Leonardo DiCaprio has starred in his fair share of biopics. He’s been an American entrepreneurial billionaire, the first director of the FBI, a Wall Street tycoon, a rugged explorer, a teenage con man, and he’s even played King Louis XIV. But he’s never played a music-industry icon — until now! According to Deadline, DiCaprio’s Appian Way production company has acquired the rights to the book Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock 'n' Roll and the newly minted Oscar winner is set to play the title role. Phillips was a producer at Sun Studio in Memphis, and he worked with legendary figures like Elvis Presley, Howlin’ Wolf, Johnny Cash, and more. Mick Jagger has also come onboard to help produce.
In news that will please comedy fans of many a generation, Carol Burnett is making her return to television in a sitcom executive-produced by Amy Poehler. The untitled multi-cam comedy has landed a put-pilot commitment at ABC, Deadline reports. It’ll star Burnett as an older actress (for shame!) who offers to sell her house to a family on the cheap — just so long as she can stay till she dies. Michael Saltzman (Murphy Brown) will write and executive-produce the project, which marks Burnett’s sitcom-starring debut. Best beloved for The Carol Burnett Show (so that title is taken), Burnett has made a few TV appearances in recent years on shows including Glee, Hot in Cleveland, and Hawaii Five-0. Best of luck to Poehler, Saltzman, and the rest of the show’s creative team in their endeavor to sell bunking with Carol Burnett as some kinda chore.
We Know a Bit More About Casey Wilson and June Diane Raphael’s Hulu Comedy Unhinged, So Pull Yourself Together — It’s All Good News!By Karen Brill
The time for temperamental women on TV is set to keep thriving with Casey Wilson and June Diane Raphael's Hulu comedy Unhinged. As Vulture first reported, the series is currently in development, with the duo writing and Wilson looking to star. Now, per Deadline, we know a bit more about the project's plot. It's about April Hansen, a "suburban, middle-aged woman with a problem. A rage problem," and it'll follow her as she becomes — you guessed it — unhinged. According to the logline, "She’s tired of leaning in and playing nice and being told she can have it all. She knows it’s not attractive for a woman to be angry. And she’s angry about that." Preach, sister! Wilson and Raphael are longtime writing partners, penning Bride Wars, as well as making and starring in Ass Backwards. John Riggi (30 Rock) is also onboard to executive-produce and show-run Unhinged. If Unhinged is but an excuse for Casey Wilson to get overexcited repeatedly, well that's plenty ah-mazing by our counts. Okay, feel free to rend yourself apart at the very prospect of this show starting ... now.
This post has been updated throughout.
Despite the fact that Jennifer Lopez is holding down a Las Vegas residency and is currently in production for season two of her NBC cop drama Shades of Blue, she’s still found time to get another series green-lit at the network. And the details released by The Hollywood Reporter are almost too absurd to believe, but you can give it a try. First off, it’s a futuristic crime drama “that explores the next generation of terror: DNA hacking.” And when we say futuristic we mean only in the slightest sense of the word, considering the procedural thriller will be set a scant “five minutes into the future.” It’s also going to have a romance that will “blossom between the scientist and the FBI agent as they team to bring down a diabolical genius with a twisted God complex: her former boss.” THR says this part is “in the same vein as Castle.” But unlike that smash-hit dramedy, the stakes in this show are high — as in the end-of-life-as-we-know-it high — considering “the drama will see mentor and protégé battle for control over the human genome in a game of cat and mouse in which the future of our species may rest and all disease could one day be eradicated.”
How do you even package a show with this much going on with one succinct and memorable title? You call it C.R.I.S.P.R. Not crisper, as in where your vegetables are currently staying cool in your refrigerator. C.R.I.S.P.R. as in “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats.” That’s right. Just give yourself time to process it all.
CBS Is Making a Candy Crush Reality Show That You Can Put on in the Background While Playing Candy CrushBy Jackson McHenry
Like the rest of us, CBS is spending an embarrassing amount of time and money on Candy Crush. The network is developing an hour-long reality game show based on the Über-popular Candy Crush, which is designed to incorporate elements of Wipeout and Fear Factor as contestants "use their wits and physical agility to compete on enormous interactive game boards." The network will announce a host at a later date. May we suggest Aaron Carter?
Netflix is producing so much new original programming that it’s hard to keep track of what’s coming and going. But one of its freshly green-lit series stands out. Atypical will star Keir Gilchrist (United States of Tara) as 18-year-old Sam, a young man embarking on the age-old pursuits of love, independence, and self-discovery, who also happens to be autistic. According to the official description of the show, “His funny yet painful journey of self-discovery upends his entire family, forcing them all to grapple with change in their own lives as they all struggle with the central theme: what does it really mean to be normal?” Jennifer Jason Leigh will star as Sam’s mother, Elsa, and his dad will be played by Michael Rapaport, an actor with an extremely loyal fan base that will probably make Atypical appointment viewing.
Thor: Ragnarok’s Taika Waititi on Making Film His Own: ‘I’m Trying to Ignore the Rest of the Universe’By Julia Edelman
When movies attempt to distance themselves from Avengers or Captain America, this can result in a wholly unique setting, like in Guardians of the Galaxy, or new plot developments. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is quite loose, and Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi understands this, which is why he’s trying to make the film his own by ignoring most of the MCU, the A.V. Club reports. In a recent Reddit AMA, Waititi responded to a question about the previous Thor movies: “I made an effort to ignore the fact that there are other Thor films” and “I’m trying to ignore the rest of the universe and just make my own awesome movie.” This makes sense, since Natalie Portman's character will be replaced with a new love interest, and Thor stayed out of the in-fighting of Civil War. In the Reddit chat, Waititi added that he hasn’t seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier yet, and that his movie will have a “Taika-esque tone” due to Marvel being “very accepting” of his style. He also teased that Bruce Banner will be the breakout character in the film, so we can be sure that there are many more surprises to come.
NBC Orders New Musical Competition The Stream, Your Chance to Finally Get Discovered Without Necessarily Putting on PantsBy Karen Brill
Long after the heyday of American Idol, NBC remains determined to make you watch randoms sing, whether you like it or not. The peacock network has ordered The Stream, a new musical-competition series for the digital age. Moving past the lame temporal limitations of talent shows of yore, The Stream will allow contestants (any kind of talent is permitted) to audition from the comfort of their own homes — though like interviewing for a job over the phone, you should probably still dress for the part. The search for the next Justin Bieber asks that participants upload their performances to "The Stream," with the 100 most-streamed talents then getting invited to perform at a showcase in front of industry bigwigs. Things narrow from there, with the bigwigs picking teams for live shows and things working out pretty much how you'd expect. The Stream is supposedly based on a Norwegian format, though, to us, it sounds suspiciously like an elaborate evil scam to trap your souls in the internet.
Guy Ritchie just can't resist a good rascal. The director is in talks to direct a live-action adaptation of Aladdin, according to The Hollywood Reporter. While retaining many of the animated film's musical beats, Ritchie's Aladdin is said to be a "nontraditional take," one angle of which is that it'll be "nonlinear," because heaven forbid a movie about a pauper turned into a prince with three magical wishes given to him by a genie in a bottle be too straightforward. The Hollywood Reporter adds that Disney hasn't yet figured out how exactly the Genie will figure into the movie, possibly because what even is a live-action genie, and possibly because of reasons to do with the late Robin Williams, who voiced the animated Genie in the original film. Last year, Disney was at work on a different live-action Aladdin movie, a prequel called Genies, but the studio reportedly shelved the project because it would have used recorded outtakes of Williams and, as it turns out, his will restricts the use of his likeness or voice for 25 years. Even without that project's legal problems, the new Aladdin will still face the difficulty of dealing with Williams's definitive performance. Aladdin is the latest in a long line of Disney classics to have a live-action redo in development, following a wave that includes Beauty and the Beast, Dumbo, Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid, Mulan, and inevitably a whole bunch that we forget, because, seriously, at this point, what's left — The Great Mouse Detective?
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Is Being Developed for TV, a Fact You May Want to Eternal Sunshine From Your MemoryBy Jackson McHenry
Blessed are the TV development execs, for they get some pretty odd ideas. Per The Hollywood Reporter, Steve Golin, who produced Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry's 2004 mind-bending romantic drama Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, is looking to remake it into a TV series. The film centers on two exes — played by Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet — who erase each other from their memories. Zev Borow (Chuck) is reportedly near a deal to write the script; Kaufman is not involved. It all sounds like a great idea, though only if your erase all your memories of the near-perfect original film.
Lee Daniels Made a Tiny Opening in His Busy Schedule to Direct the Richard Pryor Biopic; Jay Z Will ProduceBy Dee Lockett
Just when you thought Lee Daniels was booked from now until infinity, there is yet another project back in his orbit. At a press conference on Thursday, the Weinstein Company announced that Lee Daniels has returned to his directing duties on the upcoming Richard Pryor biopic, a post he previously had to abandon because of his packed schedule. Jay Z will now also produce Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said, which stars Mike Epps as Pryor, Oprah Winfrey as Pryor's grandmother, and Kate Hudson as Jennifer Lee Pryor. Production is set to start early next year, so Daniels can finally get back to writing the musical Lee Daniels autobiography the world deserves.
If buzz and critical praise have replaced Nielsen numbers as the key metric of success for streaming networks, September was a banner month for Amazon Prime Video. Season two of the streamer’s signature series Transparent snagged four Emmy awards, while season three premiered to another round of rave reviews. Two new half-hours — U.K. import Fleabag and Tig Notaro’s One Mississippi — launched to similarly ecstatic notices, with some critics counting one or both among the fall’s best new shows. And while Woody Allen’s first-ever TV show, Crisis in Six Scenes, wasn’t as universally beloved, it nonetheless garnered Amazon a ton of attention.
Overseeing all four projects is Joe Lewis, a former Comedy Central staffer who joined Amazon back in March 2012 to help build the company’s TV business from the ground up. At most studios and networks, Lewis would be thought of as the head of comedy. At Amazon, he’s in charge of what the streamer more vaguely characterizes as half-hour programs — perhaps a more accurate descriptor, given how blurred the lines are between comedy and dramas these days. While Amazon has made its mark in the hour-long space — with several big projects set to bow later this fall, including the Billy Bob Thornton legal thriller Goliath — half-hours have been most instrumental in defining the service so far. In addition to the aforementioned series, Amazon has also made noise with Mozart in the Jungle, Red Oaks and, most loudly, Catastrophe. Vulture recently spoke with Lewis for nearly an hour about how he approaches series development, the importance of diversity in creating his roster of shows, and why the definition of an Amazon half-hour is likely to evolve over the next year. What follows is an edited transcript of our conversation.
Diane Guerrero is using her personal experience as the child of two deported parents as the foundation for a new CBS drama, according to Deadline. The actress, who is best known for roles on Jane the Virgin and Orange Is the New Black, has partnered with a trio of Virgin producers to develop In the Country We Love, a series inspired by the memoir In the Country We Love: My Family Divided, which she co-wrote with author Michelle Burford. The book outlines Guerrero’s life as the child of Colombian immigrants who were deported when she was 14, leaving her to be raised by family friends. The show will use her life story as a sort of outline, and base its fictional narrative on a successful corporate attorney, played by Guererro, who starts taking on pro bono cases for undocumented immigrants after it is revealed that she is child of deported parents. In real life, Guerrero has been heavily involved in the immigration conversation. Last year she was designated as a White House ambassador for citizenship and naturalization, and she has done work the organizations Immigrant Legal Resource Center and Mi Familia Vota, which both advocate for increased civic engagement among Latinos.
In the world of peak TV, big-name actors have started to head from movies to television, and as we reported earlier this year, they're pulling giant salaries in the medium. Variety's survey of the highest-paid actors on TV reinforces the notion that top talent is getting paid a whole lot more than everyone else, but more interestingly, it shows that a lot of those top earners are women, partially because TV has become a haven for actresses. Claire Danes, for instance, gets roughly $450,000 an episode five seasons into Homeland, but nowadays, some actresses are getting close to as much in their shows' first seasons. Emma Stone and Drew Barrymore are each earning about $350,000 per episode for upcoming Netflix projects, while Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman are both getting approximately the same deal on HBO's Big Little Lies. A-list actor salaries on pay cable and streaming are equally inflated — Dwayne Johnson gets about $400,000 an episode on Ballers, Kevin Spacey gets approximately $500,000 an episode on House of Cards, Jonah Hill and Joel Kinnaman get roughly $350,000 an episode for their new Netflix projects. So are the payouts on major hits — the leads of Game of Thrones all get about $500,000 an episode. But one pair tops them all: Gilmore Girls' Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel are getting about $750,000 for each episode of the Netflix revival (which, granted, so far consists of only four episodes). That's just slightly less than the $1 million per episode payouts of The Big Bang Theory's leads, which are the highest in Variety's report. Of course, if you divide the Gilmore sum by the number of words per episode, it's really not that big.
Viewers were clearly curious about Westworld: Per Nielsen, Sunday’s premiere telecast of the futuristic Western drew 1.96 million same-day viewers, the best opening for a traditional HBO drama series since The Newsroom debuted with 2.1 million in 2012. Even more encouragingly for the network, Westworld also outperformed the premieres of recent high-profile HBO drama launches such as The Leftovers (1.77 million), Luck (1.1 million), and even 2008’s True Blood (1.4 million). The initial audience for Westworld was also not far below the numbers earned by the premiere of the network’s anthology series True Detective (2.33 million in January 2014) or even the very first installment of eventual mega-hit Game of Thrones (2.2 million). Plus, if you add in viewers who caught one of two Sunday reruns of Westworld or streamed it via HBO’s apps, the total audience for the show’s premiere was already up to 3.3 million viewers by Monday morning, per industry sources who’ve seen a memo the network distributed late yesterday. That’s identical to the multi-platform performance for True Detective, widely considered an instant ratings success by HBO standards. One week does not a successful series make, of course: There’s no guarantee the show’s numbers won’t creep down or even collapse over the course of the next three months. But so far, Westworld is clearly not shaping up to be the instant dud that was Vinyl (premiere viewership: 764,000) — and if this week’s ratings hold up, it could well be the drama hit the network so desperately needs.
Accio mid-October plans! In celebration of J.K. Rowling's latest magical outing, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, premiering next month, Imax and Warner Bros. are embracing their inner wizard by screening all eight Harry Potter films across the country once again. Beginning October 13, the films will be back in theaters for one week only, and the screenings will feature special reels such as never-before-seen previews of Fantastic Beasts. (And for all you cinephiles out there, this is the first time Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets will be remastered and available on Imax technology.) Please remember to leave your snowy owl companions at home.
Back in June, FX renewed Archer for three more seasons, securing our future with the most lovable animated asshat on TV for at least 10 total seasons. But according to the show’s creator, Adam Reed, he’ll be looking to conclude the series after that commitment is fulfilled. On the podcast Murmer from Modern Film School, Reed said a decade’s worth of misadventures with Sterling Malory Archer will be enough for him, “The plan is to end Archer after season 10. I don’t know that anybody has talked about that, but that is definitely my plan, is to do eight, nine, and 10 — and they’re gonna be each shorter seasons of just eight episodes — and then wind it up.” Reed also said that he had originally intended to wrap the show after season eight, but that he had a “brain explosion” that resulted in three more seasons worth of material he was excited about. And as for those possible final seasons, Reed says they are “gonna be pretty different from what has come before, and they’re gonna be different from each other.” Let us be careful to treasure the times we have left.
One of the great treasures of Aaron Spelling’s halcyon days as a TV producer is coming back. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the brain trust that brought you The O.C. and Gossip Girl will be resurrecting Dynasty for the 21st century, and they will be taking it to the only logical network for a campy primetime soap opera: The CW. With the Dallas reboot dead and gone, it’s only right that its great rival, Dynasty, would emerge to dance on its grave and try to carve out another decade-dominating run. Whereas Dallas 2.0 could only manage three seasons from 2012 to 2014, that show didn’t have Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage at the helm. And who could understand the DNA of Houses Carrington and Colby better than the architects of Serena and Blair? THR has the logline for the show’s updated concept, and it’s as juicy as you want it to be.
Sunday’s Westworld premiere is more than the launch of HBO’s latest big-budget drama series. The J.J. Abrams–produced sci-fi thriller arrives after what’s been a decidedly messy couple of years for the network. Even as profits have remained high and its subscriber base growing, a handful of high-profile creative failures (Vinyl, The Brink, season two of True Detective) and commercial disappointments (The Leftovers, Looking, Togetherness) — coupled with the departure of veteran programming chief Michael Lombardo — have resulted in much media hand-wringing over “a network at the crossroads” that’s struggling with a “creative recession” and ferocious competition from rivals new (Netflix, Amazon) and old (Showtime, Starz). Overblown or not, the recent narrative surrounding HBO has not been kind. And that’s why Westworld is so important: If early positive reviews translate into decent ratings and online chatter, the network may get a much-needed opportunity to hit the reset button.
Tell the dinosaurs to take a hike, because TV's about to get meatier. Deadline reports that FX has bought Meaty, a comedy from Broad City auteur Abbi Jacobson, Inside Amy Schumer head writer Jessi Klein, and Samantha Irby, the latter of whose memoir and blog, B**ches Gotta Eat, is the basis of the show. Meaty is written by Irby and Jacobson, while Klein will serve as showrunner. It'll follow Irby "through failed relationships, taco feasts, her struggles with Crohn’s disease, poverty, blackness and body image." Meaty marks the latest in a busy year for Jacobson and Klein, as Jacobson is writing a book in addition to her work on Broad City, while Klein found time to release a memoir and work on Transparent during Inside Amy Schumer's hiatus. Yup, just the kind of blood-soaked ambition to be expected from a couple of carnivores. Somehow we've got a feeling this Meaty is going to be well-done.
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