TV Talk

Alien TV Series Update: Scripts Are Written, FX Chief Reveals

And more of the biggest news out of the Television Critics Association's winter press tour. Plus, Greg Berlanti's new development deal; a Dungeons & Dragons live-action TV series; and new trailers.

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In a TV Talk special edition, we review some of the biggest news out of the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour and beyond. The Alien TV series is still alive and creeping closer to production. Greg Berlanti Productions extended its overall development deal with Warner Bros. Television Group. A Dungeons & Dragons live-action TV series is in the works. Meryl Streep has joined the new season of Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building, while Morgan Freeman has joined the cast of Taylor Sheridan’s Lioness at Paramount+.  Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is being developed for television. Plus, trailers for The Mandalorian season 3, Yellowjackets season 2, You season 4 (part 1),  Bob Odenkirk’s Lucky Hank, and more of the biggest news in TV and streaming from the past week.


Noah Hawley’s Alien TV Series Is Written and Will Begin Production This Year

(Photo by 20th Century Fox)

Since its December 2020 announcement, the TV series take on director Ridley Scott and writer Dan O’Bannon’s Alien film franchise has been the source of much fan anticipation.

John Landgraf, the chairman of FX content and FX productions, has heard those screams. He told journalists at the Television Critics Association winter press tour that the show will go into production this year — after creator Noah Hawley finishes work on the latest season of his serialized adaptation of another beloved series: Fargo.

“Noah Hawley’s currently in production on the fifth season of Fargo, but [also] in active preproduction of the first season of Alien,” Landgraf also told reporters. “He’s written the scripts and … I think he’s meeting with his production designer in Austin, where he lives.”

Hawley told Vanity Fair in 2021 that this show would not involve Ellen Ripley, the heroine made famous by Sigourney Weaver in the film franchise, and that “it’s a story that’s set on Earth.”

The show is one of many upcoming programs that will air on FX’s sister digital platform, Hulu. Others include the limited series adaptation of authors Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations and James Clavell’s Shogun and the film The Full Monty.

But, when pressed as to whether Hulu would follow its streaming rival HBO Max and remove older content from its site, Landgraf said, “We don’t have any specific plans to do that. But I wouldn’t rule anything out.” He also warned that one of the less-talked-about problems with media conglomerates and consolidations — such as the Warner Bros. Discovery merger that resulted in several scrapped titles for HBO Max — is how it will hit the industry’s gains toward diversity. He pointed out that the country’s largest demographic is still white men and programmers are still going to want (and need) to appeal to the biggest audience possible for their content.

“I think this expansion [of content] … in terms of distribution has a really positive benefit, which is a lot of new people have gotten opportunities in the industry,” he said. “And so then you worry when there’s a narrowing process that, you know, who loses the opportunity, right? Is it the last person that got opportunity? And does that not favor diverse voices?”


  • Star Trek: Picard may be gearing up for its third and final season (premiering February 16 on Paramount+). But series star Patrick Stewart revealed during the series’ panel that he is open to continue exploring the adventures of Jean-Luc Picard if the show could “maintain the work quality” of its previous seasons.
  • The Paramount+ series Rabbit Hole is a spy thriller that stars Kiefer Sutherland as John Weir, a corporate spy adept at deception who is framed for murder. And creators John Requa and Glenn Ficarra know that Sutherland’s previous work on 24 and Designated Survivor will be on audiences’ minds as they watch it. “You are playing with someone’s history a bit, of the history of their career,” Ficarra said during that show’s TCA panel. “And John Weir is a very tricky character. He’s oftentimes an unreliable narrator of sorts. And the great thing about someone who is basically an American hero, known around the world, they always know he’s on the right side, I think. And I think that helps you immensely when you have a character who is going into kind of murky waters and coming out.” (Even if Sutherland is actually Canadian). It premieres March 26.
  • The Paramount+ musical Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies is set in the years before Danny and Sandy’s opposites-attract love affair known to fans of the stage and film musical comedy. Showrunner and executive producer Annabel Oakes told the TCA audience that she’d originally passed on an executive’s offer to have her do a Grease TV show because “Nobody needs another Grease. Grease is absolutely perfect.” But then she did some research and learned that the Pink Ladies girl gang in the film were based on a real group of young women who attended Grease co-creator Jim Jacobs’ high school. “They were these tough girls who had to stick together because they weren’t like all the other girls,” she said and realized that there’s a story in there. Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies premieres April 6.
  • During the Walking Dead: Dead City panel on Tuesday during network AMC’s press day, franchise chief content officer Scott Gimple and showrunner Eli Jorne referenced John Carpenter’s Escape from New York and Walter Hill’s The Warriors as two of the cinematic influences behind the new series. Walking Dead: Dead City premieres in June.
  • AMC’s newest Anne Rice programs Interview With the Vampire and Mayfair Witches will experience a crossover, according to Mark Johnson, an executive producer on both series. “You’ll see a lot of connections, both in terms of characters in terms of geography,” he said during the Mayfair Witches panel. “We very much want to tie the worlds together in a way that makes sense.”
  • During the Justified: City Primeval panel at FX’s press day, the series was described as an “extension of the universe” by co-star Adelaide Clemens. When asked if future installments were in the cards, series star Timothy Olyphant said, “I would show up.” Justified: City Primeval will premiere later this year.
  • Season 2 of FX’s critically acclaimed series The Bear will premiere in early summer. The next installment will feature 10 episodes, up from the first season’s eight episodes. The first season drove home that the show was a comedy that was very much not a comedy. For the second season, co-showrunner Joanna Calo said, “We found ourselves leaning a little more into the lighter side just for the writing perspective.” Still, she added, they haven’t started filming “so maybe that will just all be undone by something we discover.”
  • In between events promoting Avatar: The Way of Water, director James Cameron made a surprise appearance during National Geographic’s TCA day to announce two new programs: Secrets of the Bees and Secrets of the Penguins. Cameron is an executive producer on the Secrets franchise, which also includes 2021’s Secrets of the Whales, Secrets of the Elephants (which premieres on April 21), and Secrets of the Octopus, which has yet to be assigned a release date. “What draws me to it,” Cameron said of his ongoing role as “explorer-at-large” with Nat Geo, “is my endless curiosity and fascination with the natural world and how it works, and how rapidly science is starting to answer these these questions about how animals communicate.”
  • Hulu and Onyx Collective’s new dramedy Unprisoned is a “present-day corrective,” star Delroy Lindo and showrunner Yvette Lee Bowser expressed during the program’s panel. “I think there was a time where we as Black writers and storytellers were fighting nearly for an opportunity to tell a story, and now we’re finding ourselves in a period in time where we can go deeper — much, much deeper,” Bowser said. The half-hour series is centered on the life of a relationship therapist and single mom whose professional and personal life is flipped on its head when her dad is released from prison and moves in with her and her teenage son. Lindo stars opposite Kerry Washington, Marque Richardson, Faly Rakotohavana, and Jordyn McIntosh.
  • Magnum P.I. will be much more sexier in its new home at NBC, stars Jay Hernandez and Perdita Weeks said during NBC’s TCA day. The series was originally canceled last summer by CBS before NBC saved the program, renewing it for its upcoming fifth season. “This season is sexier,” showrunner Eric Guggenheim revealed, explaining that this is the relationship that would have happened even if it had remained on CBS. “I think a lot of people actually were worried, like fans-wise, that it would lose the antagonism or something,” Weeks added. “But I will reassure everyone that that very much remains.”
  • NBC’s Night Court revival series (or “newboot,” as star and executive producer Melissa Rauch called it) announced at its TCA panel that Melissa Villaseñor, Faith Ford, Pete Holmes, Kurt Fuller, Stephanie Weir, Lyric Lewis, Wendie Malick, Johnny Weir, and Tara Lipinski will appear as guest stars in the new season. Producer Dan Rubin acknowledged the challenge in keeping the show standing on its own two feet, but didn’t rule out bringing original cast members Richard Moll, who played bailiff Aristotle Nostradamus “Bull” Shannon, or Marsha Warfield, who played bailiff Roz Russell, back in cameo roles. “Anytime we bring people back, we always want it to help the story and help tell the story in the current Night Court,” he added. John Larroquette is the only other living cast member from the original series, and he reprises his role of Dan Fielding in the revival.
  • Rian Johnson said during the Poker Face panel that “there are infinite stories to tell” beyond the show’s 10-episode first season. The series stars Natasha Lyonne as human lie detector Charlie Cale and drops on January 26 to Peacock. Johnson revealed that the mystery-of-the-week program was conceived as far more than a limited series. “It was conceived as something that has the architecture to keep going,” he said. “It’s not about stretching some kind of longer term story of Charlie out for however many seasons. It’s literally a smorgasbord of possibilities of different worlds we can dip into in each episode, and whole new mysteries in every single one. So, for me, there’s endless possibility.”
  • During PBS’s Masterpiece panel, the cast and creators of Tom Jones explained the differences to be expected from the new series compared to the Oscar-winning movie that starred Albert Finney. “I think our Tom is a lot more innocent and naïve, and he’s kind of led astray a little bit more,” star Solly McLeod said of his character. “Whereas, Albert Finney’s Tom had a feeling you kind of knew what he was doing when he was getting involved in the situations he did.”
  • Apple TV+ day brought Schmigadoon! to the stage to discuss the change in story and tone for season 2. Gone is the upbeat musical stylings of the ’40s and ’50s. Instead, the new season explores the musicals of the ’60s and ’70s, from Chicago to Cabaret to Sweeney Todd. And, as co-creator and executive producer Cinco Paul explained, “Musicals got darker. They don’t have happy endings. They’re more complicated.” Keegan-Michael Key admitted it’s his favorite era for musicals, noting that he once played Jesus in Godspell. Dove Cameron pointed to the musicals this era as the impetus for her initial interest in acting: “I grew up particularly watching and obsessing over Cabaret, Sweeney, everything from this is really my favorite era of musical. This is what inspired me to get involved in musical theatre in the first place.”

Greg Berlanti Re-Ups Warner Bros. TV Partnership with New Overall Development Deal

Writer/producer Greg Berlanti poses with Founders Award during the 46th International Emmy Awards

(Photo by Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)

Greg Berlanti has signed a new overall deal with Warner Bros. Television Group, marking the first overall deal of its kind since the completion of the merger between Warner and Discovery. Through the new multi-year agreement, Berlanti Productions will maintain its presence at Warner Bros. TV where the company will continue to develop new television projects for all of Warner’s TV platforms, which includes HBO Max, external streaming services, cable, and broadcast networks.

“Every day I wake up grateful I get to tell stories for a living with so many talented people that I love,” Berlanti said in a statement. “With this deal, I’ll be lucky enough to be going into my third decade of making TV and calling Warner Bros. my home. The TV business has changed and Warner Bros. has changed, too, but I’m as grateful as ever to be making television and working with a passionate, brilliant, and kind leader like Channing Dungey and alongside a wise and tremendous old friend like Brett Paul. In my time getting to know David Zaslav, he is the most rare of Hollywood leaders: honest, loyal, and visionary about the kind of thriving Warner Bros. he wants to build for the future, where storytellers like myself can have a home to tell stories that excite and move audiences all over the world, for years to come.”

Berlanti Productions’ varied slate of shows include the likes of Emmy-nominated The Flight Attendant, Netflix’s highly successful thriller You,  All American and All American: Homecoming, as well as DC’s live-action Arrowverse programming on the CW – with shows like Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow maintaining a huge comic book presence on the network. Berlanti has continued the small-screen comic book adventures with a second DC universe that includes the critically acclaimed Titans, Doom Patrol, and DC’s Stargirl

Zaslav, the Chief Executive Officer of Warner Bros. Discovery, added: “Greg is a huge talent, and the impact of his prolific and powerful storytelling on Warner Bros. and audiences, and on our culture, is just ‘wow.’ He began his career with us, and we are incredibly fortunate that he will continue to build and grow our TV studio into the future.”

The development deal will extend through the year 2027.

A Dungeons & Dragons Live-Action Series in the Works at Paramount+

dungeons & dragons honor among thieves poster

(Photo by Paramount Pictures)

A new eight-episode live-action Dungeons & Dragons–inspired series has been ordered at Paramount+, Deadline reported. Red Notice filmmaker Rawson Marshall Thurber wrote the pilot episode and is teed up to direct the first episode of the project.

Bringing a Dungeons & Dragons project to television has been a top priority for eOne’s President of Global Television Michael Lombardo since toy company Hasbro acquired the company in 2019. If all goes according to plan, the live-action project, which is gargantuan in scope, will launch a Dungeons & Dragons cinematic universe that will encompass a variety of scripted and unscripted shows.

Paramount Pictures and eOne, who are teaming up for the new series, also co-produced and co-financed the upcoming Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves movie (pictured above), which is set to premiere on March 31.

Related: The Most Anticipated TV and Streaming Shows of 2023

New Trailers: The Mandalorian Reunites Mando and Grogu for Season 3

Pedro Pascal is back as lone bounty hunter, Din Djarin (better known as “Mando”) in the first trailer for the new season of Disney+’s The Mandalorian. And finally, he is reuniting with his foundling Grogu to continue the journey they started way back in the show’s first season (back when Grogu was known as “Baby Yoda”).

We can absolutely expect more conflicts with familiar faces and new enemies. But this time around, it looks like Grogu’s time with Jedi Master Luke Skywalker did him well. Something tells us the trailer is merely cracking the surface at what cute green kiddo can do.

Katee Sackhoff, Carl Weathers, Amy Sedaris, Emily Swallow, and Giancarlo Esposito also star in the eight-episode season. Weathers takes on directing duties in the new installment, as well, along with Rick Famuyiwa, Rachel Morrison, Lee Isaac Chung, Peter Ramsey, and Bryce Dallas Howard, who also helm episodes.

The Mandalorian season 3 premieres on March 1 on Disney+.

Related: Everything We Know About The Mandalorian Season 3

More trailers and teasers released this week:

Yellowjackets season 2 continues the story of a wildly talented high school girls’ soccer team who descend into savage clans after their plane crashes in the remote northern wilderness. Twenty-five years later, they discover that what began in the wild is far from over. Premieres March 24. (Showtime)
Hello Tomorrow! centers around a group of traveling salesmen hawking lunar timeshares. Billy Crudup stars as Jack, a salesman of great talent and ambition, whose unshakeable faith in a brighter tomorrow inspires his coworkers, revitalizes his desperate customers, but threatens to leave him dangerously lost in the very dream that sustains him. Premieres February 17. (Apple TV+)
• In Snowfall’s sixth and final season, a civil war threatens to destroy the Saint family. When everyone has their backs against the wall, who will they become in order to survive? Premieres February 22. (FX)
Carnival Row finds humans and fae folk divided in season 2. With freedom on the line, each hero will face impossible dilemmas and soul-defining tests in the series’ epic conclusion. Premieres February 17. (Prime Video)
Shrinking follows a grieving therapist (Jason Segel) who starts to break the rules and tell his clients exactly what he thinks. Ignoring his training and ethics, he finds himself making huge, tumultuous changes to people’s lives, including his own. Premieres January 27. (Apple TV+)
Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies takes place four years before the original Grease, before rock ‘n’ roll ruled, before the T-Birds were the coolest in the school, when four fed-up outcasts dare to have fun on their own terms, sparking a moral panic that will change Rydell High forever. Premieres April 6. (Paramount+)
School Spirits is a new YA series centered around Maddie (Peyton List), a teen girl stuck in the afterlife investigating her mysterious disappearance. Premieres March 9. (Paramount+)
Lockwood and Co.: In London, where the most gifted teenage ghost-hunters venture nightly into perilous combat with deadly spirits, amidst the many corporate, adult-run agencies, one stands alone: independent of any commercial imperative or adult supervision — a tiny startup, run by two teenage boys and a newly arrived, supremely psychically gifted girl, a renegade trio destined to unravel a mystery that will change the course of history: Lockwood & Co. Premieres January 27. (Netflix)

You season 4, part 1 picks up after Joe’s previous life went up in flames. He has fled to Europe to escape his “messy” past, adopt a new identity, and, of course, to pursue true love. But Joe soon finds himself in the strange new role of reluctant detective as he discovers he may not be the only killer in London. Now, his future depends on identifying and stopping whoever’s targeting his new friend group of uber-wealthy socialites. Premieres February 9. (Netflix)
History of the World, Part II comes 40 years after the seminal Mel Brooks film History of the World, Part 1, with each episode featuring a variety of sketches that take us through different periods of human history. Premieres March 6. (Hulu)
Dear Edward tells the story of Edward Adler, a 12-year-old boy who survives a devastating commercial plane crash that kills every other passenger on the flight, including his family. As Edward and a diverse ensemble of others affected by the tragedy try to make sense of life after the crash, unexpected friendships, romances, and communities are formed. Premieres February 17. (Apple TV+)
The Reluctant Traveler follows Eugene Levy as he visits some of the world’s most beautiful and intriguing destinations, experiencing thrilling local adventures with new friends. Premieres February 24. (Apple TV+)
Lucky Hank is an eight-episode mid-life crisis tale about the unlikely chairman of the English department in a badly underfunded college in the Pennsylvania rust belt. Premieres March 19. (AMC)
Murf the Surf: Jewels, Jesus, and Mayhem in the USA is a four-part series exploring the high-stakes Miami criminal underworld through the eyes of the most daring jewel thief in American history, Jack Roland Murphy, aka “Murf the Surf.” Featuring exclusive access to Murphy himself prior to his death in 2020, the series will address the blurred line between fact and fiction, faith and delusion, sanity, and madness – raising the timely question of who and how we believe. Premieres February 5. (MGM+)
Pamela, a Love Story is a documentary presented in Pamela Anderson’s own words, through personal video and diaries, where she shares the story of her rise to fame, rocky romances and infamous sex tape scandal. Premieres January 31. (Netflix)
• In Wolf Pack, a raging wildfire descends on California, driving a mysterious creature out from hiding in the forest. A group of teenagers find their lives changed forever. Premieres January 26. (Paramount+)

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

Casting: Meryl Streep Joins Only Murders in the Building season 3 cast

Meryl Streep has been added to the cast of Only Murders in the Building season 3. Series star and co-creator Steve Martin took to Twitter on Tuesday to reveal the Oscar winner’s addition to the series. The new episodes of Hulu’s celebrated whodunnit, which co-stars Martin Short and Selena Gomez, have officially begun production.

Also appearing in the image is Ant Man star Paul Rudd, who appeared in the finale of season 2 as big-time actor Ben Glenroy. The season ended with Oliver’s (Short) new stage production coming to a halt when Glenroy collapsed during opening night in front of a packed house. His role will be bigger in the new episodes.

Gomez added to the buzz with a post on Instagram, announcing, “the gang is back,” while adding Rudd to the mix, with Streep popping up in the background to offer Martin a pillow. If anything, it looks like these new episodes are going to be jam-packed with more murder-mystery shenanigans. The first two seasons are available to stream on Hulu.


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Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman has signed onto the cast of Lioness, Taylor Sheridan’s latest drama series at Paramount+. He will appear alongside series stars and executive producers Zoe Saldaña and Nicole Kidman, and star Laysla De Oliveira. Freeman will play the role of United States Secretary of State Edwin Mullins in the thriller, which is based on a real-life CIA program and follows Cruz Manuelos (De Oliveira), a passionate young Marine who is brought on board the Lioness Engagement Team to bring down a terrorist outfit from within. Saldaña is Joe, the Lioness program’s station chief, who is tasked with training, managing and leading her female undercover operatives. Kidman previously joined the series as CIA senior supervisor Kaitlyn Meade.

Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins has been cast as the battle-tested Emperor Vespasian — the Emperor of Rome and head of the Flavian bloodline — in Roland Emmerich’s historical gladiator epic, Those About to Die. Hopkins is the first major talent announced for the series, which is set in the complex and corrupt world of spectacle-driven gladiatorial competition. It’ll explore a diverse set of a characters from various parts Roman society whose conflicts collide at the intersection of sports, politics and dynasties of the ancient world.

Dave Burd, better known by his rapper name Lil Dicky, unleashed a fraction of guest stars that are set to appear in season 3 of FX comedy series Dave during the program’s panel during the Television Critics Association press tour. Usher, Rick Ross, Demi Lovato, Don Cheadle, Machine Gun Kelly, Megan Fox, Killer Mike, and Travis Barker will be playing “funhouse versions of themselves,” series co-creator Jeff Schaffer added.

Gangs of London alum Ṣọpẹ Dìrísù has been cast in season 3 of Apple TV+’s spy series Slow Horses. He will play Sean Donovan, the British embassy’s former head of security in Istanbul. (Variety)

HBO’s upcoming mini-series The Palace has added French actor-filmmaker Guillaume Gallienne to the cast.  He will play will the husband of Kate Winslet’s character. Hugh Grant, Matthias Schoenaerts, and Andrea Riseborough will also star. (Variety)

Donna Mills will guest star on Rookie: Feds as a famous cosmetic maven named Layla Laughlin. The episode, which will air on January 17 on Fox, is titled “Out for Blood.” (Variety)

Peacock announced multiple guest stars for season 2 of Bel-Air. Grammy-nominated recording artist Saweetie will appear as herself in the first episode of the season. Brooklyn McLinn, Jazlin Martin, and Riele Downs will also recur.

Dark Winds has added Nicholas Logan in a series regular role in season 2, with Jeri Ryan taking on a recurring role in the second installment of the AMC series. (Deadline)

Production & Development: Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon TV Series from Silk: Spider Society Co-Executive Producer in the Works

(Photo by Sony Pictures)

Writer-producer Jason Ning, the current co-executive producer on Silk: Spider Society, alongside Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang, is developing a TV adaptation of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Deadline reports. As part of his new overall development deal with Sony Pictures Television, Ning’s project will cover Wang DuLu’s Crane Iron Pentalogy — the series of novels chronicle the enduring multigenerational struggles of an ancient Chinese warrior folk hero known as “youxia” — which originally were published  in China between 1938 and 1944.

Lethal Weapon screenwriter Shane Black, The Walking Dead‘s Greg Nicotero, and Creepshow‘s Brian Witten have teamed up on a scripted program adaptation of John R. Maxim’s “Paul Bannerman” book series. Once considered the nation’s deadliest covert operative, the show follows Bannerman who is now viewed as a liability, whose unpredictability presents an irreparable threat to America’s shaky intelligence structure. So, the series will follow Bannerman as he strives to survive as he and his people get a target on their backs. (Variety)

After being canceled at HBO, Starz picked up both seasons of comedy series Minx, which stars Jake Johnson and Ophelia Lovibond. Starz will exclusively premiere the completed second season, which never made it to air at HBO.

The spinoff for The Good Doctor, titled The Good Lawyer, has received a backdoor pilot order from ABC. Kennedy McMann and Felicity Huffman are set to star. (Variety)

Netflix has added two new sports docuseries to its growing slate of stories exploring the world’s biggest sporting events: a yet-to-be-titled series at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, and Six Nations (wt), an exclusive inside look at international rugby tournament, the Guinness Six Nations Championship.

Eminem and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson are developing an 8 Mile TV show. 50 Cent described the series as a modern retelling of the film, likening it to Peacock’s recent Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reboot.

Beginning in 2024, the Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will stream live on Netflix globally, thanks to a new multi-year partnership between the streamer and the SAG Awards. This year’s 29th Annual SAG awards will stream online on Sunday, February 26 at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT, celebrating the outstanding motion picture and television performances of 2022. Moving forward, the deal with Netflix will also feature the ceremony on the streamer’s YouTube channel,, and will use the company’s various social media channels to promote the event.

Multi-camera comedy El Patio, from writer Danny Fernandez (iCarly), Roselyn Sanchez, and Eric Winter, is in the works at Fox. The series centers on a mostly Latin community of neighbors who welcomes a new neighbor into their small Miami apartment building, showing how the cultural differences can bring about a variety of conflict and comedy. (Deadline)

MGM+ announced American Classic, a half-hour comedy about a man desperately trying to save himself, his family, and his hometown in the only way he knows how — by putting on a show. Kevin Kline stars as Richard Bean, a Broadway star and notorious narcissist, who suffers a spectacular public meltdown, and decides to return home to the family-run theater where he first became aware of his own brilliance.

Also from the freshly rebranded streamer is Hoodlum, a new scripted series based on MGM’s 1997 movie which explores the true story of 1930s Harlem numbers queen Stephanie St. Clair’s rise to prominence and mentorship of crime boss Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson.

A Phineas and Ferb revival series from creator Dan Povenmire has been announced at Disney. Two new seasons, featuring a total of 40 episodes, are in development.(Variety)

Koala Man showrunners Dan Hernandez and Benji Samit have signed a new multi-year development deal with 20th Television Animation. This updated partnership will cover both animated and live-action projects from the duo.  (Variety)

American Born Chinese Makes the Universal Specific

(Photo by Disney)

While appearing on the TCA stage, American Born Chinese stars Ben Wang, Michelle Yeoh, and Ke Huy Quan spoke to some extent about their specific experiences as Chinese or Chinese American actors. Original graphic novel creator Gene Luen Yang felt those sort of specifics, while keyed into Asian and Asian American cultures, make the series universal. In the tale, Wang plays Jin Wang, a Chinese American teenager who becomes the guide of Wei-Chen (Jim Liu), a boy who is the son of the Monkey King. He soon finds himself in a conflict of the gods while still facing more common teenage issues of identity.

Quan expects the diversity of experience may lead to “a range of emotions from people when the show comes out because of what you’ll see.” Additionally, as his character is meant to both parody and “show audiences today what it was like to be an Asian actor in the ’80s and ’90,” he thinks “it’s a conversation that needs to be had.”

“And that’s OK, because that’s something for us to talk about so we can make progress,” he added.

Yang said students from immigrant families will often come up to him after speaking at libraries about the book and say “how much the story spoke to them.” The cross section of responses included people from Nigeria, China, the US, and elsewhere. “I hope that holds true for the show as well,” he added.

From Monkey King actor Daniel Wu’s point of view, the show does, indeed, bring forward the balance of fantastical and universal teenage drama from the comic.

“The core of the story is this family and this kid who’s trying to fit in,” he said. “It was crazy how real it was watching these scenes [get filmed] while in my monkey makeup.”

Wang added: “When I first read the graphic novel, it was like ‘Does Gene know me?’ Even though it was based on his experience in the 1990s, it rang true for me.”

Although the specificity can produce a universal sensation, Yeoh, who plays Guanyin the Goddess of Mercy, said it is also “the right time to tell more stories about our culture.” –EA

Star Wars: The Bad Batch Producers Tease a Wide Variety of Stories for Season 2

star wars bad batch clone wars

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

The recent Star Wars: The Bad Batch episode “The Solitary Clone” focused on the seemingly villainous Crosshair (Dee Bradley Baker) as he completed a mission for the Empire that, in action, felt like a great episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars despite centering entirely on a more villainous aim.

As executive producer Jennifer Corbett put it, the story was a “brain-bender” and a first look at the variety of adventures fans can expect from the show in its second season. “We’re in the Dark Times, “she said, referring the period when the Galactic Empire is in ascendance. That means a “grittier” set of stories are on the horizon, including a “political thriller two-parter.”

“It’s like a Hitchcock thriller,” added Baker.

“But we are aware we need to tell other kinds of stories,” Corbett continued. “We still want to have fun. Episode 204 [‘Faster’] is very fun.” Also on the fun horizon, a Goonies episode the producer said she has been interested in doing since she and fellow EP Brad Rau began developing the series.

“There are a lot of episodes that are like different kinds of films [this season],” Baker said.

“It’s all about balance,” Corbett added, reiterating a key theme of the overall Star Wars story.

And although The Bad Batch is a part of that greater story, Rau stressed that having extensive knowledge is not required. “That’s what’s good about Omega [played by Michelle Ang]; she didn’t experience the Clone Wars [and can help fill in the audience by asking key questions.]”

“It’s a real joy to play that innocence,” Ang said.

Baker also loves the fact The Bad Batch is a component of a larger world: “Everything from our show to The Mandalorian to the movies to Andor — they all fit together!” –EA

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