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End of Week Production Notes 9/17/21: Ted Lasso Sweeps TCAs, Mackie Leads Twisted Metal Series, and More News


A (thankfully) quieter last couple days leads us into another weekend, the actual last weekend of summer since the fall starts next week.

Ted Lasso
Brendan Hunt (L) with Jason Sudeikis in Ted Lasso (Apple)

On top of that, the 72nd annual Emmys are coming up this Sunday, following the Creative Arts Emmys over three ceremonies last weekend, but in advance, the Television Critics Association handed out its annual TCA Awards, which were non-gender specific, but also were heavily weighed towards streamers HBO MaxApple TV+, and of course, Netflix.

Michaela Coel, the star of HBO’s I May Destroy You won “Individual Achievement in Drama,” while Jean Smart from Hacks won the corresponding award for comedy. (Smart was also presented with a Career Achievement honor.) The FX doc Framing Britney Spears won for “Outstanding Achievement in News and Information” while Showtime‘s Couples Therapy and Deaf U from Netflix. Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso won “Program of the Year,” “Outstanding New Program” and “Outstanding Achievement in Comedy,” while Netflix’s The Crown won the latter distinction for drama and HBO’s Mare of Easttown won an award for achievement in movie, mini-series, or special. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver was honored for “Achievement in Variety, Talk, or Sketch,” which it has won two times previously.

By complete coincidence, HBO Max announced today that it’s cutting its monthly no-ads price in half for those who previously subscribed to the service through Amazon Prime, as it separates itself from that package, which has offered HBO as a channel.

If you’ve been keeping track of the Jeopardy hosting debacle, it looks like Sony Pictures Television has found a solution for the popular syndicated game show’s host problem. Previously-confirmed host Mayim Bialik and “GOAT” (Greatest of All Time) player Ken Jennings will alternate in the hosting duties post-Mike Richards, the Jeopardy EP who gave himself the hosting gig before being ousted and fired for past bad behavior.

Let’s get to some casting, starting with films…

Heather Graham
Heather Graham on Californication (Showtime)

Heather Graham has been cast to co-star with Dennis Quaid in the MGM and LightWorkers faith-based drama, On a Wing and a Prayer, according to Deadline. Sean McNamara directs from a script by Brian Egeston with Roma Downey and Autumn Bailey-Ford producing and Mark Burnett as exec. producing. It will begin shooting this fall (which starts next week) for its release on August 31, 2022. In the film, Quaid plays an airline passenger, who is forced to land the plane he is traveling on safely in order to save his entire family after the pilot unexpectedly dies mid-flight. It’s based on “an astonishing true story of faith and survival” that “follows one man’s harrowing journey to save his family from insurmountable danger.”

Ryan Kiera Armstrong, the lead in the upcoming remake of Stephen King‘s Firestarter, and Shiloh Fernandez from the Evil Dead remake, are joining Nicholas Cage in the cast of his Western action movie, The Old Way. In the movie, Cage plays Colton Briggs, a former gunslinger who now runs a general store and lives quietly with his family. When a gang of outlaws murders his wife in cold blood, Briggs returns home to find his world burning, so he saddles up with an unlikely partner in his 12-year-old daughter Brooke, played by Armstrong. Also in the cast are Nick Searcy (Justified), Abraham Benrubi (The Call of the Wild), screen vet Clint HowardKerry Knuppe, Adam Lazarre-White, and Craig Branham. The film is already in post with director Brett Donowho (Acts of Violence) working from a script written by Carl W. Lucas.

Joely Richardson, Ella Hunt, and Faye Marsay are joining the ensemble cast for 300 Pictures and Netflix’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, based on D. H. Lawrence‘s classic novel, which is being directed by The Mustang helmer Laure de Clermont-Tonnere. The movie stars Emma Corrin, Jack O’Connell, and Matthew Duckett, and it’s the first movie in the first-look partnership between Sony Pictures and Netflix either directly for streaming or to license for streaming later. David Magee (Life of Pi) wrote the script, and it’s produced by Academy Award nominee Laurence Mark with Academy Award nominees Pete Czernin and Graham Broadbent of Blueprint Pictures.

Deadline also reports that Oscar-winning Milk screenwriter, Dustin Lance Black, has come on board to produce Erlingur (Child EaterThoroddsen’s Icelandic horror movie Rift through Wayward Entertainment‘s recently-launched genre imprint. Wayward will team with XYZ Films on its slate of filmmaker-driven genre features. Rift is “an atmospheric thriller which follows two guys whose broken relationship is tested as they are haunted by a supernatural entity awakened by their emotional turmoil and grief.” With cameras set to roll in winter, it joins Wayward and XYZ’s other announced project, the Nick Frost and Simon Pegg production Svalta.

Hala Finley, who starred in Robert Rodriguez‘s Netflix film, We Can Be Heroes, is joining the filmmaker’s next film project,  the action-thriller Hypnotic, which stars Ben Affleck and Alicia Braga. Finley will play the missing daughter of a  detective (Affleck),  who discovers that her disappearance might be part of a secret government program. It’s written by Rodriguez with Max Borenstein, and is produced by Rodriguez, Studio 8 CEO Jeff Robinov with Guy Danella and John Graham, along with Mark Gill‘s Solstice Studios.

If you weren’t yet aware of the above projects before reading about them above, then it’s time for you to subscribe to our Production Listings, which are updated daily.

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

On the TV side of things, Anthony Mackie, coming off his turn in Marvel‘s Disney+ series  The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, will lead a Twisted Metal half-hour TV series from Sony TV and Playstation Productions, based on the popular video game. Mackie will play the lead role of fast-talkin’ and drivin’ milkman John Doe on the package put together by Deadpool scribes and producers, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. Mackie is also set to play the next Captain America in Marvel Studios‘ Captain America 4, currently being written.

“We’re thrilled to have Anthony Mackie on board. His ability to blend comedy, action and drama is perfect for the Twisted world we’re creating,” said Asad Qizilbash, the head of PlayStation Productions.

Netflix announced a few new programs this week, and it looks like Breaking BadBetter Call Saul, and The Mandalorian‘s five-time Emmy nominee, Giancarlo Esposito, is lining up his next project, and it’s the Netflix heist drama Jigsaw, based on the real-life story of $70 billion in bonds that went missing from downtown Manhattan during Hurricane Sandy.  The series, which is currently filming at the new Netflix Studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn, comes from Matchstick Men author Eric Garcia, who will also be the showrunner and EP.

The eight-episode limited series takes place over 25 years as it covers that time before and shortly after the heist.  Garcia is teaming up with Matchstick Men director Ridley Scott, who will exec. produce through his Scott Free Productions along with David W. Zucker and Jordan Sheehan; as well as Fred Berger, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, and Justin Levy with Automatik Entertainment; and Russell Fine. The cast includes Paz Vega, Rufus Sewell, Tati Gabrielle, Peter Mark Kendall, Rosaline Elbay, Jai Courtney, Jordan Mendoza, and Niousha Noor, and Brazilian filmmaker José Padilha  (Robocop) directs the first two episodes.

Netflix also announced the limited series, Devil in Ohio, a suspenseful thriller inspired by the true story depicted in author Daria Polatin‘s best-selling book. Currently in production in Vancouver, Polatin acts as showrunner and EP, and Emily Deschanel stars as hospital psychiatrist, Dr. Suzanne Mathis, who is sheltering a mysterious cult escapee, her world is turned upside down as the strange girl’s arrival threatens to tear her own family apart. The eight-episode series also stars Sam Jaeger, Gerardo CelascoMadeleine ArthurXaria DotsonAlisha Newton, and Naomi Tan. Exec. producers are Daria Polatin, Rachel Miller from Haven Entertainment, and Andrew Wilder with Ian Hay producing.

Krysten Ritter (aka Jessica Jones) is joining the HBO Max true-crime limited series, Love and Death.

Eric Rochant, the creator of The Bureau, will showrun Mark Gordon Pictures‘ series adaptation of Norman Mailer‘s 1991 novel, Harlot’s Ghost

Hillary and Chelsea Clinton‘s HiddenLight Production has optioned Jacqueline Winspear‘s “Maisie Dobbs” series of detective novels, and the mother-daughter duo spoke about the plans for their banner at the RTS Convention, Hilary Clinton saying, “We’re also doing scripted projects so, for example, one of our favorite books that Chelsea and I have shared over the years is a book about a character called Maisie Dobbs, which is a series about a World War I field nurse who turns into a detective and we’ve just optioned it.” Other projects on HiddenLight’s slate is the Apple TV+ straight-to-series, Gutsy Women, inspired by the best-selling book The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience, as well as a project based on Gayle Tzemach Lemmon’s The Daughters of Kobani.

Someone at CBS thought it would be a good idea to have a competitive series called The Activist, which was supposed to debut on Oct. 22, but after backlash from online activist communities, the network and producers Global Citizen and Live Nation will rework it into a documentary special, removing the competitive angle. The show’s five-week run was going to challenge a group of activists to “compete in missions, media stunts, digital campaigns and community events” with winners decided based on “online engagement, social metrics and hosts’ input.” Usher, Julianne Hough, and Priyanka Chopra-Jonas were announced as the hosts of the series, which drew more attention to the project and began the backlash, saying that the competitive format is at odds with the idea of activism.

And lastly, The CW has cancelled The Outpost after four seasons.

A major teaser trailer release, just yesterday in fact, was our first look at Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro‘s Nightmare Alley, his adaptation of William Lindsay Gresham‘s novel, which stars Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Ron Perlman, and David Strathairn. The tagline for the film is that it’s about “an ambitious carny (Bradley Cooper) with a talent for manipulating people with a few well-chosen words hooks up with a female psychiatrist (Cate Blanchett) who is even more dangerous than he is.” Del Toro’s follow-up to his Oscar-winning The Shape of Water looks like another high-quality genre film that mixes his love of monsters with the type of high drama and filmmaking that’s permeated his films. Nightmare Alley will be released by Searchlight Studios on December 17.

Also, A24 released the first trailer for Stephen Karam‘s adaptation of his own Broadway play, The Humans, starring Richard Jenkins, Jayne Houdyshell, Amy Schumer, Beanie Feldstein, Steven Yeun, and June Squibb. It will be released in theaters and on Showtime this Thanksgiving.

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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