In this week’s biggest TV news, The Irishman pulls in massive numbers for Netflix as a Succession star takes on one of the biggest tech stories of the moment. Plus, HBO Max and Johnny Galecki will take us on Vacation one more time.
Movie studios’ losses have been Netflix’s gain with the Martin Scorsese epic The Irishman, as more than 26 million homes watched at least 70 percent of the movie – the 3.5-hour mob movie – in the first week after its November 27 debut on the streaming service.
And Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos announced during the UBS Global TMT Conference in New York earlier this week that he expects 40 million homes will have watched the movie on Netflix by the end of 2019.
The 70 percent figure is an important one, as it’s the metric Netflix uses to deem someone a viewer: 70 percent completion of a movie constitutes viewership. The release of the viewership numbers is also important, because Netflix rarely comments on, or confirms, viewership stats.
The movie, which has also taken in $6.7 million in a limited theatrical release, earned Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Screenplay (Steve Zaillian), Best Director for Scorsese, and Best Supporting Actor in a drama movie for both Joe Pesci and Al Pacino. The Irishman also received four Screen Actors Guide Award nominations, and 14 from The Critics Choice Association.
The viewership numbers and awards-season love are a big payoff for Scorsese’s patience, as the Oscar-winning filmmaker spent years trying to get a studio to bankroll the movie, which came with a high price tag (estimated to be at least $150 million) because of the all-star cast and the CGI effects needed to de-age Pacino, Pesci, and Robert De Niro.
“People just weren’t interested in financing it – and that was before the CGI,” Scorsese told Entertainment Weekly. “Nobody would give us the money. But I really felt that De Niro and I had one more picture to make, at least, and he was really connected with the character.”
READ ALSO: Will The Irishman Earn Martin Scorsese His Next Best Picture Oscar?
The Big Bang Theory star Johnny Galecki continues building his portfolio of post-TBBT producing projects with The Griswolds, an HBO Max series that will follow the family from National Lampoon’s Vacation franchise in their daily lives at home in Chicago. The comedy has a script development deal, and Galecki will be an executive producer on the show, alongside writer Tim Hobert (Scrubs, The Middle, Community). No casting decisions have been made for the project, though Galecki himself played son Rusty Griswold in the 1989 film National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
Emmy nominee Galecki, who also recurs on The Conners, is also producing in-development series The Squad, an eSports comedy at NBC and Bait and Tackle, another comedy, at CBS.
Netflix’s next animated series will have no dialogue, but that’s not the ‘toon’s most unique feature: It’s also based on stickers.
Brown & Friends will launch next year in more than 190 countries, and viewers will recognize the characters featured in the series from their appearance as virtual stickers on the Japanese messaging app LINE. The 3D-animated comedy will follow the characters through everyday life situations that are designed to resonate with viewers of all ages (though specifically those among millennials and Gen Z).
LINE, which debuted in 2011, introduced app stickers in 2013. The service, sparked by the aftermath of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, when people had no cell phone service but could message, has more than 600 million users throughout the world.
Star Trek: Picard showrunner Michael Chabon and lawyer-turned-novelist wife Ayelet Waldman are developing the first project under their deal with CBS TV Studios, and it’s a series adaptation of Chabon’s beloved, Pulitzer Prize-winning 2000 novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. The limited series will make its home at CBS TV Studios-owned Showtime.
Chabon and Waldman will write and act as executive producers on Kavalier and Clay, for which Chabon will exit his role as Picard showrunner. Picard launches on CBS All Access on January 23.
The long-in-development series version of Kavalier and Clay is an epic story about two Jewish cousins, the titular characters, who become major figures in the comic book industry during the “Golden Age” of comics immediately before, during, and immediately after World War II. (THR)
Ethan Hawke is back for The Purge: the star of the original Purge movie guest stars in the season two finale (December 17, 9pm EST) of USA’s The Purge series. His James Sandin, the security system salesman who set out to protect his family from home invaders in the movie, pops up in the opening moments of “7:01 AM,” which flashes back to one week before the first national purge, when Sandin’s high-tech security system was first tested.
For December 18’s Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family/Good Times, the follow-up to the Emmy-winning All in the Family/The Jeffersons installment that aired in May, ABC has announced the Good Times cast. Oscar, Emmy, and Tony Award-winner Viola Davis and Emmy-winner Andre Braugher will play Evans family parents Florida and James, while Saturday Night Live alum Jay Pharoah will play “dyn-o-mite” catchphrase spouting oldest son J.J., Asante Blackk (This Is Us) will play younger son Michael, and Corrine Foxx (Beat Shazam) will play Evans daughter Thelma. Tiffany Haddish will play Evans family friend and neighbor Willona, while When They See Us Emmy winner Jharrel Jerome will also join the cast in an undisclosed role, and Patti LaBelle and Anthony Anderson will appear in a musical number.
Meanwhile, Marisa Tomei, Woody Harrelson, Ellie Kemper, and Ike Barinholtz are returning as Edith and Archie Bunker, and Gloria and Mike “Meathead” Stivic, respectively, for the All in the Family half of Live in Front of a Studio Audience, which will also include Kevin Bacon, Justina Machado, and Jesse Eisenberg in yet-to-be-announced roles.
HBO has given a series order to an Adam McKay-produced drama about the 1980s-era Los Angeles Lakers, the Magic Johnson/Kareem Abdul-Jabbar team known as “Showtime” after the squad’s exciting, rapid-pace gameplay and A-list crowd. The series will star Jason Clarke as legendary player-turned-general manager Jerry West; John C. Reilly as Lakers owner Jerry Buss; newcomer Quincy Isaiah as Johnson; and former Harlem Globetrotter Solomon Hughes as Abdul-Jabbar. The series is based on Jeff Pearlman’s book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s.
Lifetime will premiere Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning on Jan. 2. The three-night special is a follow up to the network’s Emmy-nominated documentary that investigated the decades of sexual abuse allegations against the titular R&B singer, who currently faces 18 federal charges, including child pornography and kidnapping. Part II will feature new interviews with survivors, investigative journalist Jim DeRogatis, music industry insiders, #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, and attorneys prosecuting R. Kelly.
Nicholas Braun, who plays cousin Greg on HBO’s Succession, will executive produce and star in an in-development drama about WeWork. Based on an upcoming book by Wall Street Journal reporters Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell, the limited series doesn’t have a network home yet, but will feature Braun playing controversial WeWork founder Adam Neumann. Chernin Entertainment and Endeavor Content are behind the project, and as part of acquiring the rights to the book, will also produce a documentary about WeWork, the $50 billion workspace startup that crashed after an IPO attempt. (THR)
Netflix has ordered a scripted series about Spotify, based on the book Spotify Untold by Swedish business journalists Sven Carlsson and Jonas Leijonhufvud. The series will unfold the tale of how a pair of Swedish tech investors helped revolutionize the music industry – actually, helped save the industry from rampant online piracy – with the 2006 launch of the music streaming company.
Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra are producing a new dance competition series for Amazon Video. Based on their own December 2018 wedding celebration, the series is inspired by the Indian pre-wedding tradition called the Sangeet. The Sangeet takes place the night before a wedding ceremony, and brings together the bride and groom’s families for a program filled with song and dance performances. Each episode of the series will follow one engaged couple and their friends and families as they prepare for their own Sangeet, with help from celebrity choreographers, stylists, and creative directors.
Quibi, the short-form streaming service that will launch in April, has greenlit a new season of the Comedy Central gem Reno 911!, which originally aired from 2003-09 on the cable network. Co-creators Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant, and Kerri Kenney-Silver will write and return as the series stars, along with additional members of the series’ original cast.
Steve, Steve Harvey’s syndicated talk show, ended in June. The comedian will debut his new talk show – Steve on Watch – on Jan. 6, on Facebook Watch.
Showtime is getting musical on Dec. 27 with documentaries on Duran Duran and New Order. New Order: Decades and Duran Duran: There’s Something You Should Know air back-to-back beginning at 7:30 PM ET.
Fortune Feimster (The Mindy Project, Life in Pieces) will star in Sweet & Salty, an hour-long standup special for Netflix. The special, which premieres on January 21, will find the comedian telling very personal stories, about being a former debutante and realizing she was a lesbian while watching a movie.
Doctor Who on the big screen: in a January 5 Fathom event at more than 600 movie theaters across the country, Thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker and companions Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill will do a live Q+A following a screening of the Doctor Who season 12 premiere. Tickets are available at FathomEvents.com.
Who doesn’t love a Thin Mint or a Do-Si-Do? Food Network is getting in on viewers’ obsession with Girl Scout cookies in Girl Scout Cookie Championship, a new competition series that challenges five bakers in each episode to transform the iconic cookies into “works of edible art.” Alyson Hannigan hosts the four-episode series, which will include such concoctions as a three-tiered blueberry mint glacier cake made out of Thin Mints, a giant double barrel toasted marshmallow cake made with S’mores cookies, and a 10-layer Do-si-do red velvet globe cake with peanut butter buttercream. The series premieres on Feb. 3.
Andy Cohen is launching a sequel to his bestselling memoirs, in the form of an animated TV series. The Bravo father of all things Real Housewives and Watch What Happens Live host has inspired The Andy Cohen Diaries, a Quibi series that will unfold Cohen’s “iconic and untold moments,” the kind he has written about in his bestselling memoirs The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year and Superficial: More Adventures From the Andy Cohen Diaries. Cohen will also be an executive producer on the Quibi series. (THR)
Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, and writer/producer Bob Gale will be in attendance as the 11th Annual TCM Classic Film Festival kicks off on April 16, 2020 in Hollywood with a 35th anniversary screening of Back to the Future.