Netflix Confirm Lilyhammer Return Date

One of Netflix’s less heralded pieces of original programming but most original by virtue of being its first exclusive (even if it is in fact a production of Norwegian public broadcaster NRK), Steven Van Zandt-led series Lilyhammer has had its Netflix return date confirmed.

lilyhammer_ny_norskWhilst the comedy crime drama will be starting its 8-episode 3rd season by the end of the month on 29 October, Netflix will unusually premiere it part-way through, taking all 8 of the episodes onto their streaming service (in territories/regions where they have the rights, which are noted as being USA, Canada, UK & Ireland, Latin America, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia (Denmark only)) for an instant premiere on Friday 21 November.

The series features Van Zandt (The Sopranos) as “Frank ‘the Fixer’ Tagliano”/”Giovani ‘Johnny’ Henriksen”, a former American gangster in New York City who after testifying against a mob boss is relocated by the witness protection program to the small but well-known town of Lillehammer (Norway) and soon regressing to his old ways, with the American actor having also made his mark on many other departments in the show such as executive producer and music composer, and will by the end of the season have covered ‘director’ as well, with his work on the season 3 finale episode.

Casting-wise, the new season of Lilyhammer will also see an acting debut from 8-year-old singer Angelina Jordan, famed for winning the most recent edition of Norske Talenter (Norway’s Got Talent).

Plot-wise, it is noted that season 3 features the character “Roar” (Steinar Sagen) travelling to Brazil in order to meet his internet bride, but ends up in trouble with the local law enforcement, leaving Johnny and “Torgeir” (Trond Fausa) left to fix the situation, whilst an American ‘family friend’ of Johnny sees great opportunities in Lillehammer and decides to visit.

Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos summarised the streaming service’s upcoming release, stating: “‘Lilyhammer’ is a funny and fantastic example of programming for a global audience – a comedic culture clash that’s drawn in viewers from around the world. We’re especially proud of the many international awards the show has earned, cementing its cross-cultural appeal.”

BBC To Archive Every Radio and TV Listing They Have Ever Made

The latest in a long line of BBC projects undertaken, the public broadcaster, with the history, funds, and freedom to do a little more than their commercial competitors (rightly or wrongly), have launched the ‘Genome Project‘, which aims to archive every single TV and radio broadcast that has ever been made in the UK under the BBC banner.

bbc_radio_times_#1Whilst that is a huge ask considering the BBC’s legacy (with even their best known shows being sacrificed or going missing before an improvement in archiving a few decades ago), the venture aims to go from 1923 onwards with support of the online community in the ‘curation and chronicling’ of every BBC broadcast… ever.

Currently on the official website, while without much content-wise, have put up ‘digital editions’ of each issue of the Radio Times magazine that has been published between 1923-2009, meaning that aside from late schedule changes, users can see what was on and when at various points in modern history.

Aiming to have a Wikipedia-style operation in which suggestions and changes can be made by its readers, the BBC have opened up the project to users with ‘Genome’ keeping moderation on the contributions, whilst official audio/video clips are to be added in relevant places over time by the broadcaster and by public users, as they aim to find what was previously lost where possible.

An official blog post on the matter stated:

“Genome – the BBC project to digitise the Radio Times magazines between 1923 and 2009 is now live. On the site you can find BBC broadcast information – ‘listings’ – extracted from those editions. You can also search individual programme titles, contributors and synopsis information.

Our aim on this project is to curate a comprehensive history of every radio and TV programme ever broadcast by the corporation, and make that available to the public. Our first step has been this digitisation of the BBC radio and TV programme schedules from the Radio Times magazine; the next phase of the project is to incorporate what was actually broadcast, as well as the regional and national variations. It’s one of the most important steps we’re taking to begin unlocking the BBC’s archive, as Genome is the closest we currently have to a comprehensive broadcast history of the BBC.

We’re really pleased to get the site live, not least because so many of you have been asking “when”, “how soon” and telling us “how useful it would be”. The challenges in making available the 4.42 million programme records so far have been significant – you can read about some of the recent ones on the Internet blog.

We need your help too though. We’re looking to you to help us to clean up the data. The scanning process – known as ‘Optical Character Recognition’ – has produced plenty of errors: punctuation in the wrong places, spaces where there shouldn’t be any or no spaces where there should, as well as fundamental misunderstandings about who did what.

We’ve made it possible for you to submit an edit to us, as you use the site. We’ll validate your suggested changes and publish the ones which are approved.

We’ve also included a ‘Tell Us More’ form, at the bottom of each programme listing, so we can tap into the collective memory, insight and knowledge of our users, making use of the wealth of experience out there about our programmes, something we’d like to capture.

We also know that the schedule changed considerably on occasion, because of events in the real world and we need that information too.

Additionally, during the process of building Genome, we’ve identified a few ‘chunks’ of data that are missing from the database, but due to the way in which OCR works, didn’t get picked up in the original scans. So, we will be adding this in.

The Radio Times has been published with regional variations since 1926. The magazines we scanned and the data sets which have been included in Genome are not exhaustive, rather they represent the ones which we could access and which covered the greatest areas and variations. In the future, we will look into the implications of attempting provide a more complete set of regional data.

We won’t be able to reflect what you send us straight away, but as we build on BBC’s Genome, it will come in to its own.

Now that we have published the planned broadcast schedule, our next step is to match the records in our archive catalogue (the programmes that we have a copy of in our physical archives) with the Genome programme listings. This helps us identify what proportion of the broadcasts exist in a potentially ‘playable’ form, and highlights the gaps in our archive.

It is highly likely that somewhere out there, in lofts, sheds and basements across the world, many of these ‘missing’ programmes will have been recorded and kept by generations of TV and radio fans. So we’re hoping to use Genome as a way of bringing copies of those lost programmes back in to the BBC archives too.

But, even if we don’t have an actual copy of the programme, we’ll also look to publish related items in our archives, such as scripts, photographs and associated paper-work. We’re looking in to the logistics of making some of these items available via Genome. Clearly, this will in some cases be a long and painstaking task. The BBC’s various archives contain millions of items spread over 23 archive centres across the UK, most of them in analogue form. It’s a big job, one we’re looking forward to reporting back on in the future.

What happens after 2009 when the Genome data “stops”? Well the information held at www.bbc.co.uk/programmes starts in 2007 (the birth of the iPlayer) and as the Genome data is improved and corrected (by you!), we expect to start ‘backfilling’ the bbc.co.uk/programme pages with the Genome data.”

A unique venture that will be unmatched around the world at least in sheer scale, will the BBC’s comprehensive content wiki be seen as another passing fancy by its critics, or will the Genome Project be able to put every piece of the broadcaster’s history (presumably with a 5-year buffer for new items) together  in an intriguing and well-presented manner?

Community Creator Dan Harmon Claims Yahoo Will Not Change Show

The popular comedy series Community was surprisingly dropped by host network NBC this summer, but to the relief of fans was quickly picked up by search engine giants Yahoo (through their Yahoo! Screen brand), and to even greater relief, creator Dan Harmon has recently stated that the move into an online-only realm will not change how the show is produced.

community_yahoo_screenTaken on for a total of 13 new episodes in its 6th season, Community has already lost series regular Yvette Nichole Brown for personal reasons (but citing she is able to return as a guest star), but claim that viewers will not see any other major changes, with Yahoo Screen to continue the show’s traditional ‘three-act format’.

Harmon (Rick & Morty), promoting his upcoming documentary Harmontown, was speaking to Vulture as he said of the matter: “I think that the act breaks from the original Community, as it was born into the NBC clock, are very good act breaks. It’s a three-act story as raised at NBC. The [online] commercial breaks are coming at points in a story where, if you were watching a 20-minute play, the curtain might come down, and you might have an opportunity to go get a box of Twizzlers and think about what’s happening, digest, and speak to your friends about what’s going on.

“I like those act breaks; I like where they are, and Yahoo’s intended clock sounds like it’s perfectly compatible with those same spots. So we are breaking three-act stories in the room. My intention also is to keep the same runtime because that will make for the same pacing and the same tone.”

He added of the show in general and how it has managed to take a place in the hearts of its fans: “I think I realised that what was special about Community is the actors. I’ve written lots of scripts almost as good or just as good as the Community pilot. The big difference is Joel McHale, Alison Brie, Danny Pudi, Gillian Jacobs. That’s what TV is, you know. I’m sure Chuck Lorre would say the same thing about Sheldon. Ultimately, there’s nothing particularly magical about what we do as writers and showrunners; the best we can do is know what we’re doing.

“We can’t really bring any amount of magic to the final product that the actors can. They’re the heads in the box. We have seen lots and lots of very well-written things without people that we liked in them, and we’ve hated them, and we don’t even remember them. On the other hand, we tolerate lots of very poorly written stuff because we love the people. We watch Wheel of Fortune because of Pat Sajak’s head! We love that guy.”

Set to air on Yahoo Screen in early 2015 (presumably on Yahoo’s preferred traditional method of release than Netflix’s ‘all the season at once’ approach), will Community manage to keep their current structure and fanbase with their new online-only limitations? It’s clear that the creator cares, but he should be called out when he gets a little too gushing (like the first sentence of his second statement):

Though it shouldn’t matter so much considering he was once fired from his own show, and while he is back there now, he also has other work:

Fox Sitcom Mulaney Cuts First-Season Order

The Fox sitcom Mulaney, a new staple of their Sunday night schedules, has been seen by many viewers and critics as a poor choice to have been made by both the network and its star after just two episodes, and it appears as though they may only have eleven more chances to change people’s minds, after the network reacted to ratings and reception by changing their episode order once more.

mulaney_castThe sitcom-incorporating-standup format, which some claim is inspired by Seinfeld, features former Saturday Night Live writer and stand-up John Mulaney as “John”, an up-and-coming stand-up comedian looking for his big break, which he gets by becoming a writer for the game show of legendary comedian “Lou Cannon” (Martin Short).

Also included in the regular cast are Mulaney’s roommates in New York City, “Jane” (Nasim Pedrad), “Motif” (Seaton Smith), friend “Andre” (Zack Pearlman) and neighbour “Oscar” (Elliot Gould). Executive production comes from Andy Ackerman and Lorne Michaels.

The show was originally one that Fox ordered a pilot episode on (after being passed over by original network NBC), and once happy with the idea, went for a 6-episode first season to be broadcast. However, they soon extended that by requesting an extra 10 to be filmed, but after 13 episodes in the season had been filmed (the most recent filming claimed to have just finished shooting), Fox announced their intention to stop production there, forgoing the final 3 episodes of the season at this point for a 13-part run.

And in the TV industry, that is obviously not a good sign, as networks aim to not put what they’ve already made to complete waste, and then have no more and pretend the process never happened. Of course, that all changes if Mulaney manages to perform in what looks like an early final stretch, but at present it seems as though the public perception is that the star of the show should stick to what got him this far in the first place.

Launching with a 2.3m audience on 5 October, and followed up the weekend after with 2.19m for episode 2, Mulaney‘s ratings are not in a sharp decline on that evidence (and reportedly actually enjoyed a slight increase on audience share) and the most recent not yet available, but the warning signs could well be foreseen, with not too many people enjoying the ‘sitcom’ elements at present, and the stand-up parts, quality-wise believed to be the saving grace of the format, is timing-wise believed to be shoehorned in with less plot relevance than would be deemed acceptable.

So the first question that should naturally be asked is “they let American Dad go for this?”, presumably followed by any number of others relating to Fox’s judgement on the matter. Or more specifically, how they can carry on with a promotional campaign that isn’t doing its new show any favors:

This coming after all their summer hype, which included a Gotham-style online-exclusive behind-the-scenes-documentary:

Netflix Ready For HBO Online Challenge

Though the match-up could perhaps be likened to a dominant sports team going up against an upstart challenger that has a decent team spearheaded by one superstar player, the announcement of HBO that they will soon offer an exclusively online service has prompted Netflix‘s response of how it will make both of them to push each other to the limits, and that both will become stronger for it.

netflix_blackHBO had announced last week that by the year 2015, they will be offering a ‘digital version’ of their subscription TV service in 2015, the first for a brand that currently requires their own payments on top of a regular cable/satellite subscription (a system in place since foundation in 1972), including access to their HBO Go catch-up platform, but with the alternative business plan will allow consumers to pay a similar amount for only the online streaming parts.

Responding to the news with a letter to their shareholders, Netflix claimed that they have immediately bumped HBO up to the public status of being considered their “primary long-term competitor”, but that they had their eye on the network in that regard even before the announcement.

They wrote to shareholders: “The competition will drive us both to be better. It was inevitable and sensible that they would eventually offer their service as a standalone application. Many people will subscribe to both Netflix and HBO since we have different shows, so we think it is likely we both prosper as consumers move to internet TV.”

While they have to contend with 25% share price drops due to below-expectation performances during the last quarter without HBO competing, will the news that the long-running brand soon will be be enough to turn off some holders, or will the competition indeed drive both brands to another level in the online streaming market?

Leonardo DiCaprio And Netflix Team Up To Save Gorillas

Netflix are collaborating with Hollywood superstar Leonardo DiCaprio in a bid to help tell the world about endangered mountain gorillas in the eastern Congo.

VirungaThe streaming company will release a documentary made by Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way Production company which will be called Virunga. Directed by Orlando von Einsiedel, the documentary will show a small team of park rangers battling to protect endangered mountain gorillas in Africa.

DiCaprio, who will be executive producer for the film said, “Films like ‘Virunga’ are powerful stories that are a window into the incredible cultural and natural diversity of our world, the forces that are threatening to destroy it, and the people who are fighting to protect it. Partnering with Netflix on this film is an exciting opportunity to inform and inspire individuals to engage on this topic.”

For Netflix, Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said,”Leo intuitively understands that there is nothing like the power of film to reach people’s hearts and minds. With ‘Virunga,’ we’ll work with Leo to introduce viewers around the world to an incredible, gripping story that will have audiences guessing right up until the final act.”

It is reported by The World Wildlife Fund that less than 800 mountain gorillas are left in the wild, with around half of them living in the Virunga Mountains. The film will follow the park rangers as they, “Protect (Virunga National Park) from armed militia, poachers, and the dark forces struggling to control Congo’s rich natural resources.”

The film will be released on November 7  both on Netflix around the World and in New York and Los Angeles theaters simultaneously.