TV Talk

HBO Content Bleed Is Stanched as Warner Bros. Discovery Focuses on Rebuilding in 2023

Plus, James Gunn teases "unannounced" DC series, Stephen Amell returns to "Arrow" role, Nicole Kidman in Taylor Sheridan's Lioness, trailers for Hunters season 2, Poker Face, The Consultant, and more top TV and streaming news.

by | January 8, 2023 | Comments

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The content bloodletting at HBO has ended for now, as Warner Bros. Discovery focuses on rebuilding. Stephen Amell will return as Oliver Queen to the final season of The Flash. Nicole Kidman has been cast in Taylor Sheridan’s Lioness series at Paramount+.  James Gunn is writing an “unannounced” DC TV series. A first look at Lady Danbury in Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story. Plus, trailers for Hunters season 2, Natasha Lyonne in Rian Johnson’s Poker Face, Cristoph Waltz in The Consultant, and more of the biggest news in TV and streaming from the past week.


No More HBO Content Getting the Restructuring Axe, Warner Bros. Discovery CFO Says

Aaron Paul in Westworld Season 4 - Episode 6

(Photo by John Johnson/HBO)

The time for restructuring, layoffs, and content write-offs is over at Warner Bros. Discovery, according to CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels — and now it’s everyone else’s turn.

“The beginning of 2023 really marks the beginning of a new chapter for us; we’re closing chapter 1, we’re opening chapter 2,” Wiedenfels said during Citi’s 2023 Communications, Media & Entertainment Conference on Thursday. “As you all saw very publicly, we shaved off a lot of the excess last year, and I think that’s something that everyone else in the industry is going to go through. We’re coming from an irrational time of overspending with very limited focus on return on investment, and I think others are going to have to make some adjustments that we, frankly, have behind us now, but I think that is going to be a factor.”

The year 2022 was the year of “restructuring” and 2023 will be about “relaunching and building,” he said, referencing HBO titles that were cancelled and/or removed from HBO Max and written off for tax reasons, including sci-fi series Westworld (pictured above).

“For some of the titles, we found new homes elsewhere, et cetera, that’s why this took six, seven months. But I think we’ve come to great solutions and most importantly, we’re done with that chapter,” he said. “That was very important to all of us to really use 2022, you know leave the purchase accounting behind us, leave those initial strategy changes behind us, get it all out there in terms of our restructuring estimates and then be able to turn the page and move forward.”

Henry Cavill in Black Adam screenshot

(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

Moving forward includes some new faces like new DC Studios co-chairmen and CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran, who’ve already made waves with their plans to overhaul DC’s direction, which included dropping Henry Cavill as Superman.

“James Gunn and Peter Safran are working on a DC lineup and are getting close to being able to communicate with the plan,” Wiedenfels said. “We got Channing [Dungey, Warner Bros. Television Group chairman]. We got [HBO Chairman and CEO] Casey Bloys with his winning team in place, so we’ve got that. Some of these changes might take some time, obviously given the lead times for content, but we’ve got the team in place, we’ve got the most iconic IP and brand portfolio that I could think of. We’ve got a global footprint, we’ve got the data and we’re putting in place the management system to bring this all together. So from the perspective of the ingredients being in place, I don’t think we could be in a better position, and now we got to execute.”

One of the projects the company is working toward this year is the merger of HBO Max and Discovery+ into one combined streaming service.

“The teams are really working hard at getting that combined product launch in the spring, and they are on track,” Wiedenfels said. “That’s going to be very exciting to finally bring together our Discovery+ and HBO Max … They are moving this project along. We’re going to come out with a great product from a consumer-experience perspective, and that’s frankly the biggest holdback for HBO Max right now, that the experience is not where it needs to be. ”

Related: DC TV Status: Where Peacemaker, the Penguin Series, and The Sandman Now Stand

Stephen Amell To Return as Oliver Queen in The Flash’s Final Season

The Flash -- "Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Three" -- Image Number: FLA609e_0002r.jpg -- Pictured: Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen/Green Arrow -- Photo: The CW -- © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

(Photo by The CW)

Speaking of DC news, Stephen Amell will play The Green Arrow one more time, reprising the role of Oliver Queen in The Flash season 9, the show’s final season.

The Arrowverse alum will appear in episode 909 of the season and will reunite with Arrow stars David Ramsey, Keiynan Lonsdale, and Sendhil Ramamurthy who will also appear in the episode, according to Variety.

“As soon as our final season was announced, we knew we wanted Stephen to come back and reprise his iconic role as Oliver Queen,” executive producer Eric Wallace told Variety. “After all, it was Oliver who originally launched Barry Allen on his heroic path. That’s why everyone on Team Flash felt so strongly that it was important to create a full-circle moment with Oliver’s return in the final season of The Flash.”

Fans should expect an “epic-yet-emotional episode,” Wallace teased.

“It’s all to say ‘thank you’ to everyone for watching and supporting our show throughout nine wonderful years. We absolutely cannot wait for everyone to see Grant and Stephen saving the world together again. And yes, there will be thrills, chills and tears,” he said.

Since Arrow, Amell has been busy with Starz series Heels, which tells the story of two brothers in a wrestling dynasty and costars Alexander Ludwig (Vikings). Season 1 was Certified Fresh at 96%, and season 2 wrapped filming last July, Amell said in the “Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum” podcast’s January 3 episode.

The Flash season 9 will premiere on Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.

New Trailers: Logan Lerman and the Hunters Reunite One Last Time To Take Down Adolf Hitler

After a nearly three-year wait, Amazon Studios’ Nazi-themed revenge series Hunters has returned. Following the events that derailed the Hunters exploits in Europe, the group of heroes have splintered. But a new life-affirming mission gets the band back together one more time – it turns out Adolf Hitler is alive and well in South America, and they’re going to do whatever they can to take down history’s most infamous Nazi. If anything, this will go down as one heck of a big payback.

Al Pacino returns as Meyer Offerman, alongside series newcomer Jennifer Jason Leigh and returning series regulars Logan Lerman, Jerrika Hinton, Lena Olin, Josh Radnor, Tiffany Boone, Carol Kane, Louis Ozawa, Kate Mulvany, and Greg Austin.

To celebrate the show’s return to and send it off in style, a six-episode companion podcast series from Jordan Peele and series creator David Weil called Chutzpah: Hunters Presents True Stories of Resistance has launched to highlight extraordinary true stories of heroism, resistance, and sacrifice made during the Holocaust.

Hunters season 2 premieres on January 13 to Prime Video.

More trailers and teasers released this week:

Night Court stars Melissa Rauch as Abby Stone, Judge Harry Stone’s (Harry Anderson) daughter. She takes up the gavel and, together with her courtroom staff, tackles the oddball cases that make their way to the night shift. Premieres January 17. (NBC)
Dear Mama is a deeply personal five-part series from award-winning director Allen Hughes that defies the conventions of traditional documentary storytelling to share an illuminating saga of mother and son, Afeni and Tupac Shakur.Their story chronicles the possibilities and contradictions of the U.S. from a time of revolutionary fervor to Hip Hop culture’s most ostentatious decade. Premieres Spring 2023. (FX)
Koala Man follows middle-aged dad Kevin and his titular not-so-secret identity, whose only superpower is a burning passion for following rules and snuffing out petty crime in the town of Dapto. On a quest to clean up his hometown, and often roping his frustrated family into his adventures, Koala Man will do whatever it takes to defeat villainous masterminds, supernatural horrors, or worse: jerks who don’t take their rubbish bins down on the proper days. Premieres January 9. (Hulu)
Foundation, which is based on Isaac Asimov’s award-winning stories, continues the story of a band of exiles in season 2 as they journey to rebuild civilization amid the fall of the Galactic Empire. Crucial individuals transcending space and time are faced with deadly crises, shifting loyalties and complicated relationships that will ultimately determine the fate of humanity. Premieres Summer 2023. (Apple TV+)
The Ark takes place 100 years in the future after a catastrophic event knocks re-colonization spacecraft Ark One off course. With more than a year left to go before reaching their target planet, a lack of life-sustaining supplies and loss of leadership, the remaining crew must become the best versions of themselves to stay on course and survive. Premieres February 1. (SYFY)

Poker Face is a 10-episode mystery-of-the-week series created by Rian Johnson and starring Natasha Lyonne as reluctant investigator Charlie, who has an extraordinary ability to determine when someone is lying. She hits the road with her Plymouth Barracuda and with every stop encounters a new cast of characters and strange crimes she can’t help but solve. Premieres January 26. (Peacock)
The Consultant stars Christoph Waltz as Compware’s new consultant, Regus Patoff. After he is hired to improve the business at the App-based gaming company, employees experience new demands and challenges that put everything into question — including their lives. Premieres February 24. (Prime Video)
Truth Be Told season 3 finds Poppy (Octavia Spencer) partnering with an unorthodox principal (Gabrielle Union) to keep the names of young missing Black girls in the public eye, while chasing down a suspected sex trafficking ring that may have ensnared them. Premieres January 20. (Apple TV+)
Harlem season 2 follows Camille (Meagan Good) who, after blowing up her career and disrupting her love life, has to figure out how to put the pieces back together; Tye (Jerrie Johnson) considers her future; Quinn (Grace Byers) goes on a journey of self-discovery; and Angie’s (Shoniqua Shandai) career takes a promising turn. Premieres February 3. (Prime Video)
Break Point is a new docuseries that follows a diverse group of tennis players on and off the court as they compete in intense slams with hopes of winning a final and even bigger dreams of becoming world number one. Premieres January 23. (Netflix)

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Casting: Nicole Kidman To Star in and Executive Produce Espionage Thriller Lioness

Nicole Kidman

(Photo by Michael Tran/AFP/Getty Images)

Oscar and Emmy winner Nicole Kidman has been tapped to star in Paramount+’s upcoming original series Lioness, opposite previously announced series leads Zoe Saldaña and Laysla De Oliveira. The series, which is based on a real-life CIA program, hails from Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan and follows a rough-and-tumble young Marine named Cruz Manuelos (De Oliveira) who is recruited to join the CIA’s Lioness Engagement Team to help bring down a terrorist organization from within. Saldaña is set to play Joe, the station chief of the Lioness program who is tasked with training, managing and leading her female undercover operatives.

The character Kidman will play is Kaitlyn Meade, a senior CIA supervisor who’s tenured in her career, and familiar with the politics that must be played in her line of work. From facing the challenging gender bias that comes with being a woman in the high-ranking intelligence community to being wife who longs for the attention she herself can’t even give, her experience leads her to mentor someone veering close to her own path.

Debra Jo Rupp, of That ’70s Show and That ’90s Show fame, has been added to the cast of WandaVision spinoff series Agatha: Coven of Chaos. The series will star Kathryn Hahn as Agatha Harkness, alongside Joe Locke, Aubrey Plaza, Ali Ahn, Maria Dizzia, Sasheer Zamata, and Patti LuPone. (Deadline)

Benedict Cumberbatch is in talks to star in Netflix limited series Eric. Set in 1980s New York, he’ll play Vincent Sullivan, a puppeteer from America’s most popular children’s show, whose life falls apart when his son Edgar goes missing. Now, living on the streets, Vincent’s only companion is a 7-foot tall blue puppet named Eric, who guides him on a journey to find his son and a way home. (Variety)

Bryan Cranston will return as Breaking Bad‘s Walter White in an unlikely place: a Super Bowl commercial. The Emmy winner will bring Heisenberg back to the small screen in an add for PopCorners chips. (Variety)

Ruth Negga has been cast opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in Apple TV+’s new limited series Presumed Innocent, from David E. Kelley and J.J. Abrams. Negga will play Barbara Sabich, the wife to Gyllenhaal’s Prosecuting Attorney Rusty Sabich, who is an artist and mother whose life is flipped upside down when her husband is accused of murdering his mistress. (Variety)

Fargo season 5 has cast Lukas Gage in a recurring role as Lars Olmstead. He will join previously announced talent Juno Temple, Jon Hamm, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Joe Keery, Lamorne Morris, Richa Moorjani, David Rysdahl, Sam Spruell, Jessica Pohly, and Nick Gomez. (Variety)

Yellowjackets season 2 has added Nicole Maines, François Arnaud, and Nia Sondaya to the cast in recurring roles. (Variety)

Open Book, the half-hour scripted pilot at Amazon Freevee which is inspired by Jessica Simpson’s bestselling memoir, has cast Gillian Vigman to star opposite Katelyn Tarver. (Deadline)

Former Miss Universe Olivia Culpo and Emmy Award winner Jeannie Mai Jenkins have been tapped by the Miss Universe Organization to host the 71st Miss Universe competition. The event will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana on Saturday, January 14 and will be available to stream exclusively in English on The Roku Channel, and will simulcast in Spanish on Telemundo.

Production & Development: James Gunn Is Writing An ‘Unannounced’ DC TV Series

James Gunn at San Diego Comic-Con 2022

(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

DC Studios co-chief James Gunn revealed on Twitter on Thursday that he is writing an “unannounced” DC TV series. The filmmaker, who already carved a pretty sizable niche in the comic book entertainment world — the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, 2021’s The Suicide Squad, and the HBO Max spinoff series Peacemaker — held back on revealing any further details regarding the project.

“My day: wrote 1/3 of an unannounced DC TV show (😃); ok’d 100 VFX shots, did reference acting for Rocket, & gave editing notes for Vol 3; & had two big DC Studios meetings,” he tweeted.

This update has led to much speculation regarding what the program actually is. Nearly a year ago, Gunn revealed to Deadline’s Hero Nation podcast that another series within the Suicide Squad universe is in the works, saying: “We’re working on something else now, another TV show that’s connected to that universe. I can’t quite say.”

It’s possible the script he wrote is connected to this secretive program he referred to previously. Speculation aside, it goes without saying that any news coming out of the DC camp is a magnet for scrutiny, since DC’s TV slate has gone through massive changes in a very short period of time. Gunn and his partner Peter Safran have already stated their plans to create a new DC universe, wiping the slate clean for a new programming and movie slate.

Peacemaker drew in record viewership numbers for HBO Max when it premiered in 2021, so banking on the Suicide Squad IP and expansions on that universe is sure to make a splash.

Peacock is developing Freeman, a mystery drama series from Julie Plec (The Vampire Diaries). The series follows a family that moves to a picturesque small Georgia town to a mysterious house known as Freeman Manor, that holds darkness within its walls that goes back generations. (Deadline)

Disney+ is developing an adaptation of CJ Sansom’s bestselling Shardlake novel series, which centers on Dr Matthew Shardlake, a hunchback lawyer-turned-detective in Tudor England, working under Henry VIII’s reign. (Deadline)

ABC is developing reuniting with How To Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life) creator Claudia Lonow on Boss, a single-camera workplace comedy inspired by her life. The series follows two frenemies who hire each other’s equally opposite daughters as their assistants. (Deadline)

Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson has three new BMF spinoff series in development at Starz. (Deadline)

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association as presenters for the 80th Golden Globes, including Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Niecy Nash-Betts, Ana Gasteyer, Billy Porter, Colman Domingo, Natasha Lyonne, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Nicole Byer, Quentin Tarantino, and Tracy Morgan. The Globes will air live on January 10 on NBC.

Netflix Reveals a First Look at Lady Danbury in Bridgerton Prequel Queen Charlotte

(Photo by Netflix)

The buzz for Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story is growing. Netflix released a new first-look image promoting the upcoming prequel series, which will focus on Queen Charlotte’s rise to power. Pictured above is Arsema Thomas, who steps into the role of young Lady Agatha Danbury – a character who will find her way into society with the help of Charlotte’s influence.

“With keen knowledge of the once divided social scene and the intricacies of marriage,” Netflix’s official character description reads, “Agatha becomes a guiding light for the new Queen, all while finding her own voice and power.”

India Amarteifio plays the younger version of Charlotte in the upcoming limited series. The previously released look at her character is below.

(Photo by Netflix)

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