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The True Story Of The Sandman’s Sleeping Sickness Of 1916



The capture of Dream of the Endless causes a global sleeping sickness in The Sandman, which is based on a real-life epidemic from 1916 to 1927.

Warning: SPOILERS for The Sandman

In the premiere episode of The Sandman, the capture of Dream of the Endless (Tom Sturridge) causes a global sleeping sickness, which is based on an event that happened in real life. Executive producer Neil Gaiman’s long-awaited adaptation of his beloved DC Comics graphic novels adapts the first two collected volumes, Preludes and Nocturnes and The Doll’s House. The sleepy sickness happens in the first chapter, which introduces Dream as well as his captor, Roderick Burgess (Charles Dance).

Burgess, the self-styled Magus, is a British warlock who intended to apprehend Dream’s sister, Death (Kirby Howell-Baptiste), and force her to restore his dead son to life as well as grant Roderick immortality. Instead, Burgess’ ritual inadvertently captured Dream in 1916. Robbed of his symbols of office, his ruby, his helmet, and his bag of sand, Dream is imprisoned by the Magus for over a century. However, the disappearance of the lord of dreams wreaked havoc on the waking world and Morpheus’ realm, the Dreaming, which began to collapse as several dreams and nightmares abandoned the dimensional plane. Beyond the Dreaming, in the waking world, a sleeping sickness spread and affected millions of people, who simply fell asleep and didn’t wake up. One of them, Unity Kincaid (Sandra James-Young), was a pivotal victim who was supposed to become the Dream Vortex of her era. Instead, that power passed to her granddaughter, Rose Walker (Vanesu Samunyai).


Neil Gaiman must have based The Sandman season 1s sleeping sickness on a real epidemic that occurred from 1916 (the year Dream was captured by Roderick Burgess) to 1927. Known as lethargic encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, the sleepy sickness struck between 5 and 10 million people worldwide, killing half of them in short order. The virus that caused lethargic encephalitis was never clearly identified. Many of the sleeping-sickness survivors seemed to recover but were incapacitated years later by a paralyzing Parkinson’s-like syndrome. Dr. Oliver Sacks wrote the book “Awakenings,” which the 1990 film starring Robin Williams, was based on, about the sleeping sickness and its victims. Ingeniously, Gaiman tied the real epidemic to The Sandman and blamed the sleeping sickness on the imprisonment of Dream of the Endless.

Why The Sleeping Sickness Ended in 1927

After over a decade, the sleeping sickness epidemic suddenly ended in 1927 for no apparent reason. Thousands of those affected were housed in institutions for decades, alive but trapped within their bodies, just as Unity Kincaid was in The Sandman. Many patients improved dramatically upon treatment but their miraculous recovery turned out to be short-lived. Most patients slipped back into a catatonic state within days or weeks. Although the 1916-1927 encephalitis lethargica epidemic hasn’t occurred since, there have been rare cases, causing doctors to speculate that the encephalitis lethargica virus is only lying dormant.

Of course, in The Sandman, Dream was imprisoned until the modern day and the sleeping sickness continued until Morpheus escaped his confinement at the end of episode 1, “The Sleep of the Just.” While Dream was held captive, even those who weren’t gripped by the sleeping sickness like Johanna Constantine (Jenna Coleman), suffered terrible recurring nightmares. Morpheus’ return to the Dreaming ended the sleeping sickness and set the world right in The Sandman until John Dee (David Thewlis) threatened all of reality by corrupting Dream’s ruby and Morpheus put a stop to him.

The Sandman Season 1 is streaming on Netflix.

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Julia Garner’s Dual ‘Ozark’ and ‘Inventing Anna’ Nominations Solidify Her Status as ‘Emmy Catnip’



When it comes to turning Emmy nominations into Emmy wins, Julia Garner is so far batting a thousand. The actor was nominated in 2019 and 2020 in the supporting actress in a drama series category for “Ozark” — and she won both times.

Now, Garner has doubled her Emmy nominations tally to four, picking up another supporting actress nod for the final season of “Ozark” and also landing one for her “Inventing Anna” role, as lead actress in a limited or anthology series or movie.

Given her “Ozark” success, that nomination wasn’t a shock. But the success of “Inventing Anna” at the Emmys — including in the key limited or anthology series category — was a bit of a surprise, especially given the expectation that another Netflix series, “Maid,” would make the cut.

Yet in hindsight, it shouldn’t have been a surprise at all. By now it’s clear that Julia Garner should be added to the list of awards catnip — the roster of stars that continue to amaze on screen, and whose work has not gone unnoticed by industry voters. Think of other awards favorites like Olivia Colman or Sarah Paulson (who returns to the Emmy table this year with “Impeachment: American Crime Story,” her eighth nomination).

Garner has clearly impressed over the years on “Ozark” as Ruth Langmore, but has also shown her range in recent years via “Waco,” “The Americans,” “Dirty John” and now, “Inventing Anna.”

In playing socialite huckster Anna Delvey, Garner had to perfect a bizarre, one-of-a-kind accent while playing a character whose demeanor is more or less bored psychopath. Shondaland’s Betsy Beers told me why they felt so fortunate to land Garner for the role.

“She is perfect because she can do anything and is just an astoundingly talented actress,” Beers says. “She, like Anna, is a chameleon, and has the uncanny ability to truly become the character she is playing. She dug into the research, and watching her become Anna was a joy to behold. And perfecting that accent was no easy task!”

In a year boasting some of the best performers and performances in recent memories, nearly every Emmy category is super-competitive. And that especially goes for Garner’s fields; In supporting drama actress, she’s up against an overdue nod for Rhea Seehorn (“Better Call Saul”), two stars from the hottest show on TV (“Severance’s” Sarah Snook and J. Smith-Cameron), a nominee looking to make history (“Squid Game” star Jung Ho-yeon), another double nominee in Sydney Sweeney (“Euphoria”) and two icons: Christina Ricci (“Yellowjackets”) and Patricia Arquette (“Severance”).

The lead actress in a limited series field is also stacked, with Paulson, Toni Collette (“The Staircase”), Lily James (“Pam & Tommy”), Margaret Qualley (“Maid”) and Amanda Seyfried (“The Dropout”).

But never count the awards catnip out. Garner is next set to star as Madonna in a biopic on the legendary performer, and also is busy getting into the production game — signing a deal with Marty Adelstein and Becky Clements’ Tomorrow Studios. When we broke news of Garner’s next project, the international jewel heist mystery “Balabusta,” without knowing much more about it, I just know I need to see it.

Adelstein told me how the Garner deal is “probably one of the best we’ve ever made.” Added Clements: “She is so bright, so prolific… oh my goodness, that woman is going to be an Oscar winner.”

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Marvel Makes Fake Tinder Profile for She-Hulk



To promote the upcoming series She-Hulk, Marvel creates a faux Tinder profile for Jennifer Walters, highlighting the charcater’s romantic journey.

As part of their promotion for She-Hulk: Attorney at Law Marvel has created a faux Tinder profile for the show’s lead character Jennifer Walters. She-Hulk is the next project to be released in Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, streaming exclusively on Disney+ beginning August 17. Starring Tatiana Maslany as the title character, the show will also feature the return of several familiar MCU faces like Mark Ruffalo as Hulk, Tim Roth as Abomination, Charlie Cox as Daredevil, and Benedict Wong as Wong alongside an ensemble cast of new characters played by Ginger Gonzaga, Josh Segarra, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Anais Almonte, and The Good Place alum Jameela Jamil.


She-Hulk will take a look at an often ignored corner of the Marvel universe: the lawyers who clean up after superheroes. One such lawyer is Jennifer Walters, who gains her own set of powers from her cousin Bruce Banner. The show will follow her as she attempts to balance her career of defending superpowered individuals in court, her search for a romantic partner, and her eventual rivalry with Jamil’s social media influencer villain Titania. Walters’ romantic travails might not be the primary focus of the series, but they do wind up front and center in the advertisements, particularly a scene where she Hulks out and carries a man around her apartment.

As originally reported by, the She-Hulk publicity team clearly had Jennifer Walters’ love life on the mind when crafting their latest promotional material. They have crafted a faux Tinder profile that has been shuffled onto the ap. Although it does say “ad” in the lower right corner of her profile picture, it is a pretty convincing replica of what her profile might look like until one looks at the caption, which is an advertisement for the series that closes with “Find out who she DOES match with in She-Hulk… (seriously – she goes on dates!).” Check out screenshots from the fake profile, shared on Twitter by user jozopath, below:

This is the latest in-universe ad for the series in a particularly creative campaign that has also included bus ads that mimic real-life ads for attorneys. It’s clear that Marvel is using this particular promotional strategy to appeal to people who may be more interested in romantic television series than the action-packed superhero mayhem the franchise is known for. However, the ad does leave fans with the implication that Walters may end up with a love interest that rises above the heap over the course of the 12-episode season.

It’s possible that this could be Bass’ character Todd, who according to his character description has recently taken the plunge into online dating. However, there will likely be plenty of twists and turns before Walters gets to that point, including a potential entanglement with Segarra’s character Pug Pugliese, who is part of her legal team. She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is a Marvel series, after all, so it is likely that nothing is as it initially seems.


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Bob Greenblatt Turns His ‘Gift of Free Time’ into Memoir of Producing, Programming and Persevering



After years of working with accomplished writers to develop TV shows, Greenblatt says it was humbling and invigorating to face the blank page every day.

“It was about a year of me pouring out the stories on the page, and another four to five months reworking it,” Greenblatt says. “So many things about writing it were revelatory to me. So many little things.”

The title refers to Greenblatt’s hometown of Rockford, Ill., about 90 miles west of Chicago, and the detective drama series starring James Garner that ran on NBC from 1974-80.

Taking a long look in the rearview mirror helped him take stock of where the industry is headed. And that was a worthy exercise for an executive who is pursuing entrepreneurial ventures in TV, stage and other content opportunities.

“When you step back for a minute and really think about things, it’s really remarkable to look at what’s happened to the business,” Greenblatt says. “When I started there were basically three networks and Fox was on a couple nights a week. Then we went into the cable revolution and now it’s streaming that is the next iteration.”

From the days of vaudeville and nickelodeons to the burgeoning world of Web3 entertainment, the one constant throughout is the need for distinctive content to bring consumers to the screen. Greenblatt’s book is an invaluable compendium of anecdotes about his experiences in the TV trenches. He brings the dual perspective of a seasoned industryite who has worked as a top programming buyer for major networks as well as a producer of Emmy-winning series.

Some of the liveliest tales in the tome revolve around “Six Feet Under,” the beloved HBO drama series that ran from 2001 to 2005. Greenblatt and his former producing partner, David Janollari, shepherded the series with creator Alan Ball through the Greenblatt Janollari Studio banner that the pair ran in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

On paper, a show about a deeply dysfunctional family that runs a funeral home in Pasadena hardly has the makings of a successful TV series. But in the moment that “Six Feet Under” was birthed some 20-odd years ago, HBO was just starting to open the aperture of prestige television.

“The Rockford Files” also makes crystal clear how much television is a team sport. Greenblatt goes out of his way to recognize the many people who contributed the ideas and inspirations that make for distinctive shows.

Courtesy of HBO

The germ of the idea for “Six Feet Under” came from then- HBO development chief Carolyn Strauss being interested in finding a series set against the backdrop of the business of death. At the same time, “Six Feet Under” only worked because Ball brought his unique view to the subject matter.

“Alan Ball is a singular talent, and recognizing that early on was a stroke of luck for us. We had an instinct about him. And while instincts are hard to quantify, if you learn to listen to them and trust your gut about a ‘feeling’ you have, it can pay big dividends,” Greenblatt writes. “This show always goes back to one of my favorite epiphanies — only pursue ideas that are singular, totally original and even risky. While it’s not possible to do that every single time, when you can, the payoff is often extraordinary. In a million years, the idea of a show set in a funeral home doesn’t make any sense, until it gets into the hands of a genius.”

Of course, in the stranger-than-fiction way the world works, Greenblatt was head of programming for HBO rival Showtime by the time “Six Feet Under” wrapped its five-season run in 2005.

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