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HomeColumnsEnd of Week Production NotesEnd of Week Production Notes 8/20/21: Richards Steps Down from Jeopardy!, Mackie...

End of Week Production Notes 8/20/21: Richards Steps Down from Jeopardy!, Mackie Signs on For Captain America 4, Sonny Chiba Dies, and More News


Mike Richards
Mike Richards (Photo courtesy Jeopardy!)

Looks like we’re going to be starting out today’s End of Week Production Notes with some late-breaking news as Jeopardy! Exec. Producer and recently-named new host for the game show, Mike Richards, is stepping down after a full week of disturbing revelations about offensive comments Richards made on his appropriately-named podcast, The Randumb Show, in 2013 and 2014.

This is the letter he sent to his team:

Dear Team,

It pains me that these past incidents and comments have cast such a shadow on Jeopardy! as we look to start a new chapter.

As I mentioned last week, I was deeply honored to be asked to host the syndicated show and was thrilled by the opportunity to expand my role. However, over the last several days it has become clear that moving forward as host would be too much of a distraction for our fans and not the right move for the show. As such, I will be stepping down as host effective immediately. As a result, we will be canceling production today.

SPT will now resume the search for a permanent syndicated host. In the meantime, we will be bringing back guest hosts to continue production for the new season, details of which will be announced next week.

I want to apologize to each of you for the unwanted negative attention that has come to Jeopardy! over the last few weeks and for the confusion and delays this is now causing. I know I have a lot of work to do to regain your trust and confidence.


This is a breaking news story, and we’re likely to have more on Monday.

And now back to our regularly-scheduled news wrap-up…

Anthony Mackie
Anthony Mackie in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Marvel/Disney)

Anthony Mackie has officially signed on to star in Marvel Studios‘ Captain America 4, which may not be too surprising for anyone who (SPOILER!) watched the Disney+ series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, because that’s where the series ended up with Mackie’s Sam Wilson in the colors and carrying the shield of his friend Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) who (SPOILER!) got really old at the end of Avengers: Endgame.

Word is that the film will be shooting in Georgia (where much of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier also filmed) in June 2022, and one can probably presume that Marvel’s July 2023 release date that’s been on hold for an untitled movie could go to that. Recently, Marvel Pres. Kevin Feige confirmed that Dominique Thorne‘s character Riri Williams, star of the upcoming  Disney+ series, Ironheart, will actually make her debut in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which is currently filming in.. where else? Atlanta.

Sonny Chiba
Sonny Chiba in Kill Bill (Miramax)

We figured that sharing some upbeat Marvel news would help before we get into some of the sadder news, including the fact that legendary Japanese actor and martial arts star Sonny Chiba died at the age of 82 due to COVID complications. Born Sadaho Maeda, the actor had a nearly 50-year career that began with earning a first-degree karate black belt in 1965, which led to a number of action films in the ’70s as he continued to master the martial arts with black belts in ninjutsu, shorinji kempo, judo, kendo and goju-ryu karate. His acting career continued in film and television but he got a nice boost of newer fans when he appeared in Quentin Tarantino‘s Kill Bill: Volume 1, playing retired swordsman and blade-maker  Hattori Hanzo, and a few years later, he had a key role as a Yakuza boss in Justin Lin‘s Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift. Chiba, obviously

Speaking of death and COVID — sorry, that wasn’t the best transition — Los Angeles has now passed 25,000 deaths from COVID since the pandemic began in early 2020. That’s a little less than half the 64,000 deaths in California in the same time period, which is almost 10% of all the deaths nationwide in the United States. A lot of the recent deaths can be attributed to the quick spread of the now-dominant Delta variant and the amount of people still not vaccinated in highly-populated cities like L.A.

This may be one of the reasons why the Television Academy has mandated that this year’s Emmys, taking place on Sunday, Sept. 19, will require negative testing, as well as vaccination from all participants. This will be for all attendees including press covering the ceremony, as mandated in a statement released Thursday that guests will “be required to provide proof of a negative RT-PCR COVID test prior to admission to all Emmy ceremonies,” adding, “Information on submitting proof of vaccination and test results will be provided directly to nominees/publicists/representatives next week.” Below the Line can confirm that this will also be the case for the Creative Arts Emmys to be held on Sept. 11 and 12.

The spike in cases might also be why so many L.A. based entertainment companies are requiring vaccination for its employees. Blumhouse is the latest to require vaccinations both in offices, but also on sets of all its productions. All full-time Blumhouse employees will require vaccination before returning to the office, as will any visitors to the office, although the actual date of their return to Blumhouse HQ is TBD. As with Netflix, Blumhouse also now requires anyone working on its productions in Zone A i.e. where there’s the closest contact with the maskless on-screen talent, to also be vaccinated. This is still fairly controversial with a number of studios still undecided about whether they can institute vaccine mandates on productions, although some productions have already made this decision to avoid running into shutdowns due to a possible outbreak on set.

Let’s get to some movie production and casting news, shall we?

Aubrey Plaza
Aubrey Plaza (Photo : ICM Partners)

Aubrey Plaza will produce and star in Low Spark Films‘ Emily the Criminal, which will co-star Gina Gershon and Megalyn Echikunwoke. Plaza plays the title character, a down on her luck woman, “saddled with debt, who gets involved in a credit card scam that pulls her into the criminal underworld of Los Angeles, ultimately leading to deadly consequences.” Low Spark is fully financing the film, which is written and directed by John Patton Ford and recently wrapped filming in Los Angeles. Tyler Davidson, Plaza and Drew Sykes are producing, with Dexter Braff, Kevin Flanigan, Angus Wall, Kent Kubena, Lowell Shapiro, and Mike Dill as Exec. Producers. ICM Partners, CAA Media Finance and Verve are handling domestic sales.

According to DeadlineJohn Leguizamo is in final talks to join Searchlight Studios‘ The Menu, the “darkly comic psychological thriller” directed by Mark Mylod about a young couple who visit an exclusive restaurant on a remote island where an acclaimed chef (played by Ralph Fiennes) has prepared a tasting menu for them. Anya Taylor-Joy plays one half of the couple, while Nicholas Hoult and Hong Chau have been cast in unconfirmed roles.

Academy Award-winning actor Tim Robbins is starring opposite Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible) in the Apple Studios drama Wool, based on Hugh Howey’s trilogy of dystopian novels that’s being made by writer Graham Yost, director Morten Tyldum, and being produced by AMC Studios. It takes place in “a ruined and toxic future where a community exists in a giant silo underground, hundreds of stories deep. There, men and women live in a society full of regulations they believe are meant to protect them.”

Keep track of the movies above and more by subscribing to Below the Line‘s Production Listings, now for the all-time low price of just 68 cents a day.

Never Have I Ever
Maitreyi Ramakrishnan in Never Have I Ever (Netflix/Isabella B. Vosmikova)

On the television side of things, Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher‘s hit show, Never Have I Ever, has been renewed for a third season by Netflix, although almost concurrently, the Punky Brewster sequel has been cancelled at Peacock after just one season.

We’ll just quickly go through some casting, beginning with Hank Azaria being cast to play Apple CEO Tim Cook in Showtime‘s anthology series, Super Pumpedbased on Mike Isaac‘s book, Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber, in which Joseph Gordon-Levitt has already been cast as Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick. Also cast is Kyle Chandler as Texas venture capitalist Bill Gurley, who was Kalanick’s mentor, and Kerry Bishé (Scrubs) as Austin Geidt, Uber employee No. 4.

Zaria (Two Distant Strangers) and Maria Pyles (Baskets) will star as the leads in the HBO Max reboot, Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, a darker present-day version of the 2010-7 series from Riverdale and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa Lindsay Calhoon Bring (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina); Alloy Entertainment, and Warner Bros TV. Chilling Adventures director Lisa Soper will direct the first two episodes.

Lastly, Noah Emmerich is joining the AMC series, Dark Winds, while Peter Gallagher is joining Grey’s Anatomy Season 18 in a recurring role.

We began with Marvel and we’ll end with Marvel as the beloved purveyor of blockbuster superhero movies released the second trailer for Oscar-winning filmmaker Chloé Zhao‘s Eternals, which will hit theaters on November 2. The epic star-studded introduction of one of the late, great Jack Kirby‘s creations

That’s it for this week. It’s a slower weekend at the box office with the new wide releases being Hugh Jackman‘s sci-fi noir, Reminiscence; the Rebecca Hall thriller, The Night House; the G-rated animated film, Paw Patrol: The Movie; and the action movie, The Protégé; and in limited release is Sean Penn‘s Flag Day.

Edward Douglas
Edward Douglas
Edward Douglas has written about movies for print and the internet for over 20 years, specializing in box office analysis, reviews, and interviews. Currently, he writes features for Below the Line and Above the Line, acting as Associate Editor for the former and Interim Editor for the latter.
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