Jessica Williams of “The Daily Show” fame brings her alter ego — the one she insists she is not — to Netflix. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Last Tycoon,” starring Matt Bomer, arrives on Amazon. And Victoria Rowell spoofs the soap opera industry she knows only too well in “The Rich and the Ruthless.”
THE INCREDIBLE JESSICA JAMES (2017) on Netflix. Jessica Williams, the former correspondent for “The Daily Show,” stars as a struggling Brooklyn playwright trying to move forward after breaking up with a boyfriend (Lakeith Stanfield) she hasn’t quite gotten over — hence, the daydreams about his violent demise — while considering the attributes of a new beau, a divorced app designer (Chris O’Dowd) she met on a blind date. Jim Strouse wrote and directed this romantic comedy in close consultation with Ms. Williams. Still, the Jessica James character is not meant as her stand-in. “Oh my God, no,” she said in a New York Times interview. “That seems mortifying.” She was also relieved that the film did not freak out her mother. “I remember grabbing my best friend and being like: ‘What’s my mom doing? Is she covering her eyes?’” she told Dave Itzkoff. Fortunately, her mother loved the movie, and “I was like, cool, cool, cool.”
THE LAST TYCOON on Amazon. Billy Ray, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of “Captain Phillips,” adapted this F. Scott Fitzgerald novel about a Hollywood golden boy (Matt Bomer) battling his boss and father figure (Kelsey Grammer) for the soul of a film studio during the Depression. The series, which uses Fitzgerald’s tale as a stepping-off point for a “Mad Men”-like excavation of the 1930s, is meticulous in its re-creation of the era. “Yet attention to detail doesn’t buy passion,” Neil Genzlinger wrote in The Times. And while the show and the people in it look great, “caring about any of them doesn’t come easily.”
THE RICH AND THE RUTHLESS on Urban Movie Channel. Victoria Rowell, who from 1990 through 2007 played Drucilla on “The Youth and the Restless,” created this fictional soap-within-a-soap about the first black daytime drama, booted off the soundstage after 20 years for a talk show. Richard Brooks plays Augustus Barringer, the self-made showrunner willing to do anything to keep his spot on the air, whether filming out of his Hollywood mansion or moving his company to Jamaica. Ms. Rowell is his mercurial wife, Kitty Barringer, fresh out of rehab and intent on clawing her way back to the top of divadom as her character — wait for it — Blue Sylla.
LAURIE AND HARDY on BritBox. As in Hugh Laurie and Tom Hardy, packaged together in this six-show collection. On Mr. Hardy’s side: “The Take,” about an ex-con eager to use his prison connections to ascend the rungs of the underworld; “Gideon’s Daughter,” in which a public relations guru reconsiders his priorities; and “Oliver Twist,” the Dickens classic. On Mr. Laurie’s: sketch comedy in “Alfresco” and “A Bit of Fry and Laurie,” as well as the Rowan Atkinson lark “Blackadder.”
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