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Monday, July 30, 2018

TV/STREAMING . . .

Julia Roberts on the 'mental challenge' of shooting 'Homecoming'. Julia Roberts is returning to the small screen for the first time since the 2014 tv movie "The Normal Heart" in "Homecoming," Amazon's new thriller based on Micah Bloomberg and Eli Horowitz's podcast of the same name. And what brought her back to the medium were the men behind the project. "I just think that what Eli and Micah have written is such a great old-fashioned yarn set in this really modern conundrum of a morality play. And you put that in Sam [Esmail's] incredibly stylish, capable, huge hands, it seemed a very safe place to be," she said at the Television Critics Assn. panel for the series Saturday. The recent star of "Money Monster" and "Wonder" noted that the process of filming "Homecoming" wasn't "that different" from the way she has been asked to work on films, based on the way they shot it and the fact that Esmail directed all of the episodes. "We were all together in the way you would be on a movie," she said. However, the show still posed new challenges for the veteran actress -- specifically an 11-page scene that was filmed as one continuously, traveling shot. "It was a great mental challenge every day," she said, noting that is what she loved about the project. "It became really the fuel a lot of times -- how many pages are we going to do tomorrow and is it one shot for all of them or are we going to do a couple of shots?" The "oner" took seven or eight takes, and Roberts said "likely me tripping" caused the need for multiple takes. But she also had a lot of props with which to contend. "It's not just about, can you be prepared?" she pointed out. "It's about being prepared while walking up and down flights of stairs... on the phone." But, she continued, "It was weird -- it was like the harder the task, the faster we accomplished it. It was very strange." Roberts admitted she wasn't specifically looking for a return to television when "Homecoming" came up for her. "I guess I didn't really think of it as small screen, big screen. I don't know -- my television is pretty big," she said. But more seriously, she noted that while having "more time to shoot and more time to unravel people" seemed like a great opportunity, she also doesn't see a big distinction between the mediums today. "Everything is just so good, the bar is just so high, and for me it's just nice to bring something into people's homes. We're like a delivery service -- we're delivering entertainment into your homes," she said. (PageSix)

Bob Odenkirk Flashes Better Call Saul Butt Tattoo Amid Season 5 Announcement. Better Call Saul has been renewed for season five. AMC announced the news on Saturday at the Television Critics' Association (TCA) Press Tour in Beverly Hills, Calif. The announcement comes about a week before the premiere of season four -- and nobody seems more excited about the debut than the show's star Bob Odenkirk. During the presentation, the actor flashed the audience his backside to reveal a new Better Call Saul tattoo. Placed prominently on his buttocks, the new ink showcased the show's title with a heart drawn around it. It also included the season four premiere date: Aug. 6. "I'm a real company man," Odenkirk quipped, per Deadline. "I thought, 'Where can I put this where everyone can see it?'" Of course, Odenkirk didn't say the tattoo was real. Better Call Saul returns on Monday, Aug. 6 at 9 p.m. ET on AMC. (Eonline)

Demi Lovato documentary on hold after star's overdose. The show is expected to go on for the upcoming Demi Lovato documentary, but it's unclear when it will be. The singer's follow-up YouTube documentary is still moving forward despite her recent overdose, but it is on hold until she is ready to come back to the project, according to YouTube global head of originals Susanne Daniels. "It's in production," Daniels told IndieWire. "It's on hold right now. That's up to Demi what she wants to say and what she wants to do." According to USA Today, the film was due to come out this fall but will now be bumped back until at least 2019. It has been filming for the past year. Daniels praised Lovato, saying the pop star is her hero. "She's someone who has been honest, so candid about her struggles, from day one when she was a teenager. And they're real struggles, and they're multiple struggles," Daniels said. "And she's trying so hard and I think the outpouring of sympathy for her is a reflection of how she has shared her battles so publicly and so honestly ... So I think we're on pause, we want her to get well, and she'll decide what she wants to say or not say about this." The new documentary was set to focus on 25-year-old Lovato's desire to raise awareness on different issues that interest and affect her. Lovato's first documentary, "Demi Lovato: Stay Strong," aired on MTV in 2012 and centered around her sobriety (although she later admitted she was still using cocaine and alcohol). She then released "Simply Complicated" with YouTube in October 2017 and touched on her struggles with bulimia and alcohol addition throughout the 80-minute film. The "Confident" singer was found unconscious in her bed Tuesday following a long night of partying to celebrate a backup dancer's birthday. Her friends reportedly treated her with Narcan before emergency responders arrived at her Hollywood Hills home, and they asked the responders to turn off their sirens when approaching the house. Earlier this week, she was said to be in stable condition. (PageSix)

How Connie Britton Returned to Nashville for the Series Finale. Rayna Jaymes lives again! Sort of. Connie Britton returned for the series finale of Nashville, and yes, her character is still dead. Britton left the series during season five, its first on CMT after ABC canceled the musical drama and was hesitant to return for one last ride. "I'll admit: When they first called me to do it, I was a little against it," Britton told TVLine. "Because I thought, 'Rayna's gone.' And I don't like the idea of having her come back as a ghost." However, she came around to it and appeared in not one, but two scenes. Britton appeared as Rayna in a flashback to her wedding night to Deacon (Charles Esten), and in the final scene, a massive musical number featuring the cast and crew. "Then [series creator Callie Khouri] told me about the last moment on the Ryman stage, and I loved the idea of that. So we made it happen," Britton said. According to Variety, Britton cut a vacation with her son short to return to her Nashville home. "Rayna got to do the impossible," Britton said. "She got to come back from the dead. I got to do the most wonderful, which was to go back to my 'Nashville' family and celebrate all the hard work and love and care that went into that show." For the final number in the Ryman Auditorium, Britton was joined by her former costars, Khouri and several other behind-the-scenes players. "Being on the Ryman stage, reunited with six years of cast and crew, is a moment I'll cherish and never forget," Britton said. "I am grateful." Are you happy Nashville brought Rayna back for one last song? (Eonline)

Behind the Scenes of Avengers: Infinity War's Crushing Finale. Still reeling from the final moments in Avengers: Infinity War? E! News has an exclusive look at Paul Bettany, Chadwick Boseman, Josh Brolin, Chris Evans, Danai Gurira, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Elizabeth Olsen and Sebastian Stan filming the devastating finale, culminating in -- spoiler alert! -- Thanos activating the Infinity Gauntlet and snapping his fingers, wiping out half the galaxy's population. Black Panther? Bye. Groot? Gone. Spider-Man? See ya. The final battle occurs after Thanos goes on a smash and grab across the universe to collect all six Infinity Stones, giving him unparalleled power. The Mind Stone is embedded in Vision's forehead, bringing Thanos to Wakanda -- where the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy and a host of other superheroes are preparing to fight him to the death. "When Thanos shows up, we really wanted to make this the most powerful moment ever," executive producer Trinh Tran says in a bonus featurette (included on the digital and Blu-ray editions of the blockbuster). Of course, deciding which heroes would vanish was a challenge. "In terms of our choices about who Thanos would end up eradicating with his snap, it was very story-focused. How do we pay off each individual character's storyline most profoundly?" co-director Anthony Russo asks. "The first person to go is Bucky Barnes, and it's shot from Captain America's perspective." Similarly, Russo notes that Okoye's "No. 1 mission in life" is to protect King T'Challa -- making it more heartbreaking to watch as she "watches the king go in front of her." No matter which characters turned to dust, Russo says, seeing how the surviving heroes react "is very powerful." Where will Captain America (Evans), Okoye (Gurira), Thor (Hemsworth), Black Widow (Johansson), Falcon (Mackie), Scarlet Witch (Olsen) and the other heroes go from here? That question won't be answered until the fourth and final Avengers film hits theaters in April 2019. Other bonus features available on Blu-ray and digital include 10 minutes of deleted and extended scenes, a gag reel and audio commentary with the directors and the screenwriters. It also contains more than two hours of never-before-revealed details of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's unprecedented, 10-year cinematic journey -- including a filmmakers round table. (Eonline)

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