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Z on TV Critic David Zurawik writes about the business and culture of TV
'Inside Amy Schumer' even better in Season 3

Amy Schumer, who just might be the hottest comic in pop culture right now, returns for Season 3 tonight on Comedy Central with one of her strongest half hours yet.

Remember how good she and Baltimore's Josh Charles were last year as a pair of workers in fast food drive-thru restaurant.

They're back together in tonight's season opener in a parody of "Friday Night Lights." He's the driven young high school football coach, and she's his sexy, heavily-drinking wife with the worst Texas accent I ever heard. (I think she's trying to do "Gone With The Wind.")

Anyway, the sketch is not only funny and instantly engaging because of the talents of Schumer and Charles, it's really, really smart. The social commentary is sharp-edged and keenly-focused to a degree I can't remember seeing on her series.

The comic premise finds the new coach trying to build character by telling the boys on his team that rape is no longer allowed. His dictum not only angers the players, who think it's part of their entitlement...

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Amy Schumer renewed for fourth season on Comedy Central

With Season 3 starting tonight, Comedy Central today announced that "Inside Amy Schumer" has been renewed for a fourth season.

Schumer was already an important comedic voice by the start of Season 1, but the Towson University graduate has shot to the top of pop culture consciousness in recent months.

From the cover of Entertainment Weekly, to hosting the "MTV Movie Awards" and winning a Peabody Award, it seems as people are lining up to celebrate her work.

We have been writing about her a long time. Check out the galleries and related items. There is some good stuff there.

Season 3 "Inside Amy Schumer" premieres at 10:30 tonight with the first of 10 episodes this season.

 

 

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Cable TV shapes national perception of Freddie Gray's death

From Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake getting grilled on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" to CNN giving wall-to-wall coverage of an afternoon news conference, the story of Freddie Gray's death became a national TV story Monday.

And while city officials might have thought that conducting a news conference and releasing surveillance video would let them control the narrative, it was cable TV — through the use of video and still photography — that was shaping how the story and Baltimore's police-community relations would be seen nationally.

The 25-year-old Gray died Sunday after his arrest the weekend before. Driven by citizen-made cellphone video of the arrest that showed Gray seemingly unable to walk and onlookers angrily shouting at police as they dragged him into a van, the story had already sparked protests in Baltimore.

The chasm between what city officials were saying about their handling of Gray and what viewers were seeing was evident during CNN's coverage of the Baltimore news conference.

On...

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Despite lack of clarity, Freddie Gray video has real public opinion power

As legal evidence, the citizen-made, cell-phone video of the arrest of Freddie Gray has its problems.

It's shot from such a distance that it's hard to identify anyone definitely. And while you can hear screams of pain and anguish on the audio, it's hard to say exactly who they are coming from and how accurately they reflect what's happening to that individual.

And yet, while the video might not serve as great evidence in a court of law, it definitely has the potential to be highly potent in the court of public opinion.

In that regard, it might even come to have some of the same kind of power as the more-definitive citizen-made video of an unarmed Walter Scott being shot five times in the back by a white officer two weeks ago in South Carolina, and Eric Garner being brought down by police with a chokehold that led to his death in Staten Island last July.

I believe the Freddie Gray video is already playing a role in the protests in Baltimore over the weekend. For all the clarity it lacks,...

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Gary Cole on 'Veep' Season 4, loss of Armando Iannucci and more

Gary Cole joined the cast of "Veep" in Season 2 as a White House political strategist, who thought himself superior to the vice presidential team of Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus).

One of Meyer's aides called Cole's character, Kent Davidson, "the Pol Pot of pie charts." (You tell me what other American TV series would reference Pol Pot?)

This year, Selina's in the White House, and Davidson stands shoulder to shoulder with her other team members in their crazed attempts to stay ahead of the curve -- or, at least, within shouting distance of it.

Like most of the series regulars, Cole has a long and solid resume dating back to Steppenwolf Theatre, network mini-series like "Fatal Vision" and starring roles in such series as "Midnight Caller."

We talked last week about "Veep," HBO's Maryland-made political satire that airs Sunday nights at 10:30 on HBO.

Q. I've talked to Armando and Mike Walsh in recent weeks. But both were before the news that Armando is not coming back to the series he...

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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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