The Top 7 things you must know about pop culture and entertainment at the end of every week: Sam Flynn’s 7.
7. TV NEWS!
- On the heels of last week’s orgasmic tweet by David Lynch that he would be returning after all to direct Showtime’s revival of his classic 1990-91 ABC series Twin Peaks comes word the expanded hours mentioned by president David Nevins will be a whopping doubling of the original 9-episode order. The information was gleaned via castmembers Sherilyn Fenn and Sheryl Lee. Lynch still plans to direct them all. He had previously tweeted he was dropping out in April over money and budget issues to much fan and cast support. Clearly said budget “issues” have been solved because the now-18 episode third season of Twin Peaks will be premiering mid-to-late next year on the pay-cable service – 25 years after we last left the quaint-but-fucking-weird homestead. Filming begins in September. In other Peaks news, while out doing press for his NBC period crime drama Aquarius David Duchovny spilled not only on the forthcoming X-Files revival but possibly also reprising his earlier role on Peaks as transvestite FBI agent Denise Bryson (formerly Dennis)
- There was worry Agent Carter wouldn’t survive May upfronts. It had gotten middling ratings equal-to-or-poorer than the show it was subbing for, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. But a passionate fandom around Marvel’s first female-led project and/or a shitload of corporate suits jerking off in each others mouths at Disney and Marvel. Or, as it’s called in the business, “corporate synergy.” Either case, the show is back, the order is upped (10 episodes instead of the previous 8), the locale will change from 1946 New York to 1947 Los Angeles, and the tone will become “a lot lighter for her, there’s going to be more humour to her and more warmth,” according to Peggy herself Hayley Atwell (via DigitalSpy) who appeared at Comicpalooza recently. Some characters will be making the coastal leap with Peggy like her waitress-friend Angie Martinelli (Lyndsy Fonseca) and Howard Stark’s personal butler Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy). Atwell says they will explore film noir, which sounds fucking awesome quite frankly. I love this series not only for Atwell and her excellent character, but the ability to use the period setting that made the first Captain America a favorite among Marvel-ites. Using Peggy to travel throughout the 20th Century sounds Marvel-ous. The series will return in early 2016.
- Kurt Sutter’s Sons of Anarchy wrapped a seven-season run last December but already he’s back in the saddle with a new FX drama playing directly to the new Game of Thrones vogue (Vikings, Reign, Outlander, this fall’s Bible-themed Of Kings and Prophets), The Bastard Executioner is set in the Middle Ages and follows a bastard (or an executioner) as he tries to leave his sword – and violence – behind forever but he finds that a bastard (or an executioner) can’t get away so easily. Sutter goes so far as to act in this new project – which received a 10-episode order from FX to premiere this fall – alongside his wife Katey Sagal, lead Lee Jones, Stephen Moyer, Katey Sagal, Flora Spencer-Longhurst, Sam Spruell, Darren Evans, Danny Sapani, Timothy V. Murphy, Sarah White, Sarah Sweeney, Elen Rhys, Ethan Griffiths and guest star Matthew Rhys. Sutter’s writing is unabashedly pulpy, melodramatic, and idiotic as hell. But I enjoyed the fuck out of all seven seasons of his biker drama (with obvious ups and downs of course) and I can forgive his excesses and faults because he ultimately delivers pure entertainment with a dab of poignancy.
6. First photos from Ridley Scott’s sci-fi survival film The Martian
Andy Weir’s book is beloved as a hard sci-fi thriller and in the hands of visual stylist like Ridley Scott, one hopes it gives him the story backbone that is often lacking in Scott’s intellectually fascinating-but-emotionally shallow films like Prometheus, The Counselor, and Exodus: Gods and Kings. Like his progeny Christopher Nolan, his style of filmmaking seems to keep true emotion at a distance. I kind of got away from the news story here . . .
The photos are all Damon, which belies the interesting fact that this “Robinson Crusoe-on-Mars” riff has a stellar ensemble, including Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Sean Bean, Michael Pena, Sebastian Stan, Kate Mara, and Donald Glover. Footage screened at last month’s CinemaCon found raves for its visuals, its character, and its take on a classic story formula.
The Martian is among my most anticipated films left this year. I hope it lives up to its own promise in way Interstellar and Scott’s own Prometheus did not. And let’s especially hope Scott uses this to launch him into his that film’s sequel, which should be next up on his directorial docket.
5. Robert Rodriguez to direct Jonny Quest
I have vague memories of watching the 90s revival of Jonny Quest. It was a pretty thrilling introduction to an Indiana Jones-esque hero and sci-fi/genre entertainment. That’s to say, my cynicism says my nostaglia is probably feeding me a line of bullshit. Now Robert Rodriguez has come aboard to direct the long-gestating live action adaptation.
Oddly, this seems like the right fit for auteur Rodriguez, who made at least one good Spy Kids film and one good Sin City film. If he can combine his wackoo genre stuff (R-rated fare like From Dusk Till Dawn, The Faculty) with his kiddo fantasies (the aforementioned four-film Spy Kids franchise) it just might work. A previous version had Peter Segal directing Zac Efron and Dwayne Johnson.
Rodriguez is more hit-or-miss and this live-action film has languished in development hell for two decades. I don’t expect Rodriguez, who is usually lining up or attaching projects that don’t happen for almost a decade or never, to really get this off the ground quickly. We’ll see.
4. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen to be rebooted
2003’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is just terrible. So terrible. So terrible that it killed Sean Connery’s interest in acting ever again. So terrible igniting yourself on fire and leaping in a gasoline lake would be preferable to watching it again. The irony is the source material is nothing-less-than brilliant, mostly because it comes from the mind of British comic writer Alan Moore, best known for V for Vendetta, Watchmen, and From Hell.
I’ll be careful here so as not to upset the Roman snake god Glycon: author Moore has a . . . complicated relationship with Hollywood. He is one of the single most amazing creators of our lifetimes (in my not-so-humble opinion) but genius is often . . . difficult. A TV adaptation of League was previously attempted in 2013 to no result. Variety says this new film will be produced by John Davis while Ira Napoliello and Matt Reilly will oversee a script written by Jayson Rothwell.
The source material, like the film, began as a sort of 19th Century Victorian Justice League consisting of Mina Murray, the Invisible Man, Captain Nemo, Allan Quartermain, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde etc. stopping threats to England and the world. But over the course of its stories the characters traversed the 20th Century and became vehicles for Moore’s cultural critiques (he deconstructs into destruction both James Bond and Harry Potter).
Whether the film will get to THAT is almost impossible. I certainly would like to see it. At least that would be non-immolation worthy.
3. Further “Transformers Cinematic Universe” rumblings
NO PHOTO DUE TO LACK OF INTEREST
Last week’s word that a Transformers writer “brain trust” had been assembled by writer/producer Akiva Goldsman to plan future films in the Transformers franchise. Now, a few details have leaked out.
The team has added writers Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari to their stable that includes Robert Kirkman, Zak Penn, Jeff Pinkner, Art Marcum & Matt Holloway. Barrer and Ferrari previously spent a half-year on the Ant-Man set rewriting the screenplay as needed. They are tasked with a Cybertron origin film called Transformers One. And now, Hasbro’s CEO says even Bumblebee could get a spinoff. This is next-level “Aunt May-as-a-spy” desperate franchising shit that Sony attempted. This all apparently confirms Bay will return to direct Transformers 5 for a 2017 release after wrapping his Benghazi film 13 Hours.
I really don’t have much to say on this franchise anymore. It’s really embraced its moneymaking roots. I liked the 2007 original, but the sequel burned me and Dark of the Moon was just average and didn’t make want to watch anymore. I still haven’t seen Age of Extinction although I assume it will look almost entirely like the previous three with Mark Wahlberg pasted in as our prerequisite human. I say just go full animated, ditch the humans, and try and make us care about these CGI robots. Hell, hire Andy Serkis, he’s the master of getting us to care about all-kind of weird mo-cap creations.
2. CASTING NEWS: Swinton, Pine, Vikander, D’Onofrio
- Tilda Swinton is Marvel’s choice for The Ancient One, the mystical mentor of the titular hero in Doctor Strange, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and arriving November 4, 2016. The Ancient One is the former Sorcerer Supreme who is sought out by former surgeon Dr. Stephen Strange after a car accident leaves his hands unusable. He (or she now, rather) instead trains Strange in magic to be her replacement. It is a role that could have been accused of racism or stereotyping (along with Strange’s comic sidekick/manservant Wong, rumored to by played by John Cho). Previous rumors listed Ken Watanabe, Bill Nighy, and Morgan Freeman as sought for the role. Swinton’s casting is eyebrow-raising in a good way; she has never failed to deliver a dynamic performance whether it’s in art films like We Need to Talk About Kevin or genre films like The Chronicles of Narnia series or last year’s amazing Snowpiercer. Scott Derrickson (Sinister, Deliver Us from Evil) directs.
- Chris Pine is in talks to be male lead in Wonder Woman. He would be Steve Trevor, an ace WW2 Air Force pilot who stumbles across Wonder Woman’s Amazonian island-home of Themiscyra. The Patty-Jenkins directed film will star Gal Gadot, who will first show up in Zack Snyder’s superhero-mashup/Justice League prequel Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Pine has struggled to become a marquee star outside his role as James Kirk in the Star Trek films. His last attempt at franchising, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, flopped and supporting roles in Stretch, Horrible Bosses 2, and Into the Woods went largely unnoticed. Pine was previously rumored to take over as the new Green Lantern. He has the this year’s Sundance fav Z for Zachariah and next January’s coast-guard drama The Finest Hours in the can, is currently shooting the crime western Comancheria with Ben Foster and Jeff Bridges, and will segue immediately into Star Trek Beyond.
- Alicia Vikander is hot off of raves for her performance as a seductive robot in the excellent Ex Machina (my review here). So hot, in fact, she is already having a hard time juggling her options. She came to Cannes attached to the Tom-Hanks starring The Circle, but Deadline reports she may ditch that role for two in next year’s biggest tentpoles: the Michael Fassbender-led video game adaptation Assassin’s Creed and the long-awaited new Matt Damon/Paul Greengress Bourne film. Vikander still has a plethora of projects awaiting release this year alone: Guy Ritchie’s spy-fi The Man from U.N.C.L.E., opposite Fassbender in Derek Ciranfrance’s A Light Between Oceans, in the Bradley Cooper-fronted culinary ensemble Adam Jones, the period film Tulip Fever, and with Eddie Redmayne in Oscar-contender The Daniel Girl.
- Vincent D’Onofrio, beloved as an “actor’s actor,” has enjoyed a healthy re-emergence recently after sticking with mostly indie films after long-running crime drama Law & Order: Criminal Intent wrapped in 2011. He earned acclaim for his villainous turn as Wilson Fisk in Netflix’s recent Daredevil (my review here) – which was renewed for a second season to air next year – and has popped up in supporting roles in mainstream films like The Judge, Run All Night, and next month’s Jurassic World. He will play one of the titular Magnificent Seven in Antoine Fuqua’s 2017 remake of the classic western, led by Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt and THR exclusively reported he has signed on to be the villain of Dax Shepard’s reboot of the highway-patrolman action-comedy TV series. He will write, direct, and star alongside Michael Pena. D’Onofrio also recently filmed a role in the James Franco adaptation In Dubious Battle.
1. Cary Funkunaga out as It director; films in flux
In the most depressing news this side of Ted Cruz somehow winning the 2016 presidential election, writer/director Cary Fukunaga, of True Detective fame, exited his two-part adaptation of Stephen King’s seminal horror classic It over the Memorial Day weekend. Shooting had been gearing up start in June or July with up-and-coming actor Will Poulter as Fukunaga’s choice for the monstrous clown villain Pennywise.
A recent studio shift to the more cost-conscious New Line precipitated script changes and restrictions. They fought Fukunaga to make it one film instead of two, didn’t want him to film in his preferred location, New York, and were worried about putting the untested Poulter in the lead role instead of their preferred choice, Ben Mendelsohn, recently seen on Netflix’s Bloodline (my review here). This said even though their tight budget of $30 million for the first film was the reason they were unable to pay Mendelsohn’s quote and he passed. The goal had been to film his role before he went into the new Star Wars Anthology film Rogue One in September.
Fukunaga has no shortage of projects. His child soldier drama Beasts of No Nation starring Idris Elba will premiere on Netflix this fall ahead of a Oscar run. He is developing a new TV series The Alienist about a turn-of-the-century Theodore Roosevelt and his search for a serial killer. It was recently picked up by TNT. He will also direct an untitled bullying drama about Joe and Jadin Bell.
A tragic what-could-have-been for the books, but, as the wise master himself Stephen King lamented on Twitter,