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HULU AMPLIFIES GROWTH WITH ORIGINAL SERIES ORDERS, NEW CONTENT DEALS AND PREMIUM ADVERTISING INNOVATIONS AT 2017 UPFRONT PRESENTATION

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Today at the Hulu Upfront Presentation at Madison Square Garden Theater, Hulu announced a multitude of innovative advertising tools, original series orders and content licensing agreements, and reported significant audience growth to 47 million total unique viewers. Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins, SVP of Advertising Sales Peter Naylor and SVP and Head of Content Craig Erwich took the stage to unveil the company’s newest advances in technology, content and advertising, alongside Hulu Original Series talent including J.J. Abrams, Elisabeth Moss, Samira Wiley, Alexis Bledel, Sarah Silverman, Mindy Kaling, Jeff Daniels and Josh Hutcherson.

“As we expand our business to offer live TV, we’re also more than doubling our investment in original programming and exclusively licensed content to continue growing our premium streaming library,” said Hopkins. “Coupled with all of the new product and measurement solutions we’re offering advertisers, Hulu is delivering the most compelling, engaging and valuable TV experience to consumers and brands alike.”

Hulu’s 2017 Upfront announcements include:

Hulu Original Series The Handmaid’s Tale Renewed For Season Two

On the heels of its extraordinary week one premiere, Hulu is pleased to announce that it has picked up The Handmaid’s Tale for a second season, set to debut in 2018.

Based on the award-winning, best-selling novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale premiere has been watched by more Hulu viewers than any other series premiere – original or acquired – on the service, drawing acclaim from both fans and critics.

“The response we’ve seen to The Handmaid’s Tale in just one week since its premiere has been absolutely incredible. It has been an honor to work with this talented team of cast and creators to develop a series that has struck such a chord with audiences across the country,” said Erwich. “As we continue to expand our strong slate of original programming, The Handmaid’s Tale is exactly the type of gripping and thought-provoking storytelling we want to bring to viewers. We can’t wait to explore the world of Gilead and continue Margaret’s vision with another season on Hulu.”

The Handmaid’s Tale follows the story of life in the dystopia of Gilead, a totalitarian society in what was formerly part of the United States. The series is created, executive produced and written for television by Bruce Miller (THE 100), who serves as the series’ showrunner. The Handmaid’s Tale is executive produced by Miller, Warren Littlefield (FARGO), Daniel Wilson, Fran Sears and Ilene Chaiken. Margaret Atwood is a consulting producer for the series. The Handmaid’s Tale is produced by MGM Television and marks the first collaboration for an original series between Hulu and MGM.

Gripping Drama Series The First and Marvel’s Runaways Ordered to Series

Today, Hulu announced the addition of two new series to its slate of original programming.

The streaming service has picked up Marvel’s Runaways in its first series order with Marvel Television. The fan-favorite and groundbreaking comic book series will be brought to life on Hulu by the team behind The O.C. and Gossip Girl, Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage. Schwartz and Savage will serve as Co-Showrunners/writers and will executive produce the series along with Marvel’s, Jeph Loeb and Jim Chory.

Marvel’s Runaways is the story of six diverse teenagers who can barely stand each other but who must unite against a common foe – their parents. The popular classic explores the younger side of the Marvel Universe in a coming of age, new action series that will premiere on Hulu in the winter.

In addition, Hulu announced a straight-to-series order for The First (working title), a drama set in the near future about the first human mission to Mars. The series is created and written by Oscar, Emmy, Golden Globe, and BAFTA Award-nominated Beau Willimon (House of Cards, Ides of March), who also serves as executive producer alongside his producing partner Jordan Tappis.

The First explores the challenges of taking the first steps toward interplanetary colonization. “It’s a story about the human spirit,” said Willimon. “About our indomitable need to reach for unknown horizons. About people working toward the greatest pioneering achievement in human history. And about the cost of that vision, the danger and sacrifice – emotional, psychological, and physical – that’s required to achieve it. How ordinary, imperfect people band together and overcome a myriad of obstacles to grasp the extraordinary.”

The series will go into production later this year and is slated to premiere on Hulu in 2018. Westward Productions – founded by Willimon and Tappis – will own and produce THE FIRST. The series will be co-financed by Hulu, Channel 4 and IMG.

The First and Runaways join Hulu’s growing original programming slate, which includes The Handmaid’s Tale, The Looming Tower, Future Man, The Mindy Project, I Live You, America, National Treasue, Casual, The Path, Difficult People, Shut Eye and Chance.

Award Winning FX Series Atlanta To Stream Exclusively On Hulu

Today, Hulu also announced that it will be the exclusive subscription streaming home to FX’s award-winning, breakout freshman comedy series, Atlanta.

Following its critically-acclaimed first season on FX, Atlanta took home two 2017 Golden Globe Awards for Best TV Comedy series and Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy for star Donald Glover. The complete first season of the series will become available to stream exclusively on Hulu ahead of its second season premiere, slated for 2018 on FX, and subsequent seasons will become available to stream on Hulu following their run on FX.

Atlanta follows two cousins who work through the Atlanta music scene in order to better their lives and the lives of their families. The series stars Donald Glover, who also serves as Executive Producer, along with Paul Simms and Dianne McGunigle. Atlanta is produced by FX Productions.

The series comes to Hulu through a robust, multi-year output agreement with Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution that was first announced in December 2014. The landmark agreement granted Hulu the exclusive subscription video on-demand rights to FX Networks’ Original Series produced by FX Productions. In addition to Atlanta, the deal locked in the subscription video on-demand rights to popular series including You’re The Worst, Baskets and more.

Hulu and BrightLine Introduce First-of-Its-Kind T-Commerce Ad Unit

Hulu revealed that, in partnership with BrightLine, the market leader for advanced TV advertising, it is bringing the world of E-commerce into the living room where 75% of Hulu viewing takes place, with T-commerce.  Exclusive to Hulu at launch, BrightLine’s T-commerce ad unit will offer viewers the opportunity to engage directly inside a commercial with a personalized, location based overlay, where viewers can select a movie theater, time and purchase movie tickets all through their connected TV.

The announcement was made today by Hulu’s SVP of Advertising Sales, Peter Naylor, who also unveiled plans to enable capabilities for other brand categories such as retail, quick-service-restaurants (QSR), among others in 2018.

“With almost a decade of experience with advertising in the streaming space, no one is better positioned to help brands grow their business than Hulu,” said Naylor. “I’m proud to say that we’ve doubled down on our commitment to brands. From delivering a validated viewer measurement solution with Nielsen, to offering the first-of-its-kind interactive capability in the living room with BrightLine’s T-commerce ad unit, Hulu is now everything TV should be and everything advertising can and should be.”

Groundbreaking Measurement Solutions Including Hulu DAR and Sales Effectiveness Tools

Starting this fall, all Hulu advertisers will have access to a validated measurement solution across screens. In partnership with Nielsen, Hulu is extending Digital Ad Ratings (DAR) to the living room.  With more than 47 million total unique viewers, as measured by comScore — 32 million of which opt for ad-supported content — Hulu’s DAR solution brings accurate, holistic measurement to its advertising partners.

Through this solution, Hulu can now get complete measurement of viewership to streaming campaigns across all connected devices – all verified by a trusted third-party source.  Nielsen’s methodology will tag, collect and calibrate the data, leveraging Hulu’s robust first-party subscriber data and other third-party sources as the foundation for measurement. MAGNA, Horizon Media and GroupM are among the first agencies to adopt Hulu’s DAR solution a currency.

In addition, Hulu announced today it will begin to offer sales effectiveness measurement tools through two new partnerships with SambaTV, a leading provider of essential television insights, and Nielsen Catalina Solutions, a leading purchase-based ad targeting and return on ad spend measurement firm.  First, in partnership with SambaTV, Hulu will offer a solution for advertisers to measure the results of tune-in campaigns, as well as web-based conversion rates. And, as a certified partner for Nielsen Catalina Solutions Sales Effect solution, Hulu will also offer sales effectiveness measurement for consumer packaged goods (CPG) advertisers. Both partnerships are a part of Hulu’s larger initiative to help brands measure whether their products or services were sold based on an ad exposure on Hulu.

Live TV Advertising Opportunities for Brands

Following the official launch of its new, cutting-edge user experience and new live streaming service, Hulu’s SVP of Advertising Sales, Peter Naylor, announced that the new product will offer opportunities for advertisers and marketers, including dynamic ad insertion capabilities. The personalized new live streaming service will give brands the ability to reach audiences on cable networks for the two minutes of local breaks per hour.  And, in an effort to provide viewers with more timely and relevant ads, Hulu announced it will give advertisers access to the same two-minutes of inventory per hour of cable programming in the cloud DVR environment.

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‘Abigail’: Bite Me Harder Tiny Dancer

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A gang of misfit kidnappers find their tiny target far more bloodthirsty than they bargained for! 

So, unfortunately, the trailers gave it away and let’s be real that’s why most of us are here, the knowledge that the kidnap victim Abigail (Alisha Weir), codenamed by the would-be kidnappers appropriately as ‘tiny dancer’, is in fact, a vampire. Not a spoiler, point of fact, one of the film’s actual great selling points. And the reactions from the misfit club when faced with a real actual f*cking vampire, range hilariously from the blunt “no such thing as vampires” all the way to, “Are we talking True Blood or Twilight rules or what?” all while covered in buckets and buckets of blood. 

Anyway, the gang manages to subdue and abscond with the aforementioned Abigail, in a pre-prepared duffle bag, like you do, and converge to a new location, a house oddly similar to the one she was just taken from. Welcomed and given codenames by a man who introduces himself as Lambert (Giancarlo Esposito), our misfit club is told to simply hold down the fort in this strange old house with the girl chained up in a room and one person to attend her, for twenty-four hours, and they’ll all get paid. 

As inevitable as the tides, the dopey druggie Dean (Angus Cloud) is the first to die, and we’re going to give that death-style points for inspiring terror right off the bat. The very controlling Frank (Dan Stevens, holy crap yes that is the guy from FXs Legion) is also of course the most suspicious – of everyone around him, sure, but also he himself is totes sus. We don’t learn terribly much about the musclebound tank who gets dubbed Peter (Kevin Durand), he’s your pretty typical little-brains-heart-of-gold muscle-for-hire any proper gang needs, right down to the bottle problem. Sammy (Kathryn Newton), well, even for being a purported hacker-type, she has, like, reality issues. Rickles (William Catlett), he’s arguably the most dangerous among them, ex-military and yet somehow here and involved in kidnapping for a few mills. Joey (Melissa Barrera) is our Final Girl, and though she has the inevitable problems in her recent past, she seems more capable of doing the hard thing and still somehow empathizing at the end of the day. Must be her burning desire to get back with her son. 

The fit hits the shan pretty quickly, and Abigail morphs from tiny dancer to tiny monster, though honestly, the way Abigail spoke the entire time in the film, if the ‘nappers had been paying close enough attention, would have been a solid clue. The performance from Alisha Weir as Abigail is incredible, as she literally dances a fine line between comedy, tragedy, and outright monstrosity. With a face full of makeup and the force of a tiny tornado to back it up, Weir brings to mind the great performances of the vampires in 30 Days of Night who saw the practicality in the need to trap their food, but also, play with it a bit first before feasting! Anything else would give away the absolute fun time that is Abigail, so you should go see it, out in theaters now!

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Scrubs Reunion: The Band Gets Back Together

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Fans of the beloved medical comedy series Scrubs were recently treated to a thrilling surprise when John C. McGinley, who portrayed the iconic Dr. Perry Cox, dropped a photo on Twitter hinting at a potential reunion project. The image, showing McGinley alongside his former co-stars, sparked a wave of excitement and speculation among fans who have been longing for more adventures with the beloved Sacred Heart Hospital staff.

While details about the reunion project are still scarce, the mere possibility of seeing the gang back together again has sent waves of nostalgia through fans who fondly remember the show’s original run from 2001 to 2010. Scrubs was not just a sitcom; it was a heartfelt exploration of friendship, love, and the chaotic world of medicine, all wrapped up in a quirky and often hilarious package.

At the heart of the show was the bromance between JD (played by Zach Braff) and Turk (played by Donald Faison), whose antics and deep bond served as the emotional anchor for the series. Their dynamic, along with the sage wisdom (and relentless sarcasm) of Dr. Cox, provided viewers with memorable moments that have stood the test of time.

As we eagerly await more news about the Scrubs reunion project, one thing is for sure: it’s time to dust off those old DVDs, rewatch our favorite episodes, and get ready to welcome back our favorite gang of doctors, nurses, and janitors for what promises to be a memorable reunion.

But Scrubs was more than just its main characters. The supporting cast, including the eccentric Janitor (played by Neil Flynn), the neurotic Elliot (played by Sarah Chalke), and the wise-cracking nurse Carla (played by Judy Reyes), each brought their own unique flavor to the show, creating a rich tapestry of characters that fans grew to love.

While the photo shared by McGinley has fueled speculation about what the reunion project might entail, whether it’s a one-off special, a new season, or something else entirely, one thing is certain: fans are eagerly awaiting any opportunity to dive back into the world of Sacred Heart Hospital.

In an age where reboots and revivals are commonplace, Scrubs stands out as a series that has the potential to recapture the magic that made it a fan favorite in the first place. With its blend of humor, heart, and unforgettable characters, a reunion project has the opportunity to not only satisfy longtime fans but also introduce a new generation to the joys of life at Sacred Heart.

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‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’: Rebellion with a cause

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The story of the rise of Coriolanus Snow, from teenage Capital City pawn to rising Dictator of the Hunger Games! 

Apparently no one out here in post-apocalyptic Panem has heard of irony and so they name their children things like Coriolanus (Tom Blyth), Tigress, and further off in Hunger Games lore, after swamp plants like Katniss. Corio’s father was a legendary general and that is pretty much the only reason young Snow and his meager family of grandmother called Grandma’am (Fionnula Flanagan) and sister Tigress (Hunter Schafer) are tolerated here in the Capital City at all. 

Most of the snotty youngsters at the academy won’t let Snow forget how far his family has fallen, but he’s generally not concerned with them. What is concerning is the strong disapproval of the drugged-up Dean Casca Highbottom (Peter Dinklage) and the creepy attention of Dr. Volumnia Gaul (Viola Davis) as she lurks in the classroom sniffing out talent. The Dean feels very strongly the annual Hunger Games should end, while Gaul is violently adamant that not only do the Games continue, but that they get as much more attention as possible. And young Snow is stuck in the middle, when the yearly prize money normally awarded to the academy student with the best grades gets switched out for, you guessed it, the student that can make this years’ Hunger Games as entertaining as possible. 

Whilst the students are protesting this sudden change, the annual Reaping is about to commence, and big shock and surprise, Corio’s candidate from District 12 Lucy Grey Baird (Rachel Zegler) is chosen as a Tribute. This is where the film begins to really take off on musical wings, for as it turns out, Lucy Grey can sing. Boy, can that gal sing! She can sing, she can play guitar, she can work a crowd, she can calm things down, she can fire ‘em up too! And Corio, being no dummy himself, instantly plots ways to use his Tributes amazing voice to draw attention to her, and admittedly his own, plight! 

Though far too many people sneer at the idea, Corio takes his position as Mentor to his Tribute seriously enough to sneak onto the tram taking the Tributes to their habitat, which turns out to be a completely appropriate moniker, as this year the Tributes are held before the Hunger Games in a large zoo habitat so the weatherman ‘Lucky’ Flickerman (Jason Schwartzman), host of this years games, can MC the hell out of everything up close and personal! 

What happens at this years Hunger Games and the subsequent consequences to both Corio and Lucy Grey is actually only half the story, and the movie. Coriolanus has always had to be opportunistic, but learning to be absolutely ruthless when necessary under the tutelage of Dr. Gaul, who basically thinks it’s always best to be merciless, is an eye-opening education indeed.  Even after they’ve both been consigned to military service and his friend Sejanus Plinth (Josh Andres Rivera) decides to finally rebel, Corio and Sejanus continue to deceive each other and themselves, to accomplish their separate goals. Not even the love Corio swears he feels for Lucy Grey can save him, or them, from the adamant absolute necessity of the Hunger Games continuing. And after all that’s happened, Coriolanus Snow has gotten a terrific education in the best way to be the absolutely ruthless next Hunger Games advocate, and oh yeah, President of Panem. 

The movie does itself no favors by trying to stuff not one but two major storylines and a bunch of side storylines sadly introduced and then ignored, into the film. It would have been entirely possible to turn Ballads of Songbirds and Snakes into two different movies, separated between feathers and scales if you like, and do justice to the major storylines in both. Blyth gives a fine  performance as a young Coriolanus Snow, but the fact that President Snow is played by Donald Sutherland in all three of the Hunger Games films means Blyth has incredibly large shoes to fill. Rachel Zegler as Lucy Grey is absolute fire, and yes the actress did sing the songs in the film herself, including the Hunger Games franchise epic song, ‘The Hanging Tree’. Every time Lucy Grey opens her mouth and sheer soul-searing music comes out, it provides a distinct counterpoint to the soul-crushing ambition of Coriolanus Snow and further demonstrates the District and Caste separation Hunger Games is known for. And if, by the end of the film, Coriolanus Snow has come to agree that the Hunger Games must continue but perhaps under his own auspices, he has no one but himself to blame when another younger but still rebellious female blows it all up in his face! 

Choose rebellion or conformity for yourself in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

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