TV Surf Report: Hollywood Continues To Adapt (For All Platforms)

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Santa Monica, CA — Thanks to HBO and to the uber-successful Game of Thrones, the Adaptation Trend has been in full-swing for several years now as Hollywood seeks to break through all the clutter with Intellectual Property Titles that audiences are already predisposed to like (and will thereby, tune in).

My favorite new series of 2019 is AMC’s acquisition of SKY TV’s brilliant adaptation of Deborah Harkness’ A Discovery of Witches (renewed through S3).

It’s not just popular best-selling books that are being adapted as series, either:

  • Video Games (World-building is a new buzzword!)
  • Podcasts (Did you go to the App Store and Vote for your Favorite?)
  • Magazine & Newspaper Articles (An Evergreen resource!)
  • Songs (Dolly Parton, You Are Talented!)
  • Foreign Series (adapted for the US market)
  • Graphic Novels (about Super Heroes, natch)

GOLDEN COMPASS

  • The Stand (CBS All Access) James Marsden set to star in this 10-episode adaptation of Stephen King’s novel. Josh Boone (The Fault In Our Stars) EPs with Ben Cavell (Justified, Homeland).
  • Langdon (NBC) Best-selling author Dan Brown’s symbologist sleuth Robert Langdon gets a younger version adaptation for broadcast TV. Sorry, Tom Hanks, but you are too damn old for the 18-49 crowd. We’ll always have The Da Vinci Code.  Imagine TV produces. Series will be a prequel of sorts and is based on the story in Brown’s The Lost Symbol, which is a fun DC caper that follows Brown’s successful formula of having Langdon on the run with a beautiful woman. Expect lots of Masons! Production commitment. Daniel Cerrone (Constantine) EPs.
  • Over My Dead Body (Warner Media Streaming) Elizabeth Banks produces and directs this series adaptation of a podcast about the trials and tribulations of a married couple whose relationship is chronicled from the NY Times engagement announcement through their marriage, divorce, and murder trial. Sounds cool.
  • Pachinko (Apple TV) Min Jin Lee’s novel chronicles four generations of Korean immigrants and will be told in three different languages:  Korean, Japanese, and English. Interesting! Soo Hugh (The Terror) scripts and EPs.
  • Time Bandits (Apple TV) Terry Gilliam’s film gets adapted for TV by none other than Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnorak) who will write and direct the pilot.  Looking forward!
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude (Netflix) Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ novel about seven generations of the Buendia Family and the utopian town they inhabit finally gets adapted. This is a big get!
  • Heart of Life (ABC) is inspired by the John Mayer song and centers on two sets of adult siblings who discover they share the same father. I think we’re very much in This Is Us territory here. Pilot order. Harry Shum Jr. (Crazy Rich Asians) set to star. Ben Queen (Powerless) scripts.
  • Lincoln (NBC) Jeffrey Deaver’s book which was adapted for film and became The Bone Collector starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie, now becomes a TV series about an injured forensic criminologist called back into service to catch the serial killer responsible for injuring him. Of course, he’s paired with a young female beat cop.  Yawn. Bored now.
  • Four Weddings And A Funeral (Hulu) Mindy Kaling  adapts Mike Newell’s popular British film for the streaming audience.
  • My Glory Was I Had Such Friends at Apple. J.J. Abrams and Jennifer Garner produce/star in this 13-episode adaptation of Amy Silverstein’s memoir about her circle of women friends who helped her as she waited for a life-saving transplant. Premieres in late 2019.
  • The Watch at BBC America. Based on the Discworld novels by Sir Terry Prachett (Good Omens), eight episodes of the punk rock thriller with misfit cops have been ordered.
  • Joyland at Freeform. Stephen King’s novel about a college student working a summer job at an amusement park gets adapted for a pilot. Chris Pena (Jane the Virgin) scripts.
  • It Takes Two at FOX. The memoir of Property Brothers, the home improvement reality series with the photogenic twin brother contractors is being adapted as a half-hour comedy. Cue obnoxious laugh track! Daily Variety Has The Scoop.
  • Ranger at CBS. The novel by James Patterson gets adapted for pilot development.
  • Dracula at BBC One and Netflix. The Sherlock maestros, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, adapt Bram Stoker’s classic novel into three 90-minute episodes (or movies).
  • Whites at NBC. Matt Tarses adapts the British restaurant workplace comedy for Will Arnett and the US audience.
  • Limetown at Facebook Watch. Based on a podcast about a Pulic Radio reporter who investigates the disappearances of hundreds of people in Tennessee, Jessica Biel (The Sinner) stars. Ten episodes ordered. Deadline Has The Details.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia at Netflix. This seems like a big deal to me as these books are evergreen stories that can be re-made for each generation. Seems like Netflix aims to create a Narnia Universe and create series from there while making features from the main titles. Am a bit surprised Disney/Fox allowed the option on these books to lapse. Smart buy, Netflix.
  • Wheel of Time at Amazon.  Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) set to topline this series order for this action fantasy drama adaptation of Robert Jordan’s best-selling books, wherein, Magic exists, but only women can wield it. Rafe Judkins (Agents of Shield) writes and EPs for Amazon Studios and Sony Pics TV.
  • His Dark Materials at BBC One and HBO. HBO Acquires Broadcast Rights Outside The UK, per Deadline.  Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) directs this massive TV adapation of Philip Pullman’s fantasy novels with a cast that includes James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Dafne Keen (Logan). Production is underway in Wales on S1. Meanwhile, the BBC Orders 2nd Season of 8 Episodes.
  • Foundation at Apple TV.  David S. Goyer (DaVinci’s Demons, Krypton) and Josh Friedman (Snowpiercer, Sarah Conner Chronicles) get 10 episodes to adapt Isaac Asimov’s SF trilogy about the 1000-year saga of people defying the Galactic Empire. Hmm. I wonder if George Lucas read these books prior to Star Wars. Just a thought!
  • Run Away at Netflix. Adaptation of Harlan Coben’s novel and part of an overdeal that encompasses 14 of Coben’s books.  He has two other series on Netflix:  Safe starring Michael C. Hall (Dexter) and No Second Chance.
  • Shogun at FX. A new adaptation of James Clavell’s novel gets a 10-episode order.
  • Hey There Delilah at TBD.  The Plain White Ts’ hit tune is headed to TV. I love this song and am not discounting this effort. Oh, what you do to me!  Songs That Should Be Adapted For TV, via EW
  • The Vampire Chronicles at Hulu. Anne Rice, Christopher Rice and Anonymous Content exec produce this series based on 11 of Rice’s Vampire Chronicles books which center on Lestat who becomes a vampire in medieval Paris and continues a long journey of immortality with stops along the way as a rock star, an otherworldly adventure with The Devil, and a body snatching. Looking forward! Shoots in September.

HALO

  • Halo at Showtime. 10-episode series order for this popular video game from Microsoft with Amblin producing this futuristic conflict. Kyle Killen scripts and EPs with Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) set to direct. Pablo Schreiber (American Gods) set to star.
  • Watchmen at HBO. Damon Lindelof (The Leftovers, Lost) delves back into the Alan Moore graphic novel source material and assembles a stellar cast of Super Heroes that includes Jeremy Irons, Regina King, Tim Blake Nelson, Don Johnson, and Louis Gossett, Jr. Nicole Kassell (The Leftovers) directed the pilot. Series order. Interestingly, Lindelof says his take is more “remix” than adaptation of the graphic novel with some new characters to explore.  More world-building! Damon Lindelof Loves A Sad Ending – New York Public Library Interview
  • The Lord of the Rings at Amazon. Warner Bros. TV is producing a prequel series adaptation of the J.R.R. Tolkien classic novels set in Middle Earth.  Per Rotten Tomatoes, the series timeline take place in The Second Age of Middle Earth.  Am thinking we will see lots of Sauron, the Three Rings of the Elves, and those darn Ring Wraiths and the Nine Kings who were betrayed! Sounds good to me. Writers have been hired, but no Showrunner set yet. Not Ready Until 2021!
  • I Know This Much Is True at HBO.  Mark Ruffalo stars in and EPs this 8-hour miniseries adaptation of the Wally Lamb best-selling novel, playing dual roles (Loved It!).  Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine) writes and directs. High hopes for this one.

N E X T   U P:

Planting A Garden And Watching It Grow Is Better Than Anything On TV

BUCKETS OF ZINNIAS FOR GH COLUMN JUNE 30

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TV Surf Report: When Is Too Much TV … Just Too Much?

NEO AS THE ARCHITECT

Santa Monica, CA — My list of TV series to watch/binge just keeps longer and longer. Not good.  There’s just too much good TV to watch! Damn the British and their well-made sex comedies!

I love TV, but I feel overwhelmed by the amount of it. Don’t you? Watercooler Television is a thing of the past because who has got an hour just to hang out and talk about what they’re watching?!

I sense we have reached peak Peak TV. As a result, I am watching less and less TV, and I don’t appreciate the pressure of trying to keep up!

Plus, the cost factor: You’ve got your $100/month cable bill (well you do if you are over 40 years of age, I am a cord cutter of many years past), plus your Netflix account (too many shows to watch at $12.99/mo.!), and your Amazon Prime account ($59/yr.), and your CBS All Access pass ($5.99/mo.), your impending Disney+ account (priced to sell like hotcakes at $6.99/mo.), and your recent subscription to DC Universe ($7.99/mo.) and to Shudder ($4.99/mo.), and on and on… oh, and don’t forget your new Apple TV account (price TBD) because your phone is about to be bombarded with Ads for those wonderful new series that Reese Witherspoon demands we watch. Wait, there’s more!  Comcast/NBC/Universal is launching a streaming service as is Warner Bros., so that’s two more subscriptions to factor. Jeez!

That’s $150.00+/month, $1,800.00/year! And counting…..

It’s just too much.

      

Here’s what waiting in my Queue:

  • Sex Education (Netflix) Gillian Anderson stars as a mother who is also a therapist to a teenage son going through puberty in this 8-episode British comedy. Here’s the very engaging and funny T R A I L E R for S1.
  • After Life (Netflix) A friend from Cornwall recommended this series to me and now I know why: Ricky Gervais creates and stars as a widower trying to get his life back on track. Here’s the delightfully melancholy T R A I L E R for S1.
  • Yellowstone (Paramount Network) Kevin Costner stars in cable’s #1 drama which is about to premiere S2. I need to catch up.  Here’s the very tension-filled  T R A I L E R for S2.
  • Schitt’s Creek (Pop) An actor friend raves about Eugene Levy’s series on Pop which is about to conclude its run with one more season. Bravo, Catherine O’Hara!
  • Riviera (Sundance) S2 premieres soon of this guilty pleasure from writer/director Neil Jordan who takes the family soap opera to new highs (and lows).  Julia Stiles stars.  Fun Fact: I discovered this series while on a Delta flight.  The first two episodes had me hooked. This is the Riviera, darling. People get away with everything. Here’s the fantastic T R A I L E R for S2.
  • Supernatural (The CW) 15S to watch! Not gonna happen anytime soon.
  • Good Omens (Amazon) premieres May 31st and I am really looking forward to this 6-episode limited series adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s book about an angel and a demon who try to thwart the Apocalypse when the Anti-Christ goes missing. It’s a comedy. I need a good laugh. Great cast, too:  David Tenant, Michael Sheen, Jon Hamm, and Frances McDormand.
  • What We Do In The Shadows (FX) This show makes me laugh. Or, at least the promos do.  I haven’t had the time to check it out yet.  I love Taika Waititi and Jermaine Clement so much. Here’s the stupidly funny T R A I L E R for S1.
  • American Gods (Starz) S2 I have been reluctant to check out the second season after showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green were fired following an outstanding S1. Plus, Gillian Anderson and Kristin Chenoweth did not return as well. I love love the book and will catch up eventually.  Reviews for S2 were decidedly mixed.
  • A Discovery Of Witches (AMC) Okay, this is the must-see TV series for me right now. I have read each novel in Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy as well as the most recent entry, Time’s Convert.  I love this world and think this 8-episode series is impeccably cast: There’s someone from Sherlock, from Doctor Who, from Da Vinci’s Demons, and Downton Abbey. It’s a good sign that this series which premiered to big numbers in the UK has already been renewed for S2 and S3. Here’s the moody, romantic and action-packed T R A I L E R for S1.
  • Knightfall (History Channel) S2 Mark Hamill joins the cast of the Templar Knight drama which is EPd by Jeremy Renner. I’m in!
  • Berlin Station (just cancelled after S3) on EPIX  I loved S1 of this political thriller set in Berlin as it was so reminiscent of one of my favorite films, Three Days of Condor. Richard Armitage and Richard Jenkins are terrific.
  • Fleabag (Amazon) S2 of the sexy comedy series starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge just premiered, and Anthony Stewart Head (Buffy) is raving about it on Twitter, so I’m in.  Here’s the T R A I L E R for S2.
  • Law & Order: SVU (20 seasons!) on NBC. Dear, God, really?! Perhaps, if I find myself holed up in a cabin one winter, I’ll do a deep dive. Until then, Mariska Hargitay, you’re just gonna have to wait for me to catch up.
  • Killing Eve (BBC America) Just renewed for S3, this drama starring Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer is the closest thing to watercooler talk I’ve experienced lately as it seems everyone is talking about this show.
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (The CW) This much beloved, niche series suffered from a terrible title that just kept me away for most if not all of its run. Now concluded, I will one day have the time and the inclination to check it out. All those musical numbers!
  • Russian Doll (Netflix) Amy Poehler EPs this Groundhog Day-esque drama noir starring Natasha Lyonne. People love it.  I watched the first episode and not the rest of S1.

What’s on your list of TV Series To Binge?  Lemme know in the Comments section, please.  I don’t want to miss out.  The pressure to keep up is tremendous. Aaarrrrgh!

N E X T   U P:

Spring Is Here. And So Are My Seasonal Allergies. Let’s Road Trip!

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TV Surf Report: Take A Bite Out Of Apple TV’s Upcoming Development Slate Of Original Programming…

   

Santa Monica, CAApple TV  launches March 25th,  but the newest addition to our Streaming World has a lot of exciting programming in development that we can watch soon on our phones*, watches, tablets and various other Apple devices. We just have to wait a few more months, though.

The type of programming Apple is developing tells us about their Strategy (and Audience):

Firstly, they ordered projects Straight to Series with 10 episodes, no effing Pilot bullshit! Secondly, they like Big Names: Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Chris Evans, Brie Larson, Jennifer Garner, and Octavia Spencer.

Thirdly, like every other programmer out there, Apple is relying heavily on Adaptations (books, films, series).  Original Concepts comprise a low percentile of Apple’s development slate (see the cool list I made for you below!). Apple is going for shows that already have a built-in audience waiting to see them (and talk about them on Social Media).

Apple is a Blue Chip Brand, and I would not bet against them, especially since the company is devoting $1 Billion in producing original content in the next year. Variety Projects Apple to Spend 4.2 Billion by 2022

It’s looking like Apple will launch it streaming service with content from partners like HBO, Showtime and Starz before premiering its original series later this year, so enjoy all the Carpool Karaoke you can handle, per Bloomberg News.

   

The Sony Connection.

Apple’s gain is Sony’s loss as its executives all come from that studio: Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg are running the show. Kim Rozenfeld oversees current programming. Max Aronson and Ali Woodruff are the development execs. One of their high profile producers is Ronald D. Moore (Outlander), who has a deal with Sony.

Meanwhile, the Competition for Streaming looks fierce as Apple, DC Universe (featuring all those DC super heroes), Disney+ (featuring all those Marvel super heroes), Warner Bros. (Friends reruns!) , and NBC/Universal/Comcast all will be vying for our attention and dollars.

Let’s take a look at what $1 Billion gets ya: No Super Heroes. True Crime, Family Drama and Science Fiction, though!  Again, most of these series are Adaptations:

                    

  • Pachinko is an adaptation of Min Jin Lee’s novel which tells the story of four generations of a Korean immigrant family. Drama will be told in three languages:  Korean, Japanese and English. Interesting! Soo Hugh (The Terror) scripts and EPs. Michael Ellenberg’s company, Media Res, produces.  Ellenberg is a former HBO exec.
  • Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA is another adaptation of a memoir which is to star Brie Larson (Captain Marvel). Ellenberg and Media Res produce.
  • Untitled Morning Show with Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston starring in this drama about Morning TV inspired by Brian Stelter’s book Top of the Morning: Inside The Cutthroat World of Morning TV . Steve Carell also stars. Jay Carson (House of Cards) scripts this 10-episode series which has a guaranteed two-season order. Michael Ellenberg also EPs alongside Witherspoon and Aniston, who will be making $1.25m per episode!
  • Time Bandits is an adaptation of Terry Gilliam’s film by Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnorak) who will write and direct the first episode. A time travel comedy.  I’m in!
  • My Glory Was I Had Such Friends  J.J. Abrams and Jennifer Garner produce/star in this 13-episode adaptation of Amy Silverstein’s memoir about her circle of women friends who helped her as she waited for a live-saving transplant. Premieres in late 2019.
  • Shantaram Paramount TV and Anonymous Content produce this adaptation of Gregory David Roberts’ novel. Eric Warren Singer (American Hustle) scripts and EPs this epic story set in Australia and India.
  • Dickinson is a half-hour comedy starring Hailee Steinfeld (Pitch Perfect). Anonymous Content produces.
  • Foundation David S. Goyer (DaVinci’s Demons, Krypton) and Josh Friedman (Snowpiercer, Sarah Conner Chronicles) get 10 episodes to adapt Isaac Asimov’s SF trilogy about the 1000-year saga of people defying the Galactic Empire. Hmm. I wonder if George Lucas read these books prior to Star Wars. Just a thought!
  • Defending Jacob Chris Evans (Captain America, Snowpiercer) stars in this straight-to-series order about a man whose 14-year-old son is accused of murder. Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) co-stars. True Crime story is based on William Landhay’s 2012 novelVariety’s Got The Deets….  
  • Amazing Stories Steven Spielberg’s anthology series gets a re-boot here.  Bryan Fuller (American Gods) was attached initially to EP but has since left the project. Ten episodes ordered.
  • For All Mankind Ron Moore (Outlander, BSG) has a cool SciFi drama that ponders the question, what if the Space Race never ended? Sony TV produces. Lone Original Concept in the inaugural development slate. Interesting to note that the ex-Sony execs programming Apple TV go with someone like Moore whom they know and trust to deliver. Joel Kinnaman, Sarah Jones, Michael Dorman, and Jodi Balfour lead the cast.
  • Are You Sleeping stars Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water, The Help) in a drama about this country’s obsession with true crime stories and podcasts and how crime solving plays out in public. Series is adapted from Kathleen Barber’s novel.  Reese Witherspoon and Peter Chernin EP. Nichelle Tramble Spellman (The Good Wife) scripts and EPs. Ten episodes ordered. This series has a great cast that includes Elizabeth Perkins, Lizzy Caplan, Aaron Paul, and Tracie Toms.

(*) I did not realize my phone already has an Apple TV icon, but it does! Yours does, too.

U P    N E X T:

When Is Too Much TV … Just Too Much?!?

 

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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!) Ousted Chief Richard Plepler is replaced by Bob Greenblatt, who will oversee the new Warner Media which will include TNT and TBS. GQ Explores Why HBO Can’t Stay The Same.

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. Marti Noxon Hints At A S2, per Deadline.
  • Big Little Lies really got everyone talking about Moms in Monterey thanks to Jean-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.
  • Barry seems to be the successor to Veep as the network’s best comedy. Now in its 2nd season (premiering March 31st), the Bill Hader series is racking up awards as well as fans. More Henry Winkler! Renewed for S3.
  • 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.
  • Insecure is a mid-level performer in the half-hour comedy genre that hasn’t quite crossed over into the mainstream. Still, HBO likes star Issa Rae 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 (recently cancelled), High Maintenance (renewed for S4)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, Amy Adams, 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:

  • Industry — Lena Dunham (Girls, Camping) returns with an 8-episode drama series set in the world of international finance in London. Twentysomethings are involved. Okay. Excitement level is minimal. Dunham will direct the pilot.
  • The Third Day — Jude Law stars in the six-part limited series set on a mysterious island off the coast of England.  From the producers of Chernobyl, which was a big hit for SKY and HBO.
  • Showtime — Adam McKay (Vice, Anchorman) EPs this drama adaptation of a non-fiction book about the ’80s stars of the LA Lakers basketball team. Max Borenstein (Kong: Skull Island) scripts. Sounds like a companion series or a replacement for Ballers. Pilot order.
  • Avenue 5 — Hugh Laurie toplines this new comedy from Armando Iannucci (Veep) about space tourism. Sounds fun. Josh Gad (Beauty & the Beast) co-stars.
  • Lake Success — Jake Gyllenhaal EPs and stars in this limited series adaptation of Gary Shteyngart novel as a hedge fund manager who faces a life crisis of sorts.
  • Plot Against America — Winona Ryder stars in this 6-episode drama adaptation of Philip Roth’s alternate-history novel. David Simon and Ed Burns EP.
  • The Undoing — Nicole Kidman stars and EPs this limited series created by David E. Kelley (Big Little Lies) about a woman who’s life unravels overnight when her husband disappears. Hugh Grant, Lily Rabe, Edgar Ramirez, and Donald Sutherland also star. Sounds good.
  • The Poisonwood Bible — Barbara Kingsolver’s gripping novel is the first project in development with Amy Adams’ production company. Great get!
  • Asunda — Sebastian A. Jones’ fantasy comics get adapted as a YA drama series with an orphan girl as the protagonist who must unite two nations against an ancient enemy.
  • 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 and Miranda Richardson (!!) is heading your way following the conclusion of the series this Spring. It won’t air until 2020, but 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 terrific novel gets a second chance following the poorly received feature version starring Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams. Series order.
  • 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. Laura Donnelly (Outlander) set to star.
  • Deadwood — David Milch’s period Western returns for a 2-hour movie follow-up with Ian MacShane ready to cuss up a storm. Premieres May 31st. This is HBO’s rare re-boot. Here’s the Trailer. Perhaps, we’ll see a follow up to Sex And The City. I sure hope so.  Where ya been, Charlotte?
  • Perry Mason — Another re-boot here. Matthew Rhys (The Americans) replaces Robert Downey Jr. who was set to star in the role made famous by Raymond Burr. Tatiana Maslany also stars, but will she be playing Stella Street?! Series order. Tim Van Patten directs the period piece which is set in 1932 Los Angeles.
  • Run — Merritt Weaver (Birdman) stars alongside Domhnall Gleeson (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) as a woman who reunites with her old flame.  Series order for Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Killing Eve) who EPs. Vicky Jones scripts. EOne is the production co.
  • Euphoria — Zendaya stars in this ensemble YA series which is a US adaptation of an Israeli series.  Executive produced by Drake and Sam Levinson, who also scripts. Premieres June 16th. Trailer looks great. Check it out H E R E.
  • The Righteous Gemstones — Danny McBride stars in this comedy as world-famous televangelist with a crazy family that includes John Goodman and Adam Devine. Series order.
  • Mrs. Fletcher — Kathryn Hahn stars in the comedy adaptation of Tom Perrotta’s book which is a dual coming-of-age story about a mother and her college-age son.

Here’s a First Look At HBO’s New & Returning Series

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.

 Santa Monica Addresses Homelessness.

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. Kim Cattrall set to star.
  • 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 … {Xena War Cry!!! or Defeated Sigh}

DCU TITANS

Santa Monica, CA — Just when you thought we’d satiated the audience’s hunger for Super Heroes with the ever-expanding but aging Arrowverse comes the DC Universe (which is in jeopardy due to the impending launch of Warner Media Streaming) and Disney’s forthcoming streaming service, Disney+, which I think will be a big big hit especially considering the excitement about Avengers: Endgame.

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).  How Avengers: Endgame Sets Up Marvel Series On Disney Plus, per Nerdist.

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

Marvel TV:

DAREDEVIL S3

  • Ghost Rider on Hulu. Gabriel Luna set to star. What no Nic Cage?????
  • Helstrom on Hulu. What in the hell is Helstrom, you ask? Me, too. More to come.
  • Hawkeye on Disney+. Jeremy Renner is set to reprise his role as Clint Barton in a limited series for the as yet-unlaunched streamer. Marvel is really utilizing its deep bench of supporting Avengers!
  • 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. Cancelled after two seasons.
  • The Runaways at Hulu. S2 now streaming. Renewed for S3.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. at ABC. Is the series still on? Yes, S6 premieres May 8th. 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. Final seasons premieres June 24th.
  • 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(re on the air. That’s all ya need to know about the DC Universe because Berlanti is King of the World there.

  • Lobo at SyFy. This is a pilot spinoff of Krypton, featuring the intergalactic bounty hunter played by Emmett J. Scanlan.
  • Gotham at Fox. S5 just concluded as did the series by finally introducing Batman, and yet Batman prequels are all the rage right now. Weird.
  • Lucifer cancelled at Fox but picked up by Netflix for S4 (now streaming) and renewed for S5 (the final season). Graham McTavish (Aquaman, Outlander, LOTR) guest stars.  Here is the devilish S4 T R A I L E R.
  • Krypton on SyFy. The family saga led by Superman’s grandfather continues in S2, which premieres June 12th. Here’s the T R A I L E R.
  • Arrow at The CW. Series star Stephen Ammel just announced that S8 will be the series’ last. That’s big news for the Arrowverse and its subsequent spinoffs, The Flash  (renewed for S6), DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (renewed for S5) and Black Lightning (renewed for S3).Ten Episodes Will Wrap It Up In The Fall, per Deadline.
  • Supergirl on The CW. What began as a high profile mismatch on CBS is now a good fit on The CW’s new Sunday night aimed squarely at young girls. Jon Cryer joins the cast as Lex Luthor. Renewed for S5.
  • Swamp Thing at DC Universe. James Wan (Aquaman) EPs this series which premiered May 31st and cancelled within one week after its debut.  Len Wiseman (Underworld) directs. Jennifer Beals, Will Patton, and Virginia Madsen set to star. Here’s a 1st-Look Trailer.

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 Brec Bassinger who stars as a high school sophomore and a group of teen superheroes. Justice League Jr.!  Premieres in 2020. 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. Esai Morales is set to star as Deathstroke in S2. 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 set in 1960s London. Premieres July 28th. 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 and voices an android, 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)  Renewed for S3 with Charles Eglee tapped as the new showrunner. S2 premiered to lotsa buzz and mixed reviews. Ricky Whittle returns as Neil Gaiman’s hero, Shadow Moon, but Gillian Anderson will not return as the goddess Media, replaced by New Media. Clever. Neil Gaiman promises S3 will take us to Laketown, a major setting in the novel, so I can’t wait to see who is cast as Hinzleman! 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 has been renewed for S5. Never dug the casting here. Ho Hum. Musical episode! I may have to give it a binge, though. More Magic Promised For S5, per EW.
  • Preacher (AMC) has just been picked up for S4, which will be its last. Dominic Cooper stars in this successful adaptation of the graphic novel. Seth Rogen EPs.
  • Umbrella Academy (Netflix)  Ellen Page leads this ensemble of super heroes. Just renewed for S2.
  • The Boys (Amazon) From the guys who brought us Preacher comes a new series from a cancelled DC Comic (too raunchy!) starring Karl Urban (Star Trek) in an ensemble comedy about a group of guys with superpowers who like to hang out together. Here’s the T R A I L E R for the series which premieres July 26th.
  • Ultraman (Netflix) I loved this series as a kid. A fighter pilot merges with a monster, sort of a Japanese version of Incredible Hulk, but with really really bad monsters, voice dubbing, etc. Premieres April 1st. Interested to see how it’s been re-imagined.
  • Future Man (Hulu) Josh Hutcherson stars as a janitor by day, gamer hero by night who saves the day. Seth Rogen EPs. Just renewed for S3.
  • The Tick (Amazon) S2 of this re-boot now streaming. Series has not been renewed for S3.

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 Kingsman Vs Elle Woods!

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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 (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) — 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  

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.
  • Kingsman: The Great Game — Feb. 14th — Matthew Vaughn has cast Ralph Fiennes and Matthew Goode (A Discovery of Witches) who will undoubtedly show us how Manners Maketh Man in this prequel film. Can’t wait.
  • Bond 25 — April 8th —  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.  Lupito Nyong’o and Rami Malek are in talks to also star. Monica Bellucci also reprises her role as a femme fatale. Everything You Need To Know, via Men’s Journal.  
  • Black Widow — May 1st — 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). Florence Pugh (Little Women), David Harbour (Stranger Things) and Rachael Weisz (The Favourite) set to co-star. The Journey of Black Widow, per THR.
  • 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. Blunt and the actors who portrayed her kids are set to return. Cillian Murphy (Peaky Blinders) co-stars. Krasinski directs.
  • 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!
  • 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. Angelina Jolie is set to star as Circe. Kumail Nanjiani also stars. This franchise will connect the Avengers to X-Men, most likely.  Nerdist Breaks It All Down For Ya… 

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, Armie Hammer, and Letitia Wright are set to star.
  • 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.
  • Shang-Chi — Nov. 6th — Marvel’s first Asian-American superhero (and next addition to The Avengers) gets director Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12) and write Dave Callaham (Wonder Woman 1984).
  • 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 — Just wrapped 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.
  • 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. Looks like that is the case. Too bad as I really enjoyed Deadpool 2.
  • 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. Am hearing most if not all of Fox’s development of Marvel properties are now dead.
  • 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…

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HARWOOD

  • Flashpoint   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.  Now, the latest is that Miller is co-writing the script with comics writer Grant Morrison. Cool. I’d bet on him.
  • Doctor Strange 2: Wong in Paradise  Marvel has signed Scott Derrickson to direct the sequel starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the Master of Medieval Arts.
  • DC Super Pets — May 21st  — Assuming this one is animated and for the kiddos.
  • The Batman  — June 25th — 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. Ben Affleck is out as Bruce Wayne. Rumors suggest Bruce Wayne will face a rogue’s gallery of villains. Fingers crossed for BookwormHere are Nerdist’s Suggestions For The Villain(s)
  • The Suicide Squad — Aug. 6th  — James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy, Vols. 1, 2 and script for 3) has signed to write/direct a re-boot of the villainous ensemble which features DC’s The Joker, Harley Quinn, Deadshot & Co. Will Smith has announced he will not reprise his role as Deadshot. Fine by me! Paging Dave Bautista! Idris Elba is likely to sign on for the role.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 — TBD — Writer/Director James Gunn is back on board after Disney/Marvel rehire him.  He’s also back on Twitter, as well, which is where his troubles started. Rotten Tomatoes Has The Details.
  • Aquaman 2 — Dec. 16th, 2022! — No script yet, but David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, the screenwriter credited with the first film, has been set to pen the sequel. Please let there be a coherent, emotionally resonant and fun story. I felt there was way too much going on in the first one and would have been content had DC just told the story of Arthur Curry’s parents, which I found compelling.

N E X T   U P :

When Is Too Much TV Just Too Much?

NEO AS THE ARCHITECT

 

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