Inside Streaming - December 11th, 2019

Inside Streaming (Dec 11th, 2019)

Marvel TV shuts down / Google Trends 2019 / "Hillary" docuseries / "Watch Now" on Netflix

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1. Marvel Television will shut down with any remaining projects folded into the Marvel Studios portfolio. Jeph Loeb, who formerly ran the Marvel TV division, announced his departure from the company back in October. The coming transition will apparently involve a significant number of layoffs, though some Marvel TV staff will move over to the Marvel Studios side, including SVP of Current Programming and Production Karim Zreik and his team. Ongoing Marvel TV productions include ABC's "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." (which will end in 2020 after its seventh season), along with a live-action "Helstrom" series and a slate of animated comedies for Hulu. Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige will now oversee all of Marvel's various television projects. – DEADLINE

2. Google published its annual report on the year's biggest search trends, indicating that Disney dominated the internet in 2019. The term "Disney Plus" was the No. 1 top trending search term for the year. As well, the two most searched films – "Avengers: Endgame" and "Captain Marvel" – were both released by the studio. (Two more Disney films – "Toy Story 4" and "The Lion King" – also landed in the Top 5. At No. 3 was the only Top 5 film title not released by Disney – WB's "Joker.") The character of Baby Yoda, from the Disney+ series "The Mandalorian," also saw a big spike in searches toward the end of the year. – ENGADGET


ELLEN'S GREATEST NIGHT OF GIVEAWAYS: In this debut unscripted series, talk show host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres -- along with a roster of celebrity guests -- delivers exciting gifts to deserving people. The three-night event kicked off Tuesday night on NBC. Guests across all three nights will include Jennifer Aniston, Justin Timberlake, Melissa McCarthy, Robert Downey Jr., Chrissy Teigen, Jason Momoa, and former First Lady Michelle Obama. [Hulu]

SHERMAN'S SHOWCASE: IFC's sketch comedy series sends up classic musical variety shows like "Soul Train," "American Bandstand," and "The Midnight Special." Co-creator (and "GLOW" actor) Bashir Salahuddin stars as fictional TV presenter Sherman McDaniel. The full first season lands on Hulu today. [Here's a great Season 1 segment, "Time Loop."] [Hulu]

FAST COLOR: 2018 indie drama from co-writer/director Julia Hart, starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw as a woman with superpowers who's on the run from both scientists and law enforcement. [Amazon Prime and Hulu]

THE SKY IS PINK: A young girl with an immunodeficiency disorder narrates the story of how her parents met and fell in love in this 2019 biopic from India, inspired by the life of author and motivational speaker Aisha Chaudhary. Zaira Wasim stars as Chaudhary; Priyanka Chopra Jonas co-stars as her mother, Aditi. [Netflix]

4. Hulu released a trailer for its upcoming docuseries profiling former Secretary of State, First Lady, and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The four-part series, "Hillary," comes from filmmaker Nanette Burstein, best known for the 2002 Robert Evans profile "The Kid Stays in the Picture." It features interviews with Clinton, her husband Bill Clinton, and their daughter Chelsea Clinton, along with a number of friends, former staffers, colleagues, and journalists. It will also feature never-before-seen footage from the 2016 campaign trail. "Hillary" premieres next month at the Sundance Film Festival, and arrives on Hulu on March 6. – RS


You don't have to read director Jérémy Clapin's animated feature "I Lost My Body" as a metaphor. It works perfectly well as a straight-ahead romance and adventure story, provided you're willing to suspend enough disbelief to allow for a severed hand to think, feel, remember, and propel itself across Paris. A young man named Naoufel (Hakim Faris) has some sort of accident (the specifics are obscured until the final act) separating his body from his hand. When the hand "wakes up" and finds itself in a lab, it escapes and begins a strange journey home.

Along the way, we see Naoufel's life pass by in flashback: the death of his parents when he was still a boy, immigrating to France, an ill-fated job delivering pizzas, and finally, an encounter with snarky loner Gabrielle (Victoire Du Bois) that changes everything. Naturally, these scenes are all depicted from "hands-eye view"; we see Naoufel's memories from his fingertip's perspective, not his eyes, as in a normal flashback. It's one very clever touch of many, the sort of visual conceit you could only make work with the freedom of animation.

So, as I said, I think you can watch and enjoy "I Lost My Body" purely on this level, as a touching look at Naoufel and Gabrielle's serendipitous relationship and an action-adventure about an unattached hand's efforts to cross a big, bustling metropolis.

But once you start picking at "I Lost My Body," I think, it becomes clear that Clapin and his co-writer, Guillaume Laurant (on whose novel, "Happy Hand," the film is based) have a lot more on their minds. (Or their hands.) Certainly, Naoufel's story speaks to the immigrant experience, the feeling of being disconnected and adrift, in an environment for which you are not ideally equipped. But the film is also about resiliency, and how we're constantly confronted by the choice to stay the course and keep fighting, or resign ourselves to defeat and give up. Naoufel's hand gains greater maneuverability and confidence as it travels, taking on more imposing challenges and doing more problem solving; at first, the hand struggles even to "walk" on its extended fingers, but by the end, it's battling subway rats and ziplining across freeways. The whole idea of a hand going on an adventure without its body also inevitably raises questions about personal identity: your hand is part of you, but it's not YOU. Naoufel still exists somewhere in this world, continuing his life, without his hand. His hand is important to him, but it does not define him.

I could keep going but you get the idea. On top of just being beautifully animated and supremely involving (there are some real edge-of-your-seat moments, even though we're talking about the survival of a hand that has already been cut off), "I Lost My Body" has some real thoughtfulness and depth. It's worth seeking out.

Title: "I Lost My Body"
Where to Watch: Netflix
Running time: 81 minutes
Genre: Animated romance-adventure
In French with English dubbing or subtitles

5. A new Netflix feature called "Watch Now" allows users to jump right into a show or film, without first browsing the app and making a selection. The feature is currently being tested in various international markets. When selected, the Netflix app will automatically select programming for the user, either from their "My List" queue or based on prior viewing habits. (So, for example, if you were halfway through a season of TV last time you visited Netflix, selecting "Watch Now" would likely bring up the next episode.) Viewers will also see a brief explanation for why Netflix selected the particular program. A "Play Something Else" button, allowing viewers to skip Netflix's selection and try again, is also currently being tested. – VARIETY

6. According to Netflix, more than 26 million accounts worldwide watched at least a portion of Martin Scorsese's epic crime drama "The Irishman" in its first seven days online. The company announced the numbers in a tweet sent on Tuesday afternoon. Netflix counts a "view" if the account watched more than 70 percent of the content. (This works out to about 2.5 hours of "The Irishman.") For comparison, Netflix previously reported that "Bird Box" was viewed by about 45 million accounts in its first week, while the "Breaking Bad" spin-off movie "El Camino" received about 25.7 million views after seven days. – CNN

7. On Wednesday, YouTube announced new, stricter anti-harassment policies, applying to both videos and comments. The new rules are specifically aimed at videos or comments that insult or demean others on the basis of race, gender or sexual orientation; they apply equally to public figures, YouTube creators and individuals. The new program will go into effect over the next several weeks and involved the hiring of thousands of "raters" who will screen submitted content for prohibited material. (These raters have apparently been given detailed guidelines for how to evaluate commentary within context, to determine if it is in breach of YouTube standards.) YouTube Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan, conceded to the New York Times that enforcement of the new standards will be challenging: "There’s a lot of nuance and context that’s important here, but it is really something we want to get right on our platform." – NYT

8. Netflix released a trailer for the freshman figure skating drama series "Spinning Out." Kaya Scodelario, who previously starred in 2019's breakout horror film "Crawl," plays a talented solo figure skater who begins training with a new "bad boy" partner (Evan Roderick) following a traumatic accident on the ice. (Emma Roberts had initially been tapped for the role, but had to bow out due to scheduling conflicts.) January Jones co-stars as Scodelario's domineering Skate Mom. "Mr. Mercedes" writer Samantha Stratton scripted the pilot and will serve as showrunner. "Spinning Out" debuts Jan. 1 on Netflix. – TVLINE

9. A scripted limited series in development at Netflix will track the creation of the music streaming app Spotify. The series is inspired by the book "Spotify Untold" by reporters Sven Carlsson and Jonas Leijonhufvud, which profiled Spotify's founders, the Swedish tech entrepreneurs Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon. The series, from "Quicksand" writer/director Per-Olav Sørensen, will be produced in both Swedish and English. One potential challenge already highlighted by Sørensen is that the Spotify story remains ongoing, and could change while the series is already in production. – VARIETY

10. Torrent site The Pirate Bay appears to now offer the option to stream bootleg films and TV shows. On certain titles, the site now features a green "play" button, providing users with the option to view the title using a service known as "BayStream." As of now, the origin of the "BayStream" service and its connection to the main Pirate Bay site remain unclear. According to The Verge, the streaming feature does not yet appear to be functional. The site has previously experimented with a variety of (illegal) low-quality streaming options. As of today, Disney+'s "The Mandalorian" appears on track to become 2019's most pirated TV show. – VERGE

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 at @lons.

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