This week in TV news: It’s Ryan Murphy’s world, and we’re all just watching it. The presidential debate as spectator sport, Tracy Morgan to return to TV, John Cleese’s dramatic reading of The Walking Dead, and more.
Showrunner Ryan Murphy spilled some dirt on two of his popular — and patriotic? — dramas: American Horror Story and American Crime Story. AHS fans saw a major twist in Wednesday’s episode with a shift to some behind-the-scenes horrors. Murphy this week hinted at ties to the recently announced seventh season, announced the return of some Freak Show folks, and told media that next season has a big hook behind it. He also confirmed that Lady Gaga’s Roanoke character is indeed the Original Supreme referenced in Coven, and he teased that AHS vets Finn Wittrock and Taissa Farmiga will appear later in the current season. In other Murphy news, season 3 of American Crime Story will focus on the murder of fashion giant Gianni Versace and serial killer Andrew Cunanan. Versace/Cunanan: American Crime Story is based on the book Vulgar Affairs by Vanity Fair writer Maureen Orth. (Previously announced, season 2 will revolve around Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.)
In another American horror story — the third and final presidential debate — media observers praised Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace for his performance as moderator in the Wednesday night event. Politico’s Glenn Thrush wrote that Wallace “seemed to lion-tame Trump.” When asked by Wallace if he would accept the election results, GOP candidate/real-estate tycoon/reality star Donald Trump replied “I will look at it at the time,” and “I’ll keep you in suspense” — causing squeals of horror across the democracy. CNN contributor Van Jones’ assessment of the debate: “You can’t polish this turd.” CNN host Anderson Cooper’s reply: “Technically, you can’t polish any turd.” The Television Academy even got involved, tweeting “the Emmys are not rigged” after Democratic candidate and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dredged up Trump’s past contention that the Emmys were fixed in years when The Apprentice failed to be nominated. The event also sparked a hilarious tweet storm focused on singer Janet Jackson and a surge in Spotify streams of 1986 song “Nasty” after Trump called Clinton a “nasty woman.” The topic even spawned a video mashup of debate footage and Jackson’s “Nasty” music video.
TBS has announced the straight-to-series pickup of a new series from comedy superstar and Emmy nominee Tracy Morgan. The 30 Rock star will play a former inmate who, after being released on good behavior from a 15-year prison stint, is shocked to see just how much the world has changed in his absence. The untitled series is being created and executive-produced by Morgan, Jordan Peele of Key & Peele, John Carcieri, Eric and Kim Tannenbaum, and Joel Zadak. TBS has ordered 10 episodes of the single-camera comedy series, which looks to capture the rawness of Morgan’s stand-up persona, while also commenting on race relations, the Gen X/Millennial gap, and the American penal system.
Former Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes is getting the limited-series treatment from Spotlight co-writer Tom McCarthy and Blumhouse, based the bestselling book The Loudest Voice in the Room by journalist Gabriel Sherman. Mega-popular mobile game Candy Crush will become a live-action game show at CBS. Shondaland has announced another ABC collaboration, this time teaming up with Scandal writer and producer Paul William Davies for a legal drama. Fresh off the success of HBO’s Insecure, Issa Rae is starting up a new six-episode anthology comedy series called Minimum Wage. Michael B. Jordan has launched his own production company and inked a multiyear first-look film and TV production deal with Skydance Media, which kicks off with basketball TV drama Apollo Park. Basketball segue! Hoop Dreams director Steve James is creating an unscripted high school series about racial and educational inequality called America to Me with Participant Media. Female-driven big-screen Wall Street thriller Equity from director Meera Menon and writer Amy Fox is being adapted for ABC and will be penned by Regina Corrado (Sons of Anarchy, Deadwood). CBS has ordered Alex Kurtzman–helmed suspense thriller Salvation straight to series — due summer 2017. The network is also developing legal drama Mrs. V. Mr. with renowned director Ridley Scott, who will executive produce along with David Zucker (The Good Wife). And finally…superproducer Jerry Bruckheimer will reboot his own spy thriller Enemy of the State as a TV series for ABC.