FX’s ‘Atlanta’ season two will be darker but quirky humor remains

Brian Tyree Henry and Donald Glover at the Starlight Drive In screening of season 2 of FX’s “Atlanta.” CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Posted Tuesday, February 27, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

While the success of season one of award-winning FX comedy “Atlanta” in 2016 helped elevate the stars of the show into the stratosphere, the characters on the show are still very much stuck on the couch at the start of season two, returning Thursday, March 1 at 10 p.m.

Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles (Brian Tyree Henry) is still riding high on his hit single but has serious doubts about how to commercialize himself, especially for a white audience. His manager and cousin Earn (Donald Glover) is homeless, on probation for possessing pot and kind of lost, not far off from where he was at the beginning of season one. Their friend and muse Darius (Lakeith Stanfield) is weird and ethereal as always.

RELATED: My interview with Donald Glover about “Atlanta” from 2016

There’s an undercurrent of menace and dread threading through the first three episodes as the issue of race always hovers in the air. Indeed, the show title has the phrase “Robbin’ Season” for a reason: it’s set during the Christmas holidays when people are more desperate for cash. It’s also a thematic where the characters seem to be getting “robbed” in various ways.

“Money is more complicated when you’re somebody like Alfred,” said Hiro Murai, who directs most of the episodes and helps shape the vision created by Donald and Stephen Glover. He was at this week’s screening of the first two episodes at Starlight Drive In. “As for Earn, you’ll see his journey with Alfred and the tension coming from Alfred not knowing what to do with his career and how Earn fits into it.”

He said there won’t be episodes quite as off-the-beaten path as last year’s “B.A.M.,” in which Paper Boi is interviewed on a fictional talk show with pointedly satirical ads thrown in.

“There’s less experimentation in form this season,” Murai said. “We basically take a more linear approach and stretch it as far as you can.”

At the “Atlanta” season 2 screening at Starlight Drive In in Atlanta, an idea hatched by Donald Glover himself. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

But don’t worry. The signature quirkiness is baked into the show’s DNA.

There’s an alligator, a viral video of a tearful white mom complaining about “Paper Boi” lyrics, a girl doing an acoustic guitar version of “Paper Boi” and a stigmatized, seemingly jinxed $100 bill. (“It’s legal U.S. tender!” Earn says at one point when questioned why he is even carrying $100 bills.)

Plus, it’s clear that Earn – despite a Princeton education – is not going to win any prizes for financial management. There’s a reason he opens the season sleeping in his storage unit.

When Earn does end up with some cash, he blows a big chunk at Onyx strip club on Cheshire Bridge Road. “I don’t even know why I’m here,” he complains. “This place has been finessing me all night.”

Darius notes dryly, “It ain’t like you’re here saving money.”

During the first episode, a fourth dude shows up in the mix, a friend of Alfred’s who just got out of prison and is ready to find his next hustle. “He’s that guy who is a really fun hang and a really good guy but is kind of crazy and gets you in a lot of trouble,” Murai said. “He’s going to be prodding at their dynamic a little bit, especially Alfred and Earn.”

And while “Atlanta” doesn’t live or die by celebrity appearances, troubled comic Katt Williams playing Earn’s uncle – shows up and utters self referential comments about cops while former Falcons quarterback Michael Vick makes an unexpectedly strange appearance as himself.

As for shooting in Atlanta, the show’s success has a downside: the actors can no longer can just walk around Lenox Mall anonymously, Murai said.

ATLANTA — “Sportin’ Waves” — Season Two, Episode 2 (Airs Wednesday, March 8, 10:00 p.m. e/p) Pictured (l-r): Brian Tyree Henry as Alfred Miles, Donald Glover as Earnest Marks. CR: Guy D’Alema/FX

Is there any chance of a sophomore slump? Not according to critics who viewed the first three episodes. So far, on Metacritic, “Atlanta” season two gets a perfect 100 score from eight reviews.

“Glover and friends seem to have hit on a new way to surprise the audience: by making Atlanta, at least for a while, into a more conventional TV show,” writes Alan Sepinwall of Uproxx. “Atlanta can be great because you never expect what it might do next. But that’s far from the only reason it’s great, as the start of season two so potently demonstrates.”

And as Brian Tillerico of Roger Ebert’s website notes: “Earn Marks may not be that confident in his life, but it takes an amazingly assured creative voice to calibrate comedy, drama, and social satire to such perfect degrees on shows like this one. In just three episodes, there is a typical season’s worth of character, commentary, and humor. I can’t wait to see more.”

ATLANTA — Season Two, Episode 3 – Pictured: Donald Glover as Earnest Marks, Zazie Beetz as Van. CR: Guy D’Alema/FX

TV PREVIEW

“Atlanta,” 10 p.m. Thursdays, FX

 

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Jimmy Kimmel’s plan for Oscars night

This Sunday isn’t Jimmy Kimmel’s first time hosting the Oscars, but the 2018 Academy Awards show is likely to be far different than the event’s been in years past.

OSCARS 2018: “DeKalb Elementary,” about an averted school shooting, is up for short-film honors

The Atlanta ties among this year’s nominations

“This is a weird year,” Kimmel said during a visit to Ellen DeGeneres’ show. “There are a lot of very serious things happening. You do want to be appropriate and respectful but more importantly I want to be funny. Nobody remembers appropriate or respectful.”

Oh, and remember last’s year’s envelope gaffe? “La La Land” was mistakenly crowned best picture before the error was corrected and “Moonlight” took top honors.

“Some people think it was a prank that I was pulling,” he stressed. “Not a prank. If it was a prank I was pulling, it would have been on Matt Damon!”

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New Guide on How to Clean a Hacked Website

New Guide on How to Clean a Hacked Website

Our mission at Sucuri is to make the internet a safer place and that entails cleaning up hacked websites. We have teams who actively research website vulnerabilities and who are eager to share with you some tips on how to clean your hacked website.

We are happy to help the community learn the steps they can follow to get rid of a website hack.

You can find all our guides to website security in a section of our website dedicated to providing concise and comprehensive tips on different areas of website security.

Continue reading New Guide on How to Clean a Hacked Website at Sucuri Blog.

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Ryan Seacrest’s former stylist reveals detailed sexual harassment allegations

NEW YORK, NY – JANUARY 30: Ryan Seacrest presents welcome remarks at the 11th Annual Exploring the Arts Gala hosted by Tony Bennett and Susan Benedetto at The Ziegfeld Ballroom on January 30, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images for Exploring The Arts)

Posted Tuesday, February 27, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Ryan Seacrest‘s former personal stylist Suzy Hardy in an exclusive Variety story laid out detailed claims that he sexually harassed her in numerous ways for several years, allegations that E! had recently dismissed after a two-month investigation.

Hardy, who worked with Seacrest from 2007 to 2013, provided Variety her original November letter addressed to E!, its parent NBCUniversal and Seacrest. She also spoke with Variety and provided witnesses who heard her stories at the time they happened.

Among the most salacious details: she said he would hug her and grind on her in his underwear while excited. In at least one instance, he grabbed her vagina without her permission. Another time he slapped her buttock so hard, it left a welt, which she took a picture of. She said after reporting his actions to E! human resources in 2013, she was let go of her job.

Hardy’s attorney — Howard King of King, Holmes, Paterno & Soriano, LLP — asked Seacrest and E! to “come up with a plan to address the treatment of all women at the networks and to take responsibility for the wrongful treatment” of Hardy, and threatened “more formal action” if the request were ignored.

Soon after he received the letter, Seacrest publicly revealed the existence of the accusations without details and later claimed he was being blackmailed.

Variety said nobody in Seacrest’s camp or E! provided evidence she had asked for any compensation.

A month ago, E! finished an investigation from an outside counsel and concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to give credence to her allegations.

The “American Idol” host and Atlanta native has steadfastly denied any sexual harassment on his part in past statements. Now that this story has come out, we’ll see if he has anything to say either on his radio morning show on KIIS-FM in Los Angeles or on his ABC chat show “Live With Kelly and Ryan.” I’ll update this when I get fresh information.

She said she kept her job for years because she was a single mom and needed the gig.

Hardy decided to go public after Seacrest wrote in a Hollywood Reporter column that the E! investigation found “no evidence of wrongdoing on my part.” The reality is they wrote “insufficient evidence.”

She is no longer in the entertainment industry. She told Variety: “I came from a freelance life, and it was scary. It was hard to raise a child and not know where your next check was going to come from, and if that gig was going to take me out of town for two weeks. It was a better deal all the way around, even if I was being abused. It’s sick to say, but it was true.”

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Jeff Zucker: regulators need to investigate Google, Facebook domination in digital ad revenue

BARCELONA, SPAIN – FEBRUARY 26: President Jeff Zucker of CNN Worldwide attends a conference on ‘Creating Better Content and Media’ at the Mobile World Congress 2018 on February 26, 2018 in Barcelona, Spain. Mobile World Congress 2018 is the largest exhibition for the mobile industry and runs from February 26 till March 1. (Photo by Robert Marquardt/Getty Images)

Posted Monday, February 26, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Jeff Zucker, CNN president, said federal regulators should look into the dominance of Google and Facebook in terms of digital ad revenue.

“The fact is nobody for some reason is looking at the monopolies that are Google and Facebook, and that’s where the government should be looking and helping to make sure that everyone else survives,” Zucker said at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday. “I think that’s probably the biggest issue facing the seriousness and growth of journalism in the years ahead.”

“I think we need help for the advertising world and technology world to monetize digital content,” Zucker continued. “Otherwise, good journalism will go away, and that will be bad for the United States, and that will be bad for those that are trying to tell the world about what is happening in Syria today. We need good journalism, and we need to support that.”

CNN recently cut several dozen digital employees after growing its digital unit rapidly in recent years.

eMarketer estimated that 63 percent of all digital ad revenue flows to Google or Facebook last year, up from 60 percent in 2016.

“Advertisers are increasingly demanding more granularity in targeting capabilities to reach consumers,” said Monica Peart, eMarketer’s senior director of forecasting, in a story last year. “Google and Facebook have positioned themselves at the front of this demand curve by being the ad publishers with some of the best-in-class targeting abilities in the digital ad market. With Facebook being able to provide targeting based upon consumer interests and Google capitalizing on where those consumers have been through searches, both companies ensure their lead among digital ad publishers.”

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Tuesday is Georgia Film Day at the state Capitol

At the 2017 Film Day, where state officials pause to herald Georgia’s booming filming industry, Gov. Nathan Deal was joined by actors dressed as Captain America, Thor and Katniss Everdeen. A highlight clip played ahead of time featured lots of people throughout the state engaged in movie (or television) making minus any costumes. Carpenters, electricians, lighting crews — folks who work behind the scenes.

This year’s event, planned for 9 a.m. Tuesday, will once again stress the economic impact of those off-camera roles but isn’t stopping at film sets. The program will feature a video presentation including clips of people who work behind the scenes.

If previous Film Day events are a guide, expect this one to be a celebratory gathering.

“I am excited by the success of this industry,” House Speaker David Ralston said at last year’s Film Day. “As long as I sit in that office, there will be no bigger fan of that tax credit and this industry than I am.”

Outgoing Gov. Nathan Deal and Georgia’s film-friendly tax policies were noted in a 2017 industry report naming Georgia as the top filming location for major domestic productions, besting California, the United Kingdom, Canada and former front-runner Louisiana.

“The rapid growth of the film and television industry in Georgia and the state’s steadfast commitment to its support is remarkable. With 17 projects in 2016, the first-ranked Peach State hosted nearly three times as many feature films as fifth-place New York and Louisiana,” the report from FilmLA said. “This is almost certainly due to the state’s record investment in film attraction.”

Although the tax credits for the industry do have critics — the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute have voiced concern at the state’s lack of analysis to determine economic impact — filmmakers can almost certainly count on ongoing support, as AJC business writer Scott Trubey reported earlier this month. State lawmakers have approved a legal change extending the credits for post-production expenses by Georgia companies that meet certain thresholds.

The state Department of Economic Development, always quick to note the dollar signs associated with various projects (“Jumanji,” released in December, spent more than $34 million and employed more than 1,200 Georgians, the office said in a release), says total film and television spending in Georgia hit a record of $2.7 billion by the end of the 2017 fiscal year. That was a tenfold increase from 2008, the year the tax credits were first ushered into law.

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Top 54 Atlanta-produced prime-time TV shows of 2017 from ‘The Walking Dead’ to ‘Stan Against Evil’

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 9 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Posted Monday, February 26, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

For the eighth year in a row, the most popular show shot in Atlanta is AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”

Its popularity is well past its peak date but it still averaged 14.257 million viewers in 2017, according to Nielsen Media data. That’s down 26 percent from two years ago. The figure includes live viewing plus DVR usage up to seven days. It does not include on-demand viewing.

“The Walking Dead,” despite audience shrinkage, is still the most popular cable show, edging out HBO’s “Game of Thrones” (13.72 million).

Broadcast TV still dominates in total numbers with only the previously mentioned two cable shows making the top 20. CBS remains the big-tent station with 9 shows in the top 20.

The top overall shows were CBS’s “NCIS” (17.577 million) and “The Big Bang Theory” (18.546 million). Two break-out new hits came out of the fall line-up: “Big Bang” spin-off “Young Sheldon” (16.605 million) and ABC’s “The Good Doctor” (17.431 million). The No. 5 show was  NBC’s tearjerker “This is Us” (16.439 million).

The top reality show of 2017 was “America’s Got Talent” on NBC while the top Atlanta-based reality show was CBS’s “Hunted.”

This prime-time list omits day-time shows such as “Paternity Court With Lauren Lake,” “Dish Nation” and “Family Feud” as well as news programs on HLN, CNN and The Weather Channel. This list also doesn’t include popular Netflix shows such as “Ozark” and “Stranger Things” because the streaming service refuses to release ratings figures. If they were included, I’m sure they’d be in the top 10 and probably the top five. (Nielsen estimated that after three days from its debut, 15.8 million Americans watched the first episode of “Stranger Things 2.”)

Amazon, which shot “Lore” in Atlanta, Hulu and CBS All Access also decline to release figures.

Oddly, Bounce TV is excluded in the listing as well but had two scripted shows “Mann & Wife” and “Saints & Sinners” shot in Atlanta. I am trying to get those as well from Bounce itself and will add them if I get them.

RELATED: The top 52 prime-time shows shot in Atlanta from 2016

RELATED: Top 46 prime-time shows shot in Atlanta from 2015

1- “The Walking Dead,” AMC, 14.257 million (in 2016: 17.83 million, ranked No. 1) Total 18-49 viewers: 8.613 million

2- “MacGyver,” CBS, 8.917 million (in 2016: 10.241 million, ranked No. 2) 18-49 viewers: 1.757 million

3- “Hunted,” CBS 7.257 million (new, future unclear) 18-49 viewers: 2.562 million

4- “24: Legacy,” Fox, 6.08 million (new, since cancelled) 18-49 viewers: 2.055 million

THE GIFTED: L-R: Blair Redford, Jamie Chung and Sean Teale in the first part of the ÒeXtraction/X-roadsÓ two-hour season finale of THE GIFTED airing Monday, Jan. 15 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2017 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Eliza Morse/FOX

5- “The Gifted,” Fox, 5.987 million (new) 18-49 viewers: 2.607 million

6- “Star,” Fox, 5.669 million (new) 18-49 viewers: 2.498 million

KEVIN (PROBABLY) SAVES THE WORLD – “Dave” – Yvette has her reservations when Dave, another celestial being, pops up looking to join her and Kevin on their latest mission: Reconciling Kristin and her mother under the most challenging of circumstances. Elsewhere, Nate tries to work up the nerve to ask Amy out, completely unaware of her budding chemistry with a potential beau, on “Kevin (Probably) Saves the World,” TUESDAY, NOV. 14 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EST), on The ABC Television Network. (ABC/Guy D’Alema)
JASON RITTER, KIMBERLY HEBERT GREGORY

7- “Kevin (Probably) Saves the World,” ABC, 4.638 million (new) 18-49 viewers: 1.477 million

8 – “Spartan Team Challenge,” NBC, 4.532 million (last year: 4.181 million, ranked No. 4)

9 – “Love and Hip Hop Atlanta,” VH1, 3.699 million (up from 3.577 million in 2016, ranked No. 7) 18-49 viewers: 2.492 million

10 – “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” Bravo, 3.488 million (down from 3.769 million in 2016, ranked No. 6) 18-49 viewers: 1.972 million

11- “The Haves and the Have Nots,” OWN, 3.376 million (In 2016: 3.792 million ranked, No. 5) Total 18-49 viewers: 1.25 million

12- “Sleepy Hollow,” Fox, 3.287 million (down from 4.467 million in 2016, ranked No. 3, since cancelled)

13- “If Loving You Is Wrong,” OWN 2.381 million (2.81 million in 2016 ranked No. 10) Total 18-49 viewers: 846,000

14- “Greenleaf,” OWN, 2.379 million (last year: 3.256 million, ranked No. 8) Total 18-49 viewers: 932,000

15-“T.I. and Tiny,” VH1 2.217 million (1.726 million in 2016, ranked No. 20) Total 18-49 viewers: 1.399 million

16- “Mama June: From Not to Hot,” WE-TV, 2.142 million (new) 18-49 viewers: 1.043 million

17- “Leave it to Stevie,” VH1, 2.115 million (new) Total 18-49 viewers: 1.378 million

18- “Xscape: Still Kickin’ It,” Bravo, 1.990 million (new) Total 18-49 viewers: 1.109 million

19- “Manhunt: Unabomber,” Discovery, 1.83 million (new) Total 18-49 viewers: 662,000

20- “K Michelle: My Life,” 1.794 million (1.959 million in 2016, ranked No. 13) Total 18-49 viewers: 1.138 million

21- “The Vampire Diaries,” the CW, 1.723 million (down from 1.752 million in 2016, ranked, No. 19, since cancelled) 18-49 viewers: 993,000

22- “Too Close to Home,” TLC 1.688 million (1.15 million in 2016, ranked No. 29, since cancelled) Total 18-49 viewers: 678,000

23- “7 Little Johnstons,” TLC, 1.660 million(up from 1.246 million in 2015), 18-49 viewers: 519,000

24- “Flip or Flop Atlanta,” HGTV 1.631 million (new) 18-49 viewers: 488,000

25- “The Originals,” CW, 1.578 million (up from 1.547 million in 2016, ranked No. 24) 18-49 viewers: 813,000

26- “60 Days In,” A&E, 1.562 million (new in Atlanta) 18-49 viewers: 859,000

27- “The Rap Game,” Lifetime, 1.523 million (down from 1.684 million in 2016, ranked No. 22) 18-49 viewers: 799,000

28- “Married to Medicine,” Bravo 1.47 million (down from 1.785 million in 2016, ranked No.. 17) 18-49 viewers: 815,000

29- “Little Women Atlanta,” Lifetime 1.463 million (down from 1.939 million in 2016, ranked No. 24) 18-49 viewers: 813,000

30- “Being Mary Jane,” BET, 1.427 million (off in 2016, 2.75 million in 2015, a finale movie set to air in 2018) Total 18-49 viewers: 838,000

31- “Valor,” the CW, 1.423 million (new) 18-49 viewers: 390,000

32- “Daytime Divas,” VH1, 1.339 million (new, since cancelled) Total 18-49 viewers: 739,000

33- “Don’t Be Tardy,” 1.339 million (down from 1.479 million in 2016, ranked No. 25) 18-49 viewers: 665,000

34- “The Quad,” BET, 1.314 million (new) Total 18-49 viewers: 677,000

35- “Your Worst Nightmare,” ID, 1.201 million (up from 1.074 million in 2016, ranked No. 31) 18-49 viewers: 417,000

36- “Dead Silent,” ID, 1.159 million (flat from 2016, ranked No. 29) 18-49 viewers: 393,000

37- “Dynasty,’ the CW: 1.145 million (new) 18-49 viewers: 538,000

38- “Your Pretty Face is Going To Hell,” 1.194 million, 18-49 viewers: 763,000

39- “Swamp Murders,” ID, 1.065 million (up from 1.025 million in 2016, ranked No. 32) 18-49 viewers: 316,000

40– “Archer,” FX, 996,000 (down from 1.687 million in 2016, ranked No. 21), 18-49 viewers: 755,000

41- “Growing Up Hip Hop Atlanta,” WE-TV, 927,000 (new) 18-49 viewers: 588,000

42- “Signed,” VH1, 846,000 (new) 18-49 viewers: 574,000

43- “For Better or Worse,” OWN, 802,000 (last year, 952,000, ranked No. 33) Total 18-49 viewers: 311,000

44- “Survivor’s Remorse,” Starz, 689,000 (last year, 1.187 million, since cancelled, ranked No. 28) Total 18-49 viewers: 363,000

45- “Love Thy Neighbor,” OWN, 629,000 (last year, 754,000, ranked No. 38) Total 18-49 viewers: 233,000

46- “Halt & Catch Fire,” AMC, 619,000 (last year, 669,000, ranked No. 39, since cancelled) Total 18-49 viewers:

47- “Brockmire,” IFC, 598,000 (new) Total 18-49 viewers: 294,000

48- “Supersition,” Syfy, 532,000 (new) 18-49 viewers: 178,000

49- “Bossip,” WE-TV, 456,000 (new) 18-49 viewers: 257,000

50- “Hap and Leonard” Sundance, 340,000 (new in Atlanta) Total 18-49 viewers: 108,000

51- “Atlanta Vets,” National Geographic Wild, 328,000, 18-49 viewers: 44,000

52- “Rickey Smiley For Real,” TV One, 318,000 (down from 398,000 in 2016, ranked No. 45) 18-49 viewers: 175,000

53- “Stan Against Evil,” IFC, 313,000 (new) Total 18-49 viewers 157,000

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‘Walking Dead’ actor protests Georgia’s anti-LGBTQ bills

“Walking Dead” actor Daniel Newman will participate in a protest Thursday that condemns Georgia’s anti-LGBTQ legislation.

With the spotlight on Atlanta’s bid to be the home of Amazon’s HQ2, Newman said such legislation could ruin the city’s chances to be a competitive contender.

“I’m “Protesting” the Anti LGBTQ prejudice Bill #SB375 that’s potentially harmful to Georgia getting incredible companies like Amazon. This bill goes against Equality and human rights,” Newman told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an online comment to this story. “I’m desperate to get Amazon to Georgia and other companies that can help our incredible state.”

The Senate voted 35-19 to approve the “religious liberty” legislation, which ensures that taxpayer-funded adoption agencies can turn away married gay couples seeking to adopt children from foster care, AJC political writer Mark Niesse reported. The bill now advances to the state House.

Newman plans to join a planned protest on Thursday.

Instagram Photo

As AJC business writer Scott Trubey reported, Amazon has narrowed its list of potential cities for its massive HQ2 location to a final grouping that includes Atlanta and 19 other metro areas. The shortlist also includes Austin, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Nashville, Toronto and Washington, D.C. and its suburbs.

The hunt for HQ2 now enters its most critical phase, a race to the finish where finalists will put on the hard sell to land the mammoth project. In turn, HQ2 will likely create one of the biggest incentives bidding wars in memory, with lawmakers doing battle to land a legacy-defining prize

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What Tonya Harding thought of Georgia-filmed “I, Tonya”

Georgia-filmed “I, Tonya” has been scooping up awards ahead of the 2018 Oscars and could earn some more hardware Sunday night.

“The movie was fantastic. Everyone did such a great job,” the movie’s subject, Tonya Harding, said during a visit with Ellen DeGeneres. “Margot putting out so much effort to learn how to do the jumps and to learn my backwoods, hick girl kind of attitude.”

Golden Globe nominated actress Margot Robbie is up for best leading actress for her role as Tonya Harding in locally filmed “I, Tonya.” Allison Janney, who won the Golden Globe for best supporting actress for her role as Tonya Harding’s mother, is now up for an Oscar as well. The movie also is up for best editing.

“Allison totally blew it out of the water,” Harding said. “That was my mother.”

MORE: The Atlanta ties among this year’s Oscar nominations

Ice skating scenes were filmed at the Macon Coliseum last year, when the venue was transformed into a 1990s-era arena. A key scene was shot at the Golden Buddha restaurant on Clairmont Road.

In her acceptance speech, Janney said the film is about “class in America” and embracing differences. She also gave a shout-out to “Little Man in Smyrna, Ga.,” a reference to the bird that Janney shared the screen with during several scenes in “I, Tonya.”

Ellen raved about the movie but also noted its difficult subject material.

“It’s also sad, because that was your mother,” she said. “How did you go out there and perform when you had that kind of energy coming at you?”

Responded Harding, “When someone tells you you’re fat, you’re ugly, you’re never going to amount to anything it makes you want to overcome that and be the best that you can be.

“I didn’t want to be like her,” Harding continued. “I wanted to go out and do something more for myself. was very excited I achieved something in my life that meant something. The new movie made my life feel like it was worth something.”

Ellen didn’t delve much into the Nancy Kerrigan situation (hasn’t enough been said?) but instead kept the focus on Harding.

“You made something of yourself, no matter what happens or if this movie hadn’t been made,” she said. “I know you knew something was happening (regarding Kerrigan) but you had no idea what they were going to do.”

Harding ended on a gracious note.

“I’m just glad my life can help other people,” she said. “Love yourself, because that’s all that matters.”

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‘The Walking Dead’ season 8 midseason return recap: Carl’s farewell

Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 9 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Posted Sunday, February 25, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

“I’m going to make it real, Carl, I promise. I’m going to make it real.” – Rick’s final words to Carl

How Carl got bit a couple of episodes ago was decidedly underwhelming and almost insulting. But the writers of “The Walking Dead” compensated in the mid-season return by giving him the longest goodbye of any character on the show to date.

He’s an original character and Rick’s son so that makes sense though he also suddenly becomes the wisest man in the room. And despite the calculated histrionics during much of this episode, it was engrossing and far cleaner than many we’ve seen so far this season.

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RELATED: Chandler Riggs calls his surprise departure “bittersweet”

With death before him, he espouses peace and hope. “You can’t kill all of them. There’s gotta be something after.” He adds: “It’s not supposed to be like this. I know it can be better.”

He foresees his dad becoming Farmer Rick again as he was in the prison: “You can still be that again.”

Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 9 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

He says goodbye to Judith with pearls of advice: “You be good okay? Michonne, for dad. You got to honor, listen when they tell you stuff. You don’t have to always. Sometimes kids have to show their parents the way.”

He gives Judith Rick’s hat: “It made me feel as strong as him. It helped me. Maybe it’ll help you too.”

He becomes a therapist, telling Michonne not to hold on to her grief, to remember the good times: “I don’t want you to be sad after this. Or angry. You’re going to have to be strong. For my dad, Judith, for yourself.”

He frees himself of guilt, telling them the story of how he shot the Woodbury kid at the prison while he was putting down his gun.

He tells of a dream where Alexandria is rebuilt and everyone is “living, helping everybody else live.”  We see his vision come to life in a gauzy white haze: Jerry is happily building a wall. Eugene hands an older Judith an apple. Judith greets a super nice Negan. And Rick sports a ridiculous old-man beard.

And he gets to control his own destiny in a sense, taking a gun and shooting himself in the head. In a church, of all places.

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes, Danai Gurira as Michonne – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 9 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Oddly, there was absolutely nothing heroic about the walker biting Carl in the first place. He was in a situation he didn’t have to be in. And given how often he’s faced them over the past eight seasons, how he dealt with this single walker was oddly weak. With a little more aggression and less fear, he could have easily dispensed with this walker who had such sharp teeth, they ripped right through his threadbare T-shirt into his side.

To the tune of Bright Eyes’ 2005 song “At the Bottom of Everything,” we see Carl  realize he’s going to die and plan his exit. He knows he has some time before he perishes. So he becomes super productive. He writes some going away notes to important people. He plays with Judith one last time. He helps hide Siddiq in an underground drainage pipe, providing him bedding and food. He plants a tree. He enjoys the present moment, taking in the sun. He is handling his pending death with impressive aplomb.

By the time Negan has set Alexandria aflame and Carl has shepherded everyone down into the tunnels, zombie fever begins hitting him.

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Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes, Avi Nash as Siddiq – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 9 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

We do learn a bit more about why Carl was so intent on recruiting Siddiq. He was a medical resident when the apocalypse hit, making him very useful. Siddiq promises to honor Carl’s memory by being the best person he can be.

We also learn of the plan: for the remaining members of Rick’s crew to hunker down at the Hilltop for a last stand. Dwight is skeptical: “All of you in one place together?”

Daryl gets to say the Arnold Schwarzenegger line: “All of us together, we’ll be their worst damn nightmare.”

***

Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier, Lennie James as Morgan Jones – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 9 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Meanwhile, we simultaneously follow Morgan’s path back to the Kingdom to take down Gavin’s crew.

The Saviors had figured out a way to escape by blasting enough walkers to create a path for themselves out. Morgan, who is in sniper mode, sees this happening and just barely escapes himself. He goes back to Ezekiel’s Kingdom and runs into Carol.

Carol has the surviving Kingdom folks stay at her cottage while they try to clear out the Saviors. Henry, the young boy who insists on fighting, sneaks back to the Kingdom because he wants to help – against Carol’s advice.

Carol and Morgan quietly take down several of the Saviors as they try to save Ezekiel.

Savior leader Gavin, who liked Ezekiel, plans to take the King back to Negan. He likes Ezekiel, wishes he had just stuck with the plan. Ezekiel, who has now shaken off the shock of losing a good portion of his people in the earlier Savior ambush, is back in leader mode, saying that Gavin can always shift from darkness if he wants to.

Khary Payton as Ezekiel – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 9 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Gavin – who is actually one of the nicer Savior leaders – is understandably nervous as he readies to leave.

“Is it going to go bad, Ezekiel?” Gavin says. “Is this going to turn into something else?”

“You are the author of this night Gavin,” Ezekiel replies. “Its clothes shall be fashioned by your star.”

That isn’t true. Gavin quickly figures out he has lost several of his mean and runs to the auditorium. There, Morgan and Carol turn the night into a rout, killing all of Gavin’s men. “Beast Mode” Morgan, fighting off a Savior who had a bullet wound, sticks his hand inside said wound and pulls out the dude’s intestines.

Gavin, shot in the leg, is the lone Savior survivor at the Kingdom.

He tries to convince Morgan that killing him won’t make him feel any better. Carol and Ezekiel are actually on Gavin’s side, telling Morgan to just lay down his staff. Morgan starts to cry. He’s not really sure what to do.

Then Benjamin’s brother Henry kills Gavin through the neck. We aren’t sure how Morgan feels about this per se.

Ezekiel hugs Henry. “All will be resolved,” he tells Henry.

We can only hope.

***

On “Talking Dead”

Chris Hardwick is effusive about Chandler Riggs, who he first talked to in 2012 on the prison set from season three when Chandler was 12. “I’m so proud of you man!” he said, noting that Chandler even came to Chris’ wedding. “I’m sad to lose you on the show but am thrilled to see the amazing things you will do.”

Chandler likes to use the word “like.” He said Danai Gurira (Michonne) was the most emotional during the final day of shooting.

He gets the longest “In Memoriam” segment in “Talking Dead” history. “You went from a boy…to a man.. to a hero. RIP Carl Grimes.”

Comments from other cast members:

Andrew Lincoln (Rick): “Chandler Riggs is my American son. He’s an incredibly sweet young man… He’s a super fun actor. He’s taught me about the South and his kind of humor, his manner and his Southern charm. He’s a really special part of my life.”

Lauren Cohan (Maggie) calls him a “sound, caring person who you can get honest advice from. He’s a beautiful, compassionate, spiritual person.”

Norman Reedus (Daryl): “He started off almost like an old soul. He knew what he was doing. He knew what it all meant from the beginning.”

Katelyn Nacon (Enid): “He was always really kind and had a good head on his shoulders.”

Melissa McBride (Carol): She recalls the two of them during season two taking photo portraits of each other and the one he took of her is one of his favorites.

Josh McDermitt (Eugene): “We’re all jealous. You have your whole life ahead of you and put in more time in a television series than we all have. We love you and please return my texts.”

My favorite moment was Carl eating pudding. Apparently, it was for “Talking Dead” fans, too. It received 66 percent of the vote over killing Shane, losing an eye and his dying wish.

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