The Last of Us HBO series adds Mindhunter star Anna Torv as Tess
July 22, 2021 by: Kevin Fraser
HBO's adaptation of Naughty Dog's critically acclaimed video-game The Last of Us started shooting earlier this month, but the cast has continued to grow. It's been reported that Anna Torv, best known for starring in Fringe and Mindhunter, has joined the cast of The Last of Us as Tess, "a smuggler and hardened survivor in a post-pandemic world." As a huge fan of Torv on both Fringe and Mindhunter, I'm thrilled she's involved with The Last of Us and can't wait to see what she'll bring to this new world.
The Last of Us takes place twenty years after modern civilization has been destroyed and finds Joel hired to smuggle Ellie, a 14-year old girl, out of an oppressive quarantine zone. What starts as a small job soon becomes a brutal, heartbreaking journey, as they both must traverse across the U.S. and depend on each other for survival. Pedro Pascal will star in The Last of Us as Joel, "a character tormented by past trauma and failure that must trek across a pandemic-ravaged America, all while protecting a girl who represents the last hope on humanity," while Bella Ramsey will be playing Ellie, "a 14-year-old orphan who has never known anything but a ravaged planet who struggles to balance her instinct for anger and defiance with her need for connection and belonging … as well as the newfound reality that she may be the key to saving the world." In addition to Pedro Pascal, Bella Ramsey, and Anna Torv, The Last of Us will also star Gabriel Luna as Tommy, a former soldier who hasn't lost his sense of idealism and hope for a better world, and who just so happens to be the younger brother of Joel. Nico Parker, Merle Dandridge, Murray Bartlett, and Jeffrey Pierce are also featured.
The ten-episode first season of The Last of Us will debut on HBO in 2022.
Sopranos’ boss paid James Gandolfini $3 million to turn down The Office
July 15, 2021 by: Gaius Bolling
James Gandolfini as the head of The Office? Yep, it almost happened! A recent episode of the Talking Sopranos podcast revealed that HBO paid the actor $3 million to turn down the role that would’ve served as Steve Carell’s replacement once he left The Office.
During the recent episode, co-hosts Michael Imperioli and Steve Schirripa, who played Christopher Moltisanti and Bobby Baccalieri on The Sopranos, revealed that James Gandolfini was paid $3 million by HBO to turn down a role as the new boss on The Office. The story was brought up during a conversation with Ricky Gervais, who created the original UK version of the show. Imperioli said, “You know, they talked about having Gandolfini at one point replace him [Steve Carell], did you know that?” According to the duo, several years after The Sopranos wrapped up its run, NBC needed a big replacement to take Carell’s place on The Office. Schirripa claimed that NBC offered the actor $4 million dollars for one season.
Sounds like it would’ve been a sweet deal for Gandolfini but HBO then stepped in and paid the actor $3 million not to do it. Schirripa said, “Jim was going to do it because he hadn’t worked and it was a number of years removed from when the show ended.” After Gervais jokes by saying, “So they paid him that to keep the legacy of The Sopranos pure?”, Schirripa says, “I guess that and also he had a deal with them. The Night Of, he was developing that.” The Night Of was an HBO crime thriller that wouldn’t debut until 2016, about three years after Gandolfini passed away. The actor died in 2013 at the age of 51 from a massive heart attack while traveling with family in Rome.
The Sopranos wrapped up its prolific run after six seasons in 2007, four years before Carell would depart from his starring role in The Office. Gandolfini could’ve stepped in but the character of Tony Soprano seems completely linked to the legacy of James Gandolfini and if HBO did have a deal with him, I could see the cable network shelling out the necessary money to keep him in their fold. Honestly, what a position for an actor to be in. As fans of The Office know, Andy Bernard, played by Ed Helms, ultimately was named as Michael Scott’s replacement.
Do YOU think James Gandolfini should’ve accepted the role on The Office?
Talking Sopranos Podcast
The Mandalorian, The Boys, & WandaVision earn big Emmy nominations
July 13, 2021 by: Gaius Bolling
The nominations for the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards have been announced and fanboys everywhere can rejoice that genre TV is being represented in a big way with some high-profile nominations.
The big pleasant surprise of the day is that both The Mandalorian and The Boys will be competing for Best Drama series. They will be joined by Bridgerton, The Crown, The Handmaid's Tale, Lovecraft Country, Pose, and This Is Us. This is the second year in a row that The Mandalorian has scored a Best Drama Series nomination at the Emmys and this is the first for Amazon's The Boys. It's also interesting to see critical darling Lovecraft Country in the mix since HBO just recently decided not to move forward with a second season. Also, as has been the case since its debut, This Is Us is the lone representative for network TV which is a compliment to This Is Us but also another sign of how network TV has faded from this category.
In the Best Comedy category, you will see more fan favorites like Cobra Kai, Ted Lasso, and The Flight Attendant. They are joined by Black-ish, Emily In Paris, Hacks, The Kominsky Method, and Pen15. Black-ish is the lone representative for network TV on the comedy side as the rest of the nominees all comes from the world of streaming.
Marvel represents for limited television with WandaVision scoring nominations for Best Limited Series, Lead Actress, Limited Series, Movie or Anthology for Elizabeth Olsen, and Best Lead Actor, Limited Series, Movie or Anthology for Paul Bettany.
When it was all said and done, Netflix’s The Crown and Disney+’s The Mandalorian tied with the most nominations with 24. Also, according to "Deadline", among platforms, the fight is between HBO and Netflix, with the combined HBO and HBO Max edging the streaming giant in total nominations 130-129. Disney+ saw 71 nominations today while NBC was fourth overall with 46, a strong showing for a broadcast network in the age of streaming.
Did some of your shows make the cut? Check out the full list of nominations below and be sure to check out the 73rd Emmy Awards when it's broadcast in a live telecast on Sunday, September 19 starting at 8:00 PM ET/5:00 PM PT on CBS. The show will also stream live and on-demand on Paramount+ and will be hosted by Cedric the Entertainer.
A list of nominees follows.
Variety Talk Series
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Comedy Central)
Jimmy Kimmel Live! (ABC)
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (CBS)
The Amazing Race (CBS)
Nailed It! (Netflix)
RuPaul’s Drag Race (VH1)
Top Chef (Bravo)
The Voice (NBC)
Lead Actress, Comedy
Aidy Bryant (Shrill)
Kaley Cuoco (The Flight Attendant)
Allison Janney (Mom)
Tracee Ellis Ross (black-ish)
Jean Smart (Hacks)
Lead Actor, Comedy
Anthony Anderson (Black-ish)
Michael Douglas (The Kominsky Method)
William H. Macy (Shameless)
Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso)
Kenan Thompson (Kenan)
Cobra Kai (Netflix)
Emily in Paris (Netflix)
Hacks (HBO Max)
The Flight Attendant (HBO Max)
The Kominsky Method (Netflix)
Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)
Lead Actor, Limited Series, Movie or Anthology
Paul Bettany (WandaVision)
Hugh Grant (The Undoing)
Ewan McGregor (Halston)
Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton)
Leslie Odom, Jr. (Hamilton)
Lead Actress, Limited Series, Movie or Anthology
Michaela Coel (I May Destroy You)
Cynthia Erivo (Genius: Aretha)
Elizabeth Olsen (WandaVision)
Anya Taylor-Joy (The Queen’s Gambit)
Kate Winslet (Mare of Easttown)
I May Destroy You (HBO)
Mare of Easttown (HBO)
The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix)
The Underground Railroad (Amazon)
Lead Actress, Drama
Uzo Aduba (In Treatment)
Olivia Colman (The Crown)
Emma Corrin (The Crown)
Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale)
Mj Rodriguez (Pose)
Jurnee Smollett (Lovecraft Country)
Lead Actor, Drama
Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us)
Jonathan Majors (Lovecraft Country)
Josh O’Connor (The Crown)
Rege-Jean Page (Bridgerton)
Billy Porter (Pose)
Matthew Rhys (Perry Mason)
The Boys (Amazon)
The Crown (Netflix)
The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
Lovecraft Country (HBO)
The Mandalorian (Disney+)
This Is Us (NBC)
Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square (Netflix)
Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia (Lifetime)
Sylvie’s Love (Prime Video)
Uncle Frank (Prime Video)
Variety Special (Live)
Celebrating America — An Inauguration Night Special (Multiple Platforms)
The 63rd Annual Grammy Awards (CBS)
The Oscars (ABC)
The Pepsi Super Bowl LV Halftime Show Starring The Weeknd (CBS)
Stephen Colbert’s Election Night 2020: Democracy’s Last Stand Building Back America Great Again Better 2020 (Showtime)
Awesome Artists We’ve Found Around The Net: Berkay Daglar
July 3, 2021 by: Theodore Bond
For years, Awesome Art We've Found Around The Net has been about two things only – awesome art and the artists that create it. With that in mind, we thought why not take the first week of the month to showcase these awesome artists even more? Welcome to “Awesome Artist We’ve Found Around The Net." In this column, we are focusing on one artist and the awesome art that they create, whether they be amateur, up and coming, or well established. The goal is to uncover these artists so even more people become familiar with them. We ask these artists a few questions to see their origins, influences, and more. If you are an awesome artist or know someone that should be featured, feel free to contact me at any time at [email protected].This month we are very pleased to bring you the awesome art of…
Berkay Daglar is a movie poster artist and illustrator based in Istanbul, Turkey. At the beginning of his illustrator career, he also worked as an art director at various advertising agencies. He exhibited his first solo poster show in 2018 at Istanbul.
His works are mostly about pop culture themes and movies as well as portraits. In 2018, he collaborated with HBO for Westworld series as the only artist for their digital marketing. His clients include artworks for 20th Century Fox, Nike, HBO, Disney, and Universal Studios.
He is also a member of Poster Posse; a diverse collective of global artists who work with pop culture themes to create unique, collectible art.
JoBlo: What got you started as an artist?
Daglar: I’ve been drawing since I was a kid. In high school, I started to focus on entertainment — especially cinema. Then, in college, I wanted to combine my illustration style with movies and TV shows I liked, and so I began creating my own posters. The moment I realized I could express my excitement and fandom by filtering movies and shows through my point of view, was when I truly identified as an artist.
Who were some of your favorite artists growing up?
In the beginning of my fine arts education I was inspired by famous renaissance artists like Rembrant, Michelengelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, and for the art deco era; Alfons Mucha but afterward mostly inspired by the greatest movie poster artist of all time; Drew Struzan.
What advice would you have for budding artists today?
The most important thing to do as an artist is to have their own unique style. For that, I suggest collecting the best parts of their favorite artists and make a combination that best suits their taste. This is the technical part but if I must say about the vision, I suggest reading/watching as much as they could about the field they have chosen.
What should we be looking out for from you in the future?
I will continue to create posters always in a unique way.
Being a fansite, we have to ask you… What are some of your favorite movies/TV shows of all time?
When I was ten in 1999 I became obsessed with The Mummy with Brendan Fraser in it. That is my guilty pleasure. Indiana Jones franchise, The Dark Knight, and Saving Private Ryan are my other favorite movies. I have a lot of favorite tv shows, Ozark, Peaky Blinders, Westworld, The Boys, Legion, etc.
Bram Stocker's Dracula
Captain America: Civil War
John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Mad Max: Fury Road
No Time To Die
The Queens Gambit
Lovecraft Country won’t be back for a second season
July 2, 2021 by: Kevin Fraser
If you were hoping for a second season of Lovecraft Country, I've got bad news for you. According to Deadline, HBO has announced that the series will not be receiving a second installment. "We will not be moving forward with a second season of Lovecraft Country," HBO said in a statement. "We are grateful for the dedication and artistry of the gifted cast and crew, and to Misha Green, who crafted this groundbreaking series. And to the fans, thank you for joining us on this journey."
Based on the novel by Matt Ruff, Lovecraft Country followed "Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors) as he joins up with his friend Letitia (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and his Uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) to embark on a road trip across 1950s Jim Crow America in search of his missing father (Michael Kenneth Williams). This begins a struggle to survive and overcome both the racist terrors of white America and the terrifying monsters that could be ripped from a Lovecraft paperback." I haven't had time to check out the series for myself yet (there's too damn much to watch), but despite its success, a second season wasn't always a guarantee. That's because Matt Ruff's novel served as the basis of the first season, and any subsequent season would need to be entirely crafted by showrunner Misha Green. For a while, HBO and Green did entertain the idea of a second season, with HBO's Chief Content Officer Casey Bloys saying earlier this year that Green was working with a team of writers to come up with a take for a new season.
She had a book to go on in the first season, she and the writers wanted to go off and take some time to go out and figure out without a book with these characters, what’s the journey we want to go on. We all want to be sure she’s got a story to tell. That’s where she is right now, working on those ideas. I’m very hopeful, as is Mischa, so we’re giving them the time to work.
At the end of the day, it was decided not to move forward with a second season of Lovecraft Country. The cast of the series have seen their stars rise considerably, especially Jonathan Majors, who will be playing Kang the Conqueror in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and has also been in talks to join Michael B. Jordan's in Creed III.
The Last of Us: Gabriel Luna shares BTS image as production begins
July 2, 2021 by: Steve Seigh
It's taken a lot of planning and hard work, but production for HBO's The Last of Us is finally underway. To mark the occasion Gabriel Luna, who plays Tommy in the live-action TV series adaptation, shared a sweet family photo with his Instagram followers. The photo features members of the Miller family, including Joel (Pedro Pascal), his daughter Sarah (Nico Parker), brother Tommy (Luna), as well as two enthusiastic members of the crew. While they're all smiles in the photo, you can be sure that the events of The Last of Us will have them frowning before long.
"Already love these folks. #MillerTime #thelastofus," Luna captioned the photo on Instagram.
The Last of Us video game focuses on the relationship between Joel, a smuggler, and Ellie, a teenager who may be the key to a cure for a deadly pandemic. Joel, a hardened survivor, is hired to smuggle the 14-year-old girl out of an oppressive quarantine zone. What starts as a small job soon becomes a brutal, heartbreaking journey, as they both must traverse across the U.S. and depend on each other for survival.
Game of Thrones standout Bella Ramsey will play Ellie in the upcoming series.
The Last of Us hails from Chernobyl Emmy winners Craig Mazin and Carolyn Strauss. The duo will executive produce alongside the games' creative director Neil Druckmann. It's been said that the TV series will follow the events of the first game. If the show proves to be a success, HBO is interested in producing more seasons, which will likely include story elements from 202's The Last of Us Part II.
The Idol: The Weeknd sets up pop singer cult series with Sam Levinson at HBO
June 30, 2021 by: Gaius Bolling
Singer The Weeknd is no stranger to theatrics in his music so acting should come easily to the pop music phenomenon. It has been announced that The Weeknd will star in, co-write, and executive produce The Idol, a pop singer cult drama series in development at HBO. Euphoria creator Sam Levinson co-created the series with The Weeknd, and Reza Fahim, a former nightlife entrepreneur-turned-writer who also serves as The Weeknd's producing partner.
The series is set to follow a female pop singer who starts a romance with an enigmatic L.A. club owner who is the leader of a secret cult. This sounds like one of the more inventive narratives for a series I've heard in a while so I'm certainly intrigued. I'm a big fan of Sam Levinson and Euphoria so I'm curious to see what he can bring to The Weeknd's unique sensibilities.
The Weeknd is a Canadian singer, songwriter, and record producer. He is among the world's best-selling music artists with over 75 million records sold and is on the list of most-streamed artists on Spotify. He has won three Grammy Awards, five American Music Awards, nineteen Billboard Music Awards, two MTV Video Music Awards, fifteen Juno Awards, five SOCAN awards, and one Brit Award. He was also nominated for Best Original Song at the 88th Academy Awards for his song "Earned It" from Fifty Shades of Grey.
As for Sam Levinson, he is best known for creating the critically acclaimed HBO teen drama series Euphoria, which earned him a BAFTA TV Award nomination. Levinson is also known for writing and directing the comedy-drama film Another Happy Day, the thriller Assassination Nation, and the romantic drama film, Malcolm & Marie.
Will YOU be watching The Idol?
His Dark Materials: Production begins on third and final season
June 22, 2021 by: Steve Seigh
HBO and BBC One have begun production on the third and final season of His Dark Materials. The eight-episode presentation is based on "The Amber Spyglass," the final novel in Phillip Pullman's legendary fantasy trilogy. Production has been set up at Wolf Studios Wales and on location throughout Wales and England.
To mark the show's production start, HBO shared a photo of Dafne Keen and Amir Wilson celebrating the first take of the new season.
Season 3 is poised to be the show's most ambitious yet as Will (Amir Wilson), the bearer of The Subtle Knife, and Lyra (Dafne Keen), the prophesized child, travel through multiple worlds to find and protect each other.
Returning to the series is Dafne Keen as Lyra, Amir Wilson as Will, Ruth Wilson as Mrs. Coulter, Simone Kirby as Mary Malone, Will Keen as Father President McPhail, Jade Anouka as Ruta Skadi, Ruta Gedminstas as Serafina Pekkala, and James McAvoy as Lord Asriel.
Newly added cast members include Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Commander Ogunwe, Jamie Ward as Father Gomez, Kobna Holbrook-Smith; Simon Harrison and Chipo Chung are the rebel angels “Balthamos, Baruch and Xaphania. Lastly, Amber Fitzgerald-Woolfe plays Ama.
Francesca Orsi, Executive Vice President, HBO Programming, said, “It has been a joy watching audiences embrace this incredible journey of self-discovery, friendship, and purpose with Lyra over the past two seasons. Jane, Dan, and everyone on the Bad Wolf team have done such a tremendous job bringing Philip’s beloved world to life, and I cannot wait for the fans to get a front-row seat to all that is in store in this gripping and poignant final chapter.”
Amit Gupta, Charles Martin, and Weronika Tofilska will be your directors for the final season of His Dark Materials. Will you be ready to wave goodbye to the daemons and danger that Pullman's story delivers when the final season comes to a close?
Chris Rock turned down several offers to appear on The Sopranos
June 16, 2021 by: Kevin Fraser
It's hard to imagine anyone turning down a role in what was once HBO's biggest series, but that's preciously what Chris Rock did, and not just once either. Twenty years ago, The Sopranos was the biggest thing on television and Chris Rock was in the midst of releasing a series of highly successful HBO standup specials, and the actor told THR during a round-table interview that he turned down several offers to appear on the crime drama.
Chris Rock would go on to play crime boss Lou Cannon in the fourth season of Noah Hawley's Fargo, and he almost turned down the opportunity just as he had The Sopranos all those years ago. The reason: he didn't want to spoil either series.
[Fargo] is a big job. And sometimes you can respect something so much, you don’t even want to be a part of it. Years ago, when I had my own show on HBO, it was at the height of The Sopranos, and I got a couple of offers to be on The Sopranos, and I was like, “I like it too much, I don’t want to spoil it.” But I was such a fan [of Fargo], I took the meeting anyway, and then he presents me with this offer, and I’m like, “Whatever you want me to do, I’m down.” Because I saw how he handled Bokeem Woodbine [who played Mike Milligan].
"Sometimes people do amazing work and then when they handle Black people, it’s horrible," Rock continued. "But with [Hawley], I saw how he handled Bokeem and I was like, 'I can totally be in your hands.'" Although Chris Rock may have turned down the chance to appear on The Sopranos, there was one actor wasn't even afforded that opportunity, despite reaching out personally. Alec Baldwin revealed earlier this month that he had volunteered his services for that fateful day when Tony Soprano would inevitably meet his maker, only to be met with silence.
Although The Sopranos may be over, we will soon be returning to that universe with The Many Saints of Newark, a prequel movie that will be set in the era of the Newark riots in the 60s and also feature Michael Gandolfini, the son of the late James Gandolfini, as a younger version of Tony Soprano. The film is slated to hit theaters and HBO Max on September 24, 2021.
Mare of Easttown finale is the most-watched episode ever on HBO Max
June 2, 2021 by: Gaius Bolling
The HBO limited series Mare of Easttown has gained steady momentum across its seven episodes and the numbers for its finale over the holiday weekend scored big for HBO and HBO Max.
The Kate Winslet-led limited series pulled in four million viewers across HBO and HBO Max for its finale. Nearly three million viewers tuned in on Sunday night (across all platforms) which marked a series high for both linear and digital. The finale also holds the distinction of being the most-watched episode of an Original Series on HBO Max in its first 24 hours of availability.
HBO saw similar success with Nicole Kidman's The Undoing, which also proved to be a hit across all platforms. Mare of Easttown joins that series by being the only show in HBO's history to see consecutive growth week-to-week. The show clearly became a water-cooler hit of sorts as more viewers discovered it week after week and proved once again that HBO is one of the best at putting out a limited series with a particularly high pedigree.
Mare of Easttown, created by Brad Ingelsby and directed by Craig Zobel, followed a detective in a small Pennsylvania town investigating a local murder while trying to keep her life from falling apart. In addition to Winslet, the series also stars Julianna Nicholson, Jean Smart, Angourie Rice, Evan Peters, Guy Pearce, David Denman, Joe Tippett, Cailee Spaeny, John Douglas Thompson, Patrick Murney, James McArdle, Sosie Bacon, and Neal Huff.
Did YOU watch the finale of Mare of Easttown?
Kevin Smith isn’t thrilled Batgirl won’t play in theaters
May 29, 2021 by: Gaius Bolling
The news that Bad Boys For Life helmers, Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, would be taking on a Batgirl movie for Warner Bros. was met with a mostly positive reception but there is one person who isn't too pleased about the film's method of release. Director and all-around comic book nerd, Kevin Smith, is happy that a Batgirl movie is coming but he thinks the property is far too big for a streaming-only release via HBO Max.
In the latest episode of his podcast Fatman Beyond, Smith made it abundantly clear that he thinks the decision to skip theaters for an HBO Max release is idiotic. While speaking to his co-host Marc Bernadin, Smith goes off on an expletive-filled rant that shows how passionate he is about his position:
“I have to call the mayor of Hollywood… What are you nuts! How is this just a streaming series and not a f***ing… Like, they got Wonder Woman. But I’m like, take Wonder, throw in Bat, take Woman off, put Girl, make the same amount of money. Like they could be printing big f*cking dollars. It’s a billion-dollar franchise if handled correctly. And you cast it right, oh sh*t… Look, there are wonderful streaming series. I’ll fight anybody who says Hacks isn’t one of the greatest f***ing series of all-time, now airing on HBO—and I’m not even a paid f***ing advocate. I’m just a big fan. But I would not have thought they would take Batgirl in this direction. Maybe a spinoff animated series sure, but that smells like a movie to me.”
Once Smith calmed down, he did cut his billion-dollar estimate for the franchise in half but his opinion remained the same. He thinks it's rather silly that the Batgirl movie is skipping theaters for streaming. The character, who made her first appearance 60 years ago, is described by Smith as "one of the most iconic female superheroes from the DC universe." This could very well be true. The character is at least known by people that don't even follow comic books and it is a property that has some box office potential. Warner Bros. had previously announced that some of their DC properties would get film releases that were suited for theatrical while others would go straight to streaming. The straight-to-streaming properties were meant for the "lesser-tier" characters that may not be as well known but still worthy of the live-action adaptation treatment. I'm not sure I would consider Batgirl a "lesser-tier" character so I can see Smith's point a bit.
Do YOU think a Batgirl movie is worthy of a theatrical release or is streaming the right way to go?
Fatman Beyond Podcast
Game of Thrones spinoff 10,000 Ships finds its writer
May 25, 2021 by: Kevin Fraser
It's probably safe to say the final season of Game of Thrones didn't stick the landing for many of us, but HBO is pushing ahead on expanding George R.R. Martin's franchise nonetheless and are actively developing several spinoffs, including one that tackles the legendary journey of Princess Nymeria.
Deadline has reported that the project, known as 10,000 Ships, has found its writer has HBO as tapped Amanda Segel to write the potential series. The series will follow the "journey made by warrior queen Princess Nymeria and the surviving members of the Rhoynars, who traveled from Essos to Dorne following their defeat by the Valyrian Freehold in the Second Spice War." Amanda Segel has written for shows such as The Good Wife, Person of Interest, The Mist, and Helstrom, and is also developing a TV series based on Ubisoft's Skull & Bones.
In addition to 10,000 Ships, HBO is also working on 9 Voyages aka Sea Snake, which revolves around the great sea voyages made by Corlys Velaryon aboard the Sea Snake. Velaryon "journeyed to places including Pentos, Dragonstone and around the bottom of Westeros as well as to Lys, Tyrosh and Myr. He reached the fabled lands of Yi Ti and Leng, whose wealth doubled that of the House Velaryon, and him and the Ice Wolf headed north searching for passage around the top of Westeros, only to find frozen seas and icebergs as big as mountains." Rome co-creator Bruno Heller is developing the series along with George R.R. Martin. There's also another series set in Flea Bottom, the poorest slum district in King's Landing, as well as a possible adaptation of Tales of Dunk & Egg and an animated series for HBO Max. At the moment, the only Game of Thrones spinoff that's actually in production is House of the Dragon, which is based upon George R.R. Martin's Fire & Blood, a Targaryen history book which chronicles the history of House Targaryen, starting off with "Aegon the Conqueror, creator of the Iron Throne, and [going on] to recount the generations of Targaryens who fought to hold the throne, all the way up to the civil war, known as the Dance of the Dragons, that nearly tore their dynasty apart." The first season of House of the Dragon is expected to debut on HBO in 2022.
Drew Barrymore talks regret over working with Woody Allen
May 18, 2021 by: Gaius Bolling
Drew Barrymore had a moment of reflection during a sit-down interview with Dylan Farrow on her syndicated talk show. Farrow, who is the daughter of Woody Allen, has made claims of incest against her father that were explored in HBO's Allen v. Farrow docuseries earlier this year. Barrymore, who has in Allen's 1996 film Everyone Says I Love You, took the opportunity during the interview to express her regret for every working with the polarizing director.
"I worked with Woody Allen. I did a film with him in 1996 called, Everyone Says I Love You, and there was no higher career calling card than to work with Woody Allen. Then I had children, and it changed me because I realized that I was one of the people who was basically gaslit into not looking at a narrative beyond what I was being told. And I see what is happening in the industry now and that is because of you making that brave choice. So thank you for that."
During the interview on The Drew Barrymore Show, Farrow thanked the actress turned talk show host for her words by saying "Hearing what you just said, I am trying not to cry right now. It is just so meaningful because it's easy for me to say, 'Of course you shouldn't work with him; he's a jerk, he's a monster, but I just find it incredibly brave and incredibly generous that you would say to me that my story and what I went through was important enough for you to reconsider that."
In addition to the HBO docuseries, a companion podcast was also released that dived deeper into Farrow's claims. The docuseries featured never-before-seen video footage of Farrow at age 7 describing the alleged abuse to her mother, Mia Farrow. Dylan Farrow's claims were made public in a 1993 lawsuit that awarded Mia Farrow custody of her and Allen's children. The lawsuit famously resurfaced in the #MeToo era and the docuseries explored how the case played out in the media and public arena in the '90s.
Barrymore is now amongst a long list of stars that have publicly shared their regret over working with Allen in recent years. When Farrow resurfaced her story in early 2018, many people in Hollywood publicly supported Farrow and a plethora of performers apologized for working with Allen in the past. Many of them publicly vowed to never work with him again and they donated their salaries that they earned for doing recent projects with the director.
What are YOUR thoughts on Drew Barrymore expressing regret about working with Woody Allen?
The Drew Barrymore Show
J.J. Abrams likely won’t direct DC movies, wants next project to be original
May 17, 2021 by: Kevin Fraser
Back in 2019, J.J. Abrams made a multi-million dollar deal with WarnerMedia to develop all types of content for the company, which includes a Black Superman movie that will be penned by Ta-Nehisi Coates, but before you start thinking that Abrams will be helming his own DC movie anytime soon, you might want to keep your expectations in check.
RELATED: Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. TV Review
When you look at J.J. Abrams' filmography, the only original project he's directed has been Super 8 as he's largely remained focused on revitalizing franchises such as Mission: Impossible, Star Trek, and Star Wars. While speaking with Collider, Abrams commented on developing DC projects for Warner Bros., but he does seem hungry to tackle more original ideas.
Well, I'll say that the opportunity to get to work on any pre-existing franchise is definitely a double-edged sword. And while I'm incredibly grateful and proud to have been involved in the projects, of course, all I see is what things could have been and what we might have done. The importance of it is not lost on me, as temporary custodians of any ideas, whether they pre-exist us or not, which is to say I think that even with an original idea, somehow I still don't quite understand where that creative impulse comes from and how the experience of writing something really is yours. I feel like we're all just channeling something that we're trying to serve, as opposed to something that we are doing and that is our work.
J.J. Abrams continued: "I know that Hollywood is a place where it used to be that people would be inspired by something that they would see or an old film or a show or something and think, ‘Oh, here's my response to that. Here's a version of that that.’ It's become a place where, more often than not, you see something and people get inspired by it and go, ‘Let's redo that exact thing.’ I feel like, as someone who started writing in television and telling original stories on film and in TV, it is something that I really do miss." Abrams added that the projects he's writing now are all original ideas, and that he would "love" for his next directorial outing to be "things that didn't pre-exist me necessarily." One original project that Abrams does have in the works is Demimonde, an "epic and intimate sci-fi fantasy drama" for HBO that's "centered around a world's battle against a monstrous, oppressive force."
House of the Dragon: HBO releases first images from Game of Thrones prequel
May 5, 2021 by: Gaius Bolling
HBO has released the first official photos from the highly anticipated Game of Thrones prequel series, House of the Dragon. The images give us the first look at the leads that will headline the upcoming series.
The images include a look at Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen and Emma D'Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon (also known as the Sea Snake), and Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower and Rhys Ifans as Otto Hightower. The images, which were released on the official Twitter page for the series, can be viewed below!
— House of the Dragon (@HouseofDragon) May 5, 2021
— House of the Dragon (@HouseofDragon) May 5, 2021
— House of the Dragon (@HouseofDragon) May 5, 2021
House of Dragon, created by George R.R. Martin and Ryan Condal, is a prequel to Game of Thrones and is based on Martin's novel, "Fire & Blood." The show is set 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones and chronicles the beginning of the end of House Targaryen. The series is one of six Game of Thrones-related prequel projects that is in the works at HBO so it's obvious they know that this universe is a hit they're not really to let go of just yet.
What are YOUR thoughts on the images from House of the Dragon? The first season of the series is scheduled to air in 2022 and will consist of ten episodes.
Entourage creator thinks HBO is hiding the show due to post #MeToo criticism
April 28, 2021 by: Gaius Bolling
I was just having a discussion with my friend about shows that may be perceived as problematic today and one of the series that came to mind first was HBO’s ENTOURAGE. I would like to lead this off by saying I don’t personally think it’s problematic and that it just captures personality types that definitely exist in the world it was creating. That doesn’t mean that others haven’t found that the show hits a bit different in the post #MeToo era and now its creator, Doug Ellin, is coming to its defense.
Entourage ran from 2004-2011 and followed a Hollywood boys club of sorts that chronicled the acting career of Vinnie Chase (Adrian Grenier), a young A-list movie star, and his childhood friends from Queens, New York City, as they attempt to further their careers in Los Angeles. The show has been looked at differently in recent years for being what some call a “vulgar boyfest” and for its sometimes masochistic depiction of male and female relationships but Ellin, while speaking with Yahoo Entertainment, says this is coming from a “wave of righteous PC culture.”
“I’m proud of everything we did on Entourage, and I certainly don’t think it’s something that should be a lightning rod. It should be looked at for what it was.”
Ellin accuses HBO of minimizing Entourage’s presence online by saying “For a while, we were hiding in, like, Wish-Fulfillment Shows.’ We were nominated for the Emmys or the Golden Globes almost every single year, so to not put us on the ‘Must-See Comedy’ list was pretty bizarre.” To be fair, while this may have been the case in the past, HBO Max does currently have Entourage under the ‘Must-Watch Comedies’ tab between Sex and the City and Curb Your Enthusiasm. That’s not to say that the tide has not turned on Entourage a bit in the public domain. I do believe it’s looked at much differently today than it was during its original run.
When asked about he feels about HBO giving the series the perceived cold shoulder, Ellin says “I resent it tremendously. Nobody says that about The Sopranos, where they murder people, that maybe we should readdress whether murdering people on TV is OK. I don’t want to sound obnoxious or that I’m looking at Entourage as high art, but it was a pretty accurate portrayal of how people behaved at that time in Hollywood.” Ellin eventually goes as far as to say that the retroactive backlash to Entourage made them pass on his 2012 follow-up, 40, starring Michael Imperioli, Michael Rappaport, and Ed Burns. The show never made it beyond the pilot stage and it’s something that Ellin still hasn’t forgiven HBO for.
According to Ellin, Entourage was a “show…about friendship and loyalty and family” and it’s something that he thought was “extremely realistic” in its depiction of Hollywood dynamics at the time they were doing the show. Ellin goes on to say that “I don’t think Entourage was this vulgar boyfest that people like to paint it as now. When we came out, the New York Times said we were the smartest show on television!”
Ellin isn’t necessarily wrong. While there might have been a vocal minority that criticized the show for some of its narrative and characterizations, the show was a critical darling during most of its run and earned numerous awards, including six Emmys and a Golden Globe. The show was also hugely popular with viewers and some gave it the distinction of being the male Sex and the City on HBO’s lineup. HBO once embraced the show fully but in the post #MeToo world we live in, so many things are being reexamined with a fine-toothed comb and this has led to, how Ellin sees it, HBO distancing itself from the series in recent years.
Ellin does want to stress that while he calls the backlash against Entourage to be an “overcorrection”, he does acknowledge the importance of #MeToo and other social justice movements. Ellin believes “There needs to be a reckoning and social injustices need to be addressed in certain ways. Hopefully, we’ll get to a place where there’s equality for everybody, but there’s also room for people to create their art and not be judged so harshly.”
Even digging through some of the personal hostility Ellin might have with HBO for professional reasons, I think he does have a point. So much art is being compromised because it’s being reevaluated in this wave of cancel culture. Entourage premiered, lived, and breathed during a very different time and I don’t think it’s fair to really look at it through today’s lens and suddenly make the show a problem. Instead of trying to make the series problematic, maybe look at some of the narrative plot points that didn’t age well and try to have a civilized conversation about how things have changed for better or worse.
Do YOU think Entourage is problematic today?
House of the Dragon: Game of Thrones prequel series enters production
April 26, 2021 by: Steve Seigh
Sound the horns and light the pyres because production for the House of the Dragon is officially underway.
Whether you're psyched about it or not, HBO's straight-to-series Game of Thrones prequel is under construction. The series hails from George R.R. Martin, Ryan Condal, and Miguel Sapochnik and is eyeing a 2022 launch on HBO.
The network tweeted about the show's production start alongside a photo of the cast attending a socially distanced table read.
— ???? Game of Thrones ???? (@GameOfThrones) April 26, 2021
House of the Dragon will be set 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones and will track the beginning of the end for House Targaryen. The ten-episode series is based upon George R.R. Martin's "Fire & Blood," a Targaryen history book which chronicles the history of House Targaryen, starting with Aegon the Conqueror, creator of the Iron Throne, and [going on] to recount the generations of Targaryens who fought to hold the throne, all the way up to the civil war, known as the Dance of the Dragons, that nearly tore their dynasty apart.
House of the Dragon stars Paddy Considine, Olivia Cooke, Matt Smith, Emma D’Arcy, and Fabien Frankel. Rhys Ifans, Steve Toussaint, Eve Best, and Sonoya Mizuno, among several others. Considine stars as King Viserys Targaryen, Cooke plays Alicent Hightower, D’Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen and Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon, known as the Sea Snake, who becomes Hand to Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen during the Dance of the Dragons.
The prequel series was co-created by George "Character Killer" Martin and Ryan Condal. Condal wrote the pilot that got HBO to greenlight the show. He also serves as co-showrunner with Game of Thrones alum Miguel Sapochnik.
As you're likely to know, Game of Thrones was a critical hit for HBO, right up until its final season underdelivered for scores of fans. Will House of the Dragon be able to bring those who've strayed from the franchise back to the fold? Will the powers that be more mindful of rushing resolutions this time out? Only time will tell, and I must admit that I'm excited to find out. Did I think the final season of Game of Thrones was a bummer? Absolutely. However, the best part about making mistakes is learning from them, and I'd love to see this amazing franchise in different hands. Here's hoping for great things.
Curb Your Enthusiasm: Richard Lewis will return for season 11 after all
April 22, 2021 by: Kevin Fraser
Richard Lewis has played a fictionalized version of himself on Curb Your Enthusiasm since the very first season over twenty years ago, but it was revealed earlier this year that he would have to step away from the HBO series due to several surgeries and health problems. "What a ride, LD! I love you, buddy," Lewis wrote on Twitter. "Tragically, these past 18 months I’ve endured a back and two shoulder surgeries and not able to be in #curbyourenthusiasm for season 11. I’ll be watching…"
Thankfully, we no longer have to deal with the crushing sadness of the thought of a season of Curb Your Enthusiasm without Richard Lewis' involvement as the comedian has revealed that he's been able to return to the set for one episode!
Great news for me! Although I’m still recovering from three surgeries and missing Season 11 of Curb, LD called me and asked if there was any chance if I felt strong enough to do one episode!
I am and here I’m on the set to shoot it. I’m so grateful.????@HBO? #curb
— Richard Lewis (@TheRichardLewis) April 22, 2021
"Great news for me!" Lewis wrote. "Although I’m still recovering from three surgeries and missing Season 11 of Curb, LD called me and asked if there was any chance if I felt strong enough to do one episode! I am and here I’m on the set to shoot it. I’m so grateful." Richard Lewis was originally expected to appear in six episodes of the new season, and although his surgeries meant that couldn't happen, Larry David and producer Jeff Schaffer made sure to keep tabs on him throughout his recovery. While speaking with Variety, Richard Lewis said he told David that he wanted to return to the set three weeks ago and David made it happen. "When I walked in and they applauded, I felt like a million bucks," Lewis said. "Larry doesn’t like to hug, and he hugged me and told me how happy he was after we shot our scene." Lewis added that it didn't take long to get back into the swing of things. "My adrenaline was pumping so much, I just went crazy," Lewis said. "We went to places that I don’t think we’ve ever been before… It was maybe the best I’ve ever been in the 11 seasons. And I know this because I made Larry crack up at least 15 or 20 times during this one scene."
Oz: HBO prison series reunion set for ATX Festival
April 22, 2021 by: Steve Seigh
Break out your fanciest toilet wine recipes and watch your back for incoming shivs because an Oz reunion is planned for the 2021 ATX Television Festival.
This year's Oz reunion was supposed to happen last year, but the Covid-19 pandemic threw that idea into solitary until now. The event will look back on the HBO prison drama with creator/executive producer Tom Fontana, director/actor Terry Kinney and cast members Lee Tergesen, Dean Winters, Harold Perrineau, and Kirk Acevedo. More guests are expected to be added to the list at a later date.
Oz ran on HBO for 56 episodes across six seasons from 1997 to 2003. "Oz" was a nickname for the Oswald State Correctional Facility, formerly Oswald State Penitentiary, a level 4 maximum security state prison where scores of criminal inhabitants were kept. The series chronicled their daily activities, as well as the lives of those sworn to keep the prisoners in line. The series starred Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters, The Crow) as Warden Leo Glynn, with J.K. Simmons, Lee Tergesen, Dean Winters, Terry Kinney, Rita Moreno, Harold Perrineau, Eamonn Walker, Craig Mums Grant, Luna Lauren Velez, and several others rounding out the cast. The show was a major hit with HBO subscribers, and I suspect that it will be the highlight of this year's ATX Festival.
Other panels set for the 2021 ATX Festival include one for Amazon Prime Video's Small Axe, and Showtime's variety sketch show Ziwe. Other panels include a Faking It reunion, a look at Fox's new animated comedy Housebroken, the independent short-form comedy Speech & Debate, as well as several themed panels.
RELATED: Together Together Review
You can see how this year's event is shaping up so far below:
—The Fox animated comedy from co-creators and “Veep” collaborators Clea DuVall, Gabrielle Allan, and Jennifer Crittenden follows a group of neighborhood pets and stray animals as they work through their issues inside and outside their therapy group. The cast includes Sharon Horgan (who also executive produces), Nat Faxon, and Sam Richardson, all of whom will be on hand for a Q&A following the screening.
Speech and Debate
—The independent short-form comedy series written by Kamen Edwards and directed by Cassandra Jean Amell will debut the third episode at ATX, followed by a conversation with stars Stephen Amell (“Arrow”), Aisha Tyler (“Archer”), and John Barrowman (“Doctor Who”) to discuss the episode and what it’s like creating independent TV during a pandemic.
—Previously set for 2020, the 1997 HBO drama will host a retrospective during this year’s ATX Festival, including a conversation with series creator and executive producer Tom Fontana, director, and actor Terry Kinney, as well as cast members Lee Tergesen, Dean Winters, Harold Perrineau, and Kirk Acevedo. Additional participants will be announced at a later date.
—The three-season MTV comedy will reunite at ATX TV Festival this year, five years after the series finale, to celebrate the show’s impactful LGBTQIA+ representation, including a groundbreaking storyline featuring television’s first intersex main character. Joining the reunion panel will be creator and showrunner Carter Covington, as well as cast members Rita Volk, Katie Stevens, Michael Willett, Yvette Monreal, and Sophia Ali. Additional panelists will be announced soon.
—Taking place ahead of the official festival, “Housecall: A ‘Royal Pains’ Reunion” will debut Sunday, June 6 and be made available on-demand through June 13 to benefit the national hunger-relief organization Feeding America. Fans of the former USA “Blue Skies” drama will enjoy a full table read of the series finale, “Uninterrupted,” with creator and executive producer Andrew Lenchewski, writer and director Michael Rauch, as well as cast members Mark Feuerstein, Paulo Costanzo, Reshma Shetty, Brooke D’Orsay, Ben Shenkman, Campbell Scott, Jill Flint, Meredith Hagner, Sarah Mezzanotte, Zachary Hernandez, Anthony Pierini, John Hans Tester, Laura Lanza, Ivan Quintanilla, and special guest moderator Henry Winkler.
- “Beyond the Scares: Emotional Catharsis & Healing in Horror”
- “Growing Up Is Hard: A New Generation of YA Protagonists”
- “Mad as Hell: TV’s Dangerous Women”
- “The Queer Gaze”
- “Pandemic Proof: Adult Animation”
- “Showrunner State of the Union”
- “Buying & Selling with 20/20 Hindsight”
Ziwe in Conversation
—The titular writer, comedian, actor, singer, activist, and host of Showtime’s upcoming variety show will sit down for a one-of-a-kind look at her rise from social media breakout to star of her own premium cable series. Per the provided synopsis, Ziwe will also break down “her ability to harness the chaotic but essential art of making white people uncomfortable,” which is something everyone should want to see.
Steve McQueen on Small Axe
—The writer-director behind Amazon’s film anthology series “Small Axe” will take part in an in-depth examination of his groundbreaking work with fellow writer-director Channing Godfrey Peoples (“Miss Juneteenth”).
Michael J. Fox – Honoree
—The five-time Emmy winner will be given the festival’s Award in Television eXcellence, bestowed on artists whose career reflects the very best that television has to offer. Fox will take part in an intimate, retrospective conversation spanning his iconic performances on “Family Ties” and “Spin City,” guest turns on “The Good Wife” and “Rescue Me,” his recent memoir, “No Time Like the Future,” and more. Previous honorees include Henry Winkler, James L. Brooks, Norman Lear, Marcy Carsey, and Phylicia Rashad.
The Last of Us: Gabriel Luna joins Pedro Pascal in HBO series
April 15, 2021 by: Kevin Fraser
HBO's upcoming adaptation of Naughty Dog's critically acclaimed video-game The Last of Us continues to assemble its cast, and it was announced today that Gabriel Luna (Terminator: Dark Fate) will be joining Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian) and Bella Ramsey (Game of Thrones) in the series.
The Last of Us takes place twenty years after modern civilization has been destroyed and finds Joel hired to smuggle Ellie, a 14-year old girl, out of an oppressive quarantine zone. What starts as a small job soon becomes a brutal, heartbreaking journey, as they both must traverse across the U.S. and depend on each other for survival. Gabriel Luna is set to play Tommy, a former soldier who hasn't lost his sense of idealism and hope for a better world, and just so happens to be the younger brother of Joel. Pedro Pascal will star in The Last of Us as Joel, "a character tormented by past trauma and failure that must trek across a pandemic-ravaged America, all while protecting a girl who represents the last hope on humanity," while Bella Ramsey will be playing Ellie, "a 14-year-old orphan who has never known anything but a ravaged planet who struggles to balance her instinct for anger and defiance with her need for connection and belonging … as well as the newfound reality that she may be the key to saving the world."
The Last of Us TV series has been penned by Chernobyl creator Craig Mazin, who will also executive produce alongside Naughty Dog's Neil Druckmann. The series was slated to reunite Craig Mazin with his Chernobyl director Johan Renck, but it was reported earlier this year that Renck had been forced to drop out of the project due to a scheduling conflict and that he would be replaced by Kantemir Balagov as the director of the pilot.
Warrior season 3 on the way as it moves to HBO Max
April 14, 2021 by: Kevin Fraser
Once upon a time, Bruce Lee developed a potential TV series about a martial artist in the American Old West. Networks weren't interested, but Warner Bros. allegedly took that concept and transformed it into Kung Fu, the '70s series starring David Carradine, and gave Lee no credit. Decades later, the original concept was brought back to life as Warrior, an action-packed series that stars Andrew Koji as Ah Sahm, a martial arts prodigy who emigrates from China to San Francisco under mysterious circumstances and becomes a hatchet man for one of Chinatown’s most powerful crime families.
Warrior has aired for two seasons on Cinemax and it was announced today that it has been renewed for a third season, but that renewal comes with a change of address as the series will now call HBO Max home. "Warrior introduced viewers to a distinct world from the past, executed with dynamic action and relevant storytelling, with a brilliant cast led by Andrew Koji," said Casey Bloys, Chief Content Officer at HBO and HBO Max. "We can’t wait to see what Jonathan, Justin and Shannon will bring to the next chapter of this series on HBO Max." Executive producer Shannon Lee added, "Justin, Jonathan, and I were thrilled when Warrior was put on HBO platforms to be discovered by a whole new legion of fans. Now we are excited and grateful for the opportunity to do another season, and we applaud HBO Max for understanding the importance of telling this story and for continuing to support this level of representation in our industry. I just know that my father is grinning right now to see this show he dreamed of so long ago continuing to beat the odds. We have every intention of delivering the same high level of meaningful storytelling and Gung Fu action in Season 3."
Andrew Koji will next be seen starring alongside Henry Golding in Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins as Storm Shadow, a fellow ninja is is both blood brother and archenemy to Snake Eyes. The film is slated for a July 23, 2021 release.
The Nevers ratings mark the best original series debut on HBO Max
April 13, 2021 by: Gaius Bolling
The Nevers is already off to a solid start for HBO. While we're not talking Game of Thrones numbers, the series debut is definitely promising for the new show moving forward.
Sunday night’s premiere of the science fiction drama series drew just over 1.4 million viewers across linear telecasts and digital, including the best start for a new HBO Original on HBO Max, according to the premium cable network. To put things in perspective, the premiere surpassed viewership for the premieres of recent HBO dramas including Lovecraft Country and The Undoing, and viewership is expected to grow via additional telecasts and viewing across platforms according to HBO.
The Nevers is described as "an epic science fiction drama about a gang of Victorian women who find themselves with unusual abilities, relentless enemies, and a mission that might change the world." The series features an ensemble cast that includes Laura Donnelly, Ann Skelly, Olivia Williams, James Norton, Tom Riley, Rochelle Neil, Eleanor Tomlinson, Amy Manson, Pip Torrens, Denis O’Hare, Zackary Momoh, Elizabeth Berrington, Kiran Sawar, Anna Devlin, Viola Prettejohn, Ella Smith, Nick Frost, and Ben Chaplin.
The Nevers is created and executive produced by Joss Whedon and the show made some news last November when Whedon decided to step down as showrunner. At the time, Whedon released a statement saying "This year of unprecedented challenges has impacted my life and perspective in ways I could never have imagined, and while developing and producing The Nevers has been a joyful experience, I realize that the level of commitment required moving forward, combined with the physical challenges of making such a huge show during a global pandemic, is more than I can handle without the work beginning to suffer. I am genuinely exhausted and am stepping back to martial my energy towards my own life, which is also at the brink of exciting change. I am deeply proud of the work we have done; I’m grateful to all my extraordinary cast and collaborators, and to HBO for the opportunity to shape yet another strange world. The Nevers is a true labor of love, but after two-plus years of labor, love is about all I have to offer. It will never fade." The timing of Whedon's departure coincided with an internal investigation by WarnerMedia in regards to claims made by Ray Fisher in regards to Whedon's conduct during the Justice League reshoots. Many believe that Whedon was asked to leave The Nevers as a result of this investigation but this was never 100% confirmed.
Did YOU check out the series premiere of The Nevers?
In Treatment season 4 trailer finds therapy in session with Uzo Aduba
April 12, 2021 by: Kevin Fraser
It's been over a decade since the last season of In Treatment graced our screens, but HBO has brought the drama back for a revival starring Uzo Aduba as Dr. Brooke Taylor. HBO has dropped the first trailer for the new season, which features the observant, empathetic Dr. Taylor treating several patients all while wrestling with her own issues.
The original series starred Gabriel Byrne as Dr. Paul Weston, a psychotherapist who had weekly sessions with patients, but also began to question his own abilities and motives, leading him to seek help from his former mentor and therapist Dr. Gina Toll (Dianne Wiest). The structure of the series was also rather interesting, as it aired episodes five nights a week, with each day focusing on a different client. In addition to Uzo Aduba, the new season of In Treatment also stars Joel Kinnaman as Adam, Brooke’s long-time on-again, off-again boyfriend, John Benjamin Hickey as Colin, a charming millionaire patient recently released from prison, Quintessa Swindell as Laila, Brooke’s distrustful, teenage patient, Anthony Ramos as Eladio, a patient who works as a home health aide for a wealthy family, and Liza Colón-Zayas as Rita, Brooke's longtime friend.
The fourth season of In Treatment will debut on HBO on May 23, 2021, with episodes airing Sunday and Monday.
Game of Thrones: New Season 8 trailer released for series’ 10th anniversary
April 7, 2021 by: Steve Seigh
Determined to keep Game of Thrones a part of the pop culture zeitgeist while working on several spin-off series based on the fantasy sensation, HBO has released a new trailer for Season 8. You read that correctly. There's a new trailer for what is arguably the show's most divisive season. Why? Well, to celebrate the show's 10th anniversary, of course! Be aware, my friends, this trailer is dark and full of spoilers, so watch at your own peril.
Naturally, the new trailer features highlights from the final six episodes of the Emmy-winning series – some of which are loathed by fans who were disappointed with how George R.R. Martin's epic tale concluded. If you're looking to score a V.I.P. ticket to this year's Snarkapalooza, you should check out the comments on this trailer:
"Season 8 was like if Frodo realized he could snap the One Ring in half like a twig as soon as he reached Mordor."
"I can’t even bring myself to re-watch the entire show because of how badly it ended. This is a shame because the first four seasons are absolutely ace."
Alright, I think you get the idea. I don't want to create too much of a dogpile.
During a time when fans are ready and willing to launch campaigns in the spirit of getting what they want out of studios, networks, and filmmakers, scores of GOT fans have called for HBO to remake the final season. However, unlike the Snyder Cut, HBO doesn't have files worth of spare GOT footage to create an alternate ending, let alone an entire season. Plus, whether people liked it or not, the final season was still a major hit for HBO. Add the fact that many of the show's stars have moved on to other projects, and you're looking at a sticky situation for reshoots.
Of course, there is a chance that HBO could film a new ending and release it as a standalone presentation sometime down the road. Maybe once Martin finishes the final two books, The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring, HBO can double-back and film a new ending with a new cast. While this scenario is unlikely, stranger things have happened.
Are you excited to see what else HBO has in store to expand the Game of Thrones Universe, or did the final seasons sour you on the franchise?
The Nevers TV Review
April 7, 2021 by: Alex Maidy
Plot: August 1896. Victorian London is rocked to its foundations by a supernatural event which gives certain people – mostly women – abnormal abilities, from the wondrous to the disturbing. But no matter their particular “turns,” all who belong to this new underclass are in grave danger. It falls to mysterious, quick-fisted widow Amalia True (Laura Donnelly) and brilliant young inventor Penance Adair (Ann Skelly) to protect and shelter these gifted “orphans.” To do so, they will have to face the brutal forces determined to annihilate their kind.
Review: It is difficult to review The Nevers, the new HBO genre series debuting on Sunday, without discussing Joss Whedon. Just a few years ago, Whedon's name was synonymous with series centered on female empowerment as well as his blockbuster work on the first two films in The Avengers franchise for Marvel Studios. In the last twelve months, Whedon has plummeted thanks to the MeToo movement and the vocal outcry from the stars of his various television series. Even though Whedon departed The Nevers, his trademark writing and characters are all over the blueprint for this new series. Unfortunately, even objectively distancing this series from Whedon doesn't help elevate what amounts to a big-budget production that feels underwhelmingly generic.
By the time the credits roll, Whedon has the first four that appear on-screen. As the director, writer, creator, and executive producer, his stake in The Nevers is substantial. Despite leaving the project, many of his former Buffy and Dollhouse colleagues, led by Jane Espenson, are shepherding this series to the inevitable finale. Whether the series returns for a sophomore run remains to be seen, but based on the five episodes made available for this review, the fan reaction to the series could swing either way. From superhero landings to strong female characters, bizarre monsters, and anachronistic plot devices, The Nevers is a steampunk wonderland achieved on a Games of Thrones level budget but fails to feel like more than a slightly more expensive variation of Doctor Who. As someone who enjoys Doctor Who, I don't find much here to differentiate this production from many of the Victorian-era standalone episodes from the iconic BBC franchise.
What works in The Nevers is the cast. Every single actress in the ensemble makes the best of their superpowered roles. Led by Laura Donnelly as leader Amalia True and Ann Skelly as the inventive Penance Adair, the heroic characters are known as The Touched, primarily women who all gained abilities of varied kinds during a mysterious event three years before the series begins. Financed by Lavinia Bidlow (Olivia Williams), a surrogate for Charles Xavier, the Touched that inhabit The Orphanage have varied powers ranging from premonitions and strength to wielding fire and energy to gigantism and more. The explanation as to where these powers come from is teased through the series but from the outset, there is a clear parallel with The Touched and Marvel's X-Men. Like Marvel's Mutants, the Touched are looked at as abominations and second-class citizens on top of already being women in an era dominated by men. The subtext is not subtle in the least which is par for the course with any Joss Whedon productions.
Like FOX's recently cancelled Marvel series The Gifted, The Nevers uses the more mediocre characters to populate a show we are supposed to deeply care about. Where Netflix gave some spunk and energy to The Umbrella Academy, HBO let Joss Whedon maintain the air of classiness that the network used in Game of Thrones to offset the violence, bloodshed, and nudity that is meant to draw people into the narrative. There are a lot of intriguing characters like the villainous Maladie (Amy Manson) and Nick Frost as The Beggar King who I want to learn more about while there are others that seem like two-dimensional creations like James Norton's pansexual Hugo Swan and Denis O'Hare's creepy Dr. Edmund Hague that seem like generic placeholders from any comic book adaptation.
There is a lot to take in during the first couple of episodes of the series and without really anchoring the viewer, it takes the length of the series premiere and halfway through the second episode before I felt comfortable with who everyone is and what exactly is going on. So many plot threads and elements are introduced at the start of the series that you may find yourself trying to orient yourself to who has what powers, who are the heroes and villains, and just exactly why you should care. The Nevers feels like an adaptation of a comic book or novel that viewers should already be familiar with. Because the cast is all excellently matched to their roles, this series has the feel of a show that has already been on the air for a while but the feeling that I was needing to catch up with the story from the first episode was not exactly the best feeling to get from a brand new series.
Aside from the bigger budget that imbues the series with some excellent production values, so much of The Nevers feels like it has been done before, and better, in previous Whedon projects. From superhero landings to witty one-liners, this is a rehash of later seasons of Buffy. If you enjoyed the last few years of vampire hunting in Sunnydale, you may not have an issue with The Nevers, but I was expecting so much more out of this show. While it looks good, lurking under the pretty young cast and solid special effects is a story that doesn't really do anything new. A lack of focus and too much going on in the first episodes may endear some to stick with this series while others may tune out quickly. The only thing that is for certain is that The Nevers rarely feels like a cohesive tale but one trying to cram too much into a shorter, marquee cable series run of ten episodes. While never a bad series, The Nevers is mostly a forgettable one.
The Nevers premieres on April 11th on HBO.
Mare of Easttown TV Review
April 5, 2021 by: Alex Maidy
Plot: Winslet stars as Mare Sheehan, a small-town Pennsylvania detective who investigates a local murder as life crumbles around her. Mare of Easstown is an exploration into the dark side of a close community and an authentic examination of how family and past tragedies can define our present.
Review: There are few combinations that instill instant confidence in a critic like HBO and Kate Winslet. Both are known for top-tier productions and acting and have previously collaborated on 2011's award-winning mini-series Mildred Pierce. A decade later, Winslet reunites for HBO's new marquee series Mare of Easttown in which she plays a much different character but with equally praise-worthy results. A combination murder mystery and character drama, Mare of Easttown is equal parts True Detective and Manchester By The Sea. It is a look at a small town through the lens of a horrific crime but anchored by a cast of realistic characters. Led by the always amazing Kate Winslet, this is a series that will have you less focused on solving the whodunit and more on experiencing the lives of these characters.
Mare of Easttown is the latest limited series to come from a single writer and director. In this case, it is scripted by Brad Ingelsby who wrote the excellent films Our Friend and The Way Back. Ingelsby has shown he has a knack for developing psychologically broken characters and giving them stories that are not purely about redemption. Director Craig Zobel, whose work ranges from the films Z for Zachariah and last year's pulpy satire The Hunt to small-screen work on Westworld and The Leftovers, doesn't try to do anything flashy with Mare of Easttown but instead delivers a portrait of a fully fleshed out small Pennsylvania town and the citizens who populate it. This series quickly shows how you bring a blue-collar community to life in a way that is not patronizing or cliche.
At the forefront is Kate Winslet who plays Mare Sheehan, a police detective and local celebrity after winning a high school basketball championship twenty-five years earlier. Jaded and exhausted after a life stuck in Easttown, Mare cares for her daughter, her mother, her grandson, and struggles with the specter of her deceased son. All of this coupled with custody issues and a cold case regarding the disappearance of a local teen a year earlier. When a new murder happens, Mare begins investigating alongside a hotshot detective from outside of town (Evan Peters). As she deals with all of the suspects, many of whom she has known her entire life, and a burgeoning romance with a literature professor (Guy Pearce), Mare's life unravels as quickly as her investigation.
With a supporting cast including Jean Smart, David Denham, Angourie Rice, Cailee Spaeny, Julianne Nicholson, and more, Mare of Easttown is full of characters who are likable but many who are not. This is not a sexy, glossy production but one where even the most famous faces look like average neighbors you may see on the street. There are many moments of uncomfortable drama and realism throughout without ignoring the funny moments in daily life. Mare of Easttown features many lines that had me laughing, mostly from the always excellent Jean Smart as well as Evan Peters who delivers one of the best performances of his career. Peters plays a character here unlike his usual roles and I am thankful he gets to play against type, especially so closely behind his role on the Disney+ series WandaVision.
The real standout is Winslet who, as always, transforms into her character. Mare is not always a likeable person but she is absolutely a relatable one. Through the five episodes made available for this review (the series consists of a total of seven), I went from rooting for Mare to sympathizing with her to outright disliking her. But, like a real person, Mare makes mistakes and deals with the consequences. All of this comes wrapped up in a murder mystery that runs parallel to the daily lives of these characters. Brad Ingelsby and Craig Zobel do an excellent job of telling a story that feels like it was adapted from a substantial novel. I kept looking to see if this was based on a book I had somehow missed reading as Mare of Easttown would easily have been a bestseller. The fact this is an original tale in an era when virtually everything is a remake or adaptation is a testament to the quality original stories that HBO still endeavors to bring to screens.
Mare of Easttown is a series that starts out as a mystery about a deal girl before developing into something much more. Each episode delivers clues and red herrings while we try to solve the same case that Mare is working on, but it then equally devotes time and narrative to exploring who Mare is and how she became this way. It is a devastating story and one that will most assuredly garner Kate Winslet awards consideration as much as I hope it does for Evan Peters. I hope the final two episodes live up to the first five as this is a story that took me one episode to appreciate before I was absolutely invested in the rest. Mare of Easttown may not be as buzzworthy of series as other recent HBO productions but it may be the best original creation they have delivered in a long time.
Mare of Easttown premieres on April 18th on HBO.
Game of Thrones: Broadway adaptation in the works from George R.R. Martin
March 30, 2021 by: Steve Seigh
Saddle up your dragons, grab your shaming bell, and cross your fingers for an alternate ending because Game of Thrones is headed to Broadway.
According to THR, a dramatic stage show spectacular based on George R.R. Martin’s fantasy world is now in development, from producers Simon Painter and Tim Lawson, in partnership with Kilburn Live. And because he'll do just about anything to avoid finishing the next book in the series, George R.R. Martin will pen the story with award-winning playwright Duncan MacMillan (1984) and acclaimed director Dominic Cooke (The Courier). The creative team hopes to launch productions in New York City, London's West End, and Australia by 2023.
Unlike the many prequel projects that are currently in the works, the stage version of Game of Thrones will feature several fan-favorite characters from the original HBO series. The as-yet-untitled play is set during a pivotal moment in Westeros history, The Great Tourney at Harrenhal, a contest that took place just 16 years before the events in Game of Thrones.
“The play will for the first time take audiences deeper behind the scenes of a landmark event that previously was shrouded in mystery,” reads the play’s official description. “Featuring many of the most iconic and well-known characters from the series, the production will boast a story centered around love, vengeance, madness, and the dangers of dealing in prophecy, in the process revealing secrets and lies that have only been hinted at until now.”
In Westeros lore, the Great Tourney was held over 10 days and was considered the biggest competition event in Westeros history, with tournaments of jousting, archery, and more. It's kind of like Disney's Robin Hood, only with a lot more violence and fewer talking animals. No characters have been confirmed at this time, though Martin's previously published books state attendees of the celebration included a young, shy Ned Stark, his sister Lyanna, a teenage Jaime Lannister, an intimidating Lord Robert Baratheon, lovestruck Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, dashing Prince Oberyn Martell, and noble knight Ser Barristan Selmy, among many others. It's worth noting that Martin's Westeros timeline differs from that of the HBO series, so fans should expect some changes. Other characters that could be a part of the mix include Cersei Lannister, Tywin Lannister, Tyrion Lannister, Littlefinger, and Varys. Unfortunately, characters like Daenerys Targaryen, Jon Snow, and Arya Stark were not yet born and are unlikely to be a part of the play. Finally, in the finale of the event, Prince Rhaegar publicly declared his love for Robert's betrothed, Lyanna Stark – a move that led to Robert's Rebellion and the Targaryens being overthrown.
“The seeds of war are often planted in times of peace,” Martin said in a statement. “Few in Westeros knew the carnage to come when highborn and smallfolk alike gathered at Harrenhal to watch the finest knights of the realm compete in a great tourney, during the Year of the False Spring. It is a tourney oft referred during HBO's Game of Thrones, and in my novels, A Song of Ice & Fire … and now, at last, we can tell the whole story… on the stage.”
While talking more about the production, Martin said: “An amazing team has been assembled to tell the tale, starting with producers Simon Painter, Tim Lawson, and Jonathan Sanford. Their knowledge and love of my world and characters have impressed me from the very first, and their plans for this production blew me away since the first time we met. Dominic Cooke, our director, is a former artistic director of London's Royal Court Theatre, who brought Shakespeare's dramas of the War of the Roses to television, and our playwright, Duncan Macmillan, has previously adapted George Orwell and Henrik Ibsen, among others. Working with them (back before the pandemic, when we could actually get together) has been a treat, and I am eager for our collaboration to resume. Our dream is to bring Westeros to Broadway, to the West End, to Australia… and eventually, to a stage near you … It ought to be spectacular.”
Obviously, everybody is very excited about bringing Game of Thrones to the grand stage, but what about you? Can Martin's lengthy tale be told during an evening or two at the theater? Are you excited to see the elaborate sets, costumes, effects, and dragons? How many adult diapers will this thing require, and can you wear them comfortably underneath your outfit? Inquiring minds want to know.
“I have such admiration for George’s world and his characters,” MacMillan said, whose theatrical work includes Lungs; People, Places and Things; Every Brilliant Thing; and, of course, an adaptation of 1984. “His generosity and trust during this process has been incredible. Working on this play during lockdown has felt like a real privilege. I can’t wait until we can be back in a theatre to experience this together.”
“I am over the moon at being given the opportunity, by the dynamic producing team of Tim Lawson, Simon Painter, and Kilburn Live, to bring a new installment of George RR Martin’s epic story to a life on stage,” said Cooke, who was the Artistic Director of London’s Royal Court Theatre from 2007 to 2013. “One of George’s inspirations for the original books was Shakespeare’s history plays so the material lends itself naturally to the theatre. Duncan MacMillan and I are having a great time digging into the dynastic power struggles at the heart of George’s extraordinary imaginative world and he has been hugely generous and supportive towards both of us.”
HBO is not involved in the stage production of Game of Thrones but does have the option of investing in the project as it continues to come together.
The Hollywood Reporter
Danny McBride developing animated film Trouble
March 29, 2021 by: Kevin Fraser
According to Deadline, Danny McBride is turning his sights to the realm of animation as his Rough House Pictures banner will be partnering with Spire Animation Studios to develop Trouble.
The animated feature will center on a 13-year-old named Jax who gets in trouble with his family and is whisked away to a parallel reality known as the World of Trouble. "Embarking on a whimsical adventure, within this bizarre and fantastic world of chaotic adolescence, he makes new friends, reflects on his character and learns the value of self-forgiveness, all while trying to figure out how to get out of trouble, and get back home," reads Deadline's description. Danny McBride and Spire Animation Studios CCO Brad Lewis came up with the original story, which will be scripted by Kevin Barnett and Chris Pappas. In a statement, Danny McBride said:
The idea of being in trouble is a universal fear we’ve all experienced growing up. Being able to build out what that world could look like and exploring how we can make this an animated adventure with Brad and the team at Spire has been awesome.
Brad Lewis added, "Danny has such a unique sensibility and grasp of wonderfully irreverent characters, creating a story together is a dream come true. I’m definitely looking forward to getting into Trouble together, and bringing to life the three words kids all over the world fear… you’re in trouble." Danny McBride will soon be shooting the second season of HBO's The Righteous Gemstones, and will next be heard lending his voice to The Mitchells vs. The Machines, which is slated to debut on Netflix on April 30, 2021.
The Nevers Trailer: HBO series takes super heroics to the Victorian era
March 23, 2021 by: Steve Seigh
Tighten your corset, brush up on your most devastating spells, and watch out for those chamber pots because the full trailer for HBO's The Nevers is here! Today's trailer is for Part One of The Nevers, which consists of six episodes. HBO's Victorian adventure begins on Sunday, April 11, 2021 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT), with Part Two (also six episodes) to follow at a later date. The series will air on HBO, with HBO Max subscribers also having access to the show.
Plenty of familiar faces have assembled to make up the ensemble cast of The Nevers, including Olivia Williams (The Ghost Writer) as Lavinia Bidlow, the wealthy benefactress funding the orphanage for Amalia’s outcasts, who are also known as the Touched. Additionally, James Norton (Little Women) plays Hugo Swann, the rich and irreverent proprietor of a den of iniquity, Tom Riley (Da Vinci’s Demons) stars as Augustus “Augie” Bidlow, Lavinia’s sweet, awkward, younger brother with a secret of his own, Pip Torrens (The Crown) as Lord Gilbert Massen, a high-ranking government official leading the crusade against our heroines, Ben Chaplin (The Thin Red Line) as Inspector Frank Mundi, who’s torn between his police duties and moral compass.
Oh, did you think we were done? Not on your life. Settle in, folks, because we've got lots of other actors to name.
Denis O’Hare (American Horror Story) plays Edmund Hague, a deranged doctor searching for the source of the powers, Amy Manson (Once Upon a Time) as the tortured, murderous Maladie, who derives power from pain, Rochelle Neil (Terminator: Dark Fate) as the fire-wielding Annie “Bonfire” Carby, one of Maladie’s motley gang, Zackary Momoh (Seven Seconds) as orphanage doctor Horatio Cousens, whose turn equips him with healing powers, Eleanor Tomlinson (The Illusionist) as Mary Brighton, a broken and resilient performer pursuing her dream of singing on stage, Elizabeth Berrington (In Bruges) as Lucy Best, adaptive and streetwise, her quick-wit and high spirits mask the pain of a tragic past, and Anna Devlin (All the Money in the World) as Primrose Chattoway who, at ten feet tall and a dreamy demeanor, wishes to be an ordinary girl not taking up too much space.
Hey, where are you going? I'm not done naming people yet.
Kiran Sonia Sawar (HBO Max’s Pure) also stars as Harriet Kaur, a young Scottish Sikh and aspiring lawyer, determined to live her life as she planned, Viola Prettejohn (The Witcher) as Myrtle Haplisch, a middle-class girl rescued from a family who cannot understand her – literally, as she can no longer speak any form of language they understand, Ella Smith (Ray & Liz) as Désireé Blodgett, a prostitute with a power that gets her in trouble and a six-year-old son who never speaks, Vinnie Heaven as Nimble Jack, a rakish and charming young thief and an expert at breaking and entering, and finally, the great Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead) stars as feared criminal overlord Declan “Beggar King” Orrun.
Per HBO, here's the official synopsis for The Nevers:
August, 1896. Victorian London is rocked to its foundations by a supernatural event which gives certain people — mostly women — abnormal abilities, from the wondrous to the disturbing. But no matter their particular “turns,” all who belong to this new underclass are in grave danger. It falls to mysterious, quick-fisted widow Amalia True (Laura Donnelly) and brilliant young inventor Penance Adair (Ann Skelly) to protect and shelter these gifted “orphans.” To do so, they will have to face the brutal forces determined to annihilate their kind.
Although Joss Whedon served as the creative force behind The Nevers and was set to serve as writer, director, executive producer, and showrunner, HBO has removed him from the project. Whedon's unceremonious exit was the result of the filmmaker being at the center of an investigation by WarnerMedia (HBO’s parent company) over allegations of misconduct on the set of Justice League made by star Ray Fisher. Not long after that, a number of men and women who've worked with Whedon on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and other projects have accused the once fan-favorite creative of further misconduct. Essentially, Whedon has been outed as a dumpster fire of a human being and Hollywood is no longer interested in entertaining his creative endeavors.
“We have parted ways with Joss Whedon. We remain excited about the future of ‘The Nevers’ and look forward to its premiere,” HBO said in a statement.
“This year of unprecedented challenges has impacted my life and perspective in ways I could never have imagined, and while developing and producing ‘The Nevers’ has been a joyful experience, I realize that the level of commitment required moving forward, combined with the physical challenges of making such a huge show during a global pandemic, is more than I can handle without the work beginning to suffer. I am genuinely exhausted and am stepping back to martial my energy towards my own life, which is also at the brink of exciting change,” Whedon said. “I am deeply proud of the work we have done; I’m grateful to all my extraordinary cast and collaborators, and to HBO for the opportunity to shape yet another strange world. ‘The Nevers’ is a true labor of love, but after two-plus years of labor, love is about all I have to offer. It will never fade.”