This Week in TV:
Sony's Playstation Network announces an adaptation of Powers as one of its first original series; Charlie Kaufman's How and Why pilot at FX adds two more cast members; Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda (Nine to Five) reteam for Netflix comedy series Grace and Frankie; and writer/director Roland Joffé (The Killing Fields) announces development of a Hunchback of Notre Dame adaptation titled Ugly.
Sony's PlayStation Network, which currently offers films and TV shows to rent or purchase through its video game consoles, is planning to develop its own original TV programming, and is taking on an adaptation of popular comic book series Powers as of one its first projects.
Sony Pictures Television has already committed to producing 10 hour-long episodes of the series, which, like the book, will follow two homicide detectives who investigate supernatural crimes committed by God-like beings. The comic's co-creators, Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming, are on board to produce the series, which will be penned by novelist Charlie Huston.
For Sony, the move toward original programming is an effort to make its next-gen console, the PlayStation 4, all the more appealing to gamers and non-gamers alike. The entertainment giant is also likely prepping for battle over the new frontier of digital television with its biggest competitor, Microsoft, which has its own original shows - including a Steven Spielberg-produced Halo series - in the works for its XBox One platform.
Meanwhile, Bendis and Oeming have to be pleased that the show finally has a home. A Powers adaptation languished in development hell at FX - which even shot a pilot of the show with Jason Patric as one of the leads - for nearly two years, but could never materialize, even after hiring the show's current writer, Huston.
It was only a matter of time, before the Sony PlayStation Network got in the original programming game, but is Powers a solid initial investment? We'll have to wait and see what kind of talent Sony Pictures Television can attract to the project before passing judgement.
Charlie Kaufman's (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) comedy pilot at FX, titled How and Why, added two more Academy Award nominees to its cast this week, including Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine).
Hot off her 2013 Best Supporting Actress nom, Hawkins joins the pilot as Yvonne Hesselman, the wife of main character and TV host Goodman Hesselman (John Hawkes), with whom she has triplets, as well as a deteriorating marriage. Her character would become a series regular if the pilot ends up getting picked up.
In addition, the pilot cast frequent Kaufman collaborator Catherine Keener (Being John Malkovich, Synechdoche, New York) as a character named Alice in a guest-starring role. Further details about her character are scarce at the moment, but considering Kaufman was attempting to develop a different series around her two years ago, it's likely he'll find plenty for her to do in his first half-hour comedy venture since Ned & Stacy was cancelled after two seasons by FOX in 1997.
Ordered for a pilot last March, How and Why tells the story of "a man who can explain how and why a nuclear reactor works but is otherwise clueless about life."
Here's a more detailed synopsis for the show:
"After losing his gig hosting children’s science show 'How And Why', he tries to start over with a new show in a little TV market in the middle of nowhere when he encounters the supernatural world."
Hawkes, who is also an Oscar nominee (Winter's Bone), will lead the comedy and Michael Cera (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) will star as Mendelson, Goodman's new and much younger boss.
We'll continue to pass along the latest on How and Why and let you know if FX orders it to series.
This week, Netflix announced that legendary actresses Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda will topline its next original series, Grace and Frankie, which was co-created by Marta Kauffman (Friends) and Howard J. Morris (Sullivan & Son).
Already slated for a 13-episode first season on the streaming service, Grace and Frankie will feature the real life friends as "long-time nemeses who are facing the last chapter of their lives." Fonda will portray Grace while Tomlin will play Frankie. Here are some more details for the comedy:
"When their husbands announce they are in love with each other and plan to get married, the women find their lives both turned upside down and to their dismay, permanently intertwined. Eventually, to their surprise, they find they have each other."
While we don't have detailed descriptions of their characters yet, we can clearly imagine an Odd Couple-esque set-up for this new series. Considering the two have a strong comedic rapport with one another - which they developed co-starring in the classic female empowerment flick Nine to Five (1980) together - Grace and Frankie appears to be in capable and very funny hands.
Here's what Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos had to say about the new show:
"Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin are among the funniest and most formidable actresses ever and it’s an incredible privilege to give them the opportunity to run riot on Netflix. The show created for them by Marta and Howard is warm, very funny and anything but wholesome. We can’t wait.”
We'll pass along more info on Grace and Frankie, as well as a Netflix premiere date, when they are announced.
FremantleMedia International (FMI) and Oscar-nominated writer/director Roland Joffé (The Killing Fields) announced they are currently developing a TV series titled Ugly, based on classic Victor Hugo novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Joffé has tasked himself with writing the TV adaptation, which plans to explore the themes of inner and outer beauty ingrained in Hugo's original Gothic tale.
Said Joffé about the project:
"In our story, Ugly is beautiful and much of what passes for beauty is ugly. Such is life, and life and love, cruelty and compassion, morals and money, are the subjects of our story."
Adapted for the screen and stage numerous times, the iconic story has also undergone several attempted TV retellings in recent years. Six months back, ABC announced development of its own Hunchback-based project, titled Esmeralda, but considering we haven't heard anything about the proposed adaptation since, it's likely the network won't be pushing it forward.
We'll have to wait and see if Ugly has better luck after the project is pitched to network execs next month at MIPTV.
Source: FremantleMedia International
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