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Inside Streaming (Sep 17th, 2019)

1. NBCUniversal's streaming service, debuting in April of 2020, will be known as Peacock. Peacock will launch with both a subscription-based and free, ad-supported service, boasting an extensive library featuring around 15,000 hours of content. At launch, Peacock will host the complete runs of shows including "Parks and Recreation," "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," "Cheers," "Downton Abbey," "Everybody Loves Raymond," "Friday Night Lights," "Frasier," and of course, "The Office," for which the service paid about $500 million in June. NBCU will also develop a slate of original series for Peacock, including a talk show fronted by "Late Night with Seth Meyers" writer Amber Ruffin and reboots of "Saved by the Bell," "Punky Brewster" and "Battlestar Galactica." (That last one will be overseen by "Mr. Robot" creator Sam Esmail.) NBCUniversal is owned by Comcast. – NYT

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2. HBO Max picked up the exclusive US streaming rights to all 12 seasons of the Chuck Lorre sitcom "The Big Bang Theory," as part of a reportedly multi-billion dollar deal. The pact between HBO and Warner Bros. Television, which owns "Big Bang Theory," also extends the show's run in broadcast syndication (on WarnerMedia-owned TBS) through 2028. The show will be available to stream on HBO Max when the service launches sometime in the Spring of 2020. The deal was announced just one day after Netflix revealed that it had obtained the streaming rights for "Seinfeld." "Big Bang Theory" ended its TV run in May, and currently ranks as the longest-running multi-camera sitcom of all time, besting a record previously held by "Cheers." A spin-off series, "Young Sheldon," currently airs on CBS. – THR

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3. WHAT'S NEW ON STREAMING TODAY?

DANCING WITH THE STARS: The 28th season of ABC's reality dance competition features competitors Hannah Brown, Lamar Odom, Mary Wilson, Ally Brooke, Ray Lewis, Karamo, Kate Flannery, James Van Der Beek, Lauren Alaina, Kel Mitchell, Christie Brinkley, and Sean Spicer. New episodes air on ABC on Mondays, then move to Hulu on Tuesdays. [Hulu]

THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD: Peter Jackson directed and produced this 2018 documentary, which used modern filmmaking and production techniques to breathe new life into vintage WWI footage, much of it previously unseen. [HBO]

CLIVE DAVIS: THE SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES: 2017 documentary, originally produced for Apple Music, about the iconic music executive who has worked with Janis Joplin, Whitney Houston, Miles Davis, Paul Simon, Carlos Santana, Sean "Diddy" Combs, Aretha Franklin, Bruce Springsteen, and many others. [Netflix]

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH: The latest Netflix family series, based on the graphic novels by Max Brallier, kicks off with this animated special. A group of middle-school pals with a decked-out treehouse must band together to survive an outbreak of monsters in their hometown. The voice cast includes Mark Hamill, Catherine O'Hara, Keith David, Bruce Campbell, and Rosario Dawson. [Netflix]

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4. Dating app Tinder revealed its first-ever scripted video series, an interactive adventure set during the apocalypse. The series will stream directly on the Tinder app, allowing viewers to make choices about how the action should proceed by swiping either left or right. The six-episode project -- which runs two hours total -- was shot in Mexico City by music video and TV director Karena Evans. (She helmed Drake's clips for "Nice for What" and "In My Feelings.") According to Variety, producers may eventually license the show to other platforms that have built-in interactivity, such as Netflix. The series will debut on Tinder in early October. – VARIETY

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5. TRULY TUESDAY: NETFLIX COMEDY SPECIALS AND "CANCEL CULTURE"

Yesterday, "Saturday Night Live" announced that newly-hired cast member Shane Gillis would not be appearing on the show's upcoming season after all, following the viral spread of a podcast Gillis recorded in 2018 containing racial slurs and offensive language. (In the clip, which you can watch here, Gillis and co-host Matt McCusker discuss Asian immigrants living in Chinatown. Other clips that resurfaced following Gillis' hiring by "SNL" contained material about Muslims and terrorism, homophobic slurs and Gillis and McCusker using mock Chinese accents.) These events come just one week after the release of Bill Burr's latest Netflix comedy special, "Paper Tiger," which itself was directly on the heels of Dave Chappelle's divisive new special, "Sticks & Stones."

All these stories touch on a major divide in the world of professional comedy that has become a significant theme in coverage of 2019 entertainment. On the one side are comedians, commentators, and viewers who feel that political correctness and "cancel culture" have gone too far, and threaten to have a "chilling" or suppressive effect on things comedians feel that they can talk about and analyze, while still maintaining a career. On the other side are comedians, commentators, and viewers who would like to see professionally produced comedy reflect wider societal and cultural values, such as tolerance and respect.

It's worth noting that some commentators reject the entire notion of so-called "cancel culture" or "outrage culture." In Forbes this week, Dani Di Placido argued that Chappelle and Burr's specials actually demonstrate that complaints about "outrage culture" lack merit. Though both specials generated some level of controversy, Di Placido argues that this ultimately served as little more than free marketing. At no point was there ever a serious chance Chappelle or Burr would be silenced for their views. In fact, it's hard to really think of a comedian who has been successfully silenced due to things they've said on stage.

I've watched both specials, and though comedy is certainly very subjective, I will say that I found Chappelle's material unpleasant and mean-spirited, but not Burr's. While Chappelle speaks to grand issues, and positions himself as sort of a Last Honest Man type, Burr's stories and anecdotes are more personal, which make them both self-effacing and kind of charming. Honestly, much of Burr's special feels so dated, it's almost nostalgic. His insists that men who claim to be "feminists" are actually hiding some secret misogyny and bad behavior of their own, a common argument/allegation that dates back to the 1970s at least. He does, however, have one segment about sexual assault, in which he goes into a personal story about how it has impacted his life, that I thought was very well-done and thoughtful. It's better than anything in Chappelle's special, to my mind.

Personally, I think the media and fans are wrong to present this discussion as a binary, between "comedians must be able to say whatever they please, unfettered by any criticism" and "comedy should never be offensive or push any boundaries." This is a false choice. In fact, to my mind, we already have a pretty solid system in place. Comedians say what they please on stage without fear of censorship, and then viewers and the media react accordingly, based on the views and perspectives being expressed. I don't always agree with Ricky Gervais on Twitter, but I think he summed it up rather well recently: "You can joke about whatever the f*ck you like. And some people won't like it and they will tell you they don't like it. And then it's up to you whether you give a f*ck or not."

Both "Dave Chappelle: Sticks & Stones" and "Bill Burr: Paper Tiger" are streaming now on Netflix. If you have thoughts on comedy in 2019, "outrage culture" or any other issues raised in this column, feel free to respond by hitting REPLY on this email. I'd love to hear from you. - Lon

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6. The Netflix dark comedy series "Living With Yourself," featuring Paul Rudd in a dual role as a man and his much healthier clone, now has a full trailer. The series comes from "Daily Show" veteran Timothy Greenberg (who created the concept and wrote the scripts) along with "Little Miss Sunshine" helmers Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. Rudd plays a guy named Miles who goes to an unconventional health spa, only to exit alongside an improved and better-adjusted duplicate of himself. The eight-episode series hits Netflix on October 18. – IO9

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7. A new lawsuit, filed last week in US District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleges that AT&T faked DirecTV Now customer growth ahead of its merger with Time Warner. The suit was brought on behalf of investors who purchased AT&T stock ahead of the merger, based on the reportedly inaccurate numbers. Plaintiffs claim that AT&T "encouraged" its own employees to sign up customers for DirecTV Now without their knowledge, and charged customers for activation fees that they had previously promised to waive during the onboarding process. The complaint cites an (unnamed) former employee who claimed that half of all DirecTV Now sign-ups during this period were "bogus." The DirecTV Now service has since been rebranded as AT&T Now. – CNET

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8. New York-based startup VENN plans to launch a streaming network devoted to esports. The company has raised $17 million to date, which it will use to open studios in New York and Los Angeles dedicated to creating gaming-themed content that will stream via Twitch, YouTube and Hulu TV. Co-founder and co-CEO Ariel Horn, who previously worked for Riot Games and NBCUniversal, compared the service to early incarnations of MTV, with esports athletes taking the focus over rock stars. (Horn's co-founder is former Vivendi Games executive Ben Kusin.) Though there are currently an estimated 30.3 million dedicated esports viewers in the US, sponsors are sometimes hesitant to support the content via advertising, due to its occasionally amateurish and always unpredictable nature. VENN hopes to counteract this with professionally produced programming created in-house. – LAT

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9. Netflix renewed the sitcom "Family Reunion" -- starring Loretta Devine and Tia Mowry-Hardrict -- for a second season. A Christmas special will debut on December 9, followed by the second half of the show's first season in early 2020. The 16-episode Season 2 will follow sometime after that.

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10. Netflix and Canal+ finalized their deal. The French cable company will offer Netflix subscriptions via their set-top boxes, in a strategy similar to Amazon Prime Channels or Apple TV in the US. 

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Lon Harris is the writer and editor of Inside Streaming, and was the very first person to ever write an Inside newsletter. He lives in Los Angeles, California, and also writes about TV and film for Fandom, Screen Junkies, Rotten Tomatoes, Gamma Ray and others. He competes on The Movie Trivia Schmoedown as "The Professor." You can follow him on Twitter @lons

Editor: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside).

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