HBO Max to Stream Comedy Central’s ‘The Other Two,’ ‘South Side’ and ‘Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens’

The upcoming seasons of the comedies “The Other Two” and “South Side” from Comedy Central Productions are joining HBO Max as new Max Original series, while the channel’s “Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens” will also find a home on the streaming service.

The first seasons of “The Other Two” and “South Side” will land on the platform in 2021 followed by new seasons to stream exclusively as Max Original series.

“The Other Two,” created by former Saturday Night Live co-head writers, follows two millennial siblings as they navigate their teenage brother’s rise to internet fame and “South Side,” shot on location in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, is a comedic look at two friends, ready to take one world, once they stop working at the local rent-to-own.

As part of the deal, HBO Max has become the exclusive streaming home to the semi-autobiographical comedy “Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens,” from Awkwafina. Season one is available to stream now on HBO Max. Season two will premiere and air in its entirety on Comedy Central next summer before becoming available on HBO Max.

“These ground-breaking and hilarious programs are cultural touchstones and we are excited about the diverse group of comedic voices they will bring to HBO Max. We know our audiences will want to watch again and again,” said Michael Quigley, EVP, content acquisitions, WarnerMedia, in a statement. “We are strategically thinking of the fans first, and adding these exceptional series to our portfolio allows us to introduce these standout comedies to new viewers on HBO Max.”

“Comedy Central Productions’ deal with HBO Max is emblematic of our studio production strategy to maximize the value of our content by selectively working with third parties while prioritizing franchise IP for our own platforms,” said Keyes Hill-Edgar, chief operating officer, ViacomCBS Entertainment and Youth Brands, in a statement.  “As we shift our strategy and double down on adult animation, topical shows and scripted movies — we are excited to supercharge our studio sales business and continue these great series with HBO Max.”

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“The Other Two” features Cary, an aspiring actor and his sister Brooke, a former professional dancer, who try to find their place in the world while wrestling with their feelings about their 13-year-old brother Chase’s sudden rise to internet fame. Created by former “Saturday Night Live” co-head writers Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, the series stars Drew Tarver, Helene Yorke, Case Walker, Ken Marino and Molly Shannon. Executive producers are Lorne Michaels, Kelly, Schneider, Andrew Singer and Tony Hernandez. The series is produced by Comedy Central Productions, Jax Media and Broadway Video.

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“South Side” follows two friends who just graduated from community college and are ready to take over the world. But until they do, they’re stuck working at Rent-T-Own. Shot on location in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, the show offers an authentic look into what life on the South Side is all about. Created by Diallo Riddle, Bashir Salahuddin and Sultan Salahuddin, the comedy stars Sultan Salahuddin, Kareme Young, Chandra Russell and Lil Rel Howery. Executive producers are Michael Blieden, Diallo Riddle and Bashir Salahuddin. The series is produced by Comedy Central Productions.

“Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens” features Awkwafina (Nora Lum) as Nora Lin in a scripted series based on her real-life beginnings in Queens, N.Y. Raised alongside her cousin by her dad and grandma, Nora leans on her family as she navigates young adulthood in outer borough New York City. Created by Awkwafina and Teresa Hsiao, the series also stars Lori Tan Chinn and BD Wong.  The series is executive produced by Nora Lum, Karey Dornetto, Lucia Aniello, Teresa Hsiao, and Peter Principato and Itay Reiss of Artists First.

Vizio SmartCast Adds a Dozen Free Kids and Family Channels

Vizio announced the launch of a dozen free kids and family linear TV channels for SmartCast users.

SmartCast users can find 24/7 content options from:

  • Ameba, a children’s video streaming service with kids TV shows, family movies and kids music videos designed to spark children’s curiosity and empower them to explore;
  • Brat TV, which features teen stars such as Dixie D’Amelio and Annie LeBlanc in live-action original series;
  • Giggle Mug, with collections of videos that kids and the entire family can enjoy featuring TV shows such as “Tara Duncan,” “Robot Trains,”’ YooHoo & Friends,” “Besty’s Kindergarten Adventures,” “Miniforce” and more;
  • HappyKids Junior, a destination dedicated to educating and entertaining preschoolers with shows such as “Cat in the Hat,” “Thomas & Friends,” “Care Bears,” “Super Simple Songs,” “Blippi” and “Mofy”;
  • HappyKids.tv, with programming that educates and entertains kids 6-plus with popular and safe shows, music and movies including “Sonic,” “Hot Wheels,” “Barbie,” “Bakugan,” “Winx Club” and more;
  • Kid Gamer TV, in which popular gamers create experiences in the universes of Minecraft and Roblox;
  • Kidoodle.TV, a Safe Streaming platform with content hand-picked by parents, including shows such as “PAW Patrol,” “LEGO City,” “Abdallah Smash,” “Talking Tom,” “True and the Rainbow Kingdom,” “Little Baby Bum,” “Pocoyo,” “Oddbods” and more;
  • The Official LEGO Channel, a channel dedicated to inspiring and developing the builders of tomorrow where kids can watch their favorite Minifigure characters;
  • SQAD, with eSports, sports and gaming content targeting teens, tweens and video game lovers of all ages;
  • Tankee Gaming, a safe channel where kids and families can enjoy gaming content featuring Minecraft, Roblox, Nintendo hits and more by their favorite gamers;
  • Toon Goggles, with kids shows such as “Angry Birds,” “Talking Tom,” “Om Nom,” “Gummy Bears,” “Sonic,” “Yu-Gi-Oh!” and more; and
  • WowNow Kids, the home of original animated adventures, educational series, and sing-alongs with Dove-approved movies and TV for families and children of all ages.

Upcoming free updates to SmartCast will add personalized viewing recommendations based on frequently used streaming channels, and family-friendly content reviews from Common Sense Media, according to the company.

“Today Vizio is making thousands of hours of free children’s programming available to our SmartCast users, as people increasingly make streaming part of their daily routines,” said Katherine Pond, VP of business development for Vizio, in a statement. “With the uncertainty of the upcoming school year, parents will be looking for alternate ways to entertain and educate their children from inside the home. Vizio is pleased to make these programs available to ensure high quality content for children and peace of mind for parents.”

Vizio has seen a spike in engagement for kids and family content as families continue

to stay home, according to the company. Apps with content for kids and family have historically seen around 35% more engagement than the average app on SmartCast.

The new channels can be found under the “Free Channels” section from the SmartCast Home screen and will complement Vizio’s WatchFree  service. In total, SmartCast viewers have access to more than 200 free linear TV channels of news, TV shows, movies and sports.

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“We’re excited to officially launch our Giggle Mug kids channel on Vizio SmartCast. The growing platform has a wonderful lineup of kids channels available, and we’re proud to be included,” said Jesse Janson, EVP of acquisitions and business development for Janson Media, in a statement.

“We are excited for the HappyKids launch as part of Vizio SmartCast’s kid programming, which is so timely. We will be bringing our expansive library of premium shows, movies and educational content to millions of Vizio SmartCast families all delivered in a kids-safe environment,” said Vikrant Mathur, co-founder of Future Today, in a statement.

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“Kidoodle.TV’s inclusion on Vizio SmartCast is a great way to support millions of families with our Safe Streaming service and we couldn’t be happier to work with a world-class platform,” said Neil Gruniniger, president and chief product officer, in a statement.

“We are honored to have the Tankee Gaming channel available to Vizio SmartCast, giving millions of kids a wealth of safe and entertaining gaming content while providing parents with peace of mind,” saidGerald Youngblood, Tankee CEO, in a statement.

“We are incredibly excited for the launch of the WowNow Kids channel on Vizio Smartcast. Children and their parents can now enjoy the hundreds of movies and television shows from our extensive library of animated content for free. Vizio is delivering an unbelievable value to Smartcast users.” Ryan Swenar, director of sales and business development for Wow Now Entertainment, in a statement.

One in Four Signed Up for at Least One TV Service During Pandemic

One in four U.S. consumers (28%) said they had signed up for at least one TV service during the pandemic, according to Hub Entertainment Research.

Each of the big four SVOD services has seen a three percentage point or higher increase since just before the pandemic began in February compared to July, according to Hub.

Meanwhile, pay-TV VOD and TVOD saw an increase of six percentage points and three percentage points, respectively, from February to July.

Moreover, consumers said they were likely to continue their same level of streaming TV service viewing, YouTube viewing and broadcast network viewing (especially for news).

“When it comes to the business of entertainment, people clearly intend to continue supporting the streaming TV services they’ve relied on for comfort viewing, the broadcast networks they’ve relied on for news, and the online videos they’ve used for needed distractions,” Peter Fondulas, co-founder and principal of Hub Entertainment Research, said in a statement.

With viewers spending more time watching TV, previews have become a stronger source of TV show discovery during the pandemic, according to Hub. The source is up considerably compared to last year as a method for discovering new shows, while with personal interaction more limited, word of mouth has dropped as a discovery source.

The data cited comes from Hub’s “Predicting the Post-Pandemic” study, conducted among 3,026 U.S. consumers, ages 14 to 74 who watch at least one hour of TV per week. The data was collected in July 2020.

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Netflix’s ‘The Rain’ Top Rising Show, ‘Umbrella Academy’ Again Top Binge on TV Time Charts

Netflix’s “The Rain” was the top rising show, while “The Umbrella Academy” was again the top binge the TV Time charts for the week ended Aug. 9.

“The Rain,” season three of which hit screens Aug. 6, picks up where the second season left off. Years after the rain decimated the population of Scandinavia, Simone and Rasmus find themselves at odds on how to save humanity. Rasmus wants to infect everyone with the same beta version of the virus that turned him into a superhuman, while Simone insists that there must be a cure. The show also came in at No. 2 on the binge chart.

The second season of “The Umbrella Academy,” top binge for a second consecutive week, hit screens July 31. The series, based on the comic books of the same name, follows a group of superheroes adopted at birth by a mysterious billionaire who face the end of the world. As season two begins, the time jump scatters the siblings in time in and around Dallas over a three-year period starting in 1960. Some, having been stuck in the past for years, have built lives and moved on, certain they’re the only ones who have survived.

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TV Time is a free TV viewership tracking app that tracks consumers’ viewing habits worldwide and is visited by more than 1 million consumers every day, according to the service. The weekly “Binge Report” ranks shows with the most binge sessions. A binge session is when four or more episodes of a show are watched and tracked in the app in a given day. The “Shows on the Rise” chart is calculated by determining the week-over-week growth in episodes watched for a given program. The network displayed is the network where the show first aired (e.g. “Friends” on NBC).

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 Top Binge Shows Week Ended Aug. 9 by Share of Binges:

  1. “The Umbrella Academy” (Netflix) — 7.17%
  2. “The Rain” (Netflix) — 2.72%
  3. “Modern Family” (ABC) — 2.24%
  4. “Good Girls” (NBC) — 1.55%
  5. “The Office” (NBC) — 1.35%
  6. “Friends” (NBC) — 1.32%
  7. “The Seven Deadly Sins” (MBS) — 1.25%
  8. “One Piece” (Fuji TV) — 1.24%
  9. “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC) — 1.14%
  10. “High Seas” (Netflix) — 1.09%

 

Top “Shows on the Rise” Week Ended Aug. 9 by Rise Ratio:

  1. “The Rain” (Netflix) — 94.4%
  2. “High Seas” (Netflix) — 90.8%
  3. “Selling Sunset” (Netflix) — 90.2%
  4. “The Seven Deadly Sins” (MBS) — 73.3%
  5. “Get Even” (BBC iPlayer) — 64.2%
  6. “Tokyo Ghoul” (Tokyo MX) — 37.3%
  7. “Locked Up: The Oasis” (Fox Espana) — 31.1%
  8. “Locked Up” (Fox Espana) — 28.4%
  9. “The Umbrella Academy” (Netflix) — 28.4%
  10. “Wynonna Earp” (Syfy) — 25.7%

Hulu Offers Discounted Yearly Plan

Hulu Aug. 7 began offering a new discounted yearly plan for current subscribers to its $5.99 per month plan.

Subscribers to that ad-supported plan have the option to get a one-year subscription to Hulu for only $59.99, or 12 months for the price of 10.

While only currently available for existing subscribers on Hulu’s ad-supported plan, the option will roll out to new ad-supported Hulu subscribers later this year, the company announced.

The annual plan gives viewers access to Hulu’s extensive library of TV series and movies — including TV hits such as “Empire” and “Atlanta,” Hulu originals such as “The Act” and “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and past favorites such as “ER” and “Full House” — for a 16% savings over the cost of the standard monthly plan.

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HBO Max Greenlights Docuseries ‘One Perfect Shot’ With Ava DuVernay

HBO Max has greenlit a new docuseries celebrating iconic movie moments executive produced and narrated by Oscar nominee and Emmy Award winner Ava DuVernay.

“One Perfect Shot,” a half-hour unscripted series inspired by a popular Twitter account of the same name, is produced by Warner Horizon Unscripted Television with DuVernay’s production company Array Filmworks.

Each episode arms one acclaimed director with an arsenal of visual tools to pull back the curtain on their most iconic shots. Using state-of-the-art technology, the directors will literally enter each shot, walking through the scene in 360 moments that allow viewers to join an immersive exploration of moviemaking. Filmmakers will share their obstacles, challenges, lessons and triumphs as they detail how they created their crowning cinematic achievements. Each helmer will also present one shot from an auteur who deeply influenced them.

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“There is nothing more fascinating than witnessing the passion and creativity of a filmmaker discussing their craft and dissecting how they pulled off that jaw-dropping shot,” Sarah Aubrey, head of original content for HBO Max, said in a statement. “Narrated by the illustrious Ava Duvernay, this series is sure to ignite and inspire film and television enthusiasts at every level.”

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“Ava’s concept for ‘One Perfect Shot’ and Array’s attachment to any project intensifies the production value and story quality,” Mike Darnell, president of Warner Bros. unscripted and alternative television, said in a statement.

“As one of today’s most respected filmmakers, Ava is the perfect voice to narrate the journey through the immersive new technology created to showcase the most beloved films of all time,” added Brooke Karzen, EVP and head of Warner Horizon Unscripted Television.

“I’ve long wanted to create a series about the art of directing,” DuVernay said in a statement. “To chronicle the craft of great filmmakers is a dream come true for me and all of us at Array Filmworks. We’re thrilled that our partners at Warner Horizon Unscripted Television embraced this idea and look forward to fully geeking out over movies with our friends at HBO Max,”

Winner of BAFTA, Peabody and Emmy Awards, DuVernay’s directorial work includes the civil rights drama Selma, the Oscar-nominated social justice documentary 13th and the Disney children’s adventure A Wrinkle in Time. In 2019, she created, wrote, produced and directed the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning limited series When They See Us. She is currently producing the fifth season of her acclaimed series “Queen Sugar.” She is the winner of the 2012 Sundance Best Director Prize for her second independent film, Middle of Nowhere.

Netflix Launches Hindi Interface

Netflix Aug. 9 launched its user interface in Hindi. The Netflix experience in Hindi, from sign up to search rows, collections and payment, is available across all devices on mobile, TV and Web.

Netflix members can switch to the Hindi user interface from the “Language” option in the “Manage Profiles” section on their desktop, TV or mobile browsers. On Netflix, members can set up to five profiles in each account, and each profile can have its own language setting. Netflix members outside India will also have the option to switch their user interface to Hindi.

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“Delivering a great Netflix experience is as important to us as creating great content. We believe the new user interface will make Netflix even more accessible and better suit members who prefer Hindi,” said Monika Shergill, VP of content for Netflix India.

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Netflix is investing heavily in Indian films and series across all genres and for all generations, including “Sacred Games,” “Bulbbul,” “Choked: Paisa Bolta Hai” and “Mighty Little Bheem.” The company recently announced a lineup of 17 stories, including “Ludo,” “A Suitable Boy” and “Mismatched” and the upcoming film Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl, which will bow Aug. 12. Netflix members can also view stories from other parts of the world, such as “Stranger Things,” “Extraction, Narcos: Mexico,” The Protector, Klaus, “The Witcher” and “Old Guard” with Hindi dubs or subtitles.

Last year, Netflix introduced the mobile plan in India for Rs. 199 per month.

Amazon Prime’s ‘The Candidate’ A Showcase for Mexico City, Executive Producer Says

Award-winning writer/producer Peter Blake, whose credits include “House,” “Billions,” “The Practice” and “ZeroZeroZero,” trains his sights on Mexico’s narco violence and political corruption in bilingual series “El Candidato” (“The Candidate”), which bowed on Amazon Prime in July.

“When we met with Peter, we found out he spoke Spanish — aside from other languages — and gave him carte blanche to explore how he wanted to create the series,” said executive producer Juan Rendon, who noted that Blake ran the writers’ room as well as penned some of the episodes.

“He had a very good understanding of Mexican current events and politics when we first sat to discuss the project,” added Rendon, who used to run the documentary division of U.S. Hispanic TV network Univision, where he came across a number of untapped stories.

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Made under the 2018 pact forged between Mexican TV giant Televisa and Amazon Prime to produce premium TV content, “El Candidato” follows two CIA agents, one a grizzled vet played by James Purefoy (“Rome”) bent on capturing an omnipotent drug lord played by Joaquin Cosio (“The Strain,” “Narcos: Mexico”), and the other a rookie (Eréndira Ibarra of “Sense8”). The candidate in question is a mayor with presidential ambitions, played by José María de Tavira, whose TV credits include “Rosario Tijeras” and “Diablo Guardian.”

The rookie is given the unenviable mission to find out the connections between the mayor, her old flame and the drug kingpin.

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The series showcases Mexico City as the vibrant, wealthy metropolis that it is. “It’s almost a separate character in the show,” said Rendon, who applauds Blake for bringing a “well-crafted writing structure” to the series.

Shot on location between November 2018 and March 2019, “El Candidato” boasts a formidable production team led by co-directors Jaime Reynoso, who’s worked on big budget films shot in Mexico such as Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium, and Humberto Hinojosa, whose credits include “Luis Miguel: The Series” and “La Hermandad.”

Its stable of writers includes Ted Cohen (“Veep”), Max Hurwitz (“ZeroZeroZero”), Katherine Walczak (“The Flash’), Daniel Krauze (“Luis Miguel: The Series”), David Chasteen and Eva Aridjis (The Favor).

“El Candidato” also counts on the vast experience of one of Mexico’s most sought-after production managers/producers, Stacy Perskie, who has worked on a number of high-profile projects shot in Mexico, including “Narcos: Mexico,” Elysium, Godzilla: King of the Monsters and the 2015 James Bond film Spectre, noted for its astonishing Day of the Dead opening sequence in Mexico City.

While Amazon Prime does not give out viewing numbers, the reviews from Mexico have been first-rate. The show has stirred up considerable debate as it explores the extent of U.S. involvement in the country’s long painful struggle with narco violence and government corruption.

“The series discusses a lot of uncomfortable truths in Mexico,” said Rendon.

A second season has yet to be announced.

Cinedigm Partners With Chinese Theme Park Operator for Animation Streaming Service

Cinedigm Aug. 6 announced a partnership with Fantawild, a Chinese theme park operator and producer of children’s animation, to launch a new global streaming service featuring the company’s animated series. The Fantawild channel is planned for a launch in the second half of 2020 and will be available worldwide for linear and AVOD platforms on connected TVs, digital set-top boxes, media-streaming devices, as well as the Web.

In addition, Cinedigm will distribute select Fantawild programming in North America across its network of distribution partners in the streaming space, including Apple, Microsoft, Netflix, Google, Amazon and Tubi, among others.

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With 29 theme parks in operation and 10 more under development, Fantawild is one of the top drivers of China’s tourism industry and attracts more than 50 million visitors annually. The company is ranked No. 5 on the list of top 10 theme park groups worldwide, placing ahead of major U.S.-based park operators such as Six Flags Group, Cedar Rapids Group and Sea World Attractions, among others.

Fantawild Animation’s series are broadcast nationally on more than 200 TV stations and have garnered more than 300 billion views on streaming services to date, according to Cinedigm. Internationally, the programs have been distributed to more than 120 countries and territories including the U.S., Italy, Russia and Singapore.

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“As we have demonstrated over the last year, Cinedigm’s mission is to partner with the world’s largest media brands and launch new streaming services … and this partnership dramatically expands that scope,” Erick Opeka, president of Cinedigm Digital Networks, said in a statement. “Fantawild’s innovation and dedication to quality is on par with the world’s top animation companies, which makes its content acquired by the most renowned channels and digital platforms globally.”

With Cinedigm’s Chinese-based majority ownership, the home entertainment/OTT distributor has aggressively sought to mine that relationship in support of branded streaming video services such as Dove Channel, Docurama, CONtv and recently launched Bambu, a Chinese pop culture channel.

Fantawild’s “Boonie Bears” franchise is the country’s top animated media property, having the distinction of being the highest-rated TV series in the history of CCTV, China’s national TV network.

Daisy Shang, president of Fantawild Animation, said the Cinedigm partnership would be instrumental in achieving “our goals delivering and presenting our content to American audiences.”

The Umbrella Academy: Season 2

STREAMING REVIEW:

Netflix;
Action;
Not rated.
Stars Ellen Page, Tom Hooper, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher, Colm Feore, Justin H. Min, Ritu Arya, Yusuf Gatewood, Marin Ireland, Kate Walsh.

Season two of the Netflix series “The Umbrella Academy,” which debuted July 31, is a binge-worthy, action-packed, emotional roller coaster, although it suffers from a few contrived plot points.

As the season begins, the time jump that left us on the edge of our seats at the end of season one goes awry and scatters the superhero siblings in time in and around Dallas over a three-year period starting in 1960. Some, having been stuck in the past for years, have built lives and moved on, certain they’re the only ones who have survived.

The villains this time around are a trio named “The Swedes” who are there to prevent Five from again changing the timeline as it seems the siblings brought the apocalypse back with them. “The Swedes” fulfill the same role as the iconic Hazel and Cha-Cha from season one, but they lack the same charm and comedy that made the original duo such a great part of the show. This new trio seems to have a greater history that unfortunately doesn’t get explored, leaving us with little attachment to their story.

While we may not get much in terms of backstory on “The Swedes,” season two isn’t lacking in expanded history for the members of the Umbrella Academy. We get to see more background behind the interpersonal connections of the different siblings, as well as how it affects their interactions now. The characters we already grew to love in the first season only become more fleshed out.

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However, the plot sometimes bogs down in order to present the emotional aspect of the show. Some episodes seem stretched to fill the season, as certain conflicts feel unnecessarily manufactured.

Still, despite a few weaknesses, season two is a satisfying continuation to season one of the comic book-based series, and it leaves us waiting in anticipation for the future of the Hargreeves siblings and the Umbrella Academy.

Season Two of “The Umbrella Academy” (Christos Kalohoridis/Neflix)