This week in TV news: Queen of vampire literature imagines Game of Thrones treatment for her Lestat, A&E series irks Church of Scientology, lawsuit hobbles Buckaroo Banzai TV series effort, Hamilton creator scores Kingkiller Chronicle deal, Doctor Who Christmas special details released, and more.
Author Anne Rice, whose Vampire Chronicles series has an enormous worldwide fan base, announced on Facebook that she has regained theatrical rights to the series. “I could not be more excited about this! — A television series of the highest quality is now my dream for Lestat, Louis, Armand, Marius and the entire tribe. In this the new Golden Age of television, such a series is THE way to let the entire story of the vampires unfold,” Rice wrote. She went on to say that she would write the pilot for the series with her son, Christopher Rice, as well as develop a detailed outline for an open-ended series. The announcement comes just in time for the Nov. 29 release of the 12th book in the series, Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis. Rice originally sold the rights to Universal Studios and Imagine Entertainment in a deal that saw the first book in the series, Interview with the Vampire, turned into a successful film starring Tom Cruise as Lestat and Brad Pitt as Louis in 1994. The third book in the series, Queen of the Damned, was made into a film with Stuart Townsend and singer Aaliyah in 2002. Rice later told EW.com that while she doesn’t have a lead in mind for Lestat, she likes “a beautiful actor” like Matt Bomer (American Horror Story) for the role of Louis and Matthew MacFadyen (Ripper Street) for 2,000-year-old vampire Marius. In her Facebook post, Rice promised to solicit input from fans and said, “Over the years you all have told me how much you want to see a ‘Game of Thrones’ style faithful rendering of this material, and how much you want for the series to remain in my control. Well, I have heard you. I have always heard you. What you want is what I want … I am filled with optimism this morning about the future for my beloved Brat Prince.”
After writing a book on the topic (Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology), actress Leah Remini (Old School) took her cause to the small screen with the new limited series Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, which brought in A&E’s highest ratings for a new launch in two years. The last time the network saw similar numbers was for the 2014 premiere of Big Smo and a Duck Dynasty season premiere during its peak. The exposé was met with counterclaims that attempted to debunk statements by Remini and other former Scientologists interviewed and that were publicized throughout the debut episode by the Church of Scientology. The premiere opened to 2.1 million total viewers, with 1.1 of those hitting adults aged 25 to 54, and it was the No. 1 trending TV show on Twitter during the hour. New episodes air at 10 p.m. on Tuesdays.
The Buckaroo Banzai TV series is hitting eight dimensions of problems after MGM filed legal paperwork on November 23 against the 1984 movie’s director W.D. Richter and writer Earl Mac Rauch to ensure that the studio had the rights to the TV remake. Kevin Smith, who had been tapped to helm the series, went on Facebook Live to declare “I’m no longer involved” with the project, stating “This is not what I signed up for.” The project is now in limbo at Amazon until the legal matters are resolved. The series was intended to debut in 2017.
Lin-Manuel Miranda continues to make a splash following his remarkable Broadway success Hamilton. The musical mastermind has just been tapped by Lionsgate to serve as creative producer of the feature film and TV adaptations of The Kingkiller Chronicle. The bestselling series of books and novellas centers on a wizard called Kvothe, who survives a tragic childhood to become a famous musician and adventurer. Miranda will serve as producer and is expected to compose music and write songs for the franchise. The author of the beloved series, Pat Rothfuss, will executive produce for both film and television, and pair with Miranda to develop new characters and storylines for the TV show. After losing his show at Comedy Central, Larry Wilmore has come out on top with an overall deal with ABC Studios. Wilmore signed a multi-year deal in which he will develop material for his own projects, supervise several other projects, and help discover new talent for the media giant. Wilmore currently executive produces ABC’s Black-ish, and also co-created and exec produces HBO’s Insecure. Feature film producer David T. Friendly has garnered a hefty first-look deal with Fox 21 Television Studios. Friendly successfully landed USA’s Queen of the South for Fox 21, his first TV project, and now will collaborate with Kirsten Jacobson of Moon Shot Entertainment to develop new projects for the studio in his two-year first look pact. Jamie Foxx is producing a limited series about musical icon Marvin Gaye. The biopic series is a longtime coming and is supported by the singer’s son Marvin Gaye III, who said in a statement, “This project will be a powerful and definitive telling of Marvin Gaye’s life story.” Jamie Foxx will serve as executive producer with Marvin Gaye III alongside de Passe Jones Entertainment’s Suzanne de Passe and Madison Jones. Fox 21 has also ordered Mayans MC, a drama series pilot for FX and the next chapter in the Sons of Anarchy saga, which Kurt Sutter co-wrote with producing partner Elgin James. Production is scheduled to begin in March.
BBC America released poster art and a synopsis for the 2016 Doctor Who Christmas special, The Return of Doctor Mysterio, which premieres Sunday, December 25 at 9/8 C. “This Christmas sees the Doctor join forces with a masked Superhero for an epic New York adventure. With brain-swapping aliens poised to attack, the Doctor and Nardole link up with an investigative reporter and a mysterious figure known only as The Ghost. Can the Doctor save Manhattan? And what will be revealed when we see behind the mask?” Peter Capaldi stars as the Doctor, Matt Lucas (Bridesmaids) as Nardole, Justin Chatwin (Orphan Black) as Grant, and Charity Wakefield (Wolf Hall) as an investigative journalist. The special is written by Steven Moffat. Click the image above for a larger version.