Barack ObamaLatest News and Opinion
Posted Tuesday 5/22/18 at 10:30PM EDT
For the Obamas, the main advantage of Netflix is protection from ratings scrutiny
"Obama Nostalgia" is a logical extension for Netflix in its goal to create content for everybody, says Alyssa Rosenberg. As such, Netflix provides an ideal home for Barack and Michelle Obama. As Rosenberg explains, "by teaming up with a broadcast television network, or even a glossy cable channel such as HBO, the Obamas would have become subject to the harsh glare of the Nielsen ratings system. It can’t be fun for a network executive to contemplate canceling content by a former president. But continuing to air programming by the Obamas that failed to find an audience might raise questions about whether a network was staying in business with them for political reasons. The worst thing that could happen to the Obamas as they move toward becoming a media brand is a deal like Megyn Kelly’s move to NBC: a high-profile and expensive announcement that undercuts the star power of the person who was supposed to be a big get."
Posted Tuesday 5/22/18 at 5:47PM EDT
Some conservatives call for a Netflix boycott over deal with Obamas
The announcement of a production deal with Barack and Michelle Obama has sparked the #BoycottNetflix hashtag on Twitter.
Posted Monday 5/21/18 at 1:08PM EDT
The Obamas ink deal to produce TV shows and movies for Netflix
Barack and Michelle Obama have officially signed on for a multiyear Netflix production deal. It was first reported on March 8 that the former president and first lady were in advanced talks to "produce a series of high-profile shows that will provide (them) a global platform." On Monday, Netflix announced that the Obamas will work on potential scripted and unscripted series, including documentary series. According to an article in The New York Times, "the former president has told associates that he does not intend to use the new platform to wage a public campaign against his successor in the Oval Office, or to fight against conservative media outlets like Fox News." In a statement, President Obama said: "One of the simple joys of our time in public service was getting to meet so many fascinating people from all walks of life, and to help them share their experiences with a wider audience. That’s why Michelle and I are so excited to partner with Netflix – we hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples, and help them share their stories with the entire world.” Michelle Obama added: “Barack and I have always believed in the power of storytelling to inspire us, to make us think differently about the world around us, and to help us open our minds and hearts to others. Netflix’s unparalleled service is a natural fit for the kinds of stories we want to share, and we look forward to starting this exciting new partnership.”
Posted Thursday 4/19/18 at 6:51PM EDT
Scandal helped define the Obama era, but may have also predicted the rise of Trump
Scandal outlived its own era, the Obama era, and was effectively made irrelevant by Trump's victory, says Daniel D'Addario. "Along with Mad Men and Girls, Scandal will be on the very short list of series that defined the Obama years, both for its willingness to engage deep conversations on issues of race and its escapist vision of a world in which scandal was still fun," he says. On Scandal, Kerry Washington's "Olivia Pope was not incidentally black but specifically black," he says. "Her affair with a white President whom she also served was written, more and more as the show was emboldened by success, to explicitly reference Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings. It was a pairing that was touched by the dynamics of power, and a white man in Scandal’s universe, as ours, has more of it than a black woman." He adds: "Scandal’s unique status as a broadcast-TV drama with a black female protagonist, and the way it made that protagonist a complicated woman who had real conversations about what race meant to her, was well-suited to a time in which the President was, for the first time, able to have similar conversations with the nation. The show came along at the right moment, extending a discussion that was at last happening on America’s most visible stages." But Scandal exits tonight amid a Trump administration that is mired in real-life scandal. "The thing is, there are no real scandals on Scandal; the word implies a public reaction of disgust and disapprobation," says D'Addario. "Scandal spends almost no time with the public, and the resolution of each case—from an untidy murder to an election swinging to the candidate the voters didn’t choose—is, as far as we the viewers can tell, acquiescence. Because everything is breaking all the time, nothing sinks in. In Scandal’s universe, the unending stream of news that might once have seemed unbelievable has become background noise. Scandal got, on some level, that occasional dramas are lots of fun but a news cycle that’s only dramas becomes endurable only by tuning out. It was a show whose time passed, in part because it saw too clearly what it’d be like to live through our own."
- Shonda Rhimes still wonders why Scandal only received a seven-episode Season 1 order: "To me it spoke to a lack of faith in the idea that a black woman could be the lead of a television show. And I found that to be insulting"
- Scandal was "a little miracle of genre fusion, somehow managing to be several seemingly incompatible shows at the same time"
- Rhimes on Olivia Pope's legacy: "Now it feels very normal and obvious that female characters can be antiheroes, and it feels normal and obvious that women of color can lead shows"
- Inside the Scandal writers' room: Shonda Rhimes & Co. recall ABC initially asking that Olivia not sleep with the president
- Scandal was a social-media game-changer, inspiring Twitter to launch boot camps for other TV shows
- Scandal brought Black Twitter to life every Thursday
- Executive producer Betsy Beers realized Scandal was a massive hit after Fitz was shot
- Before Olivia Pope, it was rare to see a black woman portrayed as such a potent symbol of desire in television and film
- Rhimes turned what should've been a limited series into TV immortality by blowing up the plot almost every week
- Kerry Washington on leaving Scandal: “I am not in complete denial, but I don’t think the processing will be complete for a while"
- Rhimes' original Scandal ending was upended by the 2016 election
- "I've always said I'm more Team Olivia than every other team," says Rhimes
- Scandal's success was proof of the power of female viewers, especially black women
- Does Olivia’s white hat still have any meaning at this point?
- The Season 2 episode “Spies Like Us" is where scandal went off the rails, forever altering its DNA
- Here are the 23 greatest Scandal monologues
- The Season 3 finale “The Price of Free and Fair Elections" illustrated Scandal's early promise and its worst impulses
- Scandal cast and crew discuss their favorite scenes
- Scandal was always about Olivia and Mellie finding each other
- Katie Lowes and Guillermo Diaz agree "The Lawn Chair" is the most important episode in establishing Scandal's legacy
- Ranking the Scandal characters by how shady they are
- The Music of Scandal: Shonda Rhimes made it a point to highlight black music icons
- How costume designer Lyn Paolo's own Prada bag ended up becoming an iconic part of Scandal
- Olivia Pope's best speeches, ranked
- Scandal finale to feature a brand-new song by an R&B legend
- What's next for the Scandal stars?
Posted Thursday 4/05/18 at 12:48AM EDT
Legends of Tomorrow boss on Young Obama storyline: "This is totallygratuitous, us sending a little ‘love letter’ to the ex-president"
Showrunner Phil Klemmer says of Tuesday's episode, in which a giant evil gorilla tried to kill a young Barack Obama: “There’s a certain point where you realize, ‘This scene doesn’t need to be in the show. This is totally gratuitous, us sending a little ‘love letter’ to the ex-president.' But when I rewatched the episode (Tuesday) night, I was like, ‘Thank God we did keep in that totally superfluous love letter to the ex-president. And thank God we found a performer in Vancouver (Lovell Adams-Gray) who played such a convincing Young Barack Obama!”
Posted Thursday 3/22/18 at 1:53PM EDT
Keri Russell: FX would give President Obama advanced copies of The Americans
Russell, visiting The Late Show with Matthew Rhys, says the former president was such a big fan that he invited them to the White House state dinner honoring the prime minister of Singapore.
Posted Wednesday 3/21/18 at 1:47PM EDT
Conan imagines President Obama doing a standup special for Netflix
Check out the trailer for Barack Obama: The Greatest President of All Time.
Posted Tuesday 3/13/18 at 10:17PM EDT
Dear Barack and Michelle Obama: Don't be surprised if your big names get lost in Netflix's "very, very big pond"
The Obamas are likely to run into the "Netflix conundrum" should they join the streaming service with their own programming. Netflix is "a very, very big pond" for "really famous and cool content creators," says Tim Goodman. Sure, Barack and Michelle Obama will garner a lot of attention for their shows. But their spotlight will be limited considering all the other shows with big names attached that Netflix has to promote. "If the Obamas do sign that deal with Netflix and join the family, they will certainly get more than, say, the middle-tier producers get," says Goodman. "Namely — coordinated press coverage and probably a glitzy premiere party in either New York, D.C. or Los Angeles. There will be billboards, maybe, and as much on-platform buzz as an algorithm can generate. But when the show appears — whatever show that may be — the Obamas will find out what tons of famous TV creators found out when their shows premiered: Once the episodes drop, that's pretty much it for the hand-holding and attention. Once the shows are out, dropping into the world's deepest bucket of content, said shows are either going to be discovered (in due time, like a good book on a library shelf) or ignored (like a good book on a library shelf)."
Posted Friday 3/09/18 at 11:05PM EST
Dear Netflix: Here are seven proposed Obama family shows
With the former President reportedly close to signing a production deal with Netflix, Vulture's Hunter Harris asks: How about Girl Talk With Michelle and Miss Tina, Beats With Barack and Malia Bird?
Posted Thursday 3/08/18 at 9:15PM EST
Former President Obama is in advanced talks to produce and appear in TV shows for Netflix
The New York Times reports that the proposed deal, which is not yet finalized, would have Barack and Michelle Obama creating exclusive content for the streaming service that would be available to Netflix's 118 million subscribers. "Mr. Obama does not intend to use his Netflix shows to directly respond to President Trump or conservative critics, according to people familiar with discussions about the programming," reports The Times. "They said the Obamas had talked about producing shows that highlight inspirational stories. But the Netflix deal, while not a direct answer to Fox News or Breitbart.com, would give Mr. Obama an unfiltered method of communication with the public similar to the audiences he already reaches through social media, with 101 million Twitter followers and 55 million people who have liked his Facebook page." Potential shows include the former president moderating discussions, the former first lady championing topics like nutrition and the ability to lend their name and brand to projects such as documentaries. The Times reports that Apple and Amazon also expressed interest in signing the Obamas, but the former president is particularly close to Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, whose wife served as his ambassador to the Bahamas. It was on Netflix that Obama submitted to his first televised interview since leaving office, on My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman.
Posted Thursday 2/08/18 at 6:30PM EST
Ex-Obama staffers’ are bringing their Pod Save America podcast to HBO
Former Obama administration officials Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett and Tommy Vietor will adapt their popular left-leaning podcast into a series of hour-long specials focused on the midterm elections this fall. The news follows this week's premiere of another HBO project based on a podcast, 2 Dope Queens.
Posted Friday 1/19/18 at 4:41PM EST
President Trump turns down NBC’s request for the traditional Super Bowl pregame show interview
Former President Obama did a Super Bowl pregame show interview every year of his presidency, and Trump did one last year on Fox with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly. NBC is still extending an open invitation, according to Deadline’s Lisa de Moraes. She speculates that Trump may be avoiding this year’s interview for fear of low ratings. About 12.2 million watched his Super Bowl pregame interview last year, which was significantly less than any of Obama's interviews. “Or,” she adds, “perhaps Trump does not want to take any uncomfortable questions about his relationship with Stormy Daniels, DACA, reported description of Haiti and countries in Africa as “sh*tholes,” etc.” Also, Trump may not want to go on an NFL pregame show after repeatedly bashing the sports league last year over National Anthem protests.
Posted Friday 1/19/18 at 4:41PM EST
Legends of Tomorrow is searching for an actor to play a teenage Barack Obama
The time-traveling CW superhero series is planning to devote a Season 3 episode to the former president as a student at Occidental College in Los Angeles in the late 1970s.
Posted Thursday 1/18/18 at 9:48PM EST
Portlandia was fundamentally an expression of the Obama era, which is why it had to end
“We should be clear about something: Portlandia was always going to end this year,” says William Hughes, “regardless of who won the big prize in 2016. (Eight seasons is a damn long run for any sketch series that isn’t Saturday Night Live.) But Trump’s victory still felt like a retroactive death knell for the show, a widespread political statement that that dream of the ’90s might be well and truly dead. Like some kind of beautiful but easily disturbed freshwater fish, Portlandia was a product of a dangerously hope-rich environment. And while it’ll be fascinating to see how well it can swim during this last batch of episodes, we can’t really blame it if it doesn’t get very far in a world where the chemicals it was born and bathed in—things like safety, equality, comfort, and, most especially, that Obama-propagated idea that ‘Things are going to be okay’—are suddenly in such drastically short supply.”
Posted Saturday 1/13/18 at 12:37AM EST
David Letterman’s Netflix talk show would be much better without the “late-night questions”
Willa Paskin says My Next Guest Needs No Introduction offers a “perfectly serviceable interview” of former President Obama, but Letterman’s “questions are late-night questions: They are designed to elicit an expected or predicted bit, not to meander, surprise, or plumb.” As she notes, there is one point where Obama tried to “show Letterman a way to do the new show differently” by “tossing” a question back at the former Late Show host. But Dave would have none of it. In the end, it was Obama who asked the most unpredictable question of the episode: Does Letterman feel lucky? Letterman's Netflix talk show, says Paskin “is pleasant, entertaining, occasionally moving, a little funny, and almost indistinguishable from a standard late-night interview, just stretched out. It is long, but it is not particularly deep. New network, new set, new beard: same Dave. You can take the host out of late night, but you can’t take the late night out of the host. “
- Letterman fawns over his guest more than he should in a “frustrating exercise in talking a lot but, ultimately, saying a little"
- Letterman was never known for his interrogatory skills, so his “borderline small talk” is actually fascinating
- Both men seemed rusty at the art of banter, but it’s clear Obama should’ve been the one interviewing Letterman
- With its bare-bones structure and thoughtful approach, this seems like a self-reward for a long career
- Interviewing Obama is tricky, but there surely should’ve been some new material to be mined from the former president's first interview since leaving office
- It’s clear Letterman wants to talk about substance, no matter whom he's talking to
- There is a self-reflection that runs through the show that maybe Letterman is reassessing what he’s accomplished in life
- The overall production felt synthetic — like a PBS Q&A reimagined by Michael Bay — compared to the pleasant simplicity of the late-night two-shot