HBO Max announces more programs and launch date: May 27, 2020

April 21, 2020

The following is a press release from HBO Max:

WarnerMedia today announced that its highly anticipated streaming platform HBO Max will officially launch May 27th, 2020 and has unveiled its slate of premium Max Originals that will be available to viewers on DAY ONE. The slate includes the scripted comedy Love Life, starring Anna Kendrick; Sundance 2020 Official Selection feature documentary On the Recordunderground ballroom dance competition series LegendaryCraftopiahosted by YouTube sensation LaurDIY; the all-new Looney Tunes Cartoonsfrom Warner Bros. Animation; and Sesame Workshop’s The Not Too Late Show with Elmo (full program details available below.) Starting May 27th, HBO Max will offer an impressive direct-to-consumer experience with 10,000 hours of premium content including the entire HBO service, together with beloved franchises, titles past and present from Warner Bros., the best of the best from around the world, and a monthly offering of new Max Originals which guarantee something for everyone in the house – from preschoolers to teens to grownups – with scripted and unscripted series, docs, animation for kids and adults, and movies.

Today’s announcement comes with an exciting first look at the line-up of Max Originals to debut on the platform on day one.

“Our number one goal is having extraordinary content for everyone in the family, and the HBO Max programming mix we are so excited to unveil on May 27th will bear that out,” said Robert Greenblatt, Chairman of Warner Media Entertainment and Direct-To-Consumer. “Even in the midst of this unprecedented pandemic, the all-star teams behind every aspect of HBO Max will deliver a platform and a robust slate of content that is varied, of the highest quality, and second to none. I’m knocked out by the breadth and depth of our new offering, from the Max originals, our Warner Bros library and acquisition titles from around the world, and of course the entirety of HBO.”

Consumers will quickly see that HBO Max is set apart by a foundation of loved brands built over decades but stitched together with a distinctive voice and product experience,” added Kevin Reilly, Chief Content Officer, HBO Max, President, TNT, TBS, and truTV. “Our team has meticulously selected a world class library catalogue and collaborated with top creators across all genres to offer a monthly cadence of original series and movies that we will program and promote for cultural impact.”

“It is thrilling to be approaching the launch of HBO Max so we can finally share the first wave of content our teams have been developing in partnership with a group of unparalleled creators,” said Sarah Aubrey, Head of Original Content, HBO Max. “The originals slate available at launch represents a diverse range of unique voices emblematic of the quality and scope of our programming still to come.”

After the initial launch, Max Originals will continue to premiere on the streamer at a regular cadence through summer and fall including The Flight Attendant, starring and executive produced by Kaley Cuoco, from Berlanti Productions and based on the novel by New York Times bestselling author Chris Bohjalian; the highly anticipated Friends unscripted cast reunion special; all-new original episodes of the critically acclaimed DC fan favorite Doom Patrol; the return of the critically beloved mystery comedy Search Party with a brand new season; the three-part documentary series Expecting Amyan unfiltered and intimate view into comedian Amy Schumer’s life on tour creating a stand-up special during her difficult pregnancysci-fi series Raised by Wolves from director and executive producer Ridley Scott, the award-winning creator behind The Martian, Gladiator, and Blade Runner; the adult animated comedy Close Enoughfrom J.G. Quintel (creator of Cartoon Network’s Emmy-winning Regular Show), a hilarious look at the surreal life of a millennial family living with roommates; and Adventure Time: Distant Lands- BMO, the first of four breakout specials resurrecting Cartoon Network’s Emmy and Peabody award-winning franchise Adventure Time.

HBO Max will pull from WarnerMedia’s deep library of fan favorites including motion picture and TV series from Warner Bros.’ 100-year content collection, New Line, library titles from DC, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, Looney Tunes, a selection of classic films curated in partnership with TCM, and more. HBO Max will also offer an extensive selection of third-party acquired series and movie titles that stand out in the expanding marketplace.

Inspired by the legacy of HBO’s excellence, unparalleled quality, and innovative, award-winning storytelling, the new offering will be bundled with the HBO service including all of HBO’s premium originals such as WestworldBig Little LiesGame of ThronesSex and the City, VeepThe WireCurb Your Enthusiasm, Insecure, SuccessionWatchmenBarry, Euphoria, The JinxThe Sopranos and more.

Highlights of the extensive WarnerMedia portfolio of programming and acquisitions that will be available on day one include the libraries of Friends; The Big Bang Theory(new) Doctor Who; Rick and MortyThe BoondocksThe BachelorSesame Street; The Fresh Prince of Bel-AirCW shows such as Batwoman, Nancy Drew, and Katy Keenethe first season of DC’s Doom PatrolThe O.C.; Pretty Little Liarsthe CNN catalogue of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknownand much more. Soon after, the platform offering will continue to grow adding the libraries of South ParkGossip Girl, The West Wingand more within the first year of launch.

In addition to series, specials, and docs, HBO Max will feature a library of more than 2,000 feature films within the first year. Audiences will be able to watch 700 blockbuster films via the HBO service, including Crazy Rich Asians, A Star is BornAquamanand Joker, as well as films acquired specifically for HBO Max via Warner Bros., the Criterion Collection, and the acclaimed Studio Ghibli. Streaming for the first time ever in the U.S., 20 films from Japan’s legendary Studio Ghibli animation house will be available on HBO Max at launch, including Academy Award® winner Spirited Away and Academy Award nominees Howl’s Moving Castle and The Tale of the Princess Kaguyaas well as fan favorites My Neighbor Totoro, Princess MononokePonyo, and Kiki’s Delivery Service. Fans of all ages will be able to enjoy these wonder-filled films any time they want.

In addition to the premium acquired content on the platform, the WarnerMedia portfolio gives HBO Max the opportunity to curate from 100 years of the most iconic films ever made, as well as access to a library of new theatrical hits. Available films will include Casablanca, The Wizard of Oz, The Matrix, The Goonies, When Harry Met Sally, The Lord of the Rings, Citizen Kane, Gremlins, and the Lego movies, along with every DC film from the last decade, including Wonder WomanJustice League, and every Batman and Superman movie from the last 40 years.

HBO MAX ORIGINALS AVAILABLE ON DAY ONE,  MAY 27th:

CRAFTOPIA

Craftopia is an epic kids crafting competition show hosted and executive produced by YouTube influencer Lauren Riihimaki aka (LaurDIY). Creating and demonstrating crafts to over 8.9 million subscribers on her YouTube channel, LaurDIY has been deemed the “millennial Martha Stewart” by Forbes. On Craftopia, 9 to 15-year old contestants put their imaginations to the test and make their crafting dreams come true in a magical studio. After racing to fill up their carts with inspiring materials from the studio “store,” crafters meet larger-than-life challenges, making truly inventive and amazing creations in order to take home the ‘Craftrophia.’

Craftopia is executive produced by Rhett Bachner and Brien Meagher for B17 Entertainment.

LEGENDARY

Pulling directly from the underground ballroom community, voguing teams (aka “houses”) must compete in unbelievable balls and showcase sickening fashion in order to achieve “legendary” status. The cast includes MC Dashaun Wesley and DJ MikeQ as well as celebrity judges Law Roach, Jameela Jamil, Leiomy Maldonado, and Megan Thee Stallion. From Scout Productions, Emmy Award ® winners David Collins (Queer Eye), Rob Eric (Queer Eye) and Michael Williams (Queer Eye) serve as executive producers. Jane Mun (People’s Choice Awards, MTV Music Awards, America’s Best Dance Crew) and Josh Greenberg (Lip Sync Battle, Sunday Best, America’s Best Dance Crew) serve as executive producers and showrunners.

LOVE LIFE

Love Life, the first full-length scripted series to star Oscar® nominee Anna Kendrick, is about the journey from first love to last love, and how the people we’re with along the way make us into who we are when we finally end up with someone forever. This fresh take on a romantic comedy anthology series is from creator and co-showrunner Sam Boyd (In a Relationship) and is produced by Lionsgate Television and Feigco Entertainment. The series will follow a different protagonist’s quest for love each season, with each half-hour episode telling the story of one of their relationships. Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect, A Simple Favor) stars in the first season along with Zoë Chao (Downhill, Strangers), Peter Vack (Someone Great, The Bold Type), Sasha Compere (Miracle Workers, Uncorked), and Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread, Another Year).

Kendrick serves as an executive producer alongside Paul Feig (A Simple Favor, Bridesmaids) and Dan Magnante (Someone Great). Sam Boyd, who wrote the pilot and directs, also executive produces with co-showrunner and executive producer Bridget Bedard (Transparent and Ramy).

LOONEY TUNES CARTOONS

Looney Tunes Cartoons, an all-new series from Warner Bros. Animation starring the cherished Looney Tunes characters. Looney Tunes Cartoons echoes the high production value and process of the original Looney Tunes theatrical shorts with a cartoonist-driven approach to storytelling. Marquee Looney Tunes characters will be featured in their classic pairings in simple, gag-driven and visually vibrant stories. The new series will include 80 eleven-minute episodes, each comprised of animated shorts that vary in length and include adapted storylines for today’s audience. Fans can also look forward to holiday-themed specials. Looney Tunes Cartoons is produced by Warner Bros. Animation and features a talented group of voice cast members including Eric Bauza, Jeff Bergman and Bob Bergen. Pete Browngardt (Uncle Grandpa) and Sam Register (Teen Titans Go!) serve as executive producers.

THE NOT TOO LATE SHOW WITH ELMO

Elmo is the host of his very own talk show and he’s going to bring you some (not-too-late) fun with an all-new, celeb-studded talk show series. This brand-new “primetime” series brings familiar Sesame Street friends like Elmo, Cookie Monster, celebrity guests, and laughs the whole family can enjoy! Elmo will interview guests such as fellow late-night hosts Jimmy Fallon and John Oliver, comedian John Mullaney, New York Times best-selling author Kwame Alexander, actress Blake Lively, and award-winning musical acts Lil Nas X and The Jonas Brothers.

The Not Too Late Show with Elmo is produced by Sesame Workshop.

ON THE RECORD

Directed and produced by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering (The Hunting Ground, The Invisible War), and first reported by the New York TimesOn The Record presents the powerful  haunting story of music executive Drew Dixon (collaborator on hit records by Method Man and Mary J. Blige, Estelle and Kanye West, and Whitney Houston) as she grapples with her decision to become one of the first women of color, in the wake of  #MeToo, to come forward and publicly accuse hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons of sexual assault.

The documentary, which premiered  at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival to rave reviews, chronicles not only Dixon’s story but that of several other accusers  –  Sil Lai Abrams, Sheri Sher–  delving deeply into the ways women of colors’ voices are all too often silenced and ignored when they allege sexual assault; as well as the cultural forces that pressure them to remain silent.

On The Record is produced by Dick and Ziering’s Jane Doe Films with Dan Cogan, Geralyn Dreyfous and Jenny Raskin for Impact Partners, Regina K Scully for Artemis Rising, Ian Darling for Shark Island Institute and Abigail Disney for Level Forward serving as executive producers. The creative team includes producers Jamie Rogers and Amy Herdy.


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About HBO Max 
HBO Max is WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer offering debuting in spring 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, 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).

 

Review: ‘Bad Education,’ starring Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney

April 26, 2020

by Carla Hay

Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney in “Bad Education” (Photo by JoJo Whilden/HBO)

“Bad Education” (2020)

Directed by Cory Finley

Culture Representation: Taking place primarily on Long Island, New York, and partially in Las Vegas, the drama “Bad Education” has a predominantly white cast of characters (with some Indian Americans) representing the middle-class and upper-class.

Culture Clash: Based on true events, the movie tells the story of corrupt administrators and their accomplices, who embezzled an estimated $11 million from the school district of Roslyn High School in Roslyn, New York.

Culture Audience: “Bad Education” will appeal primarily to Hugh Jackman fans and people who like dramas based on true crime.

Hugh Jackman and Geraldine Viswanathan in “Bad Education” (Photo courtesy of HBO)

“Bad Education” follows many familiar tonal beats of true-crime movies, but the riveting performances of Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney elevate what could have been a somewhat mediocre film. Based on true events that happened in 2002, “Bad Education” portrays the investigation that led to the downfalls of several people involved in an embezzlement/fraud scam that stole an estimated $11 million over several years from the high-school district in the upscale suburban city of Roslyn, New York. It’s said to be the largest prosecuted embezzlement in the history of American public schools.

The two people at the center of the crimes against Roslyn High School are school superintendent Frank Tassone (played by Jackman) and assistant superintendent/business manager Pam Glucklin (played by Janney), who work closely together and also cover up for each other. As it’s eventually revealed in the movie, they cared about more than just increasing the prestige level of Roslyn High School, the high-ranking  jewel in their school-administration crown. They also cared a great deal about increasing their personal wealth using illegally obtained school funds, mostly by billing the district for lavish trips, homes, cars and other personal expenses.

In the beginning of the film, which is effectively bookmarked with a similar scene at the end of the film, Frank is introduced like a rock star at a school assembly, which has gathered to celebrate Roslyn High School’s achievement of ranking at No. 4 in the U.S. for being the highest academically achieving high school. The school has reached this level under Frank’s leadership, and his goal is to elevate Roslyn High School to No. 1.

Frank’s friendly charm and winning smile have made him very popular with his co-workers, parents and students. By contrast, Pam has a prickly and dismissive personality, but her strong alliance with Frank has given her a lot of clout in the school district. Their boss is school board president Bob Spicer (played by Ray Romano), who is Frank’s biggest champion.

One of the school’s goals is a skywalk proposal, which would build a multimillion-dollar skywalk bridge to link the school from end to end. A bright and inquisitive student named Rachel Bhargava (played by Geraldine Viswanathan) is tasked with doing an article about the skywalk for Roslyn High School’s newspaper, The Beacon. At first, when she does a very brief interview with Frank for the article, she thinks it’s going to be a boring puff piece.

Rachel thinks so little of the assignment that she even tells Frank that it will be a puff piece. His response: “It’s only a puff piece if you let it be a puff piece. A real journalist can turn an assignment into a story.” It’s unknown if the real Frank Tassone ever said those words to any of the real student reporters of The Beacon who broke the news of the embezzlement scandal, but those words will come back to haunt Frank in this movie.

While preparing the article, Rachel needs to get some facts and statistics about the skywalk construction proposal bids that the school district received from contractors. She has to get permission from Pam to access those documents, which are in a very cluttered storage area of the school. While Frank was accommodating and gracious in giving his time to Rachel, Pam is impatient and condescending when talking to Rachel for the article. Pam gives Rachel the room key to access the requested documents, but warns her that the area is so messy and disorganized that it will be challenging for her to find the paperwork that she’s seeking.

The storage area turns out to have a treasure trove of documents that Rachel’s assigning editor Nick Fleischman (played by Alex Wolff) happens to notice when he accidentally knocks some of the papers out of her backpack when he impatiently tries to stop her while walking down a school hallway. (It’s one of those moments in the movie that probably didn’t happen in real life, but was fabricated for dramatic purposes.)

Nick thinks she may be on to a big story, so Rachel finds out through further investigation that the documents have a lot of proof that invoices charging a fortune have been billed to the school district, but many of the companies listed on the invoices don’t exist. Rachel gets help from her father David Bhargava (played by Hari Dhillon) in doing the grunt work of making calls to investigate the legitimacy of companies that are listed on the school invoices.

Why does Rachel’s father have that much free time on his hands? In a minor subplot, it’s revealed that he lost his job because of accusations that he was involved with insider trading. In the midst of investigating corruption at her own school, Rachel at one point asks her father if he really was guilty of insider trading. His answer serves to telegraph Rachel’s decision to report what she’s found out.

What happens next has a domino effect that exposes elaborate, longtime schemes orchestrated by Frank and Pam. Because of this high-profile case, many viewers might already know about the outcome. However, screenwriter Mike Makowsky (a Roslyn native who graduated from high school seven years after the scandal) and director Cory Finley infuse the movie with enough suspense and sly comedy to make it a slightly better-than-average telling of a crime story.

“Bad Education” takes a sometimes sardonic look at how manipulative and cunning Frank was in covering up his crimes. He was a man of many faces—literally, since his vanity facelifts and meticulous application of makeup are shown in the movie—and many secrets, which he covered up with a web of lies that eventually unraveled. Even in his personal life (Frank was a closeted gay man), he deceived the people who were closest to him. The movie is also a takedown of the weak-willed enablers who knew about the corruption, but were complicit in covering it up because they didn’t want to lose their jobs and they wanted to keep up the appearance that they had an ideal school district.

Frank also mastered the art of deflection, so that when he was under scrutiny, he was able to turn it around on potential accusers to make them afraid of getting in trouble for not detecting the problem earlier. He also used, to his advantage, the administration’s fixation on increasing the prestige of Roslyn High School, which tied into many administrators’ ulterior motives of raising the property values in Roslyn too.

Janney doesn’t have as much screen time as Jackman does, but she makes the most of characterizing Pam as being more than just a selfish and greedy shrew. The movie shows how she was generous to a fault in sharing her illegally funded wealth with her family. That generosity would turn out to be her downfall, since she allowed certain family members to use school credit cards to fund their lavish personal spending. The family members who were also part of the widespread scam included Pam’s husband Howard Gluckin (played by Ray Abruzzo); Jim Boy McCarden (played by Jimmy Tatro), her son from a previous marriage; and her co-worker niece Jenny Aquila (played by Annaleigh Ashford), who relies on Pam for financial help.

All of these family members are dimwitted in some way—they didn’t do much to hide their identities in the paper trail that exposed their crimes—but Jenny is portrayed as particularly loathsome. At one point in the movie, even after some of the crimes were exposed, Jenny tries to take over her aunt/benefactor Pam’s job at the school. Jenny also makes a pathetic and botched attempt to blackmail Frank, who quickly puts Jenny in her place and reminds her that she’s no match for him and his devious manipulations.

When Pam’s world starts to unravel, Janney uses subtle cues in showing how this character’s carefully constructed façade starts to crumble, as her perfectly posh, enunicated English starts to give way to a very working-class Long Island accent. Pam is so obsessed with keeping up appearances that she makes the mistake of being too loyal to Frank when things start to crash down on them.

“Bad Education” is a very Hollywood version of a seedy true crime story. In real life, none of the people were as glamorous-looking as the actors who portray them in the movie—although, in real life, the embezzlers spent money as if they were Hollywood celebrities. The movie accurately shows that people got away with crimes of this length and magnitude because they were able to fool others by having a “respectable” image. The ending scene effectively illustrates that Frank’s inflated ego and arrogance led him to believe that he was a legend in his own mind—and the results were reckless crimes that destroyed school finances, careers and people’s trust.

HBO premiered “Bad Education” on April 25, 2020.

Review: ‘The Scheme,’ starring Christian Dawkins, Steve Haney, Dan Wetzel and Rebecca Davis O’Brien

March 31, 2020

by Carla Hay

Christian Dawkins in “The Scheme” (Photo courtesy of HBO)

“The Scheme” (2020) 

Directed by Pat Kondelis

Culture Representation: The true-crime documentary “The Scheme”—about a corruption scandal involving the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and an aspiring manager of basketball players—interviews a mix of African Americans and white people representing the middle-class.

Culture Clash: Christian Dawkins, one of the men at the center of the scandal, says that he was the “fall guy” for widespread corruption in the NCAA and that he was unfairly entrapped by the FBI.

Culture Audience: “The Scheme” will appeal mostly to people who have an interest in true crime and sports scandals, but this documentary is openly sympathetic to Dawkins, the only person involved in the scandal who’s interviewed for the movie.

Christian Dawkins in “The Scheme” (Photo courtesy of HBO)

If high-school basketball stars are paid by people who want them recruited to a college basketball team, is that corruption or is that common sense? In the very slanted documentary “The Scheme,” former basketball wheeler dealer Christian Dawkins says it’s common sense. The law takes the opposite stance, and it’s why Dawkins was busted in a 2017 FBI sting that led to two trials and Dawkins becoming a convicted felon.

“The Scheme,” directed by Pat Kondelis (who won a Sports Emmy for Showtime’s 2017 documentary “Disgraced”), doesn’t even try to be about the filmmakers doing any original investigative journalism. Instead, it’s mainly concerned with being the first TV interview that Dawkins has given since he was arrested in 2017 and later served time in prison for fraud and bribery charges.

Although the epilogue of “The Scheme” mentions that key figures in the wide-ranging NCAA scandal declined to be interviewed for the movieincluding others who were arrested; coaches who were implicated but not arrested; and officials from the FBI and NCAAthis documentary instead gives a wide berth to Dawkins’ side of the story. “The Scheme” also relies heavily on interviews with journalists who actually did the investigative work that’s used in the movie, but the filmmakers chose not to do their own further investigations.

Dawkins even says in the documentary, “I don’t even want to tell my side of the story as much as I want to tell the bigger story and my opinion.” And yet, “The Scheme” filmmakers don’t follow up on the widespread corruption claims that Dawkins brings up while being interviewed. This failure to follow up is the equivalent of being handed a ball in a sports game and dropping the ball.

Dawkins was 24 years old when he was arrested in the 2017 scandal, which involved an extensive FBI investigation and federal prosecution by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, since many of the transactions took place in New York City. By his own admission, Dawkins is cocky, because he has long considered himself to be a marketing-savvy entrepreneur who’s destined for greatness. And, as the documentary shows, he has a tendency to stretch the truth or lie if it will make him look good or make him money.

The beginning of the film goes over his upbringing and background to explain how Dawkins ended up serving the longest prison sentence (18 months) out of all of the people arrested in the scandal. “The Scheme” interviews Christian Dawkins’ parents Lou and Latricia Dawkins, seated on a couch together, and they confirm that the family’s life revolved around basketball, because Lou was a basketball coach at top-ranking Saginaw High School in their hometown of Saginaw, Michigan.

All three of the  Dawkins kids—Christian and his younger brother and sister—played basketball in school. Their father Lou Dawkins says in the documentary that basketball was the children’s choice of sport and they took the initiative to play basketball, and not because of pressure from him. The skeptical “rolling eyes” reaction of Lou’s wife Latricia puts some doubt on that perspective, and she says, “I don’t know if that’s all true, but I’ll go with it.”

What the parents do agree on is that Christian showed signs of being interested in business from an early age, when he was about 10 or 11. Instead of sports magazines, he would be more likely to read business magazines. Lou says about Christian’s basketball skills as a child: “He was good, but he was stubborn,” and that Christian often had a hard time listening to advice and rules that his father gave him. But his parents lovingly describe him as “intelligent.” And his mother Latricia says about Christian: “My child has always been different.”

According to Christian, one of the biggest influences in his life was the 2000 non-fiction book “Sole Influence: Basketball, Corporate Greed, and the Corruption of America’s Youth,” by Dan Wetzel and Don Yeager. (Wetzel, who covered the 2017 NCAA scandal for Yahoo Sports, is interviewed in the documentary.) Reading the book led to Christian starting a “basketball insider” website called Best of the Best Prep Basketball Scouting, which he started while he was in high school. The website charged $600 per person to get access to information about the best high-school basketball players in Michigan and other parts of the Midwest. Christian’s mother said she didn’t find out about this business until checks started arriving in the mail for Christian.

And showing his tendency to lie in order to make money, Christian admits in the documentary that he once ranked himself as a No. 1 basketball player on the website, even though he was an average basketball player. Christian’s attorney Steve Haney, who says he’s known Christian since Christian was about 10 or 11 years old, laughs when he remembers that Christian even lied about his height on the website, by claiming he was 6’2″, when he’s actually 5’10”. The documentary has archived pages from the website that actually show the rankings with the false 6’2″ claim.

But then tragedy struck the Dawkins family: Christian’s younger brother Dorian, who was a star basketball player in high school, died of an undetected heart condition when Dorian was 14. Christian says that Dorian is still the best friend he ever had. Dorian’s untimely death led Christian to start a charity basketball tournament with the American Heart Association, and the Saginaw hometown team switched its name from Team Pride to Dorian’s Pride. Christian also says he was responsible for getting Dorian’s Pride a hefty sponsorship deal with Under Armour. He claims that Dorian’s Pride was the only Midwest high-school team at the time to get a sponsorship with Under Armour.

Christian makes several other claims in the documentary, such as that he was the “general manager” of the Dorian’s Pride team when he was 16. He says that he “picked all the coaches and players, the tournaments we played in,” but there’s no sense that the filmmakers did any independent fact-checking for many of his claims, and they just took his word for it. All that Christian’s attorney Haney says about Christian’s role in Dorian’s Pride was that Christian “had an eye for talent and, more importantly, he worked.” Because of Christian’s accomplishments while still in high school, and because he was a better wheeler dealer than he was a basketball player, Christian says he decided not to go to college, so he convinced his parents that he didn’t need a college education.

According to Christian, his first real job out of high school was as “managing director of financial services” at a company he doesn’t name. The company name isn’t as important as what Christian claims that he accomplished while working there: He says he became the youngest person to sign basketball players who ended up being first-round picks for the NBA: Elfrid Payton and Rodney Hood. Again, there’s no independent verification that Christian was the official representative of these two players at the time. He could have recommended that they get signed to his company, but that doesn’t mean he was the company’s authorized person to sign and represent these two players.

Whatever his real or imagined responsibilities were, Christian’s prodigy-like success caught the eye of sports agent Andy Miller, who recruited Christian to work for him. Looking back on their working relationship, Christian says in the documentary: “We were like Whitney [Houston] and Bobby [Brown]: We shouldn’t have been together.”

In yet another example of Christian having a tendency to exaggerate or embellish the truth, he claims in the documentary that while he worked for Miller, he was an “agent or a junior agent.” But Christian’s own attorney contradicts this claim, by saying that Christian was just a “runner,” an industry term for a person who cultivates relationships with athletes but doesn’t have the authority to sign or represent them. (Miller was not interviewed for this movie.)

During his tenure working for Miller, Christian ran into his first major legal scandal, when he was accused of misappropriating funds. In the documentary, Christian calls the scandal “Ubergate” because he was accused of running up a $42,000 Uber bill while working for Miller. In the documentary, Christian admits that his expense accounts were abused, but he puts most of the blame on unnamed people whom he claims had access to the accounts. Christian wasn’t arrested or sued over the scandal, but he was fired and his reputation was severely tarnished.

It was around this time that Christian said that he met a man named Marty Blazer through a mutual acquaintance: a banker named Munish Sood. Christian told them that he wanted to start his own sports management company specializing in representing high-school basketball players who would be recruited by colleges, but Christian needed investment money.

The company was going to be based in Atlanta, but Christian frequently made trips to New York City to meet with potential investors. Christian called his management company Loyd Management Inc., because “loyd” was an acronym for “live out your dreams.” Knowing that Christian was looking for investors, Blazer (a shady character who turned out to be an informant for the FBI) introduced Christian to a man named Jeff D’Angelo, who was described as a wealthy guy who made his fortune in real-estate. Christian was also introduced to D’Angelo’s right-hand person Jill Bailey.

D’Angelo gave Christian hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash to bribe college basketball coaches and certain Adidas executives to recruit high-school basketball players, who would also be steered to Christian’s fledgling management company for representation. Christian didn’t like this idea because he says he wanted to pay basketball players directly, instead of adding an extra unpredictable set of people to the mix.

“Paying players is the cost of doing business,” Christian says. He also repeatedly mentions in the documentary that he thinks all sports players (including those in school) should be paid salaries for playing sports. (It’s currently illegal for players in U.S. non-professional basketball leagues to be paid salaries for playing basketball.) Christian says that he was initially very uncomfortable with this business model of paying coaches and other officials, but D’Angelo kept pressuring him to do it, and Christian eventually went along with it since D’Angelo was paying for all of it.

But, by his own admission, Christian said he got greedy and kept most of the payment money for himself and spent a lot of it on “entertainment” (including strip clubs) for himself and the coaches that he was supposed to be bribing. Unbeknownst to Christian until it was too late, D’Angelo and Bailey were FBI agents. (Those names were aliases.) And the reason why “Jeff D’Angelo” kept pushing hard for Christian to pay coaches was because NCAA coaches are considered public officials, and it’s a federal crime for them to accept bribes.

In the documentary, Christian and his attorney admit that although Christian took the money (they couldn’t deny it, since many of these transactions were caught on FBI surveillance video), he was not guilty of directly giving any of the money to the coaches and Adidas officials. It’s why Christian pleaded not guilty to the charges, and the case resulted in two trials for him: one involving fraud charges, and the other involving bribery charges. A great deal of the movie is about Christian giving his perspective of being “set up” by the FBI.

Throughout the documentary, Christian’s grandiosity and high opinion of himself are very apparent. He claims to know “everybody in basketball” and brags about being smart when it comes to business. But, for a guy who’s supposedly “smart,” he made a lot of dumb mistakes.

For starters, Christian admits that the sudden appearance of an angel investor (“Jeff D’Angelo”) who spared no expense (deals were done on a yacht and in lavish hotel suites) made him suspicious at first, but he didn’t do a thorough background check on D’Angelo. Christian says he thought about hiring a private investigator, but he decided not to do that because he asked a Drug Enforcement Agency contact (who’s not named in the documentary) to look into D’Angelo’s background, and the DEA contact  told Christian that D’Angelo was legitimate.

Another big mistake that Christian made was trusting Blazer, who had a long history of arrests and lawsuits (which were all public record), but Blazer mysteriously wasn’t in prison for his crimes. Any “street smart” person would immediately figure out that Blazer was probably avoiding prison time by being a confidential informant. And, as revealed by Christian’s two trials and journalists’ investigations, Blazer was indeed an informant for the FBI. But Christian, who repeatedly describes Blazer and “D’Angelo” as “idiots” and “stupid,” missed that big red flag. In the end, Blazer spent zero time in prison for his involvement in the scandal. So, who’s the stupid one?

And there was another red flag that Christian foolishly missed: The person calling himself “Jeff D’Angelo” (his real name still remains a secret) suddenly stopped doing business with Christian, and let his right-hand person “Jill Bailey” take over the transactions. The excuse was that “D’Angelo” had to go to Italy to visit his dying mother. But Christian didn’t try to find out if that story was true, because he said he didn’t really like “D’Angelo” anyway, and “Bailey” was easier to deal with on a business level.

In reality, as it came out during news investigations, “D’Angelo” had been removed from the case because he was allegedly stealing the FBI’s cash too. Haney says in the documentary that he tried to subpoena the mysterious “Jeff D’Angelo,” but the subpoena was denied. The documentary also mentions that it’s not known if “Jeff D’Angelo” is still working for the FBI. Even without the testimony of “Jeff D’Angelo,” the bottom line is that as long as the money kept flowing, Christian didn’t really care who was giving him the money. In the end, greed was Christian’s undoing.

“The Scheme” has a lot of re-enactments with Christian, as well as actual FBI surveillance and wiretaps. And the filmmakers are obviously sympathetic to Christian and his attorney Haney, given all the screen time that they have in the movie.

What’s missing from the documentary is any sense that the filmmakers cared about investigating the bigger picture that everyone interviewed in the documentary says exists—the NCAA’s widespread corruption, which includes the participation of major athletic-shoe companies (such as Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour) that pay millions to colleges for star athletes to wear their products. Unlike NBA players, the school players aren’t supposed to be paid to play basketball (a policy called “amateurism”), and the NCAA is a non-profit organization that gets massive tax breaks for the money it earns.

Christian was the one who spent the most time in prison for the scandal, while other people implicated in the scandal who are much higher up in the NCAA food chain did not even get arrested. Although the documentary is basically a platform for Christian and his attorney to complain about Christian’s prison sentence, the filmmakers don’t bother to ask why higher authorities were not held accountable in this scandal. And although the documentary includes statistics about how much money certain colleges and universities get from athletic-apparel companies, the filmmakers fail to detail or investigate how that money is moved around in possibly corrupt ways.

Christian even names some of the NCAA colleges and universities that he says are some of the worst offenders when it comes to misappropriating funds and bribing players to join their teams, yet the filmmakers don’t follow up on these claims. Christian also comes right out and says that it’s not uncommon for college coaches to use college basketball funds to hire hookers for high-school basketball players, as part of the recruiting process. Instead of uncovering anything new or looking into Christian’s claims about corruption and cover-ups, the documentary interviews journalists Rebecca Davis O’Brien (who covered the scandal for the Wall Street Journal) and Wetzel to rehash information that these journalists already covered for their media outlets.

“The Scheme” also doesn’t adequately explore the issue of racial inequalities in criminal justice. Christian frequently mentions in the movie that he was able to be “successful” because of his relationships with college-bound or NBA-bound basketball players and their families. (Toronto Raptors player Fred VanVleet is the only basketball player interviewed in the documentary, and he says he owes his career to Christian.) Because college-level and NBA-level basketball is a sport played by predominantly African Americans, Christian says that gave him an advantage to establish a type of racial rapport with players that agents and head coaches (who are predominantly white) do not have.

However, the filmmakers don’t ask Christian how his race could have been a disadvantage when he got caught in the FBI sting. “The Scheme” completely ignores the glaring fact that almost all of the people arrested in the FBI sting were people of color: Christian Dawkins; banker Sood; Emanuel “Book” Richardson (former assistant basketball coach at the University of Arizona); Lamont Evans (former assistant basketball coach at Oklahoma State University and the University of South Carolina); Tony Bland (former assistant basketball coach at the University of Southern California); and Merl Code, a former Adidas executive who was like a mentor to Christian. Jim Gatto (former Adidas executive) was the only white person arrested.

Meanwhile, the head basketball coaches at these universities (all of the head coaches are white) escaped arrest and in most cases got to keep their jobs. In the documentary, Christian claims that University of Arizona head basketball coach Sean Miller and Louisiana State University head basketball coach Will Wade blatantly lied to the media and the public about not being involved in illegal basketball deals. (Although Wade was suspended from his job, he was eventually re-instated.)

Christian says that Miller should be an “actor” for his performance at a press conference where Miller denied any involvement in the NCAA scandal. And the documentary includes Wade’s public denial of doing business with Christian by juxtaposing it with FBI wiretaps of Wade talking business with Christian. Christian and his attorney say that these head coaches who escaped arrest must have felt confident that they would be protected when they made their public denials.

Despite all this finger-pointing, the documentary does little to appear objective in trying to gather all of the facts. Instead, “The Scheme” is mostly concerned with letting Christian run the narrative. It’s clear that he did the interview to promote the fact that he’s trying to make a business comeback, but this time in the music industry—something that’s mentioned at the end of the film. (At least he’s smart enough to know that his sports career is over.)

Why the music industry? Because convicted felons aren’t as taboo there, says Christian. His attorney said that, in an example of Christian’s hustler mentality, while Christian was on trial, Christian secretly had meetings with people in the music industry to start his own record label.

And now that he’s out of prison, Christian has teamed up with Atlantic Records to fund and distribute a record label he’s founded called Chosen, even though he has no prior experience in the music industry. In the documentary, Christian doesn’t talk about any artists he’s signed to his record label, but he seems very happy with the undisclosed amount of money he’s gotten from Atlantic Records. Given his track record in handling funds, Atlantic might want to closely watch where that money is going.

In the end, “The Scheme” is kind of a reflection of the person whose perspective dominates the movie: There’s a lot of talk, but not a lot of new facts brought to the table.

HBO premiered “The Scheme” on March 31, 2020.

Review: ‘Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America’s Elections,’ starring Harri Hursti, Sue Halper, James Lankford, Jake Stauffer, Jeff Moss, Sandy Clark and Philip Stark

March 25, 2020

by Carla Hay

Harri Hursti and Maggie MacAlpine in “Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America’s Elections” (Photo courtesy of HBO)

“Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America’s Elections”

Directed by Simon Ardizzone, Russell Michaels and Sarah Teale

Culture Representation: This politically oriented documentary, which examines the effects of cyber hacking on U.S. elections, interviews a predominantly white group of people, including cybersecurity experts, government officials, journalists, university professors and hackers.

Culture Clash: Almost everyone interviewed in the documentary says that there is widespread denial or suppression of information about hacking and other manipulation of voting machines in the U.S. election system.

Culture Audience: This documentary will appeal mostly to people who want to know more about how voting in the U.S. works behind the scenes, even if what’s uncovered might be disturbing.

Voting booths in “Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America’s Elections” (Photo courtesy of HBO)

When people vote in elections, are their votes really safe from hacking or other illegal manipulation? Absolutely not, say the experts and other officials interviewed in the chilling documentary “Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America’s Elections.” The movie’s directors Simon Ardizzone, Russell Michaels and Sarah Teale focus on U.S. elections that have taken place since 2016. “Kill Chain” sounds the alarm that sinister forces that are inside and outside the U.S. are working to manipulate elections that are happening in 2020 and beyond.

Ardizzone and Michaels directed another HBO documentary that covered a similar topic—2006’s “Hacking Democracy,” which featured election security expert Harri Hursti (a native of Finland) showing how easy it was to hack into a voting machine. Hursti is prominently featured in “Kill Chain,” to the point where he could’ve almost been the film’s narrator. He’s definitely the star of the movie, since the filmmakers follow him going to various U.S. states to investigate the current state of voting machines used in U.S. elections and probable cases of voting fraud in recent elections.

Because voting methods in the U.S. are usually determined by counties within a state, there are vastly different voting machines that are used across the United States. Most voting machines, even if they use paper, still rely on computers for scanning. In addition, many voting places use computerized machines not just for ballots but also to verify identification and residential addresses of voters. Because the trend in newer voting machines is to become more computerized (including machines that turn votes into barcodes), several people in the “Kill Chain” documentary say these computer revamps will leave these machines more vulnerable to being hacked.

The “Kill Chain” documentary gets its name from the “divide and conquer” concept of how one entity can conquer another through a chain of events. As Hursti explains in the documentary, it’s a five step-process: (1) Reconnaissance, which is gathering information about the enemy’s landscape); (2) Identify, which is seeing who the targets are; (3) Weaponize; (4) Paralyze; and (5) Attack. When voting systems are manipulated and hacked, it means that the attacker is in the “weaponize” phase.

Throughout the movie, Russia is repeatedly mentioned as the country that’s most likely to hack a voting system—and not just in the U.S., but in other countries, particularly in Europe. However, “Kill Chain” also makes it clear that voting fraud can easily be perpetrated by Americans in U.S. elections, from the highest federal levels to the smallest local governments.

Hursti says in the beginning of the film: “This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. This is our common problem, owned by everyone living in the United States. And we have to solve it in order to preserve our way of life, our society, the rule of law, and our right to self-govern.”

He adds, “The key element to restore the votes is a removable medium,” such as flash drives or hard drives, which most voting machines have. Once those drives are removable on a voting machine, says Hursti: “Every step of the way, it’s vulnerable to attack.”

The movie shows that there are certain signs that indicate a voting site has probably been hacked: Numerous people at the site have problems with their ballots being processed. Another red flag is when voters arrive at the site, they are detained or turned away because the computer system at the site shows inaccuracies in the voters’ names or registration addresses. And these problems usually result in long lines of people waiting for several hours to cast a vote, going well beyond an acceptable wait time for casting a ballot. These long lines cause numerous people to either leave or not get a chance to vote before the polling site closes.

“When you prevent people from casting a ballot, you’ve hacked an election,” comments Sue Halper, an author and contributor to The New Yorker. Michael Daniel, who was a White House cybersecurity coordinator from 2012 to 2020, says that a voter registration database is the part of a computerized election system that is the most vulnerable to hacking.

The “Kill Chain” documentary uses the contentious 2018 election of Georgia’s governor as an example of an election that showed signs of being hacked and other voter fraud. For starters, Republican candidate Brian Kemp had a conflict of interest because in 2018, when he was Georgia secretary of state, he moved Georgia’s Center of Election Systems (CES) to his office, where he oversaw CES. Kemp’s Democrat opponent Stacey Abrams and her supporters repeatedly called for Kemp to recuse himself from overseeing the election, due to this conflict of interest. But the protests were to no avail, because Kemp stayed in the position that gave him the power to oversee the voting process of his own election.

Then, on election day (November 6, 2018), there were widespread reports of voting machine “malfunctions” and long lines in districts of Georgia that were heavily populated with people of color and/or registered Democrats. In addition, even before election day, there were reports of thousands of voter registrations being purged from computer systems and thousands of voter registrations not being processed in time for the election, mostly in areas of Georgia where there is a high percentage of people of color and/or registered Democrats.

The voting results were so close that it took 10 days and a recount for the official tally to be announced. Kemp ended up winning by 1.4% more votes than Abrams. The political group Fair Fight Action, which is backed by Abrams, then sued the Georgia board of elections in November 2018, and included allegations of voter suppression in the complaint. As of this writing, the lawsuit has not been resolved.

As a result of these numerous claims that the election was tainted by voter fraud and problematic AccuVote machines, Georgia stopped using AccuVote machines. However, the documentary mentions that Georgia is now using Dominion’s barcode voting machines (which make the votes impossible to count by human eyes), thereby making the vote counting more computerized and more susceptible to hacking. It cost Georgia about $106 million to switch to these new voting machines, according to the documentary.

“Kill Chain” shows Hursti on that 2018 election day in Gwinnett County, Georgia, at one of the voting sites experiencing machine “malfunctions” and extremely long lines. (Many people were waiting up to five to seven hours to vote, according to news reports.) At the voting site, Hursti speaks to Gwinnett County Democratic Party chair Gabe Okoye, who expresses complete surprise when Hursti tells him that the county is using the same type of voting machine that Hursti was able to hack into in 2006.

In a separate post-election trip to Georgia, Hursti meets with Marilyn Marks of the Georgia-based grassroots organization Coalition of Good Governance, who was working at a voting site in Clarke County on that 2018 election day. She noticed that out of the seven machines used on that day at a heavily Democratic precinct, one machine was churning out ballots that were overwhelmingly showing votes cast for Republicans. The voting site’s exact voting results were public information.

For this trip to Georgia, Hursti invited Professor Philip Stark, who works in the statistics department at the University of California at Berkeley, and Stark’s assistant Dr. Kellie Ottobani, to run the statistics to find out the odds of that voting machine’s results being accurate at that polling site on that day. They found that there was less than a one-in-a-million chance that this outlier machine gave accurate results, based on the number of registered Democrats and Republicans who could vote at that voting site on that particular election day.

So with all this real and potential hacking going on, what’s being done about it? According to the people interviewed documentary, the companies in the business of making the machines want to do nothing. (The filmmakers note in the documentary that several of these companies were asked to participate in the film, but declined.) Some of the biggest suppliers of voting machines and/or software are companies such as Dominion Voting Systems, Election Systems & Software (ES&S), VR Systems and AccuVote.

Jake Stauffer, director of operations at cybersecurity firm Coherent Cyber, tells a story about how his company started a testing plan for voting machines, and the plan was approved by the state of California. Coherent Cyber used the testing plan on Dominion and ES&S voting machines and found “multiple vulnerabilities” (his words) that would allow hackers to change an election or shut the system down. But when those vulnerabilities were pointed out to Dominion and ES&S, both companies shut down the investigation and said that Coherent Cyber’s services were no longer needed.

Stauffer says, “How can a vendor sell a voting system with this many vulnerabilities? I can’t find a straight answer.” Jack Braun, who was the Department of Homeland Security White House Liaison from 2009 to 2011, agrees that companies that manufacture and sell voting machines and voting software cannot be counted on to take responsibility for hacking problems, since these companies usually deny that the problems exists. Braun says that these companies are the opposite of transparent when it comes to reporting security breaches with their machines or software.

What are politicians or other government officials doing about this problem? U.S. Senators such as James Lankford (a Republican from Virginia), Amy Klobuchar (a Democrat from Minnesota) and Mark Warner (a Democrat from Indiana) are among the co-sponsors of a bill called the Secure Elections Act, which gives the Department of Homeland Security the primary responsibility within the federal government for sharing information about cybersecurity hacking and vulnerabilities with federal entities and election agencies. “Kill Chain” notes that U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (a Republican) has repeatedly blocked this bill.

Lankford, Klobuchar, Warner and U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (a Democrat from Oregon) are all interviewed in the documentary. Warner says the the U.S. should’ve seen warning signs that Russia would interfere in U.S. elections because back in 2011, Russia’s deputy defense minister Gen. Valery Gerasimov publicly made statements saying that Russia might not be able to compete with Western countries when it comes to military weapons, but Russia could compete when it comes to “cyberwars, disinformation and sowing dissension.”

Ion Sancho, who was supervisor of elections in Leon County, Florida, from 1988 to 2016, gives his own Russian hacking story in the documentary. In an interview with Hursti, Sancho says that sometime in 2016, he and other election supervisors were summoned by the FBI into a top-secret meeting, where on a conference call, the FBI issued a warning that a foreign power had penetrated an election vendor in Florida.

Sancho says, “It didn’t take us long to figure that they were talking about GIU, Russia’s military intelligence service, and the vendor was a Tallahassee vendor (VR Systems), which did all the programming for the majority of the counties in the state of Florida.” (The documentary also notes that VR Systems also supplies voting machines and services to the states of New York, California, Virginia, West Virginia, Illinois and North Carolina.) Sancho goes on to say that Reality Winner—the former National Security Agency intelligence contractor who went to prison for leaking NSA documents that showed Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election—is a “heroine” for leaking the documents.

In order to illustrate how widespread the denial is over hacking of the voting system, the documentary shows a video montage of several government officials—including former FBI director James Comey and Election Assistance Commission chairman Thomas Hicks—giving Senate testimony saying some version of, “The voting system is not connected to the Internet,” as a way of denying that the system could be hacked. But then, after the video montage is played, Hursti shows several examples of exactly how voting machines are connected to the Internet and can be hacked.

In one example, Hursti and his business partner Maggie MacAlpine go to an Ohio business called eCycle Solutions that sells recycled products from a warehouse and on eBay. Hursti and MacAlpine buy some outdated voting machines called the AccuVote TSx, which is a type of voting machine that’s still being used in several U.S. counties. Hursti takes the computers and shows them to Professor J. Alex Halderman from the University of Michigan’s school of computer science and engineering, and they do an on-camera demonstration of how the computers need the Internet to process the information and can be hacked.

An even more dramatic demonstration of how voting machines are very easy to hack comes about midway through the documentary, when Hursti goes to Def Con (the annual computer-hacker convention in Las Vegas) and invites attendees into a room filled with different types of voting machines that are currently used in U.S. elections. With help from hacker Jeff Moss, also known as the Dark Tangent (who co-founded the hacker conventions Def Con and  Black Hat), Hursti tells the Def Con hackers that they have free reign to hack into the voting machines and show how it can be done. (The documentary notes that the companies whose machines were used were invited to this demonstration too, but they all declined to attend.) The Def Con “hackathon” test of the voting machines showed that all of the machines in the test were “effectively breached,” according to the documentary.

Douglas Lute, the U.S. Ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization from 2013 to 2017, comments: “We need to shift the mentality away from the Internet being secure and no one is able to tamper with the American election system to the reality that has been demonstrated in 2016.”

One of the most memorable parts of the documentary is toward the end, which features an interview with a hacker in India who uses the alias Cyber Zeist. He does the interview while wearing a disguise and in entirely dark shadows so his face can’t be seen. However, his voice doesn’t seem to be altered.

Cyber Zeist gives a disturbing account of how he was able to hack into the elections computer system for the state of Alaska, and that he could’ve made a fortune (“millions”) from what he was able to find. “I could’ve made any changes to the system,” he brags. Cyber Zeist claims he just “looked around” and didn’t steal information, but Hursti believes that Cyber Zeist dropped enough hints in the interview to admit that a tool was deployed during the hacking session, and that Cyber Zeist might activate this tool later.

The documentary shows Hursti in Alaska meeting with former Anchorage Daily News reporter Nathaniel Herz, who plays excerpts of an audio recording of an interview that he did with former Alaska Elections director Josie Bahnke, who had the position from 2013 to 2018. In the interview, Bahnke says that during her tenure, the Alaska Elections website was hacked by Russians and an IP address from India, but that “there was no breach” because she claims that nothing was altered or stolen. The documentary doesn’t prove that Cyber Zeist was involved in hacking Alaska Elections, and lets viewers draw their own conclusions over how credible this mystery hacker is.

Although “Kill Chain” certainly delivers on presenting several points of view on cyber hacking of elections, what’s missing from the documentary are investigations on what can really be done to combat the problem. The documentary instead wastes some time showing Hursti going back to his hometown in Finland and visiting with his mother. He and his mother look through old photo albums and scrap books together. The only reason this hometown footage seems to be in the documentary is to show the audience that Hursti was a child prodigy in computer science. Instead of this filler and unnecessary footage, the documentary should have shown something more substantial, such as a look into what any grassroots organizations or coalitions are in the U.S. are doing to have voting systems that are the least likely to be hacked, since decisions about voting machines are made on the local level.

The closest the documentary offers to possible solutions is when it shows comments from some of the interviewees (such as statistics professor Stark), who believe that the best voting system to have is a voting system that can leave a paper trail where people can count paper ballot votes by hand, in case there are any disputes. Even though making voting machines more computerized is supposed to make the process easier, the more computerized these machines become, the more likely the election system can be hacked.

After watching this documentary, many people will probably feel the same way that University of Pennsylvania security researcher Sandy Clark feels, when she says: “I feel like we’re in terrible danger of losing what it means to be a democracy. If elections can be altered in a way that’s undetectable, how does one trust the results of their election? Democracy functions on trust. Without that trust, things descend into chaos and anarchy. Those of us who know how vulnerable the systems are in the elections are terribly afraid right now.”

HBO will premiere “Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America’s Elections” on March 26, 2020.

 

Review: ‘After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News,’ starring James Alefantis, Jerome Corsi, Kara Swisher, Jack Burkman, Paul Pape, Keith Alexander and Elizabeth Williamson

March 20, 2020

by Carla Hay

Infowars founder Alex Jones in “After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News” (Photo courtesy of HBO)

“After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News”

Directed by Andrew Rossi

Culture Representation: This politically oriented documentary, which examines the effects of “fake news” in the United States, interviews a predominantly white group of people, including mainstream media journalists, government officials, university professors, right-wing conspiracy theorists and victims of “fake news” stories.

Culture Clash: While the documentary mentions that false news reports can come from anywhere, the movie focuses primarily on “fake news'” spread by right-wing, anti-establishment conspiracy theorists, and the movie shows how this “fake news” affects the targeted people and journalists.

Culture Audience: This documentary will appeal mostly to people who are comfortable with mainstream media outlets as their main source of news, since these outlets are portrayed in the movie as the best watchdogs for “fake news.”

Comet Ping Pong owner James Alefantis in “After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News” (Photo courtesy of HBO)

What is “fake news”? It depends on who you ask. In the documentary “After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News,” what’s defined as “fake news” are false reports and lies that go viral and reach the mainstream. The movie, directed by Andrew Rossi, takes particular aim at right-wing conspiracy theorists as the purveyors of fake news that do the most damage. The documentary takes the position that mainstream media outlets, although flawed, are the still the best ways to combat fake news since they have the resources to fact-check stories. Meanwhile, the conspiracy theorists firmly believe that mainstream media outlets are the enemies and the real spreaders of fake news.

Tabloids have been publishing fake news for decades, but a more recent type of fake news has arisen through people in the general public using social media to spread their messages. “After Truth” takes an even narrower scope of this new type of fake news, by zooming in on politically motivated “fake news” stories (instead of tabloid staples such as celebrity gossip) that have occurred in the U.S. since 2015.

Why the year 2015? According to  Georgetown University disinformation expert Molly McKew, who’s interviewed in “After Truth,” the summer of 2015 was the start of this current “fake news” era. And most of the experts interviewed think that it’s not a coincidence that this era started soon after Donald Trump began his campaign to become president of the United States. Although the documentary focuses mostly on Americans involved in the war of spreading and debunking fake news, there is some mention of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

“After Truth” puts a spotlight on some of the biggest “fake news” scandals in recent years, starting with the hysteria created in the summer of 2015 from Jade Helm 15, an eight-week military exercise in Bastrop County, Texas. The exercise was intended to train military personnel on what do in wartime, including re-enactments. Somehow, false stories began spreading on the Internet that the military was really there to detain people who were known to speak out against then-President Barack Obama, and that the military was really there to enforce “martial law.”

The documentary shows angry citizens at a crowded town hall meeting expressing disbelief and fear when a military official at the meeting assured them that the stories were fake and that no one was going to be arrested for their political beliefs. Paul Pape, a judge in Bastrop County, was one of the people who had to deal with the flood of backlash from misinformed people who were panicking over the military presence. In the documentary, Pape made it clear in saying what he learned from the experience: “Social media is the devil.”

Perhaps the most extreme case that’s spotlighted in the documentary is Pizzagate, the conspiracy theory that began in 2016 about Comet Ping Pong, a family-oriented pizza parlor/ping-pong facility in Washington, D.C., that’s frequented by many people who work in politics. One of the customers was John Podesta, a former White House chief of staff and chair of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

After several of Podesta’s personal email messages were hacked and leaked on WikiLeaks, the email showed that he was a customer of Comet Ping Pong. Conspiracy theorists (the documentary names Infowars founder Alex Jones as a chief culprit) took the information in the email and twisted it into the Pizzagate theory that Comet Ping Pong was a secret meeting place for a pedophile ring. Podesta, Clinton and billionaire George Soros (a high-profile supporter of Clinton and other liberal Democrats) were all named by the Pizzagate conspiracy theorists as being perverted participants in the ring.

In December 2016, one of the conspiracy theorists (a then-28-year-old armed gunman) was so agitated by this belief that he drove about 350 miles from North Carolina, burst into Comet Ping Pong, and started shooting. Luckily, no one was injured or killed, thanks to employees who quickly evacuated customers from danger. The gunman was arrested and sentenced to four years in prison in 2017. In 2019, another man, also identified as another right-wing conspiracy theorist, tried to set fire to Comet Ping Pong. He was also arrested.

In the documentary, Comet Ping Pong owner James Alefantis (who says the Pizzagate theories are all lies) and some of his employees give emotionally compelling accounts of the terror they felt the day of the shootout and the underlying threat of violence that they still feel, since they know that Comet Ping Pong is still a target for conspiracy theorists’ hatred. Alefantis says that he and Comet Ping Pong associates frequently get death threats and hate mail.

Alefantis, who is openly gay and has a LGBTQ-inclusive policy for customers and employees, also believes that homophobia is probably fueling some of the violent threats against his business. And he also talks about how he thought about closing the business many times, but because of the loyal support of his customers and employees, he’s vowed not to cave in to the bullying and death threats. “It’s a simple recipe,” he says of why Comet Ping Pong is still in business. “Family, community, truth. That’s why we’re here.”

“After Truth” also interviews several right-wing conspiracy theorists to show that they seem to care more about money and fame than reporting facts. They include political operative Jerome Corsi (who’s described in the documentary as the godfather of the current “fake news” era), Republican lobbyist Jack Burkman, Derrick Broze of the Conscience Resistance Network, and Jason Goodman of Crowdsource the Truth. None of them has a background in journalism—and they’re proud of it. As Goodman says in the documentary, “Whatever you think is journalism, I think of as fucked up.”

Burkman freely admits that fake news is “a political weapon,” yet he and others just like him don’t think they bear any responsibility for firing the weapon. “Yeah, there are terrible, negative consequences, but so what?” He adds with a smirk, “Let the people judge, despite the dangers. There is no reality, only perception.”

In the midst of the documentary’s very heavy subject matter comes some comic relief about how fake news can be bungled. Toward the end of the film, there’s a behind-the-scenes look at a debacle that was spearheaded by Burkman and fellow right-wing conspiracy theorist Jacob Wohl. In October 2019, the two men claimed that a woman had come forward with a sexual-assault accusation against United States Department of Justice special counsel Robert Mueller, who at the time was heading the investigation into Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Burkman and Wohl promised that they and the woman would be at a press conference to give more details.

Although Burkman and Wohl went through with the press conference, the “mystery woman” never came forward. The press conference and the alleged sexual-assault claim were largely exposed as hoaxes. The documentary shows how, even after being confronted by angry and skeptical reporters, Burkman and Wohl tried to talk their way out of their inconsistent and contradictory statements. And after the press conference, Wohl seemed mostly concerned about whether or not they were “trending” on social media.

That “fake news” fiasco fortunately did not end in violence. But the effects of fake news on threatening people’s safety, as well as how it often crosses the line into hate speech, have led to growing backlash against conspiracy theorists. The documentary mentions that people like Infowars founder Jones (who’s now been banned from all major social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) have no qualms about spreading false/questionable information about others, but are very thin-skinned if they think the same thing is being done to them. There’s footage of Jones, after he lost much of his income due to being banned by these social-media platforms, angrily confronting CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy and accusing CNN of spreading lies about him.

“After Truth” doesn’t let all mainstream media off the hook. Many of the people interviewed in this documentary say that social-media giants such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are corporate enablers of fake news and only try to stop to fake news when there’s widespread public backlash or a government investigation. Smaller social-media platforms such as Reddit and 4Chan are also mentioned as places that spread a lot of fake news and thrive on it. However, Facebook is singled out in the documentary as the worst corporate enabler of fake news.

Recode co-founder Kara Swisher says of Facebook’s relationship with fake news: “They created the platform where it gets spread and then they’re like, ‘Oh, what can we do?’ They hide behind the First Amendment, and they are not the government. They can make choices. They just don’t want to.”

Although many conspiracy theorists and spreaders of fake news who’ve been kicked off mainstream social media say that they are being “censored,” the documentary points out, for people who are ignorant about censorship, that censorship is when the government, not a business, stops or prevents free speech.

Also covered in “After Truth” is the conspiracy theory (which has been widely debunked) that Clinton had something to do with the 2016 murder of Seth Rich, a Democratic National Committee employee. Police have reported the case as a murder that happened during an attempted robbery. Seth Rich’s older brother Aaron is interviewed in the documentary to reveal how much damage (death threats and other harassment) that conspiracy theorists have caused to his family.

And although the documentary shows extreme right-wingers as being the worst offenders in spreading fake news, the movie gives just one example of a liberal who freely admitted to spreading fake news to get a Democrat elected in the 2017 contentious and controversial race for U.S. Senator in Alabama. The opponents were Roy Moore (a conservative Republican) and Doug Jones (a liberal Democrat). LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman said he created fake accounts on social media, pretending to be right-wing supporters of Moore, so that they would alienate moderate Republicans and spur the moderates to vote for Jones. (Jones won the election.)

Hoffman says he has no regrets about spreading fake news: “I felt empowered to give Republicans a taste of their own medicine.” However, Jones (who’s interviewed in the documentary) expresses disgust that anyone used fake news to help his campaign, and he condemns these tactics. Jones says, “Two wrongs don’t make a right. That’s crazy.”

There are several journalists (all from mainstream media) who are interviewed in the documentary, including CNN’s Darcy; BuzzFeed media editor Craig Silverman; Washington Post reporter Keith Alexander; and The New York Times reporters Adam Goldman and Elizabeth Williamson. University professors interviewed include Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as Yokai Benkler of Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center, who has this to say about fake news: “It’s very clear what you have is a propagandist effort trying to achieve a result.”

On the one hand, this documentary does an excellent job of showing the real and very human collateral damage that can result in “fake news.” On the other hand, in its zeal in singling out conspiracy theorists as the worst of the worst, “After Truth” could have been a little more balanced in showing that mainstream media outlets can report false stories too.

The executive producers of “After Truth” include CNN’s Brian Stelter, and so that’s perhaps why the documentary turns a blind eye to all the political “fake news” that mainstream media outlets like CNN and The New York Times have ended up having to retract or correct since 2015. However, the difference between these mainstream media outlets and the conspiracy theorists is that when mainstream media outlets have been exposed as reporting false information, they usually admit their mistakes and make the necessary corrections or retractions. Conspiracy theorists almost never correct or retract statements that have been proven to be false, even if they’ve been sued over these false statements.

Whether people are politically liberal, conservative or somewhere in between, the main takeaway from “After Truth” is that in this digital technology age where it’s easier than ever before for people to have false online identities, manipulate photos and videos, and create “fake news,” it’s up to news audiences to be more pro-active in finding out the truth instead of believing stories at face value.

HBO premiered “After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News” on March 19, 2020.

2020 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Depeche Mode, Doobie Brothers, Whitney Houston, Nine Inch Nails, Notorious B.I.G., T. Rex are the inductees

January 15, 2020

by Carla Hay

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has announced its 2020 Inductees in the performer category:

Depeche Mode

Doobie Brothers

Whitney Houston

Nine Inch Nails

The Notorious B.I.G.

T. Rex

The 35th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place at Public Auditorium in Cleveland, Ohio, May 2, 2020. The show will have a live radio broadcast on SiriusXM. HBO, which has been televising edited highlights of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame show for the past several years, will have its first live telecast of the ceremony on May 2 at 8 p.m. Eastern Time. Tickets go on sale to Rock Hall members on February 25, 2020, and to the public on February 27, 2020, at 10 a.m. Eastern Time at Ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000. Exhibits showcasing the new inductees will be on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland in conjunction with the induction ceremony.

Performers eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are those whose first single or first album was released at least 25 years before the artist can be inducted. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame voting members (which number about 1,000 people), as well online voting from the public, determine who will be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Ahmet Ertegun Award, given to people who are not artists, will go to longtime music-industry managers Jon Landau and Irving Azoff. Landau is best known for being Bruce Springsteen’s manager. Azoff (who used to be an executive at MCA Records and Live Nation) is best known for being the longtime manager of The Eagles and the CEO of Azoff MSG Entertainment, a venture with The Madison Square Garden Company.

Artists who were nominated for the 2020 induction but didn’t make the cut were Dave Matthews Band, Pat Benatar, Soundgarden, Thin Lizzy, Motorhead, Todd Rundgren, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Kraftwerk and MC5.

Depeche Mode released this statement: “We’re honoured to be included as one of this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, and to stand alongside the other incredible acts in the Rock Hall and those joining this year. A huge thank you to everyone who has supported us and our music over the years.”

The Doobie Brothers had this comment on their Twitter account:  “Congratulations to The Doobie Brothers on their induction into the @RockHall of Fame! Thanks to all who voted and made it possible.”

Houston died of a drug-related accidental drowning in 2012. The Notorious B.I.G. (also known as Biggie Smalls), whose real name was Christopher Wallace, was murdered in a drive-by shooting in 1996. His murder remains unsolved. T. Rex founder/lead singer Marc Bolan died in a car accident in 1977. The closest surviving family members of the deceased are expected to attend the induction ceremony. The show’s presenters and performers are to be announced.

March 24, 2020 UPDATE: Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony has been postponed and rescheduled for November 7, 2020.

July 8, 2020 UPDATE: Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony has been cancelled. On November 7, 2020, HBO will televise a pre-recorded tribute special about the inductees instead of the live ceremony.

HBO set to premiere dog-grooming documentary ‘Well Groomed’

“Well Groomed” (Photo courtesy of HBO)

The following is a description from HBO:

“Well Groomed” is a documentary that explores the exuberant world of competitive dog grooming and follows the lives of dog owners who are challenging the definition of art.

The film offers a rare look into the lives of dog owners who are dedicated to transforming their poodles into living sculptures. It delves deep into an all-consuming subculture of America where the motivation to win drives them into devoting their lives to the competition.

The documentary follows a group of determined dog groomers who are driven to succeed while facing a series of challenges in each of their personal and professional lives over the course of a year. It will also offer a peek into their limited-time outside the ring, where they groom other people’s dogs, care for own pets and test out new designs on their show dogs.

“Well Groomed” is from Cattle Rat Productions in association with Spacestation; directed and written by Rebecca Stern; produced by Rebecca Stern, Justin Levy and Matthew C. Mills, executive produced by Chris Vivion, Annie Roney, Sue Turley; co-executive produced by Meryl Goldsmith; cinematography, Alexander W. Lewis; edited by Katharina Stroh; original music by Dan Deacon. For HBO, executive producers, Bill Simmons and Peter Nelson.

Premiere: December 17, 2019, at 9 p.m. ET on HBO, HBO Go and HBO Now. Available on HBO on Demand on December 18, 2019.

Here are excerpts of some reviews of “Well Groomed”:

The Hollywood Reporter: “With its benign view of the world it captures, ‘Well Groomed’ asks us to laugh along with the cheerful women on camera. Its non-intrusive approach leaves the door open, just a crack, for anyone ready to laugh at people who turn their dogs into turkeys and chickens.”

The Playlist: “Remarkably, the element that heightens the film’s enjoyability is its pure-hearted nature. Even at its darkest moments, ‘Well Groomed’ never lingers too long on sorrow to knock the movie off-course. Moreover, while the subject matter of creative grooming encompasses enough oddball characteristics to float on its own, the documentary wisely opts to focus on the personalities of the groomers.”

POV Magazine: “A boon for any dog lover or someone just wanting to learn about this subculture, ‘Well Groomed’ is a slight yet generally satisfying look into this odd topic. Larger questions about the exploitation of the animals, the obsessions of the individuals for their pets at the expense of people, etc. are left aside for a gentle film about an intense but agreeable competition.”

WarnerMedia Day 2019: All the new HBO Max and HBO shows announced so far

October 29, 2019

HBO Max

The following is a press release from WarnerMedia:

HBO MAX, WarnerMedia’s new streaming platform launching in May of 2020, will offer an impressive direct-to-consumer experience with 10,000 hours of premium content for everyone, ranging from families with young children to adults of all ages. Anchored with and inspired by the legacy of HBO’s excellence, unparalleled quality and innovative, award-winning storytelling, the new offering will bundle all of HBO together with an extensive collection of new original programming produced exclusively for HBO Max (Max Originals), select favorites from WarnerMedia’s enormous portfolio of beloved brands and libraries, and key third-party acquisitions.

HBO Max Social
Twitter: @HBOMax
YouTube: youtube.com/hbomax
Instagram: #HBOMax
Facebook: #HBOMax

MAX ORIGINALS
*Announced Today, October 29, 2019

KIDS AND FAMILY

Adventure Time: Distant Lands
These four new specials will continue the Adventure Time stories that captured imaginations and introduced unlikely heroes Finn and Jake, best buds who traversed the mystical Land of Ooo and encountered its colorful inhabitants.
BMO follows the lovable little robot from Adventure Time. When there’s a deadly space emergency in the farthest reaches of the galaxy, there’s only one hero to call, and it’s probably not BMO. Except that this time it is!
Obsidian features Marceline & Princess Bubblegum as they journey to the imposing, beautiful Glass Kingdom—and deep into their tumultuous past—to prevent an earthshaking catastrophe.
Wizard City follows Peppermint Butler, starting over at the beginning, as just another inexperienced Wizard School student. When mysterious events at the campus cast suspicion on Pep, and his checkered past, can he master the mystic arts in time to prove his innocence?
Together Again brings Finn and Jake together again, to rediscover their brotherly bond and embark on the most important adventure of their lives.
Genre: Animation
Creator: Pendleton Ward
Executive Producer: Adam Muto
Produced by: Cartoon Network Studios

Craftopia
Craftopia is an epic kids crafting competition show hosted by YouTube influencer Lauren Riihimaki (aka LaurDIY). Contestants, nine to fifteen years old, put their imaginations to the test and make their crafting dreams come true in a magical studio. After racing to fill their carts with inspiring materials, crafters meet larger-than-life challenges, making the most amazing creations the world has ever seen.
Genre: Non-fiction
Host: Lauren Riihimaki
Executive Producers: Lauren Riihimaki, Rhett Bachner, Brien Meagher
Produced by: B17 Entertainment

Esme & Roy
Esme & Roy follows a young girl, Esme, and her best monster friend, Roy, on their adventures as the best monstersitters in Monsterdale. Aimed at children ages four to six, it offers a creative new approach to teaching “learning through play” and mindfulness strategies. The series invites children into a colorful world where even the littlest monsters can overcome big challenges together.
Genre: Animation
Produced by: Sesame Workshop

*The Fungies!
A prehistoric comedy, The Fungies! explores Fungietown through the whimsical quests of Seth, a young student at Fungietown Elementary. Seth loves science and sharing his exciting discoveries with all his Fungie friends. But in his search for the ultimate scientific adventure, Seth often stirs up trouble for Fungietown’s colorful inhabitants leading to hilarious and heartwarming surprises.
Genre: Animation
Creator: Stephen Neary
Executive Producer: Rob Sorcher
Produced by: Cartoon Network Studios

Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai
Set in 1920s Shanghai, this animated series is an epic adventure comedy for the whole family that traces the origins of the Mogwai to the lush and perilous Jade Valley, in the Western Chinese countryside.
Genre: Animation
Writer: Tze Chun
Executive Producers: Steven Spielberg, Darryl Frank, Justin Falvey, Sam Register
Co-Executive Producers: Tze Chun, Brendan Hay
Supervising Producer: Dan Krall
Produced by: Amblin Television in association with Warner Bros. Animation

*Jellystone
Welcome to the town of Jellystone – a charming place where your favorite Hanna-Barbera characters live, work and play together…but, at the same time, can’t help but stir up trouble for one another. The animated series includes classic characters such as Yogi, Boo Boo, Snagglepuss, Adam Ant, Huckleberry Hound, Jabberjaw, Magilla Gorilla and more.
Genre: Animation
Executive Producers: Carl Greenblatt, Sam Register
Produced by: Warner Bros. Animation

Karma
Sixteen contestants, ranging in age from 12 to 15, go off the grid to overcome physical challenges, with the laws of karma setting the rules. This adventure competition series, hosted by YouTube sensation Michelle Khare, tests mental and physical stamina as the kids unravel how their social actions impact their success in the game. Focus, giving, humility, growth, connection, change and patience are the path to becoming the “Karma Champion.”
Genre: Non-fiction
Host: Michelle Khare
Showrunner: Fred Pichel
Executive Producers: JD Roth, Adam Greener, Sara Hansemenn
Produced by: GoodStory Entertainment

Little Ellen
This animated children’s show explores the world through the eyes of a hilarious and unpredictable seven-year-old Ellen DeGeneres, on her adventures in her musical hometown of New Orleans. Little Ellen takes big risks and makes big mistakes, but she’s always able to laugh at herself and bounce back when things don’t go as planned.
Genre: Animation
Executive Producers: Ellen DeGeneres, Kevin A. Leman II, Sam Register
Co-Executive Producer: Jennifer Skelly
Producer: Jason Blackman
Produced by: Warner Bros. Animation and Ellen Digital Ventures

*Looney Tunes Cartoons
An all-new Looney Tunes Cartoons series featuring the marquee characters in their classic pairings in simple, gag-driven and visually vibrant stories. HBO Max has ordered 80 eleven-minute episodes, each comprised of animated shorts that include adapted storylines for today’s audience. Fans can also look forward to holiday-themed specials.
Genre: Animation
Voice Cast Members: Eric Bauza, Jeff Bergman, Bob Bergen
Executive Producers: Pete Browngardt, Sam Register
Produced by: Warner Bros. Animation

Mecha Builders
A spin-off of Sesame Street, Mecha Builders features favorite Sesame Street characters as heroes in a robot-animation style.
Genre: Animation
Produced by: Sesame Workshop

The Monster at the End of This Story
Starring lovable, furry Grover from Sesame Street, The Monster at the End of This Story is a new animated version based on the acclaimed children’s picture book, The Monster at the End of This Book.
Genre: Animation Special
Produced by: Sesame Workshop

The Not Too Late Show with Elmo
A family-centric live-action take on a late night talk show, hosted by Elmo and featuring Sesame Street’s many celebrity friends.
Genre: Talk Show
Produced by: Sesame Workshop

Sesame Street
For 50 years, Sesame Street has helped children grow smarter, stronger, and kinder by providing preschoolers with the gold standard in educational programming. Five new 35-episode seasons of this legendary series come to HBO Max.
Genre: Puppets/Live Action
Produced by: Sesame Workshop

*Tig N’ Seek
Tig N’ Seek is about eight-year-old Tiggy and his gadget-building cat, Gweeseek, as they search for the lost items of Wee Gee City. With Tiggy’s cheerful attitude and Gweeseek’s exceptional inventing capabilities, the duo humorously navigate day-to-day dilemmas at the Department of Lost and Found.
Genre: Animation
Creator: Myke Chilian
Executive Producer: Rob Sorcher
Produced by: Cartoon Network Studios

GEN Z

15 Minutes of Shame
Monica Lewinsky and Catfish’s Max Joseph’s documentary takes an in-depth look at the public shaming epidemic in our culture and explores our collective need to destroy one another. The film will feature individuals from around the globe who have been publicly shamed – while exploring the bullies, the bystanders, the media, psychologists, politicians and experts in between.
Genre: Documentary Film
Executive Producers: Monica Lewinsky, Max Joseph, Steve Ascher, Kristy Sabat
Produced by: Six West

Brad & Gary Go To…
The six-episode series will follow Hollywood power couple, Brad Goreski and Gary Janetti, as they go on a jet-setting culinary adventure around the globe, inspired by their Instagram stories that went viral this summer.
Genre: Non-fiction
Cast: Brad Goreski, Gary Janetti
Executive Producers: Brad Goreski, Gary Janetti, Matt Anderson, Nate Green, Cooper Green, Tara Long
Produced by: Purveyors of Pop and Entertainment One (eOne)

*College Girls (wt)
From Mindy Kaling, this comedy follows three 18-year-old freshman roommates at Evermore College in Vermont. A bundle of contradictions and hormones, these sexually active college girls are equal parts lovable and infuriating.
Genre: Comedy
Writer/Showrunner: Mindy Kaling
Executive Producers: Mindy Kaling, Howard Klein
Produced by: Kaling International in association with Warner Bros. Television

*DC Super Hero High
This half-hour comedy executive produced by Elizabeth Banks follows a group of students experiencing the fun and drama of adolescence at a boarding school for gifted kids. These teens are just trying to navigate the pressures of high school, but none of them realize that someday they will become legendary DC super heroes.
Genre: Comedy
Writer: Scott Weinger
Executive Producers: Elizabeth Banks, Max Handelman, Scott Weinger, John D. Beck, Ron Hart
Co-executive Producer: Dannah Shinder
Produced by: Brownstone Productions in association with Warner Horizon Scripted Television

Generation Hustle (wt)
From award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney, Generation Hustle (wt) is a 10-part HBO Max original from CNN Original Series about the lengths young people will go to for fame, fortune, and power.
Genre: Documentary
Executive Producers: Alex Gibney, Yon Motskin, Stacey Offman, Richard Perello
Produced by: Jigsaw Productions and CNN Original Series

Gossip Girl
Eight years after the original website went dark, a new generation of New York private school teens are introduced to the social surveillance of Gossip Girl. The prestige series will address just how much social media — and the landscape of New York itself — has changed in the intervening years.
Genre: Drama
Executive Producers: Joshua Safran, Stephanie Savage, Josh Schwartz; Leslie Morgenstein and Gina Girolamo of Alloy Entertainment
Co-executive producer: Lis Rowinski of Fake Empire
Produced by: Warner Bros. Studio

Grease: Rydell High
A joyous musical series set in and around the world of Rydell High, the show reimagines the global smash hit movie with characters old and new. It’s still the 1950s, a world that rocks with big musical numbers and new original songs. It’s the peer pressures of high school, the horrors of puberty, and the rollercoaster of life in middle America with a modern sensibility that will bring it to life for today’s musical lovers.
Genre: Musical
Executive Producers: Picturestart and Temple Hill
Produced by: Paramount Television and Picturestart

*Green Lantern
Inspired by DC Comics’ Green Lantern and introducing characters from this iconic comic, this will be one of the biggest shows Berlanti Productions has ever done.
Genre: Action Drama
Executive Producers: Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schecter
Produced by: Berlanti Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television

*Strange Adventures
A superhero anthology executive produced by Greg Berlanti, Strange Adventures will feature characters from across the DC canon. The drama will explore close-ended morality tales about the intersecting lives of mortals and superhumans.
Genre: Drama
Writer/Showrunner: John Stephens
Executive Producers: Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, John Stephens
Produced by: Berlanti Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television

*Tooned Out
Executive produced by Robert Zemeckis, Tooned Out is a half-hour, hybrid live-action and animated comedy in development for HBO Max. Things get a little cartoony for Mac when he starts seeing iconic cartoon characters, but they’re not just there for laughs, they’re helping him get through a very rough patch in his life.
Genre: Comedy
Creator/Writer: Jared Stern
Executive Producers: Robert Zemeckis, Jared Stern, Jack Rapke, Jackie Levine
Produced by: A Stern Talking To Productions and Compari Entertainment in association with Warner Bros. Animation and Warner Bros. Television

UNpregnant
Adapted from the young adult HarperCollins novel of the same name that tells the story of 17-year-old Veronica, who never thought she’d want to fail a test—that is, until she finds herself staring at a piece of plastic with two solid pink lines. With a promising college-bound future now disappearing before her eyes, Veronica considers a decision she never imagined she’d have to make, embarking on a three-day, 900+ mile road trip to New Mexico with her ex-best friend Bailey. The film offers a mix of humor and grounded human emotion as it tackles complicated friendships and the difficult road to adulthood…all while in a stolen car.
Genre: Feature Film
Cast: Haley Lu Richardson, Barbie Ferreira
Director: Rachel Lee Goldenberg
Writers: Jenni Hendriks, Ted Caplan
Executive Producers: Michael McGrath, Lucy Kitada, Jessica Switch
Producers: Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, Erik Feig
Produced by: Picturestart and Berlanti Productions

ADULTS

Americanah
Based on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s best-selling novel of the same name, Americanah is an epic love story of a woman born in Nigeria who leaves for America and her extraordinary experiences with love, heartache, adversity and self-discovery.
Genre: Drama
Cast: Lupita Nyong’o
Executive Producers: Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o for Eba Productions; Jeremy Kleiner and Dede Gardener for Plan B Entertainment; Andrea Calderwood for Potboiler Television; Didi Rea and Danielle Del for D2 Productions; and Nancy Won

Birth, Wedding, Funeral
In each episode, Lisa Ling will immerse viewers in a different country to reveal their cultures through the lens of the three universal rituals—births, weddings, and funerals. In a quest to understand what connects us and celebrate the diversity of deeply-rooted customs around the world, the series is a riveting investigation of the human experience.
Genre: Documentary Series
Host: Lisa Ling
Executive Producers: Lisa Ling, Dan Rather and Philip Kim for News and Guts, and David Shadrack Smith
Produced by: Part2 Pictures

*Bobbie Sue
After being raised among four rowdy brothers in a blue-collar neighborhood, Bobbie Sue, a headstrong young lawyer lands a career-making case with an upper crust law firm, only to realize she’s been hired for optics and not her expertise. But after discovering her powerful client, a lifelong idol of hers, is trying to cover up exploiting workers within her company, Bobbie decides to take both her and the law firm on, caution and etiquette be damned.
Genre: Feature Film
Cast: Gina Rodriguez
Director: Charles Stone III
Executive Producers: Gina Rodriguez, Emily Gipson
Producer: Donald De Line

The Boondocks
Based on the comic strip created by Aaron McGruder, The Boondocks both depicted and presaged the nation’s most roiling cultural issues. HBO Max has two new reimagined seasons and a 50-minute special.
Genre: Animation
Showrunner: Aaron McGruder
Executive Producers: Aaron McGruder, Norm Aladjem for Mainstay Entertainment, Seung Kim, Meghann Collins Robertson.
Produced by: Sony Pictures Animation in partnership with Sony Pictures Television

Bourdain
A documentary film about the uncommon life of the late storyteller, explorer and chef, Anthony Bourdain.
Genre: Documentary Film
Director/Producer: Academy Award-winning director Morgan Neville
Consulting Producers: Zero Point Zero Production
Executive produced by: CNN Films and HBOMax
Produced by: Morgan Neville’s Tremolo Productions
Theatrical Distributor: Focus

Circe
An adaptation of Madeline Miller’s International bestseller of the same name, Circe is a modern take on the world of Greek mythology told from the powerful feminist perspective of the goddess Circe, who transforms from an awkward nymph to a formidable witch, able to challenge gods, titans and monsters alike.
Genre: Drama
Writers/Executive Producers: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver
Produced by: Chernin Entertainment in partnership with Endeavor Content

Crime Farm
Crime Farm is a psychosexual love story that follows Selma and Richard Eikelenboom, forensic homicide experts whose marriage thrives on their all-consuming investigations into the depravity of the world’s most notorious criminals. As a seminal case upends the paradigm of their relationship, their unique, unconventional and sometimes dangerous arrangement stretches the boundaries of marriage and science.
Genre: Drama
Executive Producers: Nicole Kidman and Per Saari from Blossom Films; Janine Sherman
Consulting Producers: Selma and Richard Eikelenboom
Produced by: Academy Award winner Nicole Kidman’s Blossom Films and Warner Horizon Scripted Television

Doom Patrol
With all-new original episodes, the critically acclaimed series features a band of superpowered freaks, part support group, part superhero team, who fight for a world that wants nothing to do with them.
Genre: Drama
Cast: Timothy Dalton, Matt Bomer, Brendan Fraser, Diane Guerrero, April Bowlby
Executive Producers: Greg Berlanti, Jeremy Carver
Produced by: Berlanti Productions in association with Warner Bros. Studio

Dune: The Sisterhood
An adaptation of Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson’s book based in the world created by Frank Herbert’s Dune, Dune: The Sisterhood explores this universe through the eyes of a mysterious order of women, the Bene Gesserit, whose extraordinary mastery of body and mind allow them to expertly weave through the feudal politics and intrigue of The Imperium.
Genre: Drama
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Executive Producers: Denis Villeneuve, Jon Spaihts, and Dana Calvo; and Brian Herbert, Byron Merritt and Kim Herbert for the Frank Herbert estate
Co-Producer: Kevin J Anderson

Ellen’s Home Design Challenge
Design aficionado Ellen DeGeneres is giving forward-thinking designers the chance to push their creativity to the limit. DeGeneres will be on hand to weigh in on each challenge and provide humorous, colorful commentary.
Genre: Non-fiction
Executive Producers: Ellen DeGeneres, Jeff Kleeman, Arthur Smith
Produced by: Warner Bros. Unscripted & Alternative Television and A. Smith & Co. Productions in association with Telepictures and A Very Good Production

Equal
Equal pays tribute to the epic origin stories of the LGBTQ+ movement. A masterful four-part docuseries that captures the gripping and true backstories of the leaders and unsung heroes, pre-Stonewall, who changed the course of American history through their tireless activism. These warriors gave voice, often in a life-or-death battle, to millions of people yearning for equality and the desire to be themselves.
Genre: Limited Documentary Series
Executive Producers: David Collins, Michael Williams, Rob Eric and Joel Chiodi from Scout Productions; Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter from Berlanti Productions; Jim Parsons and Todd Spiewak from That’s Wonderful Productions; Jon Jashni from Raintree Ventures; Mike Darnell and Brooke Karzen from Warner Horizon Unscripted Television.

Expecting Amy (wt)
An unfiltered documentary taking viewers behind-the-scenes as Amy Schumer goes through a difficult pregnancy while on tour. From hospitalizations to going out in front of a crowd of thousands, to quiet moments at home with her family, Schumer shares it all.
Genre: Documentary Film
Cast: Amy Schumer
Producer: Amy Schumer
Editor: Alexander Hammer

First Dates Hotel
Based on the hit UK format, this charming dating series set at an affluent boutique hotel will find single people from multiple generations gathering for an intensive and tailor-made romantic experience. After fun, amusing and potentially disastrous dates, if the potential lovers like each other, they can choose to stay on for a second date in the hopes of finding out if they’re ultimately a match.
Genre: Non-fiction
Executive Producers: Ellen DeGeneres, Jeff Kleeman, Pam Healey, Dan Peirson
Produced by: Warner Bros. Unscripted & Alternative Television in association with Shed Media, A Very Good Production and Twenty Twenty Productions Limited

The Flight Attendant
A one-hour thriller series based on the novel by New York Times best-selling author Chris Bohjalia of how an entire life can change in one night. A flight attendant wakes up in the wrong hotel, in the wrong bed, with a dead man – and no idea what happened.
Genre: Thriller
Cast: Kaley Cuoco, Rosie Perez, T.R. Knight, Michiel Huisman, Sonoya Mizuno, Rosie Perez, Colin Woodell, Zosia Mamet
Adapted and written by: Steve Yockey
Director: Susanna Fogel
Executive Producer: Steve Yockey, Meredith Lavender, Marcie Ulin, Susanna Fogel, Greg Berlanti, Kaley Cuoco, Sarah Schechter
Co-Executive Producer: Suzanne McCormack
Produced by: Yes, Norman Productions and Berlanti Productions in association with Warner Horizon Scripted Television

Full Bloom
An eight-episode, hour-long competition series hosted by celebrity florist Simon Lycett and featuring America’s budding florists vying to be crowned America’s best. With incredible artistic creations and floristry face-offs, Full Bloom allows audiences to escape into a surreal world, as contestants design and execute some of the most wondrous, Wonka-esque floral creations ever seen.
Genre: Non-fiction
Host: Simon Lycett
Judges: Legendary floristry artists Elizabeth Cronin and Maurice Harris
Created and produced by: Eureka Productions
Executive Producers: Chris Culvenor, Paul Franklin, Wes Dening

gen:LOCK
The half-hour animated series focuses on a near-future dystopia undergoing a new, technologically driven world war. Fifty years in the future, an oppressive authoritarian force threatens to conquer the world. A daring team is recruited to pilot a new form of devastating mecha, but they must be willing to sacrifice everything to save the world.
Genre: Animation
Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Dakota Fanning, Maisie Williams, Golshifteh Farahani, David Tennant
Executive Producers: Michael B. Jordan and Alana Mayo of Outlier Society; Matt Hullum and Ryan P. Hall of Rooster Teeth

The Greatest Space
A 10-episode epic design competition show features interior designers traveling around the world to transform an eclectic mix of empty rooms into spectacular spaces.
Genre: Non-fiction
Executive Producers: Bertram van Munster, Elise Doganieri, Mark Dziak, David Collins, Michael Williams, Rob Eric
Produced by: New Media Collective (NMC), Scout Productions

Heaven’s Gate
An intimate, four-part series that explores the infamous religious movement and the stranger-than-fiction circumstances that culminated in the biggest mass suicide to ever take place in the U.S.
Genre: Limited Documentary Series
Director: Clay Tweel
Executive Producer: Clay Tweel
Producers: Ross Dinerstein, Chris Bannon, Eric Spiegelman, Peter Clowney, and Erik Diehn for the digital media company Stitcher
Produced by: Campfire and CNN Original Series

The Hos (wt)
Led by patriarch Binh Ho and his wife, Hue Ho, the power couple immigrated from Vietnam to the United States with little money, relying on hard work to establish the ultimate American dream. They have built a multi-million dollar bank, a real estate development company and a new generation of American Hos. The series pulls back the curtain of their lavish Houston lifestyle and showcases the tight family connections that unite them as well as the multi-generational outrageous drama that ensues.
Genre: Non-fiction
Cast: Binh Ho, Hue Ho, Judy Ho, Washington Ho, Lesley Ho, Aunt Tina, Cousin Sammy
Executive Producers: Katy Wallin, Stephanie Bloch Chambers
Co-Executive Producers: Amanda Ly, Rosalina Lydster
Produced by: Wallin Chambers Entertainment in association with Lionsgate Television

Legendary
Competition has never been this ballsy. Legendary will feature voguing “houses,” each comprised of five performers and a leader – the house “parent.” The teams rotate in a round-robin format, and each episode documents a themed ball from start to finish. The winner ultimately achieves “legendary” status in fashion and dance challenges.
Genre: Non-fiction
Executive Producers: David Collins, Michael Williams, Rob Eric, Renata Lombardo, Shant Tutunjian
Produced by: Scout Productions

Let Them All Talk (wt)
The story of a celebrated author who takes a journey with some old friends to have some fun and heal old wounds. Her nephew comes along to wrangle the ladies and finds himself involved with a young literary agent.
Genre: Feature Film
Cast: Meryl Streep, Candice Bergen, Dianne Wiest, Lucas Hedges, Gemma Chan
Writer: Deborah Eisenberg
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Executive Producers: Ken Meyer, Joseph Malloch
Producer: Gregory Jacobs

Love Life
A 10-episode half-hour romantic comedy anthology series about the journey from first love to last love, and how the people we’re with along the way make us into who we are when we finally end up with someone forever. The series will follow a different protagonist’s quest for love each season, with each episode telling the story of one of their relationships.
Genre: Comedy
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Zoe Chao, Peter Vack, Sasha Compere, Scoot McNairy, Hope Davis, James LeGros
Executive Producer: Paul Feig, Anna Kendrick

Made for Love
A 10-episode, half-hour, series adaptation based on the tragicomic novel of the same name. Made for Love is a dark, absurd and cynically poignant story of divorce and revenge. The series shows how far some will go for love – and how much further others will go to destroy it.
Genre: Comedy
Cast: Cristin Milioti, Ray Romano, Noma Dumezweni
Adapted by: Patrick Somerville
Director/Executive Producer: S.J. Clarkson

Persona (wt)
A documentary feature produced by CNN Films that explores the riveting and unexpected origin story of America’s obsession with personality testing. Embedded in everything from dating sites to job applications, Persona reveals the profound ways personality testing has formed and influenced the world around us.
Genre: Documentary Film
Produced by: CNN Films

*Raised by Wolves
An epic serialized sci-fi series executive produced and directed by Ridley Scott. The series centers on two androids tasked with raising human children on a mysterious virgin planet. As the burgeoning colony of humans threatens to be torn apart by religious differences, the androids learn that controlling the beliefs of humans is a treacherous and difficult task.
Genre: Sci-fi
Writer/Showrunner: Aaron Guzikowski
Cast: Travis Fimmel, Amanda Collin, Abubakar Salim, Winta McGrath, Niamh Algar, Matias Varela, Felix Jamieson, Ethan Hazzard, Jordan Loughran, Aasiya Shah, Ivy Wong
Director: Ridley Scott
Executive Producers: Ridley Scott, Aaron Guzikowski, David W. Zucker, Jordan Sheehan, Adam Kolbrenner, Mark Huffam
Produced by: Scott Free Productions

*Rap Sh*t (wt)
From Issa Rae, Rap Sh*t (wt) is a half-hour comedy series that follows three women – a hip-hop duo and their hustler manager – trying to make it in Miami’s music industry.
Genre: Comedy
Produced by: Issa Rae and Montrel McKay for Issa Rae Productions and Jonathan Barry and Dave Becky for 3 Arts Entertainment

The Scoop (wt)
Produced by CNN Films, this documentary feature will follow the exhilarating and exhausting lives of CNN’s fearless female political reporters as they cover the most unpredictable presidential campaign in American history. This behind-the-scenes documentary draws from unprecedented access to the campaign press corps and reveals how these powerhouse political reporters deal with the candidates as well as with the challenges of life on the road.
Genre: Documentary Film
Produced by: CNN Films

Search Party
Two more seasons of the critically-beloved comedy Search Party comes to HBO Max. Season three finds the gang swept up in the trial of the century after Dory and Drew are charged for the semi-accidental murder of a private investigator. As Elliott and Portia grapple with whether or not to testify as witnesses, the friends are pitted against each other and thrust into the national spotlight as notorious public figures. As Dory’s sanity begins to fracture, it becomes increasingly clear that they may not have brunch together for quite some time.
Genre: Comedy
Cast: Alia Shawkat, Meredith Hagner, John Early and John Reynolds
Executive Producers: Sarah-Violet Bliss, Charles Rogers, Michael Showalter, Jax Media’s Lilly Burns, Tony Hernandez

*Stand-up Specials Presented by Conan O’Brien
Five new comedy specials that include two hosted by Conan O’Brien showcasing short sets from multiple up-and-coming comics, as well as curated one-hour-long sets from three additional comedians.
Genre: Comedy
Executive Producers: Conan O’Brien, Jeff Ross, JP Buck, Adam Sachs
Produced by: Team Coco

Starstruck
Starstruck follows 20-something Rose, a millennial in London, juggling two dead-end jobs and navigating the awkward morning-after when she discovers the complications of accidentally sleeping with a movie star.
Genre: Comedy
Cast: Rose Matafeo
Executive Producers: Rose Matafeo, Jon Thoday, Richard Allen-Turner, Rob Aslett

Station Eleven
A limited series based on Emily St. John Mandel’s international bestseller, Station Eleven is a post-apocalyptic saga that follows survivors of a devastating flu as they attempt to rebuild and reimagine the world anew while holding on to the best of what’s been lost.
Genre: Drama
Cast: Himesh Patel, Mackenzie Davis
Adapted by: Patrick Somerville
Director: Hiro Murai

Superintelligence
Superintelligence tells the story of Carol Peters, to whom nothing extraordinary ever happens. But when she starts getting snarky backtalk from her TV, phone and microwave, she thinks she’s being punked. The world’s first superintelligence has selected her for observation, taking over her life…with a more ominous plan to take over everything. Now Carol is humanity’s last chance before this artificial intelligence-with-an-attitude decides to pull the plug.
Genre: Feature Film
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Bobby Cannavale, Brian Tyree Henry, Jean Smart, James Corden
Director: Ben Falcone
Producers: Melissa McCarthy, Ben Falcone, Rob Cowan
Produced by: New Line Cinema

Tokyo Vice
Based on Jake Adelstein’s non-fiction first-hand account of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police beat starring Ansel Elgort. The drama captures Adelstein’s daily descent into the neon-soaked underbelly of Tokyo, where nothing and no one is truly what or who they seem.
Genre: Drama
Cast: Ansel Elgort, Ken Watanabe
Writer: J.T. Rogers
Pilot Director: Michael Mann
Executive Producers: Michael Mann, J.T. Rogers, John Lesher, Alan Poul, Emily Gerson Saines, Ansel Elgort, Ken Watanabe, Destin Daniel Cretton
Produced by: Endeavor Content

HBO ORIGINALS

Previously announced series coming to HBO:

Avenue 5
Avenue 5 is a space tourism comedy set 40 years in the future when the solar system is everyone’s oyster. Hugh Laurie will star as the Captain, and with him in charge, nothing can go wrong.
Genre: Comedy
Cast: Hugh Laurie, Josh Gad, Zach Woods, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Rebecca Front, Suzy Nakamura, Ethan Phillips, Lenora Crichlow
Creator: Veep creator Armando Iannucci (also directs the pilot)
Executive Producers: Armando Iannucci, Kevin Loader, Simon Blackwell, Tony Roche, Will Smith

Bad Education
Long Island school superintendent Frank Tassone and his assistant superintendent for business, Pam Gluckin, are credited with bringing Roslyn School District unprecedented prestige, pleasing the board and raising property values in the town. Frank, always immaculately groomed and tailored, is a master of positive messaging, whether before an audience of community leaders or in an office with a concerned student or parent. Frank can do no wrong, until the Roslyn High School newspaper decides to dig deep into some expense reports uncovering an embezzlement scheme of epic proportions, revealing secrets about Frank and forcing the community to question their values and ambitions. Inspired by a true story, Bad Education is a potent dark comedy and commentary on the cost of the pursuit of educational excellence.
Genre: Film
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Allison Janney, Ray Romano
Director: Cory Finley
Writer: Mike Makowsky
Executive Producers: Leonid Lebedev, Caroline Jaczko
Producers: Fred Berger, Eddie Vaisman, Julia Lebedev, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Oren Moverman, Mike Makowsky
Produced by: Automatik, Sight Unseen

Betty
Inspired by the critically acclaimed film Skate Kitchen, the series, set against the backdrop of New York City, will follow a diverse group of young women navigating their lives through the predominantly male-oriented world of skateboarding.
Genre: Comedy
Cast: Rachelle Vinberg, Nina Moran, Moonbear, Dede Lovelace, Ajani Russell
Executive Producer/Writer/Director: Crystal Moselle
Executive Producer/Writer: Lesley Arfin
Executive Producer: Igor Srubshchik, Jason Weinberg
Co-Executive Producers: Michael Sherman and Matthew Perniciaro of Bow & Arrow Entertainment
Co-Executive Producer: Rodrigo Teixeira of RT Features
Producer: Izabella Tzenkova of Kotva Films
Producer: Lizzie Nastro
Produced by: Arfin Material, Untitled Entertainment

The Gilded Age
The American Gilded Age was a period of immense economic change, of huge fortunes made and lost, and the rise of disparity between old money and new. Against this backdrop of change, the story begins in 1882 – introducing young Marian Brook, the orphaned daughter of a Southern general, who moves into the home of her rigidly conventional aunts in New York City. Accompanied by the mysterious Peggy Scott, an African-American woman masquerading as her maid, Marian gets caught up in the dazzling lives of her stupendously rich neighbors, led by a ruthless railroad tycoon and his ambitious wife struggling for acceptance by the Astor and Vanderbilt set. Will Marian follow the established rules of society, or forge her own path in this exciting new world that is on the brink of transformation into the modern age?
Genre: Drama
Cast: Christine Baranski, Amanda Peet, Cynthia Nixon, Morgan Spector
Creator/Writer/Executive Producer: Julian Fellowes
Director: Michael Engler
Executive Producers: Gareth Neame, Michael Engler, David Crockett
Produced by: An HBO co-production with NBCU

His Dark Materials
Adapting Philip Pullman’s award-winning trilogy of the same name, which is considered a modern masterpiece of imaginative fiction, this series follows Lyra, a seemingly ordinary but brave young woman from another world. Her search for a kidnapped friend uncovers a sinister plot involving stolen children and becomes a quest to understand a mysterious phenomenon called Dust.
Genre: Drama
Cast: Lin-Manuel Miranda, James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson, Dafne Keen, Anne-Marie Duff, Clarke Peters, Ariyon Bakare, Will Keen, Ian Gelder, Georgina Campbell, Lewin Lloyd, Lucian Msamati, James Cosmo, Daniel Frogson, Tyler Howitt, Ruta Gedmintas, Mat Fraser, Geoff Bell, Simon Manyonda
Executive Producers: Dan McCulloch, Jane Tranter, Julie Gardner, Philip Pullman, Jack Thorne, Tom Hooper, Deborah Forte, Toby Emmerich, Carolyn Blackwood, Ben Irving, Piers Wenger
Directors: Tom Hooper, Dawn Shadforth, Otto Bathhurst, Euros Lyn, Jamie Childs

*House Of The Dragon
A Game of Thrones prequel co-created by George R.R. Martin and Ryan Condal, with Miguel Sapochnik and Ryan Condal to partner as showrunners. Based on Martin’s Fire & Blood, the series, which is set 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones, tells the story of House Targaryen.
Genre: Drama
Creators: George R.R. Martin, Ryan Condal
Showrunners: Ryan Condal, Miguel Sapochnik
Director: Miguel Sapochnik (pilot and additional episodes)
Writer: Ryan Condal
Executive Producers: Ryan Condal, George R.R. Martin, Miguel Sapochnik, Vince Gerardis

How To…With John Wilson
How To…With John Wilson is a first person documentary series hosted by an anxious New Yorker who attempts to give everyday advice while dealing with his own personal issues. Acting as both cameraman and narrator, John covertly documents the lives of fellow New Yorkers in a comic odyssey of self-discovery, inevitably making the audience comfortable with the awkward contradictions of modern life.
Genre: Comedy
Cast: John Wilson
Executive Producer/Writer/Director/Narrator: John Wilson
Executive Producers: Nathan Fielder, Clark Reinking

I Know This Much Is True
A family saga that follows the parallel lives of identical twin brothers in an epic story of betrayal, sacrifice and forgiveness set against the backdrop of 20th-century America. The six episode limited drama series is based on Wally Lamb’s New York Times bestseller and award-winning book I Know This Much Is True.
Genre: Limited Series
Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Melissa Leo, Rosie O’Donnell, Archie Panjabi, Imogen Poots, Juliette Lewis, Kathryn Hahn, John Proccacino
Director/Writer/Executive Producer: Derek Cianfrance
Star/Executive Producers: Mark Ruffalo
Executive Producers: Ben Browning & Glen Basner for FilmNation Entertainment
Executive Producers: Wally Lamb, Gregg Fienberg, Anya Epstein, Lynette Howell Taylor
Co-Executive Producers: Jamie Patricof

Industry
Industry is an exhilarating dive into the world of international finance, as seen through the eyes of ambitious 20-somethings struggling to secure their futures. The series follows a group of young graduates competing for a limited set of permanent positions at a top investment bank in London – but the boundaries between colleague, friend, lover, and enemy soon blur as they immerse themselves in a company culture defined as much by sex, drugs, and ego as it is by deals and dividends. As members of the group rise and fall, they must decide whether life is about more than the bottom line.
Genre: Drama
Executive Producer/Writer: Mickey Down
Executive Producer/Writer: Konrad Kay
Executive Producers: Jane Tranter, Lachlan MacKinnon, Ryan Rasmussen
Executive Producer/Pilot Director: Lena Dunham
Produced for HBO and BBC by Bad Wolf

January 22nd
A fearless, frank and provocative drama series exploring the question of sexual consent and where, in the new landscape of dating and relationships, the distinction between liberation and exploitation lies. Set in London, where gratification is only an app away, the story centers on Arabella, a carefree, self-assured Londoner with a group of great friends, a boyfriend in Italy, and a burgeoning writing career. But when she is spiked with a date-rape drug, she must question and rebuild every element of her life.
Genre: Drama
Cast: Michaela Coel, Weruche Opia, Paapa Essiedu, Aml Ameen, Adam James, Sarah Niles, Ann Akin, Harriet Webb, Ellie James, Franc Ashman, Karan Gill, Natalie Walter, Samson Ajewole
Executive Producers: Phil Clarke & Roberto Troni for Various Artists Ltd
Executive Producer / Writer / Director / Cast: Michaela Coel for FALKNA Productions
Producers: Simon Maloney, Simon Meyers
Director: Sam Miller
Produced by: Various Artists Ltd and FALKNA Productions

Lovecraft Country
The one-hour drama series based on the 2016 novel by Matt Ruff, follows Atticus Freeman as he joins his friend Letitia and his Uncle George to embark on a road trip across 1950s Jim Crow America in search of his missing father. What follows is a struggle to survive and overcome both the racist terrors of white America and the terrifying monsters that could be ripped from an H.P. Lovecraft paperback.
Genre: Drama
Cast: Jonathan Majors, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Michael Kenneth Williams, Courtney B. Vance, Wunmi Mosaku, Aunjanue Ellis, Jamie Harris, Abbey Lee, Jamie Chung, Jordan Patrick Smith
Executive Producers: Jordan Peele, J.J. Abrams, Misha Green, Yann Demange, Daniel Sackheim, Ben Stephenson, Bill Carraro
Showrunner: Misha Green
Produced by: Bad Robot Productions and Monkeypaw Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television

Mare of Easttown
Kate Winslet stars in this limited series as a small-town Pennsylvania detective who investigates a local murder as her life crumbles around her.
Genre: Limited Series
Cast: Kate Winslet, Julianne Nicholson, Jean Smart, Angourie Rice, Evan Peters, Cailee Spaeny, David Denman, John Douglas Thompson, Patrick Murney, Ben Miles, James McArdle, Sosie Bacon, Joe Tippett, Neal Huff
Creator/Writer/Showrunner/Executive Producer: Brad Ingelsby
Director/Executive Producer: Gavin O’Connor
Executive Producers: Gordon Gray through Mayhem Pictures; Paul Lee through wiip; Mark Roybal through wiip; Kate Winslet
Produced by: An HBO co-production with wiip

The Nevers
The Nevers is an epic science fiction drama about a gang of Victorian women, known as “The Touched,” who find themselves with unusual abilities, relentless enemies, and a mission that could change the world.
Genre: Drama
Cast: Laura Donnelly, Nick Frost, Denis O’Hare, Olivia Williams, Ann Skelly, Zackary Momoh, Tom Riley, James Norton, Amy Manson, Eleanor Tomlinson, Ben Chaplin, Pip Torrens
Executive Producer/Showrunner/Writer/Director: Joss Whedon
Executive Producers: Bernie Caulfield, Jane Espenson, Doug Petrie

The New Pope
Created and directed by Paolo Sorrentino, this drama will mark his second limited series set in the world of the modern papacy, following The Young Pope.
Genre: Limited Series
Cast: Jude Law, John Malkovich, Silvio Orlando, Javier Cámara, Cécile de France, Ludivine Sagnier, Maurizio Lombardi, Henry Goodman, Ulrich Thomsen, Mark Ivanir, Massimo Ghini
Creator/Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Producers: Lorenzo Mieli, Mario Gianani for Wildside
Co-Producers: Haut et Court TV and Mediapro
Writers: Paolo Sorrentino with Umberto Contarello and Stefano Bises
Produced by: Sky, HBO, Canal+

The Outsider
Based on Stephen King’s bestselling novel of the same name, this dark mystery follows a seemingly straightforward investigation into the gruesome murder of a young boy. The crime, however, leads a seasoned cop and an unorthodox investigator to question everything they believe to be real, as an insidious supernatural force edges its way into the case.
Genre: Drama
Cast: Ben Mendelsohn, Cynthia Erivo, Bill Camp, Mare Winningham, Paddy Considine, Julianne Nicholson, Yul Vázquez, Jeremy Bobb, Marc Menchaca, Hettienne Park, Michael Esper
Producer: Ben Mendelsohn
Writers: Richard Price, with episodes written by Dennis Lehane and Jessie Nickson-Lopez
Executive Producers: Jason Bateman/Director (first two episodes). Richard Price, Andrew Bernstein (who directs three episodes), Marty Bowen for Temple Hill Entertainment, Jack Bender, Michael Costigan for Aggregate Films, and Dennis Lehane (Episodes 105-110)
Produced by Bateman’s Aggregate Films and Temple Hill Entertainment in association with Civic Center Media.

Perry Mason
Set in 1932 Los Angeles, the series will focus on the origin story of famed defense lawyer Perry Mason, based on characters from Erle Stanley Gardner’s novels. Living check-to-check as a low-rent private investigator, Mason is haunted by his wartime experiences in France and suffering the effects of a broken marriage. L.A. is booming while the rest of the country struggles through the Great Depression — but a kidnapping gone very wrong leads to Mason exposing a fractured city as he uncovers the truth of the crime.
Genre: Drama
Cast: Matthew Rhys, John Lithgow, Tatiana Maslany, Chris Chalk, Juliet Rylance, Shea Whigham, Nate Corddry, Veronica Falcon, Andrew Howard, Jefferson Mays, Robert Patrick, Stephen Root Gayle Rankin, Lili Taylor
Showrunners: Ron Fitzgerald, Rolin Jones
Executive Producers: Amanda Burrell, Robert Downey Jr., Susan Downey, Ron Fitzgerald, Joe Horacek, Rolin Jones, Tim Van Patten (also Director of multiple episodes)
Producer: Matthew Rhys

The Plot Against America
The Plot Against America is set in an alternate American history and centers on a Jewish family in New Jersey who watch the political rise of Charles Lindbergh, an aviator hero and xenophobic populist who becomes president, defeating Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940, and turns the country toward fascism.
Genre: Limited Series
Cast: Winona Ryder, Zoe Kazan, Morgan Spector, Anthony Boyle, Azhy Robertson, Caleb Malis, John Turturro
Creators: David Simon and Ed Burns both serve as writers and executive producers on the series, as well as Joe Roth, Nina Noble, Megan Ellison, Sue Naegle, Susan Goldberg and Jeff Kirschenbaum
Co-Executive Producers: Dennis Stratton, Philip Roth

Run
Run centers on Ruby, a woman living a humdrum existence who one day gets a text inviting her to fulfill a youthful pact, promising true love and self-reinvention, by stepping out of her life to take a journey with her oldest flame.
Genre: Comedy
Cast: Domhnall Gleeson, Merritt Wever; Guest Starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Rich Sommer
Writer: Vicky Jones
Executive Producers: Vicky Jones and Phoebe Waller-Bridge via DryWrite; Emily Leo for Wigwam; and Jenny Robbins. Kate Dennis directed the pilot and executive produces.
Produced by: Entertainment One, DryWrite, Wigwam Films.

The Third Day
The Third Day is a story told over six episodes and in two distinct halves. The first – “Summer,” directed by Marc Munden, sees Sam, a man drawn to a mysterious island off the British coast where he encounters a group of islanders set on preserving their traditions at any cost. The second – “Winter,” directed by Philippa Lowthorpe, follows Helen, a strong-willed outsider who comes to the island seeking answers, but whose arrival precipitates a fractious battle to decide its fate.
Genre: Limited Series
Cast: Jude Law, Naomie Harris, Katherine Waterston, Paddy Considine, Emily Watson
Writer/Executive Producer: Dennis Kelly (wrote four episodes)
Executive Producers: Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, Plan B Entertainment
Executive Producer: Felix Barrett, Punchdrunk International
Creators: Felix Barrett, Dennis Kelly
Director/Executive Producer: Marc Munden
Director/Executive Producer: Philippa Lowthorpe
Producer: Adrian Sturges
Writers: Kit de Waal and Dean O’Loughlin (wrote two episodes)
Produced by: HBO and Sky Studios in partnership with Plan B Entertainment and Punchdrunk International

The Undoing
A limited series based on the book You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz. Grace Sachs is living the only life she ever wanted for herself. She’s a successful therapist, has a devoted husband and young son who attends an elite private school in New York City. Overnight a chasm opens in her life: a violent death, a missing husband, and, in the place of a man Grace thought she knew, only a chain of terrible revelations. Left behind in the wake of a spreading and very public disaster and horrified by the ways in which she has failed to heed her own advice, Grace must dismantle one life and create another for her child and herself.
Genre: Limited Series
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Donald Sutherland, Noah Jupe, Edgar Ramirez, Lily Rabe, Ismael Cruz Cordova, Matilda DeAngelis, Noma Dumezweni
Writer/Executive Producer/Showrunner: David E. Kelley through David E. Kelley Productions
Director/Executive Producer: Susanne Bier
Executive Producers: Nicole Kidman and Per Saari for Blossom Films; Bruna Papandrea for Made Up Stories; Stephen Garrett, Celia Costas

We Are Who We Are
A coming-of-age story about two American teenagers who, along with their military and civilian parents, are living on an American military base in Italy. The series centers on friendship, first-love and all the unknowns of being a teenager, which could happen anywhere, but in this case, happens to be in this little slice of America in Italy.
Genre: Limited Series
Cast: Chloë Sevigny, Jack Dylan Grazer, Alice Braga, Jordan Kristine Seamon
Kid Cudi, Faith Alabi, Spence Moore II, Francesca Scorsese, Ben Taylor, Corey Knight , Tom Mercier, Sebastiano Pigazzi
Showrunner/Writer/Director/Executive Producer: Luca Guadagnino
Writers: Luca Guadagnino, Paolo Giordano, Francesca Manieri
Executive Producers: Lorenzo Mieli, Mario Gianani, Luca Guadagnino, Nick Hall, Riccardo Neri
Producers: Lorenzo Mieli and Mario Gianani for Wildside (part of Fremantle)
Produced by: HBO and Sky Studios
International Distributor: Fremantle

HBO LIBRARY HIGHLIGHTS

Series
Barry
Big Little Lies
Chernobyl
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Deadwood
Entourage
Euphoria
Game of Thrones
Insecure
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
My Brilliant Friend
Oz
Real Time With Bill Maher
The Righteous Gemstones
Sex and the City
Silicon Valley
Six Feet Under
The Sopranos
Succession
True Blood
True Detective
Veep
Watchmen
Westworld
The Wire
Find all HBO Series: https://www.hbo.com/series/all-series

Movies
Available in first year of launch:
A Star Is Born
Aquaman
Bridesmaids
Crazy Rich Asians
Crazy, Stupid, Love
Detective Pikachu
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Glass
Isn’t It Romantic?
It Chapter 2
Joker
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
Little
Love Actually
Madagascar
Notting Hill
Rio
Shazam!
Smallfoot
The Town
Us
War of the Worlds

Find all HBO Movies: https://www.hbo.com/movies

HBO MAX LIBRARY HIGHLIGHTS

In addition to a robust slate of originals, HBO Max will feature a vast selection of titles from Warner Media’s brands including library content from Warner Bros. Film and Television Studios, New Line Cinema, DC, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, The CW, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Looney Tunes and more, alongside key third party acquisitions.

Here is a selection that will be available in our first year of launch.

Series
Adam Ruins Everything
Adventure Time
The Alienist
American Dynasties: The Kennedys
Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown
Aqua Teen Hunger Force
At Home with Amy Sedaris
The Bachelor
The Bachelorette
Batwoman
The Big Bang Theory
The Boondocks
The Carbonaro Effect
The Closer
CNN Decade Series (The 2000s, The Nineties, etc.)
Conan Travel Specials
Dexter’s Laboratory
Doctor Who
Doom Patrol
Ellen’s Game of Games
Falling Skies
The Flintstones
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Friends
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
Gossip Girl
The Honourable Woman
Impractical Jokers
The Jetsons
Little Big Shots
Looney Tunes
Mad TV
Miracle Workers
The OC
The Office (British version)
The Powerpuff Girls
Pretty Little Liars
Pride and Prejudice
Primal
Rick & Morty
Rizzoli & Isles
Robot Chicken
Samurai Jack
Sesame Street
The Smurfs
South Park
Steven Universe
This Is Life with Lisa Ling
Top Gear / BBC
United Shades of America with Kamau Bell
The West Wing
Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Movies
13 Going on 30
2001: A Space Odyssey
Austin Powers
The Bodyguard
Casablanca
Chariots of Fire
Citizen Kane
The Color Purple
The Conjuring
Dangerous Liaisons
The Departed
The Dark Knight
DC Films – All live action movies from the past decade
The Departed
Gremlins
Gremlins 2: The New Batch
Hairspray
Happy Feet
The Hobbit Trilogy
The Iron Giant
Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2
The Last Samurai
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Magic Mike
March of the Penguins
The Matrix Trilogy
Million Dollar Baby
Miss Congeniality
Mona Lisa Smile
Ocean’s Eleven
The Right Stuff
Risky Business
Scooby-Doo
The Shawshank Redemption
The Shining
Space Jam
Spirited Away and the entire Ghibli Film Collection
Watchmen
Wonder Woman
When Harry Met Sally
The Wizard of Oz

2019 New York Film Festival review: ‘Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn’

September 30, 2019

By Carla Hay

Roy Cohn in “Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn” (Photo by Mary Ellen Mark/HBO)

“Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn”

Directed by Ivy Meeropol

World premiere at the New York Film Festival in New York City on September 29, 2019.

Roy Cohn will go down infamy as the attorney who helped spearhead U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy’s political witch hunt of suspected Communists in the 1950s, and Cohn later became a “fixer” for shady clients and powerful criminals, including the Mafia. Cohn (who died of AIDS in 1986, the same year he was disbarred) is the subject of two documentary films in two years, but each documentary is very different from each other.

Sony Pictures Classics’ “Where’s My Roy Cohn?” (released in U.S. cinemas in 2019) from director Matt Tyrnauer takes a more traditional approach of a Cohn biography that’s told in chronological order. HBO’s “Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn” (which is set to premiere on HBO in 2020) tells a more personal, non-linear story, because director Ivy Meeropol’s paternal grandparents were Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, whose McCarthy-era persecution led to the Rosenbergs being executed for espionage in 1953.

“Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn” gets its title from the “Bully Coward Victim” description on Cohn’s AIDS quilt panel that was part of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt displayed in front of Washington, D.C.’s National Mall in 1987. The quilt panel for Cohn was anonymously made. “Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn” opens with home video that was made 25 years after Cohn’s death. The video shows Ivy Meeropol interviewing her father Michael Meeropol about the Rosenberg case. He says that the family is united in the statement that this tragedy will never happen again.

After Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed by electric chair, their two orphaned sons Michael and Robert were adopted by writer/teacher/activist Abel Meeropol and his wife Anne. Because the Rosenberg/Meeropol family history is so intertwined with Cohn’s history, the documentary is partially a biography of the Rosenberg/Meeropol family, because it reveals the devastating and long-lasting effects of the execution. In that regard, “Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn” is almost like a spinoff to Ivy Meeropol’s 2004 documentary “Heir to an Execution,” which explored the Rosenberg case from the family perspective.

“Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn” jumps around in timeline and includes a lot of archival footage and new interviews. The documentary also features Michael and Robert Meeropol’s activism and ongoing fight to prove that their parents were not guilty of the crimes which led to the Rosenbergs’ execution. Although the editing for “Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn” isn’t as neatly structured as “Where’s My Roy Cohn?,” Ivy Meeropol’s documentary has better interviews and packs more of an emotional punch.

For example, “Where’s My Roy Cohn?” has some exclusive interviews that are definitely outdated, including interviews with Roger Stone (a Cohn ally and conservative Republican strategist who’s had a fall from grace, due to various criminal charges) and gossip columnist Liz Smith, who died in 2016. “Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn” interviews an almost entirely different set of people, including Cohn’s former driver Peter Allen, attorney/Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, journalist Taki Theodoracopulos, director/actor David Lloyd Marcus and writer Tony Kushner, whose “Angels in America” about the 1980s AIDS crisis became an award-winning Broadway play and HBO miniseries.

Nathan Lane, who won a Tony Award for portraying Cohn in the 2018 Broadway revival of “Angels in America,” describes Cohn as “nerdy and creepy by lovely” on talk shows, but Lane says that Cohn was very different in private. Gossip columnist Cindy Adams (best known for her work in the New York Post) admits she did favors for Cohn “because he was my friend. It was loyalty.”

Author/journalist Peter Manso, who interviewed Cohn for Playboy magazine in 1981, calls Cohn a “lawless madman.” Meanwhile, attorney John Klotz has this to say about Cohn: “He was not just a lawyer for the Mob, he was an active participant.”

Cohn was a longtime mentor to Donald Trump, who later shunned Cohn after Cohn was federally investigated for corruption and was eventually disbarred in 1986. John LeBoutillier, a Republican former U.S. Congressman for New York, says that in 1983, when Trump and Cohn were still close, LeBoutillier was pressured by Cohn to write a letter of recommendation for Maryanne Trump Barry (Donald Trump’s eldest sister) to become a judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. She received the nomination from then-U.S. president Ronald Reagan and was later confirmed for the position by the U.S. Senate.

Early in his career, Cohn had his own Senate hearing that was much more notorious. During the televised Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954, Cohn was accused of pressuring the U.S. Army to give preferential treatment to Cohn’s Army buddy G. David Schine, who was rumored to be Cohn’s secret lover. The hearings are part of TV history because it’s the first time that the word “homosexual” was said on U.S. television.

“Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn” and “Where’s My Roy Cohn?’ both include descriptions of Cohn (who was never married and had no children) as an eccentric and closeted gay man. However, “Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn” takes a deeper dive into Cohn’s double life by going into more details about his semi-openly gay lifestyle in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Cohn kept his law practice based in his hometown of New York City, where he worked out of his multimillion-dollar townhouse. In public, he had the image of a high-powered, conservative Republican who had attractive women as his dates for society events. However, Cohn had another life in Provincetown (a popular getaway city for gay men), where he had another home. It was an open secret in Provincetown that he was gay and had a preference for much-younger men and cocaine-fueled parties.

“Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn” has interviews with Provincetown locals who were in contact with Cohn. (“Where’s My Roy Cohn?” doesn’t interview these Provincetown sources.) One of them is former hustler Ryan Landry, who says he was hired by Cohn in the 1970s to have sex with Cohn’s younger lover while Cohn watched. Landry says he spent time with Cohn on multiple occasions and was surprised to find out that he and Cohn had similar taste in music.

Anne Packard, an artist who was Cohn’s next-door neighbor in Provincetown, says: “I never saw him alone, except when he was swimming.” The documentary includes several archival photos of Cohn spending time with several “boy toys” in his company. (It’s clear that Cohn and his male friends liked to go on boats.) Openly gay filmmaker John Waters, who remembers seeing Cohn in Provincetown, says in the documentary: “I was appalled that he was here [in Provincetown].”

It’s also mentioned that Cohn would frequently hire his younger lovers to work for him at his law firm, usually as his assistant. One such employee/lover was Peter Fraser, who the documentary says was used as a “cut out” for money laundering. The documentary includes some never-before-seen paperwork that showed how Cohn would put questionable expenses in his law firm’s accounting reports. Money laundering and other corruption charges would eventually lead to Cohn’s downfall.

Toward the end of his life, when it was obvious that Cohn was in failing health, he continued to publicly deny that he had AIDS. The documentary points out that one of the most despised aspects of Cohn was his damaging hypocrisy. He was a gay man, but throughout his career, he actively worked with politicians and other people in power to prevent LGBTQ people from having equal rights. And even though he always publicly denied that he had AIDS, Cohn used his privileged position to secretly get preferential medical treatment when the government needed volunteers for possible AIDS vaccines.

Cohn had a reputation as a tyrant who liked to put fear into his enemies, but the documentary exposes that Cohn wasn’t as fearless as he portrayed himself to be. Cohn’s very public feud with Richard Dupont (a former client of Cohn’s) got so ugly that Dupont ended up in New York State Supreme Court in 1981, for various charges, including harassment and burglary against Cohn. “Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn” has never-before-heard voice messages of Cohn begging Dupont to stop “tormenting” him.

In the documentary, Dershowitz says that Cohn admitted to him that he “framed guilty people” and that the Rosenbergs were framed. “Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn” isn’t the vindictive vendetta that people might assume it is. The documentary doesn’t portray Cohn as innocent of his crimes, but it definitely reveals him to be a self-hating bully who took out his hatred on other people. Cohn destroyed countless lives in the process, but he was also his own worst enemy.

UPDATE: HBO will premiere “Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn” on June 18, 2020.

2019 Comic-Con International: HBO activities and exclusives

June 27, 2019

Westworld
“Westworld” cast members Jeffrey Wright, Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton (Photo courtesy of HBO)

The following is a press release from HBO:

The HBO series HIS DARK MATERIALS, GAME OF THRONES and WESTWORLD are confirmed for panels and autograph signing sessions at Comic-Con International: San Diego 2019.

WATCHMEN fans should keep a look out around the Gaslamp Quarter for a surprise in-world opportunity to engage with the new HBO series.

Below is information on the three panels.

Thursday, July 18

The HIS DARK MATERIALS panel in Hall H at 4:45 p.m. will include (in alphabetical order): James McAvoy (Lord Asriel), Dafne Keen (Lyra), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Lee Scoresby), Jane Tranter (executive producer) and Ruth Wilson (Mrs. Coulter).

Autograph signing is at 2:45 p.m.

Friday, July 19

The GAME OF THRONES panel in Hall H at 5:30 p.m. will include cast members (in alphabetical order): Jacob Anderson (Grey Worm), John Bradley (Samwell Tarly), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth), Nathalie Emmanuel (Missandei of Naath), Iain Glen (Ser Jorah Mormont), Conleth Hill (Varys), Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) and Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran Stark). Other panelists include creators and showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and director and executive producer Miguel Sapochnik.

Autograph signing is at 3:30 p.m.

July 17, 2019 UPDATE:  David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, Miguel Sapochnik, Iain Glen and Nathalie Emmanuel have all canceled their appearances on the Comic-Con panel. The cancellations were supposedly due to scheduling conflicts, according to HBO. All the other previously announced “Game of Thrones” panelists will be at Comic-Con as scheduled.

Saturday, July 20

The WESTWORLD panel in Hall H at 1:15 p.m. will include creators, executive producers and directors Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, and cast members (in alphabetical order): Ed Harris, Thandie Newton, Aaron Paul, Tessa Thompson, Evan Rachel Wood and Jeffrey Wright.

Autograph signing is at 11:45 a.m.

The autograph signings will take place in the DC Warner Bros. booth #4545. Attendees wishing to participate in autograph signings may log in to their Comic-Con Member ID account to submit their interest via the Exclusives Portal. WBTVG follows Comic-Con’s selection process and wristband distribution procedures. For more information visit www.comic-con.org/cci/exclusives.

HIS DARK MATERIALS fans can follow live coverage of the panel on Twitter from @daemonsanddust and use #HisDarkMaterials to join the conversation.

GAME OF THRONES fans can follow live coverage of the panel on Twitter from @GameofThrones and use #GoTSDCC to join the conversation.

WESTWORLD fans can follow live coverage of the panel on Twitter from @WestworldHBO and use #WestworldSDCC to join the conversation.

PLEASE NOTE: Cast and producers scheduled to attend are subject to change.