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Monday, June 18, 2018

TV/STREAMING . . .

Chris Hardwick's Talk Show Pulled by AMC Amid Sexual Assault Claims. AMC announced on Saturday that it will not air Chris Hardwick's show Talking With Chris Hardwick amid his ex-girlfriend Chloe Dykstra's allegations of sexual assault and emotional abuse, which he has denied. The second season of the series was supposed to premiere on Sunday. On Friday, Dykstra, 29, posted a Medium essay about how she underwent "emotional abuse" by a man she was in a relationship with and also wrote that she "let him sexually assault" her "regularly" during their time together. "We have had a positive working relationship with Chris Hardwick for many years," AMC said in a statement to E! News. "We take the troubling allegations that surfaced yesterday very seriously. While we assess the situation, Talking with Chris Hardwick will not air on AMC." The cable network also said, "Chris has decided to step aside from moderating planned AMC and BBC America panels at Comic-Con International in San Diego next month." The 49-year-old TV personality, also known for hosting AMC's Talking Dead and for founding the Nerdist podcast and company, has not responded to the statement. In addition, KAABOO Del Mar Festival organizers announced that Hardwick has been pulled from the lineup of the 2018 Humor Me comedy show. While Dykstra did not name Hardwick in her post, her description of her ex spurred readers to conclude she was talking about him. Several hours later, after his name trended on Twitter, Hardwick said in a statement that he was "blindsided" by her post and that the conduct she accused him of did not occur. "These are very serious allegations and not to be taken lightly which is why I've taken the day to consider how to respond," Hardwick said in a statement to Deadline on Friday night. "I was heartbroken to read Chloe's post. Our three-year relationship was not perfect -- we were ultimately not a good match and argued -- even shouted at each other -- but I loved her and did my best to uplift and support her as a partner and companion in any way and at no time did I sexually assault her." In her essay, Dykstra wrote that "after three years of being snapped/yelled at constantly, very rarely being shown any affection," she left Hardwick for another man that she "had literally just met," adding, "Unfortunately, there was a slight crossover: a kiss. A kiss I immediately told him about, and he, surprisingly, instantly forgave me." "When we were living together, I found out that Chloe had cheated on me, and I ended the relationship," Hardwick said in his statement. "For several weeks after we broke up, she asked to get back together with me and even told me she wanted to have kids with me, 'build a life' with me and told me that I was 'the one,' but I did not want to be with someone who was unfaithful." "I'm devastated to read that she is now accusing me of conduct that did not occur," he said. "l was blindsided by her post and always wanted the best for her. As a husband, a son, and future father, I do not condone any kind of mistreatment of women." Hardwick and Dykstra dated for three years until 2014. He has been married to Lydia Hearst for almost two years. She has not commented on Dykstra's remarks. Hardwick made his statement hours after Deadline reported that reps of celebrities who were interviewed on Talking With Chris Hardwick had told AMC that "they are now 'very uncomfortable' with the association with Hardwick in the #MeToo and Time's Up era of Hollywood" and that some "are pressuring to have the debut postponed until the claims against Hardwick are thoroughly investigated." Hardwick also made his comments hours after all references to him were removed from the Nerdist website. "Chris Hardwick had no operational involvement with Nerdist for the two years preceding the expiration of his contract in December 2017. He no longer has any affiliation with Legendary Digital Networks. The company has removed all reference to Mr. Hardwick even as the original Founder of Nerdist pending further investigation," a Legendary spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter on Friday. "Before I take my break, I do want to address something re: the company he founded," Dykstra tweeted. "As I understand it, the person has not been associated with that company for several years, and I hope that they will not suffer as a result of my essay. Be kind to them, they are good people." (Eonline)

How Queer Eye Leveled Up in Season 2 With 2 Very Special Episodes. When the Queer Eye revival debuted on Netflix earlier this year, it was an instant heartwarming success. Over the course of eight episodes shot in the greater Atlanta area, we watched as the new Fab Five (a quintet of breakout personalities that somehow managed to out-charm their predecessors, much to our surprise) bring their estimable talents to men sorely in need of lifestyle adjustments and, more often than not, shifts in perspective and confidence. Connections were made, avocados were sliced, and the tears flowed freely as our guys spent a week with each of their cisgender, mostly straight males. It was a winning formula, as the shift to the streaming service allowed us to not only get to know the "heroes" a bit deeper than on the original Bravo incarnation, but also let us into the lives of the Fab Five for the first time in the franchise's history. And they could've continued to follow that formula for future seasons to come with no complaints from us. But that's not what happened. And we're so glad it didn't. With its second season, consisting of eight episodes that dropped on Netflix on Friday, June 15, Queer Eye managed to level up and deliver on its true potential with two very special episodes that deserve talking about. Right off the bat, in the premiere episode, the show shook things up by sending Antoni Porowski, Bobby Berk, Tan France, Jonathan Van Ness, and Karamo Brown to work their magic on their first female. In Gay, Georgia, we met cancer survivor Tammye, a woman so committed living a life of service that the school teacher who makes time to visit sick children after school asked the Fab Five to renovate her church's community center rather than her own home. Over the course of the hour, we also met her gay son Myles, who'd had a rough coming out experience and was fearful of returning to the church that meant so much to him growing up -- and still means the world to his mother. We sobbed as Tammye recounted her "come to Jesus" moment over Myles' sexuality and her quest for forgiveness from her son. We sobbed even more as Tammye helped Bobby have a breakthrough over his own issues with religion following his own harrowing coming out. And then we sobbed the hardest when, at the end of the week, Tammye celebrated each of the Fab Five for the ways in which they light up the world. It was an episode that truly flipped the format on its head and seemed to allow for more growth within the Fab Five than it did for Tammye, to be honest, but that's what made it so incredibly special. To see Karamo work with Myles to find a way to return to his faith and not fear it, to see Antoni's cynicism over religious folks' propensity to truly change give way to a torrent of tears in their final moments with Tammye, to watch Tammye deliver a powerful sermon over accepting homosexuality as a child of God to the approving nods of her congregation; it was all so incredibly moving and would've never happened if the show hadn't flipped the script. And though the next three episodes went back to the traditional hero, episode five broke from tradition yet again. Our first introduction to Skyler is a stark one, as we, along with the Fab Five back in their loft, watch as he undergoes his top surgery, aka the surgery that transgender males go through to have their breasts removed. In a startling and profoundly touching moment, we're allowed to witness Skyler, still a bit out of it from the anesthesia, look down and see himself for the first time. To see his reaction feels like watching a deeply personal moment that we have no right spying on, but it's deeply moving. From there, we watch as the Fab Five help appropriately age up Skyler's masculinity while he sets out to achieve the ultimate act of validation for any trans individual -- successfully petitioning to have the gender marker on their driver's license switched -- but the hour is all the more powerful for the way we get to watch Tan, who had never met a trans person and admittedly, despite being a staunch ally, struggled to understand their plight, get to learn along with us at home. It's a powerful hour of television that has the potential to do a lot of good at a time when the trans community needs allies more than ever. This isn't to say that the other six episodes in season two weren't worthy of our time. They were all wonderful, though, we can't lie, Arian's lies in the sixth episode left us rather annoyed with him throughout much of his episode. But by broadening the format, the show tapped into what makes it really special: watching these five fabulous men make deep connections with people they might not otherwise in a way that allows for everyone, heroes and Fab Five alike, to learn a little something about themselves along the way. By allowing for us to get to know the Fab Five in a deeper way, the revival's been able fire on cylinders that weren't even possible when the show first debuted in 2003. In a world that's seemingly bedeviled with darkness at every turn -- just take a look at the news (or better yet, don't) -- to have a show that radiates positivity, fosters communication, and celebrates our common ground is an absolute blessing. We can believe, Jonathan. In fact, we do. Queer Eye is now available to stream on Netflix. (Eonline)

Lucifer Lives! Netflix Saves Fox Drama From Cancellation With Season 4 Order. Don't count the devil out just yet. Nearly a month after Fox canceled Lucifer, Netflix has swooped in to save the day, ordering a fourth season of the Warner Bros. TV production. The streaming service broke the news to fans via Twitter on Friday, June 15. "#Lucifer fans, rejoice: Netflix has picked up the show up for a fourth season," read the tweet shared to Netflix's See What's Next account. Per The Hollywood Reporter, the episode count for the fourth season had yet to be determined, but expect it to be much less than the broadcast standard of 22. Shortly after the news broke, star Tom Ellis took to Twitter to rejoice the resurrection of the police procedural adaptation of the DC Comics title, which sees Ellis' Lucifer Morningstar (aka the Lord of Hell) living in Los Angeles and serving as a consultant to the LAPD. "WE DID IT !!!!!!!!!!! Thank you to everyone for your continued support and love for #Lucifer," he wrote. "I am so happy for all our fans I'm going to burst." Lucifer is the second of Fox's castoffs -- of which there were many this season -- to find itself surprisingly revived elsewhere, following NBC's decision to keep Brooklyn Nine-Nine alive for a sixth season. The many cancellations came as the network is seeking to pivot away from niche comedies and narrow dramas to a broader slate of procedurals and multi-cam comedies. No word yet on when fans can expect new episodes of Lucifer to hit the streaming service. Are you relieved that Lucifer lives to see another season? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter at @eonlineTV! (Eonline)

Giuliana Rancic Is Returning to Co-Host E! News With Jason Kennedy. Giuliana Rancic is coming home. Three years after she left E! News, the E! network announced she will return to co-host the show with Jason Kennedy, joining correspondents Melanie Bromley, Carissa Culiner, Kristin Dos Santos, Zuri Hall, Erin Lim, Will Marfuggi, Sibley Scoles and Justin Sylvester. Rancic, of course, continued to host Fashion Police and Live From the Red Carpet in the last three years. Recently, she was part of E! News' multi-platform coverage of the royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, which delivered a record 111 million total engagements. "Returning to host E! News is every bit as thrilling to me today as it was 16 years ago when I joined the show and embarked on this wonderful career," said Rancic, who first became a correspondent in 2002. "Co-hosting alongside one of my best friends, Jason Kennedy, with one of the most talented teams in entertainment journalism, makes this move even more special. I can't wait to reconnect with the E! News audience and go on this journey together once again." Rancic will return to the airwaves Sept. 4. "Giuliana is an incredibly charismatic and well-respected entertainment journalist. As a longtime member of the E! family, it's exciting to welcome her back home to E! News," John Najarian, Executive Vice President & General Manager, News & Digital, E!, said. "While E! News has seen massive growth across digital and social, we have also continued to expand and elevate our television coverage, and Giuliana is an excellent addition to our weeknight series, which remains the most watched entertainment news franchise with young women." Rancic, who divides her time between Chicago and L.A., was promoted to anchor in 2005. Over the years, she has shared co-hosting responsibilities with Ryan Seacrest and Terrence Jenkins. (Eonline)

'Boy Meets World' creator reveals why Shawn and Angela couldn't end up together. "Boy Meets World" and "Girl Meets World" creator Michael Jacobs says he took a lot of "heat" when he decided that Shawn Hunter and Angela Moore wouldn't end up together. "It was one of the early interracial relationships on television where we never mentioned that aspect of it. We just never thought anything of that. And to be called forward-thinking [by press] for doing that, it's terrible," Jacobs told Page Six at the ATX TV Festival. "So the opposite spectrum of that was, well it was an interracial relationship. What is the responsibility of saying they did not end up together? That to me is an example of backwards thinking as well. Forget the color. They never meshed. Every episode was about why Shawn and Angela would not sustain." Jacobs explained that the couple, who were portrayed by Rider Strong and Trina McGee, needed each other to find relationships that really worked. "I think of every decision I made about both shows, that was the one that I probably got the most resistance on, but for what I always thought was the wrong reason," he told us. "There can only be one Cory and Topanga and if Cory and Topanga and Shawn and Angela succeed, it lessens what I always thought was the mantra of the core show." At the end of "Boy Meets World," which is now streaming on Hulu, Angela leaves to travel to Europe with her military father. It was revealed in the reboot "Girl Meets World" that Angela went on to marry someone in the military and Shawn wed Maya's mother Katy. (PageSix)

This Is How Danny Masterson Was Written Off The Ranch. Rooster Bennett has left The Ranch. A little over six months after Netflix announced that, amid enduring accusations of sexual assault from three women, embattled star Danny Masterson had been written out of the comedy, the episode containing the actor's departure from the series has dropped on the streaming service along with the rest of the first half of season three (or as Netflix is calling it, part five), finally revealing just how the show would rid itself of one of its main characters. And it was certainly dramatic. Masterson makes his final appearance in the 10th episode of season three, appropriately entitled "Change." As the episode begins, Rooster returns to his cabin to find Mary's (Megyn Price) boyfriend Nick waiting for him after the ex-con had broken in. After exchanging some words over the Cracker Barrel waitress, Nick snaps and tells Rooster "I will f--king kill you." Luckily, Colt (Ashton Kutcher) arrives in time to diffuse the situation and Nick departs. After reaching out to Heather (Kelli Goss) to advise her to warn her mother about Nick, Rooster runs into her at the bar, where she tells him that she dumped Nick after hearing what he'd done. After inviting Mary to join him at WrestleMania, Rooster returns home to find that Nick has let himself in yet again. This time, Nick has prepared a duffel bag full of Rooster's belongings, giving him an ultimatum: "You either take that bag and disappear, or you could just disappear." Naturally, that doesn't sit well with Rooster, but when Nick pulls out a gun and threatens to kill his whole family if he tells anyone what happened, Rooster takes the bag and leaves. And with that, Rooster's time on The Ranch comes to a close. Netflix announced in December that Masterson's employment on the series had been terminated, prompting the actor to release a statement expressing his disappointment. "From day one, I have denied the outrageous allegations against me. Law enforcement investigated these claims more than 15 years ago and determined them to be without merit," he said. "I have never been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of one." Production on the second half of season three resumed earlier this year with Kutcher's Punk'd co-star Dax Shepard coming aboard in a recurring capacity to help fill the void left from Masterson's departure. Part five of The Ranch is now available to stream on Netflix. (Eonline)

Louie Anderson on Becoming Christine for 'Baskets': "I Look Good". "The big thing I felt was the preparation to get ready to be a woman, and I don't mean because I'm a man, but what women often go through everyday to present themselves to the world." "I didn't realize that it would make a difference," Louie Anderson told The Hollywood Reporter in regards to his process of transforming to his Baskets character Christine. "I thought I would be able to just put that on and I could still be who I am, but there was a definite change." "I don't know how it happens," Anderson told the Roundtable of the "change" itself from man to woman, "but I think it's when they put the lipstick on. Something happens." After that, he looks at himself differently, noting his reflection and thinking, "I look good." "People treat you different. They treated me different as Louie. They treated me different as Christine." Anderson has even gone so far to ask the cast and crew on set to refer to him as Christine rather than Louie to help his transformative process. "The big thing I felt was the preparation to get ready to be a woman, and I don't mean because I'm a man, but what women often go through everyday to present themselves to the world," Anderson told the Roundtable, explaining that his empathetic view of a woman's experience shaped his perspective on the current dialogue of #MeToo and Time's Up. "Everything got, in these time, turned upside down on the head, and I think we're looking at everything like that differently." Anderson won an Emmy for his supporting role as Christine on Baskets and earned an additional Emmy nomination for the role. (Hollywood Reporter)

French TV Companies Launch New Streaming Service to Take on Netflix, Amazon. Public broadcaster France Televisions and privately owned M6 and TF1 groups will create an equally-owned OTT joint venture called Salto. In an effort to fight off SVODs such as Amazon and Netflix, France's three major television groups are joining forces to create a joint OTT platform in the hopes it retains viewers. Public broadcaster France Televisions and privately owned M6 and TF1 groups will create an equally-owned joint venture as a stand-alone company. The alliance between the top three broadcasters is an effort to keep up with changes in consumer viewing habits, and marks what they call "an ambitious response to what the viewing public now expects." The platform will be called SALTO and offer news, special events, French and U.S. series, documentaries and films as well as exclusive content. It will offer at a variety of price points. "SALTO will also play an active role in showcasing content from the French and European creative industries," the broadcasters said. Netflix and Amazon face a proposed new European law to dedicate at least 30 percent of their programming to European content as well a fund TV series and films produced in Europe, which the new venture would seemingly easily surpass. "I am delighted by the launch of this joint platform, which is a major development for the future of the French broadcasting industry. SALTO will be able to respond to the challenge of global platforms by offering a high-quality service to all our audiences and showcasing the best of the French and European creative industries," said France Televisions CEO Delphine Ernotte Cunci. France Televisions currently encompasses five nationwide channels (that number is expected to be trimmed to four in the future) and 24 regional broadcasts on France 3 with an average 28 percent audience share. "For the TF1 Group, this project is in line with our stated commitment to openness and strategic co-operation with key industry players, both in France and in Europe. In the years ahead, it will give us the weapons we need to meet the challenges we face while meeting viewer expectations ever more effectively," said TF1 CEO Gilles Pelisson. TF1 Groupe is the top-rated private network with five channels including TF1, TMC and LCI news channel as well as its own studio and film production unit. M6 Groupe CEO Nicholas Tavernost added: "As a group that has been profoundly committed to adapting to changes in digital technologies and viewing habits for many years, M6 is delighted that the top three French Television groups are joining forces to reflect and even accelerate changes in the TV industry, so that they can deliver what their audiences want." (Hollywood Reporter)

Soccer World Cup 2018: Saudi Arabia Accuses Al Jazeera's BeIN of Biased Coverage. The Saudi government has threatened legal action against Al-Jazeera's international sports network, claiming pro-Russian coverage of Thursday's opening match, where Russia thrashed Saudi Arabia 5-0. Saudi Arabia is accusing Al-Jazeera's international sports network BeIN of one-sided coverage of the soccer World Cup game, in which hosts Russia thrashed the Saudi national team 5-0, and has threatened legal action against the network. Saudi users have been complaining on social media that during the broadcast of Thursday's game, BeIN commentary was pronouncedly one-sided, favoring the Russian squad over the Saudis. BeIN is not available in Saudi Arabia but is the main broadcaster for the World Cup across most of the Middle East. Saudi users made their comments based on videos from the broadcast that were available online. The Saudi authorities shared the users' sentiment about BeIN, threatening legal action against the network. "Necessary legal action will be taken in relation to BeIN wrongdoings against K.S.A, its sports & officials, and for exploiting sports to achieve political goals," Turki al-Sheikh, chairman of the Saudi General Sports Authority, said on his Twitter account. "This proves Saudi authorities' true stance when banning this network from airing on its soil," he added. BeIN, and parent Al-Jazeera, are owned by the government of Qatar, which has expressed support for Iran, Saudi Arabia's main regional adversary. Qatar will play host to the next World Cup, in 2022. The Saudi Arabian team has two more games to play in the World Cup's group stage. It is facing Uruguay on June 20 and Egypt on June 26. (Hollywood Reporter)

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