea Seehorn, who talked about the evolution of fan theories on Better Call Saul.
On this week’s episode of Friday Night in with the Morgans, they brought on Samantha Morton, who played Alpha on The Walking Dead. Recall that Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Samantha Morton not only shared a lot of scenes together in season ten, but had a disturbing sex scene that prompted a rare sexual content rating for the episode.
Morton is quarantining with her family in Northern England in the “middle of nowhere. Bronte country.” During the episode, a popular topic during quarantine-times came up, specifically how partners across the world now have to cut the hair of their children and significant others. Burton has cut Morgan’s hair, for instance, and Meredith Salenger — who was also in the episode with husband Patton Oswalt — also had to cut his hair. Samantha Morton — who was completely bald as Alpha — hasn’t had to worry about cutting her hair. She’s more concerned with growing her hair out post-The Walking Dead, where they even shaved off her eyebrows.
“I haven’t seen hair on you in two years,” Morgan said to Morton.
“I look like an extra on Falcon Crest, Morton says. “When they shaved my eyebrows off, I thought, ‘Oh, it’s fine. Whoopi Goldberg looks amazing. I do not look fine with no bloody eyebrows at all!”
“Can I say this,” she continued, as she tried to shape her hair. “My hair doesn’t know what it wants to be. It’s sticking up like Elvis, and it doesn’t know if it wants to be curly. I’m just in trouble. If anyone is watching out there has some ideas for Sammy Morton’s hair,” she added. “Please let me know.”
It doesn’t look bad at all!
As for The Walking Dead, Morton misses it. “I miss Georgia. I miss the people. I miss the crew, the cast. I miss my job!” Morton, however, singled out Morgan. “I miss you. Without being rude, there are a lot of male actors I have worked with that have real odd egos, you know? And that are not really there for other people. So, I want to say thank you to you for being so cool and kind and brilliant.”
Friday Night in with the Morgans airs on AMC on Friday nights during the quarantine.
The most recent episodes of Rick and Morty have deconstructed the show’s basic principles in some interesting ways, but Sunday’s latest might be the most interesting departure yet if things go the way Jerry hopes. The latest episode appears to have a strong lack of science fiction elements in it, as Jerry wants the family to have a nice trip out in the wilderness without any universe-altering events taking place.
In a clip posted to the official Rick and Morty Twitter page on Saturday, the Smith family is driving in a car loaded with suitcases and everyone but Jerry seemingly annoyed by the journey to somewhere. And the tweet’s text implies it will actually follow Jerry’s best intentions. Maybe.
— Rick and Morty (@RickandMorty) May 23, 2020
Summer bemoans missing Mike Triscuit’s drug party — “Look at this — he’s already watching Euphoria to pregame” — while Morty longs for the sweet glow of a television projecting video games. But this trip is strictly about family, according to Jerry. And that means a departure from the ordinary arc of episodes.
“We’re roughing it,” Jerry says. “And that means no sci-fi bullsh*t.”
Jerry confirms the lack of sci-fi bullsh*t with Rick, who then tries to ignore a phone call that somehow makes the entire car vibrate? Seems like some sci-fi bullsh*t to me. We’ll see just how strictly the episode actually adheres to Jerry’s plans, but it seems pretty clear that Jerry hopes things stay nice and calm.
During the current worldwide pandemic, movie studios are no longer providing box-office figures because theaters have been shut down around the nation and the world. Because we are less interested in the actual figures themselves and more interested in what people are watching over the weekends, each week we will dive into Most Streamed and Bestseller Lists on Fandango, iTunes, Netflix, and Hulu to pinpoint the weekend’s most watched films.
On Memorial Day weekend last year, Aladdin opened with more than $110 million, John Wick: Chapter 3 earned $31 million in its second weekend, and Avengers: Endgame crossed the $800 million mark after five weeks. Brightburn also opened that weekend. Remember James Gunn’s Brightburn? No one else does, either. It opened last year with $9.5 million and faded from there.
The box office would kill right now for a $9.5 million flop, especially when a horror movie called The Wretched has been at the top of the box office in May, earning around $300,000 in drive-in theaters. Even “successes,” like the release of last weekend’s Tom Hardy movie Capone, feel underwhelming, as it earned about $2.5 million in revenue on a $20 million budget. It may earn a profit, but it’ll be a long haul, and it’s already fallen from second to 11th on the iTunes rental charts, while it’s now 7th on Fandango’s VOD charts.
The top five on the VOD charts look a lot like they did a month ago, with the exception of Scoob!, which remains the top film on all the digital charts (iTunes, Fandango, Amazon). Given its placement the last two weeks, it’s curious as to why Warner Brothers hasn’t released any figures, since Universal was so eager to brag about the $100 million success of Trolls World Tour.
Otherwise, the VOD charts include familiar titles: Bad Boys for Life, Sonic the Hedgehog, and The Invisible Man. It is worth noting, however, that while it hasn’t been in the top five since the outset of the pandemic, Rian Johnson’s Knives Out has been hovering in the top tier of releases for a couple of months, so cumulatively it’s doing very well, as are a few other titles that cling to the upper rungs like The Way Back, Bloodshot, and Emma.
There’s not much shaking on the Hulu movie charts this weekend, although it is worth noting that a movie called Military Wives starring Kristen Scott Johnson and Sharon Horgan, which is getting fairly good reviews, is available now on Hulu. It’s also doing OK on the iTunes rental charts for those who do not have Hulu. The Painter and the Thief is also on Hulu, and it is getting phenomenal reviews.
Elsewhere, over on Netflix, the highly anticipated Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani romcom Lovebirds, has debuted in the top spot this Memorial Day weekend. The film was supposed to be released in theaters last month, but when that fell through, it became the first movie of the pandemic to move from theaters to Netflix. Reviews suggest that it probably was best suited to Netflix from the beginning. It’s not that it’s getting unfavorable reviews (66 percent), it’s just that most of the reviews note the low-stakes. It feels like a Netflix and chill kind of movie, although I’m sure many of us would kill to see it — or anything else — in a movie theater this weekend.
In at number two is Happy Madison’s The Wrong Missy, last weekend’s top Netflix film. The reviews may be terrible, but it’s clear that the money Netflix is spending for these Adam Sandler produced films is worth it for the streaming service. In fact, another Adam Sandler film, Just Go with It (with Jennifer Aniston), jumped to number three this weekend. Meanwhile at number four and five are Soul Surfer and Public Enemies, two more films that have weirdly resurfaced on Netflix during the pandemic.
For new movies, next weekend will be a slow one, with no major VOD or Netflix releases. However, Sandler’s Uncut Gems arrives on Netflix tomorrow, and I suspect everyone is clearing the way for Greg Daniels’ and Steve Carell’s Space Force series next weekend.