Saturday, March 16, 2019

Around the Tunes: March 16, 2019

I have gotten a plethora of cool press releases have been flooding my inbox recently that you may find interesting. This post will include blurbs on RAMY, Funny Women of a Certain Age, Free Solo, POV, Harlots, Rome's Chariot Superstar, James Bay, Noah Kahan, Lion Babe, Meg Myers, Kaylee Rose, Disgraceland, The Good Lord Bird

- Following the world premiere at SXSW this weekend, Hulu has released the official trailer for upcoming Hulu Original comedy series RAMY. All 10 episodes of RAMY premiere Friday, April 19 only on Hulu.

- Fran Drescher headlines Funny Women of a Certain Age, a new comedy special that will premiere on SHOWTIME on Friday, March 23 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Carole Montgomery, Luenell, Lynne Koplitz, Kerri Louise and Vanessa Hollingshead round out the lineup for the first television comedy special to feature six female comics over the age of 50. The outrageous hour-long special was filmed at The Bell House in Brooklyn.

- Beginning this week, Free Solo, the Academy Award® winning Best Documentary Feature highlighting soloist climber Alex Honnold, will stream on Hulu. From award-winning documentary filmmaker Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and world-renowned photographer and mountaineer Jimmy Chin, FREE SOLO is an unflinching portrait of Honnold as he prepares to achieve his lifelong dream of climbing El Capitan, the 3,200-foot peak in Yosemite National Park, without a rope.

- From city streets to the halls of Congress, women are reasserting their voice and power in 2019. As history unfolds, women are also documenting it. Celebrating these powerful stories in the 32nd season of American television’s longest running documentary showcase on PBS and bucking the industry’s stubborn gender gap, nine out of POV’s 16 feature films this season are helmed by women directors, while four of the five POV Shorts premiering in its second season are directed by women. POV’s 32nd season begins with director Nancy Schwartzman’s Roll Red Roll on June 17 at 10 p.m. on PBS stations, PBS apps, as well as and The season will continue with broadcast premieres airing into October, with pop-out episodes in early 2020. POV Shorts’ second season will also launch with Changing Same, premiering at 10:30 p.m. after the feature film On Her Shoulders on Monday, July 22, with subsequent broadcasts throughout POV’s 32nd season.

- Harlots season 3 will premiere on Wednesday, July 10, 2019 (weekly release) only on Hulu! Joining the cast this season as new foes for the women of Soho are Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones, The Predator) and Ash Hunter (Hamilton West End, The Secret Agent) as the Pincher brothers.

- With new discoveries from the world of Roman chariot racing, Rome's Chariot Superstar pieces together an epic view of the lost ancient sport – the most popular and longest-lived form of mass entertainment in the Roman world, yet also the most lethal. Smithsonian Channel’s new two-hour special offers a detailed account of the life of Flavius Scorpus, a real chariot star, and the racing contests he and other champions entered in the famed Circus Maximus arena. Drawing from expert knowledge, archeological evidence and written records, Rome's Chariot Superstar rebuilds the world of chariot racing and its stars in graphic detail. The special premieres Sunday, April 21 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel.

- Three-time GRAMMY® Award-nominated and BRIT Award-winning multiplatinum singer-songwriter James Bay gave his debut television performance of “Peer Pressure” last night on Late Night with Seth Meyers. Watch the performance HERE.

- Noah Kahan releases the video for his new single, “Mess.” Watch it HERE! Produced by Kahan’s frequent collaborator Joel Little (Lorde, Khalid), the song has already received praise from Billboard, NYLON, Idolator, EARMILK, Baeble, Ones To Watch and more.

- Lion Babe just premiered their new song "Western World" feat. Raekwon on Beats1 Radio with Ebro and you can hear it now across all digital platforms - link to listen below. The track is from their forthcoming album, Cosmic Wind, due out March 29th, and pulls inspiration from the Pet Shop Boys timeless song "West End Girls" and features an appearance from the legendary Wu-Tang member Raekwon. Following their 2016 critically-acclaimed debut album Begin, Cosmic Wind is an introspective turn, highlighting their growth socially, physically, lyrically; musically! Lion Babe states simply, "It's about the current climate of our American culture and soul. Honored to have Raekwon help paint this wild picture of the present."

- Enigmatic alt-rock artist Meg Myers is back with an empowering cover of Kate Bush's 'Running Up That Hill,' the first taste of her next project, slated for release later this summer. Coming of age in a devoted Jehovah’s Witness household, Meg dealt with restrictions on what music she was allowed to listen to. At 19, Meg moved to LA and recorded her debut album Sorry which spawned Top 15 and Top 20 alternative radio hits. Three years later, she put out Take Me To The Disco, her second LP which debuted at #5 on the Current Alternative Chart and earned the acclaim of The New York Times, Associated Press, NPR Music, Stereogum, Billboard, and more.

- Singer-songwriter Kaylee Rose has released a dynamic new song, titled “Stuff” to radio and digital retailers. The powerful new track talks about the emotional attachment one feels to the things that are left behind following a loss or breakup; conveyed in the lyrics of the song “Not ready to say goodbye. When it’s love, it’s not just stuff.”

- The explosive rock and roll true crime podcast "Disgraceland" released the first episode of its third season, a two-part episode focusing on Kurt Cobain & Courtney Love, via the iHeartPodcast Network. Part one is now available on the iHeartRadio app and everywhere podcasts are available, with part two available Tuesday, March 19. New episodes will be released bi-weekly on Tuesdays beginning March 26 with an episode on Snoop Dogg. Listen to episode one here.

- Showtime has ordered the eight-part limited series Good Lord Bird from Blumhouse Television, based on the National Book Award-winning novel The Good Lord Bird by bestselling author James McBride. Oscar®, Golden Globe® and Tony® nominee Ethan Hawke will star as 19th-century abolitionist John Brown and is co-writing and executive producing with award-winning author and producer Mark Richard (The Ice at the Bottom of the World and Hell on Wheels). Emmy winner Anthony Hemingway (Underground) will direct and executive produce. GOOD LORD BIRD is told from the point of view of Onion, an enslaved teenager who becomes a member in Brown’s motley family during the time of Bleeding Kansas, eventually participating in the famous 1859 raid on the Army depot at Harpers Ferry. Brown’s raid failed to initiate the slave revolt he intended, but was the instigating event that started the Civil War.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Previewing Shrill

Where Hulu has been swinging for the fences when it comes to dramas bringing in big names and splashy press releases, they may actually be getting more and more niche with its comedies. Earlier this year they premiered PEN15 by far the weirdest thing currently on television. Next month comes Ramy about a millennial Muslim starring someone you probably have never heard of. And today sees the premiere Shrill whose tagline is, “Annie, a fat young woman who wants to change her life — but not her body.” So yeah, Shrill is not a broad comedy either.

Then after one episode, I kind of wondered if Shrill was a comedy at all because the only time I laughed in the first episode was at a very blunt pharmacist. And that was the only scene he was in. Okay the show does get progressively funnier with each passing episode. Early in the second episode Annie, who writes for an online publication which for some reason still has office space, goes to a strip club to review its buffet.

Annie is played by Aidy Bryant (Saturday Night Live) who lives with her lesbian best friend (Lolly Adefope, Miracle Workers) while Luka Jones (People of Earth) is the douchebag boyfriend who she has to slum it with. Or maybe he is slumming it, I kind of go back and forth throughout the season. And he may only be out douched by Annie’s boss John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) who may the most pretentious gay dude ever.

But the problem is that the funniest people on the show are barely on it. There is a very inappropriate receptionist at the paper who always has something condescending to say but Annie is rarely at the office. So the IT girl only gets two scenes, but her matter-of-factly debates whether a corn dog could make for a self-pleasuring instrument may be the funniest bit in the show. It is either that or when you learn why the third episode is entitled “Pencil” (you will never guess why). Shrill can be very funny when it want to be, seriously there is a scene where a character takes shrooms when a dog eat one by accident in solidarity, but actual laughs are sometimes too far in between.

All episodes of Shrill are now streaming on Hulu.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Previewing Billions: Season Four

Billons threw a huge curveball last season in after two and a half seasons of being at each other throats and seemed to be careening towards mutual assured destruction, Chuck and Axe actually sat down together and called a truce. Not only that, they started helping each other out as both were being targeting by their one time protégés who are now going after their illegal and immoral ways they once tried to take down the other. Chuck is now being investigated by his second in command while Axe’s star analyst has set up her own shop, taking a sizable amount of capital with her as well as a couple employees.

So both Chuck and Axe start season four a little wounded, Chuck was fired by Attorney General and replaced by the protégé who is now reviewing all his past cases for improprieties. Then Axe is now is finding it hard to retaliate against his protégé who is being backed by a Russian oligarch and has lost his wife and child. Okay, there is a new blonde that looks just like her that catches Axe’s eye. But it is weird after rarely appearing on screen in the first three seasons, how much Axe and Chuck spend together in the new season.

Chuck private practice for high power players and without much power humorously goes on a trek to carry favors with his one chip is not very covetable. Of course it is not very long before his overbearing father tries to grab some power with his son by coming up with a play to make him the Attorney General of New York state. But I wonder just what would happened if a real disgraced U.S. Attorney tried to run for a state Attorney General would go. Wouldn’t an announcement be dead on arrival? Although in these days and times, I guess I could see Trump/Jeff Sessions firing one, claiming it is politically motivated and then run for Attorney General of New York and quickly crowned out of spite mostly.

Billions airs Sundays at 9:00 on Showtime.