This week, generations of TV- and movie-watchers mourn the loss of actress Elizabeth Pena. Plus, HBO confirms flashbacks in the new Game of Thrones and a stand-alone subscription service. In the joyous news department, Bill Murray is making a TV Christmas special.

The Walking Dead, Jane the Virgin, Marry Me, and The Affair are Certified Fresh.

It’s a good week for new TV, as four more fall shows go Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Joining the ranks are season five of The Walking Dead
(AMC), which is Certified Fresh at 97 percent and aired to a record-smashing 17.3 million viewers on Sunday night. Showtime’s new series, The Affair
, about a New York City novelist who stays from his marriage with a small-town waitress, is Certified Fresh at 96 percent and airs Sunday nights at 10 p.m. The CW’s Jane the Virgin
, which stars newcomer Gina Rodriguez as a virgin accidentally inseminated by her gynecologist, is Certified Fresh at 100 percent and airs Mondays at 9 p.m. And NBC’s Marry Me
, starring Casey Wilson and Ken Marino as a couple who can’t seem to get their engagement right, is Certified Fresh at 79 percent. Catch up on all the new Fresh and Certified Fresh shows of the fall with the help of our “Where to Watch” guide.

Remembering Matador‘s Elizabeth Pena.

Her most recent TV work, as Tony Bravo’s sweet mother on the El Rey Network original series Matador
, was just one of the many acting credits in the long career of Elizabeth Pena who died Tuesday in Los Angeles at the age of 55. In addition to a filmography that included La Bamba, The Incredibles, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, and Rush Hour, Pena was also a frequent guest-star on ABC’s Modern Family as Sofia Vergara’s mother, Pilar, and starred as a Latin housekeeper Dora Calderon in the ’80s sitcom, I Married Dora. Pena was a founding member of the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors and worked hard to portray her characters accurately. “In the United States, all Spanish-speaking people are lumped into one category,” Pena told the Dallas Morning News in 1996. “But we’re all so different.” Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network issued a statement Wednesday in response to this week’s news: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of our friend and colleague, Elizabeth Pena. She was a role model, a truly extraordinary performer and an inspiration in every sense of the word.”

Hallelujah! A Bill Murray Christmas special is in the works.

In an exclusive interview with Variety, Bill Murray revealed that he’s teaming up with past collaborator Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation) on an upcoming TV Christmas special. “It’s not going to be live,” Murray told Variety. “We’re going to do it like a little movie. It won’t have a format, but it’s going to have music. It will have texture. It will have threads through it that are writing. There will be prose.” Obviously, the details are a little sketchy, but Coppola confirmed the news, telling Variety, “We’re working on a Christmas special. Not sure when it will air, but my motivation is to hear him singing my song requests.” Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Season five of Game of Thrones will include flashbacks.

According to IGN, Game of Thrones
showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss confirmed this week that the upcoming season of Thrones will contain flashbacks. “Making the first season, we set a rule: No prophecies, dreams, or flashbacks,” they said. “We already failed the first two, and this season we broke the third. So yes, this season will finally have flashbacks.” There is no word yet on how extensive these flashbacks will be (who’s in them? how far back do they go?), but IGN reports that at least one character who was rumored to return to Thrones will make an appearance in season five. With the flashback sequences, not only will dead characters be allowed to reprise their roles, but also younger versions of characters we know could make cameos, which brings to mind two of the scariest words in television: Baby Joffrey.

HBO will offer a digital-only monthly service (CBS too).

When Amazon Prime launched a library of HBO original series earlier this year, it was exciting news for “cord nevers,” but recent seasons of HBO series (and all seasons of Game of Thrones) were still not available online for non-cable subscribers. HBO Chairman Richard Plepler confirmed the news of a stand-alone service on Wednesday, saying that there are 80 million homes in the U.S. without HBO and the network “will use all measures to go after them.” Also this week, CBS announced their new pay service, CBS All Access, which will allow internet subscribers to access decades of CBS programming (not including Showtime, which CBS owns, but SHO likely has a similar plan
in the works).

Meet Tony Bravo, a DEA-agent-turned-CIA-operative. His mission? To take down the owner of a professional soccer team by posing as one of its star players. Not the most unassuming cover in the world, but somehow, by episode five of El Rey’s Matador, it appears to be working.In May, Rotten Tomatoes visited the set of Matador to see behind the scenes of tonight’s “Enter the Worm.” In episode five, Tony Bravo (Gabriel Luna), Peter Gadiot (Caesar), and Alec Holester (Tanc Sade) travel to Nicaragua on the private jet of team owner Andres Galan (Alfred Molina). We didn’t go to Nicaragua, but there’s still plenty of cool stuff to report from Simi Valley, CA, where the shoot took place.

1. Gabriel Luna knew he could be the “Latin James Bond.”

Nine months before Gabriel Luna’s first Matador meeting was a reality, he had a feeling about the show when he saw it in the trades. I was like, ‘Oh my God. That is me. That is me. I could do that.’ I knew it with every cell in my body that I could do it. All I knew was ‘Latin James Bond.'” Luna said. “Just the idea of someone with shades of melanin, holding himself together, being eloquent, and being a leading man, is something very rare.”

2. Tanc Sade is a record-breaking freediver.

When he’s not acting, Tanc Sade is a competitive freediver, which means he plunges into great depths of water without a breathing apparatus. “I grew up spearfishing, so I’ve always had a breath-hold,” Sade explained. “I was out here and I randomly met a girl in a bar who was on the U.S. National Team, and she said she was a freediver so I challenged her to a breath-hold at the bar. I won and then she said, ‘You should come train with us,’ and so I started training with her a few years ago.” Sade can hold his breath for about seven minutes and was the national champion last year.

3. Alfred Molina loves to binge-watch TV.

“The last thing I binge-watched was all the episodes of Justified. Wow,” Molina said. “Five, six episodes a day. You’re totally immersed in it. There’s no commercials. It’s worth every penny. Going out and buying the box set is worth it because you can go into a world if you’ve the time. I can’t remember the last time I watched a TV show at the moment it’s being transmitted. You know, DVR, it changes everything. I think that’s why the whole notion of what’s acceptable on TV has changed.”

4. You can buy tonight’s Matador set for a cool $49.5 million.

In order to achieve the look of tonight’s international episode, Matador shot “Enter the Worm” at the Hummingbird Nest Ranch in Simi Valley, CA. Turns out the property is currently on the market with an asking price of $49,500,000. The hefty price tag includes a 13,000 square-foot Mediterranean-style mansion, 16 guest houses (for a total of 57 bedrooms and 40 baths), parking for over 300 cars, and an FAA-approved helipad — all on 123 acres.

5. Robert Rodriguez gets free drinks for life at The Four Seasons.

For one of his meetings with Matador executive producer Robert Rodriguez, Luna went to the Four Seasons, where Rodriguez gets free drinks for life because, “apparently, he ordered the millionth drink at the Four Seasons a few years back — like the millionth drink they’ve ever sold — and now he gets all the free drinks he wants,” Luna explained. “But he doesn’t drink. He gets iced teas. So here we are, two Texas boys, over iced tea, talking about music.” A pretty cool moment for the Austin-born Luna who referred to Rodriguez as “one of the godfathers of film.”

6. Roberto Orci knows how to make an entrance.

Matador co-creator Roberto Orci (Sleepy Hollow, Star Trek) is super-fun to be around, according to Luna. “Bob is a like the court jester,” Luna said. “We were at a party the other night, and he’s introduced, and he does a somersault into the grass and pops up. He’s just really excited and gives you a lot of confidence. He gives you all the tools and the words to look really, really cool. And he’s a cool guy himself. I mean, he’s Bob Orci. What hasn’t he written in the last eight years?”

7. Sade has a soccer double, but hasn’t used him yet.

Sade, who plays the Beckham/Ronaldo-esque Alec Holester, has been training with a soccer coach to make sure he looks like a professional player. “It’s episode five and I haven’t used my soccer double yet, so I’m very, very proud of myself,” said Sade, who had never played soccer before Matador. “The [double] has had to cut all his hair off, dye his hair, shave his legs, and gets a fake tan every episode because he’s pale, and I’m not.”

8. Luna’s grandfather wanted him to work for Robert Rodriguez.

Sadly, Luna’s grandfather didn’t live to see his grandson cast in Matador, but he saw it coming. “Any time Robert did something, [my grandfather] would cut out the story from the Austin American-Statesman — all the stuff with Robert, you know — and I’d go visit him, and he’d be like, ‘This is the guy you should work with, Gabe,’ and I’m just like, ‘Yeah, I know, but things gotta happen.'” Eight years later, Luna met with Rodriguez on what would have been his grandfather’s birthday to talk about Matador. “I got my chance, so I think he’d be really happy.”

Episode five of Matador, “Enter the Worm,” airs tonight on El Rey at 9:00 p.m. See pictures for season one here.

Alfred Molina is the kind of guy who does big movies (Spider-Man 2, The Da Vinci Code) and small movies (An Education, The Hoax). Now he’s back on the TV screen in Matador, a soccer-spy thriller which hopes to fill the World Cup void this week, premiering Tuesday night on the El Rey Network.

In Matador, starring Gabriel Luna as the soccer-playing CIA spy Tony Bravo, current Emmy nominee Molina plays Andres Galan, the shady gazillionaire who owns L.A.’s pro soccer team. Molina, whose lengthy TV credits span from across the pond (The Losers, El C.I.D.) to Tinseltown (Law & Order: LA), spoke to Rotten Tomatoes about the changes he’s witnessed in television programming recently, and the viewers’ relationship to the medium.

“I think the audience has realized that it can handle a lot more in its own living room than the TV networks originally allowed them to handle,” Molina said. “In the old days — I say ‘the old days’ because I’ve been acting for 40 years so I’m in a position to make this judgment — when I first started working in TV, the given intelligence was that in the movies, you’re the host so you can call the shots. On TV, you’re the guest in someone’s home. That made it a very different relationship to the audience.”

As El Rey, the cable net launched by filmmaker Robert Rodriguez last year, continues to shake up the TV landscape, Molina credits cable, and specifically HBO, with allowing television to be more like film. “Cable kind of changed all that because cable was like you were buying a movie… and HBO, of course, sort of set the ball rolling, and then others followed. So the relationship between the audience and the product changed. Plus TV — and this seems like a trivial point — but TV got bigger! So the experience of watching TV was like a movie.”

Rodriguez continued the trend of cinematic television and translated it into 13-episode seasons, first in March with From Dusk Till Dawn, an adaptation of his 1996 vampire film by the same name, and now with Matador, a glossy crime drama with dashes of Rodriguez’s signature cartoonish violence, bold action, and dark humor. Tonight, Rodriguez directs the Matador pilot, which he also exec-produces with Hollywood heavy Roberto Orci (Fringe, Sleepy Hollow).

“I think [Rodriguez] actually created a network in his own creative image. I think he’s creating a kind of network that he would want to watch, which is always the best way to create anything. You create what you love and, somewhere along the line, you hope that other people love it as much as you do,” Molina said.


Orci and Rodriguez on the set of Matador.

According to Molina, El Rey, along with the proliferation of other cable nets investing in original series, captures the spirit of independent filmmaking now more than ever. “It’s where the best writing’s happening. It’s where some of the best acting’s going on. It’s where some of the best directors are working — because they’ve suddenly got this freedom, and all the traditional values of, like, ‘It’s got to be 22 episodes, long-form this, long-form that’ — that’s all out of the window now. Because the way we watch TV now is so atomized, none of the old paradigms really apply anymore.”

One way cablers are shifting the old model of distribution is by premiering via streaming ahead of a show’s linear debut. (AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire and Showtime’s Penny Dreadful were both available a week before their premieres.) Tonight’s Matador premiere has been available on iTunes, Amazon, Vudu or Xbox since July 9. And El Rey announced last week that Matador will indeed get a second season.


From left to right: Tony Bravo (Gabriel Luna), Alec Holester (Tanc Sade), Caesar (Peter Gadiot)

In tonight’s premiere episode, Molina’s character, Andres Galan, is introduced as the owner of the L.A. Riot soccer team; he’s a debonair entrepreneur with business dealings sketchy enough to warrant a CIA infiltration. Luna plays Tony “Matador” Bravo, a DEA-agent-turned-spy whose soccer skills happen to be good enough to land a spot on the team. Co-stars include Tanc Sade (Gossip Girl) as Alec Holester, the handsome David Beckham-esque playboy who leads the team, Nicky Whelan (Franklin and Bash) as Annie Mason, an icy and impossibly hot CIA agent; and Neil Hopkins (Lost) as Noah Peacott, her smart-mouthed partner.

Matador airs July 15 on El Rey at 9 p.m. EST.


Noah Peacott (Neil Hopkins) and Annie Mason (Nicky Whelan)

For more TV news, visit the Rotten Tomatoes TV Zone.

This week, The Flash and Sons of Anarchy announced new cast members… Orphan Black, The Knick, and Matador announced new seasons… and HBO announced that they might actually announce something about True Detective!

The Flash Casts Robbie Amell as Half of Firestorm

The CW’s highly anticipated Arrow spin-off, The Flash, announced that Robbie Amell will play the role of Ronnie Raymond — half of the hero known as Firestorm. “Geoff Johns, Andrew Kreisberg and myself designed the pilot and series to include Ronnie (aka Firestorm) — and to actually have someone with Robbie’s talent playing the role is beyond exciting,” said executive producer Greg Berlanti. “We can’t wait for viewers and fans of the character to check it out.” If the name Amell sounds familiar to superhero fans, it might be that you remember him from The Tomorrow People, another CW show in which he played the character Stephen Jameson — or you might know his real-life cousin, Stephen Amell, one of the stars of Arrow. Robbie Amell will appear in the third episode of The Flash as a maintenance worker at S.T.A.R. Labs and fiance to Dr. Caitlin Snow. The Flash premieres on The CW on October 8.

True Detective Casting Announcement Is Coming Next Week

HBO CEO Richard Plepler and HBO Programming President Michael Lombardo were tight-lipped about season two of True Detective at Thursday’s TCA panel in Los Angeles. They did, however, reveal that casting news is coming soon — like, next-week soon. [Update: The Hollywood Reporter said Friday that Colin Farrell is in talks for season two.] As for the rumor that season two will feature two male leads and one female lead, Plepler and Lombardo wouldn’t say. “We decided early on to free ourselves from the idea of stars and just lean into great acting,” Lombardo said. The HBO execs also promised that the first two episodes of season two will be “more exciting than the first season.”

BBC America Renews Orphan Black for Season Three

The Clone Club may be up in arms today over Tatiana Maslany’s Emmy snub, but they’ll hopefully find solace in the news that Orphan Black is coming back to BBC America for season three. The show, which doubled in ratings from season one to season two, will begin shooting its ten new episodes this fall. In the same announcement, BBC America also shared that the British mystery Broadchurch starring David Tenant will be back for a second season, early in 2015. Fox will air an American adaptation of Broadchurch this fall: Gracepoint, starring Anna Gunn.

Matador, The Knick Get Second Seasons Ahead of Season One Premieres

Better call Saul! Two more TV shows got a season two order before their premieres have even aired. El Rey, the English-language cable network helmed by filmmaker Robert Rodriguez, announced Thursday that its second original series Matador, which premieres on July 15, will have a second season. The CIA-soccer thriller created by Roberto Orci stars Gabriel Luna and the freshly-nominated Alfred Molina. Similarly, Cinemax announced that Steven Soderbergh’s turn-of-the-century medical drama, The Knick, is renewed for a second season. Season one premieres on Cinemax August 8.

Courtney Love Joins Cast of Sons of Anarchy

Another rocker joins Sons of Anarchy season seven. TV Line reported this week that Kurt Cobain’s widow and Hole frontwoman, Courtney Love, will play a recurring guest spot in the final season. While Sons of Anarchy will be Love’s TV acting debut, she starred opposite Jim Carrey in Man on the Moon (1991) and was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996). For SOA‘s final season, Love will have a multiple-episode arc as Ms. Harrison, a preschool teacher. Walton Goggins from Justified will also be on the last season of SOA, returning to his guest-starring role as Venus, a transgender prostitute.

Steve Buscemi, Stanley Tucci, and Bob Balaban will each direct a remake of slain filmmaker Theo van Gogh‘s projects, says Variety.

The late van Gogh’s "06/05: The Sixth of May" (1994), "Blind Date" (1996), and "Interview" (2003) will be remade in New York as a tribute to the slain director.

"Ironworks’ head, Bruce Weiss, and Column’s Gijs van de Westelaken had been working with van Gogh to remake several of his films in English.

"It was always Theo’s dream to come to America and make films in New York, and this is a way of fulfilling those dreams," said van de Westelaken and Weiss in a statement. "The films all have a central and very universal theme: the battles between men and women. We are really touched that Steve, Stanley and Bob have come onboard this project to help realize Theo’s dream."

Van Gogh was shot and then stabbed last year by Mohammad Bouyeri while the filmmaker was riding a bicycle in his neighborhood in Amsterdam. The death was linked to "Submission," a short he’d directed that was critical of Islam’s treatment of women.

This year, Bouyeri was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for killing the helmer."

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