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Z on TV Critic David Zurawik writes about the business and culture of TV
Press must not let Jon Stewart back it off intense Hillary Clinton coverage

With the debut of Hillary Clinton’s best-new-image-money-can-buy video Sunday, it felt for the first time to me last week like the 2016 presidential campaign was seriously underway.

And already I am distressed by one major media aspect of it.

As soon as Jon Stewart ripped cable and network news on his Tuesday night show for giving what he saw as ridiculously over-the-top coverage to Clinton and her “road trip” stop in a Chipotle at the expense of GOP Senator Marco Rubio’s announcement of his candidacy, it seemed to instantly become the conventional social media wisdom.

And, as a result, you could see coverage getting less intense by the next day, with cable correspondents looking almost apologetic for doing their job in staying all over Clinton and her so-called “road trip” to meet “everyday people” in Iowa.

But Stewart was wrong about the Clinton coverage, and the press should not be insecure about chasing her Scooby Doo van down the road or showing overhead security-cam shots of her...

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Satirical knives ready to carve up presidential candidates

I was feeling pretty bad about the state of political satire on TV until I saw Kate McKinnon of "Saturday Night Live" mock Hillary Clinton last week on the eve of the former secretary of state's presidential announcement.

Practicing her announcement in front of a smartphone on the advice of an aide, McKinnon's Clinton looked into the lens with a mad glint in her eyes and said in a forced and scary voice, "Citizens, you will elect me — I will be your leader."

And that was supposed to be the new, friendlier Hillary showing that she understood she had to connect on a personal level with "everyday people" and "earn" the nomination one vote at a time in 2016

By the time Clinton's real, feel-good campaign-launch video debuted some 18 hours later, it was already undercut for millions of viewers who had seen "Saturday Night Live" — or the YouTube version of McKinnon's takedown of the candidate posted online or in social media.

Team Clinton should be afraid of McKinnon's Hillary — very afraid....

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Let's try for some perspective on Hillary's campaign ad

Now that Hillary Clinton’s campaign-launching video has run its one-day course of novelty and interest, maybe we can start to assess it with some perspective.

As media, it was a solid piece of feel-good political filmmaking. But it was nothing new or special despite Vox calling it “fascinating, bold filmmaking” in the headline for one of the sillier pieces of media analysis I have seen this year.

If you think “sillier” is too strong a word, check out the discussion in the piece about certain images being positioned slightly off center in the frame of Clinton’s video and the interpretation the reviewer offers for that.

The basic template for the message, tone and sensibility of Clinton’s “political campaign trailer,” to use Vox’s term, can be seen in 2009 ads done for American Express. Titled “Small Business Anthem,” the ads celebrate small business owners starting new shops and businesses in their communities.

The ads were intended as an antidote to the economic meltdown of 2008 that still...

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HBO renews 'Veep' for Season 5, but return to Maryland uncertain

HBO made it official Monday and renewed Maryland-made "Veep" for a fifth season. But a return to Maryland is not guaranteed, a spokeswoman for the channel said today.

That's because creator Armando Iannucci is leaving the series and a new showrunner, David Mandel, a writer and director of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," will be taking over. (Read that here.)

Since showrunners are responsible for getting series made and delivered to an outlet like HBO for distribution, they sometimes have the power to say where the series will be produced.

A decision on where the series will be made is expected shortly, according to HBO.

With an infrastructure in place in Maryland, a return makes sense. But it is not guaranteed with Iannucci leaving.

HBO Monday also renewed "Silicon Valley" for a third season.

Here's the release:

             HBO has renewed the comedy series VEEP for a fifth season and SILICON VALLEY for a third season, it was announced today by Michael Lombardo, president, HBO Programming.

           ...

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'Undisclosed' podcast episode 1 recap: Recording reveals discrepancies, but don't expect 'Serial'

"Undisclosed" is not "Serial."

The three lawyers behind "Undisclosed: The State vs. Adnan Syed" make this clear in the first moments of the new podcast. 

There's no catchy theme music.  No whimsical asides from Sarah Koenig, creator of the breakaway hit "Serial."  Not even an ad for MailChimp.

"We like getting into the weeds and we plan on taking you with us," attorney Rabia Chaudry says early in the 45-minute episode. "This will not be a beautifully crafted narrative like 'Serial.'"

What "Undisclosed" offers is what lawyers do best -- a precise analysis of the myriad legal issues surrounding the case. And on Monday, it debuted at No. 3 on the iOs Podcast app's top audio chart.

It's financed by the Adnan Syed Trust, a legal fund created by those who believe the former Woodlawn High School student is not guilty of the 1999 murder of his ex-girlfriend and classmate, Hae Min Lee. Syed was convicted and sentenced to life plus 30 years; he hopes to appeal his conviction.

Chaudry, a national...

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S. Carolina cell phone video and '60s civil rights TV news coverage

Are the citizen-made cell phone videos of unarmed African-Americans dying at the hands of white police officers today's equivalent of the evening newscast images of civil rights protests in the South in the 1960s?

I think in some ways they might be. And I wonder if  they could come to have as a profound an effect on the national conscience as those CBS and NBC evening newscast images of Southern police officers attacking civil rights marchers with dogs and firehoses in 1960s did.

That's part of the context in which we talked Sunday morning on "Media Buzz" about the video that surfaced last week of an unarmed black man being shot five times in the back by a white police officer.

Check out the docussion in the accompanying video.

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