Credit: NBC

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 283 - Upfronts 2015

Dan and Alan go through all of the TV news from Upfronts Week 2015


Happy Friday, Boys & Girls!

It's time for an All-Upfronts Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.

Our first podcast this week was a Skype nightmare, but this was much smoother other than both of us being a bit under the weather at the end of a long week of programming insanity. 

Still, we spent a long time talking about this week's various bits and pieces of upfronts-related TV news, talking about the new schedules and new programming on, in order, NBC, FOX, ABC, CBS and The CW.

Next week we'll do our "Mad Men" Finale podcast and we'll also probably do a finale roundup podcast talking at a handful of other network finales that we happen to have watched. 

That makes today's breakdown pretty simple:
Upfronts 2015 (00:00:00 - 01:24:50)

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed or subscribe on IHeartRadio.] 


And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.

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'Amazing Race' Finale Exclusive: Soaring through Cowboy Stadium for a million bucks

'Amazing Race' Finale Exclusive: Soaring through Cowboy Stadium for a million bucks

Four teams are heading to Dallas for tonight's 'Amazing Race' finale

Season 26 of "The Amazing Race" wraps up on Friday (May 15) night with an episode that takes the four remaining teams from Peru to Dallas for that climactic rush to Phil Keoghan at the mat.

Yes, for the second straight season, it's a Top 4 in the "Amazing Race" finale, as Mike & Rochelle were saved from elimination at the end of last week's episode, but they've been told that one team will be sent home during this closing Leg.

This season's twist has been the introduction of a quintet of pairs featuring strangers on a hypothetical blind date around the world. 

Has that twist worked? Well, it depends on how you look at things.

Of the four remaining teams, only Mike & Rochelle were dating previously and they've been quantifiably the weakest of the last quartet. They're going up against Laura & Tyler, Jelani & Jenny and Hayley & Blair, all "blind-dating" couples, though there have been no demonstrable indications of romance from any of those pairs.

So do we think that the 75 percent Top 4 representation of blind daters is a validation of the idea that strangers can concentrate only on The Race and not on established dynamics and that that's a good way of racing? Or is it a validation of the idea that all three groups of blind daters are composed of young, in-shape competitors with solid intellectual backgrounds, including two layers and a doctor-nurse duo?

We'll see who comes out on top in tonight's "Amazing Race" finale in a few hours, but first, check out this exclusive clip from tonight's episode featuring what appears to be a genuinely nutty Roadblock hoisting competitors to the top of Dallas Cowboys stadium (AT&T Stadium, if you happen to prefer branding). It looks both nauseating and kinda awesome.

Watch the clip above. And check back later for HitFix's recap of the finale.

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<p>&quot;The Mindy Project&quot;</p>

"The Mindy Project"

Credit: FOX

Hulu rescues 'The Mindy Project' for Season 4

Deal is for 26 more episodes, plus the possibility of additional seasons

Cancelled by FOX over a week ago, "The Mindy Project" has been scooped up by Hulu for Season 4.

While initial reports had Universal TV and Hulu negotiating for a multi-season renewal, the actual deal announced on Friday (May 15) is somewhere in-between. 

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<p>&quot;The Vampire Diaries&quot; S6 finale</p>

"The Vampire Diaries" S6 finale

Credit: The CW

TV Ratings: 'Vampire Diaries' among finale risers as ABC, CBS split Thursday

'Wayward Pines' premieres below the fall 'Gracepoint' launch

Fast National ratings for Thursday, May 14, 2015.

A trio of "Big Bang Theory" repeats kept CBS atop the Thursday ratings race overall, while finales for "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal" didn't get much of a boost for ABC, but still led the network to victory in the key demo. 

The "Scandal" finale rose 0.1 in the key demo, the same bump for finales of "The Blacklist," "Elementary" and "Reign."

Trying to carve out a niche against those ABC and NBC finales, FOX's "Wayward Pines" had a premiere that came in below the fall numbers for the launch of "Gracepoint," though a truer test on this one will come with less competition next week. "Wayward Pines" did equal its "Bones" lead-in in the key demo, something "Gracepoint" couldn't say with a much stronger "Bones" lead-in performance.

Let's get to the numbers...

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<p>Rachel McAdams of &quot;True Detective&quot; Season 2</p>

Rachel McAdams of "True Detective" Season 2

Credit: HBO

New 'True Detective' Season 2 trailer finally gives us Nic Pizzolatto dialogue

That first trailer for "True Detective" gave us all of the scowling, urban mood poetry and Colin Farrell mustache we could ever want, but it was still somewhat disappointing to try to reimmerse ourselves in Nic Pizzolatto's world without being properly reminded of what sort of circle time was.

Fortunately, the second "True Detective" trailer features dialogue and it's as Pizzolattoish -- Pizzolatto-esque? Pizzolatto-y? -- as you could possibly hope for.

Not only have we been granted more of Vince Vaughn's furrowed brow more of Farrell's mustache and graying temples and more of Taylor Kitsch's cheekbones, which could be used as a handy tool for breaking and entering, but we also get pearls of wisdom like:

"Sometimes your worst self is your best self."

And also:

"My strong suspicion is we get the world we deserve."

Interestingly, Rachel McAdams' Ani Bezzerides doesn't get to muse on the nature of the world or self. She actually has the first trailered hints of the Season 2 plot as she gets stabby and sad about a missing girl and general apathy.

Check out the trailer:

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<p>Terrence Howard and Matt Dillon of &quot;Wayward Pines&quot;</p>

Terrence Howard and Matt Dillon of "Wayward Pines"

Credit: FOX

'Wayward Pines' showrunner Chad Hodge on building paranoia and offering 'The Truth'

'Playboy Club' veteran discusses adapting Blake Crouch's novels for FOX

TV audiences crave answers and there's nothing dedicated viewers fear more than mythology-driven series that threaten to stretch out mysteries indefinitely or, alternatively, run the risk of getting cancelled without ever revealing the truth.

FOX's new drama "Wayward Pines" is definitely heavy on mystery. Secret Service Agent Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon) checks into a small Idaho town on an investigation and soon begins to realize that very little in Wayward Pines is what it seems to be. So what makes Wayward Pines unusual? What secrets are the residents harboring? And who knows these answers?

Well, one person who knows the answers is "Wayward Pines" showrunner Chad Hodge, who created The CW's "Runaway" and NBC's "Playboy Club" before discovering Blake Crouch's book and adapting it on spec as a potential 10-episode story back in 2013, before "Fargo" and "True Detective" made everybody in TV giddy on the event series model.

So Hodge knows where "Wayward Pines" is going and when I talked to Hodge about "Wayward Pines," I knew most of where the show was going, having read all but the last third of Crouch's third and final book in the trilogy. [I finished the third book a day later.] And while we couldn't talk about specifics, one thing we did talk about is the need to give viewers specifics and the fact that the season's fifth episode is very fittingly titled "The Truth." See, what's actually happening in "Wayward Pines" is a twist, but Hodge makes it clear it's not the totality of what the series is about. Getting answers is one thing, but how the characters respond to those answers becomes the second half of "Wayward Pines."

Although there's been a knee-jerk desire to compare "Wayward Pines" to "Twin Peaks," Hodge talks about his own inspirations, particularly Crouch's books and the challenges offered by this adaptation. He talks about using the limited model to get ahead on writing and how that helped with casting, plus the advantages of finishing shooting a year ago, including the serendipity of having shot with Terrence Howard before "Empire" and premiering after.

I'm looking forward to talking to Hodge in detail about some of the twists and turns and "The Truth" after it unfolds, but this is a largely spoiler free interview about the process of building paranoia and offering answers...

Give it a read before "Wayward Pines" premieres on FOX on Thursday, May 14...

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<p>Steven Tyler and Jax perform at the &quot;American Idol&quot; finale</p>

Steven Tyler and Jax perform at the "American Idol" finale

Credit: FOX

TV Ratings: 'American Idol' finale gives FOX a narrow overall Wednesday win

ABC still wins the key demo with 'Modern Family' and the 'Goldbergs' finale

Fast National ratings for Wednesday, May 13, 2015.

Once guaranteed to be one of the top entertainment broadcasts of the entire season, Wednesday's "American Idol" Season 14 finale gave FOX a slim overall win, but finished behind five other shows for the night in the key demographic.

"Idol" used to be an unstoppable juggernaut among young women in particular, but Wednesday's finale finished eighth for the night among women 18-49 and ninth among women 18-34.

The week-to-week finale bump for "American Idol" was a 0.1 in the key demo.

Keep in mind, though, that the "Idol" finale extended six minutes into the 10 p.m. hour, which isn't counted here. 

There was better news for NBC's "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" and "Chicago PD," which both rose week-to-week, and for ABC's "The Goldbergs" finale, which was also up. Penultimate episodes for "Modern Family" and "Black-ish," however, were down.

Let's get to the numbers...

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<p>Jessica Chastain of &quot;Crimson Peak&quot;</p>

Jessica Chastain of "Crimson Peak"

Credit: Universal

Jessica Chastain thinks dark thoughts, makes beautiful music on the set of 'Crimson Peak'

The Oscar nominee could have played either role for Guillermo del Toro

TORONTO, ONTARIO. Deeply immersed in character, many actors are uncomfortable having even brief conversations when reporters drop by their sets. This goes double or triple when the thespians are playing dark roles, twisty roles, roles that require tapping into wounded places in their psyches.

It's mid-March 2014 on the set of Guillermo del Toro's "Crimson Peak" and Jessica Chastain is wrapping a candid conversation with a dozen reporters by giving a concert in her trailer. 

The keyboard sitting against one wall in the trailer spawns a question about whether or not Chastain's character, sporting the impeccably Victorian name of Lady Lucille Sharpe, plays the piano, but it's Chastain who volunteers to tickle the synthetic ivories. 

"Have you guys heard the lullaby?" Chastain asks without hesitation. We have not, of course. "Crimson Peak" is over a year away from an October 16, 2015 release date and neither images nor a trailer have been released yet. 

"Do you guys want to hear it?" She asks, even more eagerly.

A minute later after we've all rotated and gathered around Chastain and uncertainty sets in.

"You guys, I get really nervous. I'm going to mess up, probably," she warns us.

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Tom Hiddleston teases kink, creepiness and complexity on the set of 'Crimson Peak'
Credit: Legendary Pictures

Tom Hiddleston teases kink, creepiness and complexity on the set of 'Crimson Peak'

'Thor' veteran calls Guillermo del Toro a Giant Mexican Bear of Passion and Warmth

TORONTO, ONTARIO. As you've discovered if you've ever sent out a tweet containing the word "Hiddleston," the "Thor" star and British Shakespeare veteran has a legion of passionate fans.

On Guillermo del Toro's upcoming Victorian haunted house drama "Crimson Peak," Hiddleston was a late arrival, stepping in for one of the few actors capable of engendering comparable levels of online hyperventilation, Benedict Cumberbatch.

For Hiddleston, there was no hesitation when first his agent, then del Toro, then Jessica Chastain all called to woo him to play Sir Thomas Sharpe, a fading British aristocrat who brings his new American bride Edith (Mia Wasikowska) home to his familial estate as part of an attempt to reboot his fortunes, setting in motion initially creepy and eventually terrifying happenings.

"[T]here was no possible way I was going to say no," Hiddleston laughs, sitting in a prop warehouse near the Toronto sound stages housing the massive "Crimson Peak" sets in March 2014. "Working with Guillermo, who I’ve admired for so long, and the script itself was just brilliant. The screenplay was captivating and rich and sophisticated and terrifying. And the role was amazing and different from anything else I’d done. It was a very, very quick yes after that."

It should be no surprise that Cambridge-educated Hiddleston gives one of the best descriptions I've ever heard for his personable, larger-than-life director.

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<p>&quot;DC&#39;s Legends of Tomorrow&quot;</p>

"DC's Legends of Tomorrow"

Credit: The CW

CW chief talks 'Constantine' rumors, 'Legends of Tomorrow' and '100' plans

Mark Pedowitz also weighed in on the future of 'Supernatural' and more

Shortly after The CW announced its 2015-16 schedule absurdly early on Thursday (May 14) morning, CW President Mark Pedowitz took 20 minutes of questions from reporters about what is and isn't on the network's roster. 

The CW's fall features three hours of DC Comics-related programming -- if you include "iZombie" -- but several early queries related to things that aren't on the schedule, at least not yet.

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