5 items from 2016
Two PBS stalwarts offer excellent back-to-back documentaries Feb. 9 – one extremely timely, the other a still-relevant dip into the way-back machine. Produced with the New York Times, “Frontline’s” “The Fantasy Sports Gamble” delves into betting sites like FanDuel and DraftKings, which have coyly operated at the fringes of gambling, enlisting entertainment companies and professional leagues as partners, while virtually buying off media with their ostentatious advertising budgets. That follows “The Perfect Crime,” a look back at the infamous 1924 murder case of Leopold and Loeb, a reminder that sensational “crimes of the century” predated O.J. Simpson.
Drawing from the Times’ extensive reporting on online sports wagering, “Frontline” had the good fortune to assemble its report – produced and directed by Frank Koughan, who wrote it with Times reporter-correspondent Walt Bogdanich – as the industry was threatening to implode. That included revelations that FanDuel and DraftKings employees had potentially gamed the system by winning »
- Brian Lowry
PBS and NPR are teaming up for programming centering around the 2016 presidential election, dubbed “PBS Election 2016.” The partnership was announced Monday at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif.
“PBS Election 2016” will include new and returning series, specials, documentaries and digital content with a mix of investigative reports, educational opportunities and local and national stories. With PBS and NPR joining forces, the programming will result in shared digital, video and audio content between the two organizations, covering everything from the primary debates to election night and beyond.
As part of the collaboration, PBS will launch an election-focused digital platform on PBS.org in February that will include content from NPR. Likewise, NPR will integrate PBS content into its politics section on NPR.org with both companies cross-promoting.
“In this election year, PBS promises viewers extensive, in-depth and thoughtful coverage across all platforms,” said Beth Hoppe, chief programming executive »
- Elizabeth Wagmeister
The Writers Guild of America has just announced the nominations for their annual awards for Best Screenplays (by writers who are guild signatories). That’s right, before you get nervous thinking that your favorite may have been left off the list, you must remember that the WGA is the group that is not all-inclusive and leaves out several of the top contenders each year due to them not being part of the guild or not following their very specific rules. For this reason, you won’t see Inside Out, The Hateful Eight, and Ex Machina in the Original Screenplay category or Room, Brooklyn, or Anomalisa in the Adapted screenplay category.
Taking a look at what’s left over for the nominations, we find many that were expected to make a showing, including Spotlight and Bridge of Spies for Original Screenplay, though they apparently had to sink to really low depths »
- Jeff Beck
Given the historic ties between the United States and Israel, watching the fraying relationship between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who essentially campaigned for his defeat in 2012 – has been a source of considerable fascination. And leave it to Frontline to encapsulate those events, as well as the Israeli leader’s confrontational style, in “Netanyahu at War,” which begins and ends with the Israeli leader’s 2015 speech to Congress advocating against the Iran deal, and deftly putties in all sorts of biographical details, slights and controversies in between.
For many in the U.S., Netanyahu became a fixture as a forceful U.S.-based spokesman for Israel during the ’80s (at times, the former U.N. ambassador felt like a de facto co-host of “Nightline”), before returning home to pursue his political ambitions. That included bitter criticism of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin for signing the Oslo Accords with »
- Brian Lowry
At a loss for what to watch this week? From new DVDs and Blu-rays, to what's streaming on Netflix, we've got you covered.
New on DVD and Blu-ray
Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, and Victor Garber star in this sharp, critically acclaimed (93 percent certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes!) drug war thriller, which is out on Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand on January 5. Blu-ray bonus featurettes include "Stepping into Darkness: The Visual Design of Sicario," "Blunt, Brolin & Benicio: Portraying the Characters of Sicario," "Battle Zone: The Origins of Sicario," and "A Pulse from the Desert: The Score of Sicario."
Watch Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Philippe Petit take a wild walk on a wire between the Twin Towers. The bio-drama from director Robert Zemeckis co-stars Sir Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Le Bon, James Badge Dale, and Ben Schwartz. The Blu-ray and DVD both include the "Pillars of Support" featurette, »
- Gina Carbone
5 items from 2016
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