Game of Thrones fandom, rejoice! In some TV-adjacent news, author George R.R. Martin predicted this week that his next book in the Song of Ice and Fire series of novels would be finished in 2021, which means fans have not too much longer to wait to find out how Martin’s vision compares to those last few seasons of the HBO fantasy series. Plus, Oscar winners unite for Virunga adaptation, you can get a dose of James McAvoy as The Sandman on July 15, and more of the top TV and streaming news this week.
Anyone who’s complained about lack of focus and productivity during the pandemic lockdown has been told by some well-meaning (?) friend, Shakespeare wrote King Lear, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra during a bubonic plague theater shutdown of 1606. Perhaps a Game of Thrones fan whispered those facts in author George R.R. Martin’s ear, too?
Martin shared on his blog this week that he has spent the last few months in a cabin in the mountains, toiling away on the much (much!) anticipated The Winds of Winter, the sixth installment of his A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy book series.
“If nothing else, the enforced isolation has helped me write. I am spending long hours every day on The Winds of Winter, and making steady progress,” Martin wrote, also sharing with fans that he’s maintained a healthy state through the time in the mountains.
He also talked about the disappointment of canceled plans, though he mentioned that he could always reschedule his travels for next year, “when I hope that both COVID-19 and The Winds of Winter will be done.”
Thanks for the very subtle possible release date, GRRM!
Among the author’s other reveals in the missive: He loves Stephen King’s novella collection If It Bleeds, he has movies, TV shows, and “secret shorts” in the works, and he bought a third of a railroad.
Oscar winners Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) and Leo DiCaprio (The Revenant) are teaming up for a remake, sorta, of one of DiCaprio’s past projects. Jenkins will write the screenplay for Virunga, the Netflix narrative adaptation of Virunga, the 2014 documentary DiCaprio produced.
The movie tells the story of a group of park rangers in Congo’s Virunga National Park, where the rangers work hard to save the mountain gorilla population of Virunga.
DiCaprio will also produce the Netflix movie, alongside his Appian Way production company partners..
Eager for The Sandman series to make its debut? Aren’t we all! To tide us over for Neil Gaiman’s Netflix series adaptation, Audible’s scripted The Sandman podcast series premieres on July 15 with a serious lineup of talent: James McAvoy stars in the title role of Morpheus/Dream, while Kat Dennings stars as Death, Justin Vivian Bond as Desire, Miriam Margolyes as Despair, and Michael Sheen as Lucifer, along with a stellar expanded cast that includes Riz Ahmed, Arthur Darvill, Taron Egerton, William Hope, Josie Lawrence, Samantha Morton, Bebe Neuwirth, and Andy Serkis.
Gaiman and longtime audio collaborator Dirk Maggs share executive producer credit for the series, while Maggs is also the director and writer for the project.
HBO Max is developing an anthology series, Outliers, based on the Malcolm Gladwell bestselling book and produced by Brian Grazer. The series will focus its first season on Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who has become a national celebrity during the pandemic.
A mix of historical drama and biopic, Outliers would focus on a different subject each season, much like the Genius series Grazer also co-produces for the National Geographic Channel.
For the Fauci season, Outliers will follow the story of how Fauci has been one of the leading voices during the pandemic, and how he has been an adviser to six presidents on issues of Ebola, global health, and, most notably, HIV/AIDS.
The season would be based largely on New Yorker writer Michael Specter’s April 2020 profile, “How Anthony Fauci Became America’s Doctor.”
The Boys offered a Friday treat with the first 3 minutes of video from its new season coming September 4. For the latest details on the release, read more of “Everything We Know About The Boys Season 2.”
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Tracee Ellis Ross will lead the cast of Jodie, the spin-off of the 1997-2002 MTV animated series Daria. Jodie revolves around Jodie Landon, Daria’s Lawndale High pal who is about to graduate from college and begin her adult life. The series, picked up by Comedy Central, was created by Insecure writer and actress Grace Edwards, who will be the series’ head writer. Ross will also serve as an executive producer of the show, which will “satirize workplace culture, Gen Z struggles, and the artifice of social media … and (with) a wicked sense of humor, Jodie will shine a light on the personal and professional issues young Black women face today.”
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before star Lana Condor will star in Moonshot, the Greg Berlanti-produced sci-fi-themed romantic comedy in development at HBO Max. The series revolves around a futuristic Mars that has been colonized by what is considered the best humans. Condor will play Sophie, a college student who teams up with a fellow student to sneak onto a shuttle to Mars so the two can be reunited with their significant others.
Game of Thrones and Star Wars: The Force Awakens star Jessica Henwick will star in a comedy called Nancy Wu Does It. Amazon Prime won the bidding war for the show, about an Asian American YA novelist (Henwick), who suddenly finds herself transported into one of her books and is forced to work with the main character – who she now hates – to solve a mystery. Henwick will also co-write series, described as “Pleasantville meets Nancy Drew.
Little Fires Everywhere star Jade Pettyjohn has joined the cast of David E. Kellley’s ABC fall thriller series Big Sky. She will play Grace, who, along with her sister, is kidnapped by a truck driver along a highway, setting off the central case of the series. Kylie Bunbury, John Carroll Lynch, Ryan Phillippe, and Katheryn Winnick also star.
Prepare to see a whole lot of Martha Stewart back on TV. She is not only returning as a judge on Food Network’s Chopped when the show returns with new episodes, but she will host a holiday-themed show on the network this year, and, on HGTV, she will check off items on her to-do list of outdoor projects at her Connecticut farm on her new series Martha Knows Best.
Alicia Keys will host Kids, Race, and Unity: A Nick News Special, an hour-long June 29 show with Black Lives Matter leaders answering questions from kids and sparking conversations about race, inclusivity, and the experiences of Black children. Among the guests: Black Lives Matter founders Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi; Antiracist Baby author Ibram X. Kendi; and Teens4Equality founders Jade Fuller, Nya Collins, Zee Thomas, Kennedy Green, Emma Rose Smith, and Mikayla Smith.
Johnny Depp will star as a bird named Johnny Puff in Puffins, a mobile short-form series in which a group of birds are the servants of a walrus named Otto. Two hundred and fifty five-minute episodes of the Italian cartoon will be made. (Variety)
Julianne Moore will play a con artist among Manhattan’s billionaires in Sharper, a movie that is the latest collaboration between Apple and A24, the company behind Ramy and Uncut Gems.
YouTube’s loss is Netflix’s gain: Cobra Kai, the series spin-off of the Karate Kid movies, is moving from YouTube to Netflix for its upcoming third season. There’s no release date yet, but as part of the deal seasons 1 and 2 of the Billy Zabka–Ralph Macchio series will also stream on Netflix.
The Comey Rule, Showtime’s miniseries adaptation of former FBI Director James Comey’s memoir that covers the controversial time post-2016 election, had been moved up. Instead of airing after the 2020 election, it will now premiere on Sunday, Sept. 27, and conclude the following night.
Sports fans, good news: MLB returns! Or soon will, for a 60-game season that kicks off on July 23 or 24.
Apple TV+ has given a straight-to-series order to The Afterparty, from Oscar and Golden Globe winners Chris Miller and Phil Lord (Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse and The Lego Movie). The series is a murder-mystery comedy set at a high school reunion afterparty. Each of the eight episodes will feature a retelling of the same night told through a different character’s perspective, each with its own unique visual format and film genre to match the teller’s personality.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, which was originally scheduled to be released in movie theaters on Aug. 7, will now be released on premium VOD in 2021, and then moving to CBS All Access, along with all seasons of the SpongeBob series.
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are still scheduled to return as hosts, but the Golden Globe Awards, which usually air in January, have been rescheduled for Feb. 28 on NBC. That maintains the Globes’ tradition of airing before the Oscars, which have been scheduled for April 25 on ABC.
Nickelodeon is developing a new Smurfs series, to launch on the network in 2021.
Altered Carbon showrunner Alison Schapker is developing a fresh take on Hotel Del Luna, a 2019 hit drama in South Korea. Skydance Television is teaming with CJ ENM, the studio behind Oscar winner Parasite, for the series, which is “a spectacular visual fantasy grounded in a story about the importance of human connection, lost loves, and unfinished business,” says Skydance TV president Bill Bost.
After Cinemax dropped out of the project as part of their pivot away from original programming, AMC has picked up the hit British crime thriller Gangs of London. AMC will air the first season of the series in the fall, and will co-produce the already greenlit second season. The critically-acclaimed series, which was the second biggest original drama launch of all time for Sky Atlantic in the U.K., revolves around the power vacuum that results when the head of the city’s most powerful crime family is killed. Colm Meaney and Michelle Fairley star.
Crackle has announced a lineup of new original series, including two star vehicles that will launch in 2021. Flagrant is a drama set 20 years after a college basketball star (Michael Rappaport) was caught throwing a game and gambling on his own team. He left his Queens, New York hometown after the scandal, but is asked to return and fill in as a coach at the school that was the site of his disgrace decades earlier. Meanwhile, The Operative will star Craig T. Nelson as a retired intelligence op, John Straw, who was forced to end his career years earlier, but now comes out of retirement to try to warn the government about an impending attack on American soil.
Salma Hayek, via her Ventanarosa production company, has signed a two-year first-look development deal with HBO Max.
Sorry to Bother You writer and director Boots Riley shared on Instagram artwork, casting, and a few details about his upcoming “dark, absurd, hilarious, and important” TV series I’m a Virgo. The series will star When They See Us Emmy winner Jharrel Jerome, who will play a 13-foot-tall man who lives in Oakland. As we’re still haunted by Jerome’s outstanding performance in WTSU, we happily look forward to seeing him in this larger than life role.
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I have a show about a 13-ft tall Black man who lives in Oakland. It’s called I’m A Virgo. Jharrel Jerome is playing the lead. I’m doing this w Michael Ellenberg’s Media Res. We haven’t figured out the network/streamer. It’ll be dark, absurd, hilarious, and important. (This amazing artwork is by @folklaurel)
A LEGO Set About Nothing