Ted Sarandos Defends Comic Dave Chappelle Over Controversial Netflix Special

Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos is defending the streamer’s decision to keep “The Closer,” an original new stand-up special featuring comic Dave Chappelle on the platform. The program has drawn protests regarding Chappelle’s comments about the transgender community.

Specifically, Chappelle, in the special, defends “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling, who has criticized transgenders and claimed they represent a threat to her own gender identity.

“They canceled J.K. Rowling – my God,” Chappelle says on the program. “Effectually she said gender was a fact, the trans community got mad as [expletive], they started calling her a TERF [“trans exclusionary radical feminist”] … I’m Team TERF. I agree. I agree, man. Gender is a fact.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

In an Oct. 8 staff memo, Sarandos reportedly said Chappelle is known for controversial comments — and generating lots of viewers. Netflix’s previous Chappelle special (the fifth under a long-term deal), “Sticks & Stones,” was one of the “stickiest” stand-up specials, according to the executive.

“Several of you have asked where we draw the line on hate,” Sarandos wrote. “We don’t allow titles on Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe ‘The Closer’ crosses that line.”

Sarandos said he understands that distinguishing between commentary and harm is difficult, especially with stand-up comedy, which exists to push boundaries.

“Some people find the art of stand-up to be mean-spirited, but our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering,” he wrote.

Redbox Inks Free Streaming Deal With Kevin Hart’s Laugh Out Loud Comedy Brand

Redbox and Laugh Out Loud (LOL), the global multi-platform comedy brand founded by Kevin Hart, have announced a content deal to bring more than 100 hours of stand-up specials and television shows to Redbox’s free AVOD streaming service.

The titles will be available through the Redbox streaming app via the LOL! Network, which is available on a wide range of devices, including Roku, Vizio, Samsung, LG, Xbox, iOS and Android.

The lineup includes comedy series, stand-up specials and television shows from LOL, including “All-Star Comedy Jam: I’m Still Laughing,” “All-Star Comedy Jam: Orlando,” “Gary Own: True Story,” “Kevin Hart: What Now? All Access,” “DeRay Davis: Power Play” and “Shaq and Cedric the Entertainer Present All-Star Comedy Jam.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Kevin Hart’s LOL! Network free streaming channel is also available to watch 24 hours a day via the Redbox app.

“Laugh Out Loud has an amazing collection of comedy specials and movies that will entertain our viewers for hours and hours on end,” Chris Yates, GM of Redbox On Demand, said in a statement. “Kevin has created a media powerhouse and we’re excited to add Laugh Out Loud’s amazing and hilarious content to Redbox On Demand.”

“Our goal at Laugh Out Loud has always been to be where the audience is. We are comedy in color wherever, and whenever, our audience wants or needs a laugh,” Laugh Out Loud CEO Jeff Clanagan said in a statement. “Redbox has been a dominant force in home entertainment for years, and we’re excited to partner with Redbox to bring our catalog of original series, stand up specials, and movies to millions of households throughout the country.”

The Opening Act

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 12/15/20;
RLJE Films;
Comedy;
$27.97 DVD, $28.96 Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Stars Jimmy O. Yang, Alex Moffat, Cedric the Entertainment, Neal Brennan, Debby Ryan, Ken Jeong, Bill Burr, Jermaine Fowler, Russell Peters, Whitney Cummings, Tom Segura, Iliza Shlesinger.

Fans of stand-up comedy should get a kick out of The Opening Act, the story of a young man at the crossroads of whether or not his life’s ambition is worth the pursuit. The cast of The Opening Act features a who’s who of the stand-up world, and only a few are actually playing the comedians.

Written and directed by stand-up comedian Steve Byrne (“Sullivan & Son”), and based in part on his own experiences starting out in stand-up, The Opening Act stars Jimmy O. Yang (“Silicon Valley”) as Will Chu, a claims adjuster who aspires to be a comic because growing up he bonded with his late father watching stand-up comedy together.

Follow us on Instagram

Struggling just to get enough stage time with local open mic nights, Will gets the opportunity of a lifetime when a friend recommends him for a weekend MC gig for the Pittsburgh Improv. The headliner is Billy G (Cedric the Entertainer), who Will idolized growing up.

However, one awkward encounter after another leaves Will questioning if he has what it takes to make it in comedy. The feature comedian, Chris (Alex Moffat of “Saturday Night Live”) constantly wants Will to party, throwing off his concentration. A disastrous promotional appearance on a local radio show puts him on the radar for hecklers, throwing off his game as he tries out new material that just doesn’t land.

He seems more like he’s trying to go through the motions of what he thinks a stand-up comedian should do, without understanding what it takes to connect with the audience, until Billy G takes some pity on him, reminds him that every comedian has to learn to bomb hard, and gives him some advice that might help him turn things around.

All in all, the message of perseverance should resonate with all viewers.

The Blu-ray includes a six-minute making-of featurette, a three-minute featurette in which the cast members discuss the difficulties of getting started in comedy, and 11 minutes of footage of extended stand-up performances from the likes of Yang, Cedric, Whitney Cummings, Ken Jeong and more.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

RLJE Releasing ‘The Opening Act’ on Blu-ray and DVD Dec. 15

RLJE Films, a division of AMC Networks, will release the comedy The Opening Act on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Dec. 15.

Written and directed by stand-up comedian Steve Byrne, and produced by Vince and Peter Billingsley, The Opening Act stars Jimmy O. Yang (“Silicon Valley”) as Will Chu, who is stuck in a thankless job while trying to pursue his true passion in life, becoming a stand-up comedian. When he gets the opportunity he’s been waiting for, the emcee slot on the road opening for his hero Billy G. (Cedric the Entertainer), the realities of life on the stage come crashing in, from hecklers to drunk groupies to hard-to-impress morning radio DJs.

The cast also includes Alex Moffat (“Saturday Night Live”), Neal Brennan (Get Him to the Greek), Debby Ryan (“Insatiable”), Ken Jeong (The Hangover), Bill Burr (The King of Staten Island), Jermaine Fowler (“Superior Donuts”), Russell Peters (Supercon), Whitney Cummings (“Whitney”), Tom Segura (Instant Family), and Iliza Shlesinger (Spenser Confidential).

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Blu-ray and DVD extras include a making-of featurette; a “Getting Started in Comedy” featurette; and extended stand-up scenes with Yang, Cedric and Cummings.

The film is available now through VOD and digital sellthrough.

Chelsea Handler Stand-Up Special to Stream on HBO Max Oct. 22

Chelsea Handler makes a return to stand-up comedy after a six-year hiatus with HBO Max’s Chelsea Handler: Evolution debuting on the streamer Oct. 22.

During the hourlong special, Handler will share experiences about her family, friendships, and her first foray into therapy — where she unearthed why everyone on this planet annoys her so much. Handler reflects on her personal journey toward self-awareness, assisted by her reliable companion — cannabis.

A six-time No. 1 New York Times bestselling author, Handler filmed the special this summer from her home state of New Jersey on the heels of her most recent bestselling memoir, Life Will Be the Death of MeThe special was filmed in front of a live audience following social distancing and safety protocols.

Netflix streamed its first talk show in 2015 with Chelsea Handler, which lasted two seasons.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Netflix Signs Jerry Seinfeld for Second Stand-Up Comedy Special

Netflix has reportedly inked Jerry Seinfeld for a second original stand-up comedy special, “Jerry Seinfeld: 23 Hours to Kill,” launching on May 5.

The deal follows a 2017 agreement affording Netflix with original stand-up special, “Jerry Before Seinfeld,” followed by streaming rights to original series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” which originated for nine seasons on Crackle before moving to Netflix in 2019.

Follow us on Instagram

Netflix also gets exclusive rights to “Seinfeld” beginning in 2021.

Seinfeld remains a headline act in Netflix’s previously-announced “Netflix is a Joke Fest” live comedy event in Los Angeles, which has been postponed from its original April 27 to May 3 dates.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Netflix Launching Live Comedy Festival in Los Angeles

Netflix reportedly is planning a major live comedy festival event in Los Angeles this spring from April 27 to May 3 in partnership with Live Nation.

Dubbed “Netflix Is a Joke Fest,” the seven-day event will feature more than 100 comics across 20 venues, including a tribute to late comedians George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Joan Rivers and Robin Williams, according to the Los Angeles Times, which first reported the event.

Among the 130 comics slated to appear: Dave Chappelle, David Letterman, Amy Schumer, Ali Wong, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, Jamie Foxx, Sarah Silverman, Kevin Hart, Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, Ken Jeong, and Martin Lawrence, among others.

Follow us on Instagram

Ticket prices range from $15 to $500 depending on the line-up. Netflix is projecting about 80,000 attendees across all venues.

Netflix, which has produced and streamed myriad standup comedy specials, will stream 11 of the bigger-name acts at a later date. Venues include the Wiltern Theater, The Paladium, the Hollywood Bowl, the Fonda Theater hosted by David Letterman.

“Stand Out: An LGBTQ+ Celebration,” a gay-themed comedy format will showcase at the Greek Theatre, featuring Sandra Bernhard, Alan Carr, Margaret Cho, Hannah Gadsby, Rosie O’Donnell and Wanda Sykes, among others.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Other comics appearing include Bill Burr, Pete Davidson, Chelsea Handler, Jenny Slate, Whitney Cummings, Marlon Wayans, Iliza Shlesinger and Michelle Wolf.

“This festival is a unique celebration of the art of comedy, and the role it plays in reflecting our lives and defining culture,” Ted Sarandos, chief content officer, said in a statement. “It’s a chance for comedy lovers to come together and see their favorite artists as well as discover new ones, and for us to be able to share the electricity and excitement of the festival in Los Angeles with Netflix members around the world.”

 

‘I’m Dying Up Here’ Season One on DVD May 29

Paramount Home Media Distribution and CBS Home Entertainment will release I’m Dying Up Here: Season One on DVD May 29. The Showtime series deals with stand-up comedians trying to make it in Hollywood in the 1970s.

The cast includes Melissa Leo, Ari Graynor, Clark Duke, Michael Angarano, RJ Cyler, Andrew Santino, Erik Griffin, Al Madrigal and Jake Lacy.

Created by David Flebotte, “I’m Dying Up Here” is based on the nonfiction book of the same name by William Knoedelseder and is executive produced by Flebotte, Jim Carrey, Michael Aguilar and Christina Wayne

The series was renewed for a second 10-episode season slated to premiere May 6.