Paulie’s Perspective: Pop Culture News & Notes For The Week Of 10/19/20

Lovecraft Country Ends with a Bang!

The season finale has found an audience — a very loyal audience. With creative, action-packed storytelling and a fantastic cast, how could it not? The socially-minded sci-fi horror fantasy netted a series high of 1.5 million viewers on Sunday night.

The season finale of the freshman series hit viewership highs on both linear and digital with 881,000 viewers tuning into the 9pm telecast which was 16% up from the series debut. On the digital side, there was almost a 90% increase from the season premiere.

On HBO Max, more subscribers viewed the finale of Lovecraft Country in its first day of availability than any other new episode of an original series on the streaming platform to date. On top of all that, Lovecraft Country has taken the #1 spot on HBO Max when it comes to original series. The first episode is currently approaching a staggering 10 million viewers.

Netflix Falls Short

Netflix fell short of its own guidance for earnings per share and subscriber growth in the third quarter,

Global subscribers totaled 195.15 million by September 30, up from 192.95 million as of June 30. The company had predicted it would add 2.5 million new subscribers, so the growth of 2.2 million was well short and the smallest of any quarter in years after a spectacular surge earlier this year amid COVID-19.

Competition, of course, has ramped up significantly in subscription  streaming with Apple, Disney, WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal having joined the fray over the past year.  Netflix said it was “thrilled” to be competing with so many rivals and noted Disney’s recent corporate reorg as a sign of how central streaming will be in the years to come. Of course, comparisons are very inexact given that Netflix is a pure-play streamer and its rivals have other businesses to look after, including legacy ones that throw off cash but are in decline.

Is it the competition, is it the quality of content, is it the ending of isolation and Covid quarantining? is Netflix headed for a dive now that all networks and stations have caught up with them? What is going to keep them on the monthly billfold? What are they going to do to make their $9.99 or $12.99 monthly charge worth it?  Netflix has been cancelling series left and right maybe trying to lighten the load. Maybe their boat is too heavy – or maybe they are saving up capital for a bigger bolder move to help them compete with Disney+ and Peacock and HBO MAX.  

One thing is for sure – these streaming platforms are a here to stay – and once this pandemic is over – who is going to earn the people’s trust, respect and money? It is great to see what you want, when you want it – and I don’t think in this digital age that streaming services are going to die out at all – but I do know that one service will try and become king and wipe out the rest. 

Question is – who?

Disney is Dealt a Blow

On Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom teased the release of reopening rules for theme parks in the state, saying cryptically, “We are going to break up the theme parks…Not just one or two brands, it is many different parts of the theme park industry.”

California’s director of Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Ghaly said Tuesday that smaller theme parks can resume operations in the state’s Orange Tier. Capacity will be limited to 25% or 500 visitors, whichever is fewer. Only outdoor attractions may reopen and only to guests who are residents of the same county.

All theme parks — which includes Disneyland in Anaheim and Universal Studios Hollywood — may resume operations in Tier 4, Yellow, which is much further down the road. At that point, the guest limit is 25% across the board and indoor dining establishments can only operate at 25% capacity.

The announcement drew a swift, negative reaction from executives at Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, Legoland and others.

Masks must be worn in all parks at all times, except when visitors are eating or drinking. Reservations will be required for all parks, with temperature checks at the gate.

Orange County, where Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm are, is currently in the Red Tier. Los Angeles, home to Universal Studios, is in the most restrictive tier, Purple.

Under the Red tier: movie theaters and cultural ceremonies can open to 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer; gyms can open indoors to 10% capacity; childcare, drive-in theaters, family entertainment centers and hotels can open with modifications. Concert venues and live theater and festivals are still prohibited to operate.

Under the Orange tier: movie theaters and restaurants can open to 50% capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer; bars, nail salons, childcare facilities, church services, day camps, doctors, family entertainment centers, gyms can open with modifications. Concert venues and live theater and festivals are still prohibited to operate.

Covid Stops Aretha

Three weeks after resuming production, filming on National Geographic’s Genius: Aretha came to a halt today after a background actor tested positive for COVID-19, sources said. I hear production was suspended for the day. It is unclear at the moment how long the shutdown will last; such decisions are often made day by day. Genius studio Touchstone Television declined comment.

Genius: Aretha, about the legendary singer Aretha Franklin, had filmed 5 1/2 episodes of its eight-episode order when production shut down mid-March amid the escalating coronavirus outbreak. Two weeks later, Nat Geo delayed the premiere of the limited series, originally slated for May 25, for “later this year.” An early 2021 debut is now considered a possibility.

Everyone can’t wait to see a project on Aretha – a feature film is set to come out, this mini series is about to come out – granted the woman was a legendary singer who covered all genres, even operas, with ease, but was her life that interesting? I know I’d love to see it, just to see the changes in the world and in music throughout her legendary career. Much like Ray. 

Everybody Loves Raymond Reunion

The cast of the classic CBS sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond will reunite for the first time since the show ended in 2005 to honor their late costar Peter Boyle and raise money to battle the disease that ended his life.

Ray Romano, Patricia Heaton, Brad Garrett, Monica Horan and Raymond creator and Executive Producer Phil Rosenthal will participate in a 90-minute event that will include table readings of popular scenes from the series. (Costar Doris Roberts died in 2016.) Set for this Friday, October 23, at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT., the event will benefit the Peter Boyle Research Fund of The International Myeloma Foundation.

No Peter Boyle, no Doris Roberts, this show might not be as joyous as we think. Doing it for a great cause, but without the two parents who basically were the whole show – these table readings could be flat as a pancake. 

Jeff Bridges Has Lymphoma

The sweet and beloved Jeff Bridges has been diagnosed with lymphoma. The Dude himself confirmed his illness on Twitter on Monday afternoon.

“As the Dude would say.. New S**T has come to light. I have been diagnosed with Lymphoma. Although it is a serious disease, I feel fortunate that I have a great team of doctors and the prognosis is good,” he shared. “I’m starting treatment and will keep you posted on my recovery.

Bridges, 70, wrote in a follow-up tweet that he’s received support from friends and family. The Big Lebowski star also urged his social media followers to vote in the upcoming election.

Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system. An estimated 8,480 people are diagnosed annually.

A big week to be sure, kids. You can catch me here every Thursday on Thanks for reading!