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02-22-2024 Daily Edition February 21, 2024

Daily Edition

Bob Marley’s ‘One Love’: Forget the Multiverse, Say Hello to Hollywood’s New Musicverse

Paramount received the best Valentine’s Day gift any studio could hope for when Bob Marley: One Love, the biopic about the legendary Jamaican musician, set a new midweek record for the holiday when jamming to $14 million and besting the $11.5 million grossed by The Vow in 2012. But Valentine’s Day turned out to be […]

Paramount received the best Valentine’s Day gift any studio could hope for when Bob Marley: One Love, the biopic about the legendary Jamaican musician, set a new midweek record for the holiday when jamming to $14 million and besting the $11.5 million grossed by The Vow in 2012.

But Valentine’s Day turned out to be only a warm-up act as the film transformed into an all-audience box office sensation in another win for the music biopic boom sweeping Hollywood. Iconic music artists — of which there is no shortage — are providing studios with much-needed IP as tried and true genres, namely superhero movies, lose their singing powers. Barely a week goes by without a new major studio project being announced, including this week’s news that Sony and Sam Mendes are embarking on an ambitious magical mystery tour that will see each of the four Beatles get their own feature film, all to be released in theaters in 2027.

Heading into the Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day corridor, One Love was tracking for a respectable six-day launch of $30 million. Instead, it grossed $51.5 million and earned an A Cinemascore from audiences in a rebuke of meh reviews.. And although it isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison, the Marley biopic ties with Bohemian Rhapsody to rank as the second-biggest launch for a music biopic behind Straight Outta Compton ($60.2 million).

The secret to One Love’s box office success: It broadened out each day in terms of demographics until it was playing to all age groups and, most notably, younger moviegoers who weren’t even born when the musician died in 1981. The Marley family worked closely with Paramount in making the film, with Bob Marley’s son, Ziggy, serving as producer. And in the months leading up to the movie’s opening, Paramount’s stealth marketing campaign included strategically inducing crowds gathered at sporting events, or even subway stations, to break out in song. Videos of the uplifting revelry went viral and singalongs started happening spontaneously at points around the globe (thank you TikTok).

“As an artist, Bob Marley has had such a massive impact across generations and there’s a reason why his music is still being played today. And when you’re able to rally around the music, the message and the person, there is always the chance to break out,” says Paramount president of marketing and distribution Marc Weinstock, who also worked on Paramount’s hit Elton John biopic Rocketman and the Michael Jackson posthumous concert documentary This Is It when he was at Sony. 

It would be natural to expect One Love to skew older, which it did — at least initially. On Valentine’s Day, the largest segment of ticket buyers fell between ages 35 and 44 (22 percent), according to data shared with The Hollywood Reporter. And by PostTrack’s count, nearly 70 percent of the audience was 25 and older. But by the weekend, more teenagers and younger adults started showing up, despite the fact that there was a new superhero film on the marquee, Madame Web. Ultimately, those between the ages of 18 and 24 — the most frequent moviegoers — were the largest segment (23 percent) of the opening week audience.

 “This is music that teenagers, parents and grandparents can come together over,” says Weinstock.

One Love drew an ethnically diverse crowd from the onset, but the makeup also changed as the days went on. Initially, 43 percent of ticket buyers were Black moviegoers, followed by Latino moviegoers (28 percent), Caucasian moviegoers (19 percent) and Asian/Other moviegoers (7 percent). The final weighted breakdown for the six-day openings shows that Caucasian moviegoers made up 38 percent of all ticket buyers, followed by Black moviegoers (30 percent), Latino moviegoers (25 percent) and Asian/Other moviegoers (7 percent).

One draw for music biopics for theaters in particular is “the bold immersive sound that modern movie theaters offer,” notes Comscore chief box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

The race to partake in the music biopic gold rush can be traced to Universal’s N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton, which grossed $202.2 million at the worldwide box office in 2015, not adjusted for inflation. Three years later, 20th Century Fox’s Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody stunned in earning $910 million globally. More recent wins include Rocketman ($196 million) and Warner Bros.’ Oscar contender Elvis ($288 million). But there have been misses, including last year’s Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody ($59 million) and the 2021 Aretha Franklin biopic Respect ($32 million).

Studios are still betting big on landing in the winning column. Earlier this month, Paramount paid a reported $25 million for North American rights to Better Man, about the rise of celebrated singer-songwriter Robbie Williams. The film is directed by Michael Gracey, whose credits include The Greatest Showman. And Paramount and Amblin are partnering on a Bee Gees biopic that Ridley Scott is in talks to direct. There’s an Antoine Fuqua-directed Michael Jackson biopic now filming Lionsgate and Universal Pictures International, while Focus Features is set to release Amy Winehouse biopic Back to Black this spring.

When Paramount, the Marley family and director Reinaldo Marcus Green held the world premiere of One Love in Kingston, Jamaica, the crowd erupted into applause when Kingsley Ben-Adir, who plays Bob Marley, first spoke. While he isn’t Jamaican, his Patois accent was perfect.

“Authenticity was really the key to telling this story, and Ziggy and the Marley family were so instrumental in working alongside the filmmakers and our studio to ensure that we told this story in a way that does justice to Bob’s legacy,” says Weinstock.

Case in point: While other actors may have looked more like his father, Ziggy Marley wanted Ben-Adir because he embodied his father’s essence.

Concludes Weinstock, “When musical biopics speak authentically to audiences, they have an opportunity to become a part of the cultural conversation.”

What Happened to ‘True Detective’ Creator Nic Pizzolatto?

“Can’t blame me.” Those are the words of Nic Pizzolatto, the creator of True Detective, in response to a post on social media criticizing season four of the HBO anthology, the first cycle in which he has had no direct involvement. That tweet, as well as reposts of messages by the viewers critical of the new season, raises […]

“Can’t blame me.” Those are the words of Nic Pizzolatto, the creator of True Detective, in response to a post on social media criticizing season four of the HBO anthology, the first cycle in which he has had no direct involvement. That tweet, as well as reposts of messages by the viewers critical of the new season, raises the question of what the show’s original creator has been up to since he left the series. 

To refresh: The 2014 season one of True Detective, starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as Louisiana detectives tracking a serial killer, was a breakout hit for HBO, earning a Rotten Tomatoes score of 91 among critics and an 88 audience score. The freshman run went on to collect a franchise-high 12 Emmy nominations, helping Pizzolatto skyrocket to fame. 

Season two, which starred Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn and Rachel McAdams as detectives probing a corrupt politician, was far less glowingly received, with only a 47 percent rating among critics and a 25 percent score with audiences. The TV Academy, too, was less sanguine on the sophomore run, which earned only a single nomination (for sound mixing). The Mahershala Ali-led third season — in which Pizzolatto was joined by writers David Milch and Graham Gordy — marked a rebound for the franchise in terms of both reception (an 84 percent Tomatoes score with critics) and recognition (nine Emmy nominations). Through its first three seasons, the show won a total of five Emmys — all of them for the freshman run.

Pizzolatto signed his first TV deal with HBO pegged to the debut of True Detective and renewed that pact twice, the last coming in at an estimated $3 million a year. Following the conclusion of season three, as Pizzolatto’s deal was expiring, he opted to leave to pursue a new project that was set up at FX and HBO declined to offer the showrunner a new pact. With HBO retaining the ownership rights to True Detective, sources at the time said the Casey Bloys-led cabler was eager to see what a fresh voice with a different point of view could bring to the franchise.

After leaving HBO, Pizzolatto signed an overall deal with the Disney-owned FX Productions and Fox 21 tied to development of another high-profile show: Redeemer, based on Patrick Coleman’s novel The Churchgoer. The drama, which was to reunite Pizzolatto with star McConaughey, was announced in January 2020 as being in development with a sizable script-to-series commitment at FX (meaning if the scripts came in well, it would trigger a straight-to-series order and bypass the traditional pilot stage). Flash forward a year to January 2021 and, after sitting with Redeemer for the pandemic-impacted 2020 production shutdown, Pizzolatto — with two years remaining on his deal — opted to negotiate an early exit from Disney after FX passed on the show.

Pizzolatto then shifted his attention to features and penned the screenplay for 2021’s The Guilty, a reboot of a Danish film, which starred Jake Gyllenhaal and debuted on Netflix to lukewarm reviews (74 percent with critics and 49 percent among viewers). The pic capped a six-year run during which Pizzolatto also penned features The Magnificent Seven and Galveston, the latter of which was based on his book of the same name that was released by RLJE Films. 

Meanwhile, HBO began developing season four of True Detective in March 2022 with exec producer Barry Jenkins — who moved his overall deal from Amazon to HBO — and writer Issa López (Tigers Are Not Afraid). Jodie Foster was cast in May 2022, and HBO formally greenlit season four two months later when Kali Reis signed on to co-star. Pizzolatto, McConaughey and Harrelson remain credited as exec producers on the franchise, though none have any involvement with the series.

In 2023, as HBO filmed season four, Amazon teamed with Pizzolatto for an untitled Western TV series that was being fast-tracked with a script-to-series commitment. A month later, Amazon refashioned Pizzolatto’s original idea into the scribe’s second stab at The Magnificent Seven. Then, in April of last year, Pizzolatto became the latest in a string of screenwriters for Marvel Studios’ Blade, which reunited him with True Detective season three lead Ali. His work on the script would be short-lived, however, as the writers strike in May halted his efforts and following the end of the strike, Marvel moved on from Pizzolatto’s take and hired Michael Green. 

Season four of True Detective ended its six-episode story this month as the most watched run of the anthology with 12.7 million viewers per episode, topping Pizzolatto’s first season (11.9 million). While season four has a 92 percent rating among critics on Rotten Tomatoes, Pizzolatto has been active on social media as he continues to repost messages from viewers who have criticized Night Country (it currently has a 61 percent audience score).

“The way that we relate to the stories we tell is profound and it’s personal, and I cannot make a judgment on his experience. His experience is not my experience. I’ve never started a franchise, so I cannot talk for him. I can talk for me,” showrunner López told THR on Wednesday. “And all I can say is I love True Detective and I love Night Country, and they’re in that same universe, and if you jumped on the boat with me and came for the ride, you’re going to enjoy the fact that the language is the same language and the mythology is the same mythology and the elements are shared. But if you didn’t jump on the boat with me, you’re not going to like it. So I hope you jumped on the boat with me and gave this chance.”

Season four star Reis, responding to a viewer who called out Pizzolatto for “posting other people’s stories about how Issa López ruined the franchise like an absolutely enormous baby,” wrote that it was “a damn shame” that the True Detective creator could not support the new installment. “But hey I guess ‘if you don’t have anything good to share, shit on others’ is the new wave,” she wrote.  

Pizzolatto declined to comment for this story but shared an Instagram post Wednesday morning as a way to respond to viewers who didn’t enjoy Night Country: “[T]his here is the place for all your trolling/support/infighting around True Detective and the absolute moral degeneracy and misogyny of anyone who did not think it was good. Let’s move these screeds off my posts about my wife, true love, and my father’s death, kay? I’d say ‘stay civil’ but of course civility has no place when criticism of a television show indicates some form of Hitlerian evil that must be stamped out. So roll on, tide. Satire is welcome, and do try to have a nice day.”

Meanwhile, Amazon says Pizzolatto’s Magnificent Seven TV show remains in development, but declined to provide further details. Sources say Pizzolatto has also penned a feature film that has attracted a top-name star and director that should be announced this month, and is working on two other TV projects. In April, he will make his feature film directorial debut when production begins on Easy’s Waltz, a pic he wrote starring Al Pacino and True Detective season two star Vaughn.

Aaron Couch contributed to this report.

WGA Awards: ‘Air,’ ‘Barbie,’ ‘Oppenheimer,’ ‘May December’ Among Film Screenplay Nominees

The 2024 Writers Guild Awards nominations have been revealed. The nominees in the category of original screenplay are Air, Barbie, The Holdovers, May December and Past Lives. The Holdovers, May December and Past Lives are all up for the original screenplay Oscar, but the Film Academy placed Barbie in the adapted screenplay category, contrary to […]

The 2024 Writers Guild Awards nominations have been revealed.

The nominees in the category of original screenplay are Air, Barbie, The Holdovers, May December and Past Lives.

The Holdovers, May December and Past Lives are all up for the original screenplay Oscar, but the Film Academy placed Barbie in the adapted screenplay category, contrary to its Writers Guild classification. Joining those films in the original screenplay Oscar category are Anatomy of a Fall and Maestro.

In the adapted screenplay category at the WGA Awards, the nominees are American Fiction, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Killers of the Flower Moon, Nyad and Oppenheimer.

Along with Barbie, American Fiction and Oppenheimer are both up for the adapted screenplay Oscar along with The Zone of Interest and Poor Things, which was not eligible for a Writers Guild nomination.

In the TV categories, awards favorites Succession and The Bear are up for three awards each, with the following series scoring two nods each: The Crown, The Diplomat, Jury Duty, The Last of Us and Poker Face.

In the animation category, The Simpsons has four out of the five spots for nominees.

In an unusual move this year, the WGA Awards will take place after the Oscars, with the WGA winners awarded on April 14, more than a month after the March 10 Academy Awards.

The nominations also come after last year’s months-long writers strike, with the union and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers reaching a new three-year deal in September. The deal provides protections against the use of AI, data transparency and residuals tied to streaming success and guarantees for the minimum size of writers rooms.

A complete list of this year’s nominees follows.

SCREENPLAY NOMINEES

Original Screenplay

Air, Written by Alex Convery; Amazon MGM Studios

Barbie, Written by Greta Gerwig & Noah Baumbach; Warner Bros. Pictures

The Holdovers, Written by David Hemingson; Focus Features

May December, Screenplay by Samy Burch, Story by Samy Burch & Alex Mechanik; Netflix

Past Lives, Written by Celine Song; A24

Adapted Screenplay

American Fiction, Screenplay by Cord Jefferson, Based upon the novel Erasure by Percival Everett; Amazon MGM Studios

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret., Screenplay by Kelly Fremon Craig, Based on the book by Judy Blume; Lionsgate

Killers of the Flower Moon, Screenplay by Eric Roth and Martin Scorsese, Based on the book by David Grann; Apple Original Films

Nyad, Screenplay by Julia Cox, Based on the book Find a Way by Diana Nyad; Netflix

Oppenheimer, Screenplay by Christopher Nolan, Based on the book American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin; Universal Pictures

Documentary Screenplay

Bella!, Written by Jeff L. Lieberman; Re-Emerging Films

It Ain’t Over, Written by Sean Mullin; Sony Pictures Classics

The Pigeon Tunnel, Written by Errol Morris; Apple Original Films

Stamped from the Beginning, Written by David Teague, Based on the book Stamped From the Beginning by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi; Netflix

What the Hell Happened to Blood, Sweat & Tears?, Written by John Scheinfeld; Abramorama

TELEVISION, NEW MEDIA AND NEWS NOMINEES

Drama Series

The Crown, Written by Peter Morgan; Netflix

The Curse, Written by Carmen Christopher, Nathan Fielder, Alex Huggins, Carrie Kemper, Benny Safdie; Showtime

The Diplomat, Written by Eli Attie, Debora Cahn, Mia Chung, Anna Hagen, Amanda Johnson-Zetterstrom, Peter Noah; Netflix

The Last of Us, Written by Neil Druckmann, Halley Gross, Craig Mazin, Bo Shim; HBO | Max

Succession, Written by Will Arbery, Jesse Armstrong, Miriam Battye, Jon Brown, Jamie Carragher, Ted Cohen, Nate Elston, Francesca Gardiner, Callie Hersheway, Lucy Prebble, Georgia Pritchett, Tony Roche, Susan Soon He Stanton, Will Tracy; HBO | Max

Comedy Series

Abbott Elementary, Written by Quinta Brunson, Ava Coleman, Riley Dufurrena, Justin Halpern, Joya McCrory, Morgan Murphy, Brittani Nichols, Kate Peterman, Brian Rubenstein, Patrick Schumacker, Justin Tan, Jordan Temple, Garrett Werner; ABC

Barry, Written by Emma Barrie, Alec Berg, Duffy Boudreau, Bill Hader, Nicky Hirsch, Taofik Kolade, Liz Sarnoff; HBO | Max

The Bear, Written by Karen Joseph Adcock, Joanna Calo, Kelly Galuska, Rene Gube, Sofya Levitsky-Weitz, Stacy Osei-Kuffour, Alex Russell, Catherine Schetina, Christopher Storer; FX Networks

Jury Duty, Written by Tanner Bean, Lee Eisenberg, Marcos Gonzalez, Cody Heller, Mekki Leeper, Katrina Mathewson, Kerry O’Neill, Ese Shaw, Gene Stupnitsky, Andrew Weinberg, Evan Williams; Amazon Freevee

Only Murders in the Building, Written by Matteo Borghese, Madeleine George, Sas E. Goldberg, Joshua Allen Griffith, John Hoffman, Elaine Ko, Noah Levine, Tess Morris, J.J. Philbin, Ben Philippe, Jake Schnesel, Ben Smith, Siena Streiber, Pete Swanson, Rob Turbovsky; Hulu

New Series

The Diplomat, Written by Eli Attie, Debora Cahn, Mia Chung, Anna Hagen, Amanda Johnson-Zetterstrom, Peter Noah; Netflix

Jury Duty, Written by Tanner Bean, Lee Eisenberg, Marcos Gonzalez, Cody Heller, Mekki Leeper, Katrina Mathewson, Kerry O’Neill, Ese Shaw, Gene Stupnitsky, Andrew Weinberg, Evan Williams; Amazon Freevee

The Last of Us, Written by Neil Druckmann, Halley Gross, Craig Mazin, Bo Shim; HBO | Max

Poker Face, Written by Christine Boylan, Wyatt Cain, Chris Downey, CS Fischer, Rian Johnson, Alice Ju, Joe Lawson, Natasha Lyonne, Charlie Peppers, Lilla Zuckerman, Nora Zuckerman; Peacock

Shrinking, Written by Wally Baram, Rachna Fruchbom, Brian Gallivan, Neil Goldman, Brett Goldstein, Bill Lawrence, Annie Mebane, Bill Posley, Jason Segel, Sofia Selig; Apple TV+

Limited Series

A Murder at the End of the World, Written by Zal Batmanglij, Cherie Dimaline, Brit Marling, Melanie Marnich, Rebecca Roanhorse; FX Networks

Beef, Written by Joanna Calo, Bathsheba Doran, Jean Kyoung Frazier, Niko Gutierrez-Kovner, Lee Sung Jin, Alice Ju, Carrie Kemper, Mike Makowsky, Marie Hanhnhon Nguyen, Kevin Rosen, Alex Russell; Netflix

Daisy Jones & The Six, Written by Susan Coyne, Jihan Crowther, Harris Danow, Charmaine DeGraté, Will Graham, Nora Kirkpatrick, Jenny Klein, Liz Koe, Judalina Neira, Scott Neustadter, Stacy Traub, Michael H. Weber; Prime Video

Fargo, Written by Thomas Bezucha, Bob DeLaurentis, Noah Hawley, April Shih; FX Networks

Lessons in Chemistry, Written by Victoria Bata, Lee Eisenberg, Hannah Fidell, Emily Jane Fox, Susannah Grant, Rosa Handelman, Elissa Karasik, Boo Killebrew, Mfoniso Udofia; Apple TV+

TV & New Media Motion Pictures

Finestkind, Written by Brian Helgeland; Paramount +

Mr. Monk’s Last Case: A Monk Movie, Written by Andy Breckman; Peacock

No One Will Save You, Written by Brian Duffield; Hulu

Quiz Lady, Written by Jen D’Angelo; Hulu

Totally Killer, Screenplay by David Matalon & Sasha Perl-Raver and Jen D’Angelo, Story by David Matalon & Sasha Perl-Raver; Prime Video

Animation

“A Mid-Childhood Night’s Dream” (The Simpsons), Written by Carolyn Omine; Fox

“Carl Carlson Rides Again” (The Simpsons), Written by Loni Steele Sosthand; Fox

“Homer’s Adventure Through the Windshield Glass” (The Simpsons), Written by Tim Long; Fox

“I Know What You Did Next Xmas” (Futurama), Written by Ariel Ladensohn; Hulu

“Thirst Trap: A Corporate Love Story” (The Simpsons), Written by Rob LaZebnik; Fox

Episodic Drama

“Crown Jewels” (Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story), Written by Shonda Rhimes; Netflix

“Kill List” (Succession), Written by Jon Brown & Ted Cohen; HBO | Max

“The Last Generation” (Star Trek: Picard), Written by Terry Matalas; Paramount +

“Living+” (Succession), Written by Georgia Pritchett & Will Arbery; HBO | Max

“Our Black Shining Prince” (Godfather of Harlem), Written by Chris Brancato & Michael Panes; MGM+

“Sleep, Dearie Sleep” (The Crown), Written by Peter Morgan; Netflix

Episodic Comedy

“Escape From Shit Mountain” (Poker Face), Written by Nora Zuckerman & Lilla Zuckerman; Peacock

“Fishes” (The Bear), Written by Joanna Calo & Christopher Storer; FX Networks

“Forks” (The Bear), Written by Alex Russell; FX Networks

“House Made of Bongs” (Reservation Dogs), Written by Tommy Pico and Sterlin Harjo; FX Networks

“Ice” (The Great), Written by Tony McNamara; Hulu

“Pride Parade” (What We Do in the Shadows), Written by Jake Bender & Zach Dunn; FX Networks

Comedy/Variety Talk Series

The Daily Show, Head Writer Dan Amira Senior Writers Daniel Radosh, Lauren Sarver Means Writers David Angelo, Nicole Conlan, Devin Delliquanti, Anthony DeVito, Zach DiLanzo, Jennifer Flanz, Jason Gilbert, Dina Hashem, Scott Hercman, Josh Johnson, David Kibuuka, Matt Koff, Lenny Marcus, Joseph Opio, Randall Otis, Zhubin Parang, Kat Radley, Lanee’ Sanders, Scott Sherman, Ashton Womack, Sophie Zucker; Comedy Central

Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Sketches by Rory Albanese Writers Jamie Abrahams, Tony Barbieri, Jonathan Bines, Joelle Boucai, Bryan Cook, Blaire Erskine, Devin Field, Gary Greenberg, Josh Halloway, Eric Immerman, Jesse Joyce, Jimmy Kimmel, Greg Martin, Jesse McLaren, Molly McNearney, Keaton Patti, Danny Ricker, Troy Walker, Louis Virtel; ABC

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Senior Writers Daniel O’Brien, Owen Parsons, Charlie Redd, Joanna Rothkopf, Seena Vali Writers Johnathan Appel, Ali Barthwell, Tim Carvell, Liz Hynes, Ryan Ken, Mark Kramer, Sofia Manfredi, John Oliver, Taylor Kay Phillips, Chrissy Shackelford; HBO | Max

Late Night with Seth Meyers, Head Writer Alex Baze Writing Supervised By Seth Reiss, Mike Scollins Closer Look Writing Supervised By Sal Gentile Writers Jermaine Affonso, Karen Chee, Bryan Donaldson, Matt Goldich, Dina Gusovsky, Jenny Hagel, Allison Hord, Mike Karnell, John Lutz, Seth Meyers, Ian Morgan, Amber Ruffin, Mike Shoemaker, Ben Warheit, Jeff Wright; NBC Universal Television

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Head Writers Ariel Dumas, Jay Katsir Writers Delmonte Bent, Michael Brumm, Aaron Cohen, Stephen T. Colbert, Paul Dinello, Glenn Eichler, Gabe Gronli, Barry Julien, Michael Cruz Kayne, Eliana Kwartler, Matt Lapin, Caroline Lazar, Pratima Mani, Carlos Felipe Torres Medina, Opus Moreschi, Carley Moseley, Asher Perlman, Michael Pielocik, Tom Purcell, Kate Sidley, Brian Stack, John Thibodeaux, Steve Waltien; CBS Studios

The Problem with Jon Stewart, Head Writer Kris Acimovic Writers Henrik Blix, Rob Christensen, Jay Jurden, Alexa Loftus, Tocarra Mallard, Maria Randazzo, Robby Slowick, Jon Stewart, Kasaun Wilson; Apple TV+

Comedy/Variety Sketch Series

History of the World, Part II, Writers Ike Barinholtz, Emmy Blotnick, Guy Branum, Owen Burke, Adam Countee, Lance Crouther, Ana Fabrega, Fran Gillespie, Janelle James, Jennifer Kim, Nick Kroll, Sergio Serna, David Stassen, Wanda Sykes; Hulu

How To with John Wilson, Written by John Wilson, Michael Koman, Allie Viti; HBO | Max

I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson, Writers Tim Robinson, Zach Kanin, John Solomon, Gary Richardson, Reggie Henke, Brendan Jennings, Patti Harrison; Netflix

Saturday Night Live, Head Writers Kent Sublette, Alison Gates, Streeter Seidell Writers Rosebud Baker, Dan Bulla, Megan Callahan-Shah, Michael Che, Mike DiCenzo, Alex English, Jimmy Fowlie, Martin Herlihy, John Higgins, Steve Higgins, Vannessa Jackson, Colin Jost, Erik Kenward, Steve Koren, Ben Marshall, Dennis McNicholas, Lorne Michaels, Jake Nordwind, Ceara O’Sullivan, Josh Patten, Gary Richardson, Pete Schultz, KC Shornima, Ben Silva, Will Stephen, Bryan Tucker, Asha Ward, Auguste White, Celeste Yim; NBC

Comedy/Variety Specials

Adam Sandler: The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, Written by Jon Macks, Rita Brent, Jeff Stilson, Meggie McFadden; CNN

Carol Burnett: 90 Years of Laughter + Love, Written by Jon Macks, Carol Leifer; NBC

Marc Maron: From Bleak to Dark, Written by Marc Maron; HBO | Max

Sarah Silverman: Someone You Love, Written by Sarah Silverman; HBO | Max

Quiz and Audience Participation

Baking It, Writers Chad Carter, Neil Casey, Jessica McKenna, Zach Reino, Nicolle Yaron; Peacock

The Chase, Head Writer David Levinson Wilk Writers Erik Agard, Kyle Beakley, Micki Boden, Megan Broussard, Jonathan Daly, Brian Greene, Robert King, Jason Lundell, Sierra Mannie, Amy Ozols, Bobby Patton, Ellen Teitel, Ari Yolkut; NBC

Jeopardy!, Writers Marcus Brown, Michael Davies, John Duarte, Mark Gaberman, Debbie Griffin, Michele Loud, Robert McClenaghan, Jim Rhine, Billy Wisse; ABC

Weakest Link, Head Writer Ann Slichter Writers Chip Dornell, Ryan Hopak, Walter Kelly, Stuart Krasnow, Jon Macks, Meggie McFadden, Rylee Newton, Ryan O’Dowd, Scott Saltzburg, Doug Shaffer, Aaron Solomon, Grant Taylor, Mia Taylor; NBC

Daytime Drama

Days of Our Lives, Head Writer Ron Carlivati Creative Consultant Ryan Quan Writers Sonja Alar, Jazmen Darnell Brown, Joanna Cohen, Carolyn Culliton, Richard Culliton, Cheryl Davis, Kirk Doering, Christopher Dunn, Jamey Giddens, David Kreizman, Henry Newman, Dave Ryan, Katherine D. Schock; Peacock

General Hospital, Head Writers Dan O’Connor, Chris Van Etten Writers Ashley Cook, Emily Culliton, Suzanne Flynn, Charlotte Gibson, Lucky Gold, Kate Hall, Elizabeth Korte, Shannon Peace, Stacey Pulwer, Dave Rupel, Lisa Seidman, Scott Sickles; ABC

Children’s Episodic, Long Form and Specials

“The Ballad of the Last Men” (Sweet Tooth), Written by Jim Mickle & Bo Yeon Kim & Erika Lippoldt; Netflix

“I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-Algebra Teacher” (Percy Jackson and the Olympians), Written by Rick Riordan & Jonathan E. Steinberg; Disney+

“Romance Dawn” (One Piece), Written by Matt Owens & Steven Maeda; Netflix

“Say Cheese and Die!” (Goosebumps), Written by Rob Letterman & Nicholas Stoller; Disney+

“What Guy Are You” (American Born Chinese), Written by Kelvin Yu & Charles Yu; Disney+

Short Form New Media

Carpool Karaoke, Written by Casey Stewart, David Young; Apple TV+

Command Z, Written by Kurt Andersen, Larry Doyle, Emily Flake, Akilah Hughes, Jiehae Park, Chloe Radcliffe, Nell Scovell, Roy Wood, Jr.; commandzseries.com

Documentary Script

“The Busing Battleground” (American Experience), Written by Sharon Grimberg; PBS

“Clarence and Ginni Thomas: Politics, Power and the Supreme Court” (Frontline), Written by Michael Kirk & Mike Wiser; PBS

“Episode One: Blood Memory” (The American Buffalo), Written by Dayton Duncan; PBS

News Script – Regularly Scheduled, Bulletin, or Breaking Report

“Black History Month – Hall Of Fame Hero” (CBS News New York), Written by Joe McLaughlin; WCBS-TV

“Deadly Tornadoes Unleash Terror Across the Central U.S.” (CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell), Written by James Hutton, Rob Rivielle; CBS News

“Surprise Attack!” (CBS Weekend News), Written by J. Craig Wilson, Ambrose Raferty; CBS News

News Script – Analysis, Feature, or Commentary

“Convoy of Life” (60 Minutes), Written by Scott Pelley, Kristin Steve, Nicole Young; CBS News

“Healing and Hope” (60 Minutes), Written by Scott Pelley, Nicole Young, Kristin Steve; CBS News

“Hide and Seek” (60 Minutes), Written by Sharyn Alfonsi, Oriana Zill de Granados; CBS News

“Put To The Test” (CBS Sunday Morning), Written by Richard Buddenhagen, Lesley Stahl; CBS News

“Targeting Seniors” (60 Minutes), Written by Sharyn Alfonsi, Emily Gordon, Oriana Zill de Granados; CBS News

Digital News

“How Paris Kicked Out the Cars,” Written by Henry Grabar; Slate

“The Persuaders: A 5-Part Investigation into the Union-Busting Industry,” Written by Dave Jamieson; HuffPost

“The Rise of ‘Gas Station Heroin,’” Written by Manisha Krishnan; Vice News

“Want to Stare Into the Republican Soul in 2023?,” Written by Alexander Sammon; Slate

“The Woman on the Line,” Written by Aymann Ismail and Mary Harris; Slate

RADIO/AUDIO NOMINEES

Radio/Audio Documentary

“America’s Blackest Child” (Slow Burn: Becoming Justice Thomas), Written by Joel Anderson; Slate

“The Black Box: Even AI’s creators don’t understand it” (Unexplainable), Written by Noam Hassenfeld; Vox

“The Call” (This American Life), Written by Mary Harris; Slate

“Emmery” (Party Crews: The Untold Story), Written by Janice Llamoca; Vice

“Expecting: Pregnancy Souvenirs” (Unexplainable), Written by Byrd Pinkerton; Vox

Radio/Audio News Script – Regularly Scheduled, Bulletin, or Breaking Report

“The Ballad of Tucker Carlson” (What Next), Written by Paige Osburn and Mary Harris; Slate

“World News This Week – Week of March 17, 2023,” Written by Joy Piazza; ABC News Radio

“World News Roundup Late Edition – October 9, 2023,” Written by Spencer Raine; CBS News

Radio/Audio News Script – Analysis, Feature, or Commentary

“The Diagnosis Was Fatal. She Couldn’t Get an Abortion” (What Next), Written by Madeline Ducharme and Mary Harris; Slate

“Lacrosse – Spirit of the Land” (ABC News Radio), Written by Robert Hawley; ABC News

“Stephen King Is Just as Confused About Blue Checks as You Are” (What Next: TBD), Written by Lizzie O’Leary and Evan Campbell; Slate

PROMOTIONAL WRITING NOMINEES

On Air Promotion

“Cross Walk, Cyber Bullying, VR Meditation” (KCAL News), Written by Adam Thiele; CBS News

“Strange New Promos,” Written by Molly Neylan; CBS / Paramount+

“WCBS AM Promos,” Written by Bill Tynan; WCBS Newsradio 880

‘Dune: Part Two’ Review: Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya in Denis Villeneuve’s Gorgeous but Limited Sequel

The second film also features returning stars Rebecca Ferguson, Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin, as well as fresh faces Austin Butler and Florence Pugh.

In one of the most arresting sequences in Denis Villeneuve’s Dune: Part Two, the Fremen fighter Chani (Zendaya) teaches the Atreides Duke Paul (Timothée Chalamet) the correct way to sandwalk.

They drag their feet delicately across the arid Arrakis terrain, avoiding the rhythmic pattern that attracts desert sandworms. There’s an understated sweetness to their interactions, a sign of the pair’s growing intimacy. At one point Paul insists on the methods he learned from an anthropological video, and Chani responds with a skeptical and exasperated look. Fremen rituals can’t be fully understood from studying outside texts; the traditions are passed down through generations and exchanged by members of the historically nomadic group. 

Fremen society and Paul’s relationship with Chani are among the threads that get more robust consideration in Villeneuve’s highly anticipated sequel. Dune: Part Two maintains the grandiose visual style introduced in Dune while also paying more attention to story and character development. Plot takes precedence in this second installment of Villeneuve’s planned three-part adaptation of Frank Herbert’s series.

The film, written with Jon Spaihts, picks up hours after the destructive events of the first film. Paul and Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) have joined Chani’s Fremen group, their integration met with equal parts curiosity and suspicion. Some members easily embrace the Atreides nobles, while others wonder if they are spies. Meanwhile, the Harkonnen, led by the bloodthirsty Baron Vladimir (Stellan Skarsgard), have regained control of spice production on Arrakis and launched a genocidal war on the Fremen. 

Running close to three hours, Dune: Part Two moves with a similar nimbleness to Paul and Chani’s sandwalk through the open desert. The narrative is propulsive and relatively easy to follow, Hans Zimmer’s score is enveloping, and Greig Fraser’s cinematography offers breathtaking perspectives that deepen our understanding of the fervently sought-after planet. All these elements make the sequel as much of a cinematic event as the first movie.

Still, Part Two is plagued by a nagging shallowness when it comes to portraying the Fremen, an indigenous people fighting for self-determination within the empire; the film has difficulty fully embracing the nuance of Herbert’s anti-imperial and ecologically dystopian text. 

It’s not that Villeneuve is uninterested in the Fremen. Paul’s integration with the Arrakis natives makes up most of Part Two; the director does explore how their society works. After killing Jamis (Babs Olusanmokun) in Dune, Paul earns the respect of Stilgar (a sharp Javier Bardem), a religious Fremen army leader waiting for the Messiah, and the tentative approval of Chani. The pair help the eager royal acclimate to life in the desert by teaching him how to have a relationship with the land. Through their lessons, Paul sees the planet as more than a place from which to extract the psychotropic melange known as Spice. He learns to work with the parched terrain instead of trying to dominate it, an approach that improves his combat skills.

Villeneuve stages impressive fight sequences, which show how the Fremen’s small army consistently outwits the technological muscle of the Harkonnens. From riding extraterrestrial worms to using the sandstorms as cover, they draw upon their natural world to maintain an upper hand. In some scenes, the bright, bleached sand surroundings become engulfed in deep, almost blood-like terra-cotta clouds of dust that disorient Fremen enemies. As the opposing soldiers try to find themselves, the Fremen move swiftly to disarm and dismember them.

When the film moves beyond the fight scenes, the approach to Fremen traditions is a bit shakier. As Paul builds trust among the Fremen army, his mother plants rumors among the people in the caves that her son is the Messiah. Despite Paul’s protestations, Lady Jessica and her “pre-born” fetus want to fulfill the mission of the all-powerful matriarchal religious group Bene Gesserit. (“Pre-born” is a term used to describe a fully aware being who can access ancestral memory.)

Chalamet and Ferguson’s performances are strongest when mother and son tussle about the right thing to do. Through these arguments, Chalamet sheds the boyish innocence of the first film for a darker, more complicated persona. Ferguson’s character also enters more morally ambiguous terrain when she is asked by the Fremen to become the group’s Reverend Mother. Accepting the role means inheriting the memories of the Fremen. It’s here that Villeneuve’s film could have seized the opportunity to interrogate the implications of Paul and Jessica, two outsiders connected to the imperial regime, inheriting the secrets and traditions of the indigenous Arrakis. That transference, a fellow critic noted after the press screening, is its own kind of colonial violence.  

Instead, Dune: Part Two undercuts attempts to complicate this more textured understanding of imperialism by repeatedly and subtly playing the Fremen’s religiosity for laughs. It would have been far more interesting to parse, even briefly, why there are intra-Fremen divisions about the existence of a Messiah in the first place. Why does Chani (a compelling Zendaya) vehemently fight Paul’s increasing popularity, whereas Stilgar falls over himself to embrace it? Can these factions be attributed to more than Bene Gesserit machinations? 

Villeneuve’s film is far better at showing the more obvious violence of imperial power and staging a more familiar and basic battle between good and evil. Part Two broadens the Dune empire. There’s the introduction of the Emperor (Christopher Walken) and his daughter, Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh), as well as the Baron’s sociopathic nephew Feyd (an excellent Austin Butler). Through these characters, Villeneuve builds our understanding of the political and personal ties at work, and sets up Paul’s absorbing vengeance narrative.

Even as the Duke learns from the Fremen, wrestles with the existential crisis of submitting to the Bene Gesserit prophecy, and falls in love with Chani, he keeps his father (played by Oscar Isaac in Dune) close to his heart. Much of Paul’s personal journey and character development are tied to a desire to avenge his father and the people. It’s within the spirit of the young fighter that the stakes of Part Two’s most interesting questions about destiny and loyalty, individual grievances and the greater good, and the future of Arrakis in general, are truly felt.