The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s TV offerings expand into Wakanda. Plus, a fight for Buck Rogers, what’s coming to PBS, Anne Hathaway and Jared Leto cast in WeWork drama for Apple TV+, and more of the week’s top TV and streaming news.
(Photo by Marvel Studios)
Black Panther left everyone wanting to spend more time in Wakanda, and the movie’s director and co-writer is about to make that happen on a regular basis via a Wakanda-set TV series for Disney+.
Ryan Coogler, via his Proximity Media company, has signed a multi-year deal with Disney that will also include other TV series. But for now the focus is a series set in the fictional African country, which is also the focus for the Black Panther sequel movie Coogler is currently at work on.
The Wakanda series would be the latest in a long line of Marvel series coming to Disney+. Following the recent premiere of WandaVision, Disney+ will also release Falcon and Winter Soldier, Loki, Hawkeye, Moon Knight, She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel, a Nick Fury series starring Samuel L. Jackson, a War Machine series starring Don Cheadle, and an Ironheart series starring Dominique Thorne. (Variety)
(Photo by Priscilla Grant/Everett Collection)
George Clooney and his Smokehouse production company partner, Grant Heslov, have joined with Brian K. Vaughn for a reboot of the 1979-81 Gil Gerard and Erin Gray sci-fi drama series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. All three will serve as executive producers on the project, and Clooney may star in the title role, if Legendary TV has its way, according to The Wrap. Meanwhile, if the series is a hit, Legendary could move forward with a Buck Rogers movie and an anime series spin-off, THR.com reports.
There is a potential glitch in the plan to launch a new Buck Rogers universe. The trust that oversees the Buck Rogers estate sent a cease-and-desist letter to Legendary, Deadline reports, informing Legendary that the trust already has an agreement with Skydance Productions — home of Top Gun: Maverick, the most recent Star Trek films, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, and Terminator: Dark Fate — to “exploit the property” of Buck Rogers.
(Photo by PBS)
PBS presented previews of its upcoming 2021 programming for TV critics this week in a virtual Television Critics Association winter press tour, and there’s plenty coming. For starters, Masterpiece executive producer Susanne Simpson teased that although she doesn’t have any official announcements about a potential second season of the currently airing Miss Scarlet and the Duke, that fans should “wait for it — we’ll have something soon, I think.” She also highlighted the eclectic nature of Masterpiece’s 50th anniversary.
“One of the things we tried to do with our 50th anniversary was we tried very hard in January to really show off the different types of programs that we do. We felt it was a bit of a gift to our audience to do that on our 50th. So, we had [Elizabeth Is Missing with] Glenda Jackson, who obviously is one of the top actors of our time, so we wanted to tell everybody we’re still showing off acting royalty in Masterpiece. We have All Creatures Great and Small — that’s a very heartwarming show for a family audience. I think Miss Scarlet and the Duke is terrific, because it’s a woman character that’s very feisty for her time and kind of fighting off roadblocks. And then we have The Long Song, which is a really important show, very powerful, very moving.”
Other highlights from the public broadcaster’s upcoming slate: Hemingway, the latest from Ken Burns and Lynn Novick featuring narration from Jeff Daniels as the famous writer and attempts to deconstruct Hemingway’s hyper-masculine image: “I think the persona of the wild man, the drunk, the bar guy, the big game hunter, the big sea fisherman is what we inherit, the baggage we carry. But almost immediately we began to see how thin and frail that was, not just for him but in fact,” Burns said.
The upcoming My Grandparents’ War features stars Helena Bonham Carter, Mark Rylance, Carey Mulligan, and Kristin Scott Thomas as they trace the journeys of their grandparents during World War II, and Bonham Carter, whose family history is traced in the season premiere, said the experience helped her learn about her grandparents in a more intimate way.
“I had a vague approximation, myths almost, of both my grandparents that we followed. This just filled in a lot of the detail and bought them very vividly to me,” she said. “Violet, my grandmother, I would have been her age when the Second World War happened. So I met them almost as peers. It was really extraordinary.”
The two-part documentary The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song from Henry Louis Gates Jr. traces the history of the Black church in America through historical figures and contemporary celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, John Legend and Jennifer Hudson. Said Gates: “We wanted to make a series about the sheer transcendent power of belief, and never has that message been more important than now.”
In the bonus episodes of The Walking Dead’s 10th and penultimate season, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) returns, which almost certainly means she’s going to have an issue with Negan’s (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) new role among her group of friends. Also stars Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride. Premieres Feb. 28 (AMC)
More trailers and teasers released this week:
• Amend: The Fight for America is a docuseries, hosted and executive produced by Will Smith with all-star guests, that examines what the 14th Amendment to the Constitution really means, and how it’s been used to perpetuate racism. Premieres Feb. 17. (Netflix)
• Moxie, directed by Amy Poehler, is about a teen, inspired by her mom’s (Poehler) rebellious teenage past, decides to come out of her shyness shell and fight back about the most obnoxious students and behavior at her high school. Premieres March 3. (Netflix)
• Punky Brewster (Soleil Moon Frye) is all grown up, with three kids, an ex-husband (Freddie Prinze Jr.), and an enduring friendship with her childhood BFF Cherie (Cherie Johnson). Premieres Feb. 25. (Peacock)
• The Flash season 7 finds Barry/The Flash entering the Mirrorverse. Premieres March 2. (The CW)
• The Nevers is a Joss Whedon-created sci-fi drama about a group of Victorian women who discover they have unusual abilities that they may use to fight their enemies and change the world. Stars Laura Donnelly, Olivia Williams, Ben Chaplin, James Norton, Rochelle Neil, Eleanor Tomlinson, Denis O’Hare, and Nick Frost. Premieres April. (HBO)
• Allen v. Farrow — from HBO Documentary Films and investigative filmmakers Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering, and Amy Herdy — is a four-part documentary series that goes behind decades of sensational headlines to reveal the private story of one of Hollywood’s most notorious and public scandals. (HBO)
• Mighty Ducks: Game Changers finds Lauren Graham and Emilio Estevez encouraging the latest generation of young hockey underdogs in the series sequel to the big-screen movie franchise. Premiere March 26. (Disney+)
• Fauci is a documentary about the life and career of Dr. Anthony Fauci, who’s been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and has kept many Americans informed and sane during public health emergencies, from the AIDS crisis to the COVID-19 pandemic. Coming soon. (Nat Geo)
• Pelé chronicles the life of the Brazilian football player Edson Arantes do Nascimento, a.k.a. Pelé, the only player to win three World Cup titles, who went from life as a young soccer superstar in 1958 to a national hero, amidst a radical and turbulent era in Brazilian history. Premieres Feb. 23. (Netflix)
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(Photo by Apple TV+)
Anne Hathaway and Jared Leto will star in Apple TV+’s limited series WeCrashed, about the rise and fall of WeWork, based on the Wondery podcast of the same name. They will be executive producers on the series, in which they’ll play WeWork founders and marrieds Adam and Rebekah Neumann.
Hathaway will also star in Amazon’s Solo, an anthology series about characters in different times and settings who turn out to be connected by the human experience. The all-star cast also includes Anthony Mackie, Morgan Freeman, Uzo Aduba, and Helen Mirren.
Speaking of Aduba, The Killing alum Joel Kinnaman has signed on for HBO’s In Treatment reboot, where he’ll play the boyfriend of Aduba’s Dr. Brooke Taylor. (Variety)
Nicole Kidman will star in and executive produce Hope, an Amazon series adaptation of the Norwegian movie of the same name, a blended family drama about the end of a marriage that falls apart during the family’s Christmas celebration.
Tim Robbins is taking over for Rainn Wilson in Amazon’s The Power. The sci-fi drama is based on author Naomi Alderman’s book about the Republican governor of Washington (Robbins) and the Democratic mayor of Seattle (Leslie Mann), who butt heads while dealing with a world where teenage girls suddenly have the power to electrocute people. Wilson had to drop out of the project because of COVID-related delays. (Deadline)
Neve Campbell and Becki Newton will star in Netflix’s series adaptation of The Lincoln Lawyer. Campbell will play the first ex-wife of Manuel Garcia-Rulfo’s titular attorney Mickey Haller, and Newton will play his second ex-wife, who are a deputy prosecutor and Haller’s office manager, respectively.
Michelle Forbes (True Blood), Britt Robertson (Life Unexpected), Michael Raymond-James (Terriers), and Ryan Dorsey (Justified) are joining the cast of ABC’s David E. Kelley drama Big Sky, recurring as members of a dysfunctional and dangerous local ranching family. Ted Levine (Monk) will play the father of the family. Meanwhile, The Affair scene-stealer Omar Metwally will recur as an irreverent deputy U.S. Marshal whose investigative skills are put to the test with the local sex-trafficking ring. (Deadline)
The Netflix thriller series Pieces of Her, starring Toni Collette, has five new cast members: Power star Omari Hardwick, Jessica Barden (End of the F**king World), Jacob Scipio (Bad Boys for Life), David Wenham (Lion), and Joe Dempsie (Game of Thrones). The story, based on Karin Slaughter’s crime book of the same name, follows a young woman who sets off on a dangerous trip to search for answers when a random act of violence sets off a chain of life-changing events for her and her mother (Collette). The eight-episode series will be produced by an all-female team, including Lesli Linka Glatter, Charlotte Stoudt, Bruna Papandrea, and Minkie Spiro, who will direct the whole season.
The Conners’ Sara Gilbert, Leland Orser (ER), Rob Huebel (Transparent), Tate Donovan (The O.C.), and Kevin Dunn (Veep) will star opposite Chris Messina (The Mindy Project) in HBO Max’s pilot for the anthology series Verbatim, which will first cover the 2019 college admissions scandal. Based on The New York Times Op-Docs digital series, the drama will cover real-life events, with dialogue taken verbatim from the stories’ sources.
Because The Masked Singer host Nick Cannon tested positive for COVID, Claws star Niecy Nash will fill in for at least the first few episodes of season 5, which begins production this week. (Variety)
(Photo by Paramount Network)
ABC has given a pilot order to National Parks, a drama from Yellowstone star Kevin Costner about the National Parks Service agents who solve the sometimes very dark crimes that take place among the beautiful scenery of places like Yosemite and Yellowstone. Costner will not only produce, but serve as a writer on the project. (Variety)
TV reboots continue to be all the rage. Up next: more Frasier, with Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce possibly returning as brothers Frasier and Niles Crane; Kate & Allie, a new version of the Jane Curtin and Susan Saint James comedy about a pair of BFFs/single moms raising their kids together (no casting confirmation yet, but it comes from Nahnatchka Khan and Erica Oyama, who are behind the fantastic new Dwayne Johnson sitcom Young Rock); and The Wonder Years remake, this time about a middle class Black family living in the turbulent 1960s Montgomery, Alabama. Lee Daniels will executive produce the series, which comes from EP and writer Saladin Patterson, with the pilot to be directed by original series star Fred Savage and original series creator Neal Marlens serving as a consultant.
And one more potential comeback: The Comeback? (L.A. Times)
The Office star Brian Baumgartner is doing a spin-off podcast of his An Oral History of The Office podcast. The Office Deep Dive with Brian Baumgartner will feature all new material from the more than 100 hours of interviews the actor has done with co-stars like Steve Carell and John Krasinski and producers like Greg Daniels and Mike Schur. The new podcast debuts Feb. 9. (Deadline)
The Sopranos Emmy winner Michael Imperioli is teaming with Barry co-creator Alec Berg to create an HBO series that would be loosely based on the actor’s life as a Buddhist. Imperioli and Berg will produce and write the series together. (Variety)
There’s still a lot of scripted series on TV, but not as many as there were pre-pandemic. FX’s annual tally of Peak TV programs revealed 2019’s total of 532 scripted series on the air (a record number) fell to 493 for 2020, because of COVID-related disruptions.
American Horror Story and Mr. Robot writer Adam Penn is developing a limited series based on the life of Mario Tabraue, a Tiger King wildlife reserve owner who is also reputed to be a former drug trafficker who inspired the Tony Montana character (played by Al Pacino) in Scarface. (Deadline)
Netflix and SEGA are teaming to launch Sonic Prime, an animated kids series featuring Sonic the Hedgehog in 2022.
In addition to a game show based on its Uno card game, Mattel is creating a game show based on the arcade game Whac-A-Mole.
HBO Max is developing a new Batman series … in the form of a podcast. Batman: The Audio Adventures will be a humorous take on The Caped Crusader, with Westworld star Jeffrey Wright – who’s playing James Gordon in the upcoming Batman movie starring Robert Pattison – providing the voice of Batman. (THR)