Ellen DeGeneres Is Now A Reality TV Titan, Producing The Year’s Biggest New Unscripted Hit — Ratings Watch

http://www.indiewire.com/2018/02/winter-olympics-ellens-game-of-games-ratings-watch-1201929603/

Ellen DeGeneres has done it again. The star’s new NBC unscripted series “Ellen’s Game of Games” has become the biggest alternative series launch during the regular season in two years, since the premiere of the Peacock’s “Little Big Shots” — which DeGeneres also executive producers.

“Ellen’s Game of Games” features host DeGeneres (who executive producers through her A Very Good Television Production shingle) as she puts contestants through a wide variety of stunts, quizzes and games as first seen on her daytime talk show. “Game of Games” premiered on Jan. 2 with back-to-back episodes that averaged a strong 2.5 rating and 2.7 rating. The show was almost immediately renewed for a second season based on those numbers. Serving as the Tuesday night lead-in to “This Is Us,” the show has also benefited a bit from that hit’s halo.

“Ellen’s enthusiasm and energy is utterly infectious,” NBC Entertainment alternative president Paul Telegdy said when he renewed the show last month. “It’s been exciting to watch her antics supersized on a primetime stage.”

Hosted by Steve Harvey, “Little Big Shots” was an even bigger phenomenon when it premiered in 2016, and spawned the spinoff “Little Big Shots: Forever Young.” Like “Game of Games,” “Little Big Shots” was inspired by a segment on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” where she features child performers.

Besides those two unscripted shows, DeGeneres is also an executive producer on ABC’s new comedy “Splitting Up Together” and Netflix’s animated adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham.”

Meanwhile, the biggest story of the week, of course, was the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, which led the week’s ratings charts even though it didn’t start until last Thursday. The Opening Ceremonies averaged 29.2 million viewers on linear TV — making it the most-watched Friday night in four years, according to NBC, besting four World Series games, two NBA Finals games and all three Fridays of the Rio Olympics.

In cable, Atlanta ruled: Bravo’s “Real Housewives of Atlanta” was the top-rated program of the week (1.4 rating). And according to Xfinity, “This Is Us” continues as the most-watched show on demand.

Here are this week’s rankers:

Adults 18-49 ranker, week ending Feb. 11, 2018:

RANK

SHOW & NETWORK

LIVE+3
DAYS
DVR/VOD

RATING

WATCHED
LIVE/
SAME
DAY

RATING

1

Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony NBC 

6.9

6.5

2

Winter Olympics Sunday Prime NBC

5.5

5.4

3

Winter Olympics Saturday Prime NBC

 5.0

4.8

4

This Is Us NBC

4.3

2.7

5

Winter Olympics Thursday Prime NBC

3.9

3.7

6

Grey’s Anatomy ABC

3.1

2.0

7

The Good Doctor ABC

3.0

1.7

8

9-1-1 Fox

2.8

1.7

9

Celebrity Big Brother Wednesday CBS

2.4

1.8

10

The Bachelor ABC 

2.3

1.8

11

Chicago Med NBC

2.2

1.5

12

Law & Order: SVU NBC 

2.1

1.3

tie

Ellen’s Game of Games NBC

2.1

1.9

14

NCIS CBS

2.0

1.5

tie

Celebrity Big Brother Thursday CBS

2.0

1.4

tie

Chicago PD NBC

2.0

1.2

17

Scandal ABC

1.8

1.1

18

The Resident Fox

1.7

1.1

tie

The Middle ABC

1.7

1.2

tie

Celebrity Big Brother Sunday CBS

1.7

1.2

tie

Bull CBS

1.7

1.2

22

Lethal Weapon Fox

1.6

1.1

tie

How to Get Away with Murder ABC

1.6

0.8

tie

Celebrity Big Brother Friday CBS

1.6

1.0

tie

The Blacklist NBC

1.6

1.0

Adults 18-49; ratings points. Source: Nielsen Media Research
Chloe Kim of the US in action during the Women's Snowboard Halfpipe final at the Bokwang Phoenix Park during the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games, South Korea, 13 February 2018.Snowboard - PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games, Bongpyeong-Myeon, Korea - 13 Feb 2018

Chloe Kim wins the Gold Medal

FAZRY ISMAIL/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Total viewers ranker, week ending Feb. 4, 2018:

RANK

SHOW & NETWORK

LIVE+3
DAYS
DVR/VOD

WATCHED
LIVE/
SAME
DAY

1

Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony NBC 

29.19

27.86

2

Winter Olympics Sunday Prime NBC

23.34

22.70

3

Winter Olympics Saturday Prime NBC 

 22.31

21.41

4

NCIS CBS

16.98

13.90

5

Winter Olympics Thursday Prime NBC 

 16.79

16.00

6

The Good Doctor ABC

15.07

9.64

7

This Is Us NBC

14.71

10.14

8

Bull CBS

14.12

10.90

9

NCIS: New Orleans CBS

11.65

8.39

10

Chicago Med NBC

10.62

7.36 

11

Chicago PD NBC

10.56

7.25

12

Grey’s Anatomy ABC

10.33

7.33

13

9-1-1 Fox 

10.22

6.64

 14

Law & Order: SVU NBC

9.11

6.64

15

Celebrity Big Brother Wednesday CBS

8.68

7.28

16

The Blacklist NBC

8.64

6.35

17

Ellen’s Game of Games NBC

8.45

7.70

18

The Bachelor ABC

7.97

6.83

19

60 Minutes CBS

7.95

7.61

20

Scorpion CBS

7.91

5.55

21

Kevin Can Wait CBS

7.78

6.96

22

Man With a Plan CBS 

7.20

6.47

23

The Middle ABC 

7.12

5.63

tie

Celebrity Big Brother Thursday CBS 

7.12

5.50

25

The Wall NBC

7.10

6.75

Total viewers; in millions. Source: Nielsen Media Research
THIS IS US -- "The Car" Episode 215 -- Pictured: Mandy Moore as Rebecca Pearson -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)

Mandy Moore, “This Is Us”

Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Here is this week’s Xfinity On Demand ranker:

Top 20 TV Series, Feb. 5-11, 2018:

RANK

SHOW

NETWORK

1

This Is Us

NBC

2

9-1-1

Fox

3

The Good Doctor

 ABC

4

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story

FX

5

Game of Thrones

 HBO

6

Shameless

Showtime

7

Big Brother: Celebrity Edition

 CBS

8

The Resident

Fox

9

Homeland

Showtime

10

Married At First Sight

FYI

11

The Alienist

TNT

12

Law & Order: SVU

NBC

13

The Chi

Showtime

14

Grey’s Anatomy

ABC

15

The X-Files

Fox

16

The Bachelor

ABC

17

 The Simpsons

Fox

18

Grown-ish

Freeform

19

Divorce

HBO

20

The Big Bang Theory

CBS

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest TV news! Sign up for our TV email newsletter here.


Read More »

AUDIO: Fuentes on Colonial Port Cities and Slavery | Ben Franklin’s World

https://africandiasporaphd.com/2018/02/16/audio-fuentes-on-colonial-port-cities-and-slavery-ben-franklins-world/

Marisa Fuentes discusses Barbados, port cities, and slavery with Liz Covart on the podcast Ben Franklin’s World:

“The histories of early North America and the Caribbean are intimately intertwined. The same European empires we encounter in our study of early America also appear in the Caribbean and the colonies in these respective empires often traded goods, people, and ideas between each other.”

Listen: Episode 173: Marisa Fuentes, Colonial Port Cities and Slavery – Ben Franklin’s World


Read More »

‘Britannia’: 10 Ways the New Ancient History Drama is Amazon’s Weirder, Psychedelic ‘Game of Thrones’

http://www.indiewire.com/2018/02/britannia-amazon-season-1-game-of-thrones-1201927414/

Much like “‘Die Hard’ on a…” became the popular action movie pitch of the 90s, “‘Game of Thrones,’ but…” has been the basis of a number of TV ploys over the past half-decade. The latest attempt at capturing the rugged, racy appeal of the HBO behemoth might just be the best so far. “Brittania,” a Sky import that’s been available on Amazon since late January, is built from some of the same DNA, even if it takes its cues from history rather than tomes of fantasy source material.

Right from the top, it takes an obscene amount of confidence to use “Hurdy Gurdy Man” as a theme song, a track that should’ve been retired forever after being used to perfection in David Fincher’s “Zodiac.” But if “Britannia” was a song, it would be much closer to prog rock than the eerie strains of Donovan. A psychedelic mix of brutality, witchcraft, and mental gamesmanship, there’s far more here than just a simple knock-off.

But if you’re looking for something to tide you over for the rest of the calendar year as the final season of “Game of Thrones” approaches, there’s no better time to look at this drama set on the shores of Britain in the heart of the first century.

Here are some of the best reasons why the show feels familiar and wildly different at the same time:

Shaky Family Dynamics

Where some shows get the opportunity to build for seasons and show the importance of family names to their story, “Britannia” subverts that almost instantly. Showing a rift in the Cantii tribe’s ruling philosophy from the outset, it captures a family on shaky ground. It connects with the overwhelming feeling of destiny that the characters of “Britannia” bind their identities to or spend every waking moment railing against. As Kenna (Kelly Reilly) grows into her role as a key decision maker in this operatic power struggle, her desires put her in conflict, one by one, with every member of her family. Her combined successes and failures help form the backbone of the series.

Very Fragile Alliances

In the early going, before a widespread conflict is guaranteed, the maneuverings between Roman general Aulus (David Morrissey) and his potential comrades in invasion make for a murky sense of whose side everyone is on. There’s a lot of testing of allegiances — even for people who make tremendous physical sacrifices and do unspeakable things in the name of proving their loyalty, there’s no guarantee that that translates into a get out of debt free card. With royal palace intrigue on one side and brute military force and the other, the show gets to investigate both of those ideas in strategic ways. There are scenes of brutal conflict, to be sure, but much of Season 1 is given over to secret negotiations. It’s convoluted at times, overly convenient at others, and a welcome alternative to oppressive brute force, especially when those demands verge on petty.

Brutal Violence

Whether as a means of pushing what’s acceptable on Sky standards or as a way to fully embrace the brutality of 46 AD, the “Britannia” brand of torture is very distinct. Whether it be soldiers getting arrows shot straight to their skull (Chimney-style) or people getting flayed alive in pursuit of information on the enemy, there are ruthless players on each side of this historical divide. (Connoisseurs of people shrieking in pain will find a rich tapestry in these characters’ treatment of prisoners.) The more intense the violence becomes, it finds a certain level of horror in how commonplace it becomes. Dismembered limbs and heads and torsos on tree branches and stakes and spears? By Episode 5, you’re barely batting an eye.

Ye Olde Magicks

If burning leeches didn’t get enough of your blood flowing, the Druid mysticism of this show puts antiquated medieval perceptions of magic to shame. Between, smoke-induced hallucinations, mind control, a couple guilt ghosts, and a solstice celebration that looks like Ancient Britain’s hedonistic Coachella, this is a series that’s not afraid to plant itself in a realm beyond the living every once in a while. Whether it’s Aulus or the wandering Druid exile Divis (Nikolaj Lie Kaas), “Britannia” busts out the fish-eye lens and blurred frame edges for a visual style bent on sharing its characters disorientation. It’s a messy, unpredictable look that can be chaotic at times, but when unseen mystical forces are guiding the fates of entire kingdoms, it somehow makes sense.

The Future is Female

While the warring sides threaten to war themselves into oblivion, “Britannia” has a Season 1 storyline on the outskirts that’s probably more compelling than all the backchannel negotiations. Cait (Eleanor Worthington-Cox), trying to avenge the loss of a family member, goes on a quest through unforgiving terrain for answers and revenge. That sequence of events may sound familiar, but few shows have a character quite like Cait, a fierce warrior in the making who is not defined by her own vulnerabilities. She more than holds her own against her countryside-traversing counterparts and once the show makes it clear what part she plays in this power struggle, “Britannia” becomes a far more cohesive story.

Juicy One-Liners

Bringing in veteran British actors lends a certain amount of gravitas to your period piece. But aside from the era-specific costumes and the added layer of regal authority to any potential battle scenes, “Britannia” gives some of its most worthy performers a chance to deliver some classic olden putdowns. “I shit on the souls of your dead” is an unimpeachable insult, delivered with absolute perfect glee by Antedia, Queen of the Regni (Zoe Wanamaker, who gets her fair share of triumphant screen-stealing moments throughout Season 1). Also, David Morrissey deserves an Emmy for making “You’re not really in the territory until you’ve had a good dump!” sound like something that a conquering Roman general would happily tell a member of his legion.

Actors Playing To/Against Their Own Image

Morrissey, probably best known to American audiences for his stint as The Governor on “The Walking Dead,” plays another character who his adversaries see as something not quite human. Even with a few extra scenery-chewing moments, he’s still a well-chosen genre heel. Meanwhile, Mackenzie Crook is downright unrecognizable as the enigmatic, timeless figure Veran, a shaman-like figure in the Druid camp whose pierced fingertips are the only thing more unsettling than the eventual power he wields over the Cantii’s collective consciousness. And anyone who ever basked in the glory of Ian McDiarmid delivering a sinister “No” to past onscreen underlings, there are a few surprises in store for you there as well.

(Playing on Amazon is a true blessing for this series. The streaming service’s X-Ray feature not only gives actor names and filmographies for anyone appearing in a particular scene, it gives character names as well. Having characters address each other by name often feels like a cheap TV shortcut to familiarity, but for a show like “Britannia,” where putting a literal name to a face can help an audience wade through each successive plot machination, that extra resource is definitely a welcome one.)

Mackenzie Crook (as Veran) Britannia

“Britannia”

Stanislav Honzik

Blind Polytheistic Adherence

The metaphysical parts of the show often tie religion to fate. How do the desires and ambitions of the individual come in conflict with the health and future of a community, especially in a time of great political upheaval? In stories and actions, that sense of sacrifice is something that runs deeply through the hearts of leaders on both sides of this fight. In Westeros, the old gods and the new are more of an invocation of history rather than a deep examination of religious beliefs. Mystical forces are more an extension of individual cults of personality than conduits for the connective tissue that can guide an entire people. Here, there is a sense of subservience that makes for a more dynamic show, one that hues closer to crises of faith even Kevin Garvey might appreciate.

Love on a Chessboard

Even as it shows people getting carved alive, “Britannia” strategically pulls back on its love scenes (well, as much as a show with an orgy tent can realistically do). There are few delusions about sex being anything other than power in this universe, as a means to forge alliances, control male supplicants, or even possibly bring about the heir to an unseen deity. In the process, marital alliances can be as fleeting as the ones on the battlefield. One satisfying way the standard sword-and-shield script gets flipped: Amena (Annabel Scholey), a fiery member of the Cantii royal family has two husbands, whose affection she plays against each other for her own benefit.

Anything Can Happen

Like “Game of Thrones,” that sense of pervasive danger also rears its head when no characters, regardless of how central they may seem to the story, are safe. Characters you’d expect to be ongoing beacons of hope find themselves on the wrong end of a blade more than once in the opening handful of episodes. Untethered from any guiding index of pre-established works (except for maybe recorded history), there’s a liberty to these characters that lets the magic, mercy, and ambition of its major players waver with each passing meeting. As far as the Romans’ involvement, those familiar “SPQR” legion banners from epics past have an air of inevitability to them. But the way this show plays with timelines and a very specific scope means that even though the history books are written, “Britannia” is free to plot a course at any speed it wishes.

All nine episodes of “Britannia” Season 1 are currently available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest TV news! Sign up for our TV email newsletter here.


Read More »

The Best Movies Without Academy Award Nominations of the 21st Century, From ‘Wonder Woman’ to ‘Zodiac’

http://www.indiewire.com/2018/02/best-movies-without-oscar-nominations-21st-century-1201926446/

You know what’s even more satisfying than your favorite movie cleaning up on Oscar night? The righteous indignation that comes from knowing that Academy members were too busy nominating Meryl Streep again to throw a bone to works of high art like “Under the Skin” or “In the Mood for Love.” One of the most important traditions during awards season is getting angry and/or surprised by which movies were snubbed, of which there are more than a few — for every “Shape of Water” with 13 nominations, there’s a “Zodiac” with zero.

And so it is that we’ve assembled this look at 25 great movies that went entirely unrecognized by AMPAS, some of which are unsurprising (they don’t often give much love to wrenching Korean dramas, after all) but unjust all the same. Have a look, and try to quell your outrage as you’re reminded that, seriously, “Melancholia” didn’t even land a cinematography nod.

25. “Love Is Strange” (2014)

Love Is Strange Alfred Molina and John Lithgow

Ira Sachs makes movies that leave indelible imprints on the viewer, films that alchemize the daily heartbreaks of human experience into essential cinema. Turning his lens on a facet of life many gay men would like to forget, “Love Is Strange” follows an aging couple fallen on unexpected hard times who must move out of their apartment. John Lithgow and Alfred Molina are equal parts tender, charming, and naturalistic, delivering complex performances too rarely seen from these masters of craft. Marisa Tomei is excellent as their sharp-tongued niece-in-law. Sachs is firmly indie filmmaker, and “Love Is Strange” certainly didn’t have much of an awards budget. Still, it’s precisely the kind of beautifully made small film the Academy likes to highlight with acting nods, which easily could have gone to Lithgow, Molina, or Tomei. —Jude Dry

24. “Dear White People” (2014)

Dear White People Tessa Thompson

One of the most perceptive movies about race relations in America, period, Justin Simien’s whip-smart satire of black-white tensions on an American university is at once acerbic and insightful. Plus, it gave the world Tessa Thompson, the remarkable centerpiece of a movie about struggling to speak across that awful racial divide while galvanizing one side of the equation. As radio deejay Samantha White, Thompson’s fast-talking truthteller instantly became the voice of a generation, her dialogue laced with so many keen observations it’s no wonder that Simien continued them with his Netflix series based on the movie. But the absence of “DWP” in the Oscar race for its shrewd screenplay speaks volumes about how much 2014 was out of touch with true diverse talent producing work worthy of attention. Things are a little better now, but nothing will change the fact that “DWP” was robbed. —Eric Kohn

23. “Under the Skin” (2013)

"Under the Skin"

Jonathan Glazer’s extraordinary “Under the Skin” was far too experimental to even be considered for major Oscar categories like Best Picture and Best Actress (Scarlett Johansson’s career-best work is a masterclass study of human behavior), and it was a few years before distributor A24 honed its Oscar game, but the fact Mica Levi’s unnerving original score was overlooked remains one of the biggest Oscar snubs of the 21st century. Levi’s music is one of the movie’s most ambient and hypnotic nightmares, punctuated by violins that call to you like evil sirens. The only reconciliation for Levi being overlooked for “Under the Skin” is that she landed a nomination for “Jackie” four years later. —Zack Sharf

22. “Clouds of Sils Maria” (2014)

Clouds of Sils Maria Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart

Olivier Assayas’ “Clouds of Sils Maria” represents his own meditation on fame, and his screenplay effortlessly weaves in observations on YA movie stars, aging female icons, and the obsession we all have with holding on to the past. The script should’ve been a contender, as should’ve Kristen Stewart for her supporting turn as a quietly manipulative assistant to a legendary actress. Stewart’s internalized acting was pitch perfect for the role, and we’re starting to think she’ll never be Oscar nominated if the Academy isn’t smart enough to recognize her for her work here and in “Personal Shopper.” —ZS

21. “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” (2001)

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

A survivor story that brings together Plato’s ancient texts, Cold War tensions, and David Bowie’s swagger, “Hedwig” (2001) is a fiercely original musical. An East German performer — described by the film’s director, star and co-writer, John Cameron Mitchell, as belonging to a “gender of one” — repeatedly reinvents herself when men steal away all she holds dear. Unaware that Berlin will soon be free of Communism, the character undergoes a bungled sex change to escape with an unfaithful Kansan sergeant (Maurice Dean Wint); she sues her next love (Michael Pitt) for passing off her discography as his own. “Hedwig” originated as an award-winning off-Broadway show, and the screen adaptation earned two Sundance Film Festival prizes, a Gotham Award, five Film Independent Spirit nods, and a Golden Globe nomination for Mitchell. In 2014, two decades after Mitchell began entertaining audiences as Hedwig, Neil Patrick Harris took the production to Broadway, where the glittering globe-trotter won four Tonys. —Jenna Marotta

20. “Elephant” (2003)

Elephant movie

One of the most haunting films of the 21st century, the second chapter of Gus Van Sant’s thematically connected “Death Trilogy” is a mesmeric, multi-headed portrait of a society that’s sleepwalking its way towards tragedy. Strongly inspired by the Columbine High School massacre that had shaken America four years prior, “Elephant” follows a number of kids through the banality of another average school day, Harris Savides’ camera gliding behind them as they drift towards the darkness. The film provides a cross-section of the student body, introducing us to all the usual archetypes (the jock, the cheerleader, the nerdy girl, the boy with his head in the clouds, etc.), and uniting them together by their shared interest in the future; this is a quiet film broken into small fragments, but virtually every conversation before the shooting starts is about what these kids want to do later, what their plans are for tomorrow, etc. One of the most deeply unsettling things about the movie — in which Van Sant offers a wide variety of “explanations” that all work to embarrass each other — is how it snuffs out all of this potential, leaving us with nothing but a profound sense of pure senselessness. “Elephant” is not the kind of story that America wants to tell itself, and so it’s easy enough to explain how it might have won the Palme d’Or but also have been largely ignored back home. —David Ehrlich


Read More »