[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Wednesday’s season finale of The Sinner.]
Following in the tradition of recent successful limited series like Big Little Lies andThe Night Of, USA Network’s dark Jessica Biel drama The Sinner left viewers wanting more.
Centered on a seemingly everyday woman who inexplicably murders a man in broad daylight, the TV adaptation ended with Cora (Biel) being transferred to a secure psychiatric facility after the true extent of her psychological trauma was revealed. Her case will be reviewed every two years with the possibility of release if she is found to no longer be a danger to herself or others.
While the finale seemed to close the book on Cora, at least for the next two years, the finale comes as questions about a potential second season grow louder given the show’s commercial success.
The Sinner ranks as the top basic cable drama series premiere of the summer and also the top cable drama series premiere of the year among women ages 18-49. Buoyed by strong delayed viewing numbers, the drama had been consistently averaging more than 3.5 million viewers heading into Wednesday’s finale.
“Everyone’s interested in the idea of a season two,” showrunner Derek Simonds tells The Hollywood Reporter. “We just haven’t conferred or decided what it will be and if it will actually happen.”
Despite that disclaimer, Simonds talked to THR about the potential directions for season two, why “it’s just the beginning” for Ambrose’s (Bill Pullman) story and the biggest challenge of continuing anthology series.
Why do you think the show has connected with viewers in such a way?
That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? You just never know. I think we set out to tell a suspenseful story with a lot of forward momentum in terms of the questions it asks and that was a big focus in the writers’ room. We really were trying to get people to get invested in the characters and ask the questions we wanted them to ask and then I like to think that the story’s focus on Cora’s mind and the corners of Cora’s psyche and the things that we repress and forget and re-imagine and remember, all of those things I think people respond to. They feel that depth in themselves and I think a story that is about those layers itself is really fascinating and we don’t really talk about it that much in pop culture or cultural discussion in general.
And then also I think just the story of this trauma in her past, this mystery of what the trauma is, I think we’re are a little traumatized a little politically, (laughs), so that’s maybe something that people get to work out in watching someone work themselves out.
Knowing where the book ends and knowing where you wanted the first season to end, what was the biggest challenge of plotting this season finale?
Tying up a lot of loose ends and answering a lot of questions in a short amount of time was definitely a challenge. And in the way that we constructed it, really, episodes seven and eight kind of do that together in that episode seven revealed the full story of the past and what happened on July 3rd and episode eight completes the rest of the question: the man in the mask and what happened in this two-month period in Cora’s life so we tried to spread it out. But I think the most important focus beyond just connecting the dots and having a reveal was just landing the emotional moments. What got me interested in this project from the beginning was the potential I saw in the Cora-Ambrose relationship. I always think of their relationship as the spine of the story and their kind of uncommon connection as really, for me, the point of the story which is that only through intimacy and connection with someone else that you can actually process trauma and move past it. And that’s what these two characters are doing in their own ways through their connection. So, for me, episode eight is really about empathizing the humanistic part of the story beyond it just being entertainment and really landing the emotional moments and the relationships that have evolved over the course of the series.
Talk about that final look when harry gets in his car and looks at his fingernails. What’s going through his mind? What were you trying to say with that last scene?
It’s a deliberate echo of the first time we see Ambrose in the pilot. It’s actually the exact same shot in terms of the angle of him from behind in the car and it’s when he’s watching Sharon with binoculars. She’s serving customers in the restaurant across the street and it’s the first time we see the fingernails with the bruises on them and this is kind of the motif of Ambrose’s own trauma, which we see him allude to in that scene in the car in episode eight with Cora. We know that he suffered something in his past that is, while we don’t know the specifics, we know that there’s something about this that made him recognize Cora’s own trauma and it’s what’s bound them together. It’s what made him pursue this mystery of Cora’s past. In ending with Ambrose and this sort of glance again at his fingernails, it’s bringing up the question again of Ambrose’s past and his trauma and that this show is about how we deal with trauma and how shame keeps us from processing it and represses the parts of ourselves that we actually need to let out. By episode eight, Cora’s story is completed but Ambrose’s is just beginning. She discovers the full truth of her past and what’s happened to her, and forgives Patrick Belmont in her own way and moves on. And Ambrose is similarly traumatized, his marriage has fallen apart, his life is kind of shattered – he’s just cracking the door open to his own past and to his own wounds. We leave the series with that sort of handoff. His experience with Cora has now made him look at those fingernails dead-on.
Give what you just said, that “it’s just the beginning” for Ambrose, what conversations have there about a potential second season?
There’s certainly been a lot of conversations. We can’t confirm anything right now, but we’re definitely considering ways of… this will always be an anthology series of sorts in which every season will be its own free-standing mystery that is completed by the end of that season. We’ve always had this structure in mind, we don’t quite know what form it would take in terms of who would move on to another season or not. And, like I said at the start, we can’t confirm that a season two is actually happening yet.
Right, but how optimistic are you at the moment for more episodes?
The show’s been very successful for USA and critically as well so everyone is really, really happy with the performance. We think it’s a possibility, but I can’t really say anything more than that just because I just don’t know the answer.
When the show was first announced, USA called it an “anthology” and in more recent releases the network has changed that label to a “limited series.” Do you know what was behind that change?
Honestly, I think the words ‘anthology’ and ‘limited’ mean different things to different people. I think the consistent thing always was that we knew Cora’s story would be wrapped up by the end of season one.
Our concept was always that viewers would find out the solution, the answer to the mystery and then in terms of the forms, whether it’s a True Detective-style anthology where it’s really an entirely new show that just has the same title and the same sort of brand and style? Or is it an American Horror Story-type anthology where the cast continues but in different roles? Or is it something where the characters actually, some of them continue on to a new case? All of those are questions to be answered.
Do you have a personal preference as to what you’d like to explore?
Honestly, we just finished episode eight last Friday. (Laughs.) It was literally that tight. The last 15 months of my life from getting the pilot ordered to getting the series ordered and doing it has all been about season one, so I really haven’t even had a breath. I see potential in all of the directions with pluses and minuses. But right now, we need a little bit of an incubation period.
What do you see as the biggest challenge of bringing a quote-unquote limited series back for a second season?
The challenge with these anthology series is that you’re really creating a new show every season and with that, when you look at the normal incubation period for new shows in the cable arena, it often takes years to get a show up and going on the air. And in that period of time, you’ve had a lot of time to consider the characters, the course of the story, the style, the tone, so there’s a lot of time to deliberate and try to get things right. In this case, we’d be adhering to a pretty conventional TV schedule of another season sooner rather than later yet with all of the work of creating a new cast and a new story with a beginning, a middle and an end. That’s another big challenge with the limited series, which I love because I come from a filmmaking background so I’m used to telling stories with beginnings, middles and ends. But, especially with a mystery like The Sinner, you really have to know where you’re going before you start and there are a lot of TV shows that start production at the beginning of the season and they don’t know; they have a vague idea where episode 10 is going to end up, but they’re going to feel it out as they go along. The schedules are built with that in mind. Whereas The Sinner is a puzzle box and everything that happens in episodes seven and eight has its source in earlier episodes, and as a writer I feel really strongly not leading viewers down useless dead ends and dangling red herrings – that everything is part of the story organically. You have to figure all of that out in advance before you start shooting episode one and it takes a lot of time from a writing perspective to be able to conceive and see the whole season at one time. I think that’s a particular challenge with the limited/anthology model but it’s also creatively really exciting because you get to reinvent things every season.
How involved has The Sinner author Petra Hammesfahr been involved in these conversations about a potential second season and potentially revisiting some of the characters from season one?
We have not really consulted with her at all in the development of this for television. She’s been a more passive bystander who has agreed to let us do what we want with it. It would be interesting to see what she thinks, I have yet to talk to her directly.
She’s written other books so is that something you’ve looked at all for a possible second season?
Yeah, we’re looking at that. She’s a very prolific writer in Europe and highly regarded and she writes suspense and psychological stories in a lot of different worlds. She has a diverse collection of books. So that is one thought that we’ve had. It really just comes down to finding that material that really resonates for us and that feels like it will really translate to a visual television medium. We had a lot of divergences from the book even in this first season just because we had a sense of what would play dramatically and what wouldn’t be as effective. A lot of it is finding those stories and those moments that we feel can really play visually.
The DC superhero will be featured in a new comic book built around TCM’s ‘Noir Alley’ franchise.Turner Classic Movies, the cable net devoted to classic movies, is branching into comics by expanding its Noir Alley franchise, which is built around hard-boiled features.
TCM is partnering with DC Entertainment for a free comic book called Batman in Noir Alley, which will feature both the DC superhero and TCM’s Noir Alley host Eddie Muller. The comic follows Batman and Muller on the trail to solve a case after the famed Moroccan Raptor goes missing from the Gotham City Museum. Written by Stuart Moore with cover art by Dan Panosian, the comic is available in select comic-book stores nationwide starting today and will also be available in DC’s booth at NY Comic-Con in October.
TCM is also offering a further look into the world of film noir with a new 360-degree experience for desktop and virtual reality devices with an accompanying seven-episode digital feature launching in October. Called Noir Alley: 360° of Noir, it will be available on tcm.com/noiralley, and fans can also follow Noir Alley on Facebook and Twitter. The 360 experience and digital episodes were created, written and designed by Sprocket Creative.
“At TCM, it’s our goal to continuously create fan-first experiences and provide opportunities to engage and interact with our brand both on and off the TV screen,” Pola Changnon, senior vp of marketing, brand creative and talent for TCM, said. “We’re always looking for new and exciting immersive experiences that provide the perfect opportunity to offer a deeper level of engagement for our devoted Noir Alley fans.”
Did Paul, Christmas or Josh win the game? Expect the unexpected.[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the Big Brother season finale.]
Big Brother season 19 brought a slew of blindsides, backstabbing and betrayal and now it’s time to see who won it all.
All season Paul Abrahamian was the front runner as he ruled the game and played puppet master to a house full of followers. So, did the season 18 runner-up pull out a win his second time around?
The answer is: no.
The finale saw Paul sit in the final three with Christmas Abbott and Josh Martinez. And Josh came out victorious in one of the most “volatile” seasons of the show as host Julie Chen described it.
It was a shock to some that the Miami native walked away this season with a lot more than just meatballs, but one thing that wasn’t a shock was how angry the jury felt towards Paul.
In the jury segment that was full of bitter members it was one of the most entertaining moments of the summer with a face off between fan-favorite Mark and the one deemed as a piece of furniture by fans, Matt.
“Very poor jury management,” Mark said about Paul. “I’m a bitter juror,” admitted Elena. “I don’t respect how this season played out and I don’t respect his strategies,” said Mark. And when Alex went to cast her vote for who she wanted to win she made it clear that she was voting for who stabbed her in the front rather than the back.
Ultimately the final vote came down to both Paul and Josh’s rival Cody who ultimately voted for Josh to win the game.
As for the winner of “America’s Favorite Houseguest”? Cody just walked away $25,000 richer.
What did you think of the season 19 finale? Sound off in the comments section below.
Amid the unwelcome glare of the Sept. 11 shooting death of Carlos Munoz Portal — a Narcos location scout killed on the job in the rural region north of Mexico City — Netflix must also contend with an ongoing trademark dispute with the family of Pablo Escobar, the Colombian drug kingpin dramatized in the hit series.
Speaking Monday to The Hollywood Reporter, Escobar’s 71-year-old surviving brother, Roberto De Jesus Escobar Gaviria, suggested the show’s producers are not cut out for filming in such cartel-infested locales as Mexico and Colombia, adding that they would benefit from the hiring of “hitmen … as security.”
Gaviria also threatened to “close their little show” if the streaming giant failed to provide a $1 billion payment to his company, Escobar Inc., for intellectual property violations.
“Netflix are scared,” he said. “They sent us a long letter to threaten us.”
That letter, prepared and sent on July 27, 2017, by the powerhouse L.A. firm Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP, has been obtained exclusively by The Hollywood Reporter.
In it, lawyers for Narcos Productions, LLC (NPL) — the company behind the series and its popular video game spinoff Narcos: Cartel Wars — contend that without NPL’s “knowledge or consent, on August 20, 2016, Escobar filed use-based applications to register the marks NARCOS and CARTEL WARS with the [United States Patent and Trademark Office] covering a range of goods and services.”
Those services include everything from “downloadable ring tones” and “sunglasses, decorative magnets” to “temporary tattoos, bookmarks and sheet music,” according to the trademark application documents included with the letter.
The letter calls the claims “fraudulent.”
“For example,” writes NPL attorney Jill M. Pietrini, “Escobar claims that it has used NARCOS in connection with things like ‘operating a web site’ and ‘game services provided on-line from a computer network’ since January 31, 1986. However, the Internet had not been developed for widespread consumer use in 1986, nor was the capability to provide audiovisual works nor game services available at that time.”
Pietrini goes on to say that the specimen used by Escobar for the trademark application “appears to be either from NPL’s advertising or, at the very least, an infringing artwork that infringes NPL’s copyrights in the Narcos Game.”
Lawyers for Netflix then threaten to retaliate by suing the Escobar family.
“The remedies available to NPL for Escobar’s use of the Narcos Marks include, but are not limited to, NPL’s actual damages, statutory damages, Escobar’s profits attributable to the unauthorized use of the NARCOS and CARTEL WARS marks, attorneys’ fees, a bar to registration of the NARCOS and CARTEL WARS trademarks, and a nationwide injunction against Escobar’s further use of the NARCOS and CARTEL WARS marks or any other mark confusingly similar to the Narcos Marks,” the letter says.
In a subsequent email correspondence obtained by THR and dated Sept. 1, 2017, an attorney for Escobar Inc. at Century City-based Browne George Ross LLP informs his client that he and Pietrini had a productive conversation about the claim.
“I floated the idea of paying you for an assignment or license or release related to your pre-exisiting rights in the trademarks in certain categories,” Wesley writes. “She seemed to see the logic of exploring those discussions. She is going to speak with her client and get back to me.”
This Netflix I.P. dispute comes amid another with the organizers of a Stranger Things-themed pop-up bar at Logan Square station in Chicago, which elicited a light-hearted but entirely serious cease-and-desist letter from the company.
According to Olof Gustafsson, the CEO of Escobar Inc., the network is beginning to take their threats seriously.
“At first, they refused to acknowledge us. After we registered all the trademarks and we’ve been granted some of them, they sent us a cease-and-desist letter. After that our attorneys and their attorneys have come to an agreement that basically they need to pay us something. Now it’s a matter of determining how much that something is,” Gustafsson says.
He adds: “At the end of the day, if we don’t take a deal, then we own the trademarks. They would have to rebrand their entire show. They know this. This is why they’re talking to us. Otherwise they would never entertain any discussions with a drug cartel family. ”
According to Rebecca Tushnet, a Harvard Law School professor who focuses on copyright and trademark law, it’s unlikely that Escobar Inc. could have a trademark claim to “Narcos” — a word which has come to mean anyone involved in the drug-cartel trade.
“It’s possible to have trademarks that are the same for different goods and services. For example; Delta Airlines, Delta Dental, Delta Faucet,” Tushnet says. “But at least some of the goods and services in the applications are overlapping.
“Also,” she continues, “if the statement in the initial letter is correct that Escobar’s specimen of use was copied from Netflix, that is eyebrow-raising and would create a serious problem for the Escobar application.” When it comes to registering the titles of works, rules vary, Tushnet says, “so they might not be registered immediately [by Netflix] and the registration isn’t required to have rights.”
As for Escobar’s lawyer saying Netflix lawyer had seen “the logic” in settlement discussions, Tushnet points out that “there are a lot of motives for a settlement, and that’s completely standard, especially in Hollywood productions, which are notorious for paying out small amounts to make minor nuisances to go away. I wouldn’t make any judgment about the validity of the claims from the fact that they’re in discussions. Especially if no amounts are on the table.”
Pablo Escobar’s surviving brother has led a quiet and colorful existence since being released from prison in 2003, where he was rendered partially blinded and deaf from a mail bomb.
At the peak of his brother’s operations, where Gaviria worked as lead accountant and “head of the hitmen,” he was tracking billions of dollars in drug profits annually. The cartel had a $2,500-per-month rubber band bill just to bind the currency, according to one legend, and allegedly lost 10 percent in profits annually to rats eating the money.
But in a 2014 Vice interview conducted at his home in Medellin, Colombia, the surviving sibling insisted his cartel days are behind him. “I do good now,” he said, before launching “into a lengthy speech about how he has gained valuable medical knowledge while caring for expensive horses, and used that knowledge to find a cure for HIV.”
According to a March 2017 report from German broadcaster Deutche Welle, Gaviria opens his home to groups of international visitors as the final destination on Medellin “narco tours,” where other stops include Escobar’s gravesite and “the Cathedral,” the drug kingpin’s privately held and run prison.
As for whether or not anyone at Escobar Inc., including Gaviria, currently has any knowledge regarding what happened to slain location scout Portal, Gustafsson would only offer, “No comment on that. But Escobar Inc. cooperates with all law enforcement.”
Representatives for Netflix did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Director Robert Schwentke (‘The Time Traveler’s Wife,’ ‘RED,’ ‘Insurgent’) returns to his native Germany with this black-and-white film about a deserter during the last days of the Third Reich.
The rot of Nazism is shown as having contaminated the very German soul in The Captain, an initially compelling if increasingly problematic parable set at the end of World War II that basically argues that it was never too late to become a vicious exterminator. Darkly evocative of the chaotic final two weeks of the war and resplendently shot in widescreen black-and-white, writer-director Robert Schwentke’s relentless film wants to show how the Nazi mindset sanctioning all manner of evil was not restricted just to card-carrying believers but filtered down to infect the general populace, as represented by the actions of a hitherto hunted, desperate man. Sure to stir controversy in Germany, this looks like a good bet for considerable international play.
A dramatic opening in a snowy farmland pulls you right in, as a presumed deserter from the German army desperately tries to escape being gunned down by his countrymen in the every-man-for-himself landscape of early April, 1945. When Private Willi Herold (Max Hubacher) and a momentary partner try to steal some eggs, the latter is killed, whereupon Herold must fight the farmer and kills him. The door has been opened and he takes the first step.
Fate then chooses to favor this pathetic young Everyman, who shortly finds an abandoned official car, along with a captain’s coat, uniform and shoes, all of which fit. At an inn that night, his mettle is tested when he puts on the airs of an officer, claims to be on a secret mission to report on conditions behind the front line and, to prove his ruthlessness, shoots a looter. The locals are convinced.
So it’s to be the story of a masquerade, an act, an overnight conversion from victim to judge and jury who can exercise authority over life or death on a whim. Pathetic worm that he was, Herold settles into his new role in life quickly and with ease, even as he can never be certain who might turn up and expose him as an imposter.
A bright man’s logical next step would seemingly be to use his perceived authority to get himself somewhere he could just slip into the crowd or, at worst, surrender to the Allies. But it’s rather nice being a captain, even in a nation in its death throes, and he shortly comes across a detention camp full of regular army deserters waiting to learn their fate.
Staffed by other officers, this is a place where the slightest slip by Herold would land him right in with the other prisoners. But he continues his high-wire act, claiming that he’s been sent by the Fuhrer personally. Despite their skepticism, will any of the authorities dare question him?
With everyone else hemming and hawing, Herold steps into the void and takes action, rounding up a bunch of men who, a week earlier, might have included himself, and mows them all down with an anti-aircraft gun. There is more gruesomeness, followed by ironies, weird twists of fate and, finally, a strange in-color contemporary coda that feels far less convincing than it does like Schwentke just making a point to be provocative.
The Captain is at its best exhibiting this unknowable man’s charade, this daring attempt by a desperate young man trying to save his skin by pretending to be something he might have liked to become but never was close to being. As a study of real-life acting, the tale could have become one of many different things: A high-wire tale of risk, a darkly absurdist yarn about a guy who suddenly discovers he’s a born con man, or even an outright comedy about a country bumpkin who, in an extreme way, has greatness thrust upon him and must rise to the occasion.
Unfortunately, Schwentke never draws the viewer close to Herold; we know nothing about the young lad who’s pulling off this personality heist, his previous life, his true feelings about the Nazis and the war (maybe he really was a true believer to begin with). Perhaps a running narration as to what his logic is during all this might have elevated this portrait of evil. But that would have compromised the German Everyman intent the writer-director seems determined to stress. All we know at the end is that Herold has no conscience and might well do better working for the secret police in East Germany than he would in the West.
This is Schwentke’s first feature made in his native land since he began his career there in 2002 with Tattoo and, the following year, The Family Jewels. In the interim he’s made six mostly forgettable mid-range action dramas, including Flightplan, The Time Traveler’s Wife and Red, so this return home represents a rejuvenation of sorts. The central premise is arresting, as is the style, but there’s a lot more that could have been done with it than just show how one ill-defined individual instantly opts to join his country’s lowest form of life.
Venue: Toronto Film Festival (Special Presentation)
Production: Filmgalerie 451, Alfama Films, Opus Films
Cast: Max Hubacher, Milan Peschel, Frederick Lau, Bernd Holscher, Waldemar Kobus, Alexander Fehling, Britta Hammelstein, Sascha Alexander Gersak, Samuel Finzi, Wolfram Koch, Marko Dyrlich
Director: Robert Schwentke
Screenwriter: Robert Schwentke
Producers: Frieder Schlaich, Irene von Alberti
Executive producers: Philip Lee, Marko Barmettler, Marcel Greive, Kay Niessen, Daniel Hetzer
Director of photography: Florian Ballhaus
Production designer: Harald Turzer
Editor: Michal Czarnecki
Music: Martin Todsharow
Casting: Anja Dihrberg
The ‘Grace and Frankie’ star will appear as prosecutor Jack McCoy later this season.Jack is back.
Sam Waterston, who starred on Law & Order for 16 seasons, will reprise his role as prosecutor Jack McCoy on Law & Order: SVU, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The actor will guest-star on an upcoming episode of the NBC spinoff’s 19th season, which kicks off Sept. 27. The role reunites him with new SVU showrunner Michael Chernuchin, who worked on Waterston’s first two seasons of the mothership and helped create the character of Jack McCoy. Fellow SVU exec producer Julie Martin also worked on the final season of the original series.
Waterston joined the NBC legal drama in its fifth season and stayed through the drama’s 20th and final season. NBC then abruptly canceled the series in 2010 — one season before Law & Order could break Gunsmoke‘s record for longest-running primetime drama.
Law & Order‘s abrupt cancellation means the writers were unable to wrap up storylines for Jack and the other characters. (Fellow longtime cast member S. Epatha Merkerson had already planned to exit at the end of season 20 and was given an emotional final season arc in which her character battled breast cancer.)
This will actually be Jack McCoy’s fourth appearance on SVU following several crossovers in the early aughts. In recent years, SVU has welcomed back other characters from the mothership including prosecutors Connie Rubirosa (Alana De La Garza) and Michael Cutter (Linus Roache).
During his 16-season stint on Law & Order, Waterston won a Screen Actors Guild award for best actor in a drama series and earned three Emmy nominations in the same category. Since Law & Order, he was gone on to roles in Aaron Sorkin’s HBO drama The Newsroom as well as movies including Miss Sloane and Please Be Normal.
In addition to his starring role on the Netflix comedy Grace & Frankie, Waterston will next appear in the Netflix Western miniseries Godless. He is repped by Gersh and Industry Entertainment.
Despite his busy schedule, Waterston expressed interest in reviving Jack McCoy as recently as 2015, when NBC and Dick Wolf were in talks for a potential Law & Order revival. “Sure, I’d love it,” Waterston told THR in May 2015. “Got to break the record.”
Chernuchin also talked to THR about bringing back Jack McCoy earlier this year when he was the showrunner on Chicago Justice. Justice saw the return of several flagship favorites including Richard Brooks, Lorraine Toussaint and Tovah Feldshuh. “We actually talked for a brief second about having Sam come in, but we thought it was too early,” Chernuchin told THR in January. “But maybe in the future.”
However, Chicago Justice was canceled in May after one season and Chernuchin subsequently took over the top job at SVU. In his move to SVU, Chernuchin is bringing an important member of the Law & Order universe with him: prosecutor Peter Stone, the son of Law & Order character Ben Stone, played by Waterston’s predecessor Michael Moriarty. Philip Winchester played the role of Peter on Chicago Justice and will join SVU full-time later this season.
“We’ve connected all the Dick Wolf shows,” Chernuchin told THR recently about adding Winchester to the cast. “The original New York franchise, the Chicago franchise, it’s like the small Dickensian universe in London where different characters show up in different novels. That was one of the intriguing things to me by bringing Philip over, is to connect all the franchises.”
Like SVU, which pulls solid numbers in syndication on USA Network, Law & Order continues to live on in repeats on TNT, SundanceTV and WeTV, among other channels.
Law & Order: SVU returns Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 9 p.m.
The premium cable network has also commissioned back-up scripts as Damon Lindelof opens the writers room.HBO is moving forward with Watchmen.
The premium cable network has officially handed out a pilot order and commissioned additional scripts for Damon Lindelof’s take on Alan Moore’s beloved graphic novel.
The news comes three months after THR broke that The Leftovers showrunner was developing a take on the DC Comics favorite. Lindelof also revealed on Instagram that the writers room for the potential TV series has officially been opened.
Lindelof originally read the comics as a kid in the 1980s and has said that the series continues to influence his work. “From the flashbacks to the nonlinear storytelling to the deeply flawed heroes, these are all elements that I try to put into everything I write,” he told Comic Book Resources in 2009 ahead of the feature-film take. Lindelof has read Watchmen multiple times and, at the time, praised director Zack Snyder’s film. “It’s the most married-to-the-original-text version of Watchmen that could’ve been made,” he told the Observer. “I want to keep it sort of insular,” he said, referring to the multiple translations that have come from trying to translate the source material. “It’s OK with me if people don’t understand it because they don’t deserve to understand it.”
Snyder, who directed the 2009 feature-film adaptation of Moore’s comic series, is no longer attached to the drama project from Warner Bros. Television, where both DC Entertainment and Lindelof are housed.
First published in 1986 and collected in 1987, Watchmen was created by Moore, artist Dave Gibbons and colorist John Higgins. The series was named one of the 100 best novels by Timemagazine. Rumors of HBO tackling Watchmen first surfaced in 2015, when the cabler noted it was in preliminary discussions for a TV take on the property.
Snyder, who was briefly attached to the HBO project in 2015, adapted the comic and brought the title’s “Minutemen” crime fighters to the big screen in 2009 with Jackie Earle Haley, Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Carla Gugino, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Patrick Wilson starring. The film, produced by Warner Bros. with a $130 million production budget, grossed a disappointing $107.5 million domestically and $185.3 million worldwide.
A Watchmen TV series would further expand HBO’s place in the comic book business and offer a potential heir apparent to the premium cable network’s fantasy drama Game of Thrones, which has one short-order season remaining. AMC has found success with The Walking Dead and Preacher, while FX has Noah Hawley’s X-Men take Legion, which is already renewed for a second season. The comic book expansion has also gone far on broadcast after ABC, The CW and Fox found success with DC and Marvel fare including Agents of SHIELD, The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow and Gotham, among others. Hulu recently picked up Marvel’s The Runaways, Freeform has New Warriors and ABC next has The Inhumans as well as another season of Agents of SHIELD, while Marvel continues to have multiple series in the works at Netflix.
For Lindelof, Watchmen would arrive after The Leftovers, based on the book of the same name, recently wrapped its three-season run on HBO. The Lost alum is repped by CAA and Myman Greenspan.
Moore, meanwhile, announced his retirement from comic books in September, noting that “I think I have done enough for comics. I’ve done all that I can.” On the big screen, his work has been adapted into the features From Hell, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, V for Vendetta and Batman: The Killing Joke. On the TV side, Fox tried in 2013 to adapt Gentlemen for the small screen. The drama did not move beyond the development stage.
Jason Kohn’s doc is a portrait of famous tennis coach Nick Bollettieri, who trained greats such as Andre Agassi.
A Svengali of the tennis world gets his close-up in the diabolically well titled Love Means Zero, an on-its-toes documentary about the legendary and/or notorious tennis teacher and coach Nick Bollettieri. The man behind (at least part of the time) an all-star list of champions that includes Andre Agassi, Monica Seles, Jim Courrier, Venus and Serena Williams, Boris Becker, Mary Pierce and many others, Bollettieri talks like a goodfella, doesn’t know from sentimentality, has the skin of a lizard, refuses to countenance regrets and bluntly states that, “If you ask me right now to give you the names of my eight wives, I couldn’t do it.” Showtime has a winner in Jason Kohn’s tight and observant documentary, at the heart of which is a man so unusual and blunt-spoken that its appeal should extend beyond sports fans.
The son of Italian immigrants to New York who made good in his own original and controversial way, the subject is now 86 but still churning with inside stories, strong opinions and remorseless ego and confidence. He gives the immediate impression of someone you don’t want as your enemy but, at the same time, his track record is such that you may not want him as your friend or confidant either. Just like Kirk Douglas’ Machiavellian film producer in The Bad and the Beautiful, he’s too smart and skillful to ignore. But you embrace him at your peril.
Other than for his champions, Bollettieri is best known for the youth tennis camps he started running in the late 1970s in Florida, where young pupils were boarded and put through extremely demanding training from 6 in the morning until 9 at night, seven days a week. Never a competitive player himself (a bit of background on how he became such an expert would have been helpful), he was a combination of guru and wiseguy who drove his students to the brink and got results, especially, on the men’s side, with Agassi and Courier, who came up at the same time and played some extraordinary matches against one another.
This is where is gets complicated. “I wanted to be a winner, and with winners,” Bollettieri admits at the outset but, if your prize players compete directly, as they began to do in 1990, what do you do? When Agassi and Courier faced off in their first Grand Slam event, at the French Open, their coach openly sided with Agassi; Courier was deeply aggrieved but went on to win, and it’s easy to speculate that the resentment gave him extra motivation in the match.
Another young Bollettieri star, Carling Bassett, says that her teacher could drop, hurt and betray his charges at any time, a trait most dramatically illustrated by his seemingly senseless split with Agassi a couple of years later. Bollettieri soon joined forces with another star, Boris Becker, who had always had great trouble with Agassi, and little in the film is as dramatic as the showdown between these two as narrated by Becker (Agassi pointedly refused to be interviewed for the film).
The reckless dismissal of Agassi was, in the opinion of one of Bollettieri’s associates, “probably the worst decision that Nick ever made,” and it’s pretty clear that the coach would agree, even if his entire personality runs contrary to looking back and second-guessing. The central fascination of the film resides in the plain fact that it’s entirely about the subject looking back and talking about what he’s done, and yet this is someone who, in line with his remark about his ex-wives, refuses any introspection or reconsideration of his decisions.
Complexities that would be impossible for Bollettieri to address bubble just beneath the surface of the film and provide as much substance as do the career signposts. “I’ve never sat still this long,” the restless old-timer complains straight to the camera toward the end, and yet it’s clear that he relishes nothing more than talking about himself and his accomplishments (a truth underlined by his engaging post-film q&a in Toronto, where he couldn’t be shut up). His stubborness about always moving on and never looking back has clearly taken a toll; while his financial situation is never addressed, one picks up signs that his many divorces, kids and busted professional relationships have left him much less well-off than he would have been had he addressed these matters differently. His ego and self-regard are so big that he has trouble admitting to any faults. But he’s quite the schmoozer, which gives Kohn, whose previous documentary a decade ago was the Sundance grand jury prize-winner Manda Bala, about the kidnapping epidemic in Brazil, plenty to work with in creating this sharp portrait of a singular sports personality.
Venue: Toronto Film Festival (TIFF Docs)
Production: Kilo Films, Showtime Documentary Films
Director: Jason Kohn
Producers: Amanda Branson Gill, Jason Kohn, Anne White, Jill Mazursky, David Styne
Executive producers: Stephen Espinoza, Vinnie Malhotra
Director of photography: Eduardo Enrique Mayen
Editors: Jack Price, Michael Flores
Music: Jonathan Sadoff
‘The Jim Jefferies Show’ will be the inaugural podcast, with more coming from Trevor Noah and other network personalities.Comedy Central is expanding into the podcasting world.
The network will launch a global podcast network featuring brand extensions of its existing franchises as well as new original content. The Jim Jefferies Show will be the inaugural offering, debuting Wednesday. It will be available for download and streaming worldwide across Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher and other digital platforms.
Additional franchises that will roll out including The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, the Comedy Central Roast franchise and Comedy Central Stand-Up, along with other soon-to-be-announced series. Comedy Central has partnered with podcast industry leader Midroll Media, home of the top comedy podcasts on the Earwolf network, to advise on the creation of its new podcast network and also to represent its shows for advertising sales.
The move into podcasting signals Comedy Central’s increasing push into digital, where it boasts over 168 million fans for its collective franchises across digital and social platforms.
“Podcasting is the next step in the evolution of Comedy Central content, an extremely versatile and exciting medium that furthers our 360 strategy to allow our talent to express their vision and connect directly with fans across multiple platforms,” Steve Raizes, senior vp, Comedy Central Consumer Products, Experiential and Audio, said in a statement. “We’re huge fans of podcasting and truly excited to create content based on our signature properties as well as entirely new concepts.”
Here’s a full list of the programming slate on Comedy Central’s podcasting network:
The Jim Jefferies Show — The podcast will feature exclusive weekly post-show discussions of the late-night series with Jefferies and his guests and/or writers. From a deeper dive into show topics to jokes that didn’t make the cut to far-ranging conversations beyond the show, listeners will get a glimpse into Jefferies’ mind.
The Daily Show With Trevor Noah: Ears Edition — This daily podcast will feature a highlight segment from the prior night’s broadcast of the Comedy Central staple, as well as the extended interview.
The Daily Show Original Miniseries (title still TBD) — This limited miniseries is a comedic, in-depth look at a particular topic from The Daily Show With Trevor Noah team, anchored by their signature brand of insight, depth and wit.
History of the Roast — Based on Comedy Central’s Roast franchise, this podcast miniseries will examine a specific roast each episode. It will take fans behind-the-scenes with exclusive backstory including audio clips and potential interviews with talent, writers and producers.
Up Next — Based on Comedy Central’s Up Next stand-up discovery franchise, this podcast will highlight rising Comedy Central talent with potential live recordings from New York and Los Angeles showcases.
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