TV Talk

Benedict Cumberbatch To Play Murdered KGB Agent in HBO Limited Series Londongrad

The hardest-working actor in show business has lined up another gig. MCU and Game of Thrones alums join Netflix's 3 Body Problem, The Wheel of Time and Cowboy Bebop trailers, and more of the week's top TV and streaming news.

by | October 29, 2021 | Comments

We want part of whatever sorcery that’s keeping Benedict Cumberbatch on the move — the Doctor Strange actor clearly can’t stop working. Plus, a casting flurry was announced for Netflix’s 3-Body Problem, led by Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and The Terror: Infamy showrunner Alexander Woo. The Wheel of Time 360 trailer dazzles, a holiday film lineup from VH1, and more of the biggest TV and streaming news this week.


TOP STORY

Londongrad: Benedict Cumberbatch Will Play Poisoned KGB Spy

Benedict Cumberbatch

(Photo by Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Londongrad will find Benedict Cumberbatch playing KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned with radioactive isotope polonium-210 in 2006 in England after defecting from Russia.

Litvinenko, who specialized in investigating organized crime, defected from Russia with his family in 2000 after being arrested for abusing his position, getting acquitted, but then being arrested again and acquitted again. In the U.K.. he worked as a writer, including two books that accused Vladimir Putin and his government of terrorism and assassinations, among other crimes.

Londongrad, based on author Alan Cowell’s 2008 book The Terminal Spy, will also be executive produced by Cumberbatch, while former The Man in the High Castle showrunner David Scarpa will serve as showrunner.

Such a fascinating true story, no surprise, has attracted more than one British TV fave: David Tennant already committed to the ITV series Litvinenko, in which he will play the doomed spy. Neither drama has a premiere date yet. (Variety).


NEW TRAILERS: The Wheel of Time Gets a 360-Degree, Interactive Trailer

The Wheel of Time, Amazon’s monster of an adaptation of the fantasy series from author Robert Jordan, already held a lot of promise for the devoted fans of the series, but Amazon surprised everyone with this 360-degree, interactive trailer. Stars Rosamund Pike. Premieres Nov. 19 on Amazon Prime Video.

More trailers and teasers released this week:

The Witcher season 2 trailer shows a world at war, as monster-hunter Geralt of Rivia guards and trains young princess Ciri, and Yennifer tries to get back to her life. (Netflix)
• True Story is a limited series starring Kevin Hart as a world famous comedian who has a lost night in his Philadelphia hometown, with his brother (Wesley Snipes), and that homecoming could cost him everything. The thriller premieres Nov. 24. (Netflix)
• The Real Charlie Chaplin is a dynamite documentary about the life and career of the legendary film star and comedian. Premieres Dec. 11. (Showtime)
•  Landscapers is a limited series about a mild-mannered British couple who kill the wife’s parents. Stars Olivia Colman and David Thewlis. Premieres Dec. 6. (HBO)
• The Unforgivable is a movie starring Sandra Bullock as a former convict who finds her only hope of starting a new life is to find the estranged sister she was forced to leave behind when she went to jail. Also stars Vincent D’Onofrio, Jon Bernthal, Richard Thomas, and Viola Davis. Premieres Dec. 10. (Netflix)

• Cowboy Bebop is the much-anticipated series with Spike Spiegel (John Cho), Jet Black (Mustafa Shakir), and Faye Valentine (Daniella Pineda) in a live-action adaptation of the beloved anime hit. Premieres Nov. 19. (Netflix)
• Monarch, a multi-generational musical drama about America’s first family of country music, stars Susan Sarandon, Anna Friel, and Trace Adkins. The series kicks off with a two-night event on Sunday, Jan. 30. (Fox)
• Dr. Brain is Apple TV+’s first Korean-language drama, a thriller about a scientist who tries brain-syncing with the dead to try to access clues about their deaths. Stars Parasite’s Lee Sun-kyun. Premieres Nov. 4. (Apple TV+)
• In Tiger King 2, the saga that had us all riveted during the first month of the pandemic in 2020 continues, and reveals that some of those involved haven’t fared very well, while others are making “more money than God” off the series. Premieres Nov. 17. (Netflix)
• The Real World Homecoming: Los Angeles is the second season of the reunion series, bringing together the second-ever cast of The Real World: Beth Anthony, Beth Stolarczyk, David Edwards, Glen Naessens, Irene Berrera-Kearns, Jon Brennan, and Tami Roman, who will cohabitate in the same swanky Venice Beach house they lived in back in 1993. Let the drama begin! Premieres Nov. 24. (Paramount+)

For all the latest TV and streaming trailers subscribe to the Rotten Tomatoes TV YouTube channel.


CASTING: Game of Thrones and MCU Alums Among 12 Cast Members Announced for 3 Body Problem

3-Body Problem cast

(Photo by courtesy of Netflix)

The MCU’s Benedict Wong (Doctor Strange, Avengers: Endgame) and Tsai Chin (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings) and Game of Thrones‘ Liam Cunningham and John Bradley — Ser Davos Seaworth and Samwell Tarly, respectively — have joined the next project of the HBO fantasy series’ creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss. Netflix series 3 Body Problem, co-created by Alexander Woo (The Terror: Infamy), is inspired by Chinese writer Liu Cixin’s renowned and epic book trilogy, which tells the story of what happens when humanity discovers we are not alone in the universe. The series announced 12 select castings this week:

• Jovan Adepo (Watchmen)
• John Bradley (Game of Thrones)
• Tsai Chin (Lucky Grandma)
• Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones)
• Eiza González (Baby Driver)
• Jess Hong (Inked)
• Marlo Kelly (Dare Me)
• Alex Sharp (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time)
• Sea Shimooka (Pink Skies Ahead)
• Zine Tseng (her series debut)
• Saamer Usmani (The Mauritanian)
• Benedict Wong (Doctor Strange)

Jon Hamm will star in the Fox animated comedy Grimsburg, playing a detective named Marvin Flute, “who might be the greatest detective ever to catch a cannibal clown or correctly identify a mid-century modern armoire,” but more than anything wants to reconnect with the ex-wife and son he ignored. The Mad Men star is currently filming a big-screen sequel to the Chevy Chase classic Fletch.

Veep star (and recent Ted Lasso guest star) Sam Richardson has joined the cast of the Disney+ Hocus Pocus sequel movie. Original 1993 movie stars Better Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker are returning for Hocus Pocus 2, which will find the Sanderson sisters accidentally sent to modern-day Salem. The film is scheduled to premiere on Disney+ next year. (THR)

Another Veep star, Timothy Simons, has joined the cast of one of the dueling limited series about Texas housewife Candy Montgomery, who killed her one-time friend and romantic rival with an ax. Simons will play Pat Montgomery, the husband of Candy (Jessica Biel) in the Hulu series Candy. HBO Max’s Love and Death covers the same subject with Elizabeth Olsen playing the 1980 ax murderer and Patrick Fugit playing her husband.

Starz’ Watergate limited series, Gaslit, has added guest cast. Joining Julia Roberts and Sean Penn as Martha and John Mitchell, the first whistleblower and her husband, Richard Nixon’s Attorney General and best friend, will be Nate Corddry as Michael Deaver, a Ronald Reagan campaign official; Amy Landecker as Lurleen Landry, a friend of Martha’s; Lauren E. Banks as Janelle Lewis, a JET Magazine journalist; Ahna O’Reilly as Gail Magruder, the wife of Watergate co-conspirator Jeb Magruder (Hamish Linklater); Beth Hall as Helen Thomas, the legendary UPI White House reporter; and Bill Duke as Charles Anderson, the Watergate night security manager.


Octavia Spencer

(Photo by Mike Smith/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Octavia Spencer will star in and executive produce the FX drama The Bobby Love Story, a drama series about the true story of escaped convict Bobby Love, and his longtime wife, Cheryl, who never knew about his past. Kerry Washington and Jenni Konner (Girls) are also EPs on the upcoming project. The Loves also share their story in a new book, The Redemption of Bobby Love: A Story of Faith, Family, and Justice.

Konner has also joined Kumail Nanjiani’s Hulu limited series Immigrant as the co-showrunner with executive producer and co-showrunner Nanjiani, who stars as Somen “Steve” Banerjee, the Indian-American entrepreneur who started Chippendales. (Deadline)

Tisha Campbell, Marcia Gay Harden, and Tuc Watkins have joined the cast of the Neil Patrick Harris Netflix comedy Uncoupled, about Michael (Harris), who thinks his life is perfect until his husband (Watkins) of nearly two decades leaves him right before Michael’s 50th birthday. Campbell will play Suzanne, a successful real estate agent, and Michael’s BFF, while Harden will play Claire, a fellow Upper East Sider who’s going through a bitter divorce from her husband. Emerson Brooks and Brooks Ashmanskas also join the cast, as Michael’s TV weatherman friend Billy, and his art dealer friend, Stanley, respectively. (Deadline)

Tisha Campbell will also reunite with her Martin co-star Tichina Arnold to co-host  the 2021 Soul Train Awards on BET and BET HER on Nov. 28.

The actors who will play George Lopez’s character’s children in the Amazon series Once Upon a Time in Aztlan – the comedian’s first drama – have been cast: Jesse Garcia (Narcos: Mexico) will play Arturo, an artist who has spent 13 years in prison and is ready to get out and make his mark on the world, and Annie Gonzalez (Gentefied) will play Lola, the youngest child of Gervasio (Lopez), who’s an entrepreneur and mom who runs a cabaret bar. (Deadline)

Peacock’s new comedy Killing It, starring Craig Robinson, has added new cast members, including Claudia O’Doherty, Rell Battle, Scott MacArthur, Stephanie Nogueras, Wyatt Walter, and Jet Miller. Dan Goor (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) and Luke Del Tredici are showrunners, and Robinson is also an executive producer on the series, which revolves around Craig (Robinson), “a man who will do anything to make his American Dream come true, even compete in a state-sponsored python hunt.”


PAUL BETTANY and CLAIRE FOY star in A VERY BRITISH SCANDAL

(Photo by AVBS_Alan Peebles/Amazon Studios)

BBC One and Amazon have released the first-look photos and additional cast information for A Very British Scandal, starring Claire Foy as Margaret Campbell, the Duchess of Argyll; Paul Bettany as Ian Campbell, 11th Duke of Argyll; and Julia Davis as Maureen, Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava. Newly announced cast members include Amanda Drew, Richard McCabe, Phoebe Nicholls, Camilla Rutherford, Timothy Renouf, Sophia Myles, Sophie Ward, Tim Steed, Katherine Manners, Richard Goulding, Jonathan Aris, Oliver Chris, Nicholas Rowe, and Miles Jupp. The limited series will focus on the bitter divorce of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll, one of the most notorious, extraordinary, and brutal legal cases of the 20th century. The three, one-hour episodes will be available on Amazon Video in the U.S. in 2022.

The upcoming Apple TV+ Billy Crudup dramedy Hello Tomorrow!, which stars Crudup as Jack, an ambitious, extremely optimistic salesman whose vision of the future threatens his dreams, has added Hank Azaria to the cast, playing Eddie, a “slick salesman with a gambling problem.” (Deadline)

My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend star Rachel Bloom is reuniting with her co-creator of that show on the Hulu comedy pilot Badass (And Her Sister), co-writing the series and playing twins. The story revolves around “an impossibly badass spy (Bloom) who tires of her life of sexy espionage and goes to live with her pushover twin sister (also Bloom) and, together, they learn what it means to actually be badass.” (Deadline)

Actor E.R. Fightmaster, playing non-binary Dr. Kai Bartley, has been added to the recurring cast of Grey’s Anatomy, expanding on the guest role they first played earlier in the season. Bartley works in the Minnesota hospital where Meredith has moved to work on a project to help find the cure for Parkinson’s Disease. Fightmaster is the first non-binary actor to play a doctor on the ABC series. (Variety)

Apple TV+’s Extrapolations, the anthology series about climate change, just added new cast members: Forest Whitaker, Tobey Maguire, Marion Cotillard, and Eilza Gonzalez. (Deadline)

ABC announced via Twitter that Michelle Obama will guest star on the final season of Black-ish.


PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT: Holiday Movie Slate Coming to VH1

Eva Longoria

(Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/WireImage)

VH1 has tapped talent including Eva Longoria, Jamie Foxx, and Nick Cannon, World of Wonder’s Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey, and Kim Fields to produce films for its first “Naughty or Nice” holiday movie slate. The lineup kicks off on Monday, November 29 with Adventures in Christmasing, followed by The Bitch Who Stole Christmas, Hip Hop Family Christmas, Let’s Get Merried, and Miracles Across 125th Street.

In addition to his upcoming Amazon drama, George Lopez also has a pilot order at NBC for a comedy pilot for a series called Lopez vs. Lopez, with Lopez’s daughter Mayan to co-star and produce the series about a working-class family alongside her father.

They’re back: after 20 seasons of Keeping Up with the Kardashians on E!, the Kardashian-Jenner brood is already filming on a new series that is part of their deal with Hulu. The new reality show is scheduled to premiere next year. (Variety)

Netflix is doing its first-ever “family roast” – featuring the Jonas Brothers – on Nov. 23. Emmy-winning Saturday Night Live host Kenan Thompson hosts, with guest stars Pete Davidson, Niall Horan, Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias, John Legend, Lilly Singh, and Jack Whitehall, and sketches, songs, and games, and of course, the roasting of Kevin, Joe, and Nick Jonas.

Peacock has given a straight-to-series to David E. Kelley’s crime drama The Missing, about an NYPD detective whose faith and belief in humanity may be shattered when a routine investigation goes askew. The eight-episode series, for which Kelley will be the showrunner, is based on author Dror A. Mishani’s book The Missing File.

IMDb TV has greenlit Primo, a comedy from bestselling author Shea Serrano and Michael Schur, based on Serrano’s childhood in San Antonio. The “coming-of-age comedy (is) about a teenager balancing college aspirations, societal expectations, and a hectic home life anchored by his single mom and five uncles.” Serrano will write and executive produce the half-hour.


STAR TREK, 1966-1969, second season cast

(Photo by Paramount/Courtesy: Everett Collection)

The History Channel will celebrate Star Trek’s 55th anniversary with a 10-part celebration, The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek. Premiering Nov. 5, the docuseries promises to share “rare, fascinating details of how Star Trek began, where it’s been, and how it’s boldly going where no television series has gone before.” The first four episodes will air on History on Fridays, and the last six will be available on the network’s subscription video service.

Producer Lawrence “LAW” Watford has optioned author Patrick Parr’s book The Seminarian: Martin Luther King Jr. Comes of Age with the intention of adapting the story for a TV series. The 2018 tome told of King’s time as a student at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania and his romance with a white woman, Betty Moitz, who was also the daughter of the school dietitian. (Deadline)

John Belushi’s widow Judith Belushi-Pisano and her son Lucas Pisano are teaming up with Utopia Originals to create a docuseries about the Blues Brothers, the Saturday Night Live sketches that became a 1980 movie and then a pop culture phenomenon, starring Belushi and SNL co-star and friend Dan Aykroyd. Aykroyd will also be an executive producer on the project, that does not have a distributor yet. (THR)

Taye Diggs, Ne-Yo, and Eric Bellinger will co-host a pair of specials celebrating black performers in the style of the Rat Pack, with banter, humor, and music. The Black Pack: We Three Kings will premiere Nov. 29 on The CW, and will feature guests Jordin Sparks, Tank, Sevun Streeter and All American star Bre-Z, with comedy, music, and dancing. The Black Pack: Excellence is scheduled to air in 2022 and will mark Juneteenth with a similar lineup of music and guest stars.

Martin Lawrence is returning to TV in a dark comedy adapted from a popular Israeli series called Nehama. In his first television role in seven years, the Martin star will play a man who quits his job in tech to pursue his dream of becoming a comedian. But when his wife dies and he’s left to take care of his five children, he’s torn between focusing on them and continuing to chase his dream. The series is not set at any network or streaming service yet. (Variety)


Kiefer Sutherland, Cast Reuniting for a 24 Virtual 20-Year Reunion

24 - Kiefer Sutherland

(Photo by Daniel Smith / © Fox / Courtesy: Everett Collection)

Kiefer Sutherland, much of the main cast, and the creative team behind the classic Fox drama 24 will reunite on November 6 for a virtual fan convention to celebrate the show’s 20th anniversary. Sutherland, as super heroic counterterrorist agent Jack Bauer, launched the show during a precarious political time, less than a month after the attacks of September 11. The Zoom fan event (with the speakers appearing split-screen style like on the show) will find the Emmy winner, as well as co-stars Leslie Hope, Sarah Clarke, Elisha Cuthbert, Xander Berkeley, Cherry Jones, Gregory Itzin, Mykelti Williamson, Chris Diamantopoulos, Louis Lombardi, Shohreh Aghdashloo, and creatives Howard Gordon, creators and executive producers Robert Cochran and Joel Surnow, directors Jon Cassar, Brad Turner, and Stephen Hopkins (who directed one of the truly great TV drama pilots), casting director Debi Manwiller, producer Michael Loceff, cinematographer Rodney Charters, and composer Sean Callery, talking about that and much more on the event’s panels. Passes for the convention cost $24, and a portion of the fee goes to the charity Operation Smile, which provides cleft lip and palate care to children.


Matthew Perry Memoir Arrives in 2022

Matthew Perry during the Friends Reunion Special during The Late Late Show with James Corden.

(Photo by Terence Patrick/CBS via Getty Images)

Friends star Matthew Perry has announced he will release a memoir next year, including his own words about his time on the show and his famous battles with addiction. He’s the first member of the beloved cast to release an autobiography, and the deal with Flatiron Books is said to be worth seven figures.

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