DirecTV Launches New ‘Gemini’ Set-Top Dongle, Hires Brian Cox to Sell It

Satellite TV operator DirecTV April 6 announced the rollout of a new set-top dongle and remote, the company’s first significant CE upgrade in 10 years. To help get the word out to consumers, the pay-TV operator has signed actor Brian Cox (“Succession”) as a blunt salesman in a new advertising campaign called “Overly Direct Spokesperson.”

Gemini provides users with an integrated Google voice remote to help them search their favorite apps such as HBO Max, Netflix and others while eliminating the need to switch between TV inputs.

“We’ve made it [easier] for satellite TV and internet customers to experience their home entertainment without switching TV inputs,” Vince Torres, chief marketing officer of DirecTV, said in a statement.

In the ad spots, Cox portrays a tough-as-nails truth-teller who just wants the best for consumers. The campaign highlights many of the major pain points consumers experience with cable TV, and how satellite delivers an elevated entertainment experience through its long-standing sports leadership (including more local Major League Baseball games than any pay-TV service), strong customer satisfaction rating from ASCI, and greater than 99% satellite signal reliability.

DirecTV is majority owned by AT&T, but operationally controlled by minority owner private investor group TPG Capital (formerly Texas Pacific Group), which acquired a 30% stake (and AT&T TV and U-verse) in 2021 for $1.8 billion in cash. AT&T bought DirecTV in 2015 for $48.5 billion.

DirecTV ended 2022 with 13.1 million subscribers.

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HBO/HBO Max ‘Succession’ Season Four Premiere Draws 2.3 Million Viewers, A New Series High

The season four debut of “Succession” on HBO and HBO Max generated a record 2.3 million combined viewers. Total viewing for Sunday night (March 26) was up 62% compared to last season’s premiere (1.4 million) and up 33% compared to last season’s finale (1.7 million), with season three episodes going on to average 7.2 million viewers per episode across platforms, according to an HBO/HBO Max release. Viewership figures are based on Nielsen and first party data.

Compared to other Sunday night HBO Original premieres, Sunday’s total viewing number was 51% ahead of the season two premiere of “The White Lotus” and trailed only “House of the Dragon,” “The Last of Us” and “Euphoria” among recent HBO series. In addition, viewing of “Succession” on Max has been accelerating in anticipation of the new season, with last week up more than 400% versus the previous week.

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The Emmy-winning drama series, created by Jesse Armstrong, airs its 10-episode fourth and final season each Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT through May 28.

The series explores themes of power and family dynamics through the eyes of patriarch Logan Roy (Brian Cox) and his four grown children, Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Siobhan (Sarah Snook), Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Connor (Alan Ruck).

The first three seasons garnered 48 Emmy nominations and 13 wins, including Outstanding Drama Series for the second and third seasons. Season three, which premiered October 2021, earned the SAG Award for drama ensemble and swept at WGA, DGA and PGA.

Between new episodes, viewers can tune in to the official “Succession” podcast, which features conversations with the major players from the series. Hosted by Kara Swisher, the multi-part podcast dives deep into the razor-sharp writing, dynamic performances and high-powered family drama that drive the series.

The podcast is currently No. 1 on Apple’s TV & Film chart in the United States.

Actor Brian Cox Headlines New BritBox Docs on Acclaimed Actors, Including Richard Harris, Peter O’Toole

Award-winning actor Brian Cox (“Succession,” King Lear) will discuss his life and career in An Interview With Brian Cox streaming on BritBox beginning April 11. 

In addition to exploring his early years in Scotland and Shakespearean beginnings to his contemporary roles across film and television, Cox will interrogate the idea of the American dream, searching to find out whether anyone really can make it big in Hollywood if they work hard enough, or if this is just a myth. The one-hour special is an extended version of an interview that aired on the BBC in the United Kingdom last year.

The special airs prior to the subscription streamer bowing separate docs on the late Richard Harris (A Man Called Horse, Harry Potter) and Peter O’Toole (Lawrence of Arabia, Venus) on May 9. Both docs were acquired from Abacus Media Rights.

The Ghost of Richard Harris addresses the darker and less fortunate aspects of the actor’s life, including broken marriages, his use of drugs and alcohol, the films that he might have preferred to forget, and the extraordinary talent that was sometimes dissipated. Director Adrian Sibley sought to avoid the chronological approach to his subject. Instead, he used previously unheard audio recordings by biographer Joe Jackson, previously unseen family footage, and interviews with his three sons, to present an insight to the complex life and work of Harris. The doc was initially screened at the 2022 Venice Biennale. Since then, it has received various awards and nominations, including being longlisted by the BAFTA Film Awards.

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Peter O’Toole — Along the Sky Road to Aqaba centers around the legendary actor Peter O’Toole and is presented in four acts — each introduced by a quote about O’Toole that encapsulates his life during a specific time period. Each act expands into a narrative addressing questions such as his self-belief, his alcoholism, his relationships with women, his belief in socialism and his selective embrace of Irishness. While O’Toole’s words (gleaned from hundreds of hours of archival interviews) act as a narrator of his own journey, director Jim Sheridan further explores O’Toole through interviews with family members, artists, actors and directors that knew him well. Matter of Fact Films produced the documentary in association with Treehouse Media and Alice Productions.

Lauren Bacall Film ‘All at Sea’ Coming to Digital and VOD March 5 From Level 33

The black comedy All at Sea, starring the late Lauren Bacall, is coming to digital and VOD March 5 from Level 33 Entertainment.

In the 2010 film set in Norway, retired sailor Wally and best friend Skipper are residents of a retirement home run by Ms. Reimark. When Skipper dies, Wally vows to honor his promise to bury his friend at sea. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a coffin, boat or anyone to conduct the service. Wally takes fellow residents on a madcap adventure to carry out the burial before Ms. Reimark puts an end to his daring scheme.

Directed by Robert Yount, the film also stars Brian Cox and James Fox.

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Super Troopers 2


Box Office $30.62 million;
$29.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for crude sexual content and language throughout, drug material and some graphic nudity.
Stars Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske, Rob Lowe, Brian Cox, Rob Lowe, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Tyler Labine, Will Sasso, Hayes MacArthur, Lynda Carter.

Fans of 2002’s cult-favorite Super Troopers were apparently so desperate for a sequel that they were willing to pay for it themselves. The 16-year wait certainly hasn’t diminished interest in the potential franchise, with the sequel taking in a bigger box office haul than the original.

The Broken Lizard comedy team reportedly had an idea for a follow-up for quite a while, but were only able to move forward with it after raising $4.7 million through Indiegogo and supplementing the budget with private financing. The project was such a success that there’s already talk of a third film — though hopefully fans won’t have to wait another decade and a half for it.

The film continues the bungling adventures of a crew of dimwitted Vermont state troopers, and while there are some callbacks to the original film, it’s not as if an intimate knowledge of prior events is required to be able to follow along in this one.

The premise this time around is that after some off-camera shenanigans have threatened their careers, the troopers are given a chance at redemption with a thankless assignment to establish a police force in a Canadian border town that is going to be turned over to the United States after some clarification of old boundary markers. This gives the film all manner of excuses for an endless barrage of U.S. vs. Canada cultural jokes, and particularly jokes about French Canadians and their accents.

Rob Lowe plays the mayor of the affected town, who is also a famous local hockey player and owner of the local brothel, because why wouldn’t he be?

All the guys are back and up to their usual idiocy, especially Farva (Kevin Hefernan), the oblivious loudmouth who offers to cut off his toe with a shovel if he can’t score with a sexy local diplomat (Emmanuelle Chriqui) who clearly has no interest in him.

In addition to the trademark pranks the troopers play on the unsuspecting drivers they pull over, there’s a subplot involving contraband being stashed around town in anticipation of the border switch so that it will wind up in the U.S. without the need to smuggle it in. The case leads the guys to butt heads with a trio of local Mounties who resent potentially being reassigned somewhere else in Canada.

Some of the gags and physical humor are good for a few laughs, but like most Broken Lizard movies, the steady stream of obnoxious one-upsmanship and anatomical chicanery can be an acquired taste.

The Blu-ray includes a 39-minute behind-the-scenes featurette that delves into the crowd-funding campaign, including bringing a number of donors onto the set to appear in the film as extras.

Also included are 20 minutes of deleted scenes (some of which are shown in the making-of featurette) and a two-minute featurette about Heffernan getting into character.