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(Bloomberg) -- If you’ve seen the 1999 film Election, starring Matthew Broderick as an irritated civics teacher and Reese Witherspoon as the indelible striver Tracy Flick, then you’re familiar with the basic plot and some of the main themes of The Politician, Netflix’s first series from super-producer Ryan Murphy out Sept. 27. The comparisons started almost as soon as the first trailer went out: “Ryan Murphy’s New Netflix Show The Politician Is Election on Steroids” (Vice); “Ryan Murphy’s The Politician Trailer: It’s Like Election—But With Ben Platt and Possibly Murder” (The Wrap); “What if you took the movie Election but turned it into a Ryan Murphy show on Netflix? That seems to be the premise of the dark comedy The Politician” (Vulture).Like Election, The Politician is primarily about an ambitious anti-hero (played by Ben Platt, who we’ll get to in a bit) who’s convinced their entire future hangs on winning the office of student body president. Unlike Election, which is decidedly satire, The Politician at first seems insecure in its self-identity. Is it burlesque? Is it melodrama? Is it bildungsroman? The answer is that it’s a Ryan Murphy show, i.e. all three and then some. Delving into Murphy’s extended oeuvre produces some more useful comparisons. The Politician will also very likely be held up against Glee, Murphy’s monster hit series for Fox that ran from 2009 to 2015. Glee was also set in a high school and concerned such themes as the price of ambition and what it means to be likable and the anxiety of auditioning for the things. (While The Politician isn’t a musical, you’d be crazy to cast Platt, who broke out in Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen and can be seen in two of the three Pitch Perfects, and not let him sing. If his rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “River” doesn’t make you at least tear up, I can’t help you.) But it has even stronger echoes of Popular, Murphy’s first series as executive producer. That story was closer to pure camp and far more brutal about the material necessities for survival in a wealth- and status-obsessed world. The central question of The Politician, once it finally becomes clear in a pair of linked episodes toward the end of the season, helps the show rise above all the comparisons. That is: Can someone want power and be a good person at the same time? I hardly need to mention at this point that there’s a U.S. presidential election coming up in 2020, and that already voters are asking themselves whether it’s more important to pick a candidate who inspires them or one they think will win. By making Platt’s character, Payton Hobart, a wealthy, white, straight(-ish) male, Murphy obviated some of what made Election so bleak. Essential to what makes pert, driven Tracy Flick a villain in Broderick’s character’s eyes is that she’s a young woman who won’t let anyone stand in the way of her dreams. Election is a great movie, but it also gave troglodytes everywhere the perfect cudgel to wield against female political candidates. Hillary Clinton, who was just prepping her run for Senate as Election played in theaters, has never been able to shake the association.As Payton, Platt is both empty and torn up inside, and because he seemingly has everything going for him, he has to gain the audience’s sympathy the hard way. In an early episode, Payton’s elegant, self-sacrificing mother (played by, who else, Gwyneth Paltrow) hugs him and whispers, “Your ambition frightens me,” which seems to cause the young ruler-to-be genuine distress. He’s sure that he wants to help people, and yet the only thing he actually feels is the desire to win. Being conscious of such an epic internal contradiction would be a lot for anyone to live with, and Platt plays both the exhaustion and the fear of that with honesty and clarity. He doesn’t ask us to like Payton, just that we don’t hate him as he bungles around, trying to figure out what being “good” looks like.Of course, Payton has a couple of lackeys, McAfee and James (Laura Dreyfuss and Theo Germaine), who are as impeccably dressed as they are devoted and calculating. The Politician traffics in certain regrettable stereotypes, including the frigid girlfriend (given redeeming vulnerability by Lucy Boynton), the impossible dreamboat (David Corenswet, whose dimples deserve credits of their own), and the outcast who also happens to be dumb, poor, and a person of color (Benjamin Barrett, who turns out on multiple occasions to be smarter and more capable than he seems). And there’s a subplot involving Munchausen syndrome by proxy, the psychological disorder in which an adult caretaker either acts as though or causes a child to become sick, which has also been seen in HBO’s Sharp Objects and Hulu’s The Act—an epidemic on television if not in real life.For investors in Netflix, the central question of The Politician is will it start to fill the void left by the departure of Friends and other popular library series from its line-up? While Ryan Murphy has produced some hits in his day, I can’t imagine this will be one of them—then again, it probably has enough visual richness and chef’s kiss-worthy cameos to keep casual viewers coming back. If the thematic fuzziness and occasionally random-feeling plot zigzags turn you off, I hear you. Again, it’s a Ryan Murphy show: there will be splatter. But at least do yourself the favor of watching the season finale, which features Bette Midler as a self-described “sassy, brassy, wise old broad” and Judith Light in a throuple. It doesn’t exactly give me faith in politics, but it does make me think season two is going to be really, really good. To contact the author of this story: Jillian Goodman in New York at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Justin Ocean at firstname.lastname@example.orgFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Netflix (NFLX) has been the worst-performing FAANG stock, primarily due to slowing growth amid rising competition in the streaming space.
Hershey (HSY) regularly brings innovation to meet consumer demand. Further, the company is focusing on solidifying its footing in the growing snacking business.
HBO dominated Sunday night’s Emmy awards, scoring the most wins of any network or platform thanks to hits such as Game of Thrones and Chernobyl. Elliott argues that AT&T is bloated after making too many pricey acquisitions in the past decade.
Amanda Berry, chief executive of Bafta, has a model of Buzz Lightyear in the window of her office off London’s Haymarket. Around the corner from the administrative hub she uses as her base, work has begun on the renovation of 195 Piccadilly, the flagship venue the British Academy of Film and Television Arts has occupied since the 1970s — a grand meeting and event space for its members, the massed actors, directors, craftspeople and technicians. Like most London building projects, there were snags.
(Bloomberg) -- AT&T Inc. and activist investor Elliott Management Corp. seem to agree on one thing: DirecTV, the phone giant’s shrinking satellite service, is a drag on the company. But solving the problem won’t be easy.AT&T acknowledges the faster-than-predicted decline at DirecTV. But Randall Stephenson, chief executive officer and architect of the company’s $48.5 billion purchase, sees the service as one of two key businesses -- the other being mobile phones -- that will allow the company to pipe entertainment and advertising to millions of customers.The problem is that AT&T lost 2.3 million TV customers in the past year, and expects to lose up to 350,000 more this quarter, Chief Financial Officer John Stephens said at a Sept. 11 investor conference. The division, including the online streaming service DirecTV Now, is being sued for allegedly misleading investors about its subscriber numbers, and its value today is below what AT&T paid for the business four years ago.Stephenson met with officials of Elliott Management on Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the matter. In a letter to AT&T last week, Elliott said it had acquired a $3.2 billion take in the phone company, highlighted areas for improvement and raised the possibility of divesting DirecTV.Here are some of the options that AT&T has for DirecTV, along with the pros and cons.Dish DealAT&T and Dish Network Corp. -- the other major satellite TV provider -- are suffering the steepest subscriber losses in the pay-TV industry. And in June they said they are open to a combination.But the creation of pay-TV colossus with almost 30 million subscribers would almost certainly face regulatory opposition, even today when viewers have so many new options available, like Netflix and new streaming services from media giants including Walt Disney Co. and Comcast Corp.“That’s been tried from a regulatory perspective,” Stephens said on Sept. 11. “It hasn’t been successful, and I don’t know that there is any change in that regulatory perspective.”Still, the rationale of pairing two declining businesses has its fans.“It’s complicated but not impossible,” said Jonathan Chaplin, an analyst with New Street Research. “On the right terms, it could get financing.”There would be benefits to combining the businesses: With scale comes negotiating leverage, lower content costs and potentially lower overhead. The cash generation is attractive. And add a dynamic management team, and it could be run successfully, Chaplin said.But there are also concerns: Depending on how a deal is structured, AT&T could lose a key distribution arm for its emerging media strategy and suffer a crippling loss of cash flow. DirecTV has $25.5 billion in annual revenue and generates about $4.5 billion in free cash flow, according to estimates by Walt Piecyk, an analyst at LightShed Partners LLC.“Markets always believed they bought this declining asset with steady cash flows as a stop-gap measure to strengthen their balance sheet and credit metrics,” said Todd Lowenstein, managing director of Highmark Capital Management Inc.Spinoff or SaleAT&T could separate its TV business in a variety of other ways, including a sale to private equity investors or a spinoff to shareholders.The proceeds of a sale could help AT&T reduce some of its $194.5 billion in total debt. That would provide the biggest boost to its credit rating, according to a report Friday from Neil Begley, a Moody’s Corp. analyst.Similarly, AT&T could distribute stock in DirecTV to its current shareholders via an an exchange offer. That would reduce AT&T’s stock outstanding and trim its dividend burden, Begley wrote.As part of such a transaction, DirecTV could also take on debt and pay AT&T a dividend to reduce its own borrowing and compensate for the loss of cash flow. Such an arrangement is “probably one of the more credit favorable ones after an outright sale,” Begley said.Again, with a deal AT&T would potentially lose a customer base for its advertising and media products. And even freed of DirecTV, the company will still have a lot on its plate. AT&T faces a heavy spending burden for 5G network expansion, its dividend and further debt reduction. The company’s newly acquired WarnerMedia division is ramping up the production of movies and TV shows to support its new streaming efforts.“A sale or spin could make some strategic and financial sense given the shifting competitive landscape, but they still need to be laser focused on execution to succeed,” Lowenstein said.Hang OnDallas-based AT&T knew it was buying a mature satellite TV business with a limited shelf life when it acquired DirecTV. Stephenson’s plan, given enough time, was to gradually serve customers through broadband connections, as it’s trying to do now with the new AT&T TV offer, a lower-cost cable-like service.Those customers, along with the 77 million regular monthly wireless subscribers, would provide a big base to sell advertising and additional services, like the upcoming video streaming service HBO Max.Making progress on those fronts is crucial. Left as is, AT&T’s TV business could see steeper declines in pay-TV subscribers. Faster revenue losses will make it tougher to meet those other cash needs.“If AT&T can’t find an attractive exit from DirecTV, then they will continue to squeeze as much free cash flow as they can from the TV business,” Piecyk said. “If they can leverage network improvements, push back on content pricing and slow subscriber losses, it would certainly advance their strategy.”To contact the reporter on this story: Scott Moritz in New York at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Nick Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org, Rob Golum, Linus ChuaFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
The online streaming landscape was once owned by a few companies, largely Netflix and Hulu, but each of which offered a different type of content.
Netflix (NFLX) used to dominate the SVOD streaming services market. It was a leader with few competitors and a subscriber base of over 150 million.
According to Reuters, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings (NFLX) said companies like Disney (DIS) and Apple (AAPL) will boost already rising production costs.
There is only one way to respond to a PowerPoint firing, Netflix's first CEO says: "There is no way I’m sitting here while you pitch me on why I suck."
Investing.com - Roku shares were hit hard Friday after a Wall Street analyst rated the stock a sell and slapped it with a $60 price target.
Marriott's (MAR) brand The Ritz- Carlton fortifies its international presence with the opening of The Ritz-Carlton and The Ritz-Carlton Residences in Montenegro.
This week, the Fed and the ECB cut interest rates, paving the way for cheaper loans and more discretionary income. How could Netflix benefit?