IFC Renews ‘Brockmire’ For Two Seasons, Touts 2019 Return Of ‘Documentary Now’

IFC has renewed Brockmire, its baseball-announcer spoof starring Hank Azaria, for two more seasons and also plans a third season of Documentary Now! in 2019
The news came during the network’s upfront presentation, which was held in a downstairs room at Manhattan restaurant Upland. Although quarters were tight, the turnout was good. Among the 50 or so attendees were AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan and COO Ed Carroll, IFC president Jennifer Caserta, Azaria, Seth Meyers and the…

IFC has renewed Brockmire, its baseball-announcer spoof starring Hank Azaria, for two more seasons and also plans a third season of Documentary Now! in 2019 The news came during the network’s upfront presentation, which was held in a downstairs room at Manhattan restaurant Upland. Although quarters were tight, the turnout was good. Among the 50 or so attendees were AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan and COO Ed Carroll, IFC president Jennifer Caserta, Azaria, Seth Meyers and the…

What I Learned at TheWrap’s BE Conference on Mentorship

I’ve come away from TheWrap’s second conference to mentor millennial women in entertainment and media hugely inspired, and more convinced than ever that we are in the midst of real change on behalf of women’s leadership.

We were 250 millennials and about 30 mentors digging deep into what holds women back from success and what keeps them from being their best, and hearing from some of those who have overcome obstacles to achieve incredible things. Looking back on the experience, here are the lessons I learned.

  1. Things worth doing are tough. The fear will be there. Do it anyway.

Across the dozen or so keynotes and panels, there was a common thread: Everybody feels fear when facing challenges. Even the former sheriff of Dallas County, Lupe Valdez, who is now the first female, Latina, gay person to run for Governor of Texas.

Also Read: NYC Public Advocate Letitia James Calls on Women to Challenge ‘Pale, Male and Stale’ Pols for Office

Valdez was the daughter of farm workers, and now at age 70, she said she decided to run for governor despite the odds stacked against her and the lack of historical precedent. Throughout her life in public service people were “mean, hateful and conniving” and she would go home and cry, she said. And then she’d get up the next day and do it again.

Or as New York City Public Advocate Letitia James put it in her one-on-one interview: “Don’t be paralyzed by fear. Put your high heels on, turn your red bottoms up, and just go seize it. I don’t want to quote rap right now, but I ‘started from the bottom, now I’m here.’”

If you ask me, James — someone who probably inspires fear in her political adversaries — is calling it like it is: “We have too many men in Congress who are pale, male and stale,” she said. “It’s time to change that.”

  1. #MeToo happened to Rachel Bloom.

I expected to have a fun, smart conversation with “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” star and co-creator Rachel Bloom about blazing a trail in comedy with the show that combines musical theater with her particularly dark strain of funny. Instead, Rachel came ready to call out two men she says sexually harassed her a decade ago. The men had been her mentors when she was at college at New York University, but instead wanted to sleep with her. Except Bloom put it more bluntly, a whole bunch of times. (That girl is an excellent curser.)

Also Read: Rachel Bloom Had a #MeToo Moment With NYU Comedy Group: ‘Almost Ruined College for Me’ (Video)

It took the #MeToo movement for her to realize that what she experienced at age 19 was in fact harassment. At the time it was Bloom, not the men, who paid the price; she was removed as the head of the Tisch sketch comedy group she was part of, while the men went on to become widely known in the comedy world today. (She chose not to name them. We can wonder… or we can Google her year at Tisch.)

Bloom said she finally called the other men in the troupe just last week, and confronted them about this. To their credit, she said, they immediately copped to the situation and apologized.

Bloom also did not name an executive at CBS – home of her CW network – who inappropriately touches her even now. Bloom said that when this happens at cocktail parties, she shrinks inside.

“I am outspoken. I talk about my period & my vagina. But then a guy gets too handsy and I go into shame mode! That has to change for us all.” says hella funny, fierce #RachelBloom @Racheldoesstuff in chat w/ @sharonwaxman @TheWrap #BeInAustin pic.twitter.com/uvfBGXvTjH

— ClaudiaCarasso-ElasticMinds (@ElasticMindsCRC) March 12, 2018

Point is: even a successful, ballsy broad like Rachel Bloom questions herself when she feels boundaries are overstepped, instead of calling out the man in question.

  1. Lean on other women. There is strength in sisterhood. And sometimes, a career.

We also had three incredible women from the Baroness von Sketch Show, who recounted that they were, individually, destitute and down to their last dime(s) before their comedy troupe came together five years ago.

‘Baroness von Sketch Show’ Star @MeredithMacNeill Tells Millennials: ‘Own Who You Are’ (Video) https://t.co/QDojD24tTB pic.twitter.com/N8rdKqPS6d

— TheWrap (@TheWrap) March 13, 2018

Jennifer Whalen said she had a great career when she was in her 20s and early 30s as a comedy writer, and the guys thought she was cute. They didn’t think she was cute after she turned 40, and no longer wanted her in the writer’s room.

But when she met Carolyn Taylor, Meredith MacNeill and Aurora Browne, the Baronesses von Sketch were born.

Two brave survivors of Harvey Weinstein attacks, Jessica Barth and Sarah Ann Masse, were also present to share their truths, and to counsel other women about how to prevent the experiences they had in Hollywood.

Also Read: Paradigm Agent Ellen Gilbert: My Job Is to Protect Clients From Predators (Video)

We talked about confidence, and body image, and how to build an empire as an entrepreneur. We talked about marketing and Matt Lauer with Katie Couric. We talked about political activism. (Choice line from LA Women’s March organizer Emiliana Guereca, when critics called her march a “bitchfest”: “So,” she shot back, “Are you coming?”) We learned to reach for the stars with NASA astrophysicist Andrea Razzaghi, and to listen quietly to the beauty that makes up the gift of sound with Dolby chief scientist Poppy Crum.

“Be comfortable being lonely in your ideas,” says @Dolby Poppy Crum at #BEConference @sxsw @thewrap pic.twitter.com/5B0huO7W8y

— Sharon Waxman (@sharonwaxman) March 12, 2018

LA women’s march founder @EmilianaGuereca recruited pple who called her a “bitch”: “so are you coming?” #BEConference pic.twitter.com/iLuyCatfo6

— Sharon Waxman (@sharonwaxman) March 12, 2018

Here’s what else I learned: the rising millennials are full of ambition and smarts. They are eager to learn and they want mentors.

Here’s some of the coverage, and I invite you to read it and get inspired too.

Related stories from TheWrap:

The Scene at TheWrap’s Power Women Breakfast Austin 2018 (Photos)

Lili Reinhart Calls Out Cosmo Philippines for Photoshopping Her on International Women’s Day

‘Jessica Jones’ Costume Designer Says #MeToo Movement Supports ‘Women Dressing for Women’

NY Times Belatedly Publishes Obits of Sylvia Plath, Charlotte Brontë and Other Women It Ignored at the Time

I’ve come away from TheWrap’s second conference to mentor millennial women in entertainment and media hugely inspired, and more convinced than ever that we are in the midst of real change on behalf of women’s leadership.

We were 250 millennials and about 30 mentors digging deep into what holds women back from success and what keeps them from being their best, and hearing from some of those who have overcome obstacles to achieve incredible things. Looking back on the experience, here are the lessons I learned.

  1. Things worth doing are tough. The fear will be there. Do it anyway.

Across the dozen or so keynotes and panels, there was a common thread: Everybody feels fear when facing challenges. Even the former sheriff of Dallas County, Lupe Valdez, who is now the first female, Latina, gay person to run for Governor of Texas.

Valdez was the daughter of farm workers, and now at age 70, she said she decided to run for governor despite the odds stacked against her and the lack of historical precedent. Throughout her life in public service people were “mean, hateful and conniving” and she would go home and cry, she said. And then she’d get up the next day and do it again.

Or as New York City Public Advocate Letitia James put it in her one-on-one interview: “Don’t be paralyzed by fear. Put your high heels on, turn your red bottoms up, and just go seize it. I don’t want to quote rap right now, but I ‘started from the bottom, now I’m here.'”

If you ask me, James — someone who probably inspires fear in her political adversaries — is calling it like it is: “We have too many men in Congress who are pale, male and stale,” she said. “It’s time to change that.”

  1. #MeToo happened to Rachel Bloom.

I expected to have a fun, smart conversation with “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” star and co-creator Rachel Bloom about blazing a trail in comedy with the show that combines musical theater with her particularly dark strain of funny. Instead, Rachel came ready to call out two men she says sexually harassed her a decade ago. The men had been her mentors when she was at college at New York University, but instead wanted to sleep with her. Except Bloom put it more bluntly, a whole bunch of times. (That girl is an excellent curser.)

It took the #MeToo movement for her to realize that what she experienced at age 19 was in fact harassment. At the time it was Bloom, not the men, who paid the price; she was removed as the head of the Tisch sketch comedy group she was part of, while the men went on to become widely known in the comedy world today. (She chose not to name them. We can wonder… or we can Google her year at Tisch.)

Bloom said she finally called the other men in the troupe just last week, and confronted them about this. To their credit, she said, they immediately copped to the situation and apologized.

Bloom also did not name an executive at CBS – home of her CW network – who inappropriately touches her even now. Bloom said that when this happens at cocktail parties, she shrinks inside.

Point is: even a successful, ballsy broad like Rachel Bloom questions herself when she feels boundaries are overstepped, instead of calling out the man in question.

  1. Lean on other women. There is strength in sisterhood. And sometimes, a career.

We also had three incredible women from the Baroness von Sketch Show, who recounted that they were, individually, destitute and down to their last dime(s) before their comedy troupe came together five years ago.

Jennifer Whalen said she had a great career when she was in her 20s and early 30s as a comedy writer, and the guys thought she was cute. They didn’t think she was cute after she turned 40, and no longer wanted her in the writer’s room.

But when she met Carolyn Taylor, Meredith MacNeill and Aurora Browne, the Baronesses von Sketch were born.

Two brave survivors of Harvey Weinstein attacks, Jessica Barth and Sarah Ann Masse, were also present to share their truths, and to counsel other women about how to prevent the experiences they had in Hollywood.

We talked about confidence, and body image, and how to build an empire as an entrepreneur. We talked about marketing and Matt Lauer with Katie Couric. We talked about political activism. (Choice line from LA Women’s March organizer Emiliana Guereca, when critics called her march a “bitchfest”: “So,” she shot back, “Are you coming?”) We learned to reach for the stars with NASA astrophysicist Andrea Razzaghi, and to listen quietly to the beauty that makes up the gift of sound with Dolby chief scientist Poppy Crum.

Here’s what else I learned: the rising millennials are full of ambition and smarts. They are eager to learn and they want mentors.

Here’s some of the coverage, and I invite you to read it and get inspired too.

Related stories from TheWrap:

The Scene at TheWrap's Power Women Breakfast Austin 2018 (Photos)

Lili Reinhart Calls Out Cosmo Philippines for Photoshopping Her on International Women's Day

'Jessica Jones' Costume Designer Says #MeToo Movement Supports 'Women Dressing for Women'

NY Times Belatedly Publishes Obits of Sylvia Plath, Charlotte Brontë and Other Women It Ignored at the Time

‘Baroness Von Sketch Show’ Is the Best Sketch Show on American TV, and It Was Made by Four Canadian Women Over Forty

With Reggie Watts and Tegan and Sara as fans, the creators behind the hit Canadian sketch show shared their lessons for great comedy writing.

For too long, American sketch comedy has been so dominated by “Saturday Night Live” that any other attempts at the form have seemed futile. The trick to not competing directly with the NBC behemoth seems to be to addressing a niche audience that is sorely underserved by the mainstream, such as Comedy Central’s “Key and Peele,” IFC’s “Portlandia,” and now, the brilliant “Baroness Von Sketch Show,” also on IFC. The network bought the series from the CBC, and has been airing the first two seasons for American audiences who are hungry for something different.

Now in the middle of its IFC run, “Baroness Von Sketch Show” is written and performed by Aurora Browne, Meredith MacNeill, Carolyn Taylor, and Jennifer Whalen. Browne, Taylor, and Whalen met at Second City in Toronto, and MacNeill is a classically trained actor who came to comedy after studying at RADA. While the show has a decidedly woman-centric bent, the comedy does not feel solely driven by a desire to say something feminist — no subject matter is off limits. “The show draws from [feminism], but it doesn’t lean on it,” Reggie Watts, an early supporter who makes a guest appearance in Season 2, once told the women.

“Baroness” has many high profile fans, including Watts, Canadian pop duo Tegan and Sara, and “Orange is the New Black” star Lea Delaria. Most of the hype surrounding the show came from sketches circulating online, whether about a queer theory reading group and the clueless girlfriend using patriarchal terms, or a group of moms one-upping each other over whose baby has the most interesting name.

By covering topics they cared about and drawing on years of experience writing and performing comedy, the “Baroness” crew created a hilarious and fresh perspective that spoke to enough people to land them a deal with IFC. Here’s a look at how they did it.

Create your own work.

“The nice thing about being in your forties and having a career behind you is you realize there are no rules. You might as well do what you want, and you might as well create your own work because it’s the kind of business where no one is going to do it for you,” said Whalen. “We’re in a fortunate position that we wear so many hats. We’re involved in front of the camera and behind the camera, so we can see our vision through and we can write ourselves parts that nobody else would. It’s empowering, because we’re not waiting for the phone to ring.”

Whalen acknowledged that it’s rare to have so much creative control, especially as women of a certain age. “Once you hit your forties as a woman, your options start to dry up in the entertainment field.” Still, she found it liberating. “You realize ‘hey, nobody has done this,’ so we get to do whatever we want.”

Whalen recalls seeing a sketch she wrote fall flat because of a questionable costuming choice, or bad casting. On “Baroness,” the core crew controls every aspect. “When we built the show, we also built in a strategy that we knew for us and the show we wanted to create, we needed as much creative control as possible,” MacNeill said. They pitched the CBC knowing they could fill a void in the programming, and that they were the best people to provide it. “We knew that as artists in our forties, to get the project we wanted, we needed to come up with a strategy to be on both sides of the camera.”

Craft is king.

When asked how the show would have been different if they had made it when they were in their twenties, Browne said that “it wouldn’t have been as good. You hone your craft. All the stuff we went through at Second City, and every minute we’ve ever logged on stage doing improv or sketch goes into it.”

Taylor agreed. “How to structure a scene, how to do the bits, how to trim the unnecessary bits. Structure is something you just learn from honing the craft over many years,” she said.

“Baroness Von Sketch Show”

YouTube

Brevity is (still) the soul of wit.

“When we put this show together, the goal was for the whole episode to feel like a mix tape and draw you in,” said MacNeill. “We fell in love with the idea of a blackout. Sometimes that’s all you need, just get in and get the fuck out.”

A blackout, Whalen explained, is a Second City term for a short scene that serves two purposes: “It is a transition between scenes, but it also helped get a solid laugh. It keeps the energy up and the audience with you.” The show employs these at the beginning of each episode. Highlights include the very literal interpretation of “F*ck, Marry, Kill,” and a scene where MacNeill plays a pregnant woman and Browne asks if she can “have a feel” (not the stomach).

“Sometimes you have a scene, and you look at it and you’re like, ‘the thing that really sings is this one particular joke.’ I think we’re really good at saying, ‘let’s just do that joke to the best of our ability,'” said Whalen.

“It’s like the rhythm of life. It makes sense to get in and get out, because that’s what happens in real life, too,” MacNeill added. “Some moments can be extended, but if you milk it’s just not true anymore.”

Write what matters to you.

“We didn’t sit down and say, we’re only going to write about certain topics,” said Browne. “But there’s this whole area where there’s not a lot of people out in this neck of the woods, so hooray, we’ll happily explore this part of life for people.”

A lot of the comes from its majority female writers’ room, and a comedy philosophy that uses specificity to be universal. “We try to come from a place of truth with our work. If you make the interpersonal dynamic relatable then you can kind of cover any topic that you find of interest,” said Taylor.

“In any good film or good art, the more specific and truthful it is to that creator’s truth, the more universal it seems to be, and that does seem to be working for us here. We try and be really rigorous about that,” said Taylor.

“We write about what matters to us,” Browne added. “It’s exciting to get to do something really intellectual, or something about lighting farts on fire.”

Baroness Von Sketch Show” airs Wednesdays on IFC.