This week, FX and HBO dominate TV Talk, as Sons of Anarchy breaks its ratings record, Cuba Gooding Jr. signs on to play O.J. Simpson, and Fargo announces season two casting. Plus, HBO moves forward with its stand-alone service while The Leftovers flirts with moving away from Mapleton.
HBO hopes to launch new service in time for Game of Thrones
According to a report obtained by Fortune this week, HBO is getting closer to launching its standalone subscription service — a streaming option for both cable and non-cable subscribers. Unlike Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, however, HBO plans to share its content via the third-party host MLB Advanced, which already provides similar services to other programming outlets, such as WWE and MLB.tv. This should be welcome news to customers who were livid when HBO Go was over capacity during season four of Game of Thrones, but the developments also led to the resignation of HBO’s Chief Technology Officer, Otto Berkes, who had been developing an in-house streaming platform known as Project Maui. HBO’s standalone service is expected to launch in April 2015 — just in time for the Game of Thrones season five premiere.
Cuba Gooding Jr. to play O.J. Simpson in FX miniseries.
Producer Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story) has cast two major roles for his upcoming miniseries about O.J.Simpson, marking the debut of FX’s new anthology series, American Crime Story. Cuba Gooding Jr. (Jerry McGuire) will star as former football star O.J.Simpson, on trial for the murder of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. Sarah Paulson, who currently stars in Murphy’s American Horror Story franchise, will play Marcia Clark, the lead prosecutor during the 1995 trial. American Horror Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson is based on the book The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin. Fingers crossed they get Phil Morris (aka Jackie Chiles) for the part of Johnnie Cochran.
Are The Leftovers leaving Mapleton?
Deadline is reporting a big shake-up for HBO’s second season of The Leftovers, Damon Lindelof’s adaptation of the Tom Perrotta novel by the same name. According to Nellie Andreeva, most of the first season’s supporting cast will disappear for season two. But many of the leads will still be on the show, including Justin Theroux as Kevin Garvey, plus his family played by Amy Brenneman, Margaret Qualley, and Chris Zylka. Carrie Coon’s character, Nora Durst, is also expected to return, as well as Christopher Eccleston, who plays her brother, Reverend Matt. The biggest reboot for season two appears to be a change of scenery, with reports that the show’s producers plan to expand the story beyond the borders of Mapleton, NY. Perhaps we’ll be meeting some new cults? Season one of The Leftovers is Fresh at 70 percent.
Sons of Anarchy rides out on a high.
This week’s series finale of Sons of Anarchy broke ratings records for FX, bringing in 6.39 million viewers — the most in the show’s seven-year run. The two-hour finale beat out CBS’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show (typically the highest rated broadcast in the coveted adults 18-49 demo), and might even be the highest rated telecast in FX history once all the numbers are tallied up. While off to a slow ratings start in 2008, Sons ranks second only to The Walking Dead among all basic cable dramas in adults 18-49 for 2014. See reviews for the Sons series finale, “Poppa’s Goods,” here — but beware spoilers!
Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons cast in Fargo season two.
We’re finally getting some news about Noah Hawley’s second season of Fargo, FX’s anthology series inspired by the eponymous 1996 Coen Brothers film. Kirsten Dunst (Spider-Man, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind) and Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad, Friday Night Lights) will topline season two, which will take place in 1979 Sioux Falls. Dunst will star as Peggy Blomquist, a small-town beautician with big-city dreams, while Plemons will play Ed — a butcher’s assistant married to Peggy. The second chapter of the Fargo anthology will connect to season one via Lou Solverson (still uncast), the character of Molly’s father played this year by Keith Carradine. Season two will be 10 episodes, with production kicking off in Calgary this January.