October 2, 2023

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Expert Arts Folks

Assassin’s Creed Netflix Series Finds Its Showrunner

12 min read

If with film you don’t succeed, try, try a series. Netflix’s adaptation of Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed video game adaptation has found its showrunner. The Walking Dead begins the 11-week countdown to its final season’s premiere. A musical Beauty and the Beast series will reunite Gaston (Luke Evans) and LeFou (Josh Gad). J.J. Abrams is producing a docuseries on UFOs for Showtime, which has also ordered the American Gigolo sequel starring Jon Bernthal to series. Plus, the week’s biggest trailers and more TV and streaming news.


Jeb Stuart Will Serve as Assassin’s Creed Showrunner and Writer

Assassin's Creed

(Photo by Ubisoft)

Netflix’s live-action Assassin’s Creed series has its showrunner: Die Hard and The Fugitive writer Jeb Stuart, who is also a writer for Netflix’s Vikings sequel, Vikings: Valhalla.

Netflix announced the series last October, based on the wildly popular Ubisoft game that launched in 2007. More than 155 million copies of the games in the franchise have been sold since. The game was adapted into a 2016 movie starring Michael Fassbender, but managed only an 18% Tomatometer score despite its impressive cast.

“We really were excited about him because he’s part of the Netflix family already,” head of television development at Ubisoft Film & TV Danielle Kreinik told Variety. “He’s got a breadth of knowledge when it comes to history, so he is the right person, we felt, because he really understands historical drama, and we think he’s going to be a great asset to the Assassin’s Creed universe.”

Netflix also has other Ubisoft adaptations in the works as series, including an anime versions of Far Cry, Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix, and Splinter Cell (from John Wick writer Derek Kolstad).

The Walking Dead Season 11: AMC Drops Storyline Details About the Series’ Final Season

The Walking Dead _ Season 11

(Photo by Josh Stringer/AMC)

With the countdown on to the 11 weeks before the 11th and final season of The Walking Dead premieres on Aug. 22, AMC has released details – with photos – about the stories viewers will see unfold in that final run.

When last we left the apocalypse survivors, Alexandria was in shambles after the battle with the Whisperers, the relationship between BFFs Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Carol (Melissa McBride) is on the rocks, and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) shows no signs of forgiving Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) for brutally murdering her husband, no matter how her friends have, sorta, allowed Negan to redeem himself.

Now, the network teases, “all who live in Alexandria struggle to refortify it and feed its increasing number of residents, which include the survivors from the fall of the Kingdom and the burning of Hilltop; along with Maggie and her new group, the Wardens. Alexandria has more people than it can manage to feed and protect. Their situation is dire as tensions heat up over past events and self-preservation rises to the surface within the ravaged walls.

The Walking Dead _ Season 11

(Photo by Josh Stringer/AMC)

They must secure more food while they attempt to restore Alexandria before it collapses like countless other communities they have come across throughout the years. But where and how? More haggard and hungrier than ever before, they must dig deeper to find the effort and strength to safeguard the lives of their children, even if it means losing their own.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to those at Alexandria, Eugene (Eugene McDermitt), Ezekiel (Khary Payton), Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura), and Princess (Paola Lázaro) are still being held captive by mysterious soldiers who are members of a larger and unforthcoming group.”

Also as part of the 11-week countdown to the final season, the network will release each week a piece of original art commemorating each season. This week: a nod to Rick Grimes’ (Andy Lincoln) arrival in Atlanta by comic book artist Alex Maleev.

Disney+ Orders a Beauty and the Beast Series

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, from left: Josh Gad, Luke Evan

(Photo by Laurie Sparham /© Walt Disney Pictures /courtesy Everett Collection)

Disney+ has ordered a Beauty and the Beast limited musical series, with Josh Gad and Luke Evans reprising their roles as Lefou and Gaston, and Brianna Middleton (The Tender Bar) joining the cast as Tilly. The eight-episode series, for which Gad will also be a co-showrunner, is a sequel to the 2017 live-action movie and will follow Gaston and LeFou as they set off with LeFou’s stepsister, Tilly, after a surprising revelation from her past comes to light. Gad developed and will write the series with Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz (Once Upon a Time).

Meanwhile, when the series premieres, it will be on a Wednesday. After the premiere of Loki on Wednesday, June 9, became Disney+’s most-watched original series episode ever, the streaming service has announced that it will release all of its original series on Wednesdays, instead of Fridays, beginning in July.

NEW TRAILERS: Paul Rudd and Will Ferrell Team Up for The Shrink Next Door

The Shrink Next Door is the dark comedy limited series, inspired by true events, about Dr. Ike, a psychiatrist to celebrities (Paul Rudd), and his patient Marty (Will Ferrell), whose relationship becomes so bizarre that Dr. Ike moves into Marty’s home in the Hamptons and convinces Marty to put him in charge of the family business. Also stars Kathryn Hahn and Casey Wilson. Premieres Nov. 12. (Apple TV+)

More trailers and teasers released this week:
• Titans season 3 finds the young superheroes reuniting with old friends in Gotham City. Stars Brenton Thwaites, Anna Diop, Alan Ritchson, and Minka Kelly. Premieres Aug. 12. (HBO Max)
American Rust – based on author Philipp Meyer’s novel – is a new limited series about a Pennsylvania Rust Belt chief of police (Jeff Daniels), who has nothing but bad choices when a local murder tears apart his town and he’s forced to decide whether or not to protect the son of the woman (Maura Tierney) he loves. Also stars Bill Camp. Premieres Sept. 12. (Showtime)
• Star Trek: Picard season 2 features a reunion between Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Q (John de Lancie). Premieres 2022. (Paramount+)
• Truth Be Told, Season 2, finds true crime podcaster Poppy (Octavia Spencer)  finding her lifelong friendship with a woman named Micah (Kate Hudson) tested when Poppy dives into a new cases that involved Micah. Premieres August 20 (Apple TV+)
• The Beast Must Die is the limited series about the vengeance-seeking mother who infiltrates the life of the man she thinks is responsible for her son’s dead. Stars Cush Jumbo and Jared Harris. Premieres July 12 (AMC)
• The Morning Show season 2 introduces new cast member Julianna Margulies. Also stars Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Billy Crudup. Premieres Sept. 17 (Apple TV+)
• Monsters at Work is the delightful new series sequel to Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. Stars John Goodman, Henry Winkler, Mindy Kaling, and Billy Crystal. Premieres July 7 (Disney+)
• LFG is the documentary about the ongoing fight for equal pay by the U.S. women’s soccer team. Stars Megan Rapinoe, Jessica McDonald, Becky Sauerbrunn, Kelley O’Hara, and Sam Mewis. Premieres June 24 (HBO Max)

• The Nine Perfect Strangers at the center of the upcoming limited series that reunites Nicole Kidman with another project from Big Little Lies author Liane Moriarty and showrunner David E. Kelley have no idea what they’re about to experience at the wellness retreat run by Kidman’s Masha. Also stars Melissa McCarthy, Luke Evans, Michael Shannon, Regina Hall, and Melvin Gregg. Premieres Aug. 18. (Hulu)
• Atypical is the Peabody-nominated series’ fourth and final season, and finds Sam (Keir Gilchrist) reaching for a goal that seems impossible. Also stars Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Rapaport, and Brigette Lundy-Paine. Premieres July 9. (Netflix)
• A new Dr. Death peek shows just how sinister real-life surgeon Christopher Duntsch (Josh Jackson) got once people started questioning why his patients were leaving surgery dead or maimed. Also stars Alec Baldwin, Christian Slater, and AnnaSophia Robb. Premieres July 15. (Peacock)
• In DC’s Stargirl season 2, we meet Green Lantern’s daughter (Ysa Penarejo). Stars Brec Bassinger. Premieres Aug. 10. (The CW)
• Bitchin’: The Sound and Fury of Rick James is a documentary about the wild and crazy life and career of the legendary funk superstar. Premieres later in 2021. (Showtime)

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CASTING: The Blacklist Loses Star Megan Boone in the Season 8 Finale

The Blacklist - Season 8 - Episode 804 - "Elizabeth Keen (#1)"

How will the story end for Red (James Spader) and Liz (Megan Boone) on The Blacklist? That remains to be seen in the NBC series’ June 23 season 8 finale. Boone will leave the series in the season ender, Deadline reports.

HBO Max’s Father of the Bride remake, starring Andy Garcia and Gloria Estefan as the parents, has added Saturday Night Live star Chloe Fineman to the cast, where she will reportedly play the wedding planner. (THR)

Naomi Watts and Bobby Cannavale will star in the Netflix limited series The Watcher, about a couple who moves into their dream home, and then begins to receive threatening letters by someone who signs them “The Watcher.” (Deadline)

GLOW and Veronica Mars alum Chris Lowell will co-star with Hilary Duff in the How I Met Your Mother spin-off How I Met Your Father. He’ll play Jesse, an aspiring musician who’s an Uber driver and is a friend of Duff’s Sophie. (Deadline)

Carice van Houten headshot

Starz’ reimagining of Dangerous Liaisons, which tells the origin story of how the Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont meet as young lovers in Paris and then rise from the slums of Paris to seduce and manipulate both the nobility and each other to survive, has added to its cast: Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread) as Genevieve de Merteuil, Carice van Houten (pictured, Game of Thrones) as Jacqueline de Montrachet, Paloma Faith (Youth) as Florence de Regnier, Michael McElhatton (Game of Thrones) as Jean de Merteuil, Kosar Ali (Rocks) as Victoire, Nathanael Saleh (Mary Poppins Returns) as Azolan, Hakeem Kae-Kazim (Godzilla vs. Kong) as Majordome, Hilton Pelser (Moffie) as Gabriel Carrè, Mia Threapleton (A Little Chaos) as Rose, Colette Dalal Tchantcho (The Witcher) as Ondine de Valmont, Lucy Cohu (The Queen’s Sister) as Christine de Sevigny, Fisayo Akinade (The Personal History of David Copperfield) as Chevalier de Saint-Jacques, Maria Friedman (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) as Berthe, and Clare Higgins (Ready Player One) as Madame Jericho. Previously announced Alice Englert (Beautiful Creatures) will play Camille and Nicholas Denton (Pillars) will play Pascal Valmont, the lovers at the center of the series.

Neal McDonough will play Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower – but not the POTUS – in the American Horror Story: Double Feature season of Ryan Murphy’s FX horror story. The storyline for season 10 revolves around two locations – one at the sea, one by the sand – and premieres on Aug. 25. (Deadline)

Smallville star Kristin Kreuk has joined the cast of Amazon’s Jack Reacher series, which will be called Reacher. She’ll play a former debutante, now living a country club lifestyle, TV Line reports, but who is much tougher than she is estimated to be. The Reacher character, based on author Lee Child’s bestselling books, is being played by Alan Ritchson, who played Aquaman on Smallville. What We Do in the Shadows star Harvey Guillén has also joined the cast as a medical examiner who is frightened by the number of murders happening in his hometown.

The Paramount+ upcoming animated kids series Star Trek: Prodigy has added to its cast, which stars Kate Mulgrew reprising her role as Captain Kathryn Janeway, and now includes Jason Mantzoukas , Rylee Alazraqui, Brett Gray, Angus Imrie, Ella Purnell, and Dee Bradley Baker, who will provide the voice work for young aliens.

Apple TV+ has added to its cast for the psychological thriller Surface, which stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw as a woman trying to rebuild her life after attempting suicide. Joining her are Marianne Jean Baptiste (Homecoming), Oliver Jackson-Cohen (The Haunting of Bly Manor), Stephan James (Homecoming), Ari Graynor (Mrs. America), François Arnaud (UnReal), and Millie Brady (The Queen’s Gambit).

Orange Is the New Black star Dascha Polanco will star in the NBC dark comedy pilot Dangerous Moms, about a group of moms who accidentally kill the head of the PTA during a food processor demonstration. Polanco will play one of the moms in the show, which is based on the Spanish series Señoras del (h)Ampa. (Deadline)

PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT: American Gigolo Series with Jon Bernthal Ordered at Showtime

Jon Bernthal as Julian Kaye in AMERICAN GIGOLO.

(Photo by Justin Lubin/Showtime)

Showtime has ordered the drama series American Gigolo, a sequel to the 1980 movie that starred Richard Gere. The series, with Ray Donovan showrunner David Hollander as director and showrunner, will star The Walking Dead and The Punisher’s Jon Bernthal (pictured above in a first-look image) as Julian Kaye, the gigolo sent to jail for a murder he did not commit. The series will also star Rosie O’Donnell, Leland Orser (Ray Donovan), and Wayne Brady as Lorenzo, Julian’s best friend and mentor. We’ll meet up with Julian 15 years after he’s been released from prison and is trying to understand the modern-day Los Angeles sex industry, while also trying to find out who set him up and sent him to prison and reconnecting with his one true love, Michelle (Boardwalk Empire’s Gretchen Mol).

Netflix has ordered an animated prequel series for The Witcher, called The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf. The Witcher creator Lauren Schmidt Hissrich will also serve as showrunner and co-executive producer of the spinoff. “There are things I wanted to know about, what it takes to become a witcher, how Geralt became a witcher, where his journey started and who was important to him,” Hissrich said. (Variety)

Don’t be ridiculous! There’s another ’80s/’90s sitcom reboot on the way. Actresses Robin Thede (A Black Lady Sketch Show) and London Hughes (Fleabag and History of Swear Words) are starring in a Perfect Strangers remake in development at HBO Max. The 1986-1993 original starred Bronson Pinchot and Mark-Linn Baker as cousins and roommates. In the new series, Deja (Thede) and Poppy (Hughes) are strangers who have to learn to live together when they inherit an apartment in Brooklyn and find out they’re half-sisters. Thede and Hughes will also write and executive produce the reboot.

UFO keyart

(Photo by Showtime)

J.J. Abrams is producing a Showtime docuseries about UFOs. The four-part series, titled UFO, will debut on Aug. 8, and will “confront the most enigmatic questions of all: Why do we believe what we believe? And what is the elusive truth beyond this decades-long mystery?” The subject of UFOs is a current headline-maker because of news that Congress will soon be given an unclassified report about UFO sightings, and because of remarks in May that former President Barack Obama made on The Late Show with James Corden. Speaking about Naval interactions with reported “UAP” (Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon), Obama told Corden, “What is true, and I’m actually being serious here, is that there is footage and records of objects in the skies that we don’t know exactly what they are. We can’t explain how they move, their trajectory. They did not have an easily explainable pattern. And so I think that people still take (that) seriously, trying to investigate and figure out what that is.”

Taraji P. Henson will host the BET Awards, live,  on June 27, with a “Year of the Black Woman” theme and a Lifetime Achievement Award presented to Queen Latifah.

Monica Lewinsky and her Alt Ending production company have signed a first-look production deal with 20th Television. The Vanity Fair contributing editor is already a consulting producer on FX’s Impeachment: American Crime Story, which unfolds the story of the Bill Clinton impeachment scandal and stars Beanie Feldstein as Lewinsky. Impeachment premieres on Sept. 7. (THR)

George Lopez and his 25-year-old daughter Mayan Lopez are starring together in an NBC family comedy pilot, Lopez vs. Lopez. Mayan guest-starred on Lopez’s self-titled 2002-07 ABC comedy when she was 11. (Deadline)

Netflix announced Will Smith is hosting a variety special sometime this year, but declined to offer any details about the “surprise celebrity guests, noteworthy conversation, fresh comedic sketches, (and) huge musical performances” the show will feature.

Rick and Morty Day and Wendy's

(Photo by WarnerMedia)

Wendy’s is celebrating the fifth season of Rick and Morty, which premieres on June 20, with a pop-up restaurant in Los Angeles, two series-themed soda mixes in more than 5,000 Coca-Cola Freestyle machines in Wendy’s locations across the country and free in-app Wendy’s delivery. The Mello Yello BerryJerryboree and Mello Yello Portal Time Lemon Lime sodas are available through Aug. 22 at more than 5,000 Wendy’s locations, and the free delivery is available through July 1. The Los Angeles pop-up, at the Panorama City Wendy’s, will feature an LED drive-thru, a Rick and Morty–themed menu, and a limited edition Pickle Rick Pickle Frosty.

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