TV Talk

Noah Hawley's Alien Series 'Is a Beast,' FX Chairman John Landgraf Says

FX expects the series in 2023. Plus, Live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender announces cast, American Sports Story and American Love Story ordered, What We Do in the Shadows season 4 details, and more of the week's biggest news in TV and streaming.

by and | August 13, 2021 | Comments

FX is pressed for Alien details and announces more American… stories. PBS offers All Creatures Great and Small season 2 first look and Sanditon season 2 2022 estimated release. Netflix announced the cast of its live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender series, and more of the week’s top TV and streaming news.


TOP STORY

Alien Series Update from FX Chairman John Landgraf

ALIEN: COVENANT 2017

(Photo by TM and copyright © Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved./ Courtesy Everett Collection)

Noah Hawley’s Alien series for FX is in the works, but FX Chairman John Landgraf said they’re not rushing it: “We have to get this right, so we’re going to take whatever time takes.”

The Television Critics Association’s summer sessions continued this week with three days of presentations of what’s ahead from PBS and, in Friday’s session, the FX lineup, which was led by an update from Landgraf, including a bit of insider info on Alien, which he called “very grounded” compared to some of Hawley’s more abstract work like Legion.

“I think Noah’s very conscious of the fact that there’s a cinematic universe, if you will, and that while it has some flexibility that the aesthetic that was established by Ridley Scott and I think continued by James Cameron is a part of that universe. By the way, Scott Free and Ridley are involved in this, very involved in this as producers,” Landgraf said. “So while I think you’ll see some inventiveness and some originality that is uniquely Noah, I also think that this show will feel like a part of the cinematic universe that you’re familiar with in terms of Alien.”

FX has access to great intellectual property in the Alien franchise, Landgraf said, and the network and its partners in the series, including director of the original 1979 film Scott (as writer and executive producer), are obligated to ensure that the series honors its provenance.

“What I can say is that — maybe pun intended — it’s a beast, Alien. It’s a really big world-building exercise,” Landgraf said.

“We’re well into it. We’re actually moving apace. I have optimism, for example, that that show may well roll out in 2023; probably will roll out in 2023,” he continued. “But we want to get it right … you’re being given access to a really precious resource when you’re granted access to such an important piece of IP. And it’s not something FX does a lot of. So … there’s not another really key piece of Fox or Disney IP that we’re working on right now. There are other things like Shogun, which might be familiar to you. But all I can tell you is that, Noah feels this way, I feel this way, Ridley and his people feel this way: We’ve got to get this one right, and we’re going to take whatever time it takes to do that.”


FX also on Friday released several new trailers and made announcements about new upcoming programming:

• FX and 20th Television has closed a deal for two American Story spinoff anthology series from Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Nina Jacobson, and Brad Simpson: American Sports Story and American Love Story. The first installment of American Sports Story charts the rise and fall of Aaron Hernandez, exploring the NFL superstar’s identity, family, career, suicide, and legacy.  The first installment of American Love Story depicts the courtship and marriage of John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette.

• FX is in development on the next installment of American Crime Story franchise: Studio 54: American Crime Story.

• FX has renewed vampire comedy What We Do in the Shadows for a fourth season, which will introduce Guillermo’s family, who have been neglected during Guillermo’s time as Nandor’s familiar and whose Van Helsing blood will create problems in the vampire household. Anthology horror series American Horror Stories was also renewed for a second season.

• FX released trailers for WWDITS season 3, The Premise season 1, and American Horror Story: Double Feature Part 1: “Red Tide.”


• On Thursday, FX released a trailer for the upcoming third installment of American Crime Story, Impeachment, which premieres on Tuesday, September 7 at 10 p.m. on FX. Impeachment: American Crime Story is the latest installment of Ryan Murphy’s true crime anthology series, this one focusing on the Clinton impeachment scandal. This official trailer reveals the transformations the cast went through to play the famous political players, including Beanie Feldstein as Monica Lewinsky, Clive Owen as Bill Clinton, Edie Falco as Hillary Clinton, Sarah Paulson as Linda Tripp, Annaleigh Ashford as Paula Jones, Margo Martindale as Lucianne Goldberg, Billy Eichner as Matt Drudge, and Cobie Smulders as Ann Coulter. Judith Light, Kathleen Turner, Mira Sorvino, Colin Hanks, and Taran Killam also star. The season is based on the book by author Jeffrey Toobin (the subject of a recent scandal himself) A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President.


More Summer TCA 2021: A Packed PBS Lineup Includes Ken Burns’ Muhammad Ali Documentary

PBS’s upcoming programming includes the Broadway hit Wicked in concert (Aug. 29), new episodes of NOVA, POV, and Independent Lens, and Ken Burns’ much-anticipated new documentary about boxing GOAT, Muhammad Ali.

Highlights from PBS’ upcoming programming:

• An October episode of American Masters featuring the legendary Rita Moreno. Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It premieres Oct. 5.

• The POV installment “Fruits of Labor” chronicles Ashley Pavon’s dream of graduating from high school as she works two jobs – long days picking strawberries and equally long nights in a food processing factory – all while trying to study, as the Mexican-American teen is her family’s main breadwinner since her mom is undocumented. Premieres Oct. 4.

• The Independent Lens episode “Ferguson Rises” unfolds the aftermath of the 2014 killing of Black teenager Michael Brown Jr. by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Premieres Nov. 8.

• Ken Burns’ latest documentary, Muhammad Ali, follows the late boxing champ as his speed and grace inside the boxing ring and commitment to following his heart and doing what he believed in outside the ring made him a beloved international icon. Airs Sept. 19-22.


MRS PUMPHREY (PATRICIA HODGE) in “All Creatures Great and Small” Season 2

(Photo by Courtesy of Masterpiece)

• Patricia Hodge replaces the late Diana Rigg as Mrs. Pumphrey in season 2 of All Creatures Great and Small, which is not expected until 2022.

• Season 2 of Sanditon is three weeks into filming and will be “with us next year,” according to Masterpiece producer Susanne Simpson.

• Season 10 of Call the Midwife, set in 1966 when the women’s rights movement began to grow and England wins the World Cup. The season premieres Nov. 21.


Avatar: The Last Airbender Live-Action Netflix Series Introduces Cast and Showrunner Albert Kim

The Last Airbender cast

(Photo by courtesy of Netflix)

Netflix has announced the cast of its live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender series: Gordon Cormier as Aang, a 12-year-old boy who’s also the Avatar, master of all four elements and the keeper of balance and peace in the world; Kiawentiio as Katara, a 14-year-old waterbender; Ian Ousley as Sokka, Katara’s 15-year-old brother; and Dallas Liu as Zuko, a firebender and Crown Prince of the Fire Nation.

Albert Kim (Sleepy Hollow and Nikita) will be the series showrunner, after falling in love with the original animated series while watching it with his young daughter on Nickelodeon.

“I began watching along with her with the thought of helping her understand what was going on,” Kim said in a blog post. “But my Dad-splainy duties quickly fell by the wayside as I found myself sucked into the world and characters, and soon we were watching side by side, both of us swept away by the singular mix of action, humor, and epic storytelling.”

Kim also shared his vision for the series, saying he was excited that “a live-action version would establish a new benchmark in representation and bring in a whole new generation of fans. This was a chance to showcase Asian and Indigenous characters as living, breathing people. Not just in a cartoon, but in a world that truly exists, very similar to the one we live in.

“We’ll be expanding and growing the world, and there will be surprises for existing fans and those new to the tale.”


NEW TRAILERS: Mike Flanagan’s Midnight Mass Is a New Series from 

Midnight Mass, from The Haunting of Hill House creator Mike Flanagan, explores the divisions of small, isolated island community that are amplified by the return of a disgraced young man (Zach Gilford) and the arrival of charismatic priest Father Paul (Hamish Linklater). When Father Paul’s appearance on Crockett Island coincides with unexplained and seemingly miraculous events, a renewed religious fervor takes hold of the community — but do these miracles come at a price? The seven-episode limited series also stars Kate Siegel, Rahul Abburi, Crystal Balint, Matt Biedel, Alex Essoe, Annarah Cymone, Annabeth Gish, Rahul Kohli, Kristin Lehman, Robert Longstreet, Igby Rigney, Samantha Sloyan, Henry Thomas, and Michael Trucco.

More trailers and teasers released this week:

The Walking Dead’s final season takes on a Last of Us vibe in a new sneak peek. Premieres on August 22. (AMC)
La Fortuna — starring Stanley Tucci, Clarke Peters, Álvaro Mel, Ana Polvorosa, and T’Nia Miller — is the first television series from director Alejandro Amenábar (The Others). The series follows a young Spanish diplomate (Mel) hunting the sunken treasure plundered by an international adventurer played by Tucci. Premieres this winter. (AMC+)
• A.P. Bio Season 4 features a reunion between Jack (Glenn Howerton) and his estranged father, played by guest star Bruce Campbell. Also stars Patton Oswalt and Paula Pell. Premieres Sept. 2. (Peacock)
• Lucifer season 6 is the final season for the devilish Tom Ellis and his Lucifer Morningstar. Premieres Sept. 10. (Netflix)
• Buried is a four-part docuseries about a woman whose recovered memories of the murder of her childhood best friend sparked a national debate about the power and limitations of memory in the legal system. Premieres Oct. 10. (Showtime)


• Wu-Tang: An American Saga season 2 finds the Wu-Tang members still fractured, as Bobby (aka RZA, played by Ashton Sanders) tries to pull them together and make them the success he knows they can be. Premieres Sept. 8. (Hulu)
• Dear White People brings the series to a close with season 4, senior year at Winchester, and a very musical path to the finale. Premieres Sept. 22. (Netflix)
• Q-Force is the animated comedy about gay spy Steve Maryweather (Sean Hayes) and the group of LGBTQ+ spy talents he assembles to prove to the American Intelligence Agency that they made a mistake when they shut him out of active duty. Premieres Sept. 2. (Netflix)
• Introducing, Selma Blair is a documentary about actress Blair’s life-altering diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis and the moving, courageous ways she is dealing with new life. Premieres Oct. 21. (Discovery+)
• Gossip is a four-part docuseries about the history of tabloid reporting, with a focus on New York Post gossip columnist Cindy Adams. Premieres Aug. 22. (Showtime)

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


CASTING: Catherine Zeta-Jones Cast as Morticia Addams

Catherine Zeta-Jones

(Photo by John Russo courtesy of Fox)

Wednesday, Tim Burton’s Addams Family drama for Netflix, has cast Mama and Papa Addams: Catherine Zeta-Jones will play Morticia in a guest role, while Luis Guzmán has signed on for a guest role as Gomez. The series, which follows Addams daughter Wednesday during her teen years at Nevermore Academy, previously announced Jenna Ortega will play the title role.

Tituss Burgess will obviously be the scene stealer of this one: he has been cast as scheming and dancing Rooster in NBC’s Annie Live! special that will air on Dec. 2.

Chloe Bennet is out as Blossom in Powerpuff, The CW’s live-action Powerpuff Girls series. When the network decided to rework and reshoot the pilot, a schedule conflict arose for Bennet, so she will be replaced for version 2.0. Dove Cameron and Yana Perrault are still set to play Bubbles and Buttercup respectively. (Variety)

Daniel Sunjata has joined the cast of the Netflix limited series Echoes, playing the husband of Michelle Monaghan’s Gina. Monaghan plays twins who secretly swap lives with each other, unbeknownst to their husbands, played by Sunjata and Matt Bomer. But all their worlds are thrown into chaos when one of the twins goes missing. (Deadline)


Vince Vaughn

(Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)

Vince Vaughn will star in Apple TV+’s drama Bad Monkey, created by Ted Lasso co-creator Bill Lawrence. Vaughn will also be an executive producer on the series, about a Florida detective demoted to restaurant inspector, who is dragged into a crime story involving a severed arm and a monkey. The series is based on the 2013 Carl Hiaasen’s novel of the same name.

Jacob Batalon (Spider-Man Homecoming) will star in Syfy’s Reginald the Vampire, a dramedy adaptation of author Johnny B. Truant’s book series Fat Vampire. The show will revolve around Batalon’s Reginald, who finds himself in a world of physically fit, vain vampires, as he also deals with longing for the girl he can’t be with, a jerky boss, and a vampire leader who wants to kill him. (THR)

Hulu has rounded out its cast for How I Met Your Father. Joining leads Hilary Duff as Sophie and Chris Lowell as Jesse are Francia Raisa as aspiring stylist Valentina, Sophie’s roommate; Tom Ainsley as Charlie, a rich kid who fell in love with Valentina and followed her to New York; Tien Tran as Ellen, Jesse’s adopted sister who just left her wife to move to New York; and Sura Sharma as Sid, a bar owner who’s Jesse’s more optimistic roommate. The How I Met Your Mother spin-off is set in the near future, where Sophie is telling her son the story of how she met his father, which her back to the year 2021.

Judith Light has joined the cast of Starz’ comedy horror series Shining Vale. She’ll play the “Lithium-infused” mother of Courtney Cox’s Pat, whose dysfunctional family moves from the city into a house that may be haunted, though only Pat seems to notice the new house’s quirkiness, which she decides could mean she’s either depressed or possessed … “and the symptoms are the same for both.” Greg Kinnear, Mira Sorvino, Merrin Dungey, Gus Birney, and Dylan Gage also star.

Jesse Williams will star in Take Me Out, playwright Richard Greenberg’s limited series adaptation of his own Tony-winning play of the same name. Williams will play Darren Lemming (the role he also plays on stage in a revival of the 2003 play), a pro baseball star in the early aughts who announces that he is gay and sets off controversy in his life, in the clubhouse, in professional baseball, and in the culture in general. (Deadline)

It’s official: Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards has been named as the new host of the game show. Meanwhile, Mayim Bialik, a favorite of viewers during the guest host months, will host a series of primetime Jeopardy! specials and spin-off series, including the Jeopardy!’s National College Championship series that will premiere in 2022.

Kathy Griffin will recur on the fifth season of Search Party as Liquorice Montague, a conspiracy theorist and apprentice to Chantal (Clare McNulty). Griffin filmed her scenes before her recent lung cancer surgery, Variety reports.


PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT: Power Universe Creator Courtney A. Kemp Signs New Eight-Figure Overall Deal with Netflix

Courtney A. Kemp

(Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

Courtney A. Kemp, creator of Starz’ Power series that has expanded into five (so far) series, has signed a new overall deal at Netflix. She has left Lionsgate TV, home of the Power franchise, for a “high eight-figure” deal at Netflix that could, THR reports, result in a nine-figure payday with bonuses. Kemp will continue to be involved with the Power series, but will not write for them.

Amazon Video will move production of season 2 of its upcoming Lord of the Rings series from New Zealand to the U.K. Post-production on the first season will continue in New Zealand through June 2022 and premiere on Sept. 2 next year. Pre-production on Season 2 will begin in the U.K concurrently after the beginning of next year.

The SpongeBob SquarePants universe will expand by more than 50 new episodes, including adding 13 additional eps of SpongeBob SquarePants to season 13 and 13 more episodes of The Patrick Star Show on Nickelodeon, plus a season 2 renewal for Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years on Paramount+ and 13 additional episodes of season 1.

The Roku Channel has added 23 Quibi shows to its lineup, including several that weren’t aired on Quibi previously. Eye Candy, a food-themed game show hosted by Josh Groban, Squeaky Clean, a cleaning competition show hosted by Leslie Jordan, and What Happens in Hollywood, a docuseries about sex and power in Hollywood, from the director of the documentaries Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired and Roman Polanski: Odd Man Out, will all be premiering on Roku, along with previously seen series like the Emmy-nominated Paula Pell comedy mystery Mapleworth Murders and the Jennifer Lopez produced Thanks a Million, the celeb reality series where stars give $100,000 to someone, who must then pay it forward. Celebs include Kevin Hart, Yara Shahidi, and Kristen Bell, and in new episodes, Matthew McConaughey, Vanessa Hudgens, and Chris Rock.


JADEN MICHAEL and COLIN KAEPERNICK in COLIN IN BLACK & WHITE

(Photo by Netflix)

Netflix has announced the premiere date and first look photos for Colin in Black & White, the limited series produced by Ava DuVernay and Colin Kaepernick inspired by Kaepernick’s coming of age story about growing up as the Black child of white parents. Kaepernick will star as the series narrator, Nick Offerman and Mary-Louise Parker will play his parents, Rick and Teresa, and Jaden Michael will play young Colin in the years before he became an NFL quarterback and activist. The six-episode series, which will include installments directed by DuVernay and Robert Townsend, premieres Oct. 29.

This is a lovely sight to see: Emmy-winning Bill Hader and the legend, Henry Winkler, confirming that season 3 of the HBO comedy Barry is back in production.

Robert Rodriguez’s defunct cable network, El Rey, which ended its run last year, will be relaunched as a free streaming network with programming aimed at Latino viewers. In a partnership with Cinedigm, El Rey hasn’t announced a launch date yet, but it will be the exclusive home of Rodriguez’s movie Red 11, inspired by his experience as a test subject in a medical research facility to fund his first film. (Variety)

Schitt’s Creek creator Dan Levy is following his beloved comedy with the Hulu animated series Standing By, which he created with Schitt’s writer and director Ally Pankiw. The comedy will follow a group of guardian angels and what they learn from the people they protect. Levy will voice Carey, a cynical angel who led a lonely life in New York City before he recently died. (Deadline)

Bravo’s three-day celebration of all things Real Housewives and the many reality shows that take place on yachts has been canceled. After a very successful inaugural BravoCon in 2019, 2020’s sophomore effort was canceled because of the pandemic, and now 2021’s gathering has to be postponed until next year because of concerns about the continuing COVID surges.

More TV land changed sparked by COVID: the Emmy Awards will be scaled back, with a limited number of nominees now permitted to attend the Sept. 19 show, which is now being held outdoors at the event deck behind the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

ABC has given a series order to Promised Land, a Latinx family drama starring John Ortiz. The story follows two rival families in Sonoma Valley in northern California.

“Hijinks of epic proportions ensue” in Disney+’s Home Alone sequel Sweet Home Alone, in which, again, a little kid is left alone, in his home, which he has to defend from, this time, trespassers. The movie, written by Saturday Night Live’s Mikey Day and Streeter Seidell, stars Ellie Kemper, Rob Delaney, Kenan Thompson, Pete Holmes, Chris Parnell, original Home Alonestar Devin Ratray, Archie Yates, Aisling Bea, Tim Simons, and Ally Maki.


Casting Call: Netflix Reality

Netflix Reality casting call

(Photo by Netflix)

If you don’t just love Netflix reality series, but would like to participate in one, NetflixReality.com is the website for you. There, viewers can find out how to apply for series like Nailed It!, Queer Eye, The Circle, Too Hot to Handle, Floor Is Lava, Indian Matchmaking, and Dream Home Makeover.


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