When Marvel announced several months ago that it was courting Ava DuVernay to helm one of its upcoming features, particularly Black Panther, the internet went nuts. DuVernay would have been the first black female to direct a Marvel movie (she was already the first black female filmmaker to be nominated for Best Director at the Golden Globes, for her acclaimed Selma). Also, DuVernay directing a Marvel movie would’ve been the coolest, and arguably the most interesting thing to happen to a Marvel movie in a long time — maybe ever. But there was never any confirmation, and for months rumors eddied around the internet. Now we finally have legitimate confirmation from DuVernay herself, via an interview with Essence:
Longtime Sesame Street cast member Sonia Manzano will retire from the show after 44 years, the actress announced while speaking to the American Library Association this week. Manzano has played Maria, a friendly neighborhood vest enthusiast, since 1971; she also wrote for the show from 1981 to 2002, winning 15 Daytime Emmys in the process. In her four decades on Sesame Street, Manzano got married, turned invisible, asked for a raise, went to the hospital, and fixed a door. Outside of that show, Manzano plays Judge Gloria Pepitone on Law & Order: SVU, where she encounters grouches of a different sort.
Paul Thomas Anderson just threw his fans a major curveball: The acclaimed director is set to write the live-action Pinocchio starring Robert Downey Jr., The Hollywood Reporter reports. Anderson, whose last project was 2014's Inherent Vice, is also in talks to direct. (For reference, Anderson has both written and directed all seven of his films.) Downey Jr. will reportedly play the woodcarver Gepetto. Now if he can just get Joaquin Phoenix to play Pinocchio, all will be right in Paul Thomas Anderson's world.
Laurence Fishburne will play author Alex Haley in A&E Networks' upcoming Roots remake, Variety reports. ABC's original Roots mini-series was based on Haley's novel about the life of his ancestors; the new version will air simultaneously on A&E, Lifetime, and the History Channel and will reportedly include story lines from the book as well as "carefully researched, new scholarship" of the slave trade. (Haley's claim that everything in his narrative was based on historical fact has been widely disputed.) If Fishburne's casting means the remake dives into the controversy over Haley's scholarship, expect that to be the 97th-saddest thing to happen on Roots.
According to Deadline, Neve Campbell has signed on as a regular for season four of House of Cards. Her role is unknown, but it's rumored the next installment of the Netflix drama will introduce a sexy young political couple as competition for the Underwoods. Maybe Campbell will play Claire's rival, or maybe she'll just play a mysterious woman who sits next to Frank on Air Force One and then is never seen again.
Deadline reports that Julia Roberts is set to star in a self-explanatory movie called Mother's Day, about, yeah, a lot of different mom stories. Think of it as the Traffic of matriarch movies. Probable mamas Jennifer Aniston and Kate Hudson, along with improbable mama Jason Sudeikis (who will hopefully play a meta curmudgeon upset he isn't in Father's Day), might be in on this, too. Garry Marshall will direct from Anya Kochoff-Romano and Lily Hollander's script, à la holiday pics New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day. Always a treat.
After seven seasons, NeNe Leakes is leaving Bravo's Real Housewives of Atlanta, the reality star announced on Monday. "My contract is up and I just think this is the right time," Leakes told People. "This is my opportunity to spread my wings and do different things." For nearly eight years, Leakes has served as the show's controversial back-talking villain, landing her own 2013 spinoff show that documented her wedding and remarriage to former ex-husband Gregg Leakes. Since RHOA, Leakes has gone on to have recurring appearances on Glee, The New Normal, The Celebrity Apprentice, and more. She's also spent time on Broadway in a production of Cinderella. Up next, Leakes says she has a "new primetime television show with a big legend" in the works. But this also isn't the last you'll see of NeNe on Bravo. The network has confirmed to BuzzFeed that her upcoming spinoff show with longtime frenemy and former RHOA co-star Kim Zolciak is still on. It'll follow the two on a road trip, which will inevitably involve numerous pit-stops for catfights.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, both Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto have signed on for Star Trek 4, despite the fact that Star Trek 3 has just started filming. THR says the move was a condition of Pine and Quinto's huge raises for the third film, which the duo won by arguing that they are way more famous now than when they signed on for the series back in 2007. (There is also a complicated bit about California labor laws and seven-year contracts.) If nothing else, this news proves that neither Kirk nor Spock will die in Star Trek 3 — or if they do, they'll just be brought back from the dead, a franchise-preserving move both the original film series and ST3 director Justin Lin are intimately familiar with. As Spock once said, the needs of the many executives outweigh the needs of the actor.
EuropaCorp, the largest film studio in Europe, revealed its upcoming schedule today, and it includes the news that sequels to both Lucy, Luc Besson's super-brained Scarlett Johansson film from last year, and Colombiana*, the 2011 Zoe Saldana vehicle, are in development. A Lucy sequel seems like a no-brainer — it was one of summer 2014's biggest sleeper hits — but the Columbiana news comes as a slight surprise, as the film was little-loved upon its release and is almost forgotten now. But, hey, in this new post-Furiosa world, anything is possible! Male stars have been making crappy action franchises for years — when the world has room for Colombiana 7: Bogotá Drift, we'll know equality has truly been achieved.
New York Times critic Alessandra Stanley, the woman who wrote the most-hated Shonda Rhimes profile of 2014, is leaving the television beat, according to a staff memo obtained by Gawker. Among media insiders, Stanley was infamous for her error-riddled stories on Ann Curry, Walter Cronkite, and Geraldo; in the words of managing editor Dean Baquet, she'll "return to reporting ... creating a new beat: an interdisciplinary look at the way the richest of the rich — the top 1 percent of the 1 percent — are influencing, indeed rewiring, the nation’s institutions." Mazel!
This could be fun: Busy-guy-slash-cat-person Kevin Spacey and his production company, Trigger Street, are developing a TV series that sounds like a more serious 1600 Penn meets a more political-oriented (and likely more contemporary) Downton Abbey. The show, which has Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly attached as a rookie co-executive producer, is called The Resident and will focus on the relationships between White House residence staffers (contrary to the title, there will be multiple!) and a series of First Families. The Hollywood Reporter writes that the project has its sights set on a cable destination; Trigger Street is producing the project, along with 20th Century Fox Television and Fox 21 Television Studios. This isn't the only political project on Spacey's docket, which also includes the Netflix gem House of Cards and Elvis & Nixon, a film about the two titular icons that, according to the Wrap, is set to debut in theaters later this year via Amazon Studios and Bleecker Street. (Also, although it's not outright political, do not forget about the kitty cat thing.) Politics!
Critics were mixed, but viewers seem inclined to give season two of True Detective a chance. HBO’s anthology series returned Sunday with an initial audience of 3.2 million same-day viewers and a 1.4 rating among adults under 50, according to Nielsen. While not as big as last spring’s season-one finale (3.5 million same-day), True D soared about 40 percent above its January 2014 series premiere (2.3 million viewers) and was easily the biggest show on cable Sunday. (It was a lightweight, however, compared to ABC’s Celebrity Family Feud, which attracted a whopping 8.7 million viewers at 8 p.m. the same night.) Perhaps even more encouraging for HBO: The very strong early numbers for the debut of Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson’s new comedy Ballers. The NFL-themed half-hour scored 2.2 million same-day viewers for its initial play and held on to 80 percent of the under-50 ratings for True D, and also appears to be the most-watched debut for an HBO comedy since the 2009 launch of Hung. Viewers also sampled new 10:30 p.m. comedy The Brink, which opened with 1.6 million same-day viewers. It’s worth noting that all of these numbers are just a snapshot of the actual audience for these shows: Once viewership from HBO Go, HBO Now, DVR replays, and same-week reruns are tallied, it’s likely all three shows will end up with an audience two to three times the size reported here.
Hulu is about to make it a lot easier — and somewhat cheaper — to subscribe to Showtime. Just days after Showtime said it was following HBO and making its service available as a stand-alone product via Apple TV or Roku, the CBS Corp.–owned pay-cable channel today announced a partnership with streaming giant Hulu that will let paid Hulu subscribers add on a full Showtime subscription. The cost: $8.99 per month, which is $2 less than what it’ll cost to subscribe to Showtime sans Hulu (and 40 percent less than a $14.99 HBO Now subscription). Of course, to get that discounted Showtime price, you’ll also need to be a paid Hulu subscriber ($7.99/month), so the total outlay for consumers will actually be $16.98 per month. But if you’re already down with Hulu’s paid service and you’re into Masters of Sex, Shameless, or the upcoming Twin Peaks return, the Showtime add-on is a pretty decent deal. And it will all be seamless, with the Showtime programming integrated into the Hulu app (no switching to a different account to get the premium content). The only thing this deal doesn’t do is change the annoying fact that paid Hulu subscribers still have to watch some advertising during shows. Glass half-full: Showtime streamed through Hulu will be commercial-free.
Hannibal's third season, currently airing, will be its last, Vulture can confirm. It was surprising that Bryan Fuller's drama, one of the most avant-garde shows on television, even made it to three seasons on NBC considering its low ratings, which have nosedived this summer. Last week’s hour was seen by just 1.7 million same-day viewers and had a 0.5 rating among adults under 50, basically tying the previous week’s series low. And even when DVR data is included, Hannibal has been struggling. After seven days of replays, this month’s season premiere rose a modest 38 percent from the show’s same-day audience, with its so-called L+7 viewership of 3.6 million viewers half the tune-in of new summer shows such as Wayward Pines and the premiere of ABC’s The Whispers. In other words, despite two years of trying and amazing reviews, audiences just weren’t coming around to dine with Hannibal.
Taylor Swift's Tumblr post was effective. Less than 24 hours after the artist publicly voiced her concerns with Apple Music's free trial period, the company decided to switch up its contentious royalties policy. Now artists will be paid, especially for streaming and especially during their customers' free trial period.
Saturday night, Lifetime will premiere its highly anticipated, highly random new original movie, A Deadly Adoption, starring Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig. And while its premise screams spoof, two A+E Networks VPs swear Ferrell and Wiig played it straight: "We weren’t clear if it was going to be authentic, if it really was going to be this murder story ... It’s not a comedy. And it’s well-done," Tanya Lopez told Entertainment Weekly. "It’s not the Scary Movie parody of a Lifetime movie," Arturo Interian added, "[Ferrell] wanted to legitimately do a Lifetime sexual thriller." But apparently A Deadly Adoption isn't the only semi-secret project Lifetime has had up its sleeve. Interian also revealed that, once upon a time, Lifetime considered bringing Fifty Shades of Grey to their network:
Painfully funny comic Maria Bamford is finally getting her own show. Netflix ordered 13 half-hour episodes of the single-camera comedy Lady Dynamite, based on different periods of her life. According to the streaming giant, the show is expected to tell "the story of a woman who loses — and then finds — her shit" in a refracted, surrealistic way, which sounds in line with her weird web series, The Maria Bamford Show. Bamford will be producing alongside Mitch Hurwitz and Pam Brady. Just when we started to get a little worried that Netflix was running out of good ideas, they reel us back in with this gem. This is basically as good as juicing bonsai trees and sitting in your truth.
Professional multitaskers Phil Lord and Chris Miller are tinkering on another intriguing project for you: It's a part-animated, part-live-action comedy called Son of Zahn. The Hollywood Reporter writes that the in-development series will tell the story of an animated barbarian dad who comes home to his very live-action son and ex-wife for the first time in about a decade. (Admittedly hooked already.) Since papa protagonist is supposed to be coming from an animated, war-torn world, THR notes that Zahn will probably have a helluva time adjusting to normal, boring, live-action life in suburban somewhere. Most other story and personnel details — aside from the fact Johnny Pemberton (21 Jump Street, 22 Jump Street) will play the live-action son and Eric Appel will direct — are under wraps. An eight-to-ten-minute pilot presentation is in the works for Fox, however, and will begin production later this summer.
Tom Hanks is in talks to be the captain now, Deadline reports. Just this time it'll be in the sky, for Clint Eastwood's Warner Bros. movie about Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, the American hero and former aviator best known for the "Miracle on the Hudson." The screenplay, by Todd Komarnicki, is based on Sullenberger and Jeffrey Zaslow's book Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters, which will reportedly dive into the pilot's heroic landing, as well as the behind-the-scenes trouble that jeopardized his reputation. Eastwood will direct, but no word yet on whether babies featured in the biopic will be real or fake.
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