Ed Sheeran is gunning for that Outstanding Guest Actor Emmy: According to THR, the ginger crooner has taken a recurring role in Kurt Sutter's upcoming Bastard Executioner, a medieval drama set amid the violent rebellions of 14th-century Wales. Sheeran will play "an ambitious and deadly protégé of a high-ranking church elder," which makes it sound like he will almost certainly come to an unspeakably grisly end. If you're wondering how Ed Sheeran ended up in a prestige cable drama, it helps to know that he was a very public fan of Sutter's Sons of Anarchy and even contributed a song to that show's soundtrack. Sheeran also showed up on Sesame Street earlier this year, an appearance that was slightly more on-brand.
Marvel’s Ant-Man, which stars the ageless wonder we mere mortals call Paul Rudd, came in at No. 1 at the box office for the second week. The film trounced Pixels, which stars the poorly aging frat boy we call Adam Sandler. Ant-Man, of which George R.R. Martin is a fan, pulled in $24.7 million domestically, for a not-so-puny $106 million domestic total. Pixels, a film about Adam Sandler and video games doing dumb stuff, made $24 million, which, while only $700,000 removed from Ant-Man’s gross, is tremendously disappointing for Sandler. The film’s mix of CGI and live action aimed at nostalgic Gen-Xers was being compared to last year’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which made $65.6 million.
It’s not often that a premium cable network cancels a series after just one season, but such is the fate of Happyish. Showtime has confirmed the death of its first-year comedy, which opened in April to mostly negative reviews. Created by playwright Shalom Auslander, Happyish was originally intended as a starring vehicle for the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman, with Showtime chief David Nevins excitedly revealing the project to TV critics back in 2013. After Hoffman died and Steve Coogan signed on to fill the Hoffman role on the show, Nevins decided to keep the project going. But the combination of harsh critical reaction (the Denver Post’s Joanne Ostrow called the pilot “a sad, pretentious piece of work, desperate to be taken seriously”) and low ratings (just 300,000 viewers watched episode one within the first three days of its premiere, while, on average, a modest 1.6 million caught most episodes on Showtime’s various platforms) gave Nevins little incentive to bring Happyish back. On the bright side, the show still has the distinction of being what our Margaret Lyons called “far and away the most phallocentric show I’ve ever seen.”
Angelina Jolie's next directorial effort will be affiliated with Netflix, Variety reports. The multi-hyphenate movie star is working with the streaming service to adapt 2000's First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers — activist Loung Ung's account of enduring the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot's regime — into a feature film. "I was deeply affected by Loung’s book," Jolie, who's also planning on producing, said in a statement. "It deepened forever my understanding of how children experience war and are affected by the emotional memory of it." Jolie added that it helped her grow closer to her son Maddox's homeland; Maddox, who reportedly worked as a production assistant on his mom's By the Sea, will also lend a hand in this project (though his role is unknown at the moment). The film will be available next year, in both Khmer and English.
Long live Jar Jar Binks. In a new interview with Vice, Ahmed Best, the actor who played Jar Jar in the second Star Wars trilogy, discusses his turbulent journey from nothingness to notoriety. Among the many haphazard gems in the Q&A, there's an anecdote involving George Lucas and the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, that does a good job of sticking out: At Wembley Arena for an MJ concert, Best, along with Natalie Portman and Lucas's kids, went backstage to meet the star. "George introduced me as 'Jar Jar,' and I was like, That's kind of weird," he told Vice. "[At an after-party,] I'm having a drink with George and I said, 'Why did you introduce me as Jar Jar?' He said, 'Well, Michael wanted to do the part but he wanted to do it in prosthetics and makeup like "Thriller.'" George wanted to do it in CGI. My guess is ultimately Michael Jackson would have been bigger than the movie, and I don't think he wanted that."
Huh. (The butterfly effect that could've impacted both Jar Jar and MJ makes my head hurt.) Best goes on to discuss the initial reviews of Star Wars and his first memories of the character becoming a controversial figure. Below are a few more Star Wars gems from the convo:
Ludacris will join Kelly Rowland, Marisa Tomei, Oprah, and others on Empire's second season, the rapper announced today. According to his Instagram, he'll apparently be playing a correctional officer alongside Terrence Howard's newly incarcerated Lucious Lyon. Ludacris, of course, fought Howard in not one but two films released in 2005 (Crash and Hustle and Flow) — will Lee Daniels be paying tribute to that vaunted cinematic moment by putting the two men in a tenth-anniversary jailhouse scuffle?
Remember that limited-run TV series that saw a talented filmmaker reconstitute our image of a beloved star by casting them in the story of a detective investigating a mysterious string of violence against young women, an investigation that ended up indicting not just a criminal but also the entire social and psychological landscape of a community? That's right: 2013's Top of the Lake! Australia's IF has the scoop that, unlike other shows we could mention, TOTL will keep its star in its second season: Elisabeth Moss's Robin Griffin returns as the action moves to Sydney for a mystery TBA. (Original writers Jane Campion and Gerald Lee are returning as well, and just like season one, Campion will share the directing duties.) Filming starts in December — the series should air sometime in 2016 — which means there's plenty of time to find Australia's most depressed dive-bar singer.
Game of Thrones’ Bryan Cogman Will Try to Pull a Sword in the Stone Remake Out of the Rock of ObscurityBy Nate Jones
Game of Thrones writer Bryan Cogman is working on a live-action remake of The Sword in the Stone, the latest in Disney's string of reboots for its postwar animated classics — a list that presently includes Beauty and the Beast, The Jungle Book, and Dumbo, among others. The original 1963 Sword in the Stone was a retelling of young King Arthur's lessons with Merlin (all of which, in that telling, seem to involve turning into an animal) and included classic songs like "That's What Makes the World Go Round" and "Higitus Figitus." Cogman's script is expected to use mournful cello versions of those songs as the soundtrack to a bloody massacre of the entire Pendragon dynasty.
In all the comments sections across the land, the people cry out, "What is next for Amy Schumer?" Now THR has the answer: Schumer's first major post-Trainwreck project will likely be a comedy about a mother-daughter duo who get kidnapped on vacation in Brazil. Schumer and her sister have reportedly rewritten a script from a draft by The Heat's Katie Dippold, and with Trainwreck's success, Hollywood's newest star is reportedly getting more say on the project's director. After that, it'll be a matter of casting someone to play Amy Schumer's mother. Meryl Streep, you know you want to say yes. It's basically a free Brazilian vacation!
The network of Under the Dome will spend next summer looking under another dome — the one on Capitol Hill. CBS has given The Good Wife creators Robert and Michelle King a 13-episode order for the D.C.-set comic thriller Brain Dead, a project the duo describe as "a mix of genre-pulp and high-brow politics – The Strain crossed with The West Wing," according to a joint statement from the Kings. Brain Dead will follow a young female congressional staffer working her first D.C. job. In addition to realizing what we all already know — that the government is pretty much broken — she’ll stumble upon the cause of the dysfunction: "Alien spawn have come to earth and eaten the brains of a growing number of Congressmen and Hill staffers," according to a show description provided by CBS. "It seemed like the best way to address the news today — not straight, but as the opening act of a horror movie," the Kings said in their statement. In addition to the Kings, D.C. fixer Judy Smith (the inspiration for Scandal) has signed on as a co-exec producer, while Good Wife vets Ridley Scott, David Zucker, and Liz Glotzer are onboard as exec producers.
According to Deadline, Sony Pictures Animation is the proud new owner of a hypothetical movie about emoji from director Anthony Leondis, which reportedly drew strong interest from a variety of Hollywood studios thanks to the lack of intellectual property protections on the little yellow symbols. (The similarity of emoji to Minions probably couldn't hurt, either.) We would ask how it would be possible to make a movie about emoji, but we said the same thing about Legos and look where we are now.
Benicio Del Toro, fairly fresh off his sci-fi turn as the Collector in Guardians of the Galaxy, has the option to go back to outer space, according to multiple reports. He's been offered the top villain role in Star Wars: Episode VIII, Variety notes, and if Del Toro closes the deal, he'll join Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac for the Rian Johnson–helmed sequel. Other details (particularly those involving the identity of the nefarious role in question) are unclear, but Joaquin Phoenix is also said to be a contender. Deadline speculates that the early news of this role could mean one of the baddies from Star Wars: The Force Awakens — Domhnall Gleeson’s General Hux, Gwendolyn Christie’s Captain Phasma, Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren — gets extinguished. (This seems likely, because this is a movie. Also, feel free to play MFK with that trio if you're so inclined because that's a great trio.) The eighth installment is slated for May 26, 2017, and The Force comes out December 18.
Paul Rudd may not have the bionic biceps of his superhero brethren, but he more than held his own this weekend: Ant-Man, the last installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Two, crushed the box office. The movie about the tiny hero put up some big numbers, earning $58 million, which is impressive for a film about a comic character that has yet to enter the mainstream. The film, formerly the passion project of Edgar Wright before his unceremonious exit, didn’t draw the same legion as Avengers 2 or Iron Man 3, but it had a per-screen average of $15,051, right behind 2008's forgotten The Incredible Hulk ($15,810). The reviews have been warm, with moviegoers appreciating the scaled-down film after so many end-of-the-world superhero epics in recent years. It’s the 12th Marvel feature to debut at No. 1.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, David Gordon Green has signed on to direct Stronger, the film adaptation of Boston marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman's memoir. Bauman, who was at the race's finish line to watch his girlfriend, lost both of his legs in the attack; he recalled locking eyes with Dzhokar Tsarnaev before the bombs went off, and testified at Tsarnaev's trial. Stronger is the third movie in the works about the 2013 terror attack, alongside Mark Wahlberg's Patriots' Day and Fox's Boston Strong. It is unclear at this moment which movie will be Boston's Antz, and which will be its Bug's Life.
Holy Bluth reunion! According to THR, Michael Cera will voice Robin to Will Arnett's Batman in the upcoming Lego Batman movie, which is sure to be a fun and sexy time for him. That's Robin the superhero sidekick, not the other Robyn — you know, the singer-songwriter. It remains to be seen whether Cera will bring his usual milquetoast charm to the role, or if he'll play Robin as more OS (overtly sexual).
Because nothing animated is sacred anymore, Disney now wants a live-action Aladdin movie. But wait! It'll be a prequel. The Hollywood Reporter writes that the project, which has clever scribes Damian Shannon and Mark Swift (of Freddy vs. Jason fame) attached to the script, will explain how Genie got trapped in his famous lamp in an origin story à la Angelina Jolie's Maleficent. The film and its writers promise to "focus on the realm of the Genies," and the movie will appropriately be called Genies. Makes sense (if this is sounding random but kind of cool, we are right there with you). Naturally, as THR points out, this will probably lead into a live-action Aladdin movie too. Other specifics are currently unknown, but it might be time to prep by brushing up on your "Whole New World" lyrics. Just remember to add in "IRL" whenever you can.
If there's a silver lining to the cancellation of The Millers, it's that character actress Margo Martindale now has more time to do what she does best: play menacing recurring characters on critically acclaimed TV shows. Martindale has previously popped up on The Americans, Justified, and BoJack Horseman, and today CBS announced she'll have a recurring role in the next season of The Good Wife as another rival for Alan Cumming's Eli Gold. She'll play Willa Eastman, "a top campaign operative responsible for past successes by underdog presidential candidates in Iowa who hides her intelligence and cunning under a fake, folksy charm." Hopefully she'll stay away from the moonshine.
Aaron Tveit will play Danny Zuko in Fox's upcoming live performance of Grease, the network announced Thursday. What's that, you say? Tell you more, tell you more? Well-ah, well-ah, well-ah: Tveit joins a cast that includes Julianne Hough as Sandy, Vanessa Hudgens as Rizzo, and Big Time Rush's Carlos PenaVega as Kenickie. Grease will be the first time Tveit, a Broadway veteran, has sung onscreen since 2012's Les Misérables. It is not known whether he has a car.
For much of its two-decade existence, Starz has been seen as something of an afterthought among premium cable networks: If HBO and Showtime were Hertz and Avis, it was the Enterprise Rent-A-Car of the space. But that dynamic might finally be starting to change. At the end of last year, Starz (just barely) supplanted Showtime as the second-biggest pay-cable channel in terms of subscribers, pulling ahead of its longtime rival for the first time in eight years. More important, 2014 saw the successful launch of three new dramas, all of which seem headed for long lives. Stylized soap Power has become a ratings phenomenon for the network, tripling its audience over the course of its first dozen episodes. Outlander, the ambitious adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s epic fantasy-adventure novels, has attracted similarly strong Nielsen numbers, as well as a vocal online fandom and a slew of think pieces tied to its feminist twists on the action genre. And while it doesn’t generate as much media buzz, pirate epic Black Sails has also built a loyal following and will return for a third season. After years of struggling to define itself, Starz finally seems to have found its groove — and it’s done so by ditching the usual playbook for pay-cable success.
Giuliana Rancic announced that her tenure as a co-host of E! News would be coming to an end this year. "This is such a thrilling time for me and I thank the gang at E! for understanding my desire to embark on this next chapter in my life," Rancic said in a statement. You'll remember that the E! commentator got herself in trouble after remarking that actress Zendaya's dreadlocks smelled like "patchouli oil and weed." While she might be leaving the news desk, Rancic will continue her fashion commentating on E!'s Live From the Red Carpet and the embattled Fashion Police. She began as an E! News anchor back in 2005, and August 10 will mark her final episode.
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