Optimus Prime Tells Earth: “For My World to Live, Yours Must Die”

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Paramount has dropped another trailer for Transformers: The Last Knight, panning over colossal battlefields across epochs and revealing the provocative details of the alien robots’ history on Earth.

“For a thousand years, we’ve kept it hidden, to protect Earth from what was destined to arrive,” narrates a somber voice to images of Transformers drawing swords in solidarity with armored knights around a medieval round table, suggesting the Autobots and Decepticons have been battling it out on our turf far longer than we had imagined.

We zoom from those ancient battlefields to what appears to be a hypnotized Optimus Prime, chained in some vacuum of space’s nether regions, swearing allegiance to a being he calls “My Maker.”

And from there to an armada of insectile alien ships sliced from a nightmare, descending en masse upon an Earth upturned by a state of total warfare. Here, Optimus Prime battles Bumblebee and delivers his devastating verdict: “For my world to live, yours must die.”

Transformers: The Last Knight drops in theaters on June 23.

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Paramount Network’s First Non-Scripted Series to Explore Life and Legacy of Trayvon Martin

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

We all know the basics: On Feb. 26, 2012, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin went out for a bag of Skittles. He never came home. George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman, shot him dead. The gunman was acquitted on self-defense grounds. Widespread outrage ensued.

Beyond that simple plot, it is a much more difficult story to comprehend: a narrative threaded together by frantic and contradictory 911 calls, eyewitness accounts and police testimony; a legal definition of murder mutated by Florida’s Stand Your Ground law; and a charged political atmosphere that transformed the confrontation into a proxy war for many of America’s social and racial grievances.

When Spike rebrands to Paramount Network early next year, the net will meticulously deconstruct this troubling saga with Rest In Power: The Trayvon Martin Story, a six-part documentary created in conjunction with Shawn Carter and The Weinstein Company. This event – which will be Paramount Network’s first non-scripted series – is the second between these parties – the partnership launched earlier this year with the blistering Time: The Kalief Browder Story docu-series.

Thousands of demonstrators march along W. 13th Street in Sanford, Florida, during a NAACP rally and march demanding for justice in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, Saturday, March 31, 2012. (Gary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)

Thousands of demonstrators march along W. 13th Street in Sanford, Florida, during a NAACP rally and march demanding justice in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, Saturday, March 31, 2012. (Gary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)

“I am thrilled to once again partner with the incredibly talented team of The Weinstein Company and Shawn Carter to take a comprehensive look beyond the headlines at the circumstances that caused Trayvon’s senseless death and the movement born out of this tragedy,” said Kevin Kay, president of Spike TV (soon to be Paramount Network), TV Land, and CMT.

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Ethan Hunt Begins His Next Impossible Mission

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Director Christopher McQuarrie dropped the clapper on production of the next Mission: Impossible movie via Twitter over the weekend:

Tom Cruise will zoom back for a sixth appearance as Ethan Hunt, following 2015’s Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, which McQuarrie also directed. The film, which also start Rebecca Ferguson, Henry Cavill, Vanessa Kirky and Alec Baldwin, is slated to open in July 2018.

While it’s way too early for a trailer, you can get ready for the next mission by checking out promos for the first five impossible adventures:

Mission: Impossible – 1996

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IMAX Delivers a Decade of Metal-Crushing Transformers Battles

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

When Transformers: The Last Knight drops on June 23, it will mark the fifth installment in the franchise from Paramount, a legacy that stretches back a decade. From the day Transformers hit theaters on that July day in 2007, the franchise has delivered an explosive visual experience as oversized as the robots that it stars.

And those visuals really rip on Imax, a platform that seems custom cut to hold the building-crushing, metal-banging, guns-blazing world of Autobots and Decepticons. This little featurette distills the relationship between IMAX and Transformers, narrating how each helped the other surge:

More Transformers: The Last Knight – Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

A Devine Choice to Host MTV Movie & TV Awards, Nominees Announced

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

MTV has woven the film, TV and digital realms into one broad content domain that houses the 2017 MTV Movie & TV Awards nominees. The net – which for the first time is expanding the iconic show outside the cinema – also announced that the star of the long-running Comedy Central hit Workaholics Adam Devine will host the May 7 spectacular.

Devine is a veteran of the Golden Popcorn spotlight, having won an award for Best Kiss with Rebel Wilson in Pitch Perfect 2 last year. He is also nominated for Best Comedic Performance for his role on the seventh and final season of Workaholics.

via GIPHY

The platform-agnostic categories include a few additions and some tweaks of long-running show standards. “Best Fight” is now “Best Fight the System” – to acknowledge social justice activism – while “Best Actor” and “Best Actress” have ditched their gender designations to morph into “Best Actor in a Movie” and “Best Actor in a Show.” New categories include “Best American Story,” “Tearjerker,” “Best Host,” “Best Reality Competition” and “Next Generation.”

Nominated Viacom brands include VH1 for RuPaul’s Drag Race – which earned nominations for Best Host and Best Reality Competition – and for Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party (best duo). Comedy Central’s Trevor Noah is also competing for Best Host, while Ilana Glazer & Abbi Jacobson of Broad City are nominated alongside Devine for Best Comedic Performance. Spike’s TIME: The Kalief Browder Story is in the running for Best Documentary.

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Spike Continues Documentary Excellence With Story of Heath Ledger

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

In the wake of its powerful six-part Time: The Kalief Browder Story docu-series scorching the American prison system, Spike is returning with another riveting documentary.

I Am Heath Ledger explores the life and tragic death of a rising Hollywood talent. The film, produced and directed by Derik Murray, is an astonishing posthumous profile of the fiercely talented and energetic actor stitched together from previously unseen footage shot from Ledger’s own cameras.

The actor died in 2008, long before the rise of the smartphone dropped a camera in everyone’s pocket, yet the film underscores the centrality of the device to Ledger’s life.

“There were always cameras around,” said model Christina Cauchi – one of many friends, family, and industry peers interviewed for the documentary – in the recently released trailer. “A videocamera or a Polaroid camera or the film camera. That’s the only way that I think of him, with the camera in his hand.”

“He was always a director,” said musician Ben Harper in the same video. “Acting was just a way to get there.”

Watch the full trailer below:

Ledger’s talents as an actor were considerable, however, and included the role of gay cowboy Ennis in 2005’s Brokeback Mountain and an Oscar-winning performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight.

“Before Brokeback Mountain came out, it would have been unthinkable to have romantic tragedy involving two gay cowboys,” said actor Ben Mendelsohn. “This is one of the biggest heartthrobs on Earth taking on that character. That’s an artist.”

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Jordan Klepper to Follow Trevor Noah with Late-Night Show of His Own

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Comedy Central is rolling in late night. Trevor Noah’s ratings are scorching hot and new weekly shows are coming from (fake) Donald Trump and real Jim Jeffries.

And the lineup is about to get even better, with the advent of a new late-night talk show starring Jordan Klepper. A longtime correspondent on The Daily Show – which the yet-to-be-named program will follow on weeknights – Klepper will bring his energetic wit and droll skepticism to his own platform.

Check him out as he tries to become the mythic “good guy with a gun” that seems to be the NRA’s panacea to violent crime:

Watch part two here.

“Jordan’s talent has become so increasingly obvious it would take a real fool to not offer him this opportunity,” said Comedy Central President Kent Alterman.

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Younger Returns June 28 as TV Land Originals Continue to Roll

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Good news, Younger fans:

 

 

The return of Liza (Sutton Foster), Josh (Nico Tortorella), Charles (Peter Mermann), Kelsey (Hilary Duff), Maggie (Debi Mazar), and the rest of the cast is just the latest great news to roll out of TV Land: its hit show Teachers has logged ratings records in its second season; its newest premiere, Nobodies, has already signed on for another run; and Lopez, starring George Lopez just came back for season number two.

Last time we saw Liza, a 40-something masquerading as a twenty-something corporate striver, she had just confessed her true age to friend and coworker Kelsey and blown up her relationship with her sometime-boyfriend and local tattoo artist Josh, who aborted an engagement proposal when he caught her kissing Charles, who happens to be her boss.

via GIPHY

Season four should be a doozy.

Fake Trump Dodges Real Media with Comedy Central Show of His Own

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Comedy Central is on a sizzling late-night run, as The Daily Show with Trevor Noah knocked out its highest-rated and most-watched quarter ever for the first quarter of 2017. It is the number one daily late-night talk show among millennials and the only one of that group to increase year-over-year ratings and viewership.

There has been so much winning that the network has attracted the self-proclaimed winningest winner of all to late night: U.S. President Donald J. Trump.

via GIPHY

Well, sort of. Renowned Trump impersonator Anthony Atamanuik will helm The President Show, a weekly production that purports to be broadcast direct from the Oval Office, where the faux commander in chief can circumvent the crooked media’s fake news factories for straight Trump talk.

How good is Atamanuik-as-Trump? Pretty flawless:

“Laughing at the President is a proud American tradition and we hope not to disappoint anyone in that department,” said Atamanuik. “But our political system is too broken for us to be content joking about one man, even though he is a disastrous silly little toddler boy. Mostly I’d just like to thank Comedy Central for giving us this platform to speak truth to power and if we’re lucky, end up in prison!”

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Critics Explore Rich Future World of Ghost in the Shell and Like What They Find

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

There is almost nothing in the steampunk urban wilds of Ghost in the Shell that does not invite further exploration, so completely is the film’s cyber-enhanced near future stretched over the geometry of a recognizable city and society. Major (Scarlett Johansson), a cyber-enhanced, terrorist-thumping soldier roams a world where everything is at once fantastical and completely plausible, a realm where even the workaday infrastructure of normal living seems exotic and alien.

For example, her apartment:

Her crew:

Her suit:

And what is lurking in her brain:

On every detail, the film, which opens today, executes flawlessly, seeding these elements in a holograph-laced live-action dimension as dazzling as the anime that inspired it.

“Visually, it resembles nothing else in theaters,” writes AV Club’s Ignatiy Vishnevetsky. “…It is in its designs … that this new Ghost In The Shell finds tantalizing expressions of theme: the faces and limbs of hacked androids breaking up into insect-like forms as they attack; the lonely, recessed spaces of futuristic sleeping quarters; the grotesquerie of cybernetic enhancements; red light districts where human prostitutes dress like sex-bots to attract clientele. Johansson’s Kubrickian performance and the technical precision of the camera make its artifice seem almost haunting.”

Scarlett Johansson plays the Major and Pilou Asbaek plays Batou in Ghost in the Shell from Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures.

Scarlett Johansson plays the Major and Pilou Asbaek plays Batou in Ghost in the Shell from Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures. The spectacular future city rises in the background.

This is a common sentiment – the Telegraph’s Tim Robey writes: “As Blade Runner did before it, this slinky, cyberpunk action flick makes its style the entire statement, pondering a future of human-robot synergy simply by visualising it in as much eye-popping detail as possible.”

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