TV Talk

Jake Gyllenhaal Will Star in HBO Limited Series The Son

Denis Villeneuve will direct the adaptation of Jo Nesbø’s bestseller. Plus, Willow sequel series in the works with Warwick Davis, The Crown eyes Dominic West for Prince Charles, and more of the week's top TV and streaming news.

by | October 22, 2020 | Comments

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Westworld creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy will executive produce Jake Gyllenhaal’s HBO limited series; Disney+ ups its fantasy fare with a Willow sequel series; new trailers include Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Kaley Cuoco’s murder-mystery The Flight Attendant, and Underground Railroad; and more of the biggest TV and streaming news of the week.


Jake Gyllenhaal Is Starring In and Producing The Son, with Denis Villeneuve Signed On To Direct

Jake Gyllenhaal

(Photo by Han Myung-Gu/WireImage)

Jake Gyllenhaal is coming to television, and he’ll be all about revenge. The actor is starring in and producing an HBO limited adaptation of author Jo Nesbø’s New York Times bestseller The Son, a crime novel about a 15-year-old boy whose life is turned upside down when his father commits suicide.

The boy, Sonny Lofthus, goes to prison for crimes he didn’t commit, and is fed a steady supply of drugs to feed his addiction and keep him from asking questions. But when he does find out the truth about his dad’s death, he escapes from jail and plots revenge against the people he considers responsible for his losses.

Gyllenhaal is producing with his Nine Stories company, while Denis Villeneuve will direct. The Son makes the third collaboration for Gyllenhaal and the director, who also worked together on Enemy and Prisoners. Writer Lenore Zion (Ray Donovan) will showrun and executive produce with Kilter Films’ Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, creators of HBO sci-fi hit Westworld.

Nesbø’s crime novels have sold more than 33 million copies globally.

A Willow Series Is in the Works at Disney+, with Warwick Davis Starring and Ron Howard Producing

Warwick Davis in Willow

(Photo by Disney+/© & TM Lucasfilm Ltd)

George Lucas’ epic fantasy movie Willow is being adapted as a Disney+ TV series, with Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu directing the pilot, which will begin production next year in Wales. Chu will also produce, along with showrunners Jonathan Kasdan, who wrote the pilot, and Wendy Mericle.

Ron Howard, who directed the original Willow film, returns as an executive producer on the series, which takes place years after the events of the 1988 film. New characters will be introduced, but fans can look forward to the return of Warwick Davis as the beloved hero Willow Ufgood, too.

“So many fans have asked me over the years if Willow will make a return, and now I’m thrilled to tell them that he will indeed,” Davis says. “Many have told me they grew up with Willow and that the film has influenced how they view heroism in our own world. If Willow Ufgood can represent the heroic potential in all of us, then he is a character I am extremely honored to reprise.”

Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang Land at Apple TV+ for New Series and Those Classic Holiday Specials

When you’re looking for Linus waiting on the Great Pumpkin in the pumpkin patch, or Snoopy serving up his famous jelly beans and toast for Thanksgiving dinner, forget the broadcast networks this year: the Peanuts gang has moved on to Apple TV+. The streaming service announced an expanded partnership with the world of Snoopy and crew that will include new original specials and classic Peanuts holiday specials like It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, and A Charlie Brown Christmas.

New specials will celebrate Mother’s Day, Earth Day, New Year’s Eve, and Back to School, and the 70th anniversary of Peanuts will be marked with a new documentary. There’s also a second season of the Daytime Emmy-nominated Snoopy In Space on the way, as well as a new series, The Snoopy Show.

For those without an Apple TV+ subscription, take heart: the service is allowing free access to those classic holiday gems. The Halloween special will begin streaming on Oct. 19, and will be available for free from Oct. 30 until Nov. 1. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving hits the service on Nov. 18, and will be available for free from Nov. 25-27. And A Charlie Brown Christmas  premieres on Apple TV+ on Dec. 4, and will be free Dec. 11-13.

Kevin Hart and an All-Star Lineup with Bryan Cranston, Daniel Levy, and Gabriel Union Bring Back the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon

Kevin Hart in December 2019

(Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

A multitude of  celebs will join host Kevin Hart for the comedian’s MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association) Kids Telethon, a two-hour variety special that will raise money for MDA, in the vein of the legendary Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day telethons. Participating stars include Bryan Cranston, Daniel Levy, Don Cheadle, Common, Cindy Crawford, John David Washington, Whitney Cummings, Gabrielle Union Wade, Stephen Curry, Zachary Levi, Kelly Rowland, Garcelle Beauvais, Aloe Blacc, Michael B. Jordan, DJ Khaled, Jack Black, Usain Bolt, Adam Devine, Fat Joe, Josh Gad, Liz Gillies, Aldis Hodge, Edwin Hodge, Loni Love, Leslie Mann, Jillian Mercado, and Robin Thicke .

The telethon streams live on Oct. 24 (8 p.m. ET) on Hart’s LOL Network, YouTube, Pluto TV, TikTok, Triller, and Twitch. SiriusXM will air an encore of the show on the Laugh Out Loud Radio channel on Oct. 26 (4 p.m.) and Oct. 27 (10 a.m.).

NEW TRAILERS: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Features Chadwick Boseman’s Final Role Before His August Death

Movie Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, based on the play by Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson, is about singer Ma Rainey (Viola Davis), “The Mother of the Blues.” The film features the final performance by Chadwick Boseman, who plays Rainey’s trumpet player, Levee. Denzel Washington is a producer on the film, while Glynn Turman, Colman Domingo, and Michael Potts also star. Premieres Dec. 18 (Netflix)

More trailers and teasers released this week:

• Mank is the David Fincher-directed story of alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) as he races to finish the screenplay of Citizen Kane for Orson Welles (Tom Burke). Also stars Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins, Arliss Howard, and Tom Pelphrey. Premieres Dec. 4 (Netflix)
• The Flight Attendant is a limited series starring Kaley Cuoco as the titular airline employee who, after a night of partying with a man she just met, wakes up in a hotel room with no idea how she got there, and how the man she partied with is now dead. The dark comedy thriller also stars Michiel Huisman, Rosie Perez, Zosia Mamet, and T.R. Knight. Debuts Nov. 26 (HBO Max)
• The Mandalorian season 2 features Timothy Olyphant, Michael Biehn, Rosario Dawson, Temuera Morrison, Katee Sackoff in new roles. Premieres Oct. 30 (Disney+)
• Eater’s Guide to the World is a docuseries, narrated by Maya Rudolph, which takes viewers around the globe to virtually sample the best food from various cultures. Premieres Nov. 11 (Hulu)
• The Life Ahead stars Sophia Loren as a Holocaust survivor who runs a daycare business, and forms an unconventional new family when she bonds with a 12-year-old orphan who recently robbed her. Premieres Nov. 13 (Netflix)
• The Vow season 2 will continue to unfold the backstory and related crimes of NXIVM cult leader Keith Raniere. Premieres 2021 (HBO Max)
• The Underground Railroad is a limited series with an alternate timeline in which the network of abolitionists and safe house routes that helped slaves escape to freedom is an actual railroad, which Georgia slave Cora rides to try to get to freedom. Directed by Oscar winner Barry Jenkins, based on the novel of the same name by Pulitzer Prize winner Colson Whitehead (Amazon Prime Video)
• No Man’s Land season 1 is a drama about the Syrian civil war, as told via the story of a young French man named Antoine, who is searching for his presumed dead sister. Premieres Nov. 18 (Hulu)

For all the latest TV and streaming trailers, subscribe to the Rotten Tomatoes TV YouTube channel.

CASTING: The Crown Eyes Dominic West To Take Over as Prince Charles

Dominic West in January 2020

(Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for dunhill)

The Wire and The Affair alum Dominic West is in final talks to join the cast of The Crown for seasons 5 and 6, where he would play Prince Charles. Those seasons will follow the British royal family into the 1990s and beyond, and will include Charles’ divorce from Princess Diana and his scandalous affair with Camilla Parker Bowles. West would co-star with Elizabeth Debecki as Diana, Imelda Staunton as the queen, Jonathan Pryce as Prince Philip, and Lesley Manville as Princess Margaret.

Jamie Foxx will star in the Netflix vampire comedy Day Shift, as a pool cleaner whose business is a front for how he really makes cash: he hunts and kills vampires, all in the name of giving his gifted daughter a good life. The Oscar winner will also executive produce the series. 

Kate Hudson has signed on for season 2 of the Apple TV+ drama Truth Be Told. In her first regular TV series role, Hudson will star with series lead Octavia Spencer, who plays true crime podcaster Poppy. Hudson will play a lifestyle expert, Micah, and friend of Poppy’s who is involved in a new case that puts the women’s friendship at odds.

Maura Tierney will play an ambitious prosecutor in Showtime’s Bryan Cranston limited series Your Honor, about a judge (Cranston), whose personal and professional lives are rocked by a hit-and-run accident involving his son and a New Orleans crime boss (Michael Stuhlbarg). The 10-episode series, which premieres in December, also features Margo Martindale, Carmen Ejogo, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Hope Davis, Amy Landecker, Lilli Kay, Tony Curran, Keith Machekanyanga, Lamar Johnson, Benjamin Flores, Jr., and Black D’Elia. (Deadline)

Scott Foley can do it all: the Felicity/Scandal/Whiskey Cavalier alum is also a furniture maker and will be the co-host and lead judge on Ellen DeGeneres’ HBO Max furniture design competition series, Ellen’s Next Great Designer. The gig came about for Foley after a 2017 appearance on DeGeneres’ talk show, in which he told her his dream job was the host This Old House, and she had him do a cheeky mock audition for it.

And it’s a good week for those Felicity fellas, as Scott Speedman has joined the cast of Netflix’s YOU for season 3. Speedman will play Matthew, a successful businessman whose personal life as a husband and father may not be going so well, as he’s described as “reserved, mysterious … withdrawn” and with a “deep well of emotion underneath.” Other new faces for season 3: Shalita Grant (NCIS: New Orleans) and The Last Ship’s Travis Van Winkle, who play a “Mom-influencer” and a rich guy who bring Joe (Penn Badgley) and Love (Victoria Pedretti) into their lives, and – duh – almost certainly not with good intentions.

The Sopranos alum Jamie-Lynn Sigler has joined the cast of ABC’s decade-spanning medical drama pilot Triage, where she’ll play a doctor and the best friend and roommate of lead Parisa Fitz-Henley’s surgeon, Finley Briar. (Deadline)

Tony nominee Adrienne Warren – the titular star of Tina: The Tina Turner Musical – will star in ABC’s limited series The Women of the Movement, playing Mamie Till-Mobley, the woman whose life work was trying to get justice for her murdered son, Emmett Till. Jay-Z and Will Smith are producers on the project. (Deadline) 

Katlyn Nichol, who plays Olivia, the girlfriend of Marcus Scribner’s Junior on Black-ish, has been promoted to series regular for season 7. (Deadline)

Angie Tribeca’s Hayes MacArthur will co-star with Lucy Liu in ABC’s untitled workplace comedy pilot from Friends writer and producer Shana Goldberg-Meehan. MacArthur will play the head of the manufacturing division of the furniture company owned by Liu’s diva boss, and he feels threatened when Liu’s Devin adopts a baby and starts looking to her mom-of-three assistant for advice. (Deadline)

August Richards (Council of Dads), John Ross Bowie (Speechless), Mary Birdsong (Succession), Diego Josef (Goliath), Anthony Keyvan (Alexa & Katie), Patricia De Leon (Mayans M.C.). and Sydney Mae Diaz (High Fidelity) have signed on for recurring roles in HBO Max’s Lena Dunham-produced dramedy Generation, about a group of high school students whose project about modern sexuality stirs reactions in their conservative community. Martha Plimpton and Sam Trammell star. (Deadline)

PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT: Short-Form Streaming Service Quibi Calls It Quits After Six Months

Quibi streaming service promotional image

After raising $1.75 billion in capital before its April launch, short-form streaming service Quibi has shut down. “Our failure was not for lack of trying; we’ve considered and exhausted every option available to us,” founders Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg said in a joint statement. The duo will try to sell the service’s assets, after efforts to sell Quibi itself were unsuccessful.

Black Monday star Regina Hall has signed a first-look deal with Showtime to develop and produce TV projects via her Rh Negative production company. She has already begun development on a one-hour comedy special that she will star in executive produce.

Emmy-winning HBO dram Euphoria, starring Emmy winner Zendaya, will return with two special episodes before its second season premieres. The first one, titled “Trouble Don’t Last Always,” follows Rue (Zendaya) as she celebrates Christmas. The episode stars Fear the Walking Dead star Colman Domingo, and premieres on Dec. 6.

Oscar and Golden Globe winner Jeff Bridges revealed he’s been diagnosed with lymphoma. The True Grit, Crazy Heart, and The Big Lebowski actor is in production on the 2021 FX thriller The Old Man, in which he plays an intelligence officer now living off the grid, but drawn back into his old life when he’s targeted for assassination. Bridges is also an executive producer on the drama.

CBS All Access (soon to be Paramount+) is developing a TV series remake of the 1983 movie Flashdance, a star-making hot for Jennifer Beals.  The movie’s producer Lynda Obst will shepherd the TV production. (THR)

Meanwhile, Seth MacFarlane is teaming with UCP to develop a TV series adaptation of the Burt Reynolds movie Smokey and the Bandit, and The End of the F—ing World co-creator Jonathan Entwistle is creating new TV series and movie versions of Power Rangers. (THR)

Showtime has ordered a variety series starring and executive produced by comedian Ziwe, a writer for Desus & Mero.

HBO has ordered the six-episode limited series The White Lotus, from Enlightened co-creator Mike White. The satirical series is set at an exclusive tropical resort, and will follow the adventures of the resort’s guests and employees across a week. Stars of the series include Connie Britton, Jennifer Coolidge, Steve Zahn, and Alexandra Daddario.

Hulu is adapting author Charles Yu’s National Book Awards finalist novel Interior Chinatown, about an Asian-American who struggles against cliched roles and stereotypes, in his professional and personal life. Yu is expected to write and produce the series. (Variety)

Samuel L. Jackson and his producer daughter Zoe Jackson (Project Runway and Top Chef) are teaming up for Life on the Edge, a docuseries about gang culture and marginalized communities. The show will use Deepfake technology and self-shot video to document day-to-day life of the people in some of the most violent gangs in the world. (Deadline)

Hulu will premiere the Kristen Stewart holiday romantic comedy Happiest Season on Nov. 25, the date the movie was originally scheduled to premiere in movie theaters. Directed by actress Clea DuVall from a screenplay she co-wrote, the movie revolves around Stewart’s Abby, who plans to propose to her girlfriend Harper (Mackenzie Davis) at Harper’s family’s Christmas celebration, until she realizes Harper’s family doesn’t even know she’s gay. Daniel Levy, Aubrey Plaza, Victor Garber, and Mary Steenburgen co-star.

Kristen Bell will star in the Netflix limited series The Woman in the House. An eight-episode series about a lonely woman who thinks her life might be changing when a handsome man moves in across the street. But that all may be a fantasy when she witnesses a murder … or at least, thinks she did. Bell will also be an executive producer for the series, along with the creators of the TV Land comedy Nobodies, and Will Ferrell. Marti Noxon is a creative consultant for the project.