Inside Streaming - December 12th, 2019

Inside Streaming (Dec 12th, 2019)

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1. As part of an ongoing legal dispute, a judge in Los Angeles barred Netflix from poaching any Fox executives who are currently under contract or inducing them to break their contracts. Netflix can still appeal the decision, but according to the Los Angeles Times, it will likely have a chilling effect on the company's ability to put together experienced management teams. A lawyer for Fox told the Times that the ruling "condemns Netflix’s deliberate violations of the law," while a Netflix spokesperson accused Fox of holding staffers to "illegal contracts... at salaries far below market rate." The ruling only applies to Netflix's hiring efforts in California; other states have their own regulations regarding fixed-term contracts. Fox accused Netflix of hiring away eight employees who had been under contract, a specific allegation that Netflix did not dispute. – LAT

2. "The Griswolds," a new comedy series based on the "National Lampoon's Vacation" films, received an initial development deal from HBO Max. "Big Bang Theory" and "The Conners" star Johnny Galecki, who appeared in 1989's "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" as Rusty Griswold, is onboard the new series as an executive producer. The single-camera sitcom will explore the day-to-day lives of the Griswold family in a present-day Chicago suburb. "Spin City" and "Community" vet Tim Hobert will write the pilot. There are five theatrical films in the "Vacation" series -- including a 2015 reboot starring Ed Helms as an adult Rusty -- along with a 2003 made for television spin-off focused on Randy Quaid's character, Cousin Eddie. In 2010, Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo reprised their "Vacation" roles in an ad campaign for No word yet on whether or not any members of the film ensemble will make appearances in the HBO series. – THR


JACK WHITEHALL: CHRISTMAS WITH MY FATHER: This holiday edition of Whitehall's comedy travel series, co-starring his "notoriously stuffy" father Michael, was recorded in front of a live audience on London's West End. Members of the "Queer Eye" cast and "Downton Abbey" star Hugh Bonneville make special appearances. [Netflix]

4. Comcast CFO Michael Cavanagh told investors that the company plans to spend about $2 billion on the Peacock streaming service over the next 2 years. That amount would cover both content acquisition and marketing costs for the service, which will launch in April of 2020. Cavanagh also told the audience at a UBS investor conference in New York on Monday that Comcast expects Peacock to break even by its fifth year in operation. Though initially, Comcast suggested that Peacock might be entirely free and ad-supported, the company now plans to offer free subscriptions to Comcast cable TV subscribers, with a variety of tiered subscription plans -- both ad-supported and without ads -- available for everyone else. Comcast will announce more specifics about its plans for Peacock at an investor event in mid-January. – THR


On December 12, 1901, Italian physicist Guglielmo Marconi successfully sent a radio transmission from Cornwall, England, to Newfoundland, Canada. (At least, we think he did.) The entire transmission consisted of the Morse Code signal for the letter S. Essentially, three clicks. The historic broadcast was the very first transmission to cross the Atlantic Ocean, and it proved that long-distance radio signals were possible. 

Many detractors at the time had suggested that the curvature of the Earth would make radio transmission impossible over distances greater than a few hundred miles. Marconi (inaccurately) theorized that the signals would follow the curvature of the Earth. Instead, radio signals bounced off of the Earth’s atmosphere and returned to the surface, where they were later received.

The signal was originally to be received in Cape Cod, but Marconi and his assistant George Kemp were forced to change locations due to poor weather. Many have suggested, in fact, that the signal was never received at all, and Marconi and Kemp simply imagined (or pretended) to have heard the now-infamous clicks. The world may never know for sure.

Nonetheless, Marconi was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 1909 for his work, an honor he shared with German radio and television pioneer Ferdinand Braun.

5. "Succession" co-star Nicholas Braun will play WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann in an upcoming scripted series. It's unclear if the new show, in development by Chernin Entertainment and Endeavor Content, will end up on a broadcast network or a streaming service at this point. An upcoming book about the company by Wall Street Journal reporters Maureen Farrell and Eliot Brown, which looks at the various allegations of mismanagement that have come to light since WeWork canceled a planned initial public offering in September, will provide the basis for the series. That same book may also be adapted into a documentary project. Neumann resigned from WeWork around the same time that the IPO fell apart; the company received a bailout from investor SoftBank in October. Braun currently plays Cousin Greg on HBO's "Succession." – VARIETY

6. A new promo for "John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch" finds the comedian putting his young co-stars through a rigorous, Bob Fosse-inspired audition process. This isn't the former "SNL" writer's first time riffing on 20th Century musical theater; Mulaney previously worked with with "Sack Lunch Bunch" director Rhys Thomas and composer Eli Bolin on the "Documentary Now!" Sondheim parody "Co-op: The Musical." The new comedy and variety special will debut on Netflix on December 24. – VULTURE

7. Netflix will produce an animated series based on characters designed for a Japanese messaging app, Line. The "Line Friends," an assortment of cute animal mascots, were initially introduced as stickers used to decorate or enhance messages in the app. The characters are sometimes known as "Brown & Friends," after Brown, the cartoon bear. They have already appeared in several animated shorts produced by the Line app. The show will be non-verbal, aimed at an international audience, and computer-animated. – DEADLINE

8. Priyanka Chopra Jonas and husband Nick Jonas will executive produce an unscripted reality series for Amazon, based on the Sangeet, an Indian pre-wedding tradition. A Sangeet is a celebration featuring music and dancing, typically held for both sides of the couple's family on the evening before their wedding. According to Chopra Jonas: "The Sangeet is a centuries-old Indian wedding tradition, that not only celebrates the union of two people but also signifies the introduction and bonding of two families coming together in a marriage." The famous couple, who celebrated their own first wedding anniversary last week, will not appear in the series, which will follow engaged couples as they prepare for their weddings, and rehearse elaborate musical numbers to be performed at their Sangeets. – THEWRAP

9. HBO Europe ordered the six-part series "The Thaw," from "The Pack" writer Marta Szymanek. In the new series, the body of a young woman is found under melting ice in the town of Szczecin, Poland, and the case becomes personal for one police detective, who's also a single mom. Production will begin in January 2020. Szymanek's "The Pack" -- a drama series about border guards working in the Bieszczady Mountains -- recently entered its third season on HBO Europe. – DEADLINE

10. Brewery and pub chain BrewDog has made its video-on-demand service, the BrewDog Network, free to stream for all. The service initially launched in 2018, with a focus solely on beer, at a subscription cost of $4.99/month. In May of 2019, the platform rebranded as DrinkTV, expanded the scope from just beer to also include wine and travel programming and lowered the price point to $2.99/month. The roster of BrewDog programming includes "The BrewDog Show," featuring the company's co-founders; the quiz show "Are You Smarter Than a Drunk Person?"; and "The Nerdy Bartender" with Stacey Roy. – AMERICANCRAFTBEER

[Thanks to Inside Beer for the heads-up on this important story, which I definitely would not have discovered without their coverage. To subscribe, head to - Lon]

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

Edited by Pittsburgh-based journalist Kim Lyons 

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