I skim the trades, so you don’t have to.
◊ ‘This Is Us’ Says Goodbye: How a Drama Whose Original Pilot Script Wasn’t Written for Network Standards Changed Broadcast
My two-cent takeaway: As mentioned in the article, good writing is often considered easy to write. This is also evident when you tell people you’re a screenwriter, and they answer with an “I should do that too. I’ve got a bunch of stories I’d like to tell.” Unfortunately, this “writing is easy” mentality often clogs up the system and makes it harder for talented writers to be discovered. Dan Fogelman, the creator, also talks about foregoing the F-Bombs in the pilot because they weren’t crucial to the story, which essentially means they didn’t move the story forward. The most vital aspect of every screenplay is to keep the story moving forward.
◊ “Little Fires Everywhere” vet Liz Tigelaar will write and showrun the series and executive produce alongside author Strayed.
My two-cent takeaway: Nia Vardalos, the Canadian actor, and screenwriter, adapted a live version of this story for the stage.
◊ “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay spoke with Empire Magazine about the new series and said they’re not trying to compete directly with Peter Jackson’s Trilogy, or Game Of Thrones
My two-cent takeaway: Lord of the Rings is outside of my wheelhouse, but as Mckay says, instead of competing with the original, go back to the source material. Pretty cogent advice when, for many fans, nothing can beat LOTR.
◊ ‘Severance’ Creator Knew He Had a Hit the First Time He Saw the Memes
My two-cent takeaway: It’s damn impressive that this is Dan Erickson’s first work and an interesting metric to follow, but honestly, there’s no way to know when and how fans will respond to a hit. I love that the idea for the show came from his disdain for a humdrum job. Consider that the best ideas for a movie or TV series are already staring you in the face. Hopefully, it’s not a horror, or maybe it is…
◊ Paramount has been drawn into a potentially massive legal battle over the rights to Top Gun. According to a lawsuit filed in California federal court, the studio knew it didn’t have the rights to the sequel but forged ahead with production and distribution anyway. The complaint was filed by the heirs to Ehud Yonay, the author of the 1983 California magazine story entitled “Top Guns” that the original movie was based on.
My two-cent takeaway: Interesting twist that wouldn’t have been an issue if it weren’t for COVID delaying the project. But remember: make sure you have the proper project rights before moving forward.
◊ ‘Jurassic World: Dominion’: Colin Trevorrow Knew Sequel Had to Honor Laura Dern with ‘Ellie Sattler’s Story’
◊ ‘The White Lotus’ Is Mike White’s Master Class in Character Development
My two-cent takeaway: Attempting to be as human as possible was the key to White’s success here, which has been his MO on and off since his first feature, the brilliant Chuck & Buck. (Side note: The year C&B opened, I was on a trip to New York and spotted White standing in front of the restaurant I was eating in. I had seen a prescreening of his film and was mesmerized by its simplicity, so I ran out to say hi, but instead, I confused him with a ridiculous real-life story about how people confused me with Chuck in the poster of his movie. He appeared shell-shocked but really polite, mustered a smile, and said thanks, which was pretty much it. I had no idea how early he was in his career then but totally shied away from asking him more questions about his work.
◊ Lindsey Beer To Write And Direct A Reboot Of ‘Sleepy Hollow’ For Paramount
My two-cent takeaway: Remakes are an easier sell to producers, primarily when writers are taught to frame their pitches with references to other movies. I think this all started with “It’s Die Hard, but on a train!” I guess that, eventually, producers realize they have access to the original property and decide to reboot or remake it.
◊ Apple Lands Steve McQueen’s Next Feature Film ‘Blitz’
My two-cent takeaway: As is the case for some of his best-known features (except “12 Years a Slave”), he will be involved in the writing process.
◊ ‘Dumped’ Comedy Series From Heather Flanders, Liz Friedlander & Kapital In Works At Netflix
My two-cent takeaway: Flanders has been busy producing and writing for TV, including TV movies, since 2012, focusing on comedy.
◊ Joker director Todd Phillips officially confirmed he has completed a script for a sequel to his 2019 film. Phillips shared a cover page to the script, co-written with Joker collaborator Scott Silver, and a photo of star Joaquin Phoenix reading its pages. Phillips also revealed the working title is Joker: Folie à deux, a reference to a medical term for a mental disorder that affects two or more individuals.
My two-cent takeaway: Phillips’ first Joker was solid. Let’s hope we’re dealing with a Godfather Part II situation here.
◊ Sony Pictures has landed Run, Rose, Run, the planned adaptation of the book from Dolly Parton and James Patterson that also has Parton attached to star. The book centers on a young woman who heads to Nashville to pursue her music-making dreams. Reese Witherspoon is set to produce via her Hello Sunshine banner, which worked with the studio on the upcoming adaption of bestseller Where the Crawdads Sing.
My two-cent takeaway: No specifics on who will write the script unless it’s Parton or Patterson. Time to sharpen your pencils.
◊ Carol Burnett is returning to television with the beloved entertainer booking a starring role, opposite Kristen Wiig, in the Apple TV+ scripted comedy series, Mrs. American Pie. Created by Abe Sylvia, the comedy is set in the early 1970s and revolves around Maxine Simmons’ (Wiig) attempt to secure her seat at America’s most exclusive table: Palm Beach high society.
My two-cent takeaway: Syliva will act as showrunner. He got his start writing and directing Dirty Girl, starring Juno Temple, then worked as a writer on Nurse Jackie and, more recently, Dead to Me and wrote The Eyes of Tammy Faye.
◊ Bad Robot’s Demimonde will not be moving forward at HBO. The series, which marked the first original created by J.J. Abrams since Fringe in 2008, has officially been passed over by the premium cable network following issues surrounding the show’s sprawling budget. The series starring Danielle Deadwyler will be shopped to streamers. Sources tell THR’s Lesley Goldberg that Abrams made a last-ditch plea to HBO/HBO Max boss Casey Bloys to spare the drama from cancellation. Bloys took the week to do so, but ultimately the decision was made to part ways with the series for which Abrams had sought a budget north of $200 million, more than the upcoming Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon.
My two-cent takeaway: Bad Robot rejected a $500 million deal with Apple, suggesting that Abrams is doing something right or very wrong.
◊ ‘Ghostbusters’ Animated Series in the Works at Netflix, Jason Reitman and Gil Kenan to Produce
My two-cent takeaway: No writers attached. Time to sharpen your pencils.
◊ Apple Confirms Deal For Brad Pitt Formula One Film From ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Director Joseph Kosinski
My two-cent takeaway: It seems a Formula One film comes around once a decade. Ehren Kruger has a long list of movies dating back to 1998, with Arlington Road in 1999 being his first theatrical feature. He is also one of the writers on Top Gun: Maverick.
◊ ‘Pachinko’ Producer on the Future of Series for Global Audiences
My two-cent takeaway: Podcast about the future of shows like Pachinko. Essentially, with its success, there’s a future, but as is always the case, no one really knows what to expect.
◊ Hugh Laurie On Writing, Directing And Being In Britbox Adaptation Of Agatha Christie’s ‘Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?’ – Virtual Screening Series
◊ ‘Queer as Folk’ Showrunner Stephen Dunn on Updating the Gay TV Classic for Modern Times
My two-cent takeaway: Dunn, a Canadian filmmaker from Newfoundland known for the riveting “Closet Monster,” refers to parts of his QaF as containing Queer “Notebook” moments. Framing your own story in admiration of others, as a type of homage, is a powerful way of encapsulating your concept but keeping it recognizable and fresh.
◊ THR’s Emmy roundtable series continues with the Comedy Showrunner Roundtable. A Black Lady Sketch Show’s Robin Thede, Russian Doll’s Natasha Lyonne, The Chair’s Amanda Peet, Hacks’ Jen Statsky, I Love That for You’s Jessi Klein, and What We Do in the Shadows’ Stefani Robinson open up to THR’s Mikey O’Connell about actor notes, audience appetite for senior sex scenes and the “bullshit” they hear from too many peers: “There is a myth, a rumor going around Hollywood that white men are no longer employable.”
My two-cent takeaway: Detailed interview about the successes and challenges women still face today with promoting their own projects. As a white man, I understand why we may think we are unemployable right now, but that simply isn’t the truth.
◊ Marvel Studios is giving the super villain team the Thunderbolts their own film. Robot & Frank filmmaker Jake Schreier has landed the job to direct, with Marvel veteran Eric Pearson penning the script.
My two-cent takeaway: Eric Pearson or Thor: Ragnarock, Blackwidow, and Godzilla vs. Kong will write the script.
◊ Colin Farrell is set to star in a genre-bending Apple TV+ series called Sugar. Plot details about the series are being kept under wraps, but it comes from Mark Protosevich.
My two-cent takeaway: Presumably, Protosevich will act as showrunner. No other writers are announced. Time to sharpen your pencils.
◊ Salma Hayek Pinault and Demián Bichir have joined the cast of Without Blood, Angelina Jolie’s fifth feature as director and her first as part of a new pact with TV giant Fremantle. Also written and produced by Jolie, the film is an adaptation of the best-selling novel by Italian author Alessandro Baricco.
My two-cent takeaway: This will be Jolie’s fourth script to go into production.
◊ The canceled Showtime series American Rust, by executive producer and writer Dan Futterman, is getting a new life on Freevee, the free, ad-supported streaming service from Amazon.
My two-cent takeaway: Futterman, who has a long list of acting and producing credits, was first credited for writing Capote in 2005 and has been involved in creating several TV series since then, starting with In Treatment in 2010.
◊“Arrow” vet Beth Schwartz will join Steve Yockey as co-showrunner of HBO Max’s “Dead Boys Detectives” series; the show is based on the DC Comics characters created by Neil Gaiman and Matt Wagner.
My two-cent takeaway: Yockey had recent success with Supernatural and the Flight attendant. Schwartz is most recently known for Arrow and Sweet Tooth.
◊ In a series of emails sent to Variety, “The Staircase” subject Michael Peterson called the new HBO series about his life and trial a “betrayal” and complained that docuseries filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade “pimped… out” his family to scripted series creator Antonio Campos.
My two-cent takeaway: This is another example of dissatisfaction with artistic license. It’s unfortunate for those whose stories are being told or people with first-hand knowledge, but it’s impossible to accurately recreate compressed into a movie or series.
◊ Peter Rice Addresses Disney Exit in Final Staff Memo, Calls Tenure “A Pleasure and a Privilege”
My two-cent takeaway: In his farewell memo, he first thanks the writers, which I think is due to the importance writers bring to any creative community.