Dan Aykroyd is on a mission from God, and he's not going to stop until he's successfully put an animated Blues Brothers show on TV: Five years after the first time Aykroyd tried this idea, THR reports that the SNL star has gotten the band — John Belushi's widow Judy and former SNL writer Anne Beatts — back together to shop a prime-time Blues Brothers cartoon to networks. The show will reportedly feature animated version of Jake and Elwood Blues, with "special guest appearances from aspiring talent, treasured Blues legends and modern-day superstars." Blues Hammer, now is your time to shine.
Hulu is all-in on The Mindy Project: The streaming network today will announce it has renewed Mindy Kaling’s former Fox comedy for a fifth season. Insiders tell Vulture the order is for 16 episodes. The relatively early pickup — a little more than halfway through Mindy’s fourth season — is a big vote of confidence for the show, and a sign Hulu is satisfied with its performance among subscribers. (Hulu, like all streaming services, doesn’t release specific viewership metrics for its programming.) The Mindy renewal is one of several programming announcements Hulu is making today as part of its annual upfront presentation to advertisers in New York: The service has additionally greenlit a second season of its Aaron Paul drama The Path, as well as a second election-themed special starring Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog. Hulu is also launching a new unit devoted to producing and airing documentary films, which will debut first on the network after theatrical runs. First up: Eight Days a Week, an already-produced Beatles doc from director Ron Howard. Hulu, which says it has grown its subscriber base by 30 percent over the last year to 12 million, confirmed Tuesday it’s in the early stages of planning for a new premium service that will allow customers to stream live programming from both broadcast and cable networks.
Now that Michael Strahan is departing Live for Good Morning America months ahead of schedule, the search for Kelly Ripa's new wingman (or woman!) is on, and it begins with Jimmy Kimmel. The Jimmy Kimmel Live! host will guest co-host ABC's other Live on May 16, just three days after Strahan's final show. Ripa's BFF Andy Cohen has already turned downed the job (because he's busy running Bravo), while her other reported top choice, Anderson Cooper, says he's "very happy at CNN." So until ABC finds someone worthy of faking a friendship with Ripa full-time, she'll have a rotating cast of guest hosts to keep Strahan's chair warm. Kimmel probably won't be a permanent fixture (he already has his own show and he's hosting the Emmys), but, oh, just imagine all the mean tweets he'll have Kelly rip to shreds.
Julian Fellowes Presents Doctor Thorne Heads to Amazon Prime, or As It Should Be Called Downton Abbey 2: Mo’ Money, Mo’ ProblemsBy Halle Kiefer
Scandalous cross-class marriages? Check. Trenchant matriarchs? Check. Stalwart nieces? Oh, you better believe it. The new drama from the Downton Abbey creator, Julian Fellowes Presents Doctor Thorne, is chockablock with benevolent uncles, drunk millionaires, and a village filled will secret dalliances and pecuniary upheaval. Everything you want from Downton Abbey, plus, well, what else do you people need really? The Weinstein Company announced today that the new show will premiere May 20 on Amazon Prime. Based on a book by Anthony Trollope, Doctor Thorne will star The Night Manager’s Tom Hollander as the titular physician, Ian McShane as the above-mentioned inebriated millionaire, and Alison Brie as a wealthy American. From the show's release:
Dr. Phil's new business partner is just as bald as he is: According to The Hollywood Reporter, Amber Rose has signed a deal to host a weekly VH1 talk show, produced by the good doctor himself. The untitled series follows Rose's recent book, How to Be a Bad Bitch, and will showcase her "candid interviews with celebrity friends" and "provocative, entertaining and humorous conversations [about] pop culture, motherhood, relationships, friendships, race and entrepreneurship." Rose is not expected to grow a mustache for the gig.
Anthony Mackie is exchanging Falcon's suit for a more traditional one, as Deadline reports the Civil War actor will star as late legal legend Johnnie Cochran in a movie about a landmark police-brutality case from the early ’80s. Other talent and logistical details on the Firm-backed project are scarce, but the untitled drama was penned by former Sleepy Hollow and Lucifer scribe David McMillan. It's based on Cochran's handling of real events in Signal Hill, California, where Cal State Long Beach football star Ron Settles was found hanged in a prison cell, the morning after his speeding arrest. Settles's parents hired Cochran, who sued Signal Hill for $62 million, according to the L.A. Times. After an autopsy showed the 21-year-old didn't commit suicide but had been strangled, Cochran won the family $760,000; the case became "a precursor to a lot of modern civil rights litigation in Southern California," per a Long Beach Press-Telegram report, and spurred a police-department overhaul in the West Coast city. Settles's case also further established Cochran as a nationally recognized champion against racial injustice, roughly one decade before he'd take on the notorious O.J. Simpson case.
Like Neil Diamond and Eddie Murphy before it, Eurovision is coming to America. The European song contest, which functions like a big talent show that people actually want to attend, will air its grand finale live in the U.S. for the first time this year, on May 14, on Logo. For those not yet indoctrinated in the Eurovision spectacle, contestants from across Europe and Eurasia have been singing for the pride of their countries since 1956. The amateur efforts can veer toward the schlocky, but the likes of ABBA won in 1974, so it's no more embarrassing than your average American karaoke-show ripoff. So quiet that national ego, hit the couch, and pick a pretty flag.
April showers will bring May blockheads, as Variety reports that Charlie Brown and his gang hit Stateside TV sets next month in a series of animated vignettes. Titled Peanuts, the cartoons boast a fresh watercolor-art style (like this) and start unspooling May 9 on Boomerang, with new episodes coming every day at 11:30 a.m. Normaal Animation of France, under Peanuts Worldwide LLC, is behind the series, which originally aired overseas two years ago. The news comes half-a-year after the well-received Peanuts movie — CGI or not, the lovable loser is here to stay.
Wanna feel old? Of course you don't — no one does. But too bad! The original version of The Omen came out 40 years ago, in 1976, and now a prequel is in the works. What's more, the kid who played Damien, the 5-year-old Antichrist, is now like 45-ish and, according to his IMDb, is a property developer in Kent, England! Antonio Campos (Christine) is in negotiations to direct The First Omen, written by Ben Jacoby. Though the original led to remakes, sequels, and a series of novels, this will be the film's first prequel. May there be 666 more.
You wouldn't think Paul Rudd would have time to take on other projects with his three-plus-plus film contract with Marvel, but the man is clearly bent on moving beyond superheroes and bro comedies. Rudd is set to star in The Catcher Was a Spy, a film that is not a genre-bent version of J.D. Salinger's classic novel. Instead, the movie will focus on the life of Moe Berg, a catcher and coach in the majors whose life is begging for the big-screen treatment. Berg was more than a ballplayer — the man was a polyglot who spied for the United States during World War II. It's fitting then that Robert Rodat, who wrote the screenplay for Saving Private Ryan, penned the adaption, which is based on Nicholas Dawidoff's bestselling book. According to a report from Deadline, Ben Lewin is set to direct and Palmstar Media will produce. So to tally it up, this movie's got baseball, WWII spies, the screenwriter from Saving Private Ryan, and a lead actor who is also a superhero. This may just be the most American film made this year.
On Wednesday, Vulture's Kyle Buchanan wrote a piece on how black actors in Hollywood are routinely cast in motion-capture, voice-over, and heavy-makeup roles — roles, in other words, where they are not black. As if on cue, Deadline on Thursday reported that John Boyega had landed a voice-over role in the BBC's animated Watership Down mini-series, just days after his Force Awakens co-star Daisy Ridley was announced as the star of the WWII romance The Lost Wife. Obviously this is just one data point, but the comparison between the two offers an interesting test case: Boyega and Ridley were both basically unknowns when they were cast in Star Wars and served as co-leads on that film. Looking at their subsequent projects could be illuminating, just as examining the disparate filmographies of Lupita Nyong'o and Margot Robbie, both of whom broke out in Best Picture contenders released the same year, offered a hint that Hollywood doesn't quite know what to do with one of them.
Here's a rundown of what Boyega and Ridley have booked so far. (I did not include Episode VIII, because they're both in it, and you probably already knew about it.)
Sylvester Stallone Cast in Mafia TV Show Omertà, Probably Got the Part As Soon As They Heard Him Say the Title at His AuditionBy Halle Kiefer
Instead of an offer you can’t refuse, how about an offer you don’t want to refuse because it’s so great? Wonderful. Well, how about Sylvester Stallone making his scripted television debut as a mafia don? According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Oscar-nominated Rocky actor will star in Antoine Fuqua’s adaptation of Omertà, the last book in Mario Puzo’s Godfather trilogy. The show does not currently have a network attached. This time around, you still find the head of your beloved racehorse in your bed, but it looks like it was suspended from the ceiling, frozen, and some scrappy guy from Philly absolutely whaled on it.
Viola Davis's production company JuVee Productions has made a deal with ABC Studios and ABC Signature Studios, Variety reports. JuVee, which Davis founded with her husband Julius Tennon, will develop projects for broadcast, cable, streaming services, and digital platforms. The company has also hired Bravo’s Andrew Wang as the company’s head of television development and production. Davis started JuVee because she wanted to see more diversity onscreen, and the deal will give Davis, who has already been an outspoken badass on the topic, the opportunity to keep making strides in that direction. Look forward to a lot of meaty roles for women and people of color. It's Viola Davis's world, we're just living in it.
BBC to Terrify Your Children With a Watership Down Mini-series Starring John Boyega and James McAvoyBy Halle Kiefer
Hey, are your kids scared of rabbits? Want them to be? Deadline reports the BBC and Netflix are creating a four-part mini-series based on the dark bunny-saga Watership Down. You might remember the 1978 film adaptation from your sweat-drenched childhood night terrors. The project will be animated, as the British don’t yet have that kind of control over their rabbits, and will feature the voice-acting skills of John Boyega, Nicholas Hoult, Gemma Arterton, James McAvoy, and Ben Kingsley. The series will premiere on the BBC in Britain and Netflix internationally. For those who are unfamiliar with the original 1972 Richard Adams novel, Watership Down tells the tale of a psychic rabbit who has a brutal, apocalyptic vision foretelling the destruction of his rabbit community, and boy, somehow it gets more messed up from there.
Jamie Foxx in Talks to Star in Happytime Murders, Which Sounds Like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? But More Childhood-RuiningBy Halle Kiefer
Well, hey, if we had to watch Christopher Lloyd’s eyes bulge out and his body melt in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, the kids should have to see Jamie Foxx handle a muppet corpse. It’ll be good for them. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Annie actor is currently in talks to star in Happytime Murders, a dark comedy-action film directed by Brian Henson and set in a world in which humans and puppets live side by side. Chaos reigns when the puppet cast of an ’80s children’s show turn up dead. In the film, which the Jim Henson Company has been trying to get made since 2008, Foxx would play the human law-enforcement counterpart to “an alcoholic, disgraced LAPD detective-turned-private eye puppet,” a character which has distinct shades of Ted. Unlike Ted, however, it might be sad if this puppet was stabbed to death by a crazed serial killer.
Holy blank! ABC is mounting a revival of the star-studded, big-money 1970s comedy panel show Match Game — and 30 Rock star Alec Baldwin has signed on to host, Vulture has learned. The network and producer FremantleMedia North America will announce later today that they are teaming up for ten one-hour episodes of Match Game 2016, a new twist on the long-running staple, which will air Sundays at 10 p.m. as part of a three-hour game-show block on ABC this summer. Dubbed ABC’s “Sunday Fun & Games,” the evening, launching June 26, will also include the return of last summer’s Steve Harvey–hosted smash Celebrity Family Feud and a previously announced reincarnation of The $100,000 Pyramid.
Superhero series — do they ever end? Not yet, they don't. Even the ones you might have thought had been wrapped up, like the Iron Man series, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, will go on forever until they pass into folklore, your children's children's children entertaining their robot friends with the legend of noble inventor Tony Stark 'round the campfires of New New Jersey. Back in 2014, Robert Downey Jr. revealed that there were no plans for a fourth stand-alone Iron Man film, admitting, "There isn't one in the pipe." But now, it appears he may have changed his tune. In ABC News' behind-the-scenes look at Captain America: Civil War, Downey says he's thinking about another Iron Man film: "I feel like I could do one more." Regardless of whether or not this ends up happening — Marvel's schedule is booked pretty solid for the next few years, though what's one more superhero film on the pile? — Downey is already set for appearances in the forthcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming and both parts of Avengers: Infinity War, at which point he will have played Tony Stark for 11 years, in ten different films. A literal iron man!
If recent weeks have taught us anything, it's that behind their tanned faces and toothy grins, those happy people who read the news are hiding internal dramas as emotional as anything on the masterful Downton Abbey. And so, with THR's report that Billy Bush is leaving Access Hollywod to join NBC's Today, get ready for months of breathless speculation on exactly what pushed him out the door. (Was he Kardashian'd out? Did someone hang an ironic "Mission Accomplished" banner outside his office?) Or, no one will care. One of the two!
According to Variety, Daisy Ridley has signed on to Marc Forster's upcoming romantic drama, The Lost Wife, a role that will showcase exactly none of the cool new lightsaber training that Ridley has been showing off on social media this week. Based on the book by Alyson Richman, the film will star Ridley as an art student in 1930s Prague whose love affair is interrupted by the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, which might be a familiar visual for her. It's the second non–Star Wars project announced in as many weeks for Ridley, who's also set to reunite with J.J. Abrams on Kolma, a remake of the Israeli film All I've Got. No word on if her characters in these films will be good at things.
Kerry Washington Signed an Overall Deal with ABC Studios; Other Studios Haven’t Yet Admitted JealousyBy Emma Barrie
Kerry Washington has signed an overall deal with ABC Studios and ABC Signature Studios, which will have her doing more behind-the-scenes work with her newly launched production company Simpson Street. “I believe strongly in the importance of having a seat at the table which makes starting this production company thrilling for me. It’s an honor to be at a point in my career when I can help generate projects that that are exciting, necessary, and truly reflect the world around us,” Washington said, according to Variety. “I’m grateful to be on this journey with ABC, a network that remains unparalleled in its commitment to inclusive storytelling.” The producing partnership began when ABC bought a script for a dramedy about a clique of nannies from Shondaland, with Washington signed on as an executive producer. As we always suspected, Kerry Washington can do literally anything.
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