Saturday, June 06, 2020

Around the Tubes: May 6, 2020

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 Showtime, Tee Grizzley, Selena Gomez, Bryan Fox, Tommy Lee, Justin Flom, and POV.

In an effort to provide resources and raise awareness around the ongoing struggle against systemic racism in America, SHOWTIME has made two of its acclaimed documentaries available for free. Peabody Award-nominated and Television Academy Honors recipient 16 SHOTS examines the 2014 shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke and the cover-up that ensuedAcclaimed director Sacha Jenkins’ BURN MOTHERF*CKER, BURN! explores the complicated relationship between the Los Angeles Police Department and the city’s Black and minority communitiesBoth are now streaming on YouTube and, and are available to SHOWTIME subscribers on demand. The two films will also be available across multiple television and streaming providers’ devices, websites, applications and authenticated online services and their free On Demand channels.  

Detroit rapper Tee Grizzley releases powerful anthem "Mr.Officer".  The song boldly addresses the issue of police brutality alongside a poetic hook with the assistance of Queen Naija and the children of the Detroit Youth Choir. As protests across the country continue, Tee explains the importance of releasing the song by saying  “I got a million experiences I can touch on in my music, but I couldn’t make another song without speaking on what’s going on. I’m not a politician or activist but right now it’s everybody’s job to speak up because the pain, the struggle for equality and the brutality is real”.  Along with the release, Tee also donated $10,000 each to Victory Management Homes and the Horatio Williams Foundation. As the son of a mother who is currently incarcerated, Tee recalls the moment in his childhood when they took his mother away and the state was going to put him and his siblings into foster care before his grandmother stepped in to be their primary caregiver. With that memory in mind, his donation comes as an effort to better support children who have lost their parents due to police brutality or mass incarceration and are forced to live within the foster care system. 

Selena Gomez and The Lonely Island joined Usher, Janelle Monáe, Solange Knowles, Megan Thee Stallion, John Mulaney and many more to endorse law student Loralei HoJay’s viral petition calling for Justice for Breonna Taylor today. Loralei is leading a virtual protest today, Friday, June 5th at 3 PM EST, on what would have been Breonna’s 27th birthday. The protest directs petition signers and supporters to make phone calls, as well as send emails and “tweetstorm” calls for action targeting public officials, including KY Gov. Beshear and Sen. McConnell.

Country rock songwriter Bryan Fox makes a celebratory return with fellow Kentucky natives Buffalo Stille and Ron Clutch from the Grammy-nominated, Southern alternative hip hop group Nappy Roots, releasing a new collaborative song called “That’s About Me.” Produced by studio verteran Malcolm Springer (Matchbox 20, Collective Soul, Boz Skaggs), and recorded at Nashville’s House of Blues studios, the new rollicking summer song is the third collaboration between the trio, and likely their best yet. The song gives its listener a reason to celebrate the return of summer, while paying homage to the popular song themes and instrumentation you get by mixing a little bit of country rock, with a little bit of hip hop.

In conversation with Tommy Lee about his new music, his abject JOY over his new  album, ANDRO, is infectious. The mastermind behind this compelling collection of songs has conquered TikTok amassing 560k followers in the past couple of months, while growing his Instagram audience to over 1 million during quarantine - an audience that eagerly awaits his new opus.  Lee has had a mega-popular Netflix film (The Dirt), starred in and produced 3 Network TV shows (Tommy Lee Goes To College, Rockstar: Supernova, Battleground Earth: Ludacris vs Tommy Lee), had a NY Times Bestseller (Tommyland) and has appeared on scripted and interview TV shows – most recently, a hilarious appearance as a professor on ABC’s The Goldbergs. 

Justin Flom, world-renowned magician and father of two, has debuted Season 1 of his new series Making Magic at Home with Justin Flom, exclusively on the Yippee TV platform, with Season 2 already in production. On the series, Flom shares the secrets to some of his most popular tricks and illusions, instilling a sense of wonder and joy to viewers of all ages.  Justin Flom has a magical life. At a very young age, Flom began sharing the stage with his family, performing magic as a form of storytelling. Now, as an adult, Flom finds himself in front of as diverse an audience as any entertainer, including touring with Country Superstars Florida Georgia Line and creating magic for other stars and companies such as Coca-Cola, Hobby Lobby, Lady Antebellum, Super Bowl Coach Pete Carroll, and the entire Seattle Seahawks team, John Legend, Chrissy Teigen and Nick Jonas. His tours take him to buildings like Madison Square Garden to mega-churches to amphitheaters across the US. He truly has the ability to entertain anyone, anywhere.

POV’s historic 33rd season kicks off with Linda Goldstein Knowlton’s We Are The Radical Monarchs on July 20 at 9 p.m., available to stream on all PBS platforms, including, the PBS Video App and The documentary, which debuted at SXSW Film Festival 2019, follows a group of young girls of color on the frontlines of social justice. Radical Monarchs co-founders Anayvette Martinez and Marilyn Hollinquest—two queer women of color and working mothers—share their journey as they grow the group in Oakland, a city with a deep history of organizing movements. “I think self-empowerment and self-worth for young girls of color is really critical, and it’s really lacking,” says Martinez. “How do we create alternative spaces where that can happen?”

Thursday, June 04, 2020

Previewing We Are Freestyle Love Supreme

Sometimes it seems like some celebrities just enter the public consciousness just fully formed with a blank slate before then. Lin Manuel Miranda just arrived as the Hamilton dude. Sure the theaters nerds probably remember him from In the Heights but there was a time Miranda was on stage even before that production. But his first off Broadway show was not even a musical but an improve comedy hip-hop show. And the thing about Freestyle Love Supreme, Miranda was not even the founder of the troupe or even the main star, but just a guy in the show.

But Lin-Manuel is definitely the reason there is a documentary called We Are Freestyle Love Supreme about the show even though watching it, you can easily forget he was a part of the group. And it is not like the other members went on to be big stars. Christopher Jackson, the original George Washington in Hamilton was a late addition and so was Utkarsh Ambudkar whom you may have seen in a few things including being one of the Treblemakers in Pitch Perfect but has not had that breakout moment yet. Miranda also mentions in the doc that he met Daveed Diggs through the show but never elaborates on the story. The others members are just college buddies that recruited Miranda because of their mutual love of hip-hop.

The documentary does devolves a little into Behind the Music tropes of having darker moments. There are hints of jealousy when Hamilton takes up a lot of three of the member’s time (director Thomas Kail being the third), the leader of the group moves to the west coast after getting married, and things get the darkest when Ambudkar tells the tale of hard drinking ruined his shot of being Aaron Burr in the original run of Hamilton. As Miranda says early in the doc quoting Orsen Wells, ”If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story. “

But the story of Freestyle Love Supreme does not stop there; instead the group gets back together for a string of shows in 2019. Besides those small bumps, the documentary is overwhelmingly positive and the love the guys have for each other and performing. Improv shows can usually be a tough watch and comedy-hip-hop improv is downright cringy especially with a name like Freestyle Love Supreme, but the love these guys have for each other and for their show may be worth checking out if they ever do another reunion show down the line, and not just because Lin-Manuel Miranda would likely show up.

We Are Freestyle Love Supreme premieres tomorrow on Hulu.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

57 Channels and Only This Is On: May 31, 2020

Billions: Did Cory Stoll play Axe? Did he really want the bid, or did he only bid because he knew Axe would outbid him out of spite? That guy is growing on me every episode. Maybe Corey can team up with Chuck and take down Axe then next season can be Chuck vs. Corey Stoll.

Killing Eve: Well that was an interesting golf outfit. But kind of bad editing that the crazy French assassin hit her mentor in the back and later she has a decent gash in her head. But this whole season has been a series of mistakes. Thankful just one more episode left. Maybe try bringing back Phoebe Waller Bridge for the next season instead of hiring a different showrunner.
You can download Killing Eve on iTunes.

Snowpiercer: Not a good sign for the show that the first time the show made me feel bad was when all the cows were frozen. I wonder just how many of the 200(ish) cars have livestock. Gotta imagine that is it for the cows. But at lease the meat is preserved.
You can download Snowpiercer on iTunes.

Penny Dreadful: City of Angels: Did Miss Adelaide just admit to killing that family? It certainly sounded like she wanted her henchman to take care of Tiago the way he took care of that family.

Barskins: I like a good historical drama and this is an interesting take on a part of time I am just vaguely familiar with. But it falls into the same problems as other prestige dramas as there are just too many characters to keep track of. I recognize Matthew Lillard but all the other dudes just blend into each other except the eccentric one.
You can download Barkskins on iTunes.

Love Life: Anna Kendrick is one of my favorite people in the world, I have a very low bar to enjoying her movies, but after watching two episodes, I really was hoping for something better. The supporting cast just does not add anything and all the boyfriends are kind of worthless when you know they are going to break up by the end of the episode. Then the English narration is just completely out of place. With that said, it will be nice to have Anna Kendrick on my television the next couple weeks. Well, I guess only three weeks because after announcing their shows would release weekly, HBO Max announced a day after the premiere they will be releasing remaining seven episodes over the next two weeks.

The Challenge: Total Madness: Nothing better than watch T.J. laughing at people scared by the the challenge. Though I do not understand why Swaggy P got medically pulled from the challenge and was still allowed to participate in the puzzle. If you are pulled, you are pulled. Then poor Nany, two thirds of her holy trinity eliminated in one episode and she is one of the few women left without a red skull. But it would be a cheap season if they institute the new rule that you cannot participate in the Finale and no one get eliminated. But where there are only three women without a red skull, there are six men without one.
You can download The Challenge: Total Madness on iTunes.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Oh yeah, Patton Owsalt was a weird robot clone guy early in the series. I guess we will see what that was all about.
You can download Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. on iTunes.

In the Dark: I am kind of glad that the brother ends up dying. He is just extremely annoying. But it looks like my original prediction that he dies because he stole the drugs is more and more correct. I guess the only question is who kills him.
You can download In The Dark on iTunes.

Blindspot: Oh now, they killed that one chick. But didn’t they blackmail her by threatening her family? So why not kill her family? Not a very proper blackmail. But there were a lot of Reede flashbacks this episode. The more the show him, the more I think he is going t pop up alive soon.
You can download Blindspot on iTunes.