Review: ‘Catch and Kill: The Podcast Tapes’ debuts parts 3 & 4 tonight on HBO & HBO MAX

Catch and Kill: The Podcast Tapes, a six-part, half-hour documentary series, brings to life Ronan Farrow’s intimate, revealing interviews with whistleblowers, journalists, private investigators and other sources, conducted for the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist’s podcast and best-selling book, Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies and A Conspiracy to Protect Predators.

Directed by Emmy-winners Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato (HBO’s Carrie Fisher: Wishful Drinking), the series expands on the podcast and book with never-before-seen footage and new insights into this culture-shaking story. Interviews are interwoven with additional sound and imagery from documents, audiotapes, photos, archive footage, and illustrations. With fresh perspectives and detail — not just on the harrowing effort to expose one powerful predator, but on the systems that help cover up terrible crimes to this day — the series presents new revelations in the reporting on one of Hollywood’s most ungettable stories.

Reporters Ken Auletta and Kim Masters explore the roadblocks that stalled their years-long quests to expose Weinstein.​

Catch and Kill: The Podcast Tapes is set during a period of recent history when the world seemed unrelentingly bleak. The documentary demonstrates that even during those dark times, however, courageous individuals worked hard to expose the truth for the sake of justice.

Throughout six 30-minute episodes, Ronan Farrow guides viewers through a complex web of conspirators fighting against his journalistic investigation into the “open secret” of Harvey Weinstein’s rape offenses. While many may be familiar with the outlines of the case, like the many credible allegations of abuse and how Farrow’s New Yorker story helped trigger the #MeToo movement, the documentary focuses on many lesser-known aspects of the saga. 

Model Ambra Gutierrez reveals the high-stakes police sting operation that captured a chilling admission from Harvey Weinstein – and her plan to preserve the evidence after authorities declined to prosecute.

Each episode in the series uncovers a new layer in a complex web of protection, manipulation, and gentlemen’s agreements that Harvey and others have relied on to shield them from critique and consequences for decades. The thesis of this project is clear: Society should not be content with the conviction of high profile men like Harvey Weinstein alone. Instead, we must dismantle the complicit power structures that allowed Harvey Weinstein’s abuses to continue for years without repercussions. Farrow makes clear that media companies, attorneys, and literal spies worked together to shield powerful men from criminal prosecution and public contempt. 

Although I intended only to watch the first two installments, I ended up binging the rest of them in a single afternoon. Every chapter in the series is intriguing, closing on a cliffhanger that compels you to roll into the next. 

It is said that the arc of the universe bends towards justice. Although there is still a long way to go, Catch and Kill instills a sense of hope that perhaps many of the traditional systems of power that have kept bad men on top for generations are more tenuous now than they have been before.

The documentary series debuted on HBO & HBO MAX with two back-to-back episodes MONDAY, JULY 12(9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT), with new episodes airing back-to-back subsequent Mondays at the same time.

 

Review: Part One of Ja Morant original series ‘PROMISELAND’ premieres today exclusively on Crackle.

PROMISELAND

PROMISELAND takes a fresh, visceral approach to exploring the intimate journey and personal evolution of Ja Morant, a remarkable athlete who comes of age during his rookie season in the NBA. The story unfolds in real-time, shining a spotlight on the evolution of an extraordinary young man working hard to achieve his dreams of basketball superstardom. A small-town kid is thrust into a brave new world, made up of big business, power players, a small-market NBA franchise and a ravenous public spotlight, all while the radically unprecedented twists and turns of the 2019-2020 season come into focus.

Nowadays, it seems like every athlete has a documentary crew following them around.  The definition of “behind the scenes” has broadened, and what once was novel or surprising now can feel like table stakes. What makes the journey of budding NBA superstar Ja Morant in Promiseland unique is that the narrative is almost exclusively articulated via Ja’s network of family, friends, and mentors. The first installment follows Ja from humble beginnings in Sumnter, South Carolina to the bright spotlights of the 2019 NBA draft, where the Memphis Grizzlies select him as the #2 pick.  Through it all, Promiseland’stop priority isn’t to dazzle you with basketball highlights (although it has plenty of those) but to root you in the places and people that motivate Ja daily.

 Dexton Deboree’s focused direction prioritizes small human elements that ground you in Ja’s reality. It’s the hum of cicadas as Tee Morant coaches his son through a difficult drill. The camera lingers on friends, family, and empty chairs acting as phantom opponents as Ja grunts and weaves across his makeshift concrete court. These striking sounds and images paint a portrait of the daily effort and strong foundation of support Ja has needed to reach his current heights. It isn’t flashy – but the grind is approachable, relatable, and ultimately inspirational.

Promiseland unfolds in real-time, so we already know the challenges lying in Ja’s future: an uphill climb towards the NBA playoffs, a brutal pandemic, and the harsh realities of systemic racism. Watching Promiseland, you understand why this young superstar is ready to meet the moment.

PART ONE OF THIS ORIGINAL SERIES
PREMIERES JUNE 3 EXCLUSIVELY ON CRACKLE
PART TWO PREMIERES JUNE 17

Created and directed by Dexton Deboree (Unbanned: The Legend of AJ1)

PROMISELAND features interviews with:
Ja Morant, NBA star for the Memphis Grizzlies, 2020 Rookie of the Year
Carmelo Anthony, NBA All-Star
A’ja Wilson, WNBA MVP
Tee Morant, Ja Morant’s father
Jamie Morant, Ja Morant’s mother
Teniya Morant, Ja Morant’s sister
Phil Morant, Ja Morant’s uncle, and manager
Taylor Jenkins, Memphis Grizzlies head basketball coach
Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies NBA star
Brandon Clarke, Memphis Grizzlies NBA star
Matt McMahon, Murray State head basketball coach
Moneybagg Yo, Rapper
and more

Produced by DLP Media Group (30 for 30’s Lance, Rodman: For Better or Worse),
Falkon Entertainment, RTG Features, Interscope Films, and Waffle Iron Entertainment
Soundtrack from Interscope Records, Original score from Steve “Swiff D” Thornton

Review: Will HBO docuseries ‘ALLEN v. FARROW’ finally lead to accountability?

ALLEN v. FARROW

The four-part documentary series Allen v. Farrow, from award-winning investigative filmmakers Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering and Amy Herdy, goes behind the years of sensational headlines to reveal the private story of one Hollywood’s most notorious and public scandals: the accusation of sexual abuse against Woody Allen involving Dylan, his then 7-year-old daughter with Mia Farrow; their subsequent custody trial, the revelation of Allen’s relationship with Farrow’s daughter, Soon-Yi; and the controversial aftermath in the years that followed.

There is a chilling feeling while watching this series. As a critic, I long fell into the same category as the journalists featured at the beginning of the episode. You grow up with the notion that Woodey Allen represented the quintessential essence of what New York City culture was. You’re enamored with it all. While inarguably furthering the early careers of actresses Diane Keaton, Mariel Hemingway, and Mia Farrow (they made 12 films during their relationship), the pattern of behavior and theme of his obsession with young women run through his scripts. Woody Allen has somehow been allowed to continue to work mostly unscathed, even after the world knew about his relationship with Farrow’s adopted daughter Soon-Yi, even after the #MeToo movement continues to rain hell down on abusers. Allegations swirled about the sexual abuse of adopted daughter Dylan. This is the first time that Dylan gets to tell her story in earnest. This doc utilized Allen’s own words against him as excerpts of him narrating his 2020 memoir play in between intimate sitdown interviews with Mia, Dylan, Ronan, family, and friends of the once power couple. Mia took endless hours of home videos for years, adding to the amount of readily available footage from the media. Finally hearing all the details from the source is brutal. It’s a visceral watch.  As a parent, it is next-level painful. Watching the cycle of emotional abuse Mia endured from one man to the next, all while unconditionally loving her children adds another complex layer to this situation. This series will undoubtedly be controversial. It will be interesting to see the apologists come out loud and proud. There’s an enormous amount of evidence to digest. You will be shocked, sickened, furious, heartbroken. All this just at the end of the first of four episodes. ALLEN v. FARROW has to potential to reopen old wounds for a lot of trauma survivors. It also has the potential to knock another man off the pedestal we’ve kept him on for far too long.

The remaining episodes of ALLEN v. FARROW will air over the next subsequent Sunday nights on HBO at 9 pm.

Amazon Prime series: Twisted and dark ‘Tell Me Your Secrets’ Season 1 is available today!

TELL ME YOUR SECRETS

An intense, morally complex thriller revolving around a trio of characters, each with a mysterious and troubling past: Emma (Rabe) is a young woman who once looked into the eyes of a dangerous killer, John (Linklater) is a former serial predator desperate to find redemption, and Mary (Brenneman) is a grieving mother obsessed with finding her missing daughter, Theresa (Baker). As each of them is pushed to the edge, the truth about their pasts and motives grows ever murkier, blurring the lines between victim and perpetrator.

Emma Hall is a new woman, or at least she hopes to be. Recently released from prison, she is the former girlfriend of a notorious serial rapist and murderer. With a new identity and the help of a mysterious man, she attempts to start over in a small Louisiana town where no one knows who she is or what she’s done, including Emma. All we know is that she claims to have memory gaps when it comes to her boyfriend’s crimes. Mary lost her daughter 7 years ago and is convinced Emma holds the key to her disappearance. When reformed rapist John is denied a volunteer position at her foundation, Mary emotionally blackmails into tracking Emma down. The audience is in for one hell of a mystery.

With multiple timelines, you aren’t sure what to believe. Tell Me Your Secrets is loaded and dizzying. The end of episode one had me catching my breath. I need to know what happened to Theresa and how Emma is connected. I can tell as a Mother, this story intrigues me. As a true crime fan, I’m invested. As a critic, I am impressed at the storytelling style. If this is just the introduction to this series, I’m hooked.

The cast is top-notch. Amy Breneman‘s woman in the edge performance is terrifying. Hamish Linklater‘s anxiety-driven reformed act gives me pause. I’m dying to see more from him already. Lily Rabe‘s perfect balancing act of darkness and trauma makes Tell Me Your Secrets as captivating as it is. If you’re a fan of The Killing or True Detective, this could be your new binge.

All 10 episodes of Season 1 of TELL ME YOUR SECRETS are now available on Prime Video

HBO documentary series review: ‘The Lady and The Dale’ tells the unbelievably true story of a transgender entrepreneur.

The Lady and The Dale

This four-part documentary series from Emmy®-winning producers Mark and Jay Duplass (“Room 104”) traces the audacious story of Elizabeth Carmichael, a larger-than-life entrepreneur who took the world by storm with her promotion of a fuel-efficient, three-wheeled car known as The Dale in the middle of the 1970s oil crisis. Liz’s promotional zeal thrust her into fierce public and media scrutiny which uncovered a web of mystery and suspicion about the car’s technology and her own checkered past.

This HBO docu-series about a mad genius who happened to be a trans woman, The Lady and The Dale comes from Emmy-winning Mark and Jay Duplass and is co-directed by Nick Cammilleri and Zackery Drucker. Who is Elizabeth Dean Carmichael? Perhaps the first question should be, “Who is Jerry Dean Michael?” Smart, fearless, and loyal, Jerry might as well be the subject of Catch Me If You Can. Then everything changes as entrepreneur Liz arrives on the scene. She would be the one to rule. Using eye-catching 2D animation and archival footage to illustrate intimate sit-down interviews, it’s insanely engaging. The way this family was brought up sounds like it cannot be true but boy, is it entertaining. The FBI, the mob, the police, the media all wanted a piece of Jerry or Liz… or both. And this is only the first episode of this docu-series! To think this is merely a set-up for what is coming in Liz’s story is surreal. Last night, The Lady and The Dale debuted with back to back episodes. They are explosive and completely unreal. If you’re not completely hooked a few minutes into episode 1, I would be flabbergasted. The amount of information thrown at the audience is massive and completely intriguing. How do one woman and a three-wheeled car make history? Just you wait and see. This is a captivating story of a woman who wouldn’t take no for an answer. Elizabeth Carmichael would take on the auto industry and the world, for better or for worse. The final two episodes of The Lady and The Dale will air over the next two Sundays and will be available to stream on HBO Max.

HBO’s four-part Original docuseries review: ‘Murder on Middle Beach’ episode one airs tonight.

HBO Documentary Films’ MURDER ON MIDDLE BEACH, a four-part documentary series directed by first-time filmmaker Madison Hamburg, presents Hamburg’s complicated journey as a young man determined to solve an unspeakable crime and absolve the people he loves, while looking for answers within his fractured family and community.

 

On March 3, 2010, single mother Barbara Hamburg was found violently murdered near her home in the upper-middle-class enclave of Madison, Connecticut. Investigators speculated her murder appeared to be a crime of passion, but without enough evidence, the case grew cold.

Over the course of 8 years, Barbara’s son, Madison Hamburg, interviewed his family members and many others, longing to learn more about his mother and gathering evidence in hopes of solving her murder, sending him into a deep web of buried familial secrets, connections to shadowy criminal figures, and the uncovering of years-old resentments in his deceptively serene hometown. While Madison wrestles with troubling revelations about his mother, the most unsettling conflict comes from Madison’s obligation to bring into question those inside his community and members of his own family.

Madison Hamburg wants to know what happened to his mother in 2010. Growing up in an affluent Connecticut town myself, I found it shocking that I had not heard about this case. Who would want to kill a stay at home mother? What are the motives for such a brutal act? The theories seem straight forward until you’re steered down another road due to lack of evidence. The things that went wrong in this initial investigation will frustrate you to no end. You have to give Madison credit for having the courage and, for lack of a more eloquent way of putting it, balls for putting his entire childhood and now adulthood on the line to solve this mystery and deal with his trauma.

Creative editing places you inside the family dynamic of the Hamburgs. Not just Madison’s odd relationship with his estranged father, but his aunt’s and uncles, grandparents, and his sister Barbara, the 4th of that namesake on his mother’s side. Madison uses home videos and still photography to invite you into the years he had with his Mom. Some of the most unique moments come in the form of vintage voiceovers from what seems like those creepy 1950s classroom movies. It is eerily effective. Intimate sit-down interviews play the largest part as the mystery grows. There are constant hints of family secrets but we only get a tease in the final moments of episode one. You’re so invested in this story, it’s frightening. There is no doubt Madison Hamburg wants the truth. I know I’ll be watching the final 3 episodes on HBO to find out if he gets it. Murder on Middle Beach will air episode 1 tonight at 10:00-11:00pm ET/PT.

Stream on HBO Max: http://itsh.bo/hbo-max

MURDER ON MIDDLE BEACH debuts on November 15 on HBO and will be available to stream on HBO Max.

Review: ‘Dear…’ Apple Tv+ new series is coming this Friday!

Dear…

One person’s story can change the world. From Emmy-winning filmmaker R.J. Cutler, this ten-part docuseries profiles game-changing icons and the people whose lives they’ve inspired.

 

Dear… is a brand new docuseries featuring letters to some of the most influential people of our time. These fan letters affect the reader as profoundly as the author. ‘DEAR…’ explores the histories of our subjects, what inspired them to be artistic, brave, and to step into the unknown. Like each letter illustrated, the series is one of a kind.

Episode 2:

Lin-Manuel Miranda understood that if you don’t tell your story, someone will do it for you in a way that might not be as authentic. He talks about creating In The Heights and literally changing the face and sound of musical theatre. He learned how to say, “No”, and how to wait for the right opportunity. Finally, Latinos were able to see themselves onstage. His fans’ letters speak to the ability to celebrate their heritage. Wait until you see how and where he shares the first 16 bars from Hamilton. Through this show and his subsequent speech at the Tony Awards, he gave renew voice to the LGBTQA+ community. Love is love is love is love is love.

Episode 6:

Jane Goodall is a huge figure for someone so small in real life. What she has done for research and extinction awareness is a gift to the Earth. In her Dear… episode, her letters tell the stories of other people and their journey to protect the planet and its creatures. Jane’s love of animals and Tarzan inspired her to study Africa. Footage of Goodall in 1960 in Tanzania in search of chimpanzees is gorgeous. Thus began her life’s work. Her fans span generations, creating foundations, becoming conservation activists and journalists, mentors, and environmentally progressive teens. Her message through Roots and Shoots is about encouraging each child to be part of the solution and have the courage to raise awareness to those who don’t understand the effect humans have on climate.

Episode 7:

Big Bird, yes our giant 8-foot tall Sesame Street herald, has his very own episode of Dear… Big Bird is technically only 6 years old, but he’s been around since the incarnation of Jim Henson and PBS’ children’s series in 1969. Children follow the social-emotional growth of someone just like them. In 1982, the actor who played Mr. Hooper passed away, and Sesame Street used it as an opportunity to teach young kids about death. Whenever major events happen in the world, Sesame Street deals with them head-on using Big Bird as their universal child. He shows the same vulnerability that a viewer would. His letters are from the adults that grew up with him. With 2 toddlers of my own, we watch Big Bird learn new lessons every day. He teaches them how to be a good friend, how it’s ok to make mistakes, and how to be accepting of those who are different from us. Now that Sesame Street has Julia, a character with autism, my connection with Big Bird is stronger than ever. I am a Mom with a child on the spectrum. He has taught us that being yourself is the best way to be, that would celebrate how special and unique each of us truly is. In a way, this review is my very own letter saying Thank You for continuing to teach us all.

DEAR… also showcases the lives and letters of Spike Lee, Aly Raisman, Misty Copeland, Oprah Winfrey, Yara Shahidi, Jane Goodall, Stevie Wonder, and Gloria Steinem. The beautiful juxtaposition of the authors’ letters dramatized while reading them is stunning. You’ll have chills. The show is hopeful and real. It’s incredibly well done. It’s a series we need right now, in this moment of history. DEAR… can be seen beginning June 5th in its entirety on Apple TV+.

Review: ‘Blood Machines’ a cyberpunk fantasy, now available on AMC’s Shudder.

Synopsis:
Two space hunters are tracking down a machine trying to free itself. After taking it down, they witness a mystical phenomenon: the ghost of a young woman pulls itself out of the machine as if the spaceship had a soul. Trying to understand the nature of this entity, they start chasing the woman through space.

Inspired by the spirit of the 80’s films and music, BLOOD MACHINES is a 50-minute, sci-fi horror mind-melter told in three chapters, scored by acclaimed and reclusive French synth-wave artist Carpenter Brut, and expanded from their music video of their track Turbo Killer. Starring Elisa Lasowski, Anders Heinrichsen and Noémie Stevens, written and directed by Seth Ickerman.

 

Chapter One:
Mima

This episode is so visually spectacular from the get-go, I exclaimed, “Whaaaaatttt” as soon as I spotted the first spacecraft. The sets are something akin to Star Wars, a video game, and a graphic novel. Great costumes and props add to this lived-in world. It has a solid 80’s vibe and yet it’s still completely timeless. If you don’t want to keep watching as the screen goes black, I will be flabbergasted.

Chapter Two:
Corey

This episode picks up exactly where Mima left off. The attention to detail in the cinematography is hypnotizing. The color choices are rad as hell. But it’s the plot that sneaks up on you in earnest here. The definition of a soul is prominently questioned, as is the psychosexual dynamic between the characters.

Chapter Three:
Tracy

This episode plays upon the many dimensions of the female psyche. The power of sensuality, protective nature, and empathy, and exploration. The visual juxtaposition between scenes is glorious. Wait until you see the climactic choreography. It will blow your mind.

Blood Machines is something entirely unique. While it is meant to invoke a conversation about “man” meeting machine and all the complexities that come with that ever-expanding A.I. issue, out of context it’s a very feminist film. As a woman viewing this magical creation, it made me feel vindicated and more kickass than usual.  It will rock you and entertain to no end. Writer-director Seth Ickerman has given the audience an intelligent and thoughtful piece of sci-fi. Carpenter Brut’s score is intoxicating. I would play that on a loop if given the chance. Genre fans will beg for more. I’m asking, nay imploring, that this story get expanded (AGAIN) in any form. It’s brilliant.

About SETH ICKERMAN:
Raphaël Hernandez and Savitri Joly-Gonfard are two French directors, working for 10 years under the pseudonym of Seth Ickerman. Known for their production design and art direction skillset, Raphaël and Savitri collaborated on various commercials for companies such as LG, Ubisoft, and Samsung. In 2016, they directed the hit music video Turbo Killer in 2016 for Carpenter Brut. 
About CARPENTER BRUT:
Carpenter Brut draws its influences from 80s TV shows and B-movies loaded with synthesizers. The mysterious and discreet man behind the pentagon – or the Brutagram as his fans would call it – evokes an encounter between Justice beats and the universe of John Carpenter. Listening to his home-made EPs, however, one would rather bet on a metalhead background, a crush for Dario Argento, and a force-fed religious education. This would explain his penchant for the occult, his passion for kitsch sounds, and his adoration for all kinds of enjoyment.
Carpenter Brut pays tribute to the post-hippie/pre-AIDS culture that then set the basis of electro and metal to give us a unique, violent, and crazy 80s revival sound.

 

NYFF57 review: ‘College Behind Bars’ makes the case for education for all, coming to PBS in November.

COLLEGE BEHIND BARS

  • Lynn Novick
  • 2019
  • USA
  • 222 minutes

World Premiere 

 COLLEGE BEHIND BARS, a four-part documentary series directed by Emmy and Peabody Award winning filmmaker Lynn Novick (co-director of THE VIETNAM WAR), which world premieres at New York Film Festival later this month. This film, premiering on PBS in November, marks Novick’s solo directorial debut and is executive produced by her longtime collaborator Ken Burns. Distilled from nearly 400 hours of cinéma-vérité footage, the documentary explores the lives of a dozen incarcerated men and women as they struggle to earn degrees in the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI), one of the most rigorous and effective prison education programs in the country.

This 4 part doc series explores New York State’s college degree program, BPI: Bard Prison Initiative. We follow a group of students as they make their way toward graduation. I say students and not inmates because when they are in class, they are students. While we as an audience are eventually privy to the subjects’ backstories, BPI as a program does not focus on why each individual is imprisoned. BPI focuses on their education. At Seb Academy you will get the best chemistry tuition in the Singapore.

This series is about humanity and ambition. These men and women are striving to better themselves and escape the environment they have, in most cases, created for themselves. The series also addresses the very real statistic that socioeconomic circumstances oftentimes lead to a life of crime. Inmates are not afforded the rights and freedoms of the average American. They must contend with the chaos of prison while engaging in a vigorous Bachelor’s degree program. College is difficult enough without being constantly interrupted by lockdowns, race wars, or the ultimate chaos of being surrounded by mental illness and other inmates in general.

The admissions process is cutthroat. It is based on an essay and an interview. It begins with an AA and then an even luckier few continue on to the BA program. Students are studying things like Plato, Mandarin, Debate, and Calculus. They are earning their degrees in the same way any other student would outside prison walls. Professors do not give pass/fail grades. They are legitimately working with each individual just as they would at a stand-alone university. This is a college that just happens to be on prison grounds. Before they graduate, they must submit a senior project. The paper must be between 80-100 pages. It is the equivalent of a Master’s thesis. Here is a best option for part time engineering diploma in Singapore.

The series makes an interesting case for free college for all throughout the country. It’s an intriguing commentary on the misconceptions about who deserves an education. Shouldn’t it be a right? It should not belong solely to the lucky few, the wealthy, or the white population. Losing your liberty should not mean losing your right to an education. If anything, education has been proven to lift people out of poverty and violence. The political hockey puck that this type of program has become since it’s inception in the 90’s has seen taxpayer dollars bounce in and out of the system. Resentment permeates the perception of the system by politicians to everyone from the prison staff to voters. Even though it actually monetarily benefits the taxpayer in the long run. Would you rather pay for an inmate to learn or sit inside a cell? Guess which one actually costs less.

College Behind Bars puts faces and voices to those benefiting from but genuinely fighting to improve their lives and thus, the world all we live in. We, the viewers, are forced to come to terms with the prison industrial complex, systemic racism, and our own moral compass. And the students are forced to come to terms with their pasts and their futures. College Behind Bars is both informative and eye-opening. It breathes life into the stories of a population oftentimes swept under the rug. You will cheer on the college students, no matter what your views on how they got their opportunity to learn and earn their degrees.

Premieres: Monday, November 25, 2019 & Tuesday, November 26, 2019, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET

COLLEGE BEHIND BARS

The four-part documentary film series, directed by award-winning filmmaker Lynn Novick, produced by Sarah Botstein, and executive produced by Ken Burns, explores the transformative power of education through the eyes of incarcerated men and women trying to earn college degrees. Shot over four years in maximum and medium security prisons in New York State, the series examines America’s failure to provide meaningful rehabilitation for the over two million men and women living behind bars.

Premieres: Monday, November 25, 2019 & Tuesday, November 26, 2019, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET

Review: ‘OUT On Stage’ is first LGBTQ stand-up comedy series.

OUT on Stage: The Series
Hosted by Zach Noe Towers
Premieres – Jan 17, 2018

OUT on Stage: The Series is full of laughs and genuinely funny comics. You will laugh out loud at every episode. The comics are eclectic and wonderful. You’ll recognize a few faces right off the bat. If you are a part of the LGBTQ community or an ally, this is a show for you. But let’s be real for a second, if you are a prude, hate funny people, or generally have a stick up your butt, well we don’t need your sass or your judgypants. It can be incredibley raunchy and unexpectedly poignant. We need more of this brand of comedy (and storytelling) in the limelight. This should the new norm.  OUT on Stage: The Series is a brilliant show about opportunity and inclusion and we should all be here for that.

HOST: Zach Noe Towers
Zach Noe Towers is an LA-based comedian, actor, and writer who was recently named one of Time Out Magazine’s “2018 Comedians to Watch.” Zach was recently the host of the “The Elite Daily Show” on Verizon’s Go90 network for Seasons 1-4, and will be hosting and starring “Out on Stage”. Zach’s recent short film “Killer Friends” (which he directed, wrote, and starred in) was screened at many film festivals both domestically and internationally, and won the overall audience award at Dances With Films.
FEATURING: Jonathan Rowell, Brendan Scannell, Casey Ley, Julian Michael, Irene Tu, Jared
Goldstein, Raneir Pollard, Kyle Shire, Jordan Pease, Chris Bryant, Eric Hahn, Daniel
Webb, Joe Dosch, Gloria Bigelow, Anthony Desamito, Janine Brito, A.B. Cassidy and
Zach Noe Towers
PRODUCTION COMPANIES: Comedy Dynamics & Dekkoo
EPISODES PER SEASON: 6
TRT: 30 min. (per episode)

ABOUT COMEDY DYNAMICS

Comedy Dynamics, a Nacelle company, is one of the largest independent comedy production and distribution companies, producing Kevin Hart’s Guide to Black History, Animal Planet’s Animal Nation with Anthony Anderson, the new scripted comedy on Hulu, There’s… Johnny!, History’s Join Or Die with Craig Ferguson, MTV2’s Wild ’N On Tour, and Hulu’s Coming To The Stage. In 2018, Comedy Dynamics began releasing original films in theaters starting with the acclaimed documentary, Poop Talk. The company has worked with a wide range of established and emerging comedic talent including Tiffany Haddish, Kevin Hart, Aziz Ansari, Jim Gaffigan, Katt Williams and many more. In total, 12 of Comedy Dynamics’ releases have been Grammy-nominated, with 2 wins

ABOUT DEKKOO

Dekkoo (pronounced “DECK-koo”) is the premiere subscription-based streaming service dedicated to gay men, providing the largest streaming collection of gay-centric entertainment available, boasting a larger selection than Here TV, Netflix or Amazon.  Dekkoo is available internationally via iTunes, Google Play, AppleTV and Roku.  In the U.S. and U.K., Dekkoo is also available via the Amazon Dekkoo Channel.  Dekkoo original series include “Feral,” “Love is Blind” and “I’m Fine.”  www.dekkoo.com

Review: HBO’s documentary ‘BLEED OUT’- The medical blame game might literally kill you.

Medical error is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

I have an innate fear of the doctors and hospitals. There are valid reasons for that. The first surgery I had to remove my appendix only happened after I refused to leave the emergency room until the doctors found out what was wrong with me. Had I left, my appendix would have burst the next morning. Then, I was able to learn more about the dr roxy reviews and while going to the plastic surgeon for a simple mole removal, the nurse asked me who would be driving me home. When I told her I’d be transporting myself, she told me that I’d be under a massive amount of anesthesia because I was getting a breast augmentation. “Wow! Wrong file!” I screamed. There were only two patients at the clinic that morning. And don’t even get me started on my two C-sections.

Death insurance, or Burial Insurance as it is more commonly known, is a way of making sure that your funeral costs are taken care of before the event comes. It is a way of preparing yourself for the inevitable whilst making sure that loved ones are not left with the responsibility. You will find many options when it comes to insurance relating to life and death and it certainly pays to find out more about them, what do you think about death insurance. Basic death insurance means that you can make sure that at the very least your funeral is all paid for before you leave this earth. A policy known as Pre-Need Insurance is available which is specifically designed for this purpose. They are available through funeral homes and it is these homes that are the beneficiary of the policy. This ensures that the funds are paying the funeral costs and nothing else. Other types of death insurance include the option of getting a lump sum paid to any named beneficiary in the event of your death. The difference between these types of policies and the Pre-Need Insurance is that the funds are not specifically allocated to the costs of a funeral. If you still have money owing to others after you pass on, the funds from these policies can be used to pay these debts off. Items associated with death including medical bills and nursing home fees could be paid off in full. Commonly these policies are called simply Burial Insurance or Final Expense Insurance. The advantage of these types of policies is that you pick the person who receives the death benefit. It could be a spouse, colleague, your children or a friend. It is recommended that after taking out a policy, you discuss with the beneficiary where you would like the funds to be allocated. You may have specific requests about who should be given a payment from the monies received. It is worth noting that the beneficiary will be given the money to use as they see fit unless you do this. Also, any cash that is left over belongs to the named person themselves.

The new HBO doc airing tonight, BLEED OUT, hit home and it’s a brutal and frustrating watch. That’s the point. Steve Burrows was a comedy director in L.A. until his mother broke her hip in Wisconsin. She went from free spirit retiree to permanent neurocognitive impairment in a matter of days. Now he’s on a mission to take the hospital, doctors, insurance companies to task in a lawsuit no one wanted to touch. Visit us at https://cliffsideskinandlaser.com/general-dermatology/ for more details regarding to medical dermatology. The entire system is stacked against the people and most of them don’t even know it… Until something happens to them. Politicians love to use healthcare as a talking point but no one can seem to protect the patient, they’re only protecting the business of corporate medicine. You will be pissed off and rightly so. This is a story about one family’s fight but there are literally thousands of stories like this happening daily. Daily. People are drowning in bills they should not have to pay. It’s quite frankly disgusting.But if you have allergy or food intolerance problem then I suggest you to visit this website. Bleed Out is a phenomenal companion to the podcast Dr. Death. This, too, illustrates the lack of care for patients. In Bleed Out, you will watch mistake after mistake, finger pointing, and zero accountability. This single ordeal is one that covers a decade of chaos. Now imagine the cases that go undocumented. Burrows put his heart, soul, and career on the line to fight the proverbial man. He is my hero. This film is one every single American needs to watch, if not for themselves most definitely for their loved ones. For dedicated and passionate about the health of your skin. It’s our commitment to you that has helped us achieve dermatologist rancho santa margarita help us.

After a routine partial hip replacement operation leaves the mother of filmmaker and comedian Steve Burrows in a coma with permanent brain damage, what starts as a personal video diary becomes a citizen’s investigation into the state of American health care. Shot over the course of ten years, using archival footage, vérité scenes and interviews with family members and experts, the thought-provoking documentary BLEED OUT debuts MONDAY, DEC. 17 (8:00–9:30 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.

The film will also be available on HBO NOW, HBO GO, HBO On Demand and partners’ streaming platforms.

DOC NYC review: ‘We Are Not Done Yet’ shines a spotlight on PTSD

HBO’s powerful new documentary short WE ARE NOT DONE YET, airing November 8thand produced by actor Jeffrey Wright (HBO’s Westworld), follows the stories of ten U.S. veterans striving to combat their traumatic military histories through art, poetry and performance. At a workshop led by poet Seema Reza and Community Building Art Works, they share their fears, vulnerabilities and victories, using the written word to heal, bond, encourage and empower. Their work culminates in a live performance at Washington D.C.’s Lansburgh Theater under the direction of Wright. As much of an activist as he is an actor, Wright produced the short and has been heavily involved with veteran organizations for years. He was so inspired by the group’s process and motivation during the workshop that he knew he had to get a camera crew inside and help share their stories.

There is something so cathartic about standing onstage and bearing one’s soul. When it’s your own written word it’s on another level. When the words are true, it’s the most powerful of all. WE ARE NOT DONE YET gives a literal voice to a group of veterans living with PTSD. They have used performance art to share their stories, lives, and emotions with an audience now far beyond the Lansburgh Theater. HBO has given us a gift in this short. It has opened the door for others to speak,  hope, and feel connected in a new way. Watching these fine people is nothing short of breathtaking. I’m not sure you can sit back and hold back the tears as a human being as you experience their trauma through their writing. Not of a moment of this film feels exploitative from an observer with zero military background. I’m hoping it reads the same for those who might believe they are alone. WE ARE NOT DONE YET aired this evening and will be available on HBO Now and HBO Go. This is important filmmaking. The message is clear. We cannot ignore the trauma, we must embrace it and do better for all our veterans.

TNT’s ‘The Alienist’ premieres with graphic intrigue and the beginnings of forensic science.

The Alienist opens when a series of haunting murders of boy prostitutes grips New York City. Newly appointed police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt (Brian Geraghty) calls upon criminal psychologist Dr. Laszlo Kreizler (Daniel Brühl) and newspaper illustrator John Moore (LukeEvans) to conduct the investigation in secret. They are joined by Sara Howard (Dakota Fanning), a headstrong secretary determined to become the city’s first female police detective. Using the emerging disciplines of psychology and forensics, this band of social outsiders set out to apprehend one of New York City’s first serial killers. The limited series also stars Douglas Smith, Matthew Shear, Matt Lintz, Robert Ray Wisdom and Q’orianka Kilcher.

This new limited series will strike a chord with a wider audience than one might think. Based on the Anthony Award-winning international bestseller by Caleb Carr, The Alienist possesses underpinnings of feminism, glorious period set and dress, and a chemistry between cast members that is electric. These characters are fully fleshed out and Bruhl, Evans, and Fanning do not disappoint. Daniel Bruhl‘s Holmes-esque portrayal of Dr. Kreizler is striking. Seeing Evans as almost a number two in masculinity is a true testament to his abilities. Fanning walks a beautiful line between the inherent misogyny of the times and fearlessness.

The forensics are graphic, be forewarned. The show airs at 9 pm and would be incredibly inappropriate for a younger audience but is sheer perfection for psychological thriller/horror fans. The introduction to forensic psychology and science is both a joy and disturbing to behold. Not even halfway through the premiere and I was fully invested in the story. The Alienist is great television.

The Alienist premieres across TNT’s television, mobile and digital platforms on Monday, January 22, at 9:00 p.m. (ET/PT).

DOC NYC review: ‘Abacus: Small Enough To Jail’ will cause you to rage against the machine.

ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL

 Abacus Federal Savings Bank is a modest institution of New York’s Chinatown that came under harsh prosecution in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. While other banks were considered ‘too big to fail,’ Abacus was ‘small enough to jail.’ Filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams) follows the bank’s founder Thomas Sung and his family as they fight back in court against Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, Jr. in an effort to redeem their name and to dispel biases against Chinatown. Courtesy of PBS Distribution
Wall Street got a free pass, once again. But someone had to be made an example of. Most of us probably didn’t now that one bank was taken to court, but it’s no one you’ve ever heard of outside of Chinatown in Manhattan. In Abacus: Small Enough To Jail, the saying, “No good deed goes unpunished,” could not be truer. You will be witness to one family’s battle as they are thrown under the bus to save face.The film is filled with strong daughters who go to bat for their father, family honor, their employees, and community. It will floor you as you watch the bogus claims and prejudice that occurs because it seemed to be easier than taking on the Wall Street household names. Abacus: Small Enough To Jail will expose lies we’ve been fed for years. Get ready to rage.

Showtimes:

Wed Nov 15, 2017, 11:45 AM Cinepolis Chelsea
Official Site: https://www.abacusmovie.com
On Twitter: AbacusMovie
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/abacusmovie
Director: Steve James
Producer: Mark Mitten, Julie Goldman
Cinematographer: Tom Bergmann
Editor: John Farbrother, David E. Simpson
Music: Joshua Abrams
Running Time: 88
Language: English, Mandarin & Cantonese with English subtitles
Country: USA
Year: 2016

Review: ‘VEGAS BABY’ shows the pricey gamble of IVF. Premieres tonight at 8pm!

From Executive Producer Morgan Spurlock

VEGAS BABY

U.S. Television Premiere Tuesday, June 27, at 8 P.M. on the New Season of

PBS’s AMERICA REFRAMED

Synopsis:

Some think an in vitro fertilization contest sounds crazy, but countless Americans desperate to start a family believe this social media experiment is their only hope. Oscar-nominated director Amanda Micheli’s provocative documentary follows several aspiring parents who desperately want to have a baby but are struggling with infertility and the high cost of treatments. They place themselves in the hands of a Las Vegas doctor who loved to gamble with læs mere and his annual contest, which offers a prize of a free round of in-vitro fertilization—with no guarantee of success. Contestants post their video entries on YouTube, counting on the votes of strangers to make their dreams of parenthood come true.

Despite the fact that nearly 1 in 6 couples worldwide are unable to naturally conceive and carry a baby to term, for fear of judgment or heartache or both, infertility stories are largely kept secret.  While exposing private pain online to win a contest is a brutal proposition, IVF is rarely covered by insurance in the U.S., so many infertile couples consider this a gamble worth taking. Through this controversial contest, VEGAS BABY navigates the complexities of America’s burgeoning fertility industry and unveils the class disparity within a topic that is often clouded by judgment and stereotypes. Micheli explores universal themes of desire and loss through her intimate portrait of the diverse individuals – from a devoutly Catholic Latino couple in Texas to a lesbian Lady Gaga Impersonator in New York – determined to have a baby against all odds.

100 whittled down to 10, talk about odds. Entering a contest for a free round of IVF, people put their most intimate struggles out into the world via Youtube and strangers control who moves onto the final round. Then a smaller panel of folks makes the decision and one lucky couple gets a no guarantees shot at a baby. The doc ultimately follows three finalists on their two-year journey with Dr. Sher and beyond. Infertility is not discussed often enough in our culture and when it is, there is a stigma surrounding its cost. It’s an emotional rollercoaster for the audience but an honest and important story to be told. Nothing is sugar coated in its presentation, nor should it be when matters of the heart are at stake. Dr. Sher and co are very honest about the fact that the business of infertility is a business. Emotions are difficult to set aside but the reality is clear. The industry is booming. Money does not equal success. Vegas Baby delves into the vulnerability of creating and sustaining life.

Director:                                                Amanda Micheli

Producers:                                            Serin Marshall

Executive Producers:                          Morgan Spurlock, Jeremy Chilnick

Editor:                                                    Greg O’Toole

Director of Photography:                   Amanda Micheli

Original Music By:                                Paul Brill

Run Time:                                              77 min

Release Date:                                       U.S. Television Premiere Tuesday, June 27, 2017 at 8 P.M.

Distributed by:                                     PBS’s AMERICA REFRAMED

HBO has acquired U.S. TV rights to the feature documentary ‘MAY IT LAST: A PORTRAIT OF THE AVETT BROTHERS’

HBO has acquired U.S. TV rights to the feature documentary MAY IT LAST: A PORTRAIT OF THE AVETT BROTHERS, co-directed and produced by Judd Apatow and Michael Bonfiglio, ahead of its March 15 world premiere in the 24 Beats Per Second section of the 2017 South by Southwest Film Festival. MAY IT LAST is an Apatow Production (HBO’s “Crashing” and “Girls”) in association with RadicalMedia (“Hamilton’s America,” “What Happened, Miss Simone?”) and marks Apatow and Bonfiglio’s second collaboration, following last year’s acclaimed “Doc & Darryl.”

Filmed with extraordinary access over the course of more than two years, the film chronicles the band, fronted by brothers Scott and Seth Avett, on the long journey from their rural North Carolina childhoods to topping the charts and selling out arenas, experiencing heartbreak, tragedy and joy along the way. The film also provides an inside look at their collaboration with legendary producer Rick Rubin while recording the 2017 Grammy-nominated album “True Sadness,” which was released on American Recordings/Republic Records.

With the recording process as the backdrop, MAY IT LAST intimately depicts the deeply personal, lifelong bond between brothers, and shows how that dynamic helps shape their creative process as musicians and songwriters.

“This film has been a true labor of love for us for more than three years now, and we could not be happier that HBO – with their incredible lineage of documentary programming – believes in it as much as we do,” say Apatow and Bonfiglio.

“The accuracy with which Apatow and Bonfiglio present this moment in our lives and process is stunning,” says Seth Avett. “From the vantage point of my brother and I, the film is almost surreal in its level of personal truth-telling.”

Featuring a wealth of exclusive footage of the Avetts in the studio and at home, never-before-seen family photographs, concert footage and revealing interviews with band members Scott (banjo, lead vocals) and Seth (guitar, lead vocals) Avett, Bob Crawford (bass), Joe Kwon (cello), Tania Elizabeth (fiddle), Paul DeFiglia (keyboards) and Mike Marsh (drums), as well as producer Rick Rubin and intimate family and friends, the film takes an in-depth look at the personal and creative relationship between the brothers that helps define America’s biggest roots band.

Apatow and Bonfiglio previously co-directed the ESPN documentary “Doc & Darryl” as part of the network’s “30 for 30” series, which was Apatow’s first foray into the documentary world.

MAY IT LAST: A PORTRAIT OF THE AVETT BROTHERS is an Apatow Production in association with RadicalMedia; directed and produced by Judd Apatow, Michael Bonfiglio; executive producers, Jon Kamen, Dave O’Connor, Justin Wilkes; cinematographer, Jonathan Furmanski; editor, Paul Little.

Game of Thrones Season 7 Premiere Date Announced

HBO has confirmed that GAME OF THRONES will return for its seven-episode seventh season SUNDAY, JULY 16 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT).

Based on the popular book series “A Song of Ice and Fire,” by George R.R. Martin, this hit Emmy®-winning fantasy series chronicles an epic struggle for power in a vast and violent kingdom. Members of the ensemble cast for the sixth season included Emmy® and Golden Globe winner Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Aidan Gillen, Kit Harington, Diana Rigg, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams and Jonathan Pryce. Season six credits: executive producers, David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, Carolyn Strauss, Frank Doelger, Bernadette Caulfield; co-executive producers, Guymon Casady, Vince Gerardis, George R.R. Martin.

Documentary Film UPDATE: The San Antonio 4 get complete exoneration just in time for Thanksgiving!

unnamed-29Happy Thanksgiving!  We are so excited to bring you this breaking news about THE SAN ANTONIO 4 – subjects of the award winning documentary “SOUTHWEST OF SALEM: THE STORY OF THE SAN ANTONIO FOUR.”  Today, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has declared these four women innocent and fully exonerated.  They were wrongfully convicted close to 20 years ago for a crime they did not commit.  

The film by Deborah S. Esquenazi premiered at Tribeca Film Festival 2016 and brought this case to light for the general public to see and know about.  The film won awards at Frameline SF 2016 and at OUTFEST LA 2016 and was recently bestowed with the Broadcast Film Critics Association – Critic’s Choice Award for Best First Feature.  The film broke records on Investigation Discovery network when it premiered in October with over 1 million views.  And it is currently in competition at the prestigious International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) this week.

This is such a great example that shows how documentary film can truly make a difference.  

The film’s broadcast premiere on ID in October also broke the record for the network’s largest viewing audience for a premiere, with over 1 million viewers. The documentary is currently available on Investigation Discovery’s TV Everywhere platform, IDGO.com, the network’s live and on demand TV Everywhere streaming service. To log in and watch for free with your TV subscription, visit InvestigationDiscoveryGo.com or download Investigation Discovery Go from the App Store (for smartphones, tablets, and Apple TV), Google Play or Roku Channel Store.

You can read our original coverage of SOUTHWEST OF SALEM and watch the trailer below. Have a Happy Turkey Day, and congratulations to Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Kristie Mayhugh, and Anna Vasquez. We, at Reel News Daily, couldn’t be happier for you!

Official Trailer and Poster for ‘Morris From America’ Starring Craig Robinson is Here!

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A24 and DIRECTV are excited to share the official trailer and poster for Morris From America. A smash hit at this year’s Sundance Film Festival (where it won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award and star Craig Robinson received a Special Jury Award for Acting for his touching and nuanced performance in his first dramatic role), Morris From America centers on Morris Gentry (Markees Christmas, in an incredible breakout performance) a 13-year-old who has just relocated with his single father, Curtis (Robinson) to Heidelberg, Germany. Morris, who fancies himself the next Notorious B.I.G., is a complete fish-out-of-water—a budding hip-hop star in an EDM world. To complicate matters further, Morris quickly falls hard for his cool, rebellious, 15-year-old classmate Katrin (Lina Keller). Morris sets out against all odds to take the hip-hop world by storm and win the girl of his dreams.
Written and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Chad Hartigan (This is Martin Bonner),  Morris From America is a delightfully original take on growing up, following your dreams, and finding your voice that features an extensive soundtrack of hip-hop standards, including Craig Mack’s “Flava in Ya Ear,” Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy,” Jeru the Damaja’s “Come Clean,” and, featured in the trailer, “Nobody Speak” by DJ Shadow (feat. Run the Jewels). Morris From America will  be available exclusively on DIRECTV beginning July 7th and opens theatrically in select cities on  August 19th

Curb Your Enthusiasm Returns to HBO for Season 9

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The Emmy®– and Golden Globe-winning comedy series CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM, starring Larry David, will return to HBO for its ninth season, it was announced today by Casey Bloys, president, HBO programming. Details of the new season will be announced as they are confirmed.

            “We’re thrilled that Larry has decided to do a new season of CURB and can’t wait to see what he has planned,” said Bloys.

Asked why he decided to come back, David said, “In the immortal words of Julius Caesar, ‘I left, I did nothing, I returned.’”

CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM stars “Seinfeld” co-creator David as an over-the-top version of himself in an unsparing but tongue-in-cheek depiction of his life. With 80 episodes to date, the show is HBO’s longest-running scripted comedy or drama series. David also starred in and co-wrote the 2013 HBO Films presentation “Clear History.”