Oprah, "Neverland," and a Lot of Casting: This Week in TV

While you were still wiping up your sweat/drool from the "Shallow" performance, picking your jaw up off of the floor after Green Book won Best Picture, and humming along to the very classic songs from the "Co-Op" soundtrack, here's the TV news you may have missed.

While you were still wiping up your sweat/drool from the "Shallow" performance, picking your jaw up off of the floor after Green Book won Best Picture, and humming along to the very classic songs from the "Co-Op" soundtrack, here's the TV news you may have missed.

Bryan Bedder / Getty Images

Oprah to Calm us all Down after Leaving Neverland

Leaving Neverland, the documentary about Michael Jackson's alleged sexual abuse of two young boys in the 1990s is so harrowing that counselors were waiting in the lobby during intermission of the film's premiere at this year's Sundance Film Festival. Because HBO can't provide counselors to all viewers when it airs the reportedly grueling, sexually-explicit 4-hour documentary on Sunday and Monday, they will air a special hosted by TV and entertainment's most comforting presence: Oprah. On Oprah Winfrey Presents: Leaving Neverland, Winfrey will host a Q&A with Jackson accusers Wade Robson and James Safechuck. The special will be taped in front of an audience of sexual abuse survivors and will air at 10 pm on March 4, immediately following the conclusion of the 2-part series (part 1 airs March 3 at 8 pm). Jackson's estate and family have denied all allegations.

Nathan Congleton / NBC / NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

JBH Replaces KLG

The Today Show officially announced that Kathie Lee Gifford would pass her wine glass along to Jenna Bush Hager. Gifford announced her departure from the fourth hour of Today with co-star Hoda Kotb last December. Hager, the daughter of former President George W. Bush, has been at Today since 2009 as a reporter and regular correspondent. Gifford, who herself claims to have "been in this business for 120 years," has co-hosted with Kotb for nearly 11 years. No word yet on who they will tap to record a new theme song.


We are truly living in the era of Peak TV. Just when you think everything has been done, a new show jumps on the scene to provide an entirely new idea of what TV can achieve. The reboot of Beverly Hills, 90210 is not that show. Fox released a 10-second teaser announcing the return of the series, set for this summer. The gang is headed back to the Hills—stars Jason Priestley, Jennie Garth, Ian Ziering, Gabrielle Carteris, Brian Austin Green, and Tori Spelling are all confirmed, so far—only this time, the actors will be playing versions of themselves who get meet up to try to put a reboot together. Did you follow that? The reboot is about the reboot. Clever. Let's hope no one mentions the 2008 rebooted version or the universe will implode.

NBC's Got Love for the 99

After a slap-dash, 48-hour resuscitation following Fox's cancelation, NBC has once again given new life to Brooklyn Nine-Nine, this time renewing it for a seventh season. Nine-Nine has proven to be good business for NBC, and they recently expanded their sixth season order from 13 episodes to 18. Its dedicated and vocal fanbase took to Twitter to gif their excitement, but the best, most heartwarmingly on-brand tweet had to be the one in which the cast and crew learn the news.

Getty Images

Casting Calls

This week ushered in a slew of casting news. Brittany Snow will star in an untitled Fox drama based on the Australian Sisters, to be directed by Russian Doll's Leslye Headland. Jane the Virgin spinoff, Jane the Novela, has found its new Jane in East Los High's Jacqueline Grace Lopez. Showtime darling Damian Lewis (Homeland, Billions) will head to A+E with Damian Lewis: Spy Wars, a docu-drama look at real stories of global espionage. Goodfella Ray Liotta is said to be joining the cast of David Chase's Sopranos prequel movie, The Many Saints of Newark. And, in casting that wasn't: George R. R. Martin will not be making a cameo in the final season of Game of Thrones.

And, Finally, Watch Steve Carell Jump Out of a Box for Jenna Fischer

He presented himself as a gift for his former co-star's birthday on Busy Tonight.

Rebecca Linde is a writer and cultural critic in NYC. She tweets about pop culture and television @rklinde.

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Green Eggs are In, Marvel's Out, and Women are on the Move: This Week in TV News

While you were getting lost in Batsh*t Valley or preparing to drool over Idris Elba being funny, here's the TV news you may have missed.

While you were getting lost in Batsh*t Valley or preparing to drool over Idris Elba being funny, here's the TV news you may have missed:

Green Eggs and Ham: Season 1 | Teaser [HD] | Netflix

If You Liked it as a Book, Please Enjoy this Very Brief First Look

Three years after announcing a series based on the Dr. Seuss classic, Netflix released the first teaser for Green Eggs and Ham on Tuesday. The animated series, produced by Ellen DeGeneres, will be released in fall 2019 and will follow opposites Guy and Sam as they embark on a trip to save an endangered animal. The series is said to be the most expensive ever produced for television, but that may very well be due to its celebrity voice cast: Adam Devine as Sam I Am and Michael Douglas as Guy Am I, along with Jillian Bell, Daveed Diggs, Ilana Glazer, Eddie Izzard, Diane Keaton, Keegan-Michael Key, John Turturro, and Jeffrey Wright.

Getty Images

TV's Power Women Making Moves

It was a big week for women in TV. On Thursday, it was announced that, after over a decade at Universal, Mindy Kaling had signed a reported $8 million a year deal at Warner Bros. Television. Kaling will be developing, writing, and producing television projects for all platforms. Meanwhile, just a day earlier, Universal confirmed an overall deal with Fresh Off the Boat creator and executive producer Nahnatchka Khan. The deal has the writer/producer, who also created Don't Trust the B— in Apt 23, leaving her longtime home at 20th Century Fox. Wednesday also brought news that Showtime had ordered a pilot for an anthology series from Lena Waithe called How to Make Love to a Black Woman (Who May be Working Through Some Sh*t). The series, which will chronicle "stories about connection and rejection," will be written by The Chi writer, Cathy Kisakye. The order is part of Waithe's first-look deal with the network.


Netflix Says Goodbye to Marvel

Marvel's stay at Netflix is officially over. As reported by Deadline on Monday, the streaming service canceled Jessica Jones and The Punisher, the only Marvel series left on their roster after the earlier cancellations of Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Daredevil. While this marks the end of a 5-year, extremely expensive partnership between two entertainment behemoths, it's just another step closer to the upcoming launch of Disney's new streaming service: executives from Disney (and Disney-owned Marvel Entertainment) have announced plans to remove Marvel films from Netflix in order to maintain control over its own content, and it stands to reason they'd want the same control for their properties.

Adult Swim

And, Finally, Childrens Hospital is Not Returning?

The team behind the Adult Swim comedy Childrens Hospital is coming together again for Medical Police. The half-hour comedy will be written and executive produced by Childrens creator Rob Corddry along with Krister Johnson, Jonathan Stern, and David Wain. The series will star Childrens alums Erinn Hayes and Rob Huebel, with recurring and guest starring roles from other original series regulars Malin Akerman, Lake Bell, Corddry, and Ken Marino. But don't get confused. Unlike the original, in which Hayes and Huebel play doctors at a children's hospital in Sao Paulo, Brazil, this series finds Hayes and Huebel as "American physicians stationed at a pediatric hospital in Sao Paulo, Brazil," according to Variety.

Rebecca Linde is a writer and cultural critic in NYC. She tweets about pop culture and television @rklinde.

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Four Great Pop Culture Hoaxes

The audacity of hoax

With the season of the grifter and accusations that Jussie Smollett may have staged a hate crime against himself fresh on our minds, it's clear we can't get enough of a good hoax (alleged or otherwise). To sate our appetites, here are four of pop culture's best grifters, cheaters, liars, and hoaxes.

Justin Bieber and the Sideways Burrito

When everyone, even the leader of the free world, uses Twitter to launch typo-laden vitriol, it's almost a relief when the entire internet can forge ahead, together, and take a stand against injustice. On October 25, 2018, injustice was thrust upon the digital sphere in photographic form: an image of Justin Bieber, alone on a park bench, tearing into a burrito, middle-first. The photo was picked up by multiple outlets, all dumbstruck by the epicurean quirk of the Canadian pop star. Alas, the photo turned out to be a fake—nothing more than a lookalike staged by the YouTube channel YesTheory who came clean in a video that is, for some reason, 12 minutes long.

We Fooled the Internet w/ Fake Justin Bieber Burrito Photo

USA Today

Balloon Boy

This hoax has it all. Regular couple desperate for attention? Check. Exploitation of a small child in hopes of a reality TV deal? Check. A rogue 20-foot, saucer-shaped helium balloon? Check. County-wide search and rescue effort that included a Black Hawk helicopter? Check. A six-year-old boy accidentally blowing his parents' cover on live TV? Check. That same boy vomiting not once, but twice, also on live TV? But, of course.

On the afternoon of October 15, 2009, people across the country watched as a homemade flying saucer drifted over the greater Denver area. At approximately 11:00 that morning, self-proclaimed UFO enthusiast Richard Heene had accidentally launched the transportation device prototype from his Fort Collins backyard without realizing, he claimed, that his six-year-old son, Falcon (ok, maybe his kid's name should have been the first red flag), had climbed aboard. National television outlets covered the flight live, and viewers watched for hours as the balloon made its way to an empty field near Denver International Airport at 2:00pm—with no trace of Falcon. At 4:00pm, as Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden announced to news media that a recovery effort was underway, one of his deputies informed him that the boy had been found. Falcon claimed he had been playing in the family's garage all day.

During a live interview on CNN that evening, Wolf Blitzer asked Falcon why he hadn't left the garage as people called his name. When he didn't immediately reply, his father stepped in, repeating the question, to which a confused-looking Falcon responded, looking at Heele, "You guys said that we did it for a show." After another 24 hours of non-stop media interviews and continuous denials, scrutiny over the veracity of family's story grew. Days later, Sheriff Alderdan confirmed the hoax theory, and Heele and his wife later confessed to orchestrating the entire story.

"Another Winner!" - Dave ManningNetflix

David Manning's Film Reviews

You may not remember Rob Schneider's cinematic triumph, The Animal (consider yourself lucky), but David Manning of Connecticut's The Ridgefield Press deemed it "Another Winner!" From 2000-2001, Manning was Columbia Pictures' biggest fan: his raves appeared on posters and ads for their films A Knight's Tale, Hollow Man, and The Forsaken. The problem? No one named David Manning worked at The Ridgefield Press, and the reviews from which his quotes were clipped didn't exist.

While reporter John Horn was investigating the world of movie junket journalism, he noticed that none of the reporters regularly on the circuit knew Manning. Horn decided to contact The Ridgefield Press. No one at the small weekly had ever heard of Manning, let alone published anything under his byline. In a June 2001 story for Newsweek, Horn revealed that Manning was the creation of a marketing executive at Sony, Columbia Pictures' parent company, who had fabricated the quotes.

Sony pulled the ads, but insisted that their right to publish them was protected by the First Amendment. Yet when moviegoers filed a lawsuit against the studio, a Los Angeles judge rejected the free speech defense. Sony was ordered to pay a $1.5 million settlement—and agreed to a $5 refund for any dissatisfied customers who saw certain films hyped by Manning—and the executive's identity was never made public.

MTV's Springer Break 1998

Because it took place during the infancy of the internet, this one requires some backstory. Back in the late '80s and early aughts, MTV relocated from its NYC headquarters to any place with a beach for an entire week. From there, the network would dedicate a week's worth of programming to 8-hour/day live broadcasts of drunk and horny college-age kids dancing, partying, and generally making asses out of themselves on national television. It was called MTV's Spring Break and it was a beautiful, hot mess.

In addition to musical performances, and, uh, fashion shows, Springer Break, a collegiate version of The Jerry Springer Show, was a staple. Springer Break was markedly more dramatic than its host's regular "tasteless talk show." There was something almost painfully salacious about these younger participants, seemingly plucked from an audience of average campus kids, sitting in shorts and spaghetti-straps with the ocean at their backs and the angry sea air whipping at their faces as they confessed "roommate secrets."

Things got very heated during one such segment of "Roommate Confessions," when roommates Matt and Dave got into a fistfight after Matt revealed that he had been sleeping with Dave's girlfriend, Caitlin, who was conveniently seated between the two right there on the Springer Break stage. Tensions were so high that producers insisted the two men leave the set separately.

Yet just as swiftly as their fists flew, Matt, Dave, and Caitlin—three friends from Georgetown University—quickly confessed that it was nothing but a ruse to "get on TV, have fun, whatever." This may seem inconsequential in a post-Catfish, deepfake, "alternate facts" world, but at the time, it was a huge deal. That three, ordinary kids from Long Island, NY could bamboozle one of the biggest names in daytime TV was as audacious as it was inspiring.

Rebecca Linde is a writer and cultural critic in NYC. She tweets about pop culture and television @rklinde.

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Nothing But Respect for Our President

We'd like to take this time to formally announce our wholehearted endorsement of this candidate.

Colleen Hayes / HBO

The field of candidates for 2020 just got a little bit larger.

In honor of President's Day, Selina Mayer addressed the nation to announce her bid to occupy the Oval Office once again. She also used the moment of national attention to release a new trailer for the 7th and final season of Veep, demonstrating some very presidential multi-tasking skills.

Veep (2019) Final Season | Official Trailer | HBO

We'd like to take this moment to announce our endorsement of this candidate. In fact, we will now acknowledge this woman, and this woman alone, as the leader of these United States. (Editor's note: we are referring to either Selina Mayer or Julia Louis-Dreyfus.)

Rebecca Linde is a writer and cultural critic in NYC. She tweets about pop culture and television @rklinde.

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AOC is Ready for Showtime

Freshman congressional representative and speaker of truth to power, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez made a very important public statement on Wednesday: she will be the first guest on Desus & Mero, the new late night talk show from Desus Nice and The Kid Mero. AOC joins her Bronx brethren, whose pop-culture commentary first made waves via their podcast before evolving into a Viceland weekly, for the first installment of their premium cable iteration. Desus & Mero premieres February 21 at 11pm on Showtime.

Breaking's Back

Aaron Paul is stepping back into the lab as Jesse Pinkman in an upcoming, feature-length sequel to Breaking Bad. In an unconventional move, the movie will premiere on Netflix before moving to the series original home on AMC. Details remain largely unknown, but sources say the movie will be written and directed by creator Vince Gilligan and "will follow the escape of a kidnapped man and his quest for freedom," according to The Hollywood Reporter. No word on whether or not there will be a Walter White appearance, but Bryan Cranston has signalled he'd be there in a heartbeat. Yeah, bitch!

Amazon to Stay Marvelous

While Amazon may have ditched its deal for NYC headquarters, it's production arm, Amazon Studios, has no plan to get rid of the Marvelous Sherman-Palladinos. The studio has signed an overall deal with Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino, the team behind Gilmore Girls and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. "We celebrate the critical success...and our extended overall deal with them, which will allow our Amazon Prime audience to continue to enjoy their groundbreaking show and future original series from this incredible duo," said studio head Jennifer Salke at the Television Critics Association winter press tour on Wednesday.

Eve & Villanelle Return

Addicted | Killing Eve Season 2 Teaser Trailer | BBC America

Sandra Oh's killer hair will return in season 2 of Killing Eve, airing on both BBC America and AMC beginning April 7. The latest trailer, released on Thursday, promises more spiraling obsessions, knife porn, and Jodie Comer in comic-themed pjs. We're already obsessed.

And, Finally, Nick's Got Your Nostalgia Fix

Nickelodeon doesn't want their fans to outgrow them. The kids' network has announced plans to hang onto both Gen-Z and Millennial demos, according to Variety. New network president Brian Robbins revealed plans for a reboot of the '90s tween sketch comedy show, All That, to be executive produced by original cast member and current SNL staple Kenan Thompson, as well as potential spin-off shows that focus on Spongebob favorites Patrick, Sandy, or Plankton.

Rebecca Linde is a writer and cultural critic in NYC. She tweets about pop culture and television @rklinde.

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While you were mourning the loss of Gina Linetti and wondering why Rent: Live wasn't live, here's the TV news you may have missed:

Bad Girls

LA's Finest, the series-spinoff of the Bad Boys films, has gotten an official premiere date and teaser trailer. The hour-long drama is the first foray into original programming from cable company Spectrum, and will premiere on May 13, 2019. The series stars Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba as Syd and Nancy (oh, clever), respectively, LAPD detectives with "complex" histories.

"L.A.'s Finest" - Premiere Date Announcement - May 13 on Spectrum Originals

They Awaken

In other, film-turned-series-spinoff getting the trailer and premiere treatment news: FX released an early look at writer Jemaine Clement and director Taika Waititi's What We Do in the Shadows, which will premiere on March 27, 2019. The series mirrors the mockumentary style of its predecessor, this time offering a glimpse at the lives of three vampire roommates in New York City. Check out the trailer to learn what an "energy vampire" is.

What We Do in the Shadows | Season 1: Official Trailer [HD] | FX

Helen Sloan / HBO

Winter's Still Coming

HBO released a new slate of stills from the upcoming final season of Game of Thrones, and your friends here at Popdust basically predicted everything that will happen.

Hair Got Chopped

Perhaps in response to seeing all of the changes Fox had to make to the already-earnest lyrics from Rent: Live, NBC has decided to forgo its previously-scheduled May musical event, Hair Live! Was it too difficult to find a way to eschew the full-frontal nudity, illicit drug use, and a song called "Sodomy?" According to a statement from NBC released to TVLine, which notes that the network is shifting its focus to "broad-based, family musicals," yes. Yes it was.

schitt's creek CBC

And, Finally, Meet Fun Ted

As Schitt's Creek continues its run as the most endearing series that's also bitingly hilarious, it ups its game with the introduction of Fun Ted, who is released when Alexis convinces Ted to let loose in last night's episode "Housewarming."


Rebecca Linde is a writer and cultural critic in NYC. She tweets about pop culture and television @rklinde.

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