TV Talk

Chernobyl’s Johan Renck Will Direct The Last of Us Pilot at HBO

Plus, a reckoning in Hollywood, Peabody winners, ABC finally picks a Black Bachelor, TV and film production may resume, Outlander stars hit the road, and more of the week's top TV and streaming news.

by | June 12, 2020 | Comments

Chernobyl talent reap more rewards for their 96% Certified Fresh HBO limited series; a TV industry reckoning gets underway; after 24 seasons, there’s finally a Black Bachelor; Outlander stars road trip; TV and film production gets a green light in Los Angeles; and more in the week’s top TV and streaming news.


TOP STORY

The Last of Us Video Game TV Adaptation Gets Chernobyl Emmy Winner Johan Renck on Pilot

The Last of Us II
(Photo by PlayStation)

Time for another round of Last of Us fantasy casting, Chernobyl love, and video game–adaptation wish lists: HBO is reuniting with its award-winning Chernobyl director Johan Renck, who will direct the network’s pilot for the adaptation of the wildly popular Sony/Naughty Dog video game The Last of Us. HBO announced a series version of the game in March.

The 2013 adventure game centers around Joel, a post-apocalyptic smuggler who is tasked with getting 14-year-old Ellie out of a dangerous quarantine zone and across the United States in an increasingly violent, harsh journey.

In addition to his work on Chernobyl, Renck also directed episodes of The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, and Bates Motel, so he is well experienced to handle the action, drama, and zombie-like creatures of The Last of Us series.

The award-winning game’s creative director, Neil Druckmann, will also work on the series as a writer and executive, along with Chernobyl creator and Emmy-winning writer Craig Mazin.

The series may also include stories from the game’s upcoming sequel, The Last of Us Part II, which is scheduled to be released on June 19 for PlayStation. The original game has sold more than 20 million copies.

Oh, about that casting: How about TWD and The Punisher alum Jon Bernthal for Joel and Unbelievable Golden Globe–nominee Kaitlyn Dever as Ellie?


When They See Us, Watchmen, Chernobyl, and Fleabag Among the 2020 Peabody Award Winners

Chernobyl Jared Harris (HBO)
(Photo by HBO)

And speaking of Chernobyl … congratulations on that Peabody! The drama joined other HBO series Succession and Watchmen; Netflix’s Stranger Things, miniseries When They See Us, and Unbelievable; Apple TV+’s DickinsonRamy on Hulu; David Makes Man on OWN; and Amazon’s Fleabag as scripted TV winners of Peabody Awards.

The honors, given by the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia, recognize a “vibrant collective of inspiring, innovative, and powerful stories,” Peabody executive director Jeffrey P. Jones said. “True to the spirit and legacy of Peabody, our winners are also distinguished by the presence and resilience of many emerging and diverse voices.”

Other Peabody winners include the documentaries Surviving R. Kelly, Apollo 11, Independent Lens: Hale County This Morning, This Evening, For Sama, The Edge of Democracy, and True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality.

The Simpsons and PBS’ Frontline won special institutional awards, The Simpsons for “expanded notions of what the sitcom could be,” and Frontline, which has won 20 Peabody Awards since its 1983 debut, for being the “preeminent home for hard-hitting, thoughtful, and consequential journalism on television.

Cicely Tyson, the 95-year-old Emmy and Tony-winning actress and Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree, is the winner of this year’s career achievement award.

A full list of the winners and the reason they were chosen as Peabody winners is available at PeabodyAwards.com.


A Hollywood Reckoning: TV Industry Firings and Cancellations

Fox show Cops logo
(Photo by Fox)

The powerful, culture-changing Black Lives Matter movement has made, and continues to make, a huge impact on TV land, and this week that also meant a lineup of series cancellations and celebrity firings.

Amid ongoing, and now global, protests of the death of George Floyd, A&E and Paramount Network announced the cancellations of the police reality series Cops and Live PD. Cops was set to premiere its 33rd season this year, while 160 new episodes of Live PD had been ordered earlier this year, before the killing of George Floyd in May, and the protests against police brutality his death sparked.

The Live PD cancellation also comes on the heels of reports that the show’s camera crew had filmed (and later destroyed footage of) the death of a black man in Texas who died in police custody in 2019.

Elsewhere:

Vivien Leigh in Gone With The Wind (Everett Collection)
(Photo by Everett Collection)
  • HBO Max has temporarily pulled Gone With the Wind from its library. The streaming service announced the decision because the 1939 Oscar winner “depicts some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that have, unfortunately, been commonplace in American society. These racist depictions were wrong then and are wrong today, and we felt that to keep this title up without an explanation and a denouncement of those depictions would be irresponsible.” The movie will be returned to the service with “a discussion of its historical context and a denouncement of those very depictions, but will be presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed.”
  • Spectrum has delayed the second season premiere of L.A. Finest, its cop-themed Bad Boys spinoff starring Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba, until later in the year.
  • Four cast members of the Bravo reality series Vanderpump Rules were fired: two, Stassi Schroeder and Kristen Doute, when Faith Sowers, a black former cast member, accused them of using a call to the police to take racial actions against her, and the others, new cast members Max Boyens and Brett Caprioni, because of previously revealed tweets with racist messages.
  • MTV cut ties with two of its reality show cast members: The Challenge star Dee Nguyen after social media statements she made about Black Lives Matter and George Floyd, and Teen Mom recurring star Taylor Selfridge, whose racially insensitive social media posts from 2012 resurfaced.
  • The CW fired The Flash star Hartley Sawyer, who played Ralph Dibney/Elongated Man on the series, for racist and misogynistic tweets he posted before joning the show.
  • Lifetime has ended its relationship with Dance Moms star Abby Lee Miller after a Dance Moms mom accused Miller of racist behavior towards her daughter.

And on two positive notes:

THE BACHELOR Matt James
(Photo by ABC/Craig Sjodin)
  • After 24 seasons of The Bachelor, ABC has finally named the first black leading man for the reality love match series: Matt James, a 28-year-old real estate broker, entrepreneur, and community organization founder who was a contestant on The Bachelorette, will be The Bachelor on the 25th season, scheduled to premiere in 2021.
  • Netflix has launched a Black Lives Matter collection that spotlights dozens of TV series, documentaries, and movies, including Ava DuVernay’s Peabody winner When They See Us, Orange Is the New Black, Dear White People, Michelle Obama’s documentary BecomingMalcolm X, and Moonlight.

New Trailers: Doom Patrol Returns for Season 2

Doom Patrol returns for another season of weird. Season 2 of the superhero show welcomes back stars Timothy Dalton, Brendan Fraser, Matt Bomer, April Bowlby, and Diane Guerrero. Episodes will premiere simultaneously on HBO Max and DC Universe.

More trailers:

  • Psych 2: Lassie Come Home, a Psych movie starring James Roday and Dulé Hill (Peacock)
  • I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, six-part docuseries based on Michelle McNamara’s bestselling book about the Golden State Killer (HBO)
  • Crossing Swords, adult animated comedy series starring Nicholas Hoult, Tony Hale, Alanna Ubach, and Seth Green (Hulu)
  • Karma, a kids outdoor competition series (HBO Max)
  • BullyCoward. Victim: The Story of Roy Cohn, a documentary about the attorney who was Senator Joseph McCarthy’s attorney during the McCarthy hearings, and later became a mentor to Donald Trump early in his career
  • Secret Society of Second-Born Royals, a teen superhero movie starring Elizabeth Lee and Skylar Astin (Disney+)
  • Dino Hunters, a docuseries that follows cowboys and ranchers who hunt dinosaur bones in Montana, Wyoming, and North and South Dakota (Discovery)

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


Casting News: Outlander Duo Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish Taking a TV Road Trip for Starz

Graham McTavish and Sam Heughan in Men in Kilts
(Photo by Starz)

Outlander stars Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish will take an eight-episode road trip through Scotland for an upcoming travel series called Men in Kilts: A Roadtrip with Sam and Graham for Starz.

Dakota Johnson will star as a rodeo queen in Amazon’s in-development mockumentary series Rodeo Queens. The Fifty Shades of Grey movies star will also be an executive producer on the series, as will Sleater-Kinney rocker and Portlandia star Carrie Brownstein, who will also direct.


Development News: TV and Film Production Can Resume in Los Angeles This Week

HOLLYWOOD behind-the-scenes
(Photo by Saeed Adyani/Netflix)

Los Angeles County health officials have given the green light for TV and movie production to resume on June 12, providing safety protocols are in place.

Gabrielle Union has optioned the book All Boys Aren’t Blue, journalist and author George M. Johnson’s bestseller, to turn it into a TV series via her I’ll Have Another Productions. The book shares Johnson’s experiences growing up as a queer black child in New Jersey.

Lead nominees for the Critics Choice Real TV Awards: RuPaul’s Drag Race and the Netflix documentary Cheer, with five nominations each. Netflix leads all nominees with 31, and the Critics Choice Association is awarding Survivor host Jeff Probst its Critics Choice Real TV Impact Award.

Mayim Bialik will host Celebrity Show-Off, a 10-episode TBS talent show in which celebs will compete, from home, to reveal hidden talents. Kevin Smith, Jason Mraz, Diplo, Ja Rule, Nene Leakes, Dwight Howard, Tori Spelling, and the Willis sisters – Rumer, Scout, and Tallulah – are among those scheduled to show off.

Jason Sudeikis will host a comedy competition at TBS called Tournament of Laughs that will pit 32 stand-up comedians against each other in an elimination, NCAA hoops tournament-style contest. Sudeikis will host and provide commentary, and among the funny people going head-to-head are Jeff Ross, Margaret Cho, Fortune Feimster, Gilbert Gottfried, Judah Friedlander, Michael Rapaport, Jim Norton, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, Natasha Leggero, Cameron Esposito, Godfrey, The Sklar Brothers, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Josh Wolf, Jessica Kirson, and Paul Rodriguez. Viewers will vote on the performances, which can include jokes, song parodies, and anything else the contestants can think up and film themselves doing. The series premieres June 21.

The MTV Movie and TV Awards, which usually take place in June, have been postponed, but may return in December.


Looney Tunes: Dynamite Is In, Guns Are Out

Elmer Fudd in DAFFY'S RHAPSODY, 2012
(Photo by Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection)
Dynamite and other ACME weapons of destruction are in, but HBO Max’s new Looney Tunes cartoon is stripping Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam (and all other characters) of guns.

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