Filed in: Above the Line Newsflash, Featured, Film, News, Television

Above the Line Newsflash: Six Feet Under Revival, Dune Director’s Rendezvous, New Frank Sinatra Series

December 16, 2021 11:30 | By
Six Feet Under

Six Feet Under image via HBO

HBO May Resurrect Six Feet Under

HBO is looking to resurrect Six Feet Under, as there’s a revival in the works even though Alan Ball‘s series ended perfectly the first time around.

Honestly, I don’t mind a good reboot or revival if done well, such as Dexter: New Blood or Chucky, to give just two recent examples. But I don’t understand the impulse — beyond financial — to mess with greatness.

HBO’s Sopranos movie, The Many Saints of Newark, was an affront to the original show’s legacy, while And Just Like That… seems to have left a certain segment of Sex and the City fans decidedly unsatisfied thus far. And even though the Breaking Bad movie, El Torino, wasn’t bad, it didn’t really add much to the mythos either. All three of those shows probably should’ve just been left alone, just like Six Feet Under deserves to rest in peace.

Sure, recognizable IP tend to stand out amid the glut of shows these days — that explains why HBO is also developing a new True Blood series — but I’m not sure Six Feet Under is the best candidate for a continuation, given how every character met their fate in the “final” episode. It was rather poetic since death is how life ends for everyone. Perhaps that’s what made the show so relatable.

The truth is that this project sounds very, very early, but clearly, there’s interest on the part of both HBO and Ball in exploring some way to bring it back from the dead. Here’s hoping Ball has something special up his sleeve to justify such a bold creative decision.

the-unforgivable

The Problem With The Unforgivable

I was talking to a friend about Sandra Bullock‘s new Netflix movie The Unforgivable and how we both liked it on the whole but felt there was something missing. And then we put our finger on it: the film spends too much time with the wrong characters.

The Unforgivable finds Bullock playing against-type as a woman who has recently been released from prison after decades behind bars for committing a violent crime. She’s desperate to reunite with her much younger sister, but she has trouble reintegrating into society, which can’t quite forgive her for what she did.

Bullock spends the entire movie trying to get back to her sister, and while the end of this movie did sneak up on me, it could’ve been so much more powerful if we’d gotten the chance to know her sister better as a character. I understand why the movie spends so much time following two brothers seeking revenge, because it’s those thriller elements that are likely driving audience curiosity, but this film might’ve been more effective had it treated Bullock’s sister as a full-fledged character rather than a mere plot device.

Aisling Franciosi plays the sister and if you’ve seen her in Jennifer Kent‘s The Nightingale, you know she’s a fierce and ferocious actress, so the way her talents are minimally used here is a shame. The Unforgivable is based on the 2009 miniseries Unforgiven, and Angelina Jolie was originally going to star in the project. Jolie might’ve been a better fit for this role, but Bullock does succeed in making the part her own, and her performance is quite different than anything she has done before. Kudos!

dune-denis-villeneuve

Rendezvous With Villeneuve

Apparently, Denis Villeneuve hasn’t had his fill of big-budget sci-fi movies yet, as he’s set to direct an adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke‘s acclaimed 1973 novel Rendezvous With Rama.

RWR has been a longtime passion project for producer Morgan Freeman, and it has a rich development history, as David Fincher was once poised to direct the film. Though that iteration sadly never came to fruition, Freeman has stuck with the project over the years, and now he and producing partner Lori McCreary have teamed with Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove of Alcon Entertainment to produce the film, which surely won’t come cheap.

Thus, Alcon’s involvement is a little baffling to me, as they took a huge loss on Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 (which was bad), so I’m surprised to see them rush back into business with him on another big-budget sci-fi movie. Then again, Alcon also backed Villeneuve’s excellent thriller Prisoners, so perhaps they’re just comfortable working with the director, whose stock has soared since Dune.

Clarke is the author behind 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Rama is also a space odyssey of sorts, as it’s set in the 2130s and follows a group of human space explorers who are tasked with intercepting an alien starship that is hurtling through the solar system.

“This is one of the most intelligent works of fiction in the genre; it poses as many questions as it does answers, and is a work for our time,” Johnson and Kosove told the Hollywood Reporter. “It’s perfectly fitted to our friend and collaborator Denis’ brilliant sensibilities and specifically to his love and passion for science fiction.

Villeneuve still has to direct (deep sigh) Dune: Part 2 as well as a spinoff prequel series titled Dune: The Sisterhood that he’s also producing for HBO Max. RWR strikes me as being in a similar vein as Arrival, albeit set in space rather than on Earth, so I don’t really understand the director’s desire to repeat himself or relegate himself to this big-budget sci-fi sandbox, especially when Prisoners and Sicario stand as his two best films.

The top comment (anonymous, obviously) on Deadline was “Hahaha guess there goes another 100 million down the drain,” which kind of took the words right out of my mouth. Like, there’s a reason this project has been stuck in development for as long as it has, but I guess if any director has the clout to get it made these days, it’s Villeneuve.

The North Water

The North Water image via AMC+

Colin Farrell Wants Some Sugar, and Other TV Headlines

In TV news this week, Colin Farrell is set to star in a new genre-bending Apple series titled Sugar from writer Mark Protosevich (I Am Legend) and producer Simon Kinberg, the latter of whom already produces the streamer’s sci-fi series Invasion, which has failed to drum up much buzz. Perhaps this new series will fare better. Sugar is the latest TV deal for Farrell, who recently agreed to reprise his upcoming role as The Penguin in an HBO Max series spun off from The Batman. This, after his fiery turns in True Detective and this year’s slow-burn AMC+ show The North Water. The trio of Farrell, Protosevich and Kinberg intrigues me, as does the title, but I’m inclined to wait for a logline and additional casting before getting too excited.

Netflix has mercifully pulled the plug on its Cowboy Bebop series starring John Cho. Sure, fans shared its jazz-infused title sequence on Twitter, but the show drew mixed reviews overall and that kind of muted buzz simply wasn’t enough to justify its budget. Cho will get plenty of other chances as an action hero, but the injury he suffered on set back in October 2019 really seemed to take the wind out of this series’ sails.

Another week, another new superhero series announcement. This time, it’s Gotham Knights, which hails from Batwoman EPs Chad Fiveash and James Stoteraux as well as the show’s executive story editor, Natalie Abrams.

Gotham Knights is based on the DC comic book created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger. Set in the wake of Bruce Wayne’s murder, the series follows his adopted son as he forms an unlikely alliance with the children of Batman’s enemies, who have been framed for the crime. With Batman out of the picture, Gotham descends into chaos. The question is whether this ragtag group of young misfits become Gotham’s most-wanted criminals or its next generation of heroes, aka, the Knights?

Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter, the keepers of the CW’s Arrowverse, will executive produce alongside David Madden as well as Fiveash and Stoteraux, who will write the script alongside co-executive producer Abrams. Fiveash and Stoteraux also worked as writers and co-EPs on Gotham, while Abrams is a former entertainment journalist who previously worked on Supergirl, so everyone knows what they’re doing here. I can’t say I watch any CW shows, but I fully recognize that they’re not meant for me and that they’ve garnered loyal fanbases among teens, just as I watched SNICK and Dawson’s Creek when I was a kid.

Longtime Fox News host Chris Wallace is heading to CNN+ in a sign that WarnerMedia is going to put serious funding into the streaming service, which will aim to appeal to both sides of the aisle rather than just half the country. That’s an interesting idea in and of itself, though Howard Stern may be onto something when he asked this week, “Who the hell is going to pay for CNN+?” I’ve never been high on politics myself, so I don’t watch political news or have much appreciation for these hosts, but given how much they’re paid, there’s clearly an audience for that format. There just aren’t enough hours in the day for me to watch all the scripted film and television content I need to watch. I suppose that keeps me cocooned in something of an entertainment bubble, but looking at recent headlines, can you blame me for sticking my head in the sand? Sometimes, ignorance truly is bliss.

Reservation Dogs creator Sterlin Harjo inked an overall deal with FX, and I’m thrilled for him because that show is something special. If you haven’t seen it yet, definitely check it out. Harjo also co-wrote the upcoming Netflix movie Rez Ball with director Sydney Freeland. That film follows a Native American high school basketball team, and hopefully, Harjo will reserve a role for one of his Reservation Dogs stars, depending on the shooting schedule for Season 2, which can’t come soon enough.

And finally, R.I.P. bestselling author Anne Rice, whose seminal novel Interview With the Vampire led to the entertaining 1994 adaptation starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, as well as an upcoming AMC series starring up-and-comer Sam Reid as Lestat.

Guys and Dolls

Guys and Dolls image via MGM

A Softer Side of Sinatra

The Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra, will be the subject of a high-profile series in the works from Oscar winner Bill Condon, who will executive produce alongside Ol Blue Eyes’ daughter, Tina Sinatra.

As such, the series will have access to Sinatra’s music catalog, which is a huge coup for the project. Universal Music Group owns or distributes a vast majority of that catalog, so it’s no surprise that its film and TV division Polygram Entertainment is one of the production entities on the show.

Condon will write and direct the pilot and serve as showrunner on the series, which aims to be the definitive story of Sinatra’s life. The singer grew up an Italian kid from New Jersey with a hell of a voice, one that projected strength and sensuality. The series will likely cover Sinatra’s alleged Mafia ties, which led to an FBI investigation at one point, as well as his acting career, including his friendships with fellow members of The Rat Pack. The series is also expected to explore Sinatra’s love life, which saw him rubbing shoulders (and more) with Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Mia Farrow, Lauren Bacall, Angie Dickinson and Ava Gardner.

Condon won an Oscar for writing Gods and Monsters and earned another nomination for writing Chicago. He also directed Dreamgirls and co-wrote The Greatest Showman, so he has been involved with some of the most popular musicals in recent history. He’s currently working on a remake of Guys and Dolls, which originally starred Marlon Brando and, yes, Sinatra.

Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio spent years developing a Sinatra movie, but the singer’s family evidently objected to Scorsese’s intended depiction and that was that. Condon is as good a pick as anyone, as I believe he can capture a softer side of Sinatra than Scorsese might have, and I do think there’s an audience for this story, particularly at home as opposed to on the big screen. I’m not sure that younger audiences will care too much, but hey, if Sinatra was around to have a TikTok account these days, you know he’d be raking in the views.

Sinatra was once played by Philip Casnoff in a 1992 miniseries titled Sinatra. I shudder to think who will ultimately be cast in this series, but Condon has always had a strong sense for casting and I trust his judgment, even if he has a tall order ahead of him.


Jeff Sneider

Jeff Sneider

Jeff Sneider is a veteran entertainment reporter who has spent the past 15 years writing for VarietyThe Wrap, Mashable, and Collider, in addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief of The Tracking Board. Jeff currently serves as a weekly columnist for LAMag.com and he has also written for MTV Movies Blog, Hollywood Life, AICN, Washington Square News, and the Colorado Springs Independent. He is the host of The Sneider Cut podcast as well as the awards-themed show For Your Consideration, and the former host of Meet the Movie Press. Jeff is a 2006 graduate of New York University‘s Tisch School of the Arts, where he studied screenwriting.

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