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The Watchman: HBO's Chairwomen of the Boards, Amazon Uploads Greg Daniels Series

Chairwomen of the Boards on HBO

Betty, inspired by Crystal Moselle’s skateboarding film Skate Kitchen, starts on HBO May 1. Betty follows a diverse group of young women in New York, holding their own in the male-dominated world of skateboarding.

When HBO approached Moselle about a series, she said she was a bit burned out. But she spoke with the young ladies profiled in the film and realized there were new places to go. “There were stories we could tell — stories that need to be out there,” Moselle said.

Moselle learned a lot from the skaters she got to know. “They make space for [other] women, instead of keeping it for themselves,” she said.

You may have seen the Moselle film The Wolfpack, about seven siblings who are confined to their New York apartment by their father, and cope by watching, and re-enacting, their favorite movies, including various Tarantino films. Some of the Angulo family members from that documentary work on Betty, running cameras and standing in as extras.

Moselle said she gets on a skateboard now and then, but those days are mostly done. “I’m past that time of my life,” she said.

Dede Lovelace, Moonbear, Nina Moran, Ajani Russell and Rachelle Vinberg are in the cast of Betty. According to Moselle, “the story wasn’t over yet.”

Amazon Uploads New Greg Daniels Series

On May 1, comedy Upload starts on Amazon Prime Video. It comes from Greg Daniels, mastermind behind The Office and Parks and Recreation, and it’s a quirky series. Set in the near future, a young guy is in a self-driving car wreck and chooses his virtual afterlife destination. While there, he gets friendly with his customer service “angel” back on Earth. Robbie Amell plays Nathan, and Andy Allo plays the angel Nora.

Daniels noted how new technologies often arrive as celebrated game-changers. But over time, their unpleasant “side effects,” he said, turn up. Daniels set Upload in the near future 

because he said that epoch hasn’t really been mined for comedy quite yet.

Influences on the project for Daniels include the Spike Jonze film Her, Jim Carrey’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and British fantasy Truly, Madly, Deeply.

The idea was first hatched way back when Daniels was working at Saturday Night Live. Thinking it was too sci-fi for a skit, he started it as a short story, and then a novel. “I wanted to feel more like a traditional writer who wrote prose,” he said.

It ends up a TV series in 2020. Daniels depicts the afterlife as a place melding beauty and aggravation. “It’s not a dystopian future and it’s not a utopian future,” Daniels said he would tell the crew. “It’s some kind of middle-topian future, which to me is the funny take on things.”