TV/STREAMING . . .

Vanessa Hudgens on Why Rent Live Is the Perfect Story for 2019. Rent may have originally been written in the 90s, but it's still about as relevant as it could be for a 2019 audience. Fox is putting on its own live production of the show about struggling artists in NYC, dealing with HIV/AIDs and poverty and rising rent prices, and star Vanessa Hudgens, who plays Maureen, sees no reason the story shouldn't resonate with viewers today. "We are all in a time and age where there's a lot going on in the world and the things that are dealt with in Rent are things that are still being dealt with in our current communities," she tells E! News. "People are still dealing with AIDs. Gentrification in new cities and rent prices going up is a real thing. There's props where we're voting on them to see what's going to happen. It's all so relevant." The show is also a collection of love stories of all different orientations and identities, and Hudgens hopes viewers will take something away from seeing those relationships play out. "The love stories in Rent are so honest and so raw that if anything, through watching it, will just allow people to accept others that aren't like them," she says, though it's not just the romantic relationships that she says are important -- it's the community aspect. "I feel like over the past year or two, there's been so many suicides, to be honest, that it's really disheartening and depressing to know that these people who we've looked up to, designers or artists or musicians have taken their own lives and the people around them had no idea that they were in this state of depression, and I feel like it's so important for everyone and anyone no matter your circumstances to have a community, a group of people that you can lean on, be inspired by, bounce things off of, and the core of Rent is that. It's this group of artists coming together, having each other to lean on and push through difficult times." Rent Live airs Sunday, January 27 at 8 p.m. on Fox. (Eonline)

Food Network Reviving Rachael Ray's 30 Minute Meals. Some delish news for fans of Rachael Ray and easily prepared dishes: 30 Minute Meals is returning to the Food Network. The original series ran from 2001-2012. The new 30 Minute Meals, which premieres April 1 on Food Network, will also have a digital presence with Ray offering additional cooking tips and how-to segments. "I couldn't be more excited to bring 30 Minute Meals to a whole new generation of fans," Ray said in a statement. "We are rolling deep this time around, proving to everyone that, yes, these are really meals you can cook in 30 minutes or less. And our show will now be part of Food Network's on-demand offering, so our friends can actually binge-watch their meals." The host, who also has her own syndicated daytime series The Rachael Ray Show, posted about her return to the franchise that helped make her a star on Instagram. Ray said the new show will feature meals not seen during the original series or her daytime show. "Rachael Ray is a culinary firebrand as evidenced by her success across her television shows, magazine, books, live events, philanthropy, and all of her businesses," Courtney White, Food Network president, said in a statement. "Her time-saving and creative ideas for whipping up delicious meals at home are perfect for the home cook of any level, while her infectious energy and enthusiasm make viewers feel like they are right there cooking along with her in the kitchen." The plan for 30 Minute Meals is for 30 new episodes through April. (Eonline)

Celebrity Big Brother Twist! Anthony Scaramucci Was Never Really a Houseguest. This might be the funniest twist of all time. There were "rumors" earlier this week that former Trump Administration employee (for 10 days) Anthony Scaramucci had already left the Big Brother house, days before the first eviction. As it turns out, he was never playing the game at all. He was this season's second big twist, revealing that he's no longer playing the game but he is leaving behind a new veto twist that allows for a second veto competition before the eviction. And to make it even funnier, the second veto competition was essentially an Anthony Scaramucci true or false game, made up of headlines about things the Mooch had said while in the house. Kato Kaelin won the power of veto, which gave him the power to save someone in danger of eviction. In the end, it was still a sad result, and one that felt really unfair. Jonathan Bennett, star of Mean Girls and current host of many cupcake-related shows on the Food Network, was eventually evicted after only landing on the block because he partnered up with athletic beast Ryan Lochte and just couldn't compete when a twist revealed that one had to be on the block and one got to be HOH. Sure, sure, Julie made some good points about how he messed up and blindsided a few too many people to end up with a vote of 6 to 1 but come on! If there's any actual fairness in this game, there will be another twist that lets Jonathan back in, because this is NOT gruel. Or fetch, tbh. Celebrity Big Brother airs most nights on CBS at 8 p.m. (Eonline)

Christopher Meloni and Elizabeth Reaser to guest star on The Handmaid's Tale. The two will appear on the dystopian Hulu series as husband and wife Commander Winslow and Mrs. Winslow in the drama's third season, which is currently in production. Though few details are known regarding their storyline, a press release from the streaming service reveals that Meloni's character is a "powerful and magnetic Commander" who hosts the Waterfords on an important trip, while Reaser's character befriends and inspires Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski). The latest season of the Emmy-winning show, which stars Elisabeth Moss, Joseph Fiennes, Alexis Bledel, Madeline Brewer, and Ann Dowd, will debut this spring. (Entertainment Weekly)

Maisie Williams: "I Don't Know That Anyone Is Going to Be Satisfied" With Game of Thrones Ending. She's proud of the final season, but Maisie Williams knows this about Game of Thrones fans: They won't be satisfied with the ending. "I don't know that anyone is going to be satisfied," Williams told Sky News about the series ending. "No one wants it to end, you know, but I'm really proud of this final season. I've always felt ashamed to say things like that, but I am. I'm really proud of all the work we've put it, for me it's the right time. I hope people like it." She's right. Do you really think fans will be happy, even if it's the perfect ending? Williams' costar Kit Harington had similar warnings. "It's like when you finish a book, you're not happy it's over are you? You don't finish a good book and say, 'I'm happy I finished that'," Harington said on The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show. "But you have this grief that it's over, and it's exactly same with nine years doing this show. No matter how it ended, or how it does end, there's always this bit of you that's like, 'oh'; there's this loss around it." In September 2018, Harington issued a similar warning as well. "I think a TV series that's spanned eight, nine years is an incredibly difficult thing to end," Harington told MTV at TIFF. "I think not everyone's going to be happy, you know, and you can't please everyone. My favorite TV shows are Sopranos, Breaking Bad, and The Wire, and they all ended in a way that... It's never going to satisfy you." Game of Thrones will end with six episodes beginning Sunday, April 14 at 9 p.m. on HBO. Details about the final season are being kept under wraps -- the show went to extraordinary lengths to keep spoilers from leaking, including the use of code names and confiscating phones. Williams told Sky News it's "going to be really weird" when the show is officially done. "People are going to come up to me on the street and go, 'Weren't you on that show?' and that's going to be bizarre," she said. It all begins Sunday, April 14. (Eonline)

Why Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Ending Is More Than Just a Show's Conclusion. The end of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is more than just the conclusion of a show, it's the end of an era...hopefully for just a short time. With the finale of Kimmy Schmidt comes the closure of the Tina Fey and Robert Carlock golden age of madcap comedy. Viewers first entered the world of Fey and Carlock established with 30 Rock in 2006. For seven seasons, Liz Lemon, Tracy Jordan, Jenna Maroney, Jack Donaghy and Kenneth Parcell entertained viewers with their antics behind the scenes of a fictional late-night sketch series. 30 Rock received 103 Emmy nominations during its run, taking home the Outstanding Comedy Series trophy three times. After 30 Rock wrapped up in 2013, Fey and Carlock got to work on what would become Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (series star Ellie Kemper details the meeting she had with the duo in her charming book, My Squirrel Days). Originally intended for NBC, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt made the jump to Netflix after its first season was already completed. It eventually debuted in 2015, and it instantly felt like a natural sibling to 30 Rock. Fey and Carlock's style of TV comedy is instantly recognizable. The jokes come fast and furious, often requiring multiple viewings to capture them all. And these shows, Kimmy, 30 Rock, and even Great News, seem designed for multiple viewings. The worlds are so colorful, the characters instantly relatable. It's easy to get lost in them. The duo and their writing staff excel at developing larger than life characters imbued with enough humanity to make them seem like your friends. Like 30 Rock, Kimmy Schmidt is a whip-smart comedy. This is a show about a woman who was kidnapped and abused for years, and here we are as viewers, eating up her misadventures with glee. The show continually tackled topics often seen as taboo but didn't trivialize them. Kimmy balanced wackiness with poignancy in an expert fashion. As the theme song said every episode, "females are strong as hell." That's something Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt never lost sight of, right up until the end. "I hope the fans will be very satisfied with the ending. I, as an actor, was very happy with how the writers wrapped everything up," Kemper told us ahead of the final episodes dropping. "I think, for me personally, Kimmy's journey ends with such great dignity. And she... changes the world, which, I think, she deserves to do because she's been through a lot and she retains an optimism and a fierceness that most people might not be able to hold after going through such a horrible experience. So, I'm happy with the way the show ended up." Kemper said the show was wrapped up so quickly, saying farewell to the character who has been with her for so many milestones hit her hard. "It felt like we were going 100 miles an hour and then Saturday morning, all of a sudden the show was over, which is a very strange -- and sort of abrupt feeling to have. In a way it's nice because you're just ripping the band aid off... It's a nice thing, to be sad that the show is ending, because that means it means a lot to you." And just what is the satisfying Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt ending? Spoilers ahead! Kimmy previously embarked on her quest to better society via a children's book, and it eventually paid off. Her book, which she got online thanks to her job at Giztoob, started to get the attention of the general public and educators. At the very end of the show via a flashforward, viewers see just how successful the book -- and its message -- became when The Legends of Greemulax theme park opened. It was a happy ending for all involved, including Titus (Tituss Burgess) who made his Broadway debut in Cats and later officially in The Lion King, and got back with Mikey (Mike Carlsen). In his flashforward, Titus was a movie star -- and proud father. For Jacqueline, we saw that Kimmy not only helped herself, but also those around her, including her former boss. Jane Krakowski's character found an equal romantic partner and ended up becoming a successful Hollywood agent, managing not only Titus, but Greg Kinnear. And after their apartment/sideways tug boat blew up, Lillian (Carol Kane) became a local celebrity and the voice of New York City. It seems like a pretty tidy ending, one even Marie Kondo would find joy in, but Kemper said she's still holding out hope for the rumored Netflix movie. "It's like I'm in denial, is that one of the stages of grief?" she said about the ending. "So, I'm in denial still because I feel like, 'OK, she's not quite there.' I have her shoes, her light-up sneakers that the costume department was kind enough to give me, so I'm like, 'OK, she's still there.' And, by the way, they might need them back if we make the movie." As Kimmy Schmidt moves to the great TV beyond, forever available to binge on Netflix (like 30 Rock before it, but now on Hulu), in its place will be a hole that can only be filled with new episodes of whatever Fey and team cook up next. All episodes of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt are now streaming. (Eonline)




Bhad Bhabie is just trying to grow up in first trailer for Bringing Up Bhabie. "Y'all want to know what really goes on? I'm here to f -- -g tell you," yells Danielle Bregoli, a.k.a. rapper Bhad Bhabie in the first trailer from Bringing Up Bhabie. The Snap Original reality show will follow the unfiltered MC, her mother, and her team as she looks to make a dent in the music world. It's been more than two years since Bregoli and her mother went on Dr. Phil to discuss the then-13-year-old's chronic misbehavior. But Bregoli's appearance went viral, thanks to her "cash me outside" catchphrase, and she eventually (and maybe inevitably?) parlayed it all into a burgeoning music career. She dubbed herself Bhad Bhabie, and then dropped her first mixtape, 15 -- which garnered middling reviews but produced a Hot 100-charting single in "Gucci Flip Flops" feat. Lil Yachty. The next logical step? A reality show on Snapchat. "I went from sleeping on the floor of a trailer to having a gold record in six months," says Bhabie, in a clip from the 12-episode series. Bringing Up Bhabie premieres on Feb. 4 on Snapchat's Discover Page. (Entertainment Weekly)




Adam Scott ''Accomplished'' His Dream of Starring in a Super Bowl Ad With This Commercial. Adam Scott is crossing off another item from his bucket list. The Parks and Recreation star and rapper 2 Chainz teamed up for the ultimate collaboration on the song "Expensify This." Their luxurious music video features gold statues, famous cars and seafood, with all the receipts to back it up. Moreover, the stars featured in the fun video were so excited to work on the project. "So much creativity and collaboration went into making this video," shared 2 Chainz. "It was really over the top and a lot of fun. I'm excited to be in the Expensify Super Bowl campaign and can't wait for everyone to see the spot." Plus, Scott got to fulfill a lifelong goal. He said, "I've always wanted to be in a hip-hop video and a Super Bowl commercial, so mission accomplished." And the most exciting part is that fans can get in on the action! For the first time in history, people can expense a music video. In a press release from Expensify, they shared, "From now until February 4, fans simply download the Expensify app and snap a photo of the various receipts in the video. Then, they submit the receipts for a chance to get actual cash or win the items themselves." And what will the lucky winners go home with? Well, the prizes range from an "ice-sculpted sports car, an Audi R8 and a decked-out gold jet ski to a diamond-encrusted football and a gold 2 Chainz bust." Download the app for a chance to win! (Eonline)




Even Just Hearing About Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes Is Terrifying. Want to never sleep again? Netflix is here for that, as usual! The 30th anniversary of Ted Bundy's execution, the streaming service released Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes for everyone who's ready to be terrified by one of American history's most terrifying serial killers. Netflix UK & Ireland even tweeted a warning to "maybe don't watch it alone," which is a little bit alarming, to be honest. It shouldn't be, because as director Jon Berlinger reminds us, Ted Bundy was basically the first celebrity serial killer, and most people know at least a little bit about his crimes. Plus, we've all seen true crime before and we know how it goes. But something about that warning in this case is particularly chilling. "America has only 5% of the world's population and yet we have over 67% of the world's documented serial killers since they started keeping numbers -- well over 2700, and that's a chilling statistic," Berlinger tells E! News. "In addition, the FBI estimates that at any given time, there are 25 to 50 serial killers operating in this country, so with all these serial killers, with all this carnage, one name floats to the top, it's Ted Bundy." Berlinger believes this is the case because Bundy represents a pretty universal terror. "The reason I think is because he taps into our deepest, darkest, primal fear that the person next you is ultimately unknowable, because Bundy defied the stereotype of what is a serial killer," he says. "He was good looking, he was charming, people liked him, women were attracted to him, he could have had a career in politics or law, and yet he had this horrible, vicious, dark side." Anybody else shaking a little? Feeling nervous, a little sweaty, just from watching this interview? How are we supposed to watch this show if we can barely get through this description?! "Bundy himself said, you'll hear it in the tapes, that killers don't come out of the shadows with long fangs dripping in blood. That means they're not easily identifiable. We want to think serial killers are easy to identify, and then we can avoid them, but the truth is the opposite, particularly with Bundy. He defied all expectations of what a serial killer is." Sooo wouldn't it actually be better to watch this show alone, with no one who could potentially be a charming attractive serial killer? Wouldn't it be better to never talk to anyone again, maybe? Or is Netflix trying to tell us something more sinister. Is Netflix a serial killer? Conversations With a Killer is a "unique look" inside Bundy's mind, crafted from statements made by Bundy, along with present day interviews and archival footage from the time of the crimes and the trial that led to Bundy's execution on January 24, 1989. Sounds like a great night in! With all the lights on! And the pause button on standby! Listen, we're going to watch this (obviously) but we're gonna feel sick the whole time. Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes is now streaming on Netflix. Berlinger is also the director of the upcoming movie Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile, starring Zac Efron as Bundy. (Eonline)




How Joe and Mika have been tricking 'Morning Joe' audience. Married MSNBC co-anchors Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski are reportedly making it look like they're broadcasting their show "Morning Joe" from different locations, when they're actually traveling together. Fans have noticed that the duo have not been broadcasting their show from New York lately -- and they appear to be co-hosting from two Washington, DC, locations, judging from different Beltway backdrops behind each anchor. But Washington Post reporter Paul Farhi said on Twitter of Scarborough and Brzezinski: "They're broadcasting from a home studio in Jupiter [in Florida]. And there's no formal set in their home studio, just a couple of (Washington) backdrops. Thus, a wide shot is out of the question." He added via Twitter, "Joe and Mika are actually sitting a few feet away from each other. But they each address their own camera rather than turning to speak to each other (because doing that would expose the fact that they're sitting on a makeshift set)." The show's panelists are back at NBC's Rockefeller Center headquarters in Manhattan, but with a DC backdrop behind them as well. The MSNBC show doesn't disclose where in the world the co-hosts are via graphics. Farhi tweeted that behind the scenes, "People on the show say the multistate production arrangement has caused some concern about its [effect] on the 'chemistry' of the panelists and the co-hosts." Page Six exclusively reported on a similar setup back in 2017, when Scarborough and Brzezinski traveled to London together. At the time, Scarborough appeared on-air in front of a "Morning Joe" logo, while a seemingly separate Brzezinski had a TV production suite behind her. But they were just feet from each other in a London studio. A source told us at the time, "'Morning Joe' is being produced as if they're in two different locations. They are not! They are together -- they are always together." Reps did not comment. (PageSix)




The tax strategy behind Joe and Mika's Florida 'studio'. After reports that married MSNBC anchors Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski have been mysteriously broadcasting their show from Florida -- sources speculated that the location is to benefit Scarborough's tax situation. The "Morning Joe" anchors have been reportedly on a home set in Jupiter, Fla., but using Washington, DC, backdrops. Sources said the reason for the locale was a "tax dodge" -- albeit a completely legal one -- since Scarborough has a home in Florida and would need to spend a certain amount of the time there for any tax benefit. "Mika just goes along for the ride," a source said. Scarborough, who's still presently registered to vote in Connecticut., on Oct. 9, 2018 registered to vote in Palm Beach County, Fla. according to public records. He listed no party affiliation. By moving to Florida, he'd reduce his tax burden by roughly $550,000. Scarborough reportedly makes $8 million a year and would pay 6.99-percent state income tax in Connecticut, while there's no state income tax in Florida, the Post's Josh Kosman reports. To qualify as a Florida resident, he'd need to be there 183 days a year. An insider added that while the show suffers in quality from the couple's makeshift Florida set, that NBC News boss Andy Lack allows it since he's close with Scarborough, even though others at the network are not fans of the plan. But other MSNBC sources insisted that the anchors' Florida move is to spend more time with elderly parents who live in the Sunshine State. "Joe and Mika told the network last fall that they needed to spend more time in Florida for family reasons, because their ailing parents were there," a source said. "This move was done with the blessing of the hierarchy at NBC News, and they were told it was fine to be out of the studio, spending time in Florida, as long as the ratings did not suffer, which they have not." Both anchors' mothers are still living. The TV source added that the couple likes to move between homes, and, "There has been no talk at MSNBC of a tax benefit for the Florida move, They have always maintained this is about family." Reps did not comment. Former Florida Gov. Rick Scott in a 2015 "Morning Joe" appearance pitched Scarborough on moving to Florida to lower his taxes. "We loooove companies in our state, and we'd love, of course, if Mika and all of you to come down here," the pol proposed. "Well, it's not going to happen," Scarborough reportedly shot back, adding that his children were in Connecticut schools and he had no desire to move back to Florida, according to Floridapolitics.com. The couple married in November in a secret ceremony in Washington, DC, after getting engaged in 2017. (PageSix)




TV Networks Jockey to Host First 2020 Democratic Presidential Debates. Broadcast and cable news are "actively fighting" for the first two candidate debates, in June and July: "Everyone just gives their best pitch." Leading Democratic presidential hopefuls Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand are not the ones jostling for position right now: the country's major broadcast and cable news networks are also facing off behind the scenes to host and televise the first two presidential primary debates sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee, in June and July. "Everyone's actively fighting for it," one broadcast television executive involved in the planning process tells The Hollywood Reporter. "Everyone just gives their best pitch." On Dec. 20, the DNC formally announced plans for 12 primary debates, double what was originally announced for the 2016 party primary ultimately won by Hillary Clinton. Discussions about potential media partnerships began back in 2017 but ramped up after the 2018 midterm elections, according to a DNC official. "For the cable networks, it is an all-hands-on-deck battle to win not only the most debates but, more importantly, the 'best' debates -- those most likely to occur during pivotal moments in the campaign," says a veteran cable news executive. Because of the sensitivity of the pitching process, nearly all the broadcast and cable news networks declined to discuss their plans. "The DNC has been talking to a number of media partners to make sure that the Democratic debates have the largest reach possible and focus on the issues that voters care about," says spokesperson Xochitl Hinojosa in a statement. David Bohrman, who oversaw and planned nine presidential primary debates during his career as a CNN executive, says the networks begin by pitching "the broader feel" and vision of the event, getting into logistical details once selected by the DNC. "The networks have to convince the party and the associated candidates that they have a good idea, an interesting idea, a format that's going to be helpful to let people know who these people are and what they say. And, it's got to be fair," he says. With a wide-open nominating contest, stakeholders must confront the logistical challenges presented by a potentially massive field of Democratic candidates. In December, the party floated the possibility of holding the first two debates "over multiple consecutive nights," which could make the events more watchable but could water down each broadcast's ratings. The DNC is still "strongly considering" that proposal and discussing it with potential media partners, but no determination will be made until the size of the Democratic field is known, the official says. Concerns about an unwieldy debate stage won't keep the networks on the debate sidelines, however. "These debates are important substantively for the networks to find their editorial footing and stake their claim as the place to go for insightful political coverage," the cable news executive says. "There is a lot at stake." With President Trump unlikely to face much of a challenge in the Republican Party primary, insiders say the Democratic nominating contest will likely be the whole ballgame. Even if the president faces a challenge from a Republican like Jeff Flake or John Kasich, it's unclear if he'd even show up to debate. Bohrman predicts that CNN and MSNBC will host at three Democratic primary debates each, with the major broadcast networks (and PBS) getting at least one each. Major platforms like Facebook and Twitter are also thought to be interested in sponsoring debates. The DNC declined comment when asked about conversations with particular networks, such as Fox News, which has not hosted a Democratic debate in more than a decade after attempting to do so in 2016. CNN is off to a quick start, saying on Jan. 21 that it will host a town hall event in early primary state Iowa next week with Harris, who became the latest accomplished Democrat to announce her campaign to win the White House in 2020. (Hollywood Reporter)

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