EMMYS: ‘Family Guy’ Takes On NJ Gov. Chris Christie’s “Bridgegate” In Mailer

By | Thursday April 24, 2014 @ 3:58pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

famguyIf there was an Emmy Award for most entertaining mailer, Fox‘s Family Guy would probably have little competition. Never known for subtlety in their Emmy campaigns, the producers of the racy animated series again are going for the outrageous. Peter Griffin is channeling embattled New Jersey Governor Chris Christie whose administration had been accused of creating gridlock by shutting down George Washington bridge lanes as political retaliation against a mayor who didn’t endorse him. “Vote for us, or it’s time for some traffic problems in Brentwood,” Peter warns TV Academy members known for favoring the posh Los Angeles enclave. The mailer cover echoes Family Guy‘s 2010 classic that featured Peter as the girl from Precious with the slogan “Vote For Us Or You’re Racist.”

IMG_7132 CopyingFamily Guy is competing in the best animated program category. The show quietly switched back last year after trying for best comedy series for four years, an effort that yielded one nomination in 2009. Family Guy stirred a major controversy this season by killing off family dog Brian before bringing him back to life several episodes later. The resurrection episode, Christmas Guy, is one of the two submitted for Emmy consideration, while the ‘Brian’s dead’ one, that shocked fans, is not included. Despite certainly putting an effort in their mailers, the Family Guy team has no illusions about the mailers’ effectiveness. “If you’ve … Read More »

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Larenz Tate Set As Regular On New USA Series ‘Rush’

By | Thursday April 24, 2014 @ 2:57pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

tateRescue Me alum Larenz Tate has been upped to series regular on USA’s original medical drama series Rush, set to premiere July 17. From writer-director Jonathan Levine and Fox 21, Rush follows Dr. William Rush (Tom Ellis), a “medical fixer” who privately caters to LA’s elite. Tate plays Dr. Alex Thomas, Rush’s best friend dating back to medical school and one of the few constants in his life. Unlike Rush, Alex is a man with a plan — he works as a high-ranking physician at one of Los Angeles’ top hospitals and appears to have the ideal family life that Rush has long resisted. Tate played the role in the pilot as a guest star as he was in second position to comedy pilot Mr. Robinson at USA sibling NBC. Mr. Robinson has since been picked up to series but Tate won’t continue on the series, instead taking on full-time duties on Rush. Tate, repped by Paradigm and Brillstein’s Jai Khanna, recently recurred on Showtime’s House Of Lies.

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Two Colberts Pass In The Night

LisaColumn__131015210634-275x198Stephen Colbert: The Road To The CBS Late Show Host-ship 2015 kicked off this week, with Actual Stephen Colbert visiting the show to kiss David Letterman’s ring and introduce himself to late-night America as a pleasant, humble kind of guy. At the exact same time, over on Comedy Central, StephenColbertLetterman__140423232924-575x468 Colbert-Nation, the puffed-up talk-show host headlining The Colbert Report, rhetorically threw down with conservative columnist George Will.

It was a neat equation of what Colbert will add to CBS and subtract from the political landscape. CBS will become home to the guy who will do the very best interview ever with Lindsay Lohan when she attempts her next career comeback (maybe when NBC revisits its Hillary Clinton biopic after the presidential election cycle?). But we’ve got an abundant supply of late-night Lohan interviewers. Meanwhile, our gross national product of viral, make-you-think TV political humorists appears to be about to plunge 50%, from Colbert plus Jon Stewart to Stewart alone (though Comedy Central alum John Oliver’s upcoming HBO weekly show may tip the scales a bit).
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‘The Mentalist’ Explores New Network Homes In Case CBS Does Not Renew Series

By | Thursday April 24, 2014 @ 2:00pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

The Golden HammerWith The Mentalist‘s future at CBS in serious doubt, I hear the studio behind the veteran drama, Warner Bros TV, has been quietly shopping the series to other networks, garnering some preliminary interest from broadcast and cable. Taking in a 6-year-old high-end drama is not an easy proposition, but WBTV is ready to explore every possible avenue — that’s how important a property The Mentalist is to the studio with its $2 million-plus-per-episode off-network deal at TNT and big international sales including France, where it is the No. 1 scripted series.

Related: On The Bubble: Where Endangered Broadcast Series Stand

In a situation like that, having a sibling network comes in handy. CBS stepped in when NBC cancelled CBS Studios-produced drama Medium after five seasons, keeping the series and its lucrative off-network deal alive for two more years. When NBC was exploring ending Law & Order: Criminal Intent after six seasons, the series, produced by NBCUniversal, instead moved to sibling USA, which already was carrying CI reruns. The Law & Order spinoff ended up going for four more seasons. The Mentalist wouldn’t be a fit for the only WBTV-affiliated broadcast network, the young skewing CW, making cable sibling TNT the best possible option. Like with L&O: CI and USA, TNT already is the off-network home of The Mentalist and has a slate of crime procedurals. However, the net has been pulling away from the genre lately, putting an emphasis on action-adventure fare in the vein of Falling Skies with such shows as the upcoming The Last Ship and Legends, and I hear it might not be interested in picking up The Mentalist originals (though parent Time Warner could conceivably intervene if the larger company’s financial interest is at stake). Among the major broadcast networks, ABC is said to be open to considering a pickup though it is expected to evaluate its own development first. The network has had success with a similar comedic procedural, Castle, and it also has struggled launching dramas at 10 PM for the past couple of seasons.

Related: CBS Renews 9 Drama Series, 5 Comedies; No ‘Mentalist’ Or ‘Crazy Ones’

When The Mentalist premiered in 2008, it drew comparisons to USA‘s Psych, also a light crime procedural about a fake psychic helping the police. Psych just ended its eight-season run, so there is a vacancy there. But, like TNT, USA too has been moving away from character-based procedurals as it has been showing affinity for edgier dramas, and I hear it likely would not be pursuing The Mentalist. Read More »

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Rob Wade To Succeed Conrad Green As ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Showrunner

By | Thursday April 24, 2014 @ 1:00pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

dancingRob Wade has been tapped to take over as showrunner of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars starting with the next 19th cycle, which has not been formally picked up but is fully expected to. Wade, a DWTS veteran, will succeed Conrad Green, the show’s executive producer/showrunner since its launch, who is departing after the 18th season finale next month to join new Fox series Utopia as executive producer. Wade was a producer on DWTS for the first 11 seasons, including a stint as co-executive producer under Green from Season 5 in 2007 to Season 11 in 2010. “Rob was a part of the DWTS family from the very beginning and in our mind, there was no one who made more sense to come aboard and take the show into its next era than him,” said Jane Tranter, head of BBC Worldwide Prods., which produces DWTS.  Wade will serve as executive producer alongside Ashely Edens-Shaffer and Joe Sungkur. “Dancing with the Stars is in great shape and I look forward to getting back in the ballroom and working with Joe and Ashley to take it to the next level,” Wade said.

As is the case with all aging reality franchises, the ratings for Dancing have come down and, starting last fall, the show went from two to one episode a week but it still draws sizable audiences. The show made several changes going into this season, including Erin Andrews replacing Brooke … Read More »

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Bryan Singer X-es Himself Out Of ‘X-Men’ Publicity As He Defends Self Against Sexual Abuse Allegations

By | Thursday April 24, 2014 @ 12:26pm PDT
Mike Fleming

BREAKING: After pulling out of a scheduled appearance to promote X-Men: Days Of Future Past at last singerbryweekend’s WonderCon, director Bryan Singer has announced he’s not going to participate in the launch publicity for the Fox tentpole because of the allegations of sex abuse that are the subject of a civil lawsuit and allegedly occurred in 1999. This case is sordid, and has been a challenge for some news outlets because Singer was among several names named, with no evidence so far. He originated the X-Men franchise for Fox, directing the first two stellar films, and this was expected to be a triumphant return. But though unsubstantiated at this point, the allegations are serious, the scandal is growing, and it is not surprising to see him bow out. Here is a statement that Singer issued through his publicist:

‘The allegations against me are outrageous, vicious and completely false,” Singer said. “I do not want these fictitious claims to divert ANY attention from X-Men: Days of Future Past. This fantastic film is a labor of love and one of the greatest experiences of my career. So, out of respect to all of the extraordinary contributions from the incredibly talented actors and crew involved, I’ve decided not to participate in the upcoming media events for the film. However, I promise when this situation is over, the facts will show this to be the sick twisted shake down it is. I want to thank fans, friends and family for all their amazing and overwhelming support.” Read More »

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Paul Feig Taps Offshore Talent For Melissa McCarthy Spy Tale

By | Thursday April 24, 2014 @ 11:33am PDT
Mike Fleming

nargisEXCLUSIVE: An international spy comedy needs some offshore talent, and director Paul Feig has found his for Spy, the comedy that stars Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Rose Byrne, Jude Law, Bobby Cannavale, Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson and Miranda Hart. Feig has added Bollywood star Nargis Fakhri, British comic actor Peter Serafinowicz and Swedish comedian Bjorn Gustafsson. “There are so many actors worldwide that I’ve been dying to work with and Nargis, Peter and Bjorn have always been at the top of my list,” Feig said. “Peter and Bjorn are comic geniuses and Nargis is cool, funny and drop-dead gorgeous, which ironically are three adjectives that have been used to describe me. So, I feel a special kinship with her.”

Feig also added Verka Serduchka, the transgender Ukrainian pop star famous for coming in second place in the Eurovision song competition in 2007. She and her dancers are going to re-create that performance in this movie. Russian chief Vladimir Putin recently wouldn’t let them into Russia to perform because of their anti-gay laws, so maybe they’ll see the performance in the movie. Read More »

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‘Friday The 13th’ Scares Up Hourlong Series

Mike Fleming

jasonvEXCLUSIVE: After slicing and dicing his way through a dozen feature films, Jason Voorhees is ready to slash his way to small-screen stardom. Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films and Crystal Lake Entertainment have set a deal to produce a new hourlong dramatic series based upon the characters and settings of Friday The 13th. Sean S. Cunningham, who helmed the 1980 original, will be executive producer along with EFO Films principals Randall Emmett & George Furla, Mark Canton of Atmosphere Entertainment MM, Steve B. Harris of Diversion3 Entertainment, and Ted Fox of Fox Entertainment. Also producing is Horror Inc. president Robert Barsamian, who produced the features.

Bill Basso (Terminator) and Jordu Schell (Avatar) have been set to script a storyline that re-imagines Jason in multiple time periods. Roy Knyrim (Gods And Monsters) of SOTA FX will coordinate the special make-up effects for the series. If you recall, the original was set at a summer camp, closed because of the drowning of an unattended child. Promiscuous counselors tried to re-open the place, but they began dying. Jason actually took root as the indestructible villain in the second film, with his signature hockey goalie mask coming later. The series is contemporary, focusing on the eclectic characters of Crystal Lake who are forced to confront the return of the killer, as new secrets about his wacky family are revealed. Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Let’s Be Cops’

By | Thursday April 24, 2014 @ 11:05am PDT

20th Century Fox has dropped a new trailer for action comedy Let’s Be Cops. It follows the red band version that debuted last month. Damon Wayans Jr. and Jake Johnson star as buddies who pretend to be officers of the law — then find themselves in over their head with mobsters and dirty detectives. Cast also includes Rob Riggle, Nina Dobrev, James D’Arcy and Andy Garcia. Pic hits theaters on August 13.

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘American Idol’ & ‘Modern Family’ Rise

By | Thursday April 24, 2014 @ 9:52am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

NOLAN GOULD, AUBREY ANDERSON-EMMONS, ED O'NEILL, SARAH HYLAND,  TY BURRELL,With the Top 6 performing, Fox’s American Idol (2.1) last night reversed the recent downward ratings trend, up 11% from last Wednesday’s fast nationals. The singing competition closed the gap with CBS’ Survivor (2.2, even with last week’s fast national) but the CBS reality veteran kept its two-month winning streak over the Fox singing show alive.

ABC’s returning Wednesday comedies came back to originals after a two-week break. Fast nations to fast nationals, The Middle (1.8) was down a tenth from its most recent original on April 2, while Suburgatory (1.6) held steady. Going out of town once again worked for Modern Family. After its Las Vegas episode delivered a ratings bump last month, last night’s Australian episode (3.4) too posted an uptick, +6% from the series’ last original. After being left to fend for itself with no original support for the past two weeks, new comedy Mixology (1.5) perked up with an original lead-in, up 25% from last week but a tenth below its last episode that followed a new Modern Family. ABC aired a Nashville concert special (1.0) at 10 PM, with CBS’ and NBC’ dramas also in repeats. Fox won the night in 18-49 and total viewers.
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Flex Option For ‘Sunday Night Football’ To Start 6 Weeks Earlier As NFL Unveils 2014 Schedule

By | Wednesday April 23, 2014 @ 5:06pm PDT

nfl-logo1The NFL is coming off most-watched program in U.S. TV history with the Super Bowl, and its just-released 2014 schedule arrives today with a couple key differences from last year – one of which is bound to make NBC execs smile. The league said that its “flex” scheduling for the Paeaock’s Sunday Night Football games can begin as early as Week 5, moving up from Week 11 in the past. That means the NFL can move any scheduled day game into primetime to air on what has been the No. 1 show in primetime viewership for four consecutive years and tops in the adults 18-49 demo for six straight. But there is a catch: The flex option can be exercised only twice between Weeks 5 and 10, whichSunday_night_football means Fox or CBS won’t have to give up their best matchups every week during that span. The flex-scheduling say-so remains with the league, which must make the call no fewer than 12 days ahead of time. (Regular Sunday night flex scheduling remains in play after Week 10.) Meanwhile, the NFL also is introducing a plan to “cross flex” Sunday day games on CBS and Fox, which have over-the-air rights to the AFC and NFC, respectively. In previous years, a game between two AFC teams had to be on CBS, but now the league can choose to move those games to Fox (and vice versa). This could help during weeks when one network happens to have the potentially biggest games.

Related: ESPN To Air Cable’s First NFL Playoff Game

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Meg Ryan To Voice The Mother In CBS’ ‘How I Met Your Dad’

By | Wednesday April 23, 2014 @ 1:45pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Meg Ryan How I Met Your DadMeet the future Mother. I have learned that Meg Ryan has been quietly tapped as the narrator in CBSHow I Met Your Mother spinoff How I Met Your Dad. In the way that Bob Saget supplied the voice of future Ted (Josh Radnor) in HIMYM, Ryan will voice future Sally (played by Greta Gerwig) in the spinoff, telling her kids the story of how she’d met gerwigtheir dad. Like Saget, Ryan will never be seen on the show. CBS and How I Met Your Dad producer 20th Century Fox TV declined comment. In the vein of the original series, HIMYD tells the story from a female point of view, that of Sally (Gerwig), and revolves around a new group of friends in New York, played by Gerwig, Drew Tarver, Nick D’Agosto, Andrew Santino and Tiya Sircar. The spinoff pilot has been garnering strong early buzz and is considered a leading candidate for a series pickup for next season. Ryan is with ICM Partners.

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David Schulner Inks New Deal With Uni TV, Sets Ancient Egypt HBO Drama With Ridley Scott

By | Wednesday April 23, 2014 @ 12:30pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

David SchulnerDavid Schulner is staying at Universal TV with a new two-year overall deal, his third consecutive overall pact there. Through Uni TV, Schulner has sold hourlong drama Pharaoh to HBO with Ridley Scott attached to direct and executive produce. The series explores an alternate explanation for the foundation and ascent of the ancient Egyptian empire—one in which greatness was bestowed upon us by beings from another world, calling into question what it means to be a ‘god.’ Another ancient Egypt drama, Hieroglyph, has a series order at Fox. Under his Uni TV deal, Schulner also is developing projects for sister networks USA and Syfy. He previously was the creator, executive producer and showrunner of NBC/Uni TV’s drama Do No Harm and served as consulting producer on NBC’s Dracula and Ironside. Schulner began his tenure at Universal TV (then UMS) with stints as co-executive producer on drama series Kings and Trauma, leading to his first overall deal with the studio in 2010. Schulner started off as a playwright before becoming a staff writer on ABC’s Once And Again. He rose to prominence with his high-concept 2007 spec The Oaks, which landed at Fox after a bidding frenzy with Shawn Ryan executive producing. Schulner’s series credits also include the WB’s Everwood, ABC’s Desperate Housewives and ITV’s Marchlands. Schulner, repped by UTA and Myman Abel, also is the author of the comic book Clone.

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Andy Samberg Makes ‘SNL’ Hosting Debut For Season Finale As Part Of NBC Late Night Show’s Symphonic Slate

By | Wednesday April 23, 2014 @ 11:02am PDT

snl18NBC’s Saturday Night Live will explode in a Comcast symphony of cross-promotion for its final original episodes of the TV season. SNL alum Andy Samberg will make his hosting debut for the season finale May 17 — Samberg stars in/produces Universal TV’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine for Fox network (Universal and NBC both being divisions of Comcast). Charlize Theron, one of the stars of Universal-distributed Seth MacFarlane movie A Million Ways To Die In The West — will take her second swing as SNL host May 10. The network also made official that Andrew Garfield will make his SNL hosting debut May 3 as his The Amazing Spider-Man 2 premieres nationwide May 2 — Spider-Man being a big attraction at Universal theme parks. Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘The Voice’ & ‘Glee’ Dip, ‘Supernatural’ Surges, ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ & ‘About A Boy’ Steady

shakira april 22There were spies on ABC but it was truly show time on Fox and NBC last night. With its first live elimination show of Season 6, last night’s The Voice (2.7/9) rolled out a sizzling performance from mentor Shakira as well as cutting two contestants. Coming off its lowest Monday result ever and with the return of the Twitter instant save for a second season, the singing competition show was down 10% from last Tuesday. That’s a new low for the show in terms of regular episodes. Still, The Voice was the top-rated and most watched show of the night with 10.95 million watching. While NBC likely doesn’t want those standings to change, it might see a change in The Voice’s 18-49 rating later in the day when the final numbers come in – the show has commonly seen an adjustment upward from the preliminaries. With its 9:01 PM Voice spillover start, freshman About A Boy (1.9/6) saw a 6% bop up from last week in preliminary ratings. Fellow newbie Growing Up Fisher (1.5/4) was even with last week’s low.  Getting a 1.8/5 among the 18-49s, NBC was No. 1 last night with an all-encore CBS coming in tops in total viewers with 9.41 million watching. CBS’ NCIS repeat was the second-most-watched show of Tuesday’s primetime after The Voice with an audience of 10.42 million.
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USA Network Sets Summer Premiere Dates

By | Wednesday April 23, 2014 @ 8:00am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

rush_aspot_keyart_2490x1418_0USA Network is shaking things up this summer with a schedule that features four returning series moving to new time slots, joined by two new shows, dramas series Rush and Satisfaction, paired together. This is a rare new drama series launch on USA satisfaction_aspot_keyart_2490x1418_7where the newbies are not slotted behind established series. Rush and Satisfaction (formerly untitled Sean Jablonski) will premiere July 17, airing Thursdays at 9 PM and 10 PM, respectively. Rush, from writer-director Jonathan Levine and Fox 21, examines the world of renegade physician Dr. William Rush (Tom Ellis), a “medical fixer” who privately caters to LA’s elite. Satisfaction, from Universal Cable Prods, stars Matt Passmore and explores modern marriage at its midpoint. (watch the first trailer below). Read More »

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Fox Pushes ‘MasterChef’ Premiere By Week

By | Wednesday April 23, 2014 @ 7:14am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

BonesFox is saving an extra original of Bones to run with 24: Live Another Day. In the most recent summer schedule announced last month, veteran Bones was to air its penultimate episode of Season 9 on April 28, leading to the second season finale of The Following. After a week-long break for the two-hour debut of 24: Live Another Day, Bones was slated to air its season finale on May 12, followed by the time slot premiere of 24, with MasterChef taking over the Monday 8 PM slot the following week. Now, Bones will air a repeat on April 28, the night of The Following finale, with the last two episodes for the season paired with the first two regular-slot episodes of the 24 event series on May 12 and May 19. Season 5 MasterChef will debut on May 26.

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ESPN Could Rewrite Record Book When It Airs Cable’s First NFL Playoff Game

By | Tuesday April 22, 2014 @ 9:15pm PDT

ESPN_logoThe NFL regular-season schedule comes out tomorrow, but we already know something big about the postseason. The league said today that ESPN will air a wild card game during the first weekend of the playoffs in early January. The milestone game will mark the first postseason NFL game on pay TV — and should draw astronomical ratings for the cable universe. Last season’s wild card weekend was a goldmine for NBC, CBS and especially Fox, whose 49ers-Packers contest was the most-watched wild card game on any network since the Reagan administration 49ers_Packers_Footbal_Congwith 47.1 million viewers. Even that weekend’s lowest-rated game — in which the Colts erased a four-touchdown deficit to stun the Chiefs — drew 27.6 million. But that’s more than the largest cable TV audience ever: the 2011 Auburn-Oregon college football title game, which pulled in 27.3 million viewers for ESPN. The sports network, which carries Monday Night Football games, signed an eight-year contract extension with the NFL in 2011 to keep the lucrative franchise through the 2021 season. That pact — which also covers international TV rights to NFL games including the Super Bowl — included an option for the league to give a postseason game to ESPN. The network’s MNF team of Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden  will call the Wild Card game, which also will be available via WatchESPN.

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Mitch Hurwitz Inks Multi-Year Deal With Netflix For New Series

By | Tuesday April 22, 2014 @ 4:50pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

hurwitzEXCLUSIVE: Mitch Hurwitz is staying in the Netflix fold with a multi-year deal, a rare pact with a writer-producer for the streaming giant. Under the multi-tier agreement, the Arrested Development creator will create and produce new original series for the Internet TV network through his banner The Hurwitz Company. Additionally, he will develop projects with other creators as a non-writing executive producer and will consult for Netflix on comedy series. Hurwitz first worked with Netflix on a new season of his Emmy-winning comedy series Arrested Development, which netflix_logo__121008075714-200x92__130701074658was released last year. “We are lucky to be in business with Mitch Hurwitz, a true genius with one of the most distinctive voices in comedy today,” said Netflix’s Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. “Mitch’s inventive approach to Arrested Development — one of the top TV comedies of this generation — was ahead of its time, and we’re fortunate to have him on our team.”

Related: Netflix Says It May Raise Prices For New Customers

After winning six Emmys for its three-year run on Fox from 2003-06 — including three for Hurwitz, for best series and two for writing — Arrested Development‘s fourth season on Netflix earned three more Emmy nominations for the show, bringing the total to 25. Hurwitz executive produced and co-directed Season 4, and it was that collaboration with Netflix, which Hurwitz describes as being “the best professional experience of my life, even topping some of my favorite unprofessional experiences,” that led to the new deal. “It is incredibly inspiring to get to produce for Netflix, a company that not only doesn’t resist change but is leaps and bounds ahead of everyone in forging it,” Hurwitz said. “The fact that I’m also getting one month of their streaming right to my TV or Xbox free … well, it really takes the sting out of buying that Xbox.”

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