TV Talk

Halo Sets Global Viewership Record at Paramount+

Video game adaptation sticks the landing. Plus, Netflix releases new Stranger Things photos and details, Bad Robot is working on a U2 scripted series, Joseph Gordon-Levitt will star as Johnny Carson, new trailers, and more of the week's top TV and streaming news.

by | March 25, 2022 | Comments

The live-action adaptation of the blockbuster Xbox video game franchise Halo scores at Paramount+. Joseph Gordon-Levitt will star as Johnny Carson in a biographical series. Lizzo will pull double-duty as host and musical guest in an upcoming episode of Saturday Night Live. A U2 series is in the works. Plus, trailers for The Godfather making-of series The Offer, A Very British Scandal, and anthology series Roar have arrived, and more of the biggest TV and streaming news of the past week.


Halo Bests Paramount+’s All-Time Viewership Record Globally

In its first 24 hours online, the first episode of video game adaptation Halo broke Paramount+’s record as the most-watched original series premiere worldwide. The Paramount+ original series is produced by Showtime, 343 Industries, and Amblin Television. Steven Spielberg serves as executive producer on the series.

“Bringing Halo to life as a streaming series has been one of the most rewarding efforts for Paramount+ to date and we could not be more thrilled at the massive fan response to the series’ debut,” Paramount+ Chief Programming Officer Tanya Giles said in a statement. “We cannot wait for fans to experience more of this incredible universe.”

Based on the Xbox gaming franchise, Halo has already been renewed for a second season. It stars Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief, one of the most recognizable video game characters of all time; Natascha McElhone as Dr. Halsey, the creator of the Spartan super soldiers; and Jen Taylor reprising her Halo game series role as artificial intelligence Cortana, which is potentially the key to humanity’s survival. The series also stars Bokeem Woodbine, Shabana Azmi, Natasha Culzac, Olive Gray, Yerin Ha  Bentley Kalu, Kate Kennedy, Charlie Murphy, and Danny Sapani. Also joining the cast as original characters are Ryan McParland, Burn Gorman, and Fiona O’Shaughnessy.

The series takes place in the universe that first debuted in 2001 with the first Halo game and dramatizes a 26th-century conflict between humanity and an alien threat known as the Covenant. The Halo video game franchise has sold more than 82 million copies worldwide and grossed more than $6 billion in lifetime total sales revenue.

NEW TRAILERS: The Offer: 10-Episode Paramount+ Series Celebrates The Godfather 50th Anniversary by Unfolding the Classic’s Making-Of Story

The Offer is the limited series that unfolds the backstory of the making of Oscar winner The Godfather, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Stars Miles Teller, Matthew Goode, Juno Temple, Giovanni Ribisi, Dan Fogler, Colin Hanks, and Patrick Gallo. Premieres April 28. (Paramount+)

More trailers and teasers released this week:

• A Very British Scandal, a limited series starring Claire Foy and Paul Bettany, tells the true story of the brutal, scandalous divorce of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll. Premieres April 22. (Prime Video)
• Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story is a documentary about the late, beloved British TV host who turned out to be a serial sexual abuser of hundreds of children at the height of his fame. Premieres April 5. (Netflix)
• The Survivor is the Barry Levinson-directed HBO movie starring Ben Foster in the true story of Harry Haft, who was sent to Auschwitz and not only survived the horrors of the camp, but also of being forced into gladiator-style boxing matcheswith his fellow prisoners. Haft was boosted by a will to survive for the love of his life. Premieres April 27. (HBO)

• Roar is the dark comedy anthology about eight women, with fresh genre stories told through each woman’s eyes. Stars Nicole Kidman, Issa Rae, Merritt Weaver, Cynthia Erivo, Alison Brie, and Betty Gilpin. Premieres April 15. (Apple TV+)
• Mystery Science Theater 3000 returns for season 13 in its own virtual theater! Premieres May 6. (Gizmoplex)
• Killing It is the new comedy series starring Craig Robinson in a story about class, capitalism and one man’s quest to achieve the American dream. And also about hunting really big snakes. From Dan Goor and Luke Del Tredici, it premieres April 14. (Peacock)
• City on a Hill season 3 begins with Jackie starting a new gig, working security for a wealthy family. Stars Kevin Bacon and Aldis Hodge. Premieres July 10. (Showtime)

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CASTING: Joseph Gordon-Levitt Will Star in a Johnny Carson Bio Written by Deadwood David Milch and Austin Powers Director Jay Roach

Joseph Gordon-Levitt

(Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Vulture)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is going to star in King of Late Night, a series that will be pitched to streaming and cable networks, about legendary talk show host Johnny Carson. Deadwood creator David Milch has been writing the project for five years, and Austin Powers and Meet the Parents director Jay Roach will, along with Gordon-Levitt, executive produce the project. King of Late Night will follow Carson’s career from New York to Los Angeles (with time spent in Las Vegas), and highlight Carson’s gift for connection with his audiences, as well as the “more colorful aspects” of his personal life. (Deadline)

Christina Ricci, who so brilliantly played Wednesday Addams in the 1991 The Addams Family movie and its 1993 sequel Addams Family Values, will play “a major part” in Tim Burton’s live-action Netflix Addams Family series Wednesday. (Deadline)

Back to the Future and Taxi legend Christopher Lloyd will guest star in the third season of Disney+’s The Mandalorian, but reports details of his character “are being kept locked in the trunk of a Delorean.”

Laurie Metcalf has joined season 2 of HBO comedy Hacks, along with Margaret Cho, Ming-Na Wen, and Martha Kelly, who will join best comedy actress Emmy winner Jean Smart and co-star Hannah Einbinder.

NYPD Blue star Jimmy Smits will star in the CBS drama pilot East New York, playing police chief John Suarez, “whose experience, commanding presence, and strong moral center helps oversee the melding of communities and the precincts that serve them,” Deadline reports. Amanda Warren stars opposite Smits as the new deputy inspector of the titular impoverished NYC neighborhood, while Ruben Santiago-Hudson and Richard Kind also star.

Mckenna Grace (The Handmaid’s Tale) will star alongside Anna Paquin, Colin Hanks, Jake Lacy, and Lio Tipton in Peacock’s true crime limited drama A Friend of the Family, about the Broberg family, whose daughter Jan was kidnapped multiple times across several years by an obsessed family “friend.”

The CW has cast the leads for its Supernatural sequel The Winchesters, with Meg Donnelly and Drake Rodger playing Mary and John Winchester, whose sons are Sam and Dean Winchester, the main characters on Supernatural. Jensen Ackles, who played Dean and is an executive producer on the spin-off, will narrate The Winchesters pilot.

Another Supernatural alum, Misha Collins, has lined up his next project: He’ll play Harvey Dent in The CW pilot for Gotham Knights.

Lizzo at SXSW 2022

(Photo by Chris Saucedo/Getty Images for SXSW)

Upcoming Saturday Night Live hosts: comedian Jerrod Carmichael with musical guest Gunna on April 2; Jake Gyllenhaal with music guest Camila Cabello on April 9; and on April 16, Lizzo does double duty as host and musical guest.

Black Lightning star Cress Williams has joined Scott Bakula in the pilot for NBC’s Unbroken, a family drama about ranch families on the central coast of California.

GLOW Emmy nominee Betty Gilpin will star in the Peacock drama Mrs. Davis, a drama written by Lost’s Damon Lindelof and The Big Bang Theory writer Tara Hernandez, about a nun (Gilpin) who is pitted against a powerful artificial intelligence.

Gabrielle Union will star with Octavia Spencer in season 3 of Apple TV+’s anthology series Truth Be Told, about the world of true-crime podcasts. (Deadline)

Domenick Lombardozzi, Max Casella, Vincent Piazza, and Jay Will have been added to the cast of Tulsa King, the Sylvester Stallone mobster drama created by Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan. 

Steven Weber is returning to his role as Dr. Dean Archer on Chicago Med’s eighth season.

Geena Davis has left CBS’s untitled mother-son legal drama. Deadline reports, and Marcia Gay Harden has taken over the role that will pair her with Skylar Astin as her character’s son.

Harry Hamlin will star in AMC’s Anne Rice adaptation Mayfair Witches, playing the patriarch of the Mayfair clan, Cortland Mayfair. (Deadline)

Life in Pieces star Zoe Lister-Jones has created and will star in the Roku comedy series Slip, about Mae Cannon (Lister-Jones), a 30-something who finds herself restless inside a marriage that totally works. The series will follow Mae through a fantastical journey of parallel universes, as she enters new relationships, trying to find her way back to her partner, and ultimately, herself. Lister-Jones will also write and direct all seven episodes. The series is also the first from Dakota Johnson’s production company, TeaTime Pictures.

Natasha Henstridge has joined the cast of The CW’s Charmed, where she’ll play Diana, who is revealed to be a Whitelighter, even though Harry (Rupert Evans)was thought to be the only one. (Variety)

Good Girls and Parenthood star Mae Whitman will star in Up Here, a Hulu musical romantic comedy written by written by Tick, Tick… Boom! and Dear Evan Hansen writer Steven Levenson and set in New York City. The eight-episode series will revolve around Lindsay (Whitman), who leaves her Vermont home to move to NYC and find out who she wants to be. (Deadline)

PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT: J.J. Abrams Producing Scripted Series About U2 at Netflix

U2 in 2019

(Photo by Pratik Chorge/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

J.J. Abrams, via his Bad Robot Productions, is collaborating with Netflix to develop a scripted series about Irish rock band U2. THR reports. The project is in the early stages, and will be written by Oscar-nominated writer Anthony McCarten (Bohemian Rhapsody). U2, fronted by Bono and known for hits “With or Without You,” “Beautiful Day,” and “Vertigo,” is said to be involved with the project.

Amazon and Imagine Documentaries are teaming up for a documentary on Judy Blume, one of the most beloved children’s and YA authors ever. The film will span 50 years and all the many young people who have loved Blume and her books, including Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing, Blubber, Deenie, Superfudge, Forever, and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. The doc will also examine the occasional controversies of her books, including surrounding sex and puberty (who among us didn’t pass around a copy of Forever with our friends?). Blume’s books sold more than 90 million copies. (Variety)

Possibly coming to a country near you: Netflix is experimenting with the idea of charging customers a fee if they want to share their passwords with family and friends. (THR)

We’d still rather have Isaac the bartender shoot us the finger guns and be greeted by Gopher the purser, but this could be fun, too: CBS is ordering The Real Love Boat, a dating series in which people will compete to win a chance at love and cash aboard a Princess Cruises ship for a month-long excursion of destination dates, challenges, and the test of chemistry and compatibility.

(Photo by Netflix)

The first-look images for Stranger Things season 4 doesn’t reveal exactly what the teens are looking at, but they suggest it’s something that’s scaring the bejesus out of them. The season kicks off on May 27, and is split into two parts, with part 2 premiering on July 1. (See the photos and read more about the new season here.)

The 10-day OutFest festival in Los Angeles in April will debut the documentary Keep the Cameras Rolling: The Pedro Zamora Way, a new doc by filmmakers William T, Horner and Stacey Woeful about The Real World: San Francisco cast member and AIDS activist Zamora, one of the first openly gay, HIV-positive men featured prominently in pop culture. Zamora, who spent his time teaching and helping others about HIV on and off-camera, and memorably married his love, the late Sean Sasser, on the series, tragically died shortly after RW: SF’s 1994 series finale.

David Spade is debuting his first Netflix comedy special, Nothing Personal, on April 26.

After a lot of drama, and sinking ratings – both of which led to the series skipping its signature reunion specials for season 13 – Bravo has decided to completely recast The Real Housewives of New York City, and create a sequel series that will feature a cast made up of former cast members; that is, they’re firing everyone, but possibly rehiring some of them. (Variety)

Good Morning America host and NFL vet Michael Strahan is executive producing The Front Line, a drama pilot ABC is developing about a pro football player who leaves sports behind to become a medical resident. There are several real-life athletes-turned-medical professionals whose career swaps have inspired the feel-good series. (Variety)

And another source for free classic TV: YouTube, which has added 100 ad-supported TV series, and roughly 4,000 episodes. Available only to YouTube users in the United States. Among the shows available: Hell’s Kitchen, Heartland, Unsolved Mysteries, 21 Jump Street, and Iron Chef, and YouTube will continue to add 100 new shows a week as it moves to compete with other ad-supported TV services like IMDbTV, Pluto TV, and Tubi.

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