This week in TV:
HBO releases the first image of Jude Law in The Young Pope; Fox renames The Frankenstein Code; Michelle Pfeiffer joins The Wizard of Lies; Big Bang Theory Season 9 will make reference to Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens; NBC orders a time travel pilot from Shawn Ryan; HBO's Lewis and Clark will resume production in the spring; A&E casts a new lead in its Roots remake.
HBO has released the first image of Jude Law as Pope Pius XIII in the upcoming series The Young Pope.
The Young Pope is an upcoming television miniseries that represents a joint production between HBO in the U.S., Sky Atlantic in the United Kingdom and Canal+ in France. It follows the fictional Lenny Belardo who goes on to become Pope Pius XIII, the first American pope. The series will explore his struggles as he faces his new papal responsibilities and adapts to life in the Vatican. Joining Law in the series is Academy Award-winning actress Diane Keaton, who plays an American nun and ally to Belardo.
The eight episode series was created by Paolo Sorrentino, who directed the Academy Award-winning foreign film The Great Beauty. Sorrentino will be writing as well as directing the entirety of the miniseries.
Fox has retitled the upcoming series The Frankenstein Code, giving it the new name Lookinglass.
Lookinglass stars Robert Kazinsky as Jimmy Pritchard, a 75-year-old former Los Angeles County Sheriff forced to retire in disgrace. After he is murdered by a group of corrupt police officers, Pritchard is resurrected by two young scientists as a 35-year-old with superpowers. The resurrection project is called the Lookinglass Project, hence the series' new name. The sheriff rejoins the police force and becomes an essential tool in the fight on crime.
The series is in the same vein as Fox's Sleepy Hollow in that it takes a classic story and brings it into a modern setting with a police procedural element. The midseason drama was created and is being produced by Howard Gordon (24).
Lookinglass will premiere in 2016.
Michelle Pfeiffer has been cast in HBO's upcoming TV movie The Wizard of Lies.
The Wizard of Lies tells the story of real-life financier Bernard Madoff, who committed a number of federal felonies as he pulled off the largest Ponzi scheme in history. Madoff plead guilty in 2009 and is now serving a 150 year sentence for defrauding his clients of almost $65 billion. The film will be based on Diana Henriques' book of the same name, with supplemental material drawn from "Truth and Consequences" by Laurie Sandell.
Pfeiffer will be playing Ruth Madoff opposite Robert De Niro, who is attached to star as Bernard. Additionally, Alessandro Nivola (American Hustle) joined the cast as Mark Madoff, Bernard's son who committed suicide after his father's arrest. Barry Levinson, who directed You Don't Know Jack for HBO, is set to direct The Wizard of Lies, executive producing with De Niro and Jane Rosenthal.
Series producer Steve Molaro confirmed that the upcoming season of the hit show will feature a storyline about the upcoming release of the The Force Awakens. Considering that the series features a group of Star Wars-obsessed geniuses, this doesn't necessarily come as a surprise. There's no word yet on whether the storyline will feature a cameo or just references to the film's release, but the series will undoubtedly pull out the stops for the biggest movie of the year.
Molaro had the following to say:
"We're talking about how that will be weaved into [the guys'] lives and we have some really cool ideas. Obviously we're all excited about it, just as human beings -- and the characters are as well. I don't know exactly how it's going to play in, but it won't be ignored."
Season 9 of The Big Bang Theory begins on Monday, September 21st, 2015. Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens premieres in U.S. theaters on December 18th, 2015.
Time is an action/adventure drama that follows a group of three time travelers as they battle unknown criminals to defend the time stream. The series is described as "Back to the Future meets Mission Impossible," which should be more than enough to pique the interest of general audiences.
Ryan and Kripke are co-writing the script for the pilot and will serve on the show as executive producers. Joining them are executive producers John Davis and John Fox from Davis Productions and Marney Hochman, president of Midd Kid Productions. Interestingly, this marks the third large budget drama for Davis Productions and NBC, the first being the highly successful series The Blacklist and the second being the upcoming series The Player starring Wesley Snipes.
HBO has announced that production on miniseries Lewis and Clark will resume in spring of 2016.
Production on the miniseries was shut down at the beginning of August due to internal conflicts as well as weather-related problems. At the time the project shut down, director John Curran and director of photography Rob Hardy both left the project citing creative differences. HBO has extended the current hiatus to spring and released the following statement to Deadline:
"As we looked at the schedule for 'Lewis and Clark' and assessed the winter weather challenges ahead, we decided to remount the production in spring. We are currently searching for a new director and director of photography. We are also in conversations now with the actors' representatives to coordinate their schedules for next year."
Lewis and Clark is based on the bestselling book "Undaunted Courage" by the late historian Stephen E. Ambrose. It tells the story of Meriwether Lewis (Casey Affleck) and William Clark (Matthias Schoenaerts) as they lead the Corps of Discovery west through uncharted territory to discover a water passage to the Pacific Ocean. The series will be executive produced by Hollywood giants Tom Hanks and Brad Pitt.
A&E has cast Malachi Kirby as Kunta Kinte in the network's remake of Roots.
The miniseries follows Kinte as he is captured in his homeland of Gambia and sold into slavery, forced to come to America. The story continues through his descendants as they struggle to survive over the next century. The story is an adaptation of Alex Haley's novel of the same name. Roots was first adapted as a miniseries in 1977, with LeVar Burton playing the role of Kinte. The original went on to win nine Emmy Awards and broke viewing records at the time with 130 million viewers.
The 25-year-old actor isn't well known in the U.S., but he has appeared in the long running U.K. soap opera Eastenders and is considered an up and coming talent. Roots will also star Laurence Fishburne as Alex haley and is expected to begin filming next month.
Roots will air on A&E, Lifetime and the History Channel in 2016.