TV Talk

Robert Downey Jr. Heads to His First Starring TV Role in The Sympathizer

Marvel's Iron Man gets dramatic, TV critics nominations announced, the search is on for the Kid of the Year, and more of the week's top TV and streaming news.

by | July 16, 2021 | Comments

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The biggest news in TV this week was undoubtedly the 2021 Emmy nominations, which you can see here along with our thoughts on who was snubbed and which nominations surprised us. Beyond the Emmys,  Marvel’s Iron Man moves on — to TV! Plus, the Television Critics Awards nominations were also announced this week, Vince Gilligan and Shonda Rhimes have had their development deals extended, Nickelodeon and Time are looking for the Kid of the Year, and more TV and streaming news.


Robert Downey Jr. Will Star in TV Adaptation of Pulitzer-Winning Novel The Sympathizer

Robert Downey Jr.

(Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

How is Robert Downey Jr. following up his days as Iron Man on the big screen? By playing multiple characters in the same series on television. RDJ has signed on for an HBO TV series adaptation of Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Sympathizer, a spy story in which he’ll play, according to Deadline, “an up-and-coming Orange County congressman, a CIA agent, and a Hollywood film director, among others.”

Deadline describes the story as “an espionage thriller and cross-culture satire about the struggles of a half-French, half-Vietnamese communist spy during the final days of the Vietnam War and his resulting exile in the United States.” Though Downey is playing several characters the series’ titular lead has yet to be cast, and a worldwide search for him has begun.

Downey, along with wife Susan Downey (who together executive produced Netflix hit Sweet Tooth), will be an executive producer on the series, with Oldboy director Park Chan-wook as director and, with Don McKellar, the co-showrunner.

Though the series is Downey’s first starring role, it’s not his first TV work. He was a cast member of Saturday Night Live during the show’s 11th season, played Ally’s love interest on Ally McBeal, and voiced Lois’ brother Patrick Pewterschmidt in an episode of Family Guy.

Ted Lasso and Netflix Lead Television Critics Association Nominations

Ted Lasso

(Photo by Apple TV+)

Just as Ted Lasso was a big winner when the Emmy nominations were announced this week, the delightful Apple TV+ comedy was a hit with the Television Critics Association nominations, too, leading all nominees with five. Meanwhile, Netflix led all networks with 15 nods, followed by HBO with 14, and HBO Max with 10. Here’s the complete rundown of nominations for the TCA Awards, with winners to be announced later this summer.


  • Michaela Coel, I May Destroy You – HBO
  • Ethan Hawke, The Good Lord Bird – Showtime
  • Thuso Mbedu, The Underground Railroad – Amazon
  • Elizabeth Olsen, WandaVision – Disney+
  • Mj Rodriguez, Pose – FX
  • Omar Sy, Lupin – Netflix
  • Anya Taylor-Joy, The Queen’s Gambit – Netflix
  • Kate Winslet, Mare of Easttown – HBO


  • Bo Burnham, Bo Burnham: Inside – Netflix
  • Kaley Cuoco, The Flight Attendant – HBO Max
  • Maya Erskine, Pen15 – Hulu
  • Renee Elise Goldsberry, Girls5Eva – Peacock
  • Charlotte Nicdao, Mythic Quest – Apple TV+
  • Jean Smart, Hacks – HBO Max
  • Jason Sudeikis, Ted Lasso – Apple TV+
  • Hannah Waddingham, Ted Lasso – Apple TV+


  • Bridgerton – Netflix
  • The Flight Attendant – HBO Max
  • Hacks – HBO Max
  • I May Destroy You – HBO
  • Mare of Easttown – HBO
  • P-Valley – Starz
  • Ted Lasso – Apple TV+
  • WandaVision – Disney+


  • Bo Burnham: Inside – Netflix
  • The Good Lord Bird – Showtime
  • I May Destroy You – HBO
  • It’s a Sin – HBO Max
  • Mare of Easttown – HBO
  • The Queen’s Gambit – Netflix
  • The Underground Railroad – Amazon
  • WandaVision – Disney+

Regé-Jean Page and Phoebe Dynevor in Bridgerton keyart

(Photo by Netflix)


  • Bridgerton – Netflix
  • The Crown – Netflix
  • For All Mankind – Apple TV+
  • The Handmaid’s Tale – Hulu
  • Lovecraft Country – HBO
  • The Mandalorian – Disney+
  • Pose – FX
  • P-Valley – Starz


  • The Flight Attendant – HBO Max
  • Girls5Eva – Peacock
  • Hacks – HBO Max
  • Mythic Quest – Apple TV+
  • Pen15 – Hulu
  • Superstore – NBC
  • Ted Lasso – Apple TV+
  • Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist – NBC


  • Bridgerton – Netflix
  • Hacks – HBO Max
  • I May Destroy You – HBO
  • Mare of Easttown – HBO
  • The Queen’s Gambit – Netflix
  • Ted Lasso – Apple TV+
  • The Underground Railroad – Amazon
  • WandaVision – Disney+

See more of the TCA Award nominees on the TCA blog.

• 2021 Emmy Nominations: Full list of Nominees for 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards
• Biggest Snubs and Surprises from the 2021 Emmy Nominations

• Rotten Tomatoes Predicts the 2021 Emmy Nominees

NEW TRAILERS: The Witcher Season 2 Trailer Reminds Us This Is the “Beginning of the End”

The Witcher, season 2, finds Geralt (Henry Cavill) and Ciri (Freya Allen) travelling to Kaer Morhen, where he grew up, and also confirms that Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) is alive and, well, not in the best shape. The trailer was released as part of WitcherCon fan event on Friday, which also announced animated prequel film The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf, premiering August 23, while season 2 of The Witcher premieres Dec. 17.  (Netflix)

More trailers and teasers released this week:
• Scenes From a Marriage, a limited series remake of Ingmar Bergman’s classic 1973 Swedish TV miniseries about a crumbling marriage, stars Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain. Premieres in September. (HBO)
What We Do in the Shadows season 3’s first teaser finds
Nandor (Kayvan Novak) exploring the sun-soaked world via the miracle of VR. Premieres Sept. 2. (FX)
FBoy Island is exactly what it sounds like, with comedian Nikki Glaser hosting the reality show in which three women go to a tropical island to find love, only to be met with 12 sincere suitors and 12 clowns looking for cash. Premieres July 29. (HBO Max)
• Pray Away is a documentary about the history of gay conversion therapy movement, as told through former leaders and survivors of the practice. Produced by Ryan Murphy. Premieres Aug. 3. (Netflix)
• Hit & Run is an action thriller movie about a man whose life is turned upside down when his wife is killed in a hit and run accident, and uncovers she was keeping secrets from him when he goes on the hunt for her killers, with the help of his ex-girlfriend. Premieres Aug. 6. (Netflix)
• Mr. Corman is a dramedy series created by, written by, directed by, and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, about a fifth-grade teacher who’s experiencing severe anxiety about his life’s regrets. Premieres Aug. 6. (Apple TV+)

• Chapelwaite is the horror series adaptation of Stephen King’s short story Jerusalem’s Lot. Starring Adrien Brody and Emily Hampshire. Premieres Aug. 22. (Epix)
• In Titans, season 3, circumstances draw the superheroes to Gotham City, where they will reunite with old friends and face new threats. Premieres Aug. 12. (HBO Max)
• Outer Banks, season 2, finds John B and Sarah on the run and in over their heads in the Bahamas. Premieres July 30. (Netflix
• Modern Love, season 2 of the anthology series based on the New York Times column of the same name, stars Gbenga Akinnagbe, Lucy Boynton, Tom Burke, Zoë Chao, Minnie Driver,  Kit Harington, Garrett Hedlund, Tobias Menzies, Sophie Okonedo,  and Anna Paquin. Premieres Aug. 13. (Amazon Prime)

For all the latest TV and streaming trailers — American Horror Stories, Doctor Death, Reservation Dogs, Y: The Last Man, and more — subscribe to the Rotten Tomatoes TV YouTube channel.

CASTING: Uzo Aduba and Matthew Broderick Starring in Netflix’s Opioid Limited Series

Uzo Aduba

(Photo by Lisa O'Connor/AFP via Getty Images)

Uzo Aduba and Matthew Broderick will lead the cast of Netflix’s Painkiller, a six-episode series about the beginnings of the opioid crisis and specifically Purdue Pharma’s role in it. Aduba will play Edie, an investigator leading the case against Purdue, and Broderick will play Richard Sackler, the former chairman and president of Purdue. Peter Berg will direct all six episodes and serve as an executive producer, while Alex Gibney, the filmmaker of HBO’s recent similarly-themed documentary The Crime of the Century, will also be an EP. The limited series is based on author Barry Meier’s book Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and the Origin of America’s Opioid Epidemic and journalist Patrick Radden Keeke’s New Yorker article “The Family That Built an Empire of Pain.”

Jeff Goldblum has joined the fifth season of HBO Max’s Search Party, where he’ll play Tunnel Quinn, a tech billionaire who becomes a business partner of Alia Shawkat’s Dory.

Lost alum Dominic Monaghan will star in AMC’s space drama Moonhaven, playing Paul Sarno, a detective on the Moon who has the job of trying to solve Earth’s problems. The thriller, from Lodge 49 writer and producer Peter Ocko, revolves around cargo pilot and smuggler Bella Sway, who’s accused of a crime 100 years in the future and is sentenced to live in a utopian community called Moonhaven and help solve Earth’s problems before its civilization ends. (TVLine)

Jerry O’Connell, who has been a guest co-host on CBS’s The Talk recently, has been hired as a permanent co-host, filling the spot vacated by Sharon Osbourne.

Justin Chambers

(Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

The Paramount+ limited series The Offer, about the making of The Godfather, has added to its cast, as the production began this week in Los Angeles. Grey’s Anatomy alum Justin Chambers (pictured) has signed on to play Marlon Brando, while Lou Ferrigno will play Lenny Montana, the actor who portrayed Luca Brasi in The Godfather, and The Sopranos’ alum Michael Rispoli will play New York mobster Tommy Lucchese. The rest of the cast includes Miles Teller as producer Al Ruddy, Matthew Goode as famed producer Robert Evans, Colin Hanks as Barry Lapidus (the head of Gulf & Western, which owned Paramount at the time), Dan Fogler as Francis Ford Coppola, Juno Temple as Ruddy’s assistant Bettye McCartt, Giovanni Ribisi as mob boss Joe Colombo, Frank John Hughes as Frank Sinatra, and Patrick Gallo as Mario Puzo, the author of The Godfather novel.

Both John Lithgow and Jennifer Carpenter, whose characters didn’t make it out of the original Dexter series alive, will reprise their characters in Showtime’s upcoming limited sequel series. Presumably in flashbacks, unless Dexter (Michael C. Hall) has gotten up to some supernatural shenanigans after his lumberjack days. 

Oscar nominee Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water) and The Late, Late Show host James Corden will co-star in the Amazon limited dramedy series Mammals, about the relationship of a married couple. The series is written by Jez Butterworth (Flag Day), and reunites Hawkins and Corden, who starred in a spoof of The Shape of Water during her guest appearance on his CBS late-night show.

DJ Kahled is replacing Snoop Dogg as a judge on season 2 of TBS’ competition series Go-Big Show. 

Comedian Cristela Alonzo will host The WB’s remake of Legends of the Hidden Temple, which premieres on Oct. 10. 

Nicole Ari Parker, Sarita Choudhury, and Karen Pittman have joined the cast of HBO Max’s Sex and the City prequel series And Just Like That, playing a documentary filmmaker named Lisa Todd Wexley (Parker); real estate broker Seema Patel (Choudhury); and Dr. Nya Wallace, a Columbia Law School professor (Pittman). 

Zach Braff has joined the cast of the HBO Max sci-fi romantic comedy movie Moonshot. The Scrubs alum (and Emmy nominee for directing a Season 1 episode of Ted Lasso) woll play an “entrepreneur and visionary” who colonizes Mars. Lana Condor, Cole Sprouse, Mason Gooding, Emily Rudd, and Lukas Gage also star. (THR)

PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT: Breaking Bad Creator Vince Gilligan Continues His Deal with Sony Pictures Television

Vince Gilligan

(Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)

There’s more great drama in our future: Breaking Bad creator and Better Call Saul co-creator Vince Gilligan has signed a new four-year deal with Sony Pictures Television, the studio that has been his home since before Breaking Bad debuted in 2008. “… having put in 15 years already, I’m only a decade shy of receiving a gold Walkman,” Gilligan joked. He and Saul co-creator Peter Gould are in production on the sixth and final season of the Breaking Bad prequel series, which is likely to debut next year.

Speaking of deal extensions, Netflix has extended its production deal with Shonda Rhimes, meaning the Bridgerton creator and the streaming service will be in business together for at least five more years. reports the terms of the extension could push Rhimes’ deal to be valued between $300 million-400 million, while Netflix hopes Rhimes success with Bridgerton – Netflix’s most watched original series ever – and future projects will open up additional revenue streams, including live events (like the Bridgerton ball set for London in November), video games, and fan conventions.

George R.R. Martin and Robert Redford have teamed up to executive produce Dark Winds, a Western thriller limited series at AMC, based on author Tony Hillerman’s series of books featuring Navajo Tribal Police Officers Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. The series follows Leaphorn and Chee in the 1970s Southwestern U.S. as they try to solve a double murder. Redford earlier produced two movie adaptations of Hillerman’s books, The Dark Wind and Skinwalkers.

FX has purchased the rights to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ayad Akhtar’s novel Homeland Elegies, which the network will adapt as a limited series starring Kumail Nanjiani, who will also executive produce the project. A novel that is also autobiographical (the narrator’s name is also Ayad Akhtar) and includes recent history like the September 11 attacks and the election of Donald Trump, the story follows a family and its ties to its homeland of Pakistan, as well as the family’s new life in the United States, with a focus on the relationship between a son and his doctor father.

Barack and Michelle Obama are developing a new scripted series at Netflix: Blackout, a TV and film project revolving around six different love stories, with each one written by a different writer. The Black love stories take place on a sweltering New York night, during an electric outage, and involve 12 teenagers, including a pair of strangers on a subway, two best friends stuck in the New York Public Library, and a love triangle unfolding during a class trip.

Jennifer Lopez is collaborating with Skydance and Concord to create original TV and movie projects adapted from Concord’s catalog of musicals, which includes Wizard of Oz, A Chorus Line, Dreamgirls, and Hair. The deal includes Lopez starring in at least one of the musicals.

Ming-Na Wen and Temuera Morrison in Lucasfilm's THE MANDALORIAN, season 2

(Photo by © 2020 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.)

The Book of Boba Fett star Temuera Morrison confirmed in an interview with that Jon Favreau, Robert Rodriguez, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Dave Filoni will be among the directors for the Disney+ Star Wars universe series when it premieres later this year.

Paramount+ has announced The J Team, a live-action musical starring and executive produced by pop star JoJo Siwa. The 90-minute movie, which premieres on Sept. 3, revolves around a teen dancer named JoJo (Siwa) whose beloved dance teacher retires and is replaced by a tougher, “sparkle-hating” coach (Tisha Campbell-Martin). “Realizing she cannot hide her sparkle or bow anymore, JoJo is kicked out of her dance troupe and must rediscover what dancing means to her.”

I Love This for You, a half-hour comedy from Saturday Night Live alum Vanessa Bayer, has been ordered to series at Showtime. The story, based on Bayer’s experience with having leukemia as a child, revolves around Joanna Gold (Bayer), who dreams of shedding the label of “that cancer girl.” She moves away from her parents, starts her first adult romance, and makes friends with her idol (fellow SNL alum Molly Shannon) while working with an eclectic group of people at a home shopping network. Bayer created the series with Jeremy Beiler (SNL and Inside Amy Schumer), who will executive produce with Bayer, Jessi Klein (Inside Amy Schumer) and Michael Showalter (Wet Hot American Summer). Klein will also be the series showrunner.

Kelsey Grammer is teasing where his Frasier Crane will be in the upcoming Paramount+ Frasier reboot, and says Dr. Crane will move to another city and end up “rich beyond his dreams.” That sounds promising, because both a totally skint and a totally bonkers wealthy Frasier offer endless possibilities. (EW)

Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, is developing an animated series for Netflix, called Pearl, about the adventures of a 12-year-old girl, who is inspired by a variety of influential women from history.

Nicolas Cage told Variety that Amazon has canceled its Tiger King series, which means we will be denied the joy of seeing Cage play Joe Exotic. 

Is Your Child the Kid of the Year?

Time, Time for Kids, and Nickelodeon announced that the search has begun for the second annual Kid of the Year. The multiplatform honor recognizes extraordinary young leaders who are making contributions in a range of fields, including social justice, science, education, and more. The Kid of the Year TV special, produced by Time Studios, will return on Nickelodeon in early 2022 to spotlight the top finalists from the search. The special is executive produced by Trevor Noah (The Daily Show with Trevor Noah), who served as host last year and will highlight five honorees, with one outstanding kid ultimately being recognized as Time Kid of the Year, and featured on the cover of Time and in additional coverage in Time For Kids.

Now through Aug. 31, parents, teachers and friends can nominate a kid (aged 8-16) who is helping to make the world a better place. For official submission rules and additional information, visit

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