TV Surf Report: It’s Not TV, But Are We Still Into HBO? (Yes, But We Are Seeing Other People!)

JON SNOW

Santa Monica, CAHBO, aka, Home Box Office, is being challenged right and left for its blue chip real estate in TV by rival companies such as Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Hulu and the forthcoming Disney+.  The days are long since past when its primary competition was lowly Showtime.

It’s Not TV. It’s HBO was the company’s hit slogan in the ’90s and ’00s, but are we still that into HBO?  The Sopranos, Sex And The City, Six Feet Under, The Wire were all cultural influencers.

Now under the auspices of AT&T, not known for its television programming, it’s a new era for the premium cable channel which has new marching orders, as well:  More content. (Also, employees 55+ please take a hike!)

Let’s take a look at what’s working, what doesn’t, and what HBO is developing for the future once its monster hit series, Game of Thrones, winds down later this year.

BIG LITTLE LIES JOGGING

What’s Working.

  • Game of Thrones is that rare monster hit that has outlasted the source material, George R.R. Martin’s best-selling book series (seemingly stuck with Book 6) set in Westeros, a mythical realm with rival kingdoms fighting for dominance. The final season airs April 14th. Team Lannister or Team Stark? I’m Team Direwolf.
  • Westworld is that rare adaptation of a film by Michael Crichton that has breathed new life in the Artificial Intelligence Sci Fi genre and has given star-making roles for Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton. S3 premieres in late 2019 or early 2020. It’s not quite as good as BSG, but it’s still compelling storytelling.
  • Sharp Objects continues the cable giant’s penchant for brilliant limited series adaptations of best-selling novels.  Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson received rave reviews and multiple accolades for their work.
  • Big Little Lies really got everyone talking about Moms in Monterey thanks to Jon-Marc Vallee and David E. Kelley’s adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s novel that caught the eye of Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon, who starred and EPd.  Kidman and Laura Dern won all the awards for their roles, but will they be able to live up to S1? Does not matter as S2 is on its way, and Meryl Streep joins the Monterey 5 as Nicole Kidman’s mother-in-law. Witherspoon does not rule out a S3. Premieres in June.
  • Veep is HBO’s best comedy since Sex And The City. Julia Louis-Dreyfus & Co. have one last season in them before bidding their White House farewell. Airs in late March.
  • Ballers proves that Dwayne Johnson can do anything. That sports-minded half hour comedy is now in its 4th season.
  • The New Pope is the follow up to The Young Pope, one of my favorite series of 2017.  Jude Law returns with much of the original cast. No Diane Keaton, but John Malkovich joins S2. This is an international hit brilliantly written and directed Paolo Sorrentino, someone to closely follow.

DEADWOOD

What’s Not Really Working.

  • Silicon Valley has been on for five seasons, which seems hard to believe as the quirky comedy has flown under the radar despite T.J. Miller’s best efforts to disrupt it. S6 is its last, however. Thankful to Mike Judge for breakout star Kumail Nanjani.
  • True Detective has never really recovered from a disastrous S2, and even the formidable Mahershala Ali’s presence in S3 seems unlikely to recapture the glory from S1.
  • Camping was supposed to be Lena Dunham’s follow up to her hit series, Girls.  Jennifer Garner led a very talented cast that included Juliette Lewis, David Tennant, and Chris Sullivan, but the result was a very mixed bag. Judd Apatow EPd but to no avail as the series came and went with a decided thud.
  • Divorce with Sarah Jessica Parker is supposedly a comedy, but even the title suggests otherwise. I love Talia Balsam and Molly Shannon, but I don’t love this show. Amazed it got picked up for S3. The power of Sex And The City endures.
  • Issa Rae is a mid-level performer in the half-hour comedy genre that hasn’t quite crossed over into the mainstream. Still, HBO likes her enough to develop a miniseries about the Cabbage Patch Kids dolls set in the ’90s with Laura Dern attached as well.  Both Rae and Dern play disparate Oklahoma mothers who want those dolls.
  • Room 104, Crashing, High Maintenance seem very niche to me. Not much interest in any of them.

GOLDEN COMPASS

What’s in Development.

The premium cable channel loves to develop vehicles with A-list talent, so it’s no surprise that it has multiple projects in development with Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Mark Ruffalo, Sarah Jessica Parker, Dwayne Johnson, Laura Dern, Issa Rae, Meryl Streep, and Judd Apatow.

HBO also loves a good book as demonstrated by its development slate that includes several Adaptations:

  • Loner — Novelist Teddy Wayne adapts his own story which centers on a Harvard freshman who sets out to win a girl and gets more than he bargains.
  • Watchmen — the graphic novel by Alan Moore gets adapted by Damon Lindelöf with a series order and a very cool cast that includes Jeremy Irons and Regina King among others.
  • His Dark Materials — the Philip Pullman series of novels gets a grand BBC  adaptation that stars James McAvoy, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Dafne Keen. Two seasons have been ordered. Production is shot in Wales. High hopes for this one.
  • Game of Thrones — A prequel series starring Naomi Watts is heading your way following the conclusion of the series this Spring. Martin and Jane Goldman wrote the pilot script which is supposedly set a thousand years prior to the current series. SJ Clarkson directs and production begins in Ireland this summer.  Four other concepts were also developed and are still in consideration, but the cable network is resisting going to this rich well too often. Smart.
  • I Know This Much Is True — Mark Ruffalo stars and EPs this adaptation of Wally Lamb’s charming novel about a set of twins.
  • The Nix — Meryl Streep is set to star in this adaptation of Nathan Hill’s fun novel as a trouble-making mother.
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife — Audrey Niffenegger’s novel gets a second chance.
  • The Nevers — Joss Whedon’s return to series television is not an adaptation, but it sure sounds like a Victorian Era-set Buffy the Vampire Slayer as it’s about women who secretly battle demons. Doesn’t matter. I’m in. Hope it’s good. Series order.
  • Deadwood — David Milch’s period Western returns for a 2-hour movie follow-up with Ian MacShane ready to cuss up a storm. Premieres this Spring. This is HBO’s rare re-boot.  Perhaps, we’ll see a follow up to Sex And The City. I sure hope so.  Where ya been, Charlotte?

 

N E X T    U P:

When Is Too Much TV … Just Too Much?

NEO AS THE ARCHITECT

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Surf Report: Santa Monica Remains The Home of the Homeless, But The City Is Determined to Solve This Crisis

op blvd east     op blvd signage

5:45 AM – Santa Monica, CA – My bed is warm and cozy this morning, and I feel extra grateful for this seemingly ordinary comfort as it’s a cold 53 degrees outside where nearly a thousand people are sleeping. I know because, hours ago, I was among 375 volunteers who counted them.

This is my story of the Homeless Count 2019.

The City of Santa Monica  is nothing if not organized. Last night, a Wednesday, I arrived at St. Monica’s Catholic Church around 10:30 PM and checked-in for my team assignment:  20A.

I had no inkling where in Santa Monica my team would be sent to count the homeless, so I dressed really warmly as recommended in the advance emails sent to volunteers:  Thermal underwear beneath jeans and a turtleneck and my ski jacket, gloves and hat.  I brought my own flashlight, as well.

I see a couple of people whom I personally know:  The first is Jeremy, the librarian at Santa Monica’s Ocean Park branch . He’s young and exuberant. A Millennial. I think, Wow! Jeremy’s here after a full day of work where he interacts with homeless people all day. Impressive.

The second person I recognize is City Manager Rick Cole who stands apart surveying the room which is quickly filling up with volunteers, a capacity turnout of local residents, law enforcement and firefighters. They actually had to turn people away … to volunteer.  Rick and I follow each other on Twitter so we have an immediate rapport and a fun chat. He’s soon engaged with other people waiting to say Hello so I beg off to meet my Team.

Two blonde women sit in the assigned seats for 20A:  Linda, a resident on nearby 19th Street and her friend Margery, who actually lives in Pacific Palisades, but who is joining Linda as a friend helping out a friend. Both are first-time volunteer counters (as am I). The fourth member of our 4-man team arrives:  Steve, a really tall, really big, really handsome African American man in his 60s.  He is a case worker at Step Up on Second , an organization dedicated to helping the poor and disenfranchised in Santa Monica. 

My team seems great.

homeless count row selfie     homeless count designated zone

We watch a a very moving, very inspiring video of a recovering alcoholic who talks about his life on the street. A Police Officer discusses safety. Then Richard Bloom , former mayor and current Member of the State Assembly, speaks. He quotes Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. since we just celebrated MLK day, and I’ll paraphrase his moving sentiment: 

What’s the point of building skyscrapers or going to the Moon if we can’t take care of our Poor, our most needy among us? What’s the point of our great technological advancements if we don’t look to our own neighborhood and city and see those struggling to live and to not help them?

Like everyone else in the room, I feel immediately sobered up and reminded of the job ahead which now feels like a Divine Call to Serve.

Soon, all 375 now-sobered volunteers, nicely divided into teams of 4, some of whom are accompanied by an SMPD officer depending on the area they are counting (Palisades Park, the beach), and we are off to our team vehicle to drive to our designated zone: My neighborhood in Ocean Park.

Wow. I am quietly stunned. This count just got personal.

Linda has graciously supplied her large SUV as our team vehicle, so we all clamber inside where she has bottles of water for us. Linda is a good host.  Big Steve and I (now dubbed Smaller Steve) sit in the back while Margery rides shotgun.  Roles are assigned:  Linda drives and keeps us safe. Margery is a Spotter as is Big Steve, and I have the clipboard and write down the address and area of anyone we see in the area we are to cover.  Big Steve has the map and directs Linda’s driving.

Note: It’s now just after Midnight.  The Count is conducted at this hour because the majority of the city’s homeless population have chosen a spot for the night and have made their camp and can be more easily identified. We are instructed not to engage anyone in conversation as this is a count, not an outreach program. We’ve got a job to do and two hours in which to do it.

Neither Linda or Margery are very familiar with Ocean Park, so I feel like the unofficial expert on the area, but what’s interesting is that the zone we cover is the other half of my neighborhood, the part that I rarely visit or drive through.  My polling place is there, though, so I know exactly where we are heading. As does Big Steve.

As Linda drives very slowly up and down each street, Margery and Big Steve scout on the right side of the car, and I take the left side, looking for homeless people.

This section of Ocean Park is a very residential neighborhood with lots of interesting homes and side streets and lots of discarded furniture which excites Linda and Margery.

We see one person sleeping on a sidewalk, some sleeping in their cars, and some in alleys near Lincoln Blvd, but we don’t see anyone sleeping in tents.  At Joslyn Park, which is my polling place, Big Steve and I get out of the car with our flashlights and check the park.  We are both surprised that no one has camped there.  (That’s where I’d go as there are lots of trees for concealment and it’s dark so you can sleep.)

Big Steve tutors us on the state of mind of the homeless as he deals with them on a daily basis at Step Up on 2nd.  His experience is both invaluable and enlightening.  He’s been doing the Homeless Count for 10+ years.

homeless count team 20a

I realize just how kind and warm-hearted these people are:  Team 20A.  Margery gets very excited when she spots someone sleeping in their car. Big Steve is not surprised that we don’t see very many people camped out in this area, five in total.  I write down the addresses on the clipboard, and Big Steve will later note the locations on his map, so the city will now know where the homeless are choosing to spend the night, and subsequently, where to provide outreach services.

Smart. Efficient.

As we wrap up driving our designated area, it’s now about 1:30 AM.  We are on Bay Street, and I note that we are in Dogtown, a famous surf and skateboard area from the ‘60s, info that is new to both Linda and Margery.  Big Steve knows all about Dogtown. I am amazed that everyone doesn’t which is a clue about how we each cloister in our own bubble to a degree. 

Back at St. Monica’s, we each check in so that the City knows we have returned safely. I snap a quick Selfie with Team 20A, and Big Steve bids us each farewell with a big hug, which is really sweet. Everyone hugs. It’s a nice moment.

Big smiles are all around as other teams make their triumphant return with information in hand.  We Are Santa Monica t-shirts are given out to the volunteers which is a very cool gesture.

Driving home through a very quiet and deserted-looking city, I spot a team still on the street, counting at 1:35 AM. Wow!  I am impressed and a little worried.  They should be done by now. They are on foot, though.

When I get home to my warm apartment, I am too energized to do anything but think about what I’ve just witnessed. The Homeless Count feels important, and I am glad I was a small part of it. I hope it helps.

When I do finally go to bed, I give a prayer of thanks for this comfort knowing there are five people outside who do not enjoy the same.

 

N E X T   U P:

When Is Too Much TV … Just Too Much?

NEO AS THE ARCHITECT

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TV Surf Report: Ten Original Ideas That Could Break Through The Cluster of Reboots In 2019 …

Santa Monica, CA — Chins up, Scribes! Some original ideas for Television do actually get developed. Huzzah, Creativity!

These are TV series, pilots and scripts that are not based on IP (Intellectual Property) which means the Buyers of these ideas will have to aggressively market them to the audience and spend lots of money to explain what these shows are about and why the audience will love them. Today’s television landscape is that crowded.

So, for the moment, let’s forget the Trends we’ve come to know as constants in TV for the last few years (and forseeable future):  Adaptations, Reboots (Beverly Hills 90210 anyone?), Spinoffs, and Super Heroes (or some combo of each!).

Here’s the inevitable list that you’ve come to expect, but the one common denominator shared by each is The Auspices: An Actor who’s signed to produce; A Producer who has a proven track record, etc., or a Genre missing from TV (or a combo of each!):

 

  • Space Force (Netflix) Steve Carrell is set to star and EP in a half-hour comedy ensemble centering on the group of people who must create Donald Trump’s Space Force. Greg Daniels (The Office, King of the Hill) scripts and EPs. Sounds like a lot of fun.
  • Mrs. America  (FX) Cate Blanchett EPs and stars as ’70s anti-feminist/conservative activist Phyllis Schafly in this 9-episode limited series that explores the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment and the Women’s Movement and the central figures like Schafly and Gloria Steinem. Love that Blanchett will play the possibly villainous role! Dahvi Waller (Mad Men) scripts. THR Has The Scoop.
  • Secret Society (NBC) Kay Cannon (Girl Boss, Pitch Perfect) EPs along with Laverne McKinnon, former head of Drama at CBS, this female reporter comedy set within the world of a dying all-male secret society.  Emily Heller (Barry) scripts. Sounds fun!
  • What/If (Netflix) Renee Zellweger toplines this anthology series EPd by Robert Zemeckis which focuses on moral questions and the fallout when people start pushing the boundaries of acceptability. Huh? I have no idea where this series is gonna go, but I’m intrigued by the auspices, which is why Netflix bought it, I imagine. Mike Kelley (Revenge, Swingtown) writes and EPs. I’m a fan.
  • Filthy Rich (FOX) A Southern Gothic ensemble family drama that sounds more like dark comedy to me (which is why I am drawn to it, natch). Tate Taylor (The Help) helms this series that kicks off when the president of a religious TV network dies and his illegitimate family is discovered, so mayhem ensues between two matriarchs and a lot of adult children. Pilot order.
  • Scare Club (Freeform) Imagine reading Interview with The Vampire then traveling to New Orleans with your three best twentysomething pals to discuss the book only to get swept up in gothic vampire intrigue! Well, that’s the promising premise here (but without the Anne Rice analogy). Matt Hastings (Shadowhunters) scripts and EPs.
  • Lyle & Caroline (FOX) This animated comedy pilot from Eric and Justin Stangel (The Tick) focuses on an unusual grandparent/grandchild relationship. That sounds new and different, yes? Lisa Kudrow voices Caroline, the high school-aged grandchild.
  • Reef Break (ABC) A summer crime drama set in a seductive Pacific island paradise that stars Ray Stevenson (Rome, Black Sails). I’m in. Poppy Montgomery also stars as a Thief/Fixer and EPs (show was her idea!). Ken Sanzel scripts and EPs. This series was pitched to ABC International, picked up by French TV and then ABC got on board, which makes for an interesting Origin Story should it become a hit.
  • Spinning Out (Netflix) An ice skating drama that centers on two disparate sisters (one is played by Willow Shields from The Hunger Games) and one can only imagine the operatic highs and lows that can be enjoyed here. Samantha Stratton scripts and EPs (along with about five other peeps).
  • Gold Dust Nation (HBO) A period drama set in the ’90s at British Vogue as seen by former editors who look at the cultural and political life in Great Britain through the POV of the Fashion World.  Could be interesting and also stylish. Jane Trantner (His Dark Materials) EPs.
  • The Dolls (HBO) Okay, this limited series is inspired by a really wild true event from the 1980s. Set in Arkansas during the release of those infamous Cabbage Patch Kids dolls and the riots that ensued over trying to buy them. Issa Rae and Laura Dern EP (both already in business with HBO) and will portray two disparate mothers.  Rae scripts.

 

Speaking of IP, did you know that 50,000 Books, Films, Music, etc. just entered the Public Domain and are ripe for free adaptation/exploitation (i.e., Pride and Prejudice and Zombies!)

Here’s the list courtesy of the LA Times

2019 Additions to Public Domain.

N E X T   U P:

When Is Too Much TV Just Too Much? I’m Goin’ Surfin’!

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Travel Surf Report: 72 Hours In Park City

Park City, Utah — I have been skiing Park City for decades, and Reader, believe me when I tell you that I know how to do Park City.

First, ya gotta travel via Delta Airlines because Salt Lake City is its hub, and the flight schedules are more favorable for arrivals and more importantly, for departures. You don’t want to have to head to the airport at the crack of dawn when the temps are in the single digits.

Ski-wise, your first stop has got to be Deer Valley because frankly, this resort is the most beautiful of any in the area. Deer Valley is also the most expensive, so be sure to purchase your Lift Tickets online (and 7 days in advance) to get the best price.

This month, I spent the most beautiful Sunday relaxing on the beach at Silver Lake Lodge: Sunny skies and mild temperatures. The bluebird conditions were hard to beat.

Before leaving Deer Valley, I highly recommend you and your party trek up to the St. Regis Hotel and take the Funicular up to the Bar at the hotel’s outdoor patio which boasts a roaring firepit as well as spectacular views of Deer Valley. If you are lucky like I was, you may well see some actual deer while you are enjoying your apres-ski cocktail(s).

Dinner in Park City begins and ends for me at High West Saloon on Park Avenue. This distillery/restaurant feels like the spot favored by locals in all seasons. In Winter, High West has an outdoor firepit (detecting a theme?) where you can wait to be seated. The ambience inside is big and roomy and a little noisy, but settle in with an Old Fashioned, a bowl of yummy Onion Soup, and split the Chicken Schnitzel. Tell them I sent you.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and I highly recommend you begin your day by breaking your fast at the Eating Establishment on Main Street. The vibe is cozy, and the food is delicious and reasonably priced (for Park City). My brother and I sat by the window and watched a big snowstorm hit. So cool. We could have drank coffee and nibbled on toast (with raspberry jam) all morning, and the friendly staff would not have minded in the least.

If possible, reserve your lodging somewhere that has an outdoor hot tub, so you may enjoy a Hot Tub in the Snow (again, if you are lucky as I was on my most recent visit in December). I highly recommend the Lodge at the Mountain Village which has great rooms, condos, lofts right there at the base of Park City Mountain. The ski lifts are right there. Jackson’s Base Camp offers 30% off rentals for guests of the Lodge, so definitely take advantage of that deal.

No need to rent a car anymore, btw. The city’s transit system is fantastic, and shuttles run from Park City Mountain to anywhere you wish to go, including the airport.

If possible, take an afternoon off and go hang at the Park City Public Library. The building is glorious, and the reading/writing areas are spacious and welcoming.

Murphy’s Law: The Day You Leave Will Be The Best Powder Day! Enjoy Park City.

And, if you are headed there in January, be sure to check out the lineup for the Sundance Film Festival (along with a few other helpful links below):

https://www.sundance.org/blogs/news/2019-festival-jury-awards-night-host

http://www.sundance.org/festivals/sundance-film-festival/program

https://www.parkcity.org/

http://www.deervalley.com/

https://www.allseasonsresortlodging.com/park-city-lodging/the-lodge-at-the-mountain-village?_vsrefdom=adwords&gclid=CjwKCAiAu_LgBRBdEiwAkovNsBvYcJh6eGtSfCdYxbuYb50Sr_-j-Ydj1l81MQrj4MGUvZQuwoCCKhoCJ9MQAvD_BwE

N E X T U P:

19 Original Series In Development for 2019.

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Travel Surf Report: 72 Hours In La Rue County, My Old Kentucky Home … The Garden Spot of the Universe

72 Non-Consecutive Hours in La Rue County, Kentucky.

Louisville, Kentucky — Arriving near midnight from Los Angeles on American Airlines, I walk through the deserted Standiford Field Airport which clearly is uninhabited and not open for business late at night. Thankfully, I do not have checked baggage and can just text my brother to pick me up out front on the top level. No muss. No fuss.  No waiting around for luggage to slowly traverse the airport’s baggage carousel at such a late hour when employees appear to be few and far between. Where is everyone????

My brother drinks at a downtown bar when he receives my I’ve Just Landed text and appears curbside within minutes. Moments later, we drive the Interstate 65 South to my homeland of La Rue County, which is about 50 miles away. Predictably, the highway is under construction near our exit so traffic is tricky. Once off the freeway, we turn on the country road toward Hodgenville, my hometown.  I am struck by the silence, the complete darkness, the remote feeling of rural America. How wonderful. It’s a far cry from the constant hustle and bustle of overcrowded Los Angeles.

Day One:

Any trip home begins with a home-cooked country breakfast at my sister’s successful café near the town square: Paula’s Hot Biscuit. Before I can eat my breakfast, I greet and hug the girls, Paula’s terrific wait staff, and meet the newest employees, learn their families, and introduce myself as Paula’s favorite brother in case Paula had failed to mention that fact as she regularly does.

The Number Two: Biscuits & Gravy with Bacon & Eggs.

One thing you should know about Kentuckians is that before they have finished eating their breakfast, they have already begun thinking/planning/strategizing what’s for lunch. As I eat my plate of delicious and heart-clogging Biscuits & Gravy, Paula gets a text message from our brother Ben inviting us to lunch in nearby Bardstown at Bottle & Bond, the restaurant at Bardstown Bourbon Company , the newest distillery and tourist destination in Nelson County, a few miles away.

But first, a hike through Pearman Forest because those Biscuits & Gravy aren’t going to work off themselves! Pearman Forest is a series of nature trails created as part of the La Rue County Environmental Experiment where native trees and plants grow.  It’s quite beautiful, always uninhabited by humans, and a wonderful place to walk in the woods and feel, sense, and smell the forest.

Pearman Forest

The drive to Bardstown is one of the loveliest in La Rue County passing not only our family farm, Gypsy Acres, but also my former garden at Groundhog Hill, then moving past the Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home on Knob Creek (yes, the very creek that inspired a tasty bourbon).  Rolling hills, the landscape is still green and verdant.

 BARDSTOWN LUNCH

Bottle & Bond will fast become the Jewel of Nelson County and historic Bardstown.  It’s that grand, that cool, that well-designed. Lots of stone, wood, and glass make for a spacious dining experience that begins with the classic bourbon cocktail, The Old Fashioned. You will definitely want to have two! Lunch consists of Brisket Sandwiches & Fries, Fish Tacos, Caesar Salads, and a side of crispy Brussel Sprouts. Save room for dessert and split a Boozy Milkshake. Quite tasty. I can’t wait to go back with friends, enjoy the outdoor firepit and more Old Fashioneds.

Once home, it’s time to split some firewood and get the firepit ready for a late afternoon firepit (and a bourbon!) where we can sit around talk about what’s for supper!  Supper is usually potluck among the La Rue siblings in attendance, and most importantly, a card game (or three) will likely precede and follow the meal. Of course before the night ends, we will discuss what’s for breakfast (hint: poached eggs). Priorities, People!

About La Rue County, Kentucky

Paula’s Hot Biscuit

https://www.bardstownbourbon.com/

N E X T   U P:

Day Two. Malibu Catches Fire. Kentucky Catches Cold. A Story of Fire & Ice.

 

Pearman Forest
The Number Two: Biscuits & Gravy with Bacon & Eggs.
72 Non-Consecutive Hours in La Rue County, Kentucky.
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TV Surf Report: Super Hero Series Still Trending … {Defeated Sigh}

DCU TITANS

Santa Monica, CA — Just when you thought we’d reached the bottom of the proverbial barrel with the Arrowverse comes the DC Universe and Disney’s forthcoming streaming service, Disney+.

RIP, Stan Lee.  Thank You for everything. Excelsior!

Television is about to get even more crowded with Caped Crusaders! That said, Neftlix just cancelled all its Marvel shows, including it biggest super hero hit, Daredevil, after three successful seasons; and, both Luke Cage and Iron Fist after two seasons; and The Punisher and Jessica Jones, after 2 and 3 seasons, respectively.

Look for them to return either on Disney+ or on Hulu, and possibly as The Defenders (if a deal is reached for a second season, that is).

Here’s who will be vying for your attention on the small screen:

Marvel TV:

DAREDEVIL S3

  • Daredevil on Netflix. Cancelled even though S3 has been hailed as The Highest Peak of Marvel TV.
  • Jessica Jones on Netflix. Renewed for S3 which premieres in April, but canceled after that. Too bad!
  • The Punisher on Netflix.  Jon Bernthal returns for S2 in 2019 in this spinoff from Daredevil. Premieres Jan. 18th….and canceled.
  • Loki Tom Hiddleston is set to reprise his role in a series all his own. Lots of source material from which to draw on the further adventures of the God of Mischief (even though he was killed by Thanos in Infinity War!). Michael Waldron (Rick & Morty) set to write and to EP.
  • Vision & Scarlet Witch on Disney+. Jac Schaeffer (Black Widow) scripts and EPs. These supporting characters of the MCU will get 6-8 episode limited series of their own. Paul Bettany and Elisabeth Olsen will reprise their respective Avengers. Interestingly, Vision died at the hands of Thanos in Infinity War, and Scarlet Witch evaporated along with half of the universe’s population, so they both have some explaining to do! Variety Has The Details. Interestingly, Scarlet Witch might be the character who brings in the X-Men to the MCU via a popular comic storyline, The House of M. 
  • Falcon and The Winter Soldier on Disney+. Hmm. Am unsure about this team-up as I suspect Marvel is going for an Odd Couple/Lethal Weapon buddy comedy vibe in this limited series. Malcolm Spellman (Empire) scripts. I thought the Winter Soldier becomes the new Captain America, so this series puts that theory in doubt. Meanwhile, Sebastian Stan has a 7-picture deal with Marvel. Here Are A Few Potential Storylines, per Nerdist …
  • The Gifted at Fox. S2 en route.
  • The Runaways at Hulu. S2 now streaming.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. at ABC. Is the series still on? Yes, S6 premieres this Summer. Series has been renewed for S7. Joss Whedon EPs.
  • Legion at FX.  S3 will be its last, but the upside is that Professor X makes his appearance as the estranged father to Dan Stevens.
  • Cloak & Dagger at Freeform.  S2 premieres April 4th with a 2-hour episode.
  • Howard the Duck (Hulu) Seriously. Kevin Smith to direct an animated series featuring this silliest of super heroes. Nerdist Has The Details Here…

DC UNIVERSE SWAMP THING

DC Universe

Uber-Producer Greg Berlanti, Hollywood’s $400m Man, has 14 series on the air. That’s all ya need to know about the DC Universe because Berlanti is King of the World there.

  • Gotham at Fox. Final season is likely, and yet Batman prequels are all the rage right now. Weird.
  • Lucifer cancelled at Fox but picked up by Netflix for S4. Graham McTavish (Aquaman, Outlander, LOTR) guest stars.
  • Swamp Thing at DC Universe. James Wan (Aquaman) EPs this series which premieres in 2019.  Len Wiseman (Underworld) directs. Jennifer Beals, Will Patton, and Virginia Madsen set to star. Bodes well.

ANIMATED HARLEY QUINN SERIES

  • Harley Quinn — Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory) voices Harley in this animated series that finds Joker’s ex-girlfriend sharing a prison cell at Arkham with Poison Ivy. Here’s the TRAILER.
  • Doom Patrol was featured on a recent episode of Titans. Spinoff is forthcoming! Brendan Fraser and Matt Bomer star among the voice cast. Here’s Everything You Need To Know, per Rotten Tomatoes.
  • Batwoman will make her debut on The CW via the Arrowverse with her own spinoff to follow if successful. Greg Berlanti, EPs. Ruby Rose stars as the lesbian superheroine. David Nutter directs the pilot.
  • Stargirl — Based on the comic created in 1999 by Geoff Johns to honor his sister, this series centers around a high school sophomore and a group of teen superheroes. Justice League Jr.! Greg Berlanti EPs, natch. The Wrap Has The Casting Details…
  • Titans — Greg Berlanti, Akiva Goldsman, and Geoff Johns executive produce the flagship series for DCU, which premiered 10/12 and is already renewed for S2. EW Gives Titans A Rave.; $8/month subscription will test the mainstream appeal but fanboys are sure to show up to hear Robin exhort, “Fuck Batman!” This series is not for kids.  Here’s the Trailer for a Free Preview
  • Pennyworth at Epix — Bruno Heller (Gotham) tells the prequel story of Bruce Wayne’s butler, Alfred. Jack Bannon (The Imitation Game) stars in the 10-episode series. Nerdist Has More Info Here.

Alfred-Pennyworth

Star Wars:

MANDALORIAN

  • Rogue One (Disney +) Diego Luna stars in a prequel espionage-themed series set before those pesky Bothans steal the plans for the Deathstar which is destroyed in Star Wars IV. Expect the Empire to be quite healthy in this one.
  • The Mandalorian (Disney+) Jon Favreau EPs this action/adventure following a lone gunslinger (Boba Fett anyone?) in the Star Wars Universe. Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnorak) directs a few epsiodes, which is exciting. Pedro Pascal (Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Game of Thrones, Narcos)  and Nick Nolte in talks to star. Timeline is post-Return of the Jedi.  The jury is definitely out on this one. Favreau Explains It All, via THR.

Elsewhere:

WATCHMEN FEATURE CAST

  • Watchmen (HBO) EP Damon Lindelöf (The Leftovers, Lost) returns to the graphic novel for his adaptation eschewing Zack Snyder’s dreadful feature, and it looks like there’s a new vigilante in town. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross of Nine Inch Nails scored the music for the pilot which was directed by Nicole Kassell (The Leftovers). Check out the series on I N S T A G R A M for clues!
  • American Gods (Starz) The long-awaited S2 premieres in 2019 (March 10th). Ricky Whittle returns as Neil Gaiman’s hero, Shadow Moon, but EPs Bryan Fuller and Michael Green were fired. Guest star Gillian Anderson will not return as the goddess Media, but has been replaced by New Media. Clever. I loved this novel and enjoyed the first season. Fingers crossed it’ll be just as good. Here’s the T R A I L E R for S2. Looks good!
  • The Magicians (SyFy) Lev Grossman’s enthralling trilogy adaptation beings S3 (or is it S4?) Never dug the casting here. Ho Hum. Musical episode! I may have to give it a binge, though.
  • Preacher (AMC) has just been picked up for S4. Dominic Cooper stars in this successful adaptation of the graphic novel. Seth Rogen EPs.

N E X T   U P:

When Is Too Much TV Just Too Much?!

NEO AS THE ARCHITECT

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Film Surf Report: In 2020, Movie Heroes Will Be Super And Not All Will Be Wearing Capes (Unless Fur-Lined And/or Pink). It’s James Bond Vs Elle Woods!

007.png

Santa Monica, CA — In 2020, Super Heroes arrive in the guise of Elle Woods, James Bond and Hercule Poirot. For actors Reese Witherspoon, Daniel Craig, and Kenneth Branagh, these iconic characters are their super hero roles, only without the red capes and super powers (unless you count accessorizing, longevity and deduction).

The Future is Always Changing, and nothing could be more true about movie release dates especially concerning everyone’s favorite super franchise. Disney’s acquisition of Fox affects the future of Fox’s Marvel properties (X-Men, Deadpool, Fantastic Four), and over at Warner Bros., DC Comics seems like it’s in complete disarray.

The result is a very cloudy picture of what we can expect to see on the big screen from 2020 and beyond. The good news: We get a double dose of Gal Gadot who will star in both Wonder Woman 1984 and Death on the Nile.

Here is the list of Super Hero Franchise Films (and remember, not all wear capes or possess super powers! Okay, some of them may, in fact, wear capes but they will be fur-lined and/or pink in color!) in the pipeline for release starting in 2020 and beyond:

DANIEL PICARD PHOTO NEAR MEERT

  • Birds of Prey (aka, Untitled Girl Gang Project) — Feb. 7th — Margot Robbie co-produces and stars as Harley Quinn.  Cathy Yan (Dead Pigs) directs from a script by Christina Hodson, who is also scripting the standalone Batgirl film. Ewan MacGregor has signed to play the villain, Black Mask. The other birds include Jurnee Smolett-Bell as Black Canary and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress. Film doesn’t start shooting until 2019. More Info on Black Canary and Huntress, per THR  
  • Bond 25 — Feb. 14th —  Cary Fukunaga (Maniac, True Detective) replaces Danny Boyle who left the production in pre-production due to creative differences. Daniel Craig returns for one last go as Agent 007.  Monica Bellucci also reprises her role as a femme fatale. Everything You Need To Know, via Men’s Journal.  

ELLE WOODS 2

  • Legally Blonde 3 — Feb. 14th — Make no mistake, Elle Woods is Reese Witherspoon’s version of a Super Hero. This character has influenced a generation of female law school applicants and graduates. Her Super Powers: Inspiration. Enthusiasm.
  • Gambit  March 13th — Channing Tatum, anyone? The loss of director Gore Verbinski has resulted in yet another delay. New Director is TBA. Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex) co-stars.
  • Wonder Woman 1984 — June 5th — Diana, Steve Trevor and Cheetah (Kristen Wiig) have pushed back their release date by seven months. What’s up, Patty Jenkins? Doesn’t really matter cuz I’m in!
  • Supergirl — TBD — Yes, DC is giving Kara Danvers’ alter ego another shot at moviedom following Helen Slater’s take in the ’90s and the current series on The CW. Oren Uziel (Mortal Kombat, 22 Jump Street) scripts. No director is set yet.
  • X-Force A team franchise led by Deadpool, Fox will make it work for better or worse (Fantastic Four anyone?). Drew Goddard writes and directs this non-virtuous team of X-Men which also includes Josh Brolin’s Cable. Ryan Reynolds gets an EP credit. Perhaps, the Fox sale to Disney will stall this franchise once Marvel gains complete control.
  • Kitty Pryde — TBD — Comics writer Brian Michael Bender and Deadpool director Tim Miller are developing a feature (with the code name 143) around the X-girl who walks through walls.  No word yet if Ellen Page will reprise the role. Miller is set to direct.
  • Joker & Harley — TBD — DC Comics is such a mess that they are developing another movie around The Joker played by Jared Leto who reprises the role from Suicide Squad. Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (Bad Santa) script. The AV Club Has The Details Here…
  • The Eternals — TBD — Marvel introduces a new batch of Greek-inspired super heroes based on a number of comics from decades past. Chloe Zhao (Songs My Brother Taught Me) is attached to direct. Script is by Matthew and Ryan Firpo. This franchise will connect the Avengers to X-Men, most likely.  Nerdist Breaks It All Down For Ya… 
  • A Quiet Place 2: Even More Quiet (working title) — May 15th — John Krasinski returns as screenwriter to the hit horror film that starred Emily Blunt as someone who can step on a nail and not scream her lungs out! Now that is a super power.
  • The Batman  — TBD — Via Deadline Hollywood, production on this long-delayed movie was set for Spring/Summer 2019, which means its release date is Summer 2020. Ben Affleck returns in some capacity (or does he? Hopefully, his time spent in Rehab was beneficial and successful). Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, War for the Planet of the Apes) directs from his own script which is not an Origin Story, thank Gotham. Story remains a Detective Noir piece set within Gotham City.

BRANAGH AS POIROT

  • Death on the Nile — Oct. 2nd — Make no mistake. Hercule Poirot, the world’s greatest detective, is Kenneth Branagh’s super hero role of a lifetime (not counting Gilderoy Lockhart, natch).  Following the successful re-make of Murder on the Orient Express, Branagh re-teams with scribe Michael Green (Blade Runner 2049, American Gods) to re-make another Agatha Christie classic. Gal Gadot and Armie Hammer are set to star (presumably, taking the roles played by Mia Farrow and Simon MacCorkindale in the original).
  • Suicide Squad — TBD — James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy, Vols. 1, 2 and script for 3) has signed to write (and to possibly direct) a re-boot of the villainous ensemble which features DC’s The Joker, Harley Quinn, Deadshot & Co.

BLACK WIDOW SOLO

  • Black Widow — TBD — Scarlett Johansson nabs a $15 million payday (per THR) for her own solo film which is supposedly an origin story pre-Avengers, so expect Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury to recruit her to S.H.I.E.L.D. Am assuming the big raise comes on the heels of her 7-picture contract expiring with Avengers 4. Cate Shortland (Lore) is set to direct from a script by Jac Schaeffer (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels).
  • Justice League Part Two — (SO VERY TBD as in Not Happening) Clearly, this sequel is not happening since Henry Cavill has hung up his cape, and Ben Affleck seems uninsurable after a lengthy stint in rehab. I guess Wonder Woman, The Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman could still welcome Green Lantern, but I am not going to get my hopes up too high. Supposedly, Zack Snyder wanted to kill-off Batman, per A/V Club.
  • Indiana Jones: I’m Too Old For This Shit (Working Title) — TBD — There’s a writer’s room assembled at Amblin. Spielberg to direct Harrison Ford. Let’s wait and see, shall we? Am still not over the dreadful Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. No script yet, per producer Frank Marshall.
  • Black Panther 2 — TBD — Ryan Coogler has signed to write and to direct the sequel to the super hit which will take us all back to Wakanda. Expect a late 2020 release at the earliest (per THR). Who’s the next villain, though? Nerdist Scopes Out Six Potentials. 
  • Avatar 2 — Dec. 18th — Now in production, the sequel to the highest grossing film in history will finally hit theatres in a non-Star Wars month. James Cameron writes and directs, natch.

HARWOOD

  • Flashpoint  (2021 — TBA) Ezra Miller’s standalone film has been plagued with problems: New script and new director (John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein who wrote Spider-Man: Homecoming and who directed Game Night) caused the film to get pushed back. Hope they get this film on track as Miller was the highlight of the Justice League. This DC film will likely move to 2021 as it doesn’t go into production until late 2019 to accommodate Miller’s shooting schedule on Fantastic Beasts 3 (which means his character survives Fantastic Beasts 2, no?). DC Film Slate Gets All Shook Up  Gal Gadot supposedly returns as Wonder Woman!– Here’s a very sketchy T I M E L I N E of the project’s troubled development, per EW.
  • Doctor Strange 2: Wong in Paradise  (2021 — TBA) Marvel has signed Scott Derrickson to direct the sequel starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the Master of Medieval Arts.

N E X T   U P :

When Is Too Much TV Just Too Much?

NEO AS THE ARCHITECT

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TV Surf Report: Hollywood Loves True Crime, The Trend That Keeps On Trending…

SERIAL

Santa Monica, CA — Lately every day in America, I feel as though I wake up to yet another True Crime story the moment I turn on National Public Radio:  What has POTUS done today? Which Hollywood mogul has resigned due to scandal? Who is the latest to be Accused? Sadly, a gruesome murder would be a welcome respite at this point. (I jest…mostly.)

While I have certainly tired of True Crime stories, Hollywood most definitely has not.

Blame Ryan Murphy’s multiple Emmy Award-winning limited series, The Assassination of Gianni Versace, for continuing this trend (which picked up a lot of steam with Murphy’s The People Vs. OJ Simpson).

MAKING A MURDERER

If True Crime TV ain’t your jam, check out 33 Great True Crime Books As Picked By True Crime Writers, Per Vulture. My favorite is In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.

Podcasts on True Crime are thriving, as well. Uproxx Lists The 20 Best True Crime Podcasts.

Meanwhile back to TV, here’s some of what’s in the ol’ development pipeline and heading your way:

  • Unsolved Mysteries (Netflix) Shawn Levy and original creators Cosgrove/Meurer team up for a reboot of the successful NBC true crime documentary series that was hosted by Robert Stack.
  • Interrogation (CBS All Access) Peter Sarsgaard set to star as a detective investigating a young man who murdered his mother. Series order.
  • The Act at Hulu. Calum Worthy, Joey King, and Patricia Arquette star in this seasonal anthology character-based series whose first season is adapted from Michelle Dean’s 2016 Buzzfeed article, Dee Dee Wanted Her Daughter To Be Sick, Gypsy Wanted Her Mom To Be Murdered. Here are details via Deadline Hollywood.
  • Making a Murderer at Netflix. S2 premieres Oct. 19th. Filmmakers return to Wisconsin to follow the post-conviction aftermath of a man who allegedly murdered a woman. Here’s the T R A I L E R for S2.The Wrap has all the details about S2.
  • Crimetown at FX. S2 of this podcast explores the corruption in Detroit. S1 focused on Rhode Island’s corruption.  New season launched Oct. 1st. From the producers of The Jinx.

laworderlogo

  • Law & Order: Hate Crimes at NBC. Dick Wolf gets a series order for the latest iteration of his hit series franchise. New 13-episode spin-off will be featured within an SVU and focus on New York’s Hate Crimes Task Force.  How uplifting! Deadline has more details here.
  • Escape at Dannemora at Showtime. Benicio Del Toro and Patricia Arquette star in the limited series about two guys who escape from prison with the help of a female admirer. Arquette recently won a Golden Globe Award for her performance. Ben Stiller executive produces and directs this 8-parter. Here’s the Trailer, per THR.
  • Fever at BBC America.  Elizabeth Moss stars as Typhoid Mary, a immigrant imprisoned for spreading the disease among wealthy New England families. Based on Mary Beth Keane’s novel.  Megan Ellison and Sue Naegle of Annapurna Films executive produce.
  • A Very English Scandal for BBC One. Hugh Grant stars as a disgraced Prime Minister who was accused and acquitted of murdering his ex-lover who is played by Ben Whishaw (in a Golden Globe-winning perf). Stephen Frears directs. It’s already premiered in the UK. Available now on Amazon. Here are 10 Things You Need To Know.
  • Serial at NPR.  S3 of the popular and influential podcast explores Cleveland’s criminal justice system.  Serial Is Still A Juggernaut, per Vulture.
  • Trial and Error: Ladykiller at NBC.  Even True Crime stories are getting the mockumentary treatment as evidenced by this sitcom which is one of my favorite series of 2018.  Trial & Error  is heavily influenced by Serial and Crimetown. Each season stars a new criminal defendant in the fictional town of East Peck.  John Lithgow is featured in S1, and the charming Kristin Chenoweth (American Gods, Pushing Daisies) steals the show in S2. Sorry to report that NBC has passed on a S3.  Could be heading to Hulu or to Amazon. We can all use a little levity, yes?

TRIAL AND ERROR CAST S2

  • Why Women Kill at CBS All Access. Marc Cherry (Devious Maids, Desperate Housewives) fictionalizes the nature of true crime murders in three different decades. All the murders are motivated by betrayal.
  • Defending Jacob at Apple. Chris Evans (Captain America, Snowpiercer) stars in this straight-to-series order about a man whose 14-year-old son is accused of murder. True story is based on William Landhay’s 2012 novel. Variety’s Got The Deets….  

And speaking of Serial, if you never saw Saturday Night Live‘s hilarious sendup of Serial‘s hard-hitting investigation into Santa Claus (featuring the wonderful Cecily Strong and Amy Adams), you must treat yourself to a good laugh:

SNL Serial: The Christmas Surprise

N E X T   U P :

When Is Too Much TV Just Too Much?

NEO AS THE ARCHITECT

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TV Surf Report: Witches Are On Fire, Um, Trending …But Will Audiences Be Spellbound?

CHARMED REBOOT CAST

Santa Monica, CA — Move over Vampires, Zombies, and Donald Trump, Witches are about to make a big comeback on the small screen(s).

That Hollywood Zeitgeist strikes again as broadcast networks, streaming services, and cable all seem to be whipping up the same sort of witchy brew. Coincidence? (Or perhaps, it’s the result of very intricate piece of spellwork that would make J.K. Rowling proud!)

It wasn’t too long ago that Charmed, True Blood and Midnight, Texas were casting spells and brewing potions. Still, what’s old is new again these days in TV.

Let’s take a look at those shows coming up that are more or less, Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered:

CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA POSTER

  • American Horror Story: Apocalypse (FX) The crossover (details here) of two seasons, Murder House and Coven, bring the story back to New Orleans where Sarah Paulson is The Supreme, the witch who runs that coven house which doubles as a school for wayward girls. Here’s a Re-Cap of the First Episode, per Vulture
  • Charmed (The CW) This re-boot from the EPs of Jane the Virgin ditches the San Francisco setting of the 10-year-old original hit and transplants the Sisters back East (or is it Vancouver?!). Now, the Charmed Ones are three Latinx sisters, each of whom shares a different father. Am thinking the timeslot is great (following Supergirl) on Sundays, so The Power of Three may triumph yet again despite the lack of support from original cast members Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano, or Rose McGowan.  Deadline Hollywood Agrees With Their Review. Premiered Oct. 14th. Here’s the Trailer which Explains It All
  • The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix) was to have been a spinoff of The CW’s Riverdale, however, the tone of this re-boot is much darker and in the vein of The Omen. Kiernan Shipka (Mad Men) stars as Sabrina. No word yet on a cameo by Melissa Joan Hart, who starred in ABC’s hit sitcom adaptation by Nell Scovell. Series has a 2-season order which bodes well. Also, I think Netflix has beaten the Buffy re-boot to the proverbial punch. Here’s the Trailer via EW
  • Bewitched (ABC) The EPs of Black-ish have garnered a big pilot production commitment for this re-boot which finds Samantha Stevens involved in an inter-racial marriage. More importantly, who gets to play nosy neighbor Gladys Kravitz or mother-in-law, Endora?  I have a bad feeling about this one.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TBD) The Scooby Gang is coming back but with all new Scoobys and an all new Slayer. Presumably, one or more of the gang will have some Wiccan powers, or maybe, Alison Hannigan (Willow Rosenberg) will return to advise. I miss Anya.  Just me?  Monica Breen (Midnight, Texas) scripts. Joss Whedon consults. Also, have a bad feeling about this one, as well.  Money Grab. Sorry, fans.

A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES

  • A Discovery of Witches at SKY.  Matthew Goode and Teresa Palmer topline this adaptation of Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy.  Series premiered already in the UK, and hits the US in January 2019. The US Broadcast partner is Sundance Now, AMC’s SVOD service as well as Shudder, the streaming service specializing in Horror. Series has been renewed for S2 and S3 ahead of US debut. Oxford locations! I’m in. Here’s the very enticing Trailer.
  • The Witcher at Netflix. A group of young people hunt demons in this series based on Polish novelist Andrzej Sapkowski’s books.  Sean Daniel (The Mummy) produces.  Buffy 2.0 anyone? Henry Cavill (Mission: Impossible, Superman, Justice League) has signed on to star. Wow! Check out Henry Cavill’s Recent Post on Instagram!
  • His Dark Materials at BBC and HBO. Phillip Pullman’s books are quite supernatural as main character Lyra and her best friend travel the multiverse along with their daemons. It’s quite bewitching without really ever using the word, Witch. Two seasons are ordered for this expensive adaptation that features Dafne Keen, James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Now Shooting in Wales, Per Deadline
  • The Witching Hour (TBD) Anne Rice’s 1990 influential masterwork is the first book in a trilogy set in a mysterious house on First Street in the Garden District of New Orleans, the ancestral home of The Mayfair Witches. I LOVE THIS BOOK. Warner Bros. optioned the book in 1990 when it was first published, then NBC picked it up for a 12-hour miniseries. Expect this property to get hot again once The Vampire Chronicles goes into production at Hulu. Here’s a Summary of the Novel via Wikipedia

WITCHING HOUR BOOK

  • Penny Dreadful (Showtime) John Logan’s wonderful series gets revived with a new storyline set in 1930s Los Angeles, so expect lots of witchy hijinks and perhaps some magical realism. Can’t wait!

N E X T   U P :

 

AUTUMNAL EQUINOX

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TV Surf Report: Blame The Re-Boot Craze On The Success Of Battlestar Galactica, Hawaii Five-O, Will & Grace … And Fear

LOST IN SPACE

Santa Monica, CA — I finally got around to watching Netflix’ reboot of Lost in Space, one of my all-time childhood favorite TV series. The pilot felt (and looked) a bit drab introducing me to the The Robinsons, putting them into immediate jeopardy, but hooking the audience that stayed with them to the end with the introduction of Parker Posey as someone posing as Dr. Smith!

Danger Will Robinson!

I was immediately reminded of SyFy’s reboot of Battlestar Galactica, which also looked kinda drab in its pilot, but under Ron Moore’s brilliant guidance, BSG quickly found its footing and mythology which far surpassed the ABC original series from the ’80s.  BSG was so good, creatively-speaking, that it became an entertainment industry Influencer.

The successful re-boot of BSG influenced a generation of executives who saw for the first time that a re-boot can far surpass its original in both content and creativity and be financially successful for the studio that owns it. BSG, the movie, has been in development for several years now at Universal.

will-grace-revival

Reboots work*.

  • Hawaii Five-O (CBS) is now in its 9th season, recovering from a public berating over losing Grace Park (BSG) and Daniel Dae-Kim (Lost). The S9 premiere is a re-imagining of the Original 1968 Pilot, “Cocoon”
  • Fuller House (Netflix) Amazingly, this TGIF re-boot is in its 4th season.
  • Will & Grace (NBC) renewed NBC’s faith in Comedy with its 2-season pickup. This re-boot has been a tremendous success for the Peacock Network. Now, NBC needs to pick up Trial & Error for S3, a worthy companion to Will & Grace.
  • The X-Files (FOX) Mulder & Scully returned for two more seasons of government conspiracies and alien abductions. The audience returned, too, but ultimately left again by the end. Gillian Anderson says she’s done. Will The X-Files stay closed for good, though? Don’t bet on it.
  • MacGyver (CBS) is now in its 3rd season, but I still have not seen it.
  • Roseanne (ABC) is mutating into The Conners for S2 following the immediate firing of Roseanne Barr after one Tweet. Sara Gilbert, John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf return to Lanford, but the show will be missing its star when it returns.
  • Twin Peaks: The Return (Showtime) After 18 episodes, David Lynch appears to be finished with Agent Cooper & Co. No more pie for You. Some Emmy love might change that, though!
  • Dynasty (The CW) somehow eked out a S2. There’s a new Cristal, too. Not for me.
  • Lost in Space (Netflix) The Jupiter 2 has been renewed for S2. Lots of twists and turns to resolve…Deadline’s Review Says This ReBoot Never Takes Off

LOST IN SPACE NEW WILL ROBINSON

  • Charmed (The CW) Premieres this Fall on Sunday nights. Original star Holly Marie Combs has been pretty vocal with her non-support. We shall see if there is a new audience for this new take.
  • Murphy Brown (CBS) Candace Bergen and Diane English premiere their update Sept. 27th. Am not sure how well Murphy and the gang have aged and what they have to say about the current political climate. We shall see. Tyne Daly joins the cast replacing Phil the Bartender.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch (Netflix) Originally designed as a spinoff of The CW’s Riverdale, a darker more adult series was sold to Netflix as the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Series has definitely found an audience as Netflix recently ordered 16 more episodes to comprise S3 & S4. Am doubtful Melissa Joan Hart will be making a cameo in this latest incarnation of the Archie comic. Premieres October 26th And Stars Kiernan Shipka from Mad Men
  • Roswell (The CW) The YA soap about aliens living amongst us gets a Latinx twist in this new incarnation. Just premiered to good reviews.
  • Magnum P.I. (CBS) No Tom Selleck.  He’s still on Blue Bloods.  Don’t expect this one to be around for long. Variety Says New Version Has Plenty of Action But Fails to Soar.

murphy-brown-reboot with tyne daly

Meanwhile, studios are raiding their libraries for Titles like crazy (looking at you Sony Pictures Television), and desperate Networks are buying these re-boots because they are terrified of original ideas and the challenge of marketing them to an audience that is now impossible to reach due to the glut of content.

Here are the latest Titles to be plucked from Studio Libraries in hopes of garnering a Sale at a broadcast network or streaming service:

buffy-the-vampire-slayer

  • Unsolved Mysteries (Netflix) Shawn Levy EPs alongside original creators Cosgrove & Meurer on this true crime documentary series.
  • Queer As Folk (Bravo) More revival than reboot, new series will focus on new characters in a new setting than the UK original and the Showtime re-make.
  • Night Gallery (SyFy) The Rod Serling Anthology series about dark morality tales gets revived by the EPs of Teen Wolf and Midnight, Texas. Universal TV produces.
  • New York Undercover (ABC) The Fox cop drama returns with Dick Wolf as EP but presumably, new undercover cops.
  • Northern Exposure (CBS) Creators Brand and Falsey and series star Rob Morrow are in talks for a revival, so let’s all cheer on this return to quirky Cicely, Alaska.
  • Penny Dreadful (Showtime) Now, this revival is one I fully support as I loved creator John Logan’s beautiful three seasons chronicling Dracula, the Wolfman, and Frankenstein’s period London adventures. So much Love and Loss. The new series is set in 1930s Los Angeles. Nerdist Reminds Us Why We Loved Penny Dreadful.
  • The Real World (Facebook Watch) The groundbreaking MTV reality series about seven strangers picked to live in a house returns.  Smart move, Facebook. Fond memories of the first few seasons, one of which was set on Venice Beach.
  • NYPD Blue (ABC) Steven Bochco’s cop drama gets a sequel featuring the son of Andy Sipowicz (Dennis Franz). Here are the details via Entertainment Weekly.
  • Alias (TBD) Presumably, this will land at ABC which aired the original series that starred Jennifer Garner and was produced by J.J. Abrams. Meanwhile, Garner stars in HBO’s Camping.
  • Kung Fu (Fox). Uber producer Greg Berlanti EPs, and Albert Kim scripts this gender-flipped action procedural, Grasshopper. Variety Has The Details…
  • The Twilight Zone (CBS All Access) Oscar-winner Jordan Peele (Get Out) EPs and hosts the newest incarnation of this anthology classic. If memory serves, a writer by the name of George R. R. Martin once wrote for CBS’ reboot many years ago. Whatever happened to him? Here are the 13 Best Episodes of Twilight Zone, via Syfy Wire.
  • Party of Five (Freeform) Creators Chris Keyser and Amy Lippman reimagine their series about orphans, herein, the parents of the kids are deported to Mexico. Topical. Pilot order. Rodrigo Garcia directs. Sony Pictures TV scores another reboot!
  • Bewitched (ABC) Black-ish EP Kenya Barris and writer Yamara Taylor will bring an interracial spin to Samantha and Darrin Stevens. But who will play Gladys Kravitz??? I vote for Margo Martindale. Big pilot production commitment given to ABC Studios and to Sony TV (which owns the rights). Deadline Hollywood Has The Details …
  • Veronica Mars (Hulu) This low-rated but beloved detective series starring Kristen Bell has never lost its fan base or appeal, apparently. Eight eps. ordered.
  • Designing Women (ABC) Sony TV has been after creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason for years to re-boot Sugarbakers. Series star Dixie Carter (and the voice of Bloodworth-Thomason) passed away several years ago, I am sorry to report. This revival seems tailored for CBS, so we shall see.  Here is Bloodworth-Thomason’s Now Famous OpEd About Les Moonves at CBS.
  • Deadwood (HBO) Ian MacShane to topline a movie or limited series return to the foul-mouthed Western!
  • Baywatch (TBD) Yes, it’s hard to keep those Los Angeles County Lifeguards off TV for long.
  • The Facts of Life (TBD) Jessica Biel of all people is EPing the reboot. I suppose she must harbor a love for the original as she is the right age to have been influenced by its 9-year run.  Original Mrs. Garrett, Charlotte Rae, just passed away.
  • Alf (TBD) From the files of No Thank You, We’re Good.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TBD) Fox 21 Studios takes over from 20th Century Fox Television to produce the re-boot. The studio has struck a deal with Joss Whedon to EP, but not to write.  He’s got his HBO series to write. Instead, Whedon will oversee Monica Breen (Midnight, Texas) who wants to kickstart a new generation of Slayers with a new ethnically diverse one. So far, this sounds like a continuation of the Buffy mythology, so I hope they use a different title then. Meanwhile, the studio is looking for the highest bidder. I would not be surprised if it goes to sister company, FX. SMG and David Boreanaz Give Their Blessing To The ReBoot, Per EW
  • Frasier (TBD, but CBS is most likely) Star Kelsey Grammar is shopping the revival so expect a deal somewhere. Paramount owns the show, so sister company CBS is the likely winner. Also, it fits their white, older demo. Update: Grammar has recently stated that the reboot was not happening.
  • Mad About You (TBD) Star and EP Paul Reiser says the revival is unlikely at this point. That’s good news. Was not wild about this one.
  • The Hills (MTV). Um, who cares? Not I.  Lauren Conrad is not returning. Not that I care.
  • The L Word (Showtime) Have not heard much since it was announced. Slow track?
  • Tales of the City  (Netflix) Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis are set to reprise their roles. Not sure I want to return, though.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess (NBC) Seems frozen after the network passed on Javier Grillo-Marxuach’s script. Meanwhile, Wonder Woman is a cultural phenomenon. Wake up, NBC!

(*) Many Re-Boots fail, though: The Bionic Woman, Dark Shadows, The Bradys, Uncle Buck, Ironside, to name a few of recent memory.

Finally, this article is actually a Re-boot, of sorts. I wrote about this depressing Trend almost one year ago. How’s that for cyclical continuity in Television?

If you want to see which Re-boots didn’t go forward from last year, CLICK ON THIS COOL LINK TO SURFING HOLLYWOOD FROM AUGUST 2017

(Hint:  That James Gunn-produced re-boot of Starsky & Hutch never happened. Darn it!)

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AUTUMNAL EQUINOX

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