TV Talk

Netflix Orders Chinatown Prequel Series Script

Project is led by original film's screenwriter Robert Towne with David Fincher executive producing. Netflix also nabs Shaun the Sheep, Vikings: Valhalla, and Kevin Hart. Plus, more of the week's top TV news.

by | November 22, 2019 | Comments

Following weeks of Apple TV+ and Disney+ dominating the news cycle, Netflix drops some big news with a Chinatown series, Vikings: Valhalla, Kevin Hart, and Shaun the Sheep. Plus, Better Call Saul releases a season 5 teaser, Doctor Who revs up with some casting news, and more of the top TV headlines from the past week.


TOP STORY

NETFLIX ORDERS A SCRIPT FOR A CHINATOWN PREQUEL SERIES

CHINATOWN, Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, 1974 (Paramount Pictures)
(Photo by Paramount Pictures)

As massive new streaming services roll out, Netflix continues to announce high-profile projects for its audience. The latest: a TV series version of Chinatown. Pairing Robert Towne, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of the 1974 movie, with Golden Globe winner/Oscar nominee David Fincher, Netflix wants a prequel series that will focus on the young Jake Gittes, the private investigator played by Jack Nicholson in the movie.

The series would unfold Gittes’ experiences with the wealthy, and often corrupt, power players in early 20th century Los Angeles, including the leaders in businesses like land, oil, and organized crime.

Towne will write the script for a pilot, and though it’s not currently part of the deal, Deadline reports Netflix hopes Fincher, who will be an executive producer on the project along with Towne and Josh Donen, will also direct the series pilot.

The prequel is not the first follow-up to the movie. In 1990, Nicholson starred in and directed a Chinatown movie sequel, The Two Jakes, with a script by Towne. The film was a box office flop, though, and plans for a third movie, the final in the Jake Gittes trilogy, were abandoned. (Deadline)



Vikings History To Be Continued

Vikings season 3 keyart (History)
(Photo by History: Vikings season 3)

Speaking of Netflix, the streaming giant has also ordered Vikings: Valhalla, a sequel series to History’s VikingsVikings creator Michael Hirst is co-creating Valhalla, which will be set 100 years after the History series, and focus on the adventures of Leif Erikson, Freydis, and Viking descendant William the Conqueror, among others. History’s Vikings returns for its sixth and final season with a two-hour premiere on Wednesday, December 4 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.


KEVIN HART WILL STAR IN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL DOCUSERIES

Getty Images
(Photo by Getty Images)

It hasn’t been tough to find Kevin Hart in the news or on — you guessed it — Netflix in the last year, and now the comedian will cover both bases with a new Netflix docuseries, Don’t F–k This Up, which will follow him as he works on his personal life as a husband and father, and continues to build his career, even amidst controversies like quitting his job as Oscar host in December 2018 after some homophobic comments he made on social media years earlier came to light again.

Hart, who has starred in comedy specials Kevin Hart: Irresponsible and Kevin Hart’s Guide to Black History Himself on Netflix this year, has not confirmed whether or not the six-episode series will also cover the September 2019 car crash that left him with a fractured spine. The series will premiere on Netflix on December 27, and will include interviews with his friends and family, stand-up footage, and childhood videos.


NEW TRAILERS: Better Call Saul Season 5 Teaser

 


CASTING NEWS: FOUR NEW DOCTOR WHO GUEST STARS  

Getty Images
(Photo by Getty Images)

Stephen FrySir Lenny Henry, Goran Višnjić, and Robert Glenister will appear in the new season of Doctor Who. British TV icons Fry and Henry will both appear in the season premiere, scheduled for early 2020, though BBC America teases they’re not necessarily playing friends of the Doctor. Glenister is no stranger to the TARDIS, having appearing in Doctor Who over three decades ago in “The Caves of Androzani,” while Višnjić will be making his series debut. Jodie Whittaker will reprise her role as the Thirteenth Doctor alongside Tosin Cole (Ryan), Mandip Gill (Yaz) and Bradley Walsh (Graham), who are all returning for their second season. Chris Chibnall returns as showrunner with Matt Strevens as executive producer.

Holly Hunter has joined the cast of the untitled NBC comedy that stars Ted Danson as a wealthy businessman who becomes the mayor of Los Angeles. The series, created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, will find Hunter playing a councilwoman who has dedicated her life to making her city a better place to live, and who is less than impressed with the new mayor, whose political aspirations are not nearly as altruistic as hers are.

Idris Elba has joined the cast of The Harder They Fall, the upcoming Netflix revenge drama produced by Jay-Z. The story follows a man named Nat Love (Jonathan Majors, When We Rise) who seeks revenge on the man (Elba) who killed Love’s parents two decades earlier.

In addition to playing Bill Clinton in Impeachment: American Crime StoryClive Owen will also co-star opposite Julianne Moore in Apple TV+’s Lisey’s Story, an adaptation of Stephen King’s novel about

Bill Murray and Dave Franco have joined the cast of Bobby and Peter Farelly’s upcoming Quibi comedy series The Now, about a man (Franco) who decides to “live in the now” after a secret is revealed that seems destined to ruin his life. The cast also includes Alyssa Milano, Jimmy Tatro, O’Shea Jackson, and Daryl Hannah.

Christina Ricci and Juliette Lewis have joined the cast of Showtime’s drama pilot Yellowjackets, a survival drama/horror story/coming-of-age tale about high school soccer players who survive a plane crash in the Ontario wilderness. Their team vibe devolves into cannibalism and other traumas, and the series follows them into the future, 25 years later, to see how they’re still haunted by their past. Lewis plays the adult version of Natalie, a rebellious teen who, decades later, is still haunted by her time in the wilderness. Ricci plays the adult version of Misty, the soccer team’s equipment manager whose “abundance of team spirit belies a hidden dark side.”

Riley Keough, Elvis Presley’s granddaughter, will play the titular role of rock star Daisy Jones in Amazon Prime’s upcoming 12-episode musical series Daisy Jones & the Six. The series, which follows the rise and fall of a fictional ‘70s rock band, is an adaptation of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s book of the same name, and will be produced by Reese Witherspoon.

Sense8 and Designated Survivor actress Jamie Clayton will join season 2 of The CW’s Roswell, New Mexico, where she’ll play Agent Grace Powell, who comes to town to investigate a string of disappearances.

Adam Lamberg will reprise his role as David “Gordo” Gordon, the best friend of Hilary Duff’s titular character in Disney+’s upcoming Lizzie McGuire revival series.

Anna Chancellor (Pennyworth), James Fleet (Outlander), Ingrid Oliver (Doctor Who), Ruth Madeley (Years and Years), Hakeem Kae-Kazim (Dynasty), and Bianca Simone Mannie (Homeland) have joined the cast of BBC America’s The Watch, an upcoming drama inspired by Terry Pratchett’s bestselling Discworld novels about misfit cops who decide to fight back to try to save their city, where crime has been legalized.


READ ALSO: Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings Series Gets Season 2 Renewal + Other Upcoming TV Fantasy Series That Could Be the Next Game of Thrones


DEVELOPMENT NEWS: Shaun the Sheep Is Coming to America

Netflix has acquired U.S., Canadian, and Latin American rights to release Aardman’s A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, which currently has a 97% Tomatometer score, based its UK and other international releases. The Studiocanal feature will be available on Netflix in early 2020. Synopsis:

When an alien named LU-LA crash-lands near Mossy Bottom Farm, her magical powers, irrepressible mischief and galactic-sized burps soon have Shaun the Sheep and his flock enchanted. But when Shaun takes his new extraterrestrial friend on the road to find her lost spaceship, little does he know that a sinister alien-hunting agency is on their trail. Now Shaun and the flock must avert Farmageddon before it’s too late.

Steven Soderbergh will executive produce Wireless, a survival drama on Quibi, the shortform streaming service set to debut next April. Ready Player One’s Tye Sheridan will star as a college student who is stuck in the Colorado mountains after a car crash and has nothing but his cell phone to try to save his own life. Steven Spielberg, Idris Elba, Trevor Noah, Guillermo del Toro, Jennifer Lopez, Lena Waithe, Sam Raimi, and Antoine Fuqua are among the other creatives creating content for Quibi.

This Is Us star Sterling K. Brown is executive producer on Every Other Weekend, a comedy series being developed at Fox. The show follows four single moms who get together for two weekends every month – when their kids are with their exes – to revisit their younger days of fun and freedom. The show is created by Everybody Hates Chris writer Adrienne Carter, who will also star in the series, with Ryan Michelle Bathé (This Is Us) and Kimberly Hébert Gregory (Vice Principals). (Deadline)

Captain America: Civil War directors Anthony and Joe Russo are producing Slugfest, a Quibi documentary series that will examine the rivalry between Marvel and DC. The series is based on author Reed Tucker’s 2017 book Slugfest: Inside the Epic, 50-Year Battle Between Marvel and DC.

Sin City author Frank Miller has signed a deal with Legendary TV for the company to create live-action and animated TV series based on his graphic novel. Robert Rodriguez, who directed the 2005 Sin City movie, is negotiating to be executive producer on the series, which is guaranteed for at least one season as long as Legendary can secure a distribution deal with a network or streaming service.

Emmy-winning Rick and Morty writer Jessica Gao is developing a She-Hulk series for Disney+.

Jeopardy’s three winningest players – Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter, and James Holzhauer, who’ve won nearly $10 million and more than 100 games in total – will battle each other for a $1 million prize. Beginning on January 7 in primetime, the three will face other in a series of games until one person wins three matches, each consisting of two games. The winner gets a million bucks, and the other two win $250,000 each.

Nat Geo is bringing back the series Brain Games, with new host Keegan-Michael Key, on January 20. Key will be joined by celebrities Anthony Anderson, Kristen Bell, Jack Black, Mark Cuban, Ted Danson, Tiffany Haddish, Dax Shepard, Meghan Trainor, the Farrelly brothers, and Rebel Wilson, who will participate in challenges, illusions, and demonstrations to help viewers discover “the untapped potential of our brains and reveal the science behind the tricks our own minds can play on us.”

Former Saturday Night Live star Vanessa Bayer created and will star in the Showtime comedy pilot Big Deal, about a woman who survives childhood leukemia and realizes her dream of becoming a QVC host. The story is inspired by Bayer’s own experience as a survivor of leukemia when she was a child. Michael Showalter will direct the pilot, while Inside Amy Shumer writer Jessi Klein will be the series showrunner.

The Masked Singer host Nick Cannon will host a syndicated talk show from New York City beginning in 2020.

The Big Bang Theory alum Johnny Galecki is teaming with friend Brian Kelley, of the country music group Florida Georgia Line, to redevelop the comedy Bait and Tackle for CBS. The multicam comedy pilot was in consideration for pickup last season, but has been reworked to focus on a group of friends who run a bait shop in a small Georgia town. (THR)

The cast of The Wire will reunite for the Deon Cole–hosted American Black Film Festival in Beverly Hills on February 23. The HBO drama is being recognized with the Classic Television Award at the ceremony.

Eddie Murphy’s first time hosting Saturday Night Live in 35 years has been set for the show’s 2019-ending Dec. 21 episode, with musical guest Lizzo.

Quibi has ordered a series version of the 1999 high school football movie Varsity Blues, which starred James Van Der Beek and the late Paul Walker. The movie’s producers Mike Tollin and Tova Laiter will serve as executive producers on the series.


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