Streamers dangle free subscriptions, Breaking Bad enters the 2019 chicken sandwich wars, and the latest trailers, castings, and development news.
Disney+ and Apple TV+ are apparently looking to Costco for inspiration in their quest to gain an advantage in the streaming service wars.
Like the warehouse store, the upcoming streaming networks will offer customers free samples. But instead of hunks of cheese and tiny cups of yogurt tasters, Disney+ and Apple TV+ are serving up animated movie classics and new dramatic series starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston.
Disney+ is teaming with Verizon to give Verizon’s 4GLTE and 5G unlimited wireless customers 12 months of Disney+ free, beginning with the streaming service’s November 12 launch. The service, which will cost non-Verizon customers $6.99 per month (or $69.99 a year), has so much new and archive content that Disney released a three-hour trailer to preview all the programming that will be available on Disney+, from the new live-action Star Wars series The Mandalorian and all the Star Wars movies to TV series and original and remake movie versions of 101 Dalmatians.
Apple previously announced it will offer a free year of Apple TV+ to customers who purchase a new or refurbished iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac, or iPod Touch. The service — which debuts on November 1 with the all-star drama series The Morning Show starring Witherspoon, Aniston, and Steve Carell — otherwise costs $4.99 per month.
Meanwhile, Netflix has its own plans to woo new customers and keep existing ones, but there’s nothing free about it. The streaming giant is taking on $2 billion of debt to fuel new content, and acquire more retro series, like Seinfeld, which Netflix spent hundreds of millions of dollars to bring to the site in 2021 after its run on Hulu ends. Netflix will lose two of its biggest draws, The Office (in January 2021) and Friends (in 2020), as The Office will move to NBC Universal’s Peacock streaming service, while Friends will take up residence on HBO Max.
Well, technically, the sandwich will come from Uber Eats, which is delivering a menu of food from a pop-up Los Pollos Hermanos’ menu, inspired by Gustavo Fring’s chicken eatery/meth business front from Breaking Bad. Pollos Tenders and Fring Fries are among the offerings, but it’s the ABQ Hot Chicken Sandwich that drew a good review from the ultimate critic – Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, and El Camino movie creator Vince Gilligan.
“(The) chicken sandwich is big and crispy on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside, and it rests on one of the better brioche buns I’ve come across,” Gilligan told The Hollywood Reporter. “It doesn’t skimp on the spices, either … I think Gus would approve.”
Gilligan added, “For the longest time, I’ve harbored the idea of a real-life Los Pollos Hermanos, where Breaking Bad fans could savor Gustavo Fring’s chicken. Little did I realize this could be accomplished without building an actual brick-and-mortar restaurant.”
Unfortunately, the tasty vittles are only available in Los Angeles right now, though there are plans to expand the Los Pollos Hermanos Uber Eats treats to San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego, Las Vegas, Chicago, and other cities in the coming months.
Emmy nominees Jared Harris (Chernobyl and Mad Men) and Lee Pace (Pushing Daisies and Halt and Catch Fire) will lead the cast of Apple’s Foundation, based on the Isaac Asimov novel of the same name.
Emmy-winning actor and narrator Peter Coyote (Patch Adams, The 4400) will play former FBI Director Robert Mueller in the all-star, politically-themed limited series A Higher Loyalty, the CBS Studios production that will air on Showtime and/or CBS All Access during the 2020 election season. Based on the bestselling book of the same name by another former FBI director, James Comey, the series also stars Jeff Daniels as Comey, Holly Hunter as Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, Michael Kelly (House of Cards) as Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, and, as tweet-happy Trump, Harry Potter star Brendan Gleeson. (Deadline)
Freddie Prinze Jr. married Punky Brewster! Or rather, his character, musician Travis did, in the pilot for the Peacock streaming network’s Punky Brewster sequel series. The duo has since divorced, but there’s still chemistry between Travis and Punky (original series star Soleil Moon Frye). Prinze was set to play a CW dad – on Nancy Drew – earlier this year, but dropped out of the pilot and was replaced by Party of Five star Scott Wolf.
Game of Thrones alum Joseph Mawles, who played Ned Stark’s little brother Benjen, will play the villainous Oren in Amazon’s big-budget Lord of the Rings series. The J.R.R. Tolkien adaptation, set in Middle-earth in the time before The Fellowship of the Ring, also stars Will Poulter and Markella Kavenagh. (Deadline)
AMC’s still-untitled romantic love-themed anthology series, from Emmy-winning Black Mirror writer Will Bridges and actor/writer Brett Goldstein (Derek), will star David Costabile (Breaking Bad, Billions), Sonya Cassidy (Lodge 49), and Sarah Snook (Succession). The series, set 15 years in the future, will find Costabile playing an Ivy League professor whose life is rocked when he meets his soulmate, while Snook plays a mom who fears she’ll only be happy with her soulmate, who’s not her husband.
Arrow alum Ryan Robbins will soon join the cast of Riverdale, playing Frank Andrews, the younger brother of the late Fred Andrews. Fred, who was killed off in the series’ season 4 premiere following the death of star Luke Perry, was Frank’s hero, but the younger sibling joined the Army in an effort to get out of his brother’s shadow. The former football star has a bad temper and “vices,” and after several tours of duty, comes to Riverdale looking to lay down some roots. (Deadline)
Alia Shawkat will play an FBI agent helping to track down fugitive CIA agent Dan Chase (Jeff Bridges, in his first regular TV role) in the FX pilot The Old Man. The Transparent and Arrested Development star joins a cast that already includes John Lithgow and Amy Brenneman.
The Emmy- and Peabody Award–winning Cartoon Network animated series Adventure Time will return on HBO Max with four hour-long new Adventure Time: Distant Lands specials. The first two installments, BMO and Obsidian, will premiere on the streaming service in 2020 followed by Wizard City and Together Again:
Hilary Duff is reuniting with her TV family – Robert Carradine, Hallie Todd, and Jake Thomas – for Disney+’s Lizzie McGuire reboot. Duff, an executive producer on the series, will play 30-year-old Lizzie, who consults her 13-year-old self (in animated form) for life advice.
HGTV’s breakout Fixer Upper stars Chip and Joanna Gaines have named their upcoming cable network Magnolia (a joint project with Discovery), and the network has its first series with Home on the Road. The reality series will follow the band Johnnyswim, made up of marrieds Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano Ramirez, as they tour with their children and band members on a bus. Magnolia, which will take over the DIY Network, launches in October 2020. (THR)
HBO Max ordered a second season of the dystopian animated series gen:LOCK, starring Michael B. Jordan as a pilot in a group using technology to fight back against an oppressive group in a new world war. Dakota Fanning, Maisie Williams, and David Tennant also star in the series, which debuted with its first season on Rooster Teeth.
Good Christian Bitches, based on Kim Gatlin’s bestselling book about desperate housewives in Dallas, was adapted as GCB, a short-lived drama on ABC in 2010, and now The CW is developing the material as a teen drama described as “Clueless set in a Christian high school.” Darren Star, who executive produced GCB, will also produce the new series, which pits the atheist daughter of a minister against the three most popular girls at a Dallas high school. (Deadline)
RuPaul announced he’s making a spin-off of RuPaul’s Drag Race featuring celebrities. Debuting in 2020 on VH1, RuPaul’s Celebrity Drag Race will feature an all-star lineup of competitors who will be aided by Drag Race alums as they vie to win cash they’ll donate to charity and the title of America’s Next Celebrity Drag Superstar. No names have been dropped yet, but comedian Whitney Cummings said she attended a taping of the show to support one of her celebrity friends. (Vanity Fair)
Retired NBA all-star Dwyane Wade has signed a multi-year deal with WarnerMedia that will find him joining Turner Sports as an analyst alongside Shaquille O’Neal and Candace Parker for TNT’s Tuesday night NBA game coverage, as well as NCAA Final Four coverage. Wade will also create new projects under the deal, and become a creative director at the Warner-owned Bleacher Report media company.
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I am truly honored to be a part of this TnT family. I’ve sat back and watched you guys for years create TV magic. I’ve watched this network give former players a voice and current players a platform. As a leader I’ve always tried to empower and uplift the next generation and this platform gives me the stage to do that. Thank you again to the Turner family for this incredible opportunity‼️ Coming January 2020 #StillDancing
The Big Bang Theory star Johnny Galecki is teaming with TBBT writer Anthony Del Broccolo for The Squad, an NBC comedy about esports. The show, which has a script order from the network, revolves around the friendships among a group of people who used to feel like outsiders, until they bonded over their mutual love of esports. So … TBBT set in the world of esports? (THR)
Comedy Central and All Things Comedy are producing a documentary about the late comedian Patrice O’Neal. Bill Burr, Al Madrigal, and O’Neal’s fiancée Von Decarlo are among the executive producers of the project, which will explore O’Neal’s life and sometimes controversial material. O’Neal died after a stroke in 2011 at the age of 41.
Monica Lewinski will executive produce an HBO Max documentary called 15 Minutes of Shame, about the “public shaming epidemic in our culture.” The anti-bullying activist and Bill Clinton impeachment figure will also appear in the documentary, along with project director, former Catfish co-host Max Joseph.
House of Cards creator Beau Willimon is teaming with Slut: The Play writer Katie Cappiello to adapt the 2013 play as a Netflix teen drama called Grand Army. The series has a 10-episode order, and will revolve around five students at the largest high school in Brooklyn as they tackle sexual, racial, and economic issues. Odessa A’zion (Fam), Maliq Johnson (When They See Us), Amir Bageria (Degrassi: Next Class), Odley Jean (Her Story Uncut), and Slut: The Play actress Amalia Yoo star in the series, which debuts in 2020.
Elizabeth Banks is a producer on another potential NBC series, the workplace drama Mavenhood. The story, which has a script commitment at the network, is about a group of social media entrepreneurs whose company is in jeopardy when someone threatens to reveal their dark secrets – and their not-so-Instagrammable real lives. (Deadline)
HBO Max will be the host of Amy Schumer’s documentary Expecting Amy, about Schumer’s difficult pregnancy, including multiple hospitalizations, which coincided with a comedy tour she embarked on to prepare for a stand-up special. Expecting Amy will be edited by Alexander Hammer, who edited Beyoncé’s Homecoming.
WeWork, the troubled workspace company, will be the subject of a documentary by Business Insider and Campfire, the company behind the Netflix documentary The Innocent Man. Based on reporting by Business Insider, the doc will include details on WeWork’s dramatic downfall, IPO fail, frat-boy culture, and controversial leader Adam Neumann. (THR)
Amy Poehler will get serious with her newest project, the thriller The Mother-in-Law. Poehler is executive producer of the series, which is based on Sally Hepworth’s novel of the same name, about a woman’s complicated relationship with her in-laws, which ends with a suspicious death and the spilling of family secrets. Hepworth is also an EP on the project which was given a pilot order at NBC.
Oscar nominee and Emmy winner Michael Mann will direct the pilot of HBO Max’s drama Tokyo Vice. Starring Ansel Elgort and Ken Watanabe, the 10-episode series is based on investigative journalist Jake Adelstein’s 2009 memoir about becoming the first American journalist on the crime beat at one of the largest newspapers in Japan, which led to him being embedded with the Tokyo Vice police squad to reveal corruption.
The cast of The Facts of Life is reuniting, but not to play their Peekskill characters. Kim Fields, Mindy Cohn, Nancy McKeon, and Lisa Whelchel will co-star in the Lifetime original holiday movie Light Up My Christmas. Fields is an executive producer on the fact-based movie about a woman who helps the citizens in her hometown embrace the spirit of the holidays. It premieres on Lifetime on December 1.
As part of an overall deal with Lisa Ling, HBO Max has greenlit Ling’s travel docu-series Birth, Wedding, Funeral, which will take viewers to a new country in each episode, and immerse them in that country’s culture and customs. The concept for the series was created by iconic newsman Dan Rather, who serves as an executive producer.
And yet another series announcement from HBO Max, which is set to launch in spring 2020: The Ho’s, a docu-series about Binh and Hue Ho, who immigrated to the United States from Vietnam with little money and have built a multi-million dollar bank and real estate empire. The series will follow their family life in Houston – including son Washington Ho and his kids, named Lincoln and Roosevelt – in what is described as a real-life Crazy Rich Asians–like story.