HBO Max becomes available on Amazon Fire TV devices

November 16, 2020

WarnerMedia announced today that HBO Max, the popular streaming platform, will begin rolling out on Amazon Fire TV streaming devices, Fire TV Edition smart TVs, and Fire tablets on Tuesday, November 17, 2020. This launch brings HBO Max into the living rooms of tens of millions of Amazon device customers. 
 
HBO Max is WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer streaming offering, with 10,000 hours of curated premium content. The platform is home to best in class quality entertainment, featuring the greatest array of storytelling for all audiences with the iconic brands of HBO, Warner Bros., DC, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Turner Classic Movies and much more.
 
Immediately upon launch, current subscribers of HBO through Amazon’s Prime Video Channels will be able to log in to the HBO Max app with their Amazon credentials at no additional cost. The HBO app on Fire TV and Fire tablets will automatically update to become the HBO Max app; customers will be able to log in using their existing HBO credentials. New customers can also subscribe to HBO Max directly in the app. Additionally, all existing HBO Max customers—regardless of how they subscribe to the platform—can now access all of HBO Max via supported Fire TV and Fire tablet devices using their existing provider credentials.
 
Amazon Fire TV is the #1 streaming media player family in the US. HBO Max will be compatible with the entire Fire TV line-up including the all-new Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick Lite. 
 
“We are very excited that Amazon customers will now be able to enjoy the best-in-class content that lives within HBO Max,” said Tony Goncalves, Head of Sales and Distribution for WarnerMedia. “Our continued goal is to make HBO Max and its unparalleled content available to customers across all the devices they love. Fire TV is a favorite among customers and we look forward to working with the Amazon team to engage and grow our existing subscriber base by showcasing all that HBO Max has to offer.”
 
“We’ve worked closely with HBO for many years to bring their great content to Fire TV and to make it easier to discover and enjoy with features like search integration, Alexa and personalized recommendations,” said Marc Whitten, Vice President of Amazon Entertainment Devices and Services, “We are excited to continue that partnership with the launch of HBO Max to bring even more incredible content to customers on Fire TV. Alexa, play Raised by Wolves.
 
With Amazon Alexa, at launch customers can seamlessly navigate to the HBO Max app by saying “Alexa, find HBO Max” with Fire TV’s included Alexa Voice Remote or a paired Echo device for hands-free control. HBO Max content is also integrated into universal search on Fire TV, meaning that its content will appear in searches such as “Alexa, find dramas” or “Alexa, find Game of Thrones.” Customers can also ask Alexa to start watching something specific; “Alexa, play The Undoing.” 
 
This month, HBO Max features the debut of much-anticipated Max Originals, including The Flight Attendant starring Kaley Cuoco, Superintelligence with Melissa McCarthy and the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion, plus the premieres of HBO’s critical hit new series Industry and special event Between the World and Me, a gripping adaption of the New York Times #1 bestselling book by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Fan-favorite films including Magic Mike, 13 Going on 30 and The Dark Knight are also available debuting on HBO Max this month. December brings the return of Euphoria with a special episode and the debut of Steven Soderbergh’s film Let Them All Talk starring Meryl Streep, as well as the platform’s very first holiday special, My Gift: A Christmas Special from Carrie Underwood.
 
HBO Max is widely available via most providers and device platforms. For more information on ways to access or to subscribe, visit HBOMax.com

HBO Max documentary series ‘Not So Pretty’ exposes the beauty industry

September 22, 2020

(Photo courtesy of HBO Max)

The following is a press release from HBO Max:

HBO Max has greenlit Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering’s Jane Doe Films limited docuseries “Not So Pretty” from studio Entertainment One (eOne). The four-episode, half-hour investigation-driven project will bring awareness to the lurking dangers in the commodities we all use every day without question for makeup, skin-care, nails, and hair. “Not So Pretty” is currently in production. 
 
“Not So Pretty” will mark the first-ever comprehensive large-scale investigative expose of the trillion-dollar cosmetics, beauty and personal care industry. Celebrated and groundbreaking filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering (“On the Record,” “The Hunting Ground,” “The Invisible War”) will take this monolithic industry to task via rigorous investigations, incisive wit and emotional storytelling to inform audiences of the hidden hazards of and safe, budget-friendly alternatives for their daily products.
 
“’Not So Pretty’ is a landmark exposé that will both captivate and educate viewers,” says Jennifer O’Connell, executive vice president original non-fiction and kids programming, HBO Max. “Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering are masters of investigative storytelling and prime to reveal the unknown threats that affect us all. This series gives us the opportunity to spark change and arm consumers with the knowledge needed to make smarter personal care choices. We are pleased to continue our relationship with them after the acclaimed release of ‘On the Record.’”
 
“We are thrilled to be partnering with Kirby, Amy and the HBO Max team on this distinctly important project. ‘Not So Pretty’ is not just a gripping docuseries but also a vehicle to generate a crucial awareness among consumers. We can’t wait to share it with audiences around the world,” stated Tara Long, eOne’s President of Global Unscripted TV. 
 
Produced by eOne, the documentary is helmed and executive produced by Dick & Ziering. Tara Long of eOne will also executive produce. 

Keke Palmer (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for IFP)

April 7, 2022 UPDATE:

  • The four-part Max Original documentary “Not So Pretty” from Academy Award® nominated filmmakers Kirby Dick & Amy Ziering, debuts April 14, 2022
     
  • Logline: Narrated by Keke Palmer, “Not So Pretty” is the first-ever comprehensive large-scale investigative expose of the trillion-dollar cosmetics, beauty and personal care industry. Celebrated and groundbreaking filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering (“Allen v. Farrow,” “On The Record,” “The Hunting Ground”) take this unregulated industry to task via rigorous investigations, incisive wit and emotional storytelling to inform audiences of the hidden hazards of cosmetics and safe, budget-friendly alternatives for their daily products.
     
  • Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering quote: “We are thrilled to be partnering with innovative and bold HBO Max and the brilliantly talented Keke Palmer to bring viewers this riveting four-part series exposing the hidden secrets and ugly truths behind the trillion-dollar beauty and personal care industry that will literally have viewers running to take a second look at all the personal care products lining their bathroom shelves! Working on this project has certainly changed our own purchasing habits and perspectives, and we are excited to empower viewers similarly by providing them with essential information they need to know and simply cannot get anywhere else. With Keke’s wit and curiosity serving as our engaging guide, our series provides viewers with shocking insights, startling revelations, and important knowledge that will help them not just look their best on the outside but also feel their best on the inside — a win-win for not only our personal health, but the health of the planet as well.”
     
  • Keke Palmer quote: “I’m big on self help and in order to best help yourself, you need information. I can’t tell you how much I learned from working on Not So Pretty. Each session inspired  an OMG I HAD NO IDEA moment and then I became relieved to be a part of something that can help break these myths and encourage personal autonomy within the beauty industry which can only come with knowledge. You can’t choose wisely when you don’t know what to look for! This show will illuminate that and it’s really empowering.”
     

About HBO Max
HBO Max is WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer offering, which debuted May 27, 2020. With 10,000 hours of curated premium content, HBO Max offers powerhouse programming for everyone in the home, bringing together HBO, a robust slate of new original series, key third-party licensed programs and movies, and fan favorites from WarnerMedia’s rich library including motion picture and TV series from Warner Bros., highlights from New Line, and catalog titles from DC, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, Looney Tunes and more. 
Website: HBOMax.com
 
About WarnerMedia
WarnerMedia is a leading media and entertainment company that creates and distributes premium and popular content from a diverse array of talented storytellers and journalists to global audiences through its consumer brands including: HBO, HBO Now, HBO Max, Warner Bros., TNT, TBS, truTV, CNN, DC, New Line, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Turner Classic Movies and others. WarnerMedia is part of AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T).
 
About Jane Doe Films 
Jane Doe Films (fka Chain Camera Pictures) is a prestigious, award-winning production company, home to the most groundbreaking investigatory documentaries today, headed by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering. Hailed productions from the filmmakers include “On the Record,” “The Bleeding Edge,” “The Hunting Ground,” “The Invisible War,” “Outrage,” “This Film Is Not Yet Rated,” and “Twist of Faith.” Their notable accolades include two Oscar nominations, two Emmy Awards, an Independent Spirit Award, a Peabody, the Producer’s Guild of America’s Stanley Kramer Award, and the George Polk Award for Special Achievement in Investigative Journalism. 
 
About eOne
Entertainment One Ltd. (eOne) is a talent-driven independent studio that specializes in the development, acquisition, production, financing, distribution and sales of entertainment content. As part of global play and entertainment company Hasbro (NASDAQ: HAS), eOne’s expertise spans across film, television and music production and sales; family programming, merchandising and licensing; digital content; and live entertainment. Through its extensive reach and scale, and a deep commitment to high-quality entertainment, eOne unlocks the power and value of creativity.
 
eOne brings to market both original and existing content, sourcing IP from Hasbro’s portfolio of 1500+ brands, and through a diversified network of creative partners and eOne companies including: international feature film distribution company Sierra/Affinity; Amblin Partners with DreamWorks Studios, Participant Media, and Reliance Entertainment; Makeready with Brad Weston; unscripted television production companies Renegade 83, Daisybeck, Blackfin and Whizz Kid Entertainment; live entertainment leaders Round Room Live; world-class music companies Audio Network, Dualtone Music Group and Last Gang; and award-winning emerging content and technology studio Secret Location.

DC Universe expands under new name DC Universe Infinite; DC Universe video content moves to HBO Max

September 18, 2020

The following is a press release from DC Entertainment:

Calling all comic book fans to Explore the Multiverse! DC today announced the evolution of DC UNIVERSE into DC UNIVERSE INFINITE, a premium digital comic book service set to launch on January 21, 2021. With access to more than 24,000 comic books at launch, DC UNIVERSE INFINITE subscribers will also encounter digital-first comics, exclusive access to DC fan events, as well as a steady stream of recently released comics six months after the physical versions hit store shelves. Following its initial launch, DC UNIVERSE INFINITE will begin expanding globally in SUMMER 2021.

“Our fans love the platform’s robust library of comic books and, with the transformation, we will not disappoint,” said DC Publisher and Chief Creative Officer Jim Lee. “I’m excited to share that not only will DC UNIVERSE INFINITE members still be able to read all of the great comics that they’ve enjoyed but new issues are debuting on the platform quicker than before, digital first exclusives are being created, and the members-only events will begin as soon as possible. There has never been a better time to be a DC fan!”

DC’s premium digital comic book platform provides members with an expanded collection of comics and Original Graphic Novels, spanning over 80 years of the DC Multiverse. Fans can also download comics, graphic novels and originals for unlimited offline reading on their favorite devices from a smartphone or tablet.

Subscribers will also have earlier access to new Digital First comics that include titles such as Aquaman: Deep Dives, Batman: Gotham Nights, DCeased: Hope at World’s End, Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red, Injustice: Year Zero, Shazam!: Lightning Strikes, Superman: Man of Tomorrow, Swamp Thing: New Roots and Wonder Woman 84, and many more. Also debuting on DC UNIVERSE INFINITE will be DC Universe Infinite Originals, including new comic content centered around beloved characters…stay tuned for updates!

The fan-favorite community area will be free to all registered and premium subscribers with a full calendar of events planned for 2021. Current DC UNIVERSE subscribers will not need to create a new account as their DC UNIVERSE login will transfer to DC UNIVERSE INFINITE.

For DC UNIVERSE subscribers who want ongoing access to premium DC originals, the special DC UNIVERSE monthly member offer to HBO MAX has been extended. In celebration of Batman Day and the announcement of DC UNIVERSE INFINITE, the special offer for eligible monthly subscribers to upgrade their service to include HBO Max for an additional $4.99 per month for a limited time is now available through October 30, 2020.

HBO Max will be the home for premium video content that will include new DC series, key DC classics and DC UNIVERSE originals like Young Justice Seasons 1-4, Titans Seasons 1-3, Doom Patrol Seasons 1-3, and DC’s Stargirl Season 1. Additionally, HBO Max has ordered a third season of Warner Bros. Animation’s critically acclaimed DC UNIVERSE adult animated comedy series Harley Quinn, starring Kaley Cuoco, who also served as executive producer during the first two seasons along with Justin Halpern, Patrick Schumacker, Dean Lorey, and Sam Register. Harley Quinn will be a Max Original going forward, and all three seasons of the show will be available.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What Is DC UNIVERSE INFINITE?

DC UNIVERSE INFINITE is the ultimate comic book subscription service. With access to more than 24,000 comic books at launch, DC UNIVERSE INFINITE subscribers will also encounter digital-first comics, member access to DC fan events, as well as a steady stream of recently released comics six months after their physical versions hit store shelves.

What content will be available on DC UNIVERSE INFINITE?

The Biggest DC Digital Comic Book Library Anywhere, Ever: An expanded collection of 24,000+ DC Multiverse titles including select graphic novels, Black Label, with more to come!

Earlier Access: DC UNIVERSE INFINITE subscribers no longer have to wait a year. New release comics are now available 6 months after they hit stores!

DC Universe Infinite Originals: First-access to a collection of titles before they’re available anywhere else!

In addition, DC UNIVERSE INFINITE will feature news and behind-the-scenes looks at DC Comics as well as full access to the DC character encyclopedia.

On what platforms will DC UNIVERSE INFINITE be available?

DC UNIVERSE INFINITE will be available for iPhone, iPad, Android Phone and Tablets and online for web and mobile web at dcuniverseinfinite.com.

Will I have access to DC UNIVERSE INFINITE on my TV or Amazon tablet?

In December of 2020 DC UNIVERSE will no longer be available on Roku, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon TV and tablet, and Xbox apps.

When will DC UNIVERSE INFINITE be available?

DC UNIVERSE INFINITE will launch January 21, 2021.

How much will DC UNIVERSE INFINITE cost?

DC UNIVERSE INFINITE will add a larger and more recent set of titles to its existing comics library at the same low price of $74.99/year and $7.99/month.

Eligible members of DC UNIVERSE INFINITE as of February 1, 2021 will also receive a “thank you” voucher to the DC Shop, subject to terms and conditions. Annual subscribers will receive a $25 voucher while monthly subscribers will receive a $10 voucher.

Will DC UNIVERSE INFINITE be available outside of the United States?

At launch in January 2021, DC UNIVERSE INFINITE will only be available in the United States. Expanding to our international fans is important to us so we are working to bring DC UNIVERSE INFINITE to additional countries by summer 2021. Stay tuned for more updates.

I am already a DC UNIVERSE subscriber – how do I become a DC UNIVERSE INFINITE subscriber?

Starting in October 2020, DC UNIVERSE subscribers will be able to confirm that they would like to continue their account to DC UNIVERSE INFINITE when it launches. Confirming your account will provide uninterrupted access through the transition from DC UNIVERSE to DC UNIVERSE INFINITE. More information on this process will be available soon.

As a thank you, any subscriber who confirms and maintains their account through the launch of DC UNIVERSE INFINITE will also be eligible to receive a “thank you” DC Shop voucher of $25 for annual subscribers and $10 for monthly subscribers, subject to terms and conditions.

I am not a current DC UNIVERSE subscriber can I sign up for DC UNIVERSE INFINITE?

Yes — starting in October users will be able to sign-up for DC UNIVERSE INFINITE.

How can I continue to access the DC UNIVERSE community?

Access to community will remain unchanged for all DC UNIVERSE members – whether premium or registered via the web through our evolution. We have exciting things in store in the year ahead – stay tuned for more details!

Will you be digging into all the new issues hitting DC UNIVERSE INFINITE? Let us know in our Community!

DC UNIVERSE INFINITE will be available online at DCUniverseInfinite.com, iOS and Android devices for $7.99 a month or $74.99 a year ($6.25 a month). On February 1, 2021, every DC UNIVERSE INFINITE subscriber, existing members or those joining during the pre-order offer window will receive a special thank you voucher redeemable at the DC Shop subject to terms and conditions. Annual subscribers will receive a $25 voucher, while monthly subscribers will receive a $10 voucher.

Review: ‘An American Pickle,’ starring Seth Rogen

August 6, 2020

by Carla Hay

Seth Rogen and Seth Rogen in “An American Pickle” (Photo by Hopper Stone/HBO Max)

“An American Pickle” 

Directed by Brandon Trost

Culture Representation: Taking place in Brooklyn, New York, and in an unnamed Eastern European country, the comedy film “An American Pickle” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with a few African Americans) representing the middle-class and the working-class.

Culture Clash:  In 1919, an immigrant worker at a pickle factory in Brooklyn has a freak accident that preserves him alive in a pickle vat for 100 years, and when he’s discovered in 2019, he experiences major culture shock that includes living with his great-grandson who looks just like him.

Culture Audience: “An American Pickle” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of star Seth Rogen or to people who like comedies about families, time travel or the immigrant experience.

Seth Rogen in “An American Pickle” (Photo by Hopper Stone/HBO Max)

In the comedy film “An American Pickle,” star Seth Rogen takes a break from the usual foul-mouthed raunchiness that he has in his live-action films and makes a sweetly sentimental statement about family love that is not bound by time. Rogen convincingly handles two roles in “An American Pickle”—Herschel Greenbaum and Herschel’s great-grandson Ben Greenbaum, who are two very different people from very different eras. Under the comic-book-styled direction of Brandon Trost, “An American Pickle” (written by Simon Rich) provides satisfactory entertainment for people looking for some lightweight escapist comedy, but it’s not the type of movie that is going to be considered one of the funniest films of the year.

In the beginning of the movie, Herschel is a ditch digger in an unnamed Eastern European country in the early 1900s. Herschel and his good-natured wife Sarah (played by Sarah Snook) are poor but happily married. During their courtship, they confided in each other about their respective hopes and dreams. For Sarah, her dream is to be able to afford her own gravestone. For Herschel, he dreams of one day being able to drink seltzer water.

One day, Herschel and Sarah’s village comes under attach by Russian Cossacks, who invaded and caused destruction in the area, and causing many of the villagers to flee. Herschel and Sarah decide to move to the United States. Their arrival at the U.S. immigration checkpoint is a quick biting commentary on the prejudices that await non-English-speaking, non-Christian immigrants. The movie shows Jewish and Polish people shoved around and treated like cattle at the checkpoint, after getting a “Welcome to America” greeting.

Soon after arriving in America in 1919, Herschel and Sarah set roots in Brooklyn, New York, where Herschel gets a job at a pickle factory. Sarah then finds out that she’s pregnant. Herschel thinks his job at the pickle factory will be a step up from ditch digging, but he’s assigned a job on the factory’s lowest end of the totem pole: He has to kill the rats that frequently run around the factory area.

One day, while chasing some rats at the factory, Herschel has a freak accident and falls into a large vat of pickles. His fall makes a large splash and causes a ruckus, but somehow, no one in this crowded factory notices. Almost immediately, like people moving props in a stage play, some factory workers put a locked lid on the vat, and Herschel is trapped inside. (It goes without saying that his movie requires huge suspensions of disbelief, where viewers have to ignore the idea that Herschel would shout for help or try to escape from the vat.)

At any rate, Herschel ends up being preserved alive in the vat for 100 years. In 2019, two teenage boys find the vat in the long-abandoned factory. Herschel is discovered alive, intact, and perfectly preserved. And he’s about to undergo major culture shock.

Herschel is taken to a hospital for medical tests. While undergoing testing, he finds out that his wife Sarah died in 1939. Herschel is upset about it, but knows there’s nothing he can do to bring her back.

During a press conference announcing Herschel as a medical miracle, skeptical reporters ask how Herschel’s existence could be possible, and they wonder if it’s a hoax. But then, medical experts at the press conference state that it’s medically possible, and the reporters quickly believe them. It’s an obvious send-up of how the media can easily swallow information from “experts” without doing their own investigations.

Herschel briefly stays in a hospital for tests, but he’s eventually let go after it’s discovered that he has a living relative named Ben Greenbaum. Ben happens to live in Brooklyn too (in a rented apartment), and he’s the same age that Herschel was in Herschel fell into the pickle vat. And so, Herschel goes to live with Ben, who is happy and surprised that he has a living relative.

Ben is unmarried and has no children or siblings. Ben’s parents David Greenbaum (played by Geoffrey Cantor) and Susan Greenbaum (played by Carole Leifer) died in car accident in 2014. And as a freelance mobile app developer, Ben works most of the time from home.

For five years, Ben been working on an app called Boop Bop, which reviews and rates companies based in the companies’ ethics. Ben is hoping to get major investments in the app to be able to sell it to a mass market of consumers, and eventually get rich by selling the app. Of course, all of this new technology is over Herschel’s head.

“An American Pickle” has the expected “fish out water” scenes of Herschel being amazed or having a hard time adjusting to life in 2019. Herschel is ecstatic when he sees that Ben has a seltzer machine that can make seltzer water any time he wants. But Herschel is completely confused by technology that has to do with computers, the Internet or mobile phones.

When Herschel and Ben take a walk outside and see a black man and a white woman holding hands, Herschel looks shocked. However, Ben tells him, “Interracial couples are cool now,” then he pauses and says, “in parts of the country,” in an obvious reference to the ongoing racism problems in America. And when Ben uses a scooter, Herschel scolds him: “You have legs. You don’t need these things.”

One of the best parts of “An American Pickle” is how it pokes fun at the neoliberal “hipster” culture of Brooklyn. While Herschel and Ben are walking down the street, a bearded hipster, who has on clothes that are similar Herschel’s, stops and compliments Herschel on his garb and asks if it’s vintage. A running joke in the movie is how Herschel sometimes misgenders a person, based on the length of their hair and if they’re wearing unisex clothes. (Females with short hair are mistaken as males, while males with long hair are mistaken as females.)

Back at Ben’s apartment, Herschel notices that Ben doesn’t have any pictures of family members on display. And so, Ben gets out his family photo album to tell Herschel about Herschel’s descendants whom Herschel never knew. It’s very important to Herschel that his descendants made something of their lives that would make him proud.

Herschel’s son Mort was a foreman of a brick factory. Mort’s son David (Ben’s father) was an accountant. All of this information makes Herschel very happy, but he notices that Ben finds it difficult to talk about his parents’ death. Ben and Herschel also have very different views on religion: Herschel is devoted to the Jewish faith, while Ben is an atheist. Herschel has a hard time understanding how Ben’s atheism.

A turning point in the story comes when Ben and Herschel visit Sarah’s grave, which is in a small, unkempt lot near a freeway. Herschel is offended that the gravesite is in such a run-down area. Herschel gets even more offended when he sees that a billboard overlooks the gravesite.

And it just so happens that some workers are replacing the old billboard with a new one, for an ad display of Russian vodka. See this ad triggers Herschel into thinking that Russian Cossacks are behind the ad, so he starts a fight with the billboard workers to try to stop them from putting up the billboard. The fight turns into an all-out brawl that lands Herschel and Ben in jail.

After they get out of jail, Herschel tells Ben that he’ll do whatever it takes to get rid of that Russian vodka billboard. Ben explains that it will take about $200,000 to buy a new billboard. And so, Herschel decides to start selling pickles at a street stand to raise money for the billboard.

Herschel’s pickles become an instant hit in Brooklyn, because the hipsters love that the “artisanal” and “organic” nature of the pickles and that it’s “locally grown.” When a gay couple named Christian (played by Eliot Glazer) and Kerin (played by Kalen Allen) pass by Herschel’s pickle stand, they are charmed by Herschel’s eccentric and “no filter” personality. Christian begins posting videos about Herschel on his social media, which become viral videos.

The local TV news takes notice, and Herschel and his pickles become even more popular. But not everything is going smoothly. Through a series of events, Herschel and Ben have a falling out, and they go to war with each other. Their family feud teaches them some lessons along the way about what’s important to them in life.

Despite some major plot holes and simplistic ways of getting around those plot holes, “An American Pickle” is enjoyable to watch overall because of Rogen’s talented ability to play two characters in ways that work well for this screenplay, which Rich adapted from his short story “Sell Out.” The movie’s supporting actors—including The Lonely Island comedy troupe member Jorma Taccone, in a cameo as a potential investor named Liam—are good-enough, but “An American Pickle” is really Rogen’s movie to carry as an actor, since he’s in every scene.

Even though Ben and Herschel are mentally the same age, Rogen does a very good job of portraying how each of these two characters’ life circumstances have affected their emotional development. Herschel became an adult during a time when people were expected to have religious beliefs and get married and have children by a certain age. Ben became an adult during a more open-minded time and place, where society allows more options for people.

Marriage, children and religion in modern-day Brooklyn are not “required” in order for society to think you have a fulfilling adult life. And because people’s life expectancy is longer than it was in 1919, there are more people like Ben who have an “arrested development” lifestyle, where it might take longer for adults to figure out what to do with their lives or achieve their life goals. It’s one of the reasons why Herschel is shocked that Ben has been developing his app for five years but still hasn’t sold the app.

There isn’t anything outstanding about Trost’s direction for “An American Pickle,” although the visual effects for the film at least look believable. “An American Pickle” isn’t a big slapstick movie, because the movie’s humor is a lot more low-key and satirical. There are many sly commentaries that make people think about the pros and cons of living in 2019, compared to the society that Herschel lived in 100 years prior. These comparisons bring up notions about how much has changed and how much has stayed the same. The “culture shock” and “time travel” aspects of the story are really just ways to point out that family love can transcend space and time.

HBO Max premiered “An American Pickle” on August 6, 2020.

Review: ‘On the Trail: Inside the 2020 Primaries,’ starring Dana Bash, Kyung Lah, Jasmine Wright, Daniella Diaz, Kaitlan Collins, Annie Grayer and MJ Lee

August 6, 2020

by Carla Hay

Daniella Diaz in “On the Trail: Inside the 2020 Primaries” (Photo courtesy of CNN/HBO Max)

“On the Trail: Inside the 2020 Primaries” 

Culture Representation: Taking place in various cities across the United States, the documentary film “On the Trail: Inside the 2020 Primaries” features a racially diverse (white, African American, Asian and Latino) group of female CNN reporters as they cover the primaries in the 2020 U.S. presidential race.

Culture Clash:  Several of the reporters talk about how their line of work conflicts with having a “normal” lifestyle; the intense competition between the political candidates; public animosity toward CNN and other media outlets that get criticism for being “fake news”; and issues such as racism, sexism and the massive divide between Democratic and Republican politics.

Culture Audience: “On the Trail: Inside the 2020 Primaries” will appeal primarily to people interested in how CNN reporters work behind the scenes, because there’s very little in the documentary that includes exclusive access to the political candidates.

Kyung Lah and Jasmine Wright in “On the Trail: Inside the 2020 Primaries” (Photo courtesy of CNN/HBO Max)

HBO Max’s “On the Trail: Inside the 2020 Primaries,” produced by CNN Films, is part behind-the-scenes documentary, part promotional vehicle for CNN on how the network covered the U.S presidential primary campaigns of 2020. (HBO Max and CNN share the same parent company: AT&T’s WarnerMedia.) Because this documentary was intended to make CNN look good, people who hate CNN probably won’t be interested in watching, unless CNN haters (who love to call CNN “fake news”) are curious to see how critics of CNN are depicted in this film.

For everyone else—people who like CNN or people who are neutral about CNN—the movie gives some insight into not just the political campaigns but also about the employee politics of working for CNN. The documentary definitely puts CNN in a positive light. But there are some cracks that show how CNN, which has an image of being “left-leaning” and “liberal,” has some work to do in practicing the progressive ideals preached by CNN’s opinionated anchors and hosts, who are the collective voice of the network. (There’s no director credited for the entire documentary, which has the executive producers listed as Amy Entelis, Katie Hinman, Toby Oppenheimer and Courtney Sexton.)

Perhaps to try to deflect criticism of CNN being a male-dominated company (just like many news/journalism companies tend to be male-dominated), “On the Trail: Inside the 2020 Primaries” only focuses on the female CNN journalists who were assigned coverage of various U.S. presidential candidates. There were many more Democratic candidates than Republican candidates (with Donald Trump as the presumptive Republican nominee, since he had no real competition in the Republican Party), so most of the documentary is about coverage of the Democratic candidates.

The documentary gives a brief explanation of the hierarchy of campaign assignments at CNN and other major TV news companies like CNN, by describing the difference between a correspondent and an embed. A correspondent is assigned to cover a particular candidate’s campaign and make their reports on camera, while an embed is the lower-level person assigned to cover a particular candidate’s campaign by doing all the traveling to follow the candidate.

Embeds do a lot of the behind-the-scenes grunt work, while correspondents (who typically have more job experience) have more flexible hours and get the glory of being on TV. A correspondent usually has at least one embed counterpart who can do the correspondent’s work if the correspondent isn’t available. That doesn’t mean that correspondents don’t have to do a lot of traveling. It just means that correspondents get to travel less than the embeds.

Therefore, the embeds tend to be younger employees, who usually don’t have children. It’s mentioned many times in the documentary how this type of journalism is very hard on raising children and maintaining committed relationships. It’s also implied, but not said outright, that women are judged more harshly than men for having these jobs that take time away from their loved ones.

The CNN employees featured in the documentary are:

  • Dana Bash, chief political correspondent
  • Kaitlan Collins, White House correspondent, assigned to cover Republican candidate Donald Trump
  • Jessica Dean, correspondent, assigned to cover Democratic candidate Joe Biden
  • Daniella Diaz, embed, assigned to cover Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren
  • Annie Grayer, embed, assigned to cover Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders
  • Kyung Lah, senior national correspondent, assigned to cover Democratic candidate Amy Klobuchar
  • MJ Lee, political correspondent, assigned to cover Democratic candidates Elizabeth Warren and Michael Bloomberg
  • Abby Phillip, correspondent, assigned to cover Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg
  • Arlette Saenz, correspondent, assigned to cover Democratic candidate Joe Biden
  • Jasmine Wright, embed, assigned to cover Democratic candidate Amy Klobuchar

Throughout the documentary, it’s clear that for all the money that CNN spent to put these journalists on the campaign trail, the political candidates featured in this documentary didn’t really single out CNN as the “go to” outlet to do in-depth, one-on-one interviews with any of the journalists featured in the documentary. The only one-on-one interview time that’s shown in the documentary is a quick interview (lasting maybe a few minutes) that CNN’s Phillip did with Buttigieg after a campaign speech. The majority of the time, the CNN journalists are lumped in with the rest of the press corps, who end up getting the same candidate soundbites at a speech or rally, whether the cameras are stationed on a platform or are following a candidate like a pack of vultures.

There is no footage of the journalists on the candidates’ buses or traveling with the presidential candidates by plane. (By contrast, Showtime’s political news docuseries “The Circus” has this type of footage.) There’s no footage of a candidate in a personal or informal setting. Instead, there’s a lot of footage of the CNN journalists in their homes or hotel rooms, packing suitcases or getting ready for their next trip. As Diaz says in the documentary, “I stalk presidential candidates for a living.”

By the time this documentary premiered on HBO Max, it was already known which Democrat in the race was the last one standing (Joe Biden). And that’s why there’s no real suspense in seeing the ups and downs of certain candidates’ campaigns. Therefore, the documentary spends a lot of time giving background stories on several of the CNN journalists who are featured.

Out of all the journalists in the documentary, Bash has been with CNN the longest. She joined CNN in 1993, not long after graduating from George Washington University. She admits that she’s been “lucky” to have been given the opportunities that she’s had. (Most on-air journalists at CNN usually have to spend years paying their dues working at local news stations before getting a job at a national network such as CNN.)

And she says of her political coverage of this election cycle: “I get to have a front-row seat to history.” It’s an apt description, since she spends more time seated in front of a camera than traveling on the campaign trail with the candidates, compared to her CNN colleagues who are featured in the documentary. Out of all the CNN journalists featured in this documentary, Bash has the highest position in the employee hierarchy. And with that ranking comes the privilege of not having to travel so much, but she still has to work under a 24-hour news cycle where anything can happen.

Bash says in the documentary, “I’m so lucky that I get to work with so many young women. I know what it was like for me when I was younger, to have somebody help me keep perspective, and so I really try to do that with them.” However, the documentary doesn’t actually show Bash do any mentoring, other than a few sentences of encouragement that Bash gives to Diaz during some free time in a hotel’s event area after a candidate’s appearance. If Bash does in fact devote significant time mentoring her younger colleagues, it’s not in the documentary.

Bash, who has a son named Jonah (born in 2011) with her second ex-husband John King (who’s also a CNN correspondent), is shown talking about the difficulties of balancing raising a child with a busy career that doesn’t have regular 9 to 5 hours. While in the CNN studios, Bash and King are seen doing a video conference chat with Jonah. There’s no mention of who’s at home watching their son while they’re at work, but Bash and King make the type of CNN salaries where they can easily afford a nanny. A lot of people watching this documentary know that being able to afford great child care isn’t a problem for a CNN star like it is for a lot of average working folks. Therefore, Bash won’t get much sympathy from viewers, especially since a lot of people already think that CNN stars are “out of touch” with their “privilege.”

Whatever salary Lah is making at CNN, it’s obviously not nearly as much as Bash’s salary, because Lah doesn’t have outside help in raising her children. Lah’s husband stays home and watches their two kids while Lah is at work. Lah (who worked in Japan as a TV journalist before joining CNN) says that her husband, who used to work at ABC News, had to make sacrifices in his career in order to have the time to take care of their children: “He’s definitely taking the professional hit, in order for me to do what I’m doing.”

Lah adds, “If you were to ask my kids, they’d tell you that they don’t like my job at all.” However, Lah says she loves doing this kind of journalism and wouldn’t trade it for any other career. “In order to tell the story, you have to go to the story,” she comments on all the travel required for her job. Lah is a straight-talking, often foul-mouthed, sometimes abrasive journalist who comes across as more “real” than some of her CNN colleagues in the documentary who seem afraid of admitting to having any flaws or painful experiences in their past.

Lah opens up about how being a Korean immigrant and coming from a working-class background are indelible to who she is and how she approaches reporting, since she can relate to the people whose struggles are often ignored by politicians. Lah says that her parents had master’s degrees when they immigrated to America, but because of language barriers, they couldn’t get jobs in their desired fields. Instead, her parents owned and operated a store, which eventually went bankrupt. Lah breaks down and cries when she says that she spent so much time working in the store, she remembers what the inside of the store looked like more than she remembers what her childhood home looked like.

According to Lah, her immigrant background made her strive hard to achieve the American Dream that her parents didn’t quite have. A few moments of comic relief are in the documentary when Lah’s mother calls her, almost like a mother in a sitcom, to nag Lah about her job and not being at home with her kids. Lah says that her mother sometimes drives her crazy with these calls, to the point where she no longer tells her mother where she is going when she has to travel for her job. Even though Lah acts annoyed by her mother at times, it’s obvious that they have a lot of deep love for each other.

Bash and Lah are the only female CNN journalists in the documentary who were in these two categories when this documentary was being filmed: (1) mothers and (2) over the age of 40. Whereas Bash doesn’t really express concerns about her job security (in an industry where getting older can be more harmful to a woman’s career than a man’s career), Lah says that complacency is not an option for herself. Lah is also candid in saying that, as a woman color, part of her drive to work extra hard comes from knowing that racists will see her as “less than,” just because she isn’t white, and she wants to prove the naysayers wrong.

Wright also has a similar outlook on life, so that’s probably why the documentary shows that she and Lah have a special bond, which they both talk about in the film. It’s a mentor/protégée type of relationship where it’s obvious that they really enjoy working together and respect each other. It’s a great example of the type of female empowerment in the workplace where women can help each other, and it’s not about bashing or badmouthing men.

A proud native of Chicago, Wright seems to have been born to work in politics in some way, since her parents took her to political rallies and events, ever since she was a child. She also comes from a well-educated family. Her mother was a surgeon, and her father was a lawyer who was an aide to former Chicago mayor Harold Washington. Wright’s father also did presidential campaign work for Bill Clinton. She says of her politically active upbringing: “It really shaped my view of the impact that I wanted to have on the world.”

Out of all of the CNN journalists in the documentary, Wright is the most outspoken about how being a woman of color affects her job at CNN. Wright says in the documentary that she told CNN bosses early on that CNN needed to cover Klobuchar’s record of siding with police officers accused of unlawful killings of black men, when Klobuchar was a county attorney in Minnesota, before Klobuchar became a Minnesota U.S. Senator. Wright says that her CNN bosses told her that it wouldn’t be a good time to cover it because the New Hampshire primaries were coming up.

“There’s always [supposed to be] a time for this story!” Wright says in exasperation, as she mentions that she could’ve reported this story first if she hadn’t been stonewalled by her CNN bosses, whom she does not name on camera. Later, when Klobuchar’s county prosecutor record was fully exposed and covered by the media, Klobuchar awkwardly defended herself in interviews when she was asked if her county prosecution record made her look too sympathetic to police accused of racist brutality. Her fading presidential campaign took a big hit and never recovered.

During the final days of the Klobuchar 2020 campaign, Wright comments that it’s ironic that she is the only African American embed at CNN, and it’s for the remaining Democratic candidate who has the least amount of support from black voters. It’s a pointed comment to let people watching the documentary know that even though CNN has an image of promoting “liberal” politics, it still has problems with racial diversity when it comes to the journalists they hire and promote. As of this writing, CNN has no women of color anchoring any of the weekday newscasts, which have higher ratings and more prestige than the weekend newscasts.

Just like Lah, Diaz also comes from a working-class immigrant background (her parents are from Mexico) and is very close to her mother. Diaz wears her mother’s wedding ring and engagement ring as unusual good-luck gifts that her mother gives her—an indication of how highly Diaz’s family must think of her to entrust her with wearing that jewelry in a job where Diaz has to frequently travel and be in large crowds.

Diaz says she grew up poor in McCallen, Texas. Her parents came to the United States to give their family a better life and to pursue the American Dream. Diaz says that although she is very proud of her ethnicity, she constantly has to fight some people’s misperception that her ethnicity is a detriment to her qualifications as a news journalist. Diaz comments that it really irritates her when she’s told that “being white is objective, and being Latina is biased.”

Diaz, Lah and Wright all say that because America is continuing to be more racially diverse, being a woman of color in U.S. journalism matters for an accurate representation of what the U.S. population looks like. And it’s pointed out in the documentary that although Republican presidential candidates generally don’t need a lot of people of color to vote for them to win, the opposite is true of Democratic presidential candidates. Biden’s major comeback in winning the 2020 South Carolina caucus is shown as proof (he went from the middle of the pack in the Democratic candidate polls to first place), since his victory was significantly boosted by black voters.

Collins, the only CNN journalist in the documentary whose job is to cover a Republican presidential candidate, talks about coming from a family and community in Alabama which are mostly Republican and very pro-Donald Trump. Since Trump’s hatred of CNN is well-documented, Collins obviously doesn’t get to interview him. Instead, the documentary shows Trump and his supporters at some of his rallies. When Trump brings up “fake news” and the media, the crowds boo, and Collins looks both embarrassed and defensive.

Collins doesn’t reveal what her political views are, but she does comment in the documentary: “I don’t think that people think about what they’re saying when they say, ‘Fake news.’” She adds that people’s general perception of the media is that “We all think alike and act alike.”

It’s a very myopic and untrue statement, because there are plenty of media outlets to serve all kinds of people, whether their politics are conservative, liberal or somewhere in between. In fact, conservative-leaning Fox News gets higher ratings than liberal-leaning CNN and MNSBC. Clearly, there are millions of people who don’t believe everyone in the media thinks alike, by virtue of the fact that numerous media outlets exist for diverse groups of people. Collins seems like a nice person, but she’s not the smartest of this bunch of CNN employees in the documentary.

The documentary shows a little bit of socializing between the younger CNN employees, to give viewers an idea of what their camaraderie is like. Diaz, Grayer and Saenz are seen eating breakfast together at a diner and talking about how their work is affecting their love lives. (Not surprisingly, they all say that it’s hard to maintain a relationship because of all the traveling they have to do.) Diaz, Wright and Grayer are seen in a hotel room together, watching the Democratic candidate debate in Las Vegas on February 19, 2020, and reacting to Warren’s tear-down of Bloomberg during the debate.

Diaz says that she’s not surprised that Warren was capable of that type of attack. Multiple times in the documentary, these CNN journalists say that they’ve become experts on the candidates they’re supposed to cover, but they don’t share any interesting anecdotes about things they learned about their candidates while following them on their campaigns. And the only time that the documentary shows something that’s close to these journalists getting a “scoop” is when Wright got a tip (that she passed on to Lah) that Klobuchar was going to end her campaign. The information turned out to be correct, so Lah was able to be one of the first TV journalists to report it.

The movie ends with the COVID-19 pandemic beginning to hit the United States, leading to campaign events being cancelled, and journalists having to social distance and doing their reporting from home. Lah ended up getting sick and had to quarantine herself, while the CNN journalists who covered presidential campaigns that ended had to stay at home and wait for their next assignments.

“On the Trail: Inside the 2020 Primaries” doesn’t have any surprising revelations about how the featured presidential candidates operated in their campaigns, and there are no interesting interviews with any of the candidates. Instead, the movie is more of a showcase of female journalists covering politics for CNN.

If CNN Films is making a documentary about CNN employees, there’s going to be an inherent bias. It’s impossible for most viewers to know how many negative things behind the scenes could have been edited out of the documentary. However, if people want to see a documentary about female colleagues in TV news where their work relationships are about camaraderie instead of catfights, then this movie serves that purpose.

HBO Max premiered “On the Trail: Inside the 2020 Primaries” on August 6, 2020.

HBO Max announces premiere date for Selena Gomez cooking series ‘Selena + Chef’

August 5, 2020

Selena Gomez in “Selena + Chef” (Photo courtesy of HBO Max)

The following is a press release from HBO Max:

HBO Max announced today that the Selena Gomez cooking show, SELENA + CHEF will premiere on the streamer Thursday, August 13th. The series is executive produced by Gomez for July Moon Productions, along with executive producers Eli Holzman, Aaron Saidman, and Leah Hariton on behalf of Industrial Media’s The Intellectual Property Corporation (IPC). The unscripted 10-episode cooking series features the multi-platinum selling recording artist, actress, producer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist as she navigates unfamiliar territory: making delicious meals while stuck at home in quarantine.

The world-renowned chefs featured during the season includes Angelo Sosa, Antonia Lofaso, Candice Kumai, Daniel Holzman, Jon & Vinny, Ludo Lefebvre, Nancy Silverton, Nyesha Arrington, Roy Choi, and Tonya Holland

“Having some of the best chefs open up their kitchens to me was a humbling and fun experience. I definitely discovered I have a lot more to learn. I’m also really happy that we were able to highlight and raise money for some incredible charitable organizations,” said Gomez.

“Watching Selena with these incredible chefs has been a delicious joy,” said Sarah Aubrey, Head of Original Content, HBO Max. “You don’t need to be an experienced chef yourself to enjoy the show; you learn with her and get to see all the fun that happens in the kitchen. Try not to watch it while hungry!”

Since social distancing at home, Selena has been spending more time in the kitchen than she ever imagined. But despite her many talents, it remains to be seen if cooking is one of them. In each episode of this unapologetically authentic cookalong, Selena, with the support of her Quaranteam, will be joined remotely by a different master chef. Together, they’ll tackle cuisines of every variety, share invaluable tips and tricks, and deal with everything from smoking ovens to missing ingredients. Each episode will highlight a food-related charity, and this casual, funny, and informative series will embrace both the struggle and the joy of learning to cook — while inviting audiences to follow along at home.

Selena Gomez began making the transition from young actress to adulthood with such films as Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers.” She appeared in the Academy Award nominated film “The Big Short” opposite Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling as well as “Fundamentals of Caring” alongside Paul Rudd.  Most recently, she starred in Jim Jarmusch’s film “The Dead Don’t Die” opposite Bill Murray and Adam Driver. Gomez has added executive producer to her list of credits serving as an executive producer of the hit Netflix original series “13 Reasons Why”   Most recently, she executive produced the critically acclaimed Netflix docu-series “Living Undocumented” which created much buzz and discussion regarding the polarizing issue of undocumented people living in the United States.  Selena also executive produced the upcoming feature film “The Broken Heart Gallery.”  Earlier this year, Gomez released her critically acclaimed album RARE which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 her third consecutive studio album to debut atop the chart.   The first single, “Lose You To Love Me,” gave Gomez her first No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. As a solo artist Gomez has accumulated over 22 billion global streams.  Next up, Selena will launch her highly anticipated Rare Beauty cosmetics line exclusively at Sephora.  The mission behind the brand it to embrace one’s own uniqueness and build a community of support around a healthy self-image.

This project marks the second collaboration between IPC’s Holzman and Saidman and Gomez following the last year’s groundbreaking, six-part docuseries Living Undocumented, which the three executive produced and Saidman also co-directed. Holzman and Saidman also lead IPC’s parent company, Industrial Media, an independent production group with ownership interest in IPC, Sharp Entertainment, 19 Entertainment, and B17 Entertainment which is currently producing Craftopia hosted by YouTube star LaurDIY for HBO Max.

Gomez is represented by WME, Lighthouse Management + Media, Ziffren Brittenham LLP.


About HBO Max 

HBO Max is WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer offering, which debuted May 27, 2020. With 10,000 hours of curated premium content, HBO Max offers powerhouse programming for everyone in the home, bringing together HBO, a robust slate of new original series, key third-party licensed programs and movies, and fan favorites from WarnerMedia’s rich library including motion picture and TV series from Warner Bros., highlights from New Line, and catalog titles from DC, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, Looney Tunes and more. Website: HBOMax.com

About WarnerMedia
WarnerMedia is a leading media and entertainment company that creates and distributes premium and popular content from a diverse array of talented storytellers and journalists to global audiences through its consumer brands including: HBO, HBO Now, HBO Max, Warner Bros., TNT, TBS, truTV, CNN, DC, New Line, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Turner Classic Movies and others. WarnerMedia is part of AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T).

About The Intellectual Property Corporation
Industrial Media’s The Intellectual Property Corporation (IPC) is an Emmy-winning IP creation and production studio based in Van Nuys, California. Founded in 2016, IPC develops and produces a wide range of television, film, documentary, and interactive mobile content. The company has series in production or development with a wide range of US broadcast, cable networks, and streamers. In 2017, the company was awarded an Emmy and in 2018 a Producers Guild Award for its series Leah Remini: Scientology & the Aftermath which was nominated for another Emmy in 2019. IPC was acquired by Industrial Media in 2018.

HBO Max premieres ‘The Dog House UK’

July 9, 2020

“The Dog House” UK (Photo courtesy of HBO Max)

The following is a press release from HBO Max:

HBO Max’s heartwarming unscripted series The Dog House: UK is moving up its premiere date to Thursday, July 23, 2020.

Finding forever homes for rejected dogs isn’t easy – but that’s exactly what the staff of Wood Green do every day. Set inside a rural British animal rescue center known for its commitment to matching homeless dogs with eager owners, The Dog House: UK captures the joy and complexity of the human-dog “dating” experience. Each of the first season’s eight episodes introduces tearful tales of abandoned dogs, while also touching on relatable backstories of families, couples, and singletons all hoping their lives will be changed by a new four-legged friend. It’s up to the center’s dedicated staff to match pet with potential new owner – and to arrange an all-important first date that will determine if the adorable pups and hopeful humans have that fated connection. The show was originally produced by Five Mile Films for Channel 4 in the UK for distribution by all3media International.

HBO Max adds ‘Young Sheldon’ and ‘Homeschool Musical: Class of 2020’ to programming lineup

May 29, 2020

Iain Armitage in “Young Sheldon” (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS)

The following is a combination of press releases from HBO Max:

HBO Max — the upcoming WarnerMedia streaming platform that launched this week — has acquired the exclusive U.S. subscription-video-on-demand rights to the hit comedy Young Sheldon in a deal with Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. HBO Max is also the streaming home of the entire library of The Big Bang Theory, the longest-running multicamera comedy in television history; all 279 episodes of Big Bang are available on the streamer now.

“We now feel like our Big Bang offering is complete,” said Kevin Reilly, chief content officer, HBO Max, president TNT, TBS, and TruTV. “We are so proud to be the home of this beloved franchise and the place where new and existing fans can learn about young Sheldon Cooper’s roots.”

“In order for Sheldon Cooper to visit his younger self, he would need to manipulate spacetime. All you actually need is HBO Max,” said Young Sheldon creators/executive producers Chuck Lorre and Steven Molaro. “We are so pleased that Young Sheldon will once again be reunited with his future self on HBO Max, and we are excited for fans, new and old, to be able to binge both The Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon for the first time.”

Young Sheldon is currently the number-one comedy on network television with total viewers, Teens, and all key 25-54 demos. The series has averaged more than 11.4 million viewers per week during the 2019–20 season to date (11,424,000 actual P2+), according to Most Current ratings information from Nielsen, +34% more viewers than the next-largest comedy with total viewers.

For 12 years on The Big Bang Theory, audiences came to know the iconic, eccentric and extraordinary Sheldon Cooper. The single-camera, half-hour comedy Young Sheldon gives viewers the chance to meet him in childhood, as he embarks on his innocent, awkward and hopeful journey toward the man he will become.

For young Sheldon Cooper, it isn’t easy growing up in East Texas. Being a once-in-a-generation mind capable of advanced mathematics and science isn’t always helpful in a land where church and football are king. And while the vulnerable, gifted and somewhat naïve Sheldon deals with the world, his very normal family must find a way to deal with him. His father, George, is struggling to find his way as a high school football coach and as father to a boy he doesn’t understand.  Sheldon’s mother, Mary, fiercely protects and nurtures her son in a town where he just doesn’t fit in. Sheldon’s older brother, Georgie, does the best he can in high school, but it’s tough to be cool when you’re in the same classes with your odd 9-year-old brother. Finally, there’s Sheldon’s twin sister, Missy, who sometimes resents all the attention Sheldon gets, but also remains the one person who can reliably tell Sheldon the truth.

From Chuck Lorre Productions, Inc. in association with Warner Bros. Television, Young Sheldon is distributed by Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. The series stars Iain Armitage as Young Sheldon, Zoe Perry, Lance Barber, Montana Jordan, Raegan Revord, with Annie Potts, and Jim Parsons as the voice of Sheldon. Chuck Lorre & Steven Molaro created the show and serve as executive producers with Steve Holland, Jim Parsons and Todd Spiewak.
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Laura Benanti (Photo by Jenny Anderson)

HBO Max, the direct-to-consumer offering from WarnerMedia, announced today the greenlight of Homeschool Musical: Class of 2020. Inspired by Tony Award winning actress Laura Benanti’s (“My Fair Lady” and “She Loves Me” on Broadway, Younger, Supergirl, Nashville) online movement #SunshineSongs, in which she offered to be an audience for the students around the country whose spring musicals were cancelled because of COVID-19, this television event will give students the opportunity to sing and dance like the stars they are, from the safety of their homes.

Homeschool Musical: Class of 2020 will explore tried-and-true themes of classic teen movies through the totally unique lens of a world turned upside down by the global pandemic. The cast, featuring a diverse group of super talented student actors with compelling backstories, will play seniors from the same high school and while the pandemic may have shut down their school, the drama and romantic intrigue live on.

“As a mom of teenagers, I know that this time has been a struggle for them. High School seniors in particular have been hit hard by this pandemic, their dreams of homecoming, prom, spring performances and even graduation being cancelled,” said Jennifer O’Connell, executive vice president original non-fiction and kids programming. “Laura’s brilliant idea to give these kids an audience and a platform has blossomed into this unique opportunity for us to not only celebrate their talent, but to entertain many other families across the country sharing their experience.”

“Our school shows are more than just entertainment. At the very least, they bring our communities together to revel in the talent of our young artists. At their best, they are a life changing experience that these kids will bring with them into the rest of their lives,” said Benanti. “I am thrilled that the #SunshineSongs initiative has put the spotlight on so many incredible young performers; grateful to World of Wonder for its grand vision and to HBO MAX for providing a global platform on which America’s youth can shine!”

Homeschool Musical: Class of 2020 is executive produced by Laura Benanti along with Randy Barbato, Fenton Bailey, and Tom Campbell for World of Wonder Productions (RuPaul’s Drag Race), and Leland (Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez, RuPaul’s Drag Race) will write and produce the original songs and score.

About HBO Max 
HBO Max is WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer offering. With 10,000 hours of curated premium content anticipated at launch, HBO Max will offer powerhouse programming for everyone in the home, bringing together HBO, a robust slate of new original series, key third-party licensed programs and movies, and fan favorites from Warner Media’s rich library including Warner Bros., New Line, DC, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, Looney Tunes and more. Sign up for updates at HBOMax.com.

About WarnerMedia
WarnerMedia is a leading media and entertainment company that creates and distributes premium and popular content from a diverse array of talented storytellers and journalists to global audiences through its consumer brands including: HBO, HBO Now, HBO Max, Warner Bros., TNT, TBS, truTV, CNN, DC, New Line, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Turner Classic Movies and others. WarnerMedia is part of AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T).

About Laura Benanti
In the midst of an illustrious career spanning Broadway, film, and television, Tony® Award-winning actress, singer and author, Laura Benanti now brings a longstanding dream to life as she gears up to release her new solo album with Sony Music Masterworks this year. She recently released a single, a cover of “Sucker” along with a moving video donating 100% of her earnings to FoodCorps. Additionally, on the heels of her viral social media campaign, #SunshineSongs, Laura debuted the Sunshine Songs Concert series to bring joy through music to senior living communities, aging loved ones isolated in their homes, children’s hospitals, and beyond. With starring roles on Broadway ranging from the My Fair Lady revival and Steve Martin’s Meteor Shower to She Loves Me, and the title role in Gypsy for which Laura garnered a Tony® Award (one of five career nominations to date). Meanwhile, her performance in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown garnered her a Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award. Simultaneously, she enchanted audiences on the small screen, appearing on Younger, Supergirl, Nashville, The Good Wife, Nurse Jackie and her hilarious portrayal of First Lady Melania Trump on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert (among many others). In addition to films including Worth alongside Michael Keaton, Amy Ryan and Stanley Tucci and the upcoming “Here Today” alongside Billy Crystal and Tiffany Haddish, Laura recently released a hilarious book for Moms (co-written with her friend and Metropolitan Opera Star Kate Mangiameli) entitled “M is for MAMA (and also Merlot): A Modern Mom’s ABCs” available now at Barnes and Noble. Benanti is represented by UTA and Untitled.
About World of Wonder
For more than two decades, award-winning production company World of Wonder has introduced audiences to new worlds, talent and ideas that have shaped culture. Programming highlights include: Emmy® Award winning “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (VH1/Logo), “Million Dollar Listing” LA & NY (Bravo), “Dancing Queen” (Netflix), “Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce” (Fuse), and “Gender Revolution: A Journey with Katie Couric” (National Geographic); award-winning films and documentaries including “Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures,” “Menendez: Blood Brothers,” “Inside Deep Throat,” “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” “I Am Britney Jean,” “In Vogue: The Editor’s Eye,” “Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking,” “Monica in Black and White,” Emmy-winning “The Last Beekeeper,” and Emmy-winning “Out of Iraq.” Seven of WOW’s films have premiered at the Sundance Film festival including “Becoming Chaz” and “Party Monster.” World of Wonder has also created a substantial digital footprint with its YouTube channel WOWPresents (1M+ subs), SVOD digital platform WOW Presents Plus, along with an award-winning blog, The WOW Report. World of Wonder’s bi-annual RuPaul’s DragCon is the world’s largest drag culture convention, welcoming 100,000 attendees across LA and NYC in 2019 and expanding internationally to the UK in 2020. Co-founders Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey authored The World According to Wonder, celebrating decades of production, which can be found online at http://worldofwonder.net/. Randy and Fenton were honored with the IDA Pioneer Award in December 2014, celebrating exceptional achievement, leadership, and vision in the nonfiction and documentary community, named to Variety’s Reality Leaders List in 2017, and chosen for the OUT100 list in 2018 for their trailblazing work in the LGBTQ+ community. World of Wonder was also selected for Realscreen’s 2018 Global 100 list, which recognizes the top international non-fiction and unscripted production companies working in the industry today. World of Wonder creates out of a historic building/gallery space in the heart of Hollywood.

About Leland
Brett McLaughlin, aka Leland, is a Golden Globe nominated songwriter, composer, executive producer and prominent figure in the LGBTQ+ community who has contributed to some of pop music’s most influential releases of the past few years. As a songwriter, he has collaborated with Selena Gomez (‘Rare’ and ‘Fetish’), Troye Sivan (Youth, Bloom, My My My!, Take Yourself Home), BTS (Louder Than Bombs), Ariana Grande, (Dance To This), Carrie Underwood (End Up With You), Charli XCX (1999), Lauv & Troye Sivan (I’m So Tired) and many more. Mclaughlin composed the score and wrote 12 original songs for the Netflix Original Movie ‘Sierra Burgess Is A Loser’ as well as executive producing the soundtrack. Other projects include composing musicals for the Emmy Award Winning ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ and co-writing “Revelation” with Troye Sivan and Jonsi for ‘Boy Erased’, a biographical film about LGBTQ+ conversion therapy.

Review: ‘On the Record,’ starring Drew Dixon, Sheri Sher, Sil Lai Abrams, Jenny Lumet, Alexia Norton Jones, Tarana Burke and Kierna Mayo

May 25, 2020

by Carla Hay

Drew Dixon in “On the Record” (Photo courtesy of HBO Max)

“On the Record”

Directed by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering

Culture Representation: The documentary “On the Record” interviews a predominantly black group of people (with some representation of white people)—including #MeToo accusers, media people and activists—who discuss the #MeToo movement and accusations against disgraced entertainment mogul Russell Simmons.

Culture Clash: Most of the accusers are black, and they say there’s extra pressure on them to stay silent if they are accusing a black man because of the justice system’s racial inequalities for black men.

Culture Audience: “On the Record” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in the #MeToo movement and social justice issues.

Drew Dixon and Ella Wylde in “On the Record” (Photo courtesy of HBO Max)

It’s hard enough for many survivors of sexual assault to come forward, but for many people of color, there are added layers of complexity if the person making the assault claim is accusing someone of their own race. Black people are particularly sensitive to being called a “race traitor” when it comes to putting black men in the U.S. criminal justice system, which has a checkered history of racial inequalities. The meaningful documentary “On the Record” shines a light on this issue, as it tells the stories of several women who claim that they’ve been sexually assaulted or harassed by disgraced entertainment mogul Russell Simmons.

Simmons is best known for being the co-founder of Def Jam (which started off as a hip-hop record label and expanded into television and film), Rush Communications and the fashion brands Phat Farm and Baby Phat. In late 2017, at the beginning of the #MeToo Movement resurgence, several women came forward to accuse Simmons of rape or other sexual assault. He has denied all the allegations, by saying all the encounters were consensual. However, he stepped down from his businesses shortly after the public accusations.

One of the accusers is Drew Dixon, who claims that Simmons raped her in 1995, when she was an A&R executive at Def Jam. Dixon gets the most screen time in “On the Record,” because her process of deciding to come forward to The New York Times is chronicled in the documentary. Part of the documentary feels like a semi-biography of Dixon, since so much of her personal history is in the film.

The movie also shows a great deal of Dixon at home (where she’s shown listening to some of the music she worked on and even digging through her stuff to find an old Junior Mafia demo tape), as well as revisiting some of the places where she worked early in her music career. She’s also seen visiting with friends, as they discuss her decision to go public with her accusations. And even some of Dixon’s phone conversations with New York Times reporter Joe Coscarelli (who co-wrote the New York Times article with Melena Ryzik) are in the documentary.

Dixon is the daughter of politically active parents—her mother Sharon was elected the first African American female mayor of Washington, D.C., in 1991—and she has an education from prestigious universities. (She’s a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Business School.) Although she came from a privileged background and likes a wide variety of music, Dixon says in “On the Record” that her heart lies with the street culture of hip-hop and other urban music.

“Music has always been a language I spoke,” Dixon says in the documentary. “Hip-hop had this additional appeal that was empowering for people who were otherwise overlooked. I grew up feeling that it was my mission as the daughter of local politicians. Hip-hop combined the two things that I loved: activism and this sense of pride with music. It seems like it could, I thought, to change the world.”

She knew she wanted to work in showbiz when she had the experience of booking the entertainment for her mother’s mayoral inauguration party. Rare Essence, Big Daddy Kane and Kwamé were the performers. It was then that Dixon decided that she had a knack for working with artists, so she had her sights set on working in a record company’s A&R (artists and repertoire) department, which is responsible for signing artists and overseeing music that goes on albums. After she graduated from Stanford in 1992, Dixon moved to New York City and began paying her dues in the music business.

Dixon worked as a receptionist at Empire Artist Management, Jive Records and Warner Bros. Records. She eventually became an executive at Zomba Publishing. In 1994, she landed what she thought at the time was her dream job: working in the A&R department at Def Jam Records, which was riding high with hip-hop artists such as LL Cool J, Public Enemy, EPMD, Warren G and Redman.

One of her first major successes at Def Jam was helping compile the hit soundtrack for the 1995 documentary film “The Show,” which featured songs from the Notorious B.I.G., 2Pac, Mary J. Blige, Method Man, Warren G, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and A Tribe Called Quest. Dixon also mentions in the documentary how in her early days in the music business, she knew the Notorious B.I.G. (also known as Biggie Smalls) before he was famous, and he would look out for her in the streets that were his territory where he was a drug dealer. Dixon also takes credit for being the person who came up with the idea to pair Blige and Method Man for their 1995 hit “I’ll Be There for You/You’re All I Need to Get By.”

In the documentary, Dixon goes into extensive detail about sexual misconduct she says that she experienced while she was a Def Jam employee. Dixon says that Simmons started off with saying crude sexual comments and trying to kiss her, which she felt pressured to laugh off at the time because she was afraid that he would lose her job if she complained. She says his behavior worsened, as he began sexually exposing himself to her.

Dixon remembers how she felt about it at the time: “I thought he was like a tragic ADD [attention-deficit disorder] puppy dog that I had to keep retraining … He always sheepishly apologized later, so I thought, ‘He feels bad.'”

She says that Simmons violently raped after he lured her into his home by telling her that he wanted her to hear some music from a new artist. According to Dixon, Simmons overpowered her, ignored her frantic attempts to stop the assault, and then afterward acted as if the encounter was consensual. Almost all his accusers tell similar stories.

Dixon says she was so traumatized that she eventually quit working for Def Jam. She became an A&R executive at Arista Records in 1996, where she had success working with such artists as Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, TLC, Usher and Carlos Santana. But things began to go sour for her at Arista when her boss Clive Davis was pushed out of the company and Antonio “L.A.” Reid became president/CEO of Arista in 2000.

Dixon says that Reid sexually harassed her repeatedly, and when she rejected his advances, he began to undermine her work. She says that she tried to sign Kanye West and John Legend to Arista, but Reid refused to let her sign them, and she believes it was partly out of spite. Dixon eventually quit Arista in 2004, and enrolled in Harvard Business School. However, she hasn’t worked at a major record company since then.

Reid (who was fired from Sony Music’s Epic Records in May 2017, because of alleged sexual harassment) and Simmons declined to be interviewed for the documentary. They each issued denial statements that are in the film. After the documentary was made, Simmons and rapper/actor 50 Cent made public statements pressuring executive producer Oprah Winfrey and Apple TV+ to drop the movie, which they eventually did. HBO Max acquired “On the Record” film after the movie’s well-received world premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.

In “On the Record,” Dixon says that there were three things that happened in the fall of 2017 that compelled her to go public with her accusations: (1) When screenwriter/producer Jenny Lumet (daughter of acclaimed filmmaker Sidney Lumet) came forward with her own accusations about being raped by Simmons; (2) when Dixon saw the courage of Roy Moore’s accuser Beverly Young, who claimed that the disgraced politician sexually assaulted her when she was an underage teenager; and (3) when Dixon saw the statement that actor Harold Perrineau made about his actress daughter Aurora, who came forward with sexual-assault accusations against writer Maury Miller.

Dixon comments, “I thought, ‘I’d like to be a warrior. I’m tired of being a victim. I’ve been a victim for 22 years. Let me see what the other thing feels like. It can’t be worse.’ And that’s when I said, ‘Okay. I will go on the record.'”

Another accuser of Russell Simmons in the film is writer Alexia Norton Jones, who talks about how her past trauma still affects her. “He took a piece of me with him and he carried it with him for three fucking decades,” she says of Simmons. Dixon comments on going public after keeping silent for several years: “It was like pressing play on a movie I had paused 22 years ago in the middle of the scariest scene.” Other accusers in the film include Sheri Sher, a founding member of the all-female rap group Mercedes Ladies; singer/songwriter Tina Baker; publicist Kelly Cutrone; and model Keri Claussen Khalighi.

Sil Lai Abrams, another Simmons accuser who claims that he raped her, was an executive assistant at Def Jam in the 1990s. She describes the work environment: “It didn’t feel like an office, so much as you were almost like in a club.” Abrams comments that although there is “tremendous mobility for women” in the music business, “a lot of sexual harassment was baked into the culture.” Dixon also mentions that when she began working for Def Jam, Lyor Cohen (who was president of the record company and Simmons’ second-in-command at the time), wrongly assumed that Dixon had slept with Simmons to get the job.

Although some of Simmons’ accusers are white (such as Baker, Cutrone and Khalighi), most of the Simmons accusers are black. #MeToo movement founder Tarana Burke says, “A lot of black women felt disconnected to #MeToo initially. They felt like, ‘That’s great this sister is out there. We support her as an individual, but this movement is not for us.”

“Intersectionality” author Kimberlé Crenshaw comments on how #MeToo accusations are handled and perceived: “America picks and chooses who they are going to listen to. Not only does class have an indicator, but what that person looks like is an indicator. So, who we listen to is who we see as valuable in America.”

Dr. Joan Morgan (a feminist/cultural critic) and author Shanita Hubbard also weigh in with their thoughts on how black women might experience the #MeToo movement differently from other people. “I thought the black community would hate my guts,” Dixon says in explaining one of the reasons why she was very reluctant to come forward with her accusations about Simmons, who was responsible for employing and financially enriching a lot of black people.

Kierna Mayo, a former writer/editor at The Source (a leading hip-hop magazine), has this to say about black #MeToo survivors: “It’s high time that the lens turns to us, and that we’re allowed to be heard—and more importantly to be believed.” Mayo says that she believes the Simmons accusers because she knows what it’s like to be alone with Simmons. In the documentary interview, she doesn’t come right out and say that she has a #MeToo story about him, but she hints that if she did, she’s not ready to talk about it on camera.

One of the more powerful moments in the film is when Dixon, Abrams and Lumet meet up to show support for each other.  Lumet says, “I didn’t expect anyone to be in it for the long haul with me. I’m glad I met you guys, because we’re in it for the long haul.”

The three women are also very candid in discussing colorism and admitting that being light-skinned black people gives them a “light privilege” advantage that people with darker skin might not have. Dixon comes right out and says: “Part of the reason why I did speak out is because I have ‘light privilege.'”

The documentary is undoubtedly sympathetic to the accusers and takes the viewpoint the accusers should not be vilified for how long it might have taken them to come forward, because every individual has a unique path in coming to terms with whatever trauma they experienced. Still, Lumet expresses guilt that is common for people who waited several years to tell their #MeToo stories: “I wish I could’ve gotten my shit together earlier so he [Russell Simmons] would’ve left everyone alone.”

“Off the Record” is a very female-centric movie, but there are a few men who are interviewed in the movie. Miguel Mojica, who was an A&R coordinator for EMI Records around the time that he knew Dixon back in the mid-1990s, says in the documentary that Dixon told him that Simmons raped her not long after it allegedly happened.

Mojica remembers that when he first met Dixon, “She was a bright spirit” and “we hit it off right away.” But he says she also changed after the alleged rape and wasn’t as light-hearted as she was when they first met. Other men interviewed in the movie are rapper/music producer Daddy-O and attorney Gary Watson, a former outside counsel to Def Jam.

Going public with the accusations wasn’t the only major life change for Dixon that’s chronicled in “Off the Record.” In the documentary, Dixon says that she asked her husband for a divorce, partly because of what she was going through with coming forward as a #MeToo survivor. (Dixon’s ex-husband and their two children are not in the movie.) But on the bright side, Dixon is shown taking steps to get back in the music industry, as there’s a scene of her mentoring a young singer named Ella Wylde.

Although Dixon gets the majority of the screen time compared to the other accusers, “On the Record” co-directors Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering don’t lose sight of the overall message that they obviously want the film to have: Sexual misconduct should not be excused because of someone’s race, and #MeToo survivors should not be shamed or pressured to keep silent because of their race.

HBO Max will premiere “On the Record” on May 27, 2020.

 

HBO Max announces more distribution partners, plus Zack Snyder cut of ‘Justice League’

May 20, 2020

The following is a combination of press releases from HBO Max:

WarnerMedia, a division of AT&T Inc., announced today a robust slate of new distribution agreements that will make HBO Max, the company’s highly anticipated streaming platform, widely available to customers at launch later this month. Covering a range of categories and platforms, including cable and broadband operators, gaming consoles and connected TVs, the newest companies to sign on to distribute HBO Max at launch include Altice USACox CommunicationsMicrosoftNational Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC)SamsungSony Interactive Entertainment and Verizon. These companies join AT&T, Apple, Charter, Google, Hulu and YouTube TV in offering HBO Max to their customers at launch.

HBO Max will debut May 27, 2020 with 10,000 hours of curated content and a programming lineup that offers something for everyone in the home. Anchored by the entire HBO service, the platform will also include an exciting roster of new original series, fan-favorite series and films from across WarnerMedia’s rich library and key third-party licensed programs and movies. HBO Max will be available from WarnerMedia at $14.99 per month.

“The launch of HBO Max is an important milestone for our company, and we’re excited that these valued partners will be on board for the launch,” said Rich Warren, president of WarnerMedia Distribution. “Through our expansive distribution pipeline, millions of customers will have immediate access to a best-in-class streaming experience come May 27.”

Detailed information about each distributors’ offering for HBO Max is as follows:

Altice USA has signed on to distribute HBO Max, giving all of its existing Optimum and Suddenlink HBO and HBO NOW subscribers immediate access to HBO Max and its expanded programming offering at launch. HBO Max will be available to these customers in addition to their existing HBO linear and on demand services and at no extra cost. Customers will be able to access HBO Max by downloading the app or accessing it on desktop and logging in using their Altice One, Optimum or Suddenlink credentials. Altice’s remaining and new customers will be able to purchase HBO Max directly from the company as part of a cable TV package, as an add-on to a video package, or as a standalone streaming service available to internet-only customers.

Verizon has signed on to distribute HBO Max to customers through its Fios TV and Fios Internet services. All of Verizon’s existing Fios customers who subscribe to HBO or HBO NOW will get immediate access to HBO Max at launch and at no extra cost. HBO Max will be available to these customers in addition to their existing HBO linear or streaming services. Those customers can use their Fios login credentials to access HBO Max either on supported devices through the app or via desktop. Verizon’s remaining and new Fios TV and Fios Internet customers will be able to purchase HBO Max directly from the company, as an add-on to video services or as a standalone streaming service available to internet-only customers.

Cox Communications, the largest private telecom provider in the U.S., will give all of Cox Contour’s existing HBO subscribers immediate access to HBO Max at launch and at no extra cost, in addition to their existing HBO linear and on demand services. Customers will be able to log into the HBO Max app on supported devices or access it on desktop and log in using their Cox account credentials. All remaining and new customers will be able to purchase HBO Max directly from Cox.

HBO Max will be made available at launch to independent cable and broadband operators – such as WOW!, Atlantic Broadband, RCN, Grande Communications & Wave, and MCTV, among others – through a new agreement with NCTC, on behalf of its 750 member companies throughout the U.S. and its territories. Existing HBO customers of the participating NCTC member companies will be given access to HBO Max at launch at no extra cost and new customers will be able to purchase HBO Max directly through their cable or broadband provider. The offering will then roll out more widely in the coming months, with additional member companies having the opportunity to provide the offering to their customers. For a full list of NCTC’s member companies, visit nctconline.org.

HBO Max will be available on PlayStation® 4 systems at launch. PlayStation® users in the U.S. who subscribe to HBO Max will be able to download the HBO Max app via the PlayStation®Store and access its full programming slate directly through their consoles for a seamless viewing experience beginning May 27th.

Users of Microsoft’s popular Xbox One gaming consoles in the U.S. who subscribe to HBO Max will be also able to access the platform at launch. The HBO Max app will be available on current Xbox One consoles and via the Microsoft Store on day one.

Finally, HBO Max will now be available through select Samsung TVs, bolstering the platform’s U.S. distribution to include a television manufacturer at launch. Owners of Samsung smart TVs – models from 2016 through 2020 – will be able to download and purchase HBO Max directly, offering another seamless viewing option for customers looking to access this best-in-class content experience.

In addition to including HBO favorites, Max Originals available at launch include Love LifeOn the RecordLegendaryCraftopiaLooney Tunes and The Not Too Late Show with Elmo. Throughout the summer, new Max Originals will debut, including Karma, an original second season of the critically acclaimed DC fan favorite Doom Patrol, an original second season of Sesame Workshop’s animated series Esme & Roy, the return of the critically beloved mystery comedy Search PartyAdventure Time: Distant Lands- BMO, the three-part documentary series Expecting Amy, the adult animated comedy Close Enough, the 1988-set comedy Frayed, the heart-warming British animal rescue series The Dog House, the generational family docuseries The House of Ho, the animated children’s series Tig N’ Seek, and Seth Rogen’s feature length comedy An American Pickle.

More information about HBO Max is available at www.hbomax.com/.

“PlayStation” is a registered trademark or trademark of Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc.


May 27, 2020 UPDATE: 

Comcast to Bring WarnerMedia’s HBO Max to Xfinity Customers

Comcast and WarnerMedia today announced a deal to bring HBO Max to Xfinity X1 and Flex customers. As part of the deal, existing Xfinity HBO customers will have access to HBO Max beginning today at no additional cost via the HBO Max app and website while the companies work to quickly bring the HBO Max app to the award-winning Xfinity X1 platform along with the recently launched Xfinity Flex, a 4K streaming device that is included with Xfinity Internet. Additionally, new customers will be able to purchase HBO Max directly through Xfinity in the coming days.

“X1 and Flex bring our customers an unmatched depth and breadth of live, on demand and streaming entertainment, and we look forward to partnering with WarnerMedia to integrate the HBO Max app on our platforms alongside close to 200 other streaming services – all searchable with the award-winning Xfinity Voice Remote,” said Rebecca Heap, Senior Vice President, Video and Entertainment, Comcast Cable.

”We’re thrilled to cap off the excitement of today’s launch by adding Comcast’s Xfinity to our roster of distributors who are now offering HBO Max to their customers,” said Rich Warren, president of WarnerMedia Distribution. “This deal marks another important step in the distribution of HBO Max and provides millions of Xfinity customers with access to the product.”

Existing Xfinity TV customers who subscribe to HBO either a la carte or as part of a package – along with Xfinity Internet customers who subscribe to HBO through Flex – can access HBO Max by signing in to the HBO Max app or website with their Xfinity credentials. When HBO Max launches on Xfinity platforms, it will join Peacock, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Music, HBO, YouTube, EPIX, STARZ, Pandora, and many more streaming services on X1 and Flex.

Xfinity X1 delivers the most comprehensive library of entertainment on one platform – aggregating live TV, On Demand, and popular streaming apps from a growing collection of networks and streaming services. Xfinity Flex is a 4K streaming device included with Xfinity Internet that extends the best features of X1 to Xfinity Internet customers, giving them one integrated guide to access all of their streaming video and music, as well as a TV interface to manage their Xfinity WiFi, mobile, security and automation services – all of which is controllable with voice.

HBO Max is WarnerMedia’s newest direct-to-consumer streaming platform delivered over the internet with 10,000 hours of curated content and a programming slate that offers something for everyone in the home. Anchored by the entire HBO service, the platform also includes an exciting slate of new original series, fan-favorite series and films from across WarnerMedia’s rich library and key third-party licensed programs and movies.

About Comcast Corporation
Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is a global media and technology company with three primary businesses:  Comcast Cable, NBCUniversal, and Sky.  Comcast Cable is one of the United States’ largest video, high-speed internet, and phone providers to residential customers under the Xfinity brand, and also provides these services to businesses.  It also provides wireless and security and automation services to residential customers under the Xfinity brand.  NBCUniversal is global and operates news, entertainment and sports cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, television production operations, television station groups, Universal Pictures, and Universal Parks and Resorts.  Sky is one of Europe’s leading media and entertainment companies, connecting customers to a broad range of video content through its pay television services.  It also provides communications services, including residential high-speed internet, phone, and wireless services.  Sky operates the Sky News broadcast network and sports and entertainment networks, produces original content, and has exclusive content rights.  Visit www.comcastcorporation.com for more information.


HBO Max to #ReleaseTheSnyderCut

After global passionate fan calls to action and the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement, HBO Max and Warner Bros. Pictures announced today that it will exclusively world premiere Zack Snyder’s director’s cut of the Warner Bros. Pictures/DC feature film Justice League in 2021. Snyder surprised fans with the news this morning during a live online commentary of his film Man of Steel with Henry Cavill.

#ReleaseTheSnyderCut first became a passionate rallying social media cry among fans in 2017 and has not let up. From countless press articles and hundreds of thousands of social media mentions, it became a powerful global movement among cinephiles and comic book fans.

“I want to thank HBO Max and Warner Brothers for this brave gesture of supporting artists and allowing their true visions to be realized. Also a special thank you to all of those involved in the SnyderCut movement for making this a reality,” said Snyder.

“Since I got here 14 months ago, the chant to #ReleaseTheSnyderCut has been a daily drumbeat in our offices and inboxes. Well, the fans have asked, and we are thrilled to finally deliver. At the end of the day, it really is all about them and we are beyond excited to be able to release Zack’s ultimate vision for this film in 2021. This could never have happened if it weren’t for the hard work and combined efforts of the teams at HBO Max and Warner Bros. Pictures,” said Robert Greenblatt, Chairman, Warner Media Entertainment and Direct-To-Consumer.

“When Zack and Debbie shared the extraordinary vision of where Zack wanted to take Justice League, my team and our counterparts at Warner Bros. took it as a mission to solve the many issues that stood in the way,” said Kevin Reilly, Chief Content Officer at HBO Max, President, TNT, TBS and truTV. “Thanks to the partnership at Warner Bros. and the relentless pursuit of the entire WarnerMax team we are able to deliver this incredibly exciting moment for Zack, the fans and HBO Max.”

“Thanks to the efforts of a lot people, we’re excited to bring fans this highly anticipated version of Justice League,” said Toby Emmerich, Chairman, Warner Bros. Pictures Group. “This feels like the right time to share Zack’s story, and HBO Max is the perfect platform for it. We’re glad the creative planets aligned, allowing us to #ReleaseTheSnyderCut.”

In Justice League, fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes—Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash—it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.

The Justice League screenplay is by Chris Terrio, story by Chris Terrio & Zack Snyder, based on characters from DC, Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. The film’s producers are Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, with executive producers Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas, Jim Rowe, Ben Affleck, Wesley Coller, Curtis Kanemoto, and Chris Terrio.


About HBO Max 
HBO Max is WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer offering debuting May 27, 2020. With 10,000 hours of curated premium content anticipated at launch, HBO Max will offer powerhouse programming for everyone in the home, bringing together HBO, a robust slate of new original series, key third-party licensed  programs and movies, and fan favorites from Warner Media’s rich library including  Warner Bros., New Line, DC, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, Looney Tunes and more. Sign up for updates at HBOMax.com.

About WarnerMedia

WarnerMedia is a leading media and entertainment company that creates and distributes premium and popular content from a diverse array of talented storytellers and journalists to global audiences through its consumer brands including: HBO MAX, HBO, Warner Bros., TNT, TBS, truTV, CNN, DC Entertainment, New Line, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Turner Classic Movies and others. WarnerMedia is part of AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T).

About Altice USA

Altice USA (NYSE: ATUS) is one of the largest broadband communications and video services providers in the United States, delivering broadband, pay television, mobile, proprietary content and advertising services to more than 4.9 million residential and business customers across 21 states through its Optimum and Suddenlink brands. The company operates a4, an advanced advertising and data business, which provides audience-based, multiscreen advertising solutions to local, regional and national businesses and advertising clients. Altice USA also offers hyper-local, national, international and business news through its News 12, Cheddar and i24NEWS networks.

About Cox Communications

Cox Communications is committed to creating meaningful moments of human connection through broadband applications and services. The largest private telecom company in America, we proudly serve six million homes and businesses across 18 states. We’re dedicated to empowering others to build a better future and celebrate diverse products, people, suppliers, communities and the characteristics that makes each one unique. Cox Communications is the largest division of Cox Enterprises, a family-owned business founded in1898 by Governor James M. Cox.

About National Cable Television Cooperative, Inc.

The National Cable Television Cooperative, Inc. (NCTC) is a Kansas-based, not-for-profit corporation that operates as a programming and hardware purchasing organization for its member companies who own and operate cable systems throughout the U.S. NCTC seeks to maximize current and future opportunities to ensure the profitability, competitive stature and long-term sustainability of its member companies. NCTC represents more than 750 small and mid-sized independent cable and broadband operators across the U.S., in programming and technology acquisition. NCTC is actively engaged in helping network providers and suppliers evolve their business models to deploy new video/data solutions to match the changes in the media landscape.

 

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