TV Talk

Stranger Things, New Thrones Prequel Among Latest Programs Halted by the Writers Strike

Plus, Black Mirror season 6 first look; Jonathan Groff joins Doctor Who and MTV News shuts down.

by | May 13, 2023 | Comments

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The final season of Netflix’s Stranger Things and HBO’s latest Game of Thrones prequel series, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight, have paused productions due to the Writers Guild of America’s strike. The episode titles and descriptions for the sixth season of Netflix’s Black Mirror have been revealed. Jonathan Groff joins Disney+’s Doctor Who in a mysterious role. MTV News has shut down. Plus, trailers for AMC/AMC+’s latest Walking Dead series, The Walking Dead: Dead City, and Starz’s Outlander season 7 in this roundup of the past week’s biggest news in TV and streaming.


Stranger Things and The Hedge Knight Halted Due to WGA Strike

The final season of Netflix’s Stranger Things is one of the latest TV series to stop production due to the WGA strike. (Photo by Netflix)

The fifth, and final, season of Netflix’s Stranger Things and HBO’s new Game of Thrones prequel, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight, are among the latest productions to hit pause due to the WGA strike.

Stranger Things creators Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer took to Twitter to voice their support for the strike and to announce the filming delay.

“Writing does not stop when filming begins,” they said in the statement. “While we’re excited to start production with our amazing cast and crew, it is not possible during this strike.”

As for HBO’s latest Game of Thrones project, author George R.R. Martin, who wrote the source material and is a writer and executive producer on this series along with Ira Parker, gave the following update on his blog:

    I want to go on the record with my full and complete and unequivocal support of my Guild. The writer’s room on A KNIGHT OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS: THE HEDGE KNIGHT has closed for the duration. Ira Parker and his incredible staff of young talents are on the picket lines.

Other series pausing production as the second week of the strike comes to a close include the Apple TV+ drama Severance and Maya Rudolph comedy Loot, the Showtime series Billions, the Rob Lowe Netflix comedy Unstable and the Starz series P-Valley and The Venery of Samantha Bird.

As for the Disney+ series Star Wars: Andor, creator and showrunner Tony Gilroy has stopped all producing duties on the highly-anticipated second seasons after drawing criticism for crossing the picket line (or “scabbing”) following Disney’s demand that showrunners continue with all non-writing duties.

Gilroy said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter that “I discontinued all writing and writing-related work on Andor prior to midnight, May 1 [when the strike officially began]. After being briefed on the [Guild’s] Saturday showrunner meeting, I informed [WGA West president] Chris Keyser … on Sunday morning that I would also be ceasing all non-writing producing functions.”

Black Mirror Season 6 First Look: Images, Episode Titles and Descriptions Revealed

Ahead of its June premiere, Netflix has revealed the episode titles and plot descriptions for the sixth season of the sci-fi anthology series Black Mirror. The new installment will contain five new episodes: “Joan Is Awful,” “Loch Henry,” “Beyond the Sea,” “Mazey Day” and “Demon 79.”

Here is a rundown of each episode, including the description, director, writer and cast:

“Joan Is Awful”

Salma Hayek in Black Mirror season 6. (Photo by Netflix)

An average woman is stunned to discover a global streaming platform has launched a prestige TV drama adaptation of her life — in which she is portrayed by Hollywood A-lister Salma Hayek.

Directed by: Ally Pankiw
Written by: Charlie Brooker
Starring: Annie Murphy, Salma Hayek Pinault, Michael Cera, Himesh Patel, Rob Delaney and Ben Barnes.

“Loch Henry”

Myha’la Herrold and Samuel Blenkin in Black Mirror season 6. (Photo by Netflix)

A young couple travel to a sleepy Scottish town to start work on a genteel nature documentary but find themselves drawn to a juicy local story involving shocking events of the past.

Directed by: Sam Miller
Written by: Charlie Brooker
Starring: Samuel Blenkin, Myha’la Herrold, Daniel Portman, John Hannah and Monica Dolan.

“Beyond the Sea”

Aaron Paul in Black Mirror season 6. (Photo by Netflix)

Set in an alternative 1969, two men on a perilous high-tech mission wrestle with the consequences of an unimaginable tragedy.

Directed by: John Crowley
Written by: Charlie Brooker
Starring: Aaron Paul, Josh Hartnett, Kate Mara, Auden Thornton and Rory Culkin.

“Mazey Day”

Zazie Beetz in Black Mirror season 6. (Photo by Netlfix)

A troubled starlet is dogged by invasive paparazzi while dealing with the consequences of a hit-and-run incident.

Directed by: Uta Briesewitz
Written by: Charlie Brooker
Starring: Zazie Beetz, Clara Rugaard and Danny Ramirez.

“Demon 79”

Paapa Essiedu in Black Mirror season 6. (Photo by Netflix)

Set in Northern England in 1979, a meek sales assistant is told she must commit terrible acts to prevent disaster.

Directed by: Toby Haynes
Written by: Charlie Brooker and Bisha K. Ali
Starring: Anjana Vasan, Paapa Essiedu, Katherine Rose Morley and David Shields.

New Trailers: The Walking Dead: Dead City Takes the Negan and Maggie Drama to the Big Apple in First Trailer

The enemy of my enemy is my friend. But what if you hate that person because he killed your husband?

By the looks of things in the first official trailer for The Walking Dead: Dead City, the jury is still out on what to do in that situation.

The new AMC/AMC+ series focuses on Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), who ended things on original series The Walking Dead with a low-key truce. But never forget that Negan took Glenn (Steven Yeun) away from Maggie (and the rest of us) and she dealt with that trauma in her own destructive ways. Now the duo find themselves together and heading toward a walker-infested Manhattan with the goal of saving her son Herschel from a soft-spoken psycho known as “The Croat” (Zeljko Ivanek).

Whether she wants to admit it, she needs his help.

The Walking Dead: Dead City premieres June 18 on AMC and AMC+.

More trailers and teasers released this week:
Cruel Summer season 2 follows the rise and fall of an intense teenage friendship through three timelines surrounding Y2K. It starts with the friendship between Megan, Isabella, and Megan’s best friend Luke. The second timeline is about the love triangle that blossomed. And the third unravels the mystery that would impact all of their lives. Premieres June 6. (Freeform)
I’m a Virgo is a darkly-comedic fantastical coming-of-age joyride from visionary filmmaker Boots Riley. It’s about Cootie (Jerome), a 13-foot-tall young Black man in Oakland. He forms friendships, finds love, navigates awkward situations and encounters his idol, the real life superhero named The Hero (Walton Goggins). Premieres June 23. (Prime Video)
Never Have I Ever returns for its final season and continues the story of Devi, an overachieving high school student with a short fuse who gets into one difficult situation after another. Get ready for senior year, nerds. Premieres June 8. (Netflix)
Elsbeth is the latest spin-off of The Good Wife. Hailing from showrunners Robert and Michelle King, it follows Elsbeth Tascioni (Carrie Preston), an astute but unconventional attorney who utilizes her singular point of view to make unique observations and to help corner brilliant criminals for the NYPD. Premieres 2023. (CBS)
The Crowded Room follows Danny Sullivan (Tom Holland), a man who is arrested following his involvement in a shooting in 1979 New York City. Told through a series of interviews with curious interrogator Rya Goodwin (Amanda Seyfried), Danny reveals elements of the mysterious past that shaped him and the twists and turns that will lead him to a life-altering revelation. Premieres June 9. (Apple TV+)

Outlander season 7 finds Jamie, Claire and their family caught in the violent birth pains of an emerging nation as armies march to war and British institutions crumble in the face of armed rebellion. The American Revolution is now in full swing. Premieres June 16. (Starz)
•In The Righteous Gemstones season 3, the Gemstone children finally get their wish to take control of the family’s megachurch. But they discover leadership is harder than they imagined and that their extravagant lifestyle comes with a heavy price. Steve Zahn makes his series debut in the new episodes, alongside returning cast members Danny McBride, John Goodman, Edi Patterson, Adam DeVine, Cassidy Freeman, Tim Baltz, Tony Cavalero and Walton Goggins. Premieres June 18. (Max)
Clone High season 2 takes place 20 years after the original series (and experiment) was put on ice. Clones of icons like Joan of Arc, JFK, Abraham Lincoln and Cleopatra have been thawed out to resume school with their new clone classmates – all while navigating a new set of cultural norms and overly dramatic teen relationships. Premieres May 23. (Max)
Matlock stars Kathy Bates as brilliant septuagenarian Madeline Matlock. She re-joins the workforce at a prestigious law firm where she uses her unassuming demeanor and wily tactics to win cases and expose corruption from within. Premieres 2023. (CBS)
Arnold chronicles never-before-seen footage and stories of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s journey from rural Austria to the highest echelons of the American dream. The three-part documentary series features unprecedented access and candid interviews from Schwarzenegger, his friends, foes, co-stars and observers. The joys and the turbulence of his family life are unveiled in a tale that matches his larger-than-life persona. Premieres June 7. (Netflix)
McGregor Forever is a four-part documentary series that charts superstar MMA fighter Conor McGregor’s epic journey back to the top of the UFC ladder. It’s an all-access look at this controversial superstar along with a deeper history of what brought him to this point. Premieres May 17. (Netflix)

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Casting: Doctor Who First Look: Jonathan Groff Joins BBC Series

Jonathan Groff, Millie Gibson and Ncuti Gatwa in BBC’s Doctor Who. (Photo by BBC)

Jonathan Groff — known for his roles as King George in Hamilton, Kristoff in Disney’s Frozen movies and serial killer profiler Holden Ford in Netflix’s Mindhunter — has joined the cast of the new season of Doctor Who in a mysterious key role. BBC unveiled the above first-look image of the actor alongside Ncuti Gatwa (who stars as the new Doctor) and Millie Gibson (who will play his companion).

Doctor Who will return to television in November 2023. It will feature three special episodes with David Tennant reprising his role as the Fourteenth Doctor to coincide with the show’s 60th anniversary (he left the role in 2010). The new season will premiere exclusively on BBC for the UK and Ireland. Although it previously aired stateside on BBC America, Disney+ will be the exclusive American home for new seasons of Doctor Who.

The Bear has added Molly Gordon in a key recurring role for season 2. Details about her character are being kept under wraps.

HBO’s The Sympathizer casts Scott Ly as recurring character Gunner Dao, a Vietnamese soldier who escaped to the States and is part of the Recon squad. (Variety)

Joel McHale will host E!‘s House of Villains, a competition series that puts 10 of reality television’s most iconic villains through a variety of challenges with the goal of winning a cash prize and the title of America’s Ultimate Supervillain. (Deadline)

Candice Bergen will reprise her Sex and the City role of magazine editor Enid Frick in season 2 of And Just Like That. She will be joined by Gloria Steinem, who will play herself in the new episodes. (EW)

Robert Patrick is replacing actor Rory Cochrane in season 2 of Prime Video’s Reacher. He will play the series regular role of former NYPD detective Shane Langston. Cochrane exited the series due to scheduling conflicts before any of his scenes were shot. (Deadline)

To All the Boys alum Lana Condor will star opposite Alan Cumming in Evergreen, the first installment of the scripted anthology podcast series Hidden Signal. She’ll play Hannah, a young woman trapped in her boss Fin Gorale’s (Cumming) malfunctioning subterranean biosphere as an extinction level event transpires on the surface. Abigail Spencer, Claire Holt, Ki Hong Lee, Lana McKissack, Desmin Borges, Shi Ne Nielson and Freddie Stroma also star. (Deadline)

Production & Development: MTV News Shuts Down As Paramount Cuts Costs

Kurt Loder at Bradenburg Gate, Germany, 1993, ©MTV / courtesy Everett Collection

Kurt Loder reporting for MTV News at Germany’s Bradenburg Gate in 1993. (Photo by ©MTV / courtesy Everett Collection)

After thirty-six years, MTV News is no more. The axing of the Gen X institution was part of a cost-cutting measure by parent company Paramount Global that also included laying off 25% of the company’s staff and integrating Showtime and MTV Entertainment Studios into one team.

Launching the careers of correspondents like Kurt Loder, Tabitha Soren, SuChin Pak, Gideon Yago and Alison Stewart, the news outlet covered everything from music to politics with angles that would interest younger viewers.  In 2017, MTV News reconfigured its business model and scaled down its staff as it pivoted strategies to focus on shortform video content.

In a memo to staff, which was acquired by Variety, Paramount Media Networks president Chris McCarthy blamed the changes on the “pressure from broader economic headwinds.”

The CW’s summer programming slate will feature four scripted programs that are new to the network: Son of a Critch, Moonshine, Run the Burbs and The Spencer Sisters.

Son of a Critch, the original comedy series from comedian, actor and writer Mark Critch, has been acquired by the CW from CBC . Based on Critch’s bestselling memoir This Hour Has 22 Minutes, the series follows his coming of age in the 1980s. Critch stars as his father, Mike, while Benjamin Evan Ainsworth (Pinocchio) plays a young Mark. Claire Rankin (Molly’s Game) stars as Mark’s mother, Mary, alongside newcomers Sophia Powers and Mark Rivera, who play his classmates. Colton Gobbo (Ginny & Georgia) plays Mark’s older brother, Mike Jr., and Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange) rounds out the cast as Patrick “Pop” Critch.

Moonshine, as the press release explains, “is an epic tale of lust, legacy and lobster [that is] set against the backdrop of financial hardship, small town intrigue and a long-buried [family] secret.” Corrine Koslo and Peter MacNeill star as Bea and Ken Finley-Cullen, the heads of the family and owners of  a troubled resort called The Moonshine. Jennifer Finnigan plays eldest sibling Lidia, an architect who wants to redevelop the coastal property. Anastasia Phillips is her often-overlooked younger sister Rhian. Emma Hunter plays their other sister Nora, a local DJ who also knows all the family secrets. Alexander Nunez plays Sammy, their musically gifted adopted brother who holds secrets of his own. Tom Stevens plays aging party boy (and Rhian’s twin) Ryan, who is running his own (illegal) business out of the resort.

Run the Burbs was co-created by Kim’s Convenience‘s Andrew Phung alongside Scott Townend. It follows the Phams, who, according to the show description, are “a young, bold Vietnamese-South Asian family taking a different approach to living life to the fullest, while changing the way we think about contemporary family values and life in the burbs.” Phung stars as stay-at-home dad Andrew Pham. Rahkee Morzaria plays Andrew’s free-spirited entrepreneur wife Camille. Zoriah Wong is their teenage daughter Khia and Roman Pesino plays their clever young son Leo.

The Spencer Sisters stars Lea Thompson as Victoria Spencer, a mystery novelist. After they’re mistaken for sisters, she partners with her daughter Darby Spencer (Stacey Farber) to solve crimes. Thomas Antony Olajide is Darby’s high school best friend and local cop Zane Graham. Edward Ruttle is Darby’s high school flame Lucas Collins. Husein Madhavji is Victoria’s “IT consultant” (aka hacker) Alastair Dhumal. Ayesha Mansur Gonsalves is Victoria’s feisty literary agent Sarita Stark. Rodrigo Massa is Zane’s husband Antonio Pereira, who operates a Brazilian bistro. Kaitlyn Leeb is Lindsay Yip, a hotshot lawyer who is Lucas’ fiancée and Adam Hurtig is the lead detective of the local police force.

Memoir The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah, which tells the life story of the poet, artist, activist and Peaky Blinders actor, is being developed as a TV series by David Lawrence Taylor, the creator of Baby Cow and Timewasters. (Deadline)

K-pop supergroup BTS will get animated in the Crunchyroll series Bastions. The series takes place in a world where superheroes compete for popularity. It follows a group of up-and-coming rookies who have just saved Earth from an environmental crisis. (Deadline)

Gomorrah writers Leonardo Fasoli and Maddelena Ravagli will adapt David Szalay’s novel Turbulence for TV. The book is a collection of short stories that follow 12 international protagonists as they fly from country to country, experiencing physical and emotional turbulence brought on by the chaos of life. (Deadline)

Docuseries about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the 7/7 London bombings are in the works at BBC. Zelensky explore the comedian-turned-president’s Jewish upbringing in the former Soviet Union and his transition from rom-com movie star to celebrated leader. 7/7: Three Weeks In July [wt] will document the day and aftermath of one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in British history. (Deadline)

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