TV Talk

Jordan Peele's The Twilight Zone First Trailer Is Here and More TV News

Plus, The Haunting of Hill House creator signs new Netflix deal, Empire star Jussie Smollett's future with show in question, and The Walking Dead hits ratings low.

by | February 21, 2019 | Comments

This week’s biggest TV news includes a Twilight Zone trailer, Walking Dead ratings, updates on the assault case involving Empire star Jussie Smollett, and more.


TOP STORY

Jussie Smollett’s Empire Future in Doubt; Police Claim Actor Staged Attack Due to Salary

EMPIRE: L-R: Jussie Smollett in the "Pride" episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 10 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2018 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Chuck Hodes/FOX
(Photo by Chuck Hodes/FOX)

20th Century Fox has been forced to reassess after the arrest of Empire star Jussie Smollett.

On January 29, reports emerged that Smollett, who plays golden-voiced Jamal Lyon on the drama series, had been hospitalized after a seemingly racist and homophobic assault. Less than a month later, Smollett turned himself in to Chicago police after being charged with a felony for filing a false report for the incident, which police now allege the actor planned himself because he was “dissatisfied with his salary.”

The actor earns $65,000 per episode, according to The Huffington Post. By comparison, the higher end of the TV star salary spectrum includes the cast of CBS’ juggernaut sitcom The Big Bang Theory, who each earn around $1 million per episode. Rachel Brosnahan, award-winning star of Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, recently renegotiated her contract to earn around $300,000 an episode beginning with the comedy’s third season. The lower end of TV contracts will see supporting leads with no other major credits make around $30,000 an episode, according to a 2017 report.

While Fox initially made multiple statements in support of Smollett and reiterating that he was not being written off the series, it has changed course following the actor’s arrest.

“We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process,” a statement provided to the Huffington Post said. “We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options.”

Here’s a timeline of how the investigation of the incident evolved:

Tuesday, Jan. 29: Reports emerged that Smollett had been the victim of a hate crime in the early morning hours in which two men in masks poured bleach on him, tied a noose around his neck, and shouted that he was in “MAGA country.”

Wednesday, Jan. 30: Police were seeking two persons of interest in the alleged assault and battery of the actor. Additionally, Smollett’s music manager Brandon Z. Moore said he was on the phone with his client during the incident and overheard part of the attack.

Thursday, Jan. 31: Chicago police said that Smollett refused to turn his cell phone over to detectives and declined to provide phone records for the investigation.

Friday, Feb. 1: Smollett released a statement thanking his fans for their “outpouring of love and support” in the wake of the incident.

Saturday, Feb. 2: Smollett performed a sold-out show at Los Angeles’ Troubadour nightclub, during which he told fans he fought back against his attackers, and that “I’m gonna stand strong with y’all. I had to be here tonight. I couldn’t let those [attackers] win. I will always stand for love.”

Thursday, Feb. 14: Chicago police arrest the two persons of interest in the case, and also say local media reports that the attack was a hoax are unconfirmed. Earlier that morning, Smollett gave his first media interview following the incident on Good Morning America, where he told Robin Roberts he was “pissed off.”

Friday, Feb. 15: The two suspects were released without charges after being held and questioned for 48 hours.

Saturday, Feb. 16: Police said the investigation had “shifted,” and a police source said that the two men told police that Smollett paid them to help orchestrate the attack. Smollett denied the new information.

Wednesday, Feb. 20: Surveillance video appeared that reportedly showed the brothers linked to the attack purchasing the items used in the alleged assault. Smollett was officially charged with making a false police report. The felony disorderly conduct charge could come with up to three years of prison time.

Thursday, Feb. 21: Smollett turned himself in to police and was released on $100,000 bond. A bond proffer (read the full document) filed by prosecutors during the actor’s bond hearing revealed that Smollett paid the brothers $3,500 with a backdated personal check.


First Trailer for Jordan Peele’s Twilight Zone Remake Released

Streaming service CBS All Access has finally released a full — albeit incredibly mysterious — trailer for Jordan Peele’s reimagining of the classic sci-fi series The Twilight Zone, which debuts on April 1. While it only revealed a few clues about some of the episodes’ storylines (including that Adam Scott’s character will have significant experiences with the number 1015, Sanaa Lathan’s character is dealing with something that goes “backwards,” and Kumail Nanjiani’s character accidentally changes or erases something in his life), it did show the first footage of many of the series’ biggest guest stars (including Tracy Morgan, Greg Kinnear, John Cho, Steven Yeun, Allison Tolman, and more).

Yes, the iconic score is included too.


The Walking Dead Hits a Ratings Low

Samantha Morton as Alpha - The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 10 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead is still one of the biggest shows on television, but the series hit its all-time ratings low with season 9’s 10th episode on Sunday, February 17. The episode, “Omega,” earned just 4.54 million viewers and a 1.7 rating in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic, its lowest-ever outing.

The episode also ended up with a season-low 76% Tomatometer score, based on critics’ reviews. “As a means of establishing the character of Alpha, the harsh and violent new antagonist and leader of the Whisperers, ‘Omega’ is bluntly effective. As an episode of The Walking Dead, it’s pretty thin gruel,” Alex McLevy wrote for AV Club.

Don’t worry too much, though — it’s still the top-rated non-sports cable show on television.


Casting Update: New SNL Hosts, Gotham Alum’s New Role, Lost Boys TV series, and More

Saturday Night Live will welcome People magazine’s reigning Sexiest Man Alive on March 9 when Idris Elba hosts the sketch comedy series for the first time. The week before, March 2, former SNL writer John Mulaney will host. Mulaney’s musical guest will be country star Thomas Rhett, while Elba’s will be singer Khalid.

Gotham star Robin Lord Taylor, a.k.a. Cobblepot/Penguin, is joining season 2 of Lifetime-turned-Netflix drama You. According to Deadline, he’ll play Will, a “thoughtful, personable, and highly intelligent guy who marches to the beat of his drummer” and occasionally “deals with unsavory sorts as part of his job,” and who “gets trapped in a bad situation.”

The CW is remaking ’80s vampire classic The Lost Boys as a TV series, and has cast former Teen Wolf star Tyler Posey in the pilot, which will be directed by Catherine Hardwicke. According to Entertainment Weekly, he’ll play Michael, one of two brothers who moves to the town of Santa Carla, California, after the sudden death of his father. Per EW, Michael is the “elder brother, whose life plans are uprooted when he learns he has the same genetic weakness that killed his dad.”

Other casting news includes Sophia Bush in a mysterious role on Jane the Virgin’s final season, Rachael Leigh Cook as Reid’s new love interest in the final season of Criminal Minds, Alicia Witt in the final season of Orange Is the New Black, and Ryan Devlin’s return to Veronica Mars in Hulu’s upcoming new season of the series.


Upcoming Reboots and Revivals

PSYCH: THE MOVIE -- Pictured: (l-r) Dule Hill as Gus Guster, James Roday as Shawn Spencer -- (Photo by: Alan Zenuk/USA Network)

Psych is coming back — again. The cult-favorite USA series, which ran from 2006-2014, returned in late 2017 with a feature-length installment. The network announced last week that another film featuring the series’ original stars will air before the end of 2019.

Nickelodeon is rebooting its 1990s sketch comedy series All That, which will be executive produced by original star Kenan Thompson, who has gone on to become SNL‘s longest-tenured cast member ever. Netflix has announced a sequel to its viral hit rom-com The Kissing Booth, with original stars Joey King and Jacob Elordi returning.


Deals, Deals, Deals

The Haunting of Bly Manor teaser art (Netflix)

Netflix has signed The Haunting of Hill House creator Mike Flanagan and partner Trevor Macy to a deal that will see the pair develop and produce new series for the streaming service. The deal also includes an anthological-style second season of their hit horror series, which will be called The Haunting of Bly Manor and, according to THR, will be inspired by Henry James’ short story The Turn of the Screw.

Neil Gaiman is teaming up with The Jim Henson Company for a reimagined version of 1987 series The Storyteller. The new version will “create a mystical world combining various fairy tales and folklore” for what Gaiman calls “the binging kind” of modern TV viewer. Gaiman, who will write and executive produce, said in a statement, “Part of what fascinates me about The Storyteller is the stuff that we don’t know,” he said. “Who was the Storyteller, why was he telling these stories, was he a goblin, what kind of creature? What I’d love to do is an inside story that’s as long as the outside story. We’re going to find out a lot about who the storyteller is, we’re going to find out things we don’t even know that we don’t know. We’re going to begin in a Northern kingdom where stories are forbidden and where the act of telling a story is liable and can get you imprisoned or executed. If you put a storyteller into that situation, things would need to start getting interactive.”

Oscar-winning production company Fabula (behind Jackie, Neruda, No, The Club, and more) has teamed up with global producer and distributor Fremantle (American Gods, My Brilliant Friend, The Young Pope) for a deal that includes their current collaboration, the eight-part Spanish-language series La Jauria.

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