Netflix’s ‘Ozark’ with Jason Bateman, Laura Linney uses Lake Lanier, Allatoona

Jason Bateman and Laura Linney play a couple in a bit of a trouble with a Mexican drug cartel. CREDIT: Netflix

This was posted on Friday, July 21, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Jason Bateman’s character Marty Byrde on “Ozark” is stressed-out financial expert, trying to dig himself out a huge hole that has placed his life and his family’s lives in danger. During a sleep-deprived moment, he watches Sarah McLachlan on late-night TV doing her usual pitch for helping abandoned, suffering animals when she addresses him directly.

“Marty,” she said in his hallucination. “I don’t trust you to care for these animals. If you adopt them, they will die.”

The specter of death is over-arching on Netflix’s latest drama “Ozark,” shot largely on Lake Allatoona and Lake Lanier but also other parts of metro Atlanta and the Ozarks as well. (The series is available starting today, July 21, on Netflix.)

Marty, who has been money launderering for a major Mexican drug cartel for years, owes his drug lord boss a serious amount of cash due to a sticky-fingered partner. Gun to his head, he convinces his boss to allow him and his family to flee Chicago and go to the Ozarks to prove he can launder $8 million in a short period of time and regain the man’s trust.

In the Ozarks, Marty is not welcome with open arms, even with a cache of cash to spend.

“There is an ignorance and arrogance with the Byrdes,” said Laura Linney, the Emmy-winning actress who plays Bateman’s philandering wife Wendy. “They think they can waltz into the Ozarks and do whatever they want.”

They also drag along their two children, who are victims of their parents’ chicanery. Neither mom nor dad faces that truth with any insight or forethought.

“She’s someone who just doesn’t know herself well,” Linney said. “She’s smart and articulate and capable but not very self aware. She’s very reactive.”

“Ozark,” which runs 10 episodes, is not designed for multiple seasons, Bateman said in a phone interview Tuesday. In his mind, it’s more an extended movie, not a series.

“It doesn’t end in a way that’s obnoxiously open ended” he said. “We wanted to give everything we had in hopes people will like it enough to do a sequel as opposed to a second season… There is a clear beginning, middle and end.”

He spent 13 months in the area working on “Ozark” as a producer, lead actor and director of four episodes. He’s shot at least three previous movies in Atlanta as well. “I should have a Southern accent by now,” he mused.

Bateman said the tax credits were a primary draw to Georgia, but the lakes certainly did the job of capturing the look he was seeking for the show. “It provided the rural aesthetic as well as the lake environment,” he said. “The only real inconsistency to the Ozarks is the lake levels in Georgia fluctuate throughout the year. The lakes of the Ozarks don’t do that. The edges of the lakes here are more exposed. We thought for awhile if we should fix it digitally later but decided it wasn’t that big a deal.”

Linney enjoyed her six months on set, said it felt a bit like summer camp. “My whole family is from southern Georgia,” she said. I’ve been to Atlanta a little bit, not a whole lot. I certainly have spent time on Lake Lanier in the past. The lakes are gorgeous, just beautiful. I felt very much at home.”

And she jumped on the project partly as an opportunity to work with the well-respected Bateman. “We have similar tastes, similar ways of working,” she said. “I’ve reached a point in my career where I don’t want to spend time with people I don’t like. I liked being around this cast and crew.”

The echoes of “Breaking Bad” are hard to avoid in “Ozark,” though Marty doesn’t revel in his immorality quite as much as Walter White ultimately did.

Rather, Bateman likes Marty’s everyman quality, a quality Bateman himself naturally owns in almost every film and TV show he’s starred in, including “Arrested Development,” which is also part of the Netflix family.

“While most people have eccentricities, most try to stay in the median of their personality,” he said. “That’s Marty. He’s like a proxy for the viewer.” At the same time, Marty justifies his questionable ethics through “hubris and intelligence,” saying he needs the money for the sake of his family. (Sound familiar, Walter White?)

The most notable revelation is Julia Garner (Kimmy from “The Americans”) as a tough-as-nails 19 year old who heads a family of Ozark con artists while her criminal daddy is in prison.

“Julia is an incredible actress,” Bateman said. “She motivated the writers to dig in even more with her character. She’s just a perfect actress to play that part in so far as we weren’t looking for a stereotype. These people have a very definite idea of what is right and wrong. There is a lot of pride. She’s able to play the ruralness without being a hick. She’s a formidable opponent to Marty.”

Ruth (Julia Garner) decides to work with Marty (Jason Batemen) but she’s not doing it for any altruistic reasons. CREDIT: Netflix

So far, critics have mostly liked this morality play of a show though some found it lethargic and derivative. Metacritic, as of today, compiled 11 positive reviews and six mixed reviews, with an average of 66 out of 100.

Entertainment Weekly couldn’t help but reference “Breaking Bad” in its positive review: “Bateman’s commanding performance powers a gripping, twisty, sometimes spotty yarn that plays like ‘Breaking Bad’ in reverse, a darkly comic deconstruction of antihero fantasy about a man flailing to rediscover the value of human life.”

Alan Sepinwall of Uproxx, on the other hand, found the premise tired and execution failing to transcend past tropes: “What might have felt like a novel idea 10 or 15 years ago–middle-aged white anti-hero does something terrible to help his family, and only gets pulled in deeper and deeper–is now so tired that it would require sheer brilliance to come out feeling as fresh and untainted as all the money that Marty cleans. And Ozark isn’t up to that challenge.

TV PREVIEW

“Ozark,” 3:01 a.m. debut on Friday, July 21, 2017, Netflix

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Netflix’s ‘Ozark’ with Jason Bateman, Laura Linney uses Lake Lanier, Allatoona

Jason Bateman and Laura Linney play a couple in a bit of a trouble with a Mexican drug cartel. CREDIT: Netflix

This was posted on Friday, July 21, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Jason Bateman’s character Marty Byrde on “Ozark” is stressed-out financial expert, trying to dig himself out a huge hole that has placed his life and his family’s lives in danger. During a sleep-deprived moment, he watches Sarah McLachlan on late-night TV doing her usual pitch for helping abandoned, suffering animals when she addresses him directly.

“Marty,” she said in his hallucination. “I don’t trust you to care for these animals. If you adopt them, they will die.”

The specter of death is over-arching on Netflix’s latest drama “Ozark,” shot largely on Lake Allatoona and Lake Lanier but also other parts of metro Atlanta and the Ozarks as well. (The series is available starting today, July 21, on Netflix.)

Marty, who has been money launderering for a major Mexican drug cartel for years, owes his drug lord boss a serious amount of cash due to a sticky-fingered partner. Gun to his head, he convinces his boss to allow him and his family to flee Chicago and go to the Ozarks to prove he can launder $8 million in a short period of time and regain the man’s trust.

In the Ozarks, Marty is not welcome with open arms, even with a cache of cash to spend.

“There is an ignorance and arrogance with the Byrdes,” said Laura Linney, the Emmy-winning actress who plays Bateman’s philandering wife Wendy. “They think they can waltz into the Ozarks and do whatever they want.”

They also drag along their two children, who are victims of their parents’ chicanery. Neither mom nor dad faces that truth with any insight or forethought.

“She’s someone who just doesn’t know herself well,” Linney said. “She’s smart and articulate and capable but not very self aware. She’s very reactive.”

“Ozark,” which runs 10 episodes, is not designed for multiple seasons, Bateman said in a phone interview Tuesday. In his mind, it’s more an extended movie, not a series.

“It doesn’t end in a way that’s obnoxiously open ended” he said. “We wanted to give everything we had in hopes people will like it enough to do a sequel as opposed to a second season… There is a clear beginning, middle and end.”

He spent 13 months in the area working on “Ozark” as a producer, lead actor and director of four episodes. He’s shot at least three previous movies in Atlanta as well. “I should have a Southern accent by now,” he mused.

Bateman said the tax credits were a primary draw to Georgia, but the lakes certainly did the job of capturing the look he was seeking for the show. “It provided the rural aesthetic as well as the lake environment,” he said. “The only real inconsistency to the Ozarks is the lake levels in Georgia fluctuate throughout the year. The lakes of the Ozarks don’t do that. The edges of the lakes here are more exposed. We thought for awhile if we should fix it digitally later but decided it wasn’t that big a deal.”

Linney enjoyed her six months on set, said it felt a bit like summer camp. “My whole family is from southern Georgia,” she said. I’ve been to Atlanta a little bit, not a whole lot. I certainly have spent time on Lake Lanier in the past. The lakes are gorgeous, just beautiful. I felt very much at home.”

And she jumped on the project partly as an opportunity to work with the well-respected Bateman. “We have similar tastes, similar ways of working,” she said. “I’ve reached a point in my career where I don’t want to spend time with people I don’t like. I liked being around this cast and crew.”

The echoes of “Breaking Bad” are hard to avoid in “Ozark,” though Marty doesn’t revel in his immorality quite as much as Walter White ultimately did.

Rather, Bateman likes Marty’s everyman quality, a quality Bateman himself naturally owns in almost every film and TV show he’s starred in, including “Arrested Development,” which is also part of the Netflix family.

“While most people have eccentricities, most try to stay in the median of their personality,” he said. “That’s Marty. He’s like a proxy for the viewer.” At the same time, Marty justifies his questionable ethics through “hubris and intelligence,” saying he needs the money for the sake of his family. (Sound familiar, Walter White?)

The most notable revelation is Julia Garner (Kimmy from “The Americans”) as a tough-as-nails 19 year old who heads a family of Ozark con artists while her criminal daddy is in prison.

“Julia is an incredible actress,” Bateman said. “She motivated the writers to dig in even more with her character. She’s just a perfect actress to play that part in so far as we weren’t looking for a stereotype. These people have a very definite idea of what is right and wrong. There is a lot of pride. She’s able to play the ruralness without being a hick. She’s a formidable opponent to Marty.”

Ruth (Julia Garner) decides to work with Marty (Jason Batemen) but she’s not doing it for any altruistic reasons. CREDIT: Netflix

So far, critics have mostly liked this morality play of a show though some found it lethargic and derivative. Metacritic, as of today, compiled 11 positive reviews and six mixed reviews, with an average of 66 out of 100.

Entertainment Weekly couldn’t help but reference “Breaking Bad” in its positive review: “Bateman’s commanding performance powers a gripping, twisty, sometimes spotty yarn that plays like ‘Breaking Bad’ in reverse, a darkly comic deconstruction of antihero fantasy about a man flailing to rediscover the value of human life.”

Alan Sepinwall of Uproxx, on the other hand, found the premise tired and execution failing to transcend past tropes: “What might have felt like a novel idea 10 or 15 years ago–middle-aged white anti-hero does something terrible to help his family, and only gets pulled in deeper and deeper–is now so tired that it would require sheer brilliance to come out feeling as fresh and untainted as all the money that Marty cleans. And Ozark isn’t up to that challenge.

TV PREVIEW

“Ozark,” 3:01 a.m. debut on Friday, July 21, 2017, Netflix

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Unusual Tom Graves proposal gains steam — and hits a wall

WASHINGTON — Georgia Congressman Tom Graves had a plan to aid his Republican colleagues as they prepare to face a wave of angry voters during the upcoming August recess.

President Donald Trump’s supporters – many of whom also make up the political base for GOP lawmakers – are livid at Congress’ glacial pace advancing the White House’s top priorities, including replacing Obamacare, overhauling the tax code and building a wall on the southern border.

So as an upward-bound member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, Graves pitched an unusual proposal: package together all 12 of the spending bills that collectively fund the government and pass them at once instead of one by one. The rush order would provide the base with some much-needed red meat, proving to frustrated voters back home that House conservatives were acting on their key campaign promises.

The aim was to “show the American people what we believe… and put our best Republican plan forward,” Graves said.

But the Ranger Republican’s plan hit a wall this week.

Read on myAJC: Unorthodox budget plan from Georgia’s Tom Graves hits wall in House

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With Hugh Freeze out, Ole Miss has to ask: Was it worth it?

Hugh Freeze is no longer on the hot seat. He’s gone. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Hugh Freeze built a very good football team. He built it on shifting sand. Even when Freeze and Ole Miss were gracing New Year’s Six bowls, the widespread belief was that his program was subject to immediate collapse. The collapse has come.

Ole Miss just announced that Freeze has resigned as coach. Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports reported Thursday that a number traced to Freeze’s cell phone had been linked to an escort service. The call lasted one minute. Freeze said it was a misdial. Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork said Thursday night it was part of a pattern and that the coach would have been fired — with the school invoking the “moral turpitude” clause in his contract — had he not resigned.

Add it up: The various issues of the Nkemdiche brothers, Robert and Denzel; the infamous video of Laremy Tunsil and his gas mask; Tunsil’s allegations that Ole Miss staffers afforded impermissible benefits, meaning money; former coach Houston Nutt’s lawsuit charging that Freeze, via off-the-record sessions with reporters, had besmirched his reputation; and — last but nowhere near least — an NCAA investigation that spawned charges of Freeze’s “failure to monitor” his jerry-built program and a self-imposed bowl ban for 2017.

Everyone wondered how Freeze attracted recruits on the order of R. Nkemdiche and Tunsil to Oxford, Miss. Everyone wondered if the school of Vaught and Archie and Eli had become a rogue outfit, which is something a program in the high and mighty SEC cannot be for long.

Well, now we know. Freeze is out. He beat Alabama two years running, which was something. What those in Oxford have to ask — and will be asking for a very long time — is this: Was it worth it?

From May 2016: Ole Miss’ troubles aren’t nearly at an end.

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With Hugh Freeze out, Ole Miss has to ask: Was it worth it?

Hugh Freeze is no longer on the hot seat. He’s gone. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Hugh Freeze built a very good football team. He built it on shifting sand. Even when Freeze and Ole Miss were gracing New Year’s Six bowls, the widespread belief was that his program was subject to immediate collapse. The collapse has come.

Ole Miss just announced that Freeze has resigned as coach. Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports reported Thursday that a number traced to Freeze’s cell phone had been linked to an escort service. The call lasted one minute. Freeze said it was a misdial. Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork said Thursday night it was part of a pattern and that the coach would have been fired — with the school invoking the “moral turpitude” clause in his contract — had he not resigned.

Add it up: The various issues of the Nkemdiche brothers, Robert and Denzel; the infamous video of Laremy Tunsil and his gas mask; Tunsil’s allegations that Ole Miss staffers afforded impermissible benefits, meaning money; former coach Houston Nutt’s lawsuit charging that Freeze, via off-the-record sessions with reporters, had besmirched his reputation; and — last but nowhere near least — an NCAA investigation that spawned charges of Freeze’s “failure to monitor” his jerry-built program and a self-imposed bowl ban for 2017.

Everyone wondered how Freeze attracted recruits on the order of R. Nkemdiche and Tunsil to Oxford, Miss. Everyone wondered if the school of Vaught and Archie and Eli had become a rogue outfit, which is something a program in the high and mighty SEC cannot be for long.

Well, now we know. Freeze is out. He beat Alabama two years running, which was something. What those in Oxford have to ask — and will be asking for a very long time — is this: Was it worth it?

From May 2016: Ole Miss’ troubles aren’t nearly at an end.

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Valerie Hoff sues 11Alive over forced resignation after joking N word use on Twitter DM

Valerie Hoff worked at 11Alive for 18 years. CREDIT: publicity photo

This was posted on Thursday, July 20, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Valerie Hoff, a former veteran 11Alive reporter, has sued the NBC affiliate for what she deemed “breach of contract” after she was forced to resign in April over a joking use of the N-word in a private Twitter exchange with a source who is black.

In the lawsuit filed Thursday in the state court of Fulton County against WXIA-TV owner TEGNA, she wrote that she complied with her contractual agreement regarding her behavior. At first, the station gave her a two-week suspension without pay.

But when news of her snafu hit FTVlive.com, a broadcast news gossip website, the TV station changed its tune and asked her to leave the station, suggesting a resignation looked better than a termination, according to the lawsuit.

“I was treated unfairly and I’m looking forward to my side of exactly what happened coming out,” Hoff said in a brief interview today before referring other questions to her attorney Amanda Thompson. 

Thompson said they at first internally sought to get the station to pay out the rest of her contract ending January, 2018. But management rejected her request. The forced resignation “was a knee-jerk reaction and they stood by it,” Thompson said.

I also emailed a copy of the lawsuit to 11Alive General Manager John Deushane at about 5:45 p.m. and have not heard back yet from him.

RELATED: Bill Torpy’s column about Hoff’s termination and the use of “the N-Word Lite”

Hoff in the lawsuit noted that she was an exemplary employee over 18 years, receiving consistent raises and praise in evaluations.

On April 13, 2017, she was seeking a video of a white police officer assaulting a black driver. She found the video on the Twitter feed of Curtis Rivers and sought his permission to use it. He noted on his public Twitter that “I just posted a video to get some justice now I got news n****s all up in my DMs [direct messages] telline me to call them smh [shaking my head].”

She jokingly wrote back in a DM “Please call this news n*****. lol. I’m with 11alive.”

At first, Rivers laughed it off with a “LMFAOO.” But he soon realized Hoff was white and became offended that she was calling him the N-word, even in its shorter version that ends with an “a.” She apologized immediately, writing, “No I called myself one. I’m a news lady at 11alive I thought you were referring to all of us. So sorry if you didn’t understand…again, I’m sorry I offended you. I was not offended by what you called the media but I should not have used it back even in a pm [private message].”

Rivers posted part of the conversation, out of context, on public Twitter since he didn’t include his initial use of “news n****s.”

The screen shots were re-tweeted multiple times and Hoff apologized multiple times to those respondents. He eventually deleted the original screen shots.

Hoff’s boss Julie Eisenman, an assistant news director, called and Hoff apologized again, according to the lawsuit. Eisenman, the lawsuit said, told Hoff she did the right thing in terms of her responses.

Rivers later contacted Hoff via DM and said he didn’t want her to lose her job. He later posted a public tweet saying that all was forgiven.

The next day, according to the lawsuit, the WXIA/TEGNA human resources representative Grady Tripp assured her she had been properly responsive and she was not going to be terminated. She was suspended for two weeks without pay, which she accepted as part of her contractual agreement, with a notice that if she does anything similar again, she would be fired.

Two days before her suspension was up, she received a voicemail from 11Alive News Director Jennifer Rigby which, in part, noted, “We miss you and really, really look forward to your return on Thursday.”

But management on Thursday pushed her return back at least a day. On Friday, she was told again to sit tight and stay home until Monday. A few minutes later, according to the lawsuit, Rigby called her about the FTVLive story and was told this was now a more serious situation thanks to media coverage. [At this point, I was fishing around as well and had contacted 11Alive management.]

A few hours later, Tripp and Rigby said Hoff would either have to be fired or resign.

So Hoff chose to resign though she said it was not voluntary.

To add insult to injury, she said 11Alive wouldn’t allow her back in the building to pick up her belongings. The station also quickly suspended her email access so she could not retrieve contacts or put together a resume tape to help her get another job in the business if she wanted to.

Her two charges against the station are breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.

Hoff is seeking unspecified damages but is not seeking her job back.

In the lawsuit, she noted that 11Alive ultimately supported the Twitter poster Rivers, who told me he thought she should resign although he told Hoff the opposite. “I honestly don’t want anyone to lose their job, but if you’re representing your company and not just yourself, then yes I do,” he wrote me at the time via Twitter DM.

Her lawsuit then listed some of Rivers’ racially, ethnically and sexually offensive Tweets.

I’m mentioned in the lawsuit as well since I posted a poll showing 88 percent of respondents didn’t think she should have been fired.

Take Our Poll

 

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Bossip TV show on WE-TV shooting in Atlanta for summer test run

The Bossip on WE crew. (Left-right) comedy contributor Ronnie Jordan, associate editor Alex Ford, Mara “The Hip Hop Socialite,” comedy contributor Tyler, associate editor Danielle “Dani” Canada, managing editor Janee Bolden, associate editor Jason Lee) CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

This was posted on Thursday, July 20, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Bossip is a popular gossip site started in Atlanta that tries to rise above the rest with sharp writing and video targeting an African-American audience.

WE-TV decided to team up with Bossip to test a weekly “Dish Nation”/TMZ”-style gossip discussion show. It debuted two weeks ago and airs at 10 p.m. Thursdays.

“I think we’re funnier than the other news shows,” said managing editor Janee Bolden. “It’s everything on the website. The crazy headlines. The crazy punchlines. It’s a lot of personality.”

They do quick takes on various hot topics centered mostly around reality show stars and musicians with occasional comedic takes by contributor and comic Tyler. They get guests on occasion, too. This past Thursday, Yung Joc of “Love and Hip Hop Atlanta” came by.

“We emphasize black gossip and Atlanta is the mecca for black entertainment,” said Mara, known as the “hip hop socialite” and is the youngest of the crew.  “Everyone comes through Atlanta.”

“You can walk down Peters Street and get a couple of news stories,” joked Ronnie Jordan, a comic contributor who helps “punch up” the scripts.

“We have a much younger perspective than other shows,” added associate editor Jason Lee. “Our perspective is fresher and is not on TV right now.”

“And we’re a lot cuter,” said Danielle “Dani” Canada, associate editor.

They have rented a studio/set in Atlanta, where the site started in 2006, to sit around and talk on camera. (They just left their actual Bossip office and are seeking a new pad. The studio itself replicates the graffiti-strewn wall from the original office.)

The show tapes on Wednesday to give their post-production editors 13 hours to make it sing visually.

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Buddy Carter looks to drug test recipients of unemployment benefits

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter is reviving a fight over drug testing that could have major implications in Georgia.

The Pooler Republican introduced a bill in the House of Representatives on Thursday that would let states screen unemployment insurance applicants for drug use if they so choose.

“Unemployment Insurance recipients should be drug-free and ready to reenter the workforce and my legislation works to make that happen,” Carter said in a statement.

Under Carter’s legislation, an applicant would be denied unemployment benefits for 30 days if they test positive for drug use. A second positive test would bar people from receiving the federal perk for the rest of the year.

Carter’s bill could prompt renewed debate over the ethics of drug testing the impoverished in Georgia.

Gov. Nathan Deal in 2014 signed a bill that would have drug tested some recipients of welfare and food stamps, one of the strictest of its kind. At the time he also hinted he would like to extend the screenings to applicants of unemployment benefits.

But Deal’s food stamps initiative was thrown into limbo amid a federal legal fight over a similar law in Florida. Then-Attorney General Sam Olens later argued that federal law barred Georgia from drug testing people on food stamps.

Carter, who was in the state Senate during Deal’s food stamp push in 2014, introduced similar legislation related to unemployment benefits in the U.S. House in 2015. It won the support of four other Georgia Republican lawmakers but never advanced through the Republican-controlled House. A similar effort to drug test food stamp recipients was also side-stepped by the GOP Congress.

Earlier this year, Congress passed and President Donald Trump later signed a bill undoing an Obama-era rulemaking that forbade the drug testing of most unemployment applicants. Their effort was seen as an opening that could later allow states to screen for drug use among applicants.

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O.J. Simpson: “I’ve basically lived a conflict-free life”

BREAKING: O.J. Simpson has been granted parole

During his parole board hearing in Lovelock, Nev. Thursday, O.J. Simpson talked about courses he’s taken while in custody, said he’s been called on to mediate disputes and said he helped his fellow inmates get a Baptist church service started there. He attends it religiously, he said, noting the pun was intended.

He said he’s a good guy who’s never been accused of pulling a gun on anyone or having a substance abuse problem. “I have led a conflict-free life,” he said. “I’m not a guy who has conflicts on the street. I don’t expect to have any when I leave here…I’ve always been a guy who’s gotten along with everybody.”

MORE: Key events in OJ’s life

The positive verdict wasn’t a surprise given the tenor of much of the hearing. Things started off on a friendly note as chairman Connie Bisbee noted he had completed vocational training and has served his sentence thus far without any infractions.

Simpson, 70, in 1995 was acquitted of the 1994 murder of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman. Two years later he was found liable in civil legal action and ordered to pay more than $33 million to the survivors. He was arrested in Las Vegas in 2007.

He is nearly nine years into a 33-year sentence following a 2007 incident in a Las Vegas hotel room. He was charged with armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon, when he and four other men came to the room to reclaim items Simpson said were his.

Then commissioner Tony Corda asked, basically, “What were you thinking?”

Simpson then started a stem winder of an answer.

For most of the time he was relaxed and jovial, chuckling often. Referring to his request to live in Florida upon release he quipped that he’d stay in Nevada “but I don’t think you guys me around any more,” then laughed for a minute.

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Ryan Stewart starts weekly podcast July 20 at 1 p.m. on Spreaker

This was posted Thursday, July 20, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Ryan Stewart, formerly of the 2 Live Stews, has committed to a weekly hour-long Friday podcast at 1 p.m. starting today on Spreaker.

You can catch him here at 2LiveStewsradio.com live at 1 p.m. or on demand after the fact

The show will air beginning next week on Fridays at 1 p.m. (Ryan had a scheduling issue this week so he’s starting today instead.)

“I’m jumping in and having a little fun,” he said today before the show. “Getting a little taste will be good for my soul.”

His brother Doug, who joined him on his first show, has been doing a daily show on Spreaker since 2014.

The 2 Live Stews were hugely popular on 790/The Zone in the 2000s but their fortunes slipped after the Michael Vick dog fighting controversy and station management stripped down their show until they were off the air in 2012. Despite their prior popularity, terrestrial radio has never hired either of them full time back on air, not on 680/The Fan or 92.9/The Game. (The Zone has since died.)

Ryan has primarily focused on raising his two older sons and a daughter in recent years, proudly calling himself Mr. Mom. “My kids are starting school in August. My baby turns two next month. I’ll have a little more time to dedicate back to sports.”

He said he wants to start modestly with one hour a week and see how it goes from there. And he doesn’t preclude teaming up with his brother again at some point.

Ryan plans to have guests down the road. Already, friends in the NFL, NBA and MLB have been in contact with him since he made the announcement. And he plans to follow the Stews template of talking about whatever is hot that day, and it may not necessarily be sports.

“I’m very excited about what’s about to happen,” he said.

Although Doug regularly gets a respectable 1,000 to 3,000 listens a day on his daily podcast, he admitted last year that it’s a struggle to build audience. “It’s much harder to get people to listen than you imagine,” he said. “I think people are set in their ways listening to radio.”

Doug recently tried out for the open evening slot on the Game. That spot is still open since Mark Zinno left.

He started a subscription service for access to archives about five months ago at $4 a month. You can access his shows here.

He has added other talk show hosts on his network as well including Marcus Harper and Jeff Fox.

RELATED: My piece on podcasters includes a profile of Doug

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