TV Talk

Is HBO Max Finally Bringing a Harry Potter Series to TV?

Weekly TV news roundup: Major fantasy titles — including Harry Potter, Game Of Thrones, and The Sandman — top TV and streaming news this week. Plus, Vikings spin-off castings, AFI's Best TV Shows of 2020 and more.

by | January 30, 2021 | Comments

Potterheads, rejoice! A Harry Potter series is in the works. Probably. Maybe. Same with an animated Game Of Thrones spin-off. Vikings: Valhalla and Sandman castings announced and more of the week’s top TV and streaming news.


TOP STORY

What Took So Long? Harry Potter and His Hogwarts Friends May Be Headed to Streaming

HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE poster
(Photo by Warner Bros.)

The only true surprise about Harry Potter finding his way to television is that it’s taken this long. HBO Max executives are on the search for writers to craft a pitch for a series that would send the boy wizard and his friends to the streaming service, THR.com reports.

Bringing an adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s wildly successful seven-book, eight-movie series to TV is in the “extremely early stages,” according to the report, with no cast attached. HBO Max and Warner Bros. issued a statement denying a TV project is in the works, but THR sources say several discussions have taken place to develop a series.

The Potter movies have earned more than $7 billion worldwide, and, despite recent controversial comments by Rowling that many consider transphobic, the property remains a hugely popular one, from amusement park tie-ins to the Fantastic Beasts prequel movies.


Taron Egerton and Paul Walter Hauser Teaming for Apple TV+ Prison Drama

Taron Egerton
(Photo by Giles Keyte. TM and copyright ©20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved/courtesy Everett Collection.)

Stellar cast and writer, fascinating (and true) story: Taron Egerton and Paul Walter Hauser will star in an adaptation of the book In With the Devil – about a prisoner who’s offered the chance for release if he can get a fellow prisoner to confess to being a serial killer – penned by Dennis Lehane.

The six-part series is based on the 2010 novel In With The Devil: A Fallen Hero, A Serial Killer, and A Dangerous Bargain for Redemption, written by James Keene and Hillel Levin. Keene’s personal experience, as an inmate offered freedom for getting a suspected killer to confess, is the story of the book.

Egerton, who won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Elton John in the biopic Rocketman, would play the Keene role, with, presumably, Richard Jewel star Hauser playing the alleged serial killer.

Lehane, the novelist who has also written for The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, and The Outsider, will write and executive produce the limited series. Egerton will also be an EP on the project, and Berlin Station director Michael Roskam will direct the miniseries.


Better Call Saul, Ted Lasso, The Mandalorian Among AFI’s Best TV Shows of 2020

Grogu and the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) in The Mandalorian season two
(Photo by © 2020 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.)

Most of us watched a lot of television in 2020, and the American Film Institute agrees with viewers that it was banner year for the small screen. AFI released a list of its top 10 series of the year, which is dominated by streaming services and includes no broadcast series.

The list: Bridgerton (which Netflix says has reached 82 million households to become its most-watched series ever), as well as Netflix’s The Crown, The Queen’s Gambit, and Unorthodox; AMC’s Better Call Saul; Showtime’s The Good Lord Bird; HBO’s Lovecraft Country; Disney+’s The Mandalorian; Mrs. America (FX on Hulu); and the Apple TV+ hit Ted Lasso.

AFI also gave a special award to Disney+’s streaming version of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton.


NEW TRAILERS: Robert Kirkman’s Invincible Series Stars Steven Yeun, J.K. Simmons, and an A-List Supporting Cast

Invincible is the animated adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s comic book about Mark Grayson (Steven Yeun), a young superhero who is the son of the world’s most powerful superhero, Omni-Man (J.K. Simmons). Also stars Mark Hamill, Gillian Jacobs, Sandra Oh, Seth Rogen, Michael Cudlitz, Mahershala Ali, Khary Payton, Lauren Cohan, Zachary Quinto, Clancy Brown, Jon Hamm, Djimon Hounsou, Andrew Rannells, Walt Goggins, and Lennie James. Premieres March 26. (Amazon Video)

More trailers and teasers released this week:

• Superman & Lois stars Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch as crimefighters and parents Superman and his journalist wife Lois Lane. Two-hour premiere airs Feb. 23. (The CW)
• Black Lightning’s fourth and final season stars Cress Williams as  the titular superhero, who starts it in a dark place after the season 3 finale death of BFF Bill. Premieres Feb. 8. (The CW)
• Queen Sugar will tackle COVID, Black Lives Matter, and political corruption among its season 5 storylines. Premieres Feb. 16. (OWN)
•  The Many Saints of Newark, The Sopranos prequel, appears in Warner Bros.’s trailer previewing its 2021 movie premieres opening in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously. Michael Gandolfini, son of late Sopranos star James Gandolfini, plays a young Tony Soprano. The movie premieres Sept. 24. (HBO Max)
• Tell Me Your Secrets, a 10-episode psychological thriller about three people whose dark pasts merge, stars Amy Brenneman, Lily Rabe, and Hamish Linklater. Premieres Feb. 19. (Amazon Video)
• Debris, a sci-fi drama about two intelligence agents searching for shards of a crashed alien spaceship, stars Jonathan Tucker, Norbert Leo Butz, and Riann Steele. Premieres March 1. (NBC)
• Snowfall season 4 finds Franklin in 1985 and the crack epidemic at an all-time high in this crime drama created by the late John Singleton. Stars Damson Idris. Premieres Feb. 24 (FX)
• The Underground Railroad, a limited series based on Colson Whitehead’s book and directed by Barry Jenkins, is a historical fiction drama in an alternate timeline in which The Underground Railroad is an actual railroad that helps slaves escape to freedom. Stars Thuso Mbedu, William Jackson Harper, and Damon Herriman. (Amazon Video)
• The Lady and the Dale is a four-part docuseries about Elizabeth Carmichael and her creation of The Dale, a three-wheeled, fuel-efficient car. Premieres Jan. 31. (HBO)
• It’s A Sin is a five-part miniseries, created by Russell Davies, about the evolution of the AIDS crisis in the U.K. and stars Olly Alexander, Lydia West, and Callum Scott Howells. Premieres Feb. 18. (HBO Max)

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CASTING:Netflix Casts Vikings Spin-Off Series Vikings: Valhalla 

Vikings Valhalla cast announcement

Netflix has confirmed cast members for Vikings: Valhalla, the upcoming spin-off of Vikings set in the early 11th century and chronicles the legendary adventures of some of the most famous Vikings who ever lived, including Leif Eriksson, Freydis Eriksdotter, Harald Hardrada and William the Conqueror. Cast includes (pictured clockwise from top left):

• Sam Corlett (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) as Eriksson, an intrepid, physically tough sailor
• Frida Gustavsson (Swoon) as Freydis Eriksdotter, Eriksson’s sister and a staunch believer in the “old gods”
• Leo Suter (The Liberator) as Harald Sigurdsson, Viking nobility and a charismatic, ambitious leader who is able to unite people
• Bradley Freegard (Keeping Faith) as King Canute, the King of Denmark
• Jóhannes Jóhannesson (Cursed) is Olaf Haraldson, one of Harald’s older half-brothers and an “Old Testament” Christian
• Laura Berlin (Alles Liebe, Annette) as Emma of Normandy, of Viking blood, politically astute, and one of the wealthiest women in Europe
• David Oakes (The Pillars of the Earth) as Earl Godwin, the cunning chief counselor to the King of England
• Caroline Henderson (Tuya Siempre) as Jarl Haakon, a steady leader who, though Pagan, keeps her city open to all faiths.
• Cast as recurring, Pollyanna Mcintosh (The Walking Dead) as Queen Ælfgifu, the calculating and ambitious Queen of Denmark
• Also recurring, Asbjørn Krogh Nissen (Valhalla: The Legend of Thor) as Jarl Kåre, who presents a threat to the old pagan ways.

The six-part limited series The Witcher: Blood Origin has cast Jodie Turner-Smith as Éile, an elite warrior blessed with the voice of a goddess, who has left her clan and position as Queen’s guardian to follow her heart as a nomadic musician. She returns in a quest for vengeance and redemption.

Dylan McDermott has signed on to co-star with Chris Meloni in Law & Order: Organized Crime. Meloni will reprise his role as Elliot Stabler from L & O: SVU, while details of McDermott’s character are being kept hush hush, except for the fact that he will be a series regular.

Wayne Brady will play the roommate of Jon Bernthal’s Julian Kaye in Showtime’s American Gigolo pilot. If the pilot goes to series, Brady will continue as a recurring cast member.


Read More: Everything We Know About Netflix’s The Sandman Series


Tony Revolori, who played Flash Thompson in Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home, is in negotiations to co-star with Warwick Davis in the Disney+ Willow series, a continuation of the 1988 movie of the same name. (Deadline)

Being Mary Jane and The Quad star Tian Richards has been cast in the lead role of Tom Swift, the upcoming Nancy Drew spin-off on The CW. Swift is a Black, billionaire, gay inventor who finds himself involved in an unexplained phenomenon when his father disappears. He goes on a quest to find out what happened, but is followed by a group very devoted to stopping him. (Variety)

Showtime’s The First Lady series has cast the younger versions of Michelle Obama and Betty Ford: Jayme Lawson (The Batman) will play Obama ages 15-30, during her years at Harvard and Princeton Law School and marrying Barack Obama in 1992, while Kristine Froseth (The Society) will play Ford in her twenties as she trained as a dancer in New York City and married Ford. Viola Davis and Michelle Pfeiffer star as Obama and Ford, and Eleanor Roosevelt will be featured in the series. Pamela Adlon has also signed on to play Ford’s social secretary and friend Nancy Howe, while Rhys Wakefield will play Dick Cheney, then the chief of staff to Gerald Ford. (Variety)

Alan Cumming will join season 2 of Prodigal Son on Fox, in a recurring role as Simon Hoxley, a cocky Europol agent and criminal profiler who goes to new York to solve a murder and butts head with Tom Payne’s Malcolm Bright. (Deadline)

Mulan star Jason Scott Lee will play Benny Kameāloha – a.k.a. Doogie’s daddy – in Disney+’s Doogie Kameāloha, M.D., a remake of Doogie Howser, M.D. (Deadline)

Corey Stoll, Tovah Feldshuh, and Nicole Beharie have joined the cast of HBO’s Scenes from a Marriage limited series. Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac star in and executive produce the remake of Ingmar Bergman’s miniseries about the complicated relationship between an American couple. (Deadline)

Kenneth Branagh will play British Prime Minster Boris Johnston in The Sceptred Isle, a drama miniseries about the devastation of the early days of COVID-19 in the U.K., written and to be directed by Michael Winterbottom.

Brie Larson will star in and executive produce the Apple TV+ series Lessons in Chemistry, playing a single mother and scientist in the 1960s who gets fired from her lab job and takes a new gig as the host of a TV cooking show. The series, based on an upcoming book by author Bonnie Garmus, will be written by Erin Brockovich Oscar nominee Susannah Grant, who will also executive produce, along with Jason Bateman. (Variety)


PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT: A Game Of Thrones Animated Drama? HBO Max Is on It

Game of Thrones, season 5, episode 2 photo: courtesy of HBO
(Photo by HBO)

As we suggested last week, HBO seems set on creating not just spin-offs, but a whole Game Of Thrones universe. Next up: a GOT animated drama. HBO Max is meeting with writers to create an adult-toned Game Of Thrones ’toon. (THR)

Peacock announced this week that the streaming network will be the official and exclusive home of the World Wrestling Entertainment network in the U.S., including WrestleMania, pay-per-view events, and signature documentaries.

Hillary and Chelsea Clinton are developing a TV series adaptation of Gayle Tzemach Lemmon’s upcoming book, The Daughters of Kobani: A Story of Rebellion, Courage, and Justice, the true story of a heroic group of women who successfully fought ISIS in northern Syria, and earned the support of U.S. Special Operations Forces. (Deadline)

Seth McFarlane is executive producer on This Is Us writer Elan Mastai’s adaptation of his own bestselling novel All Our Wrong Todays for a Peacock series. The 2017 book is a time-travelling love story.

HBO Max is developing The Tourist, a six-episode thriller series starring Jamie Dornan as a man being chased by a giant truck in the Australian outback, only to wake up in a hospital with no memory of who he is or why he is being pursued. Dornan calls the scripts “some of the most exciting I’ve ever read.”

Demi Lovato is starring in NBC’s comedy pilot Hunger, about a support group for people with food issues. She will also be an executive producer on the series, alongside Todd Milliner and Sean Hayes, with whom she co-starred on the final season of the 2017-2020 Will & Grace revival. (TVLine)

Ellen Pompeo will executive produce and star in a limited series adaptation of author Elin Hilderbrand’s Paradise book trilogy, about a woman whose husband dies, leaving her and her sons to deal with the revelation that he had a secret life with a whole separate family. Pompeo is teaming with Mad Men writers Andre and Maria Jacquemetton on the ABC project. (THR)

Vikings creator Michael Hirst will write and executive produce a one-season, more modern-based series adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. (THR)

HBO is developing season 3 of the podcast Serial as a TV series, with LeBron James as an executive producer. The season will revolve around the criminal justice system in Cleveland, where Ohio native James began his NBA career with the Cavaliers. Serial podcast host Sarah Koenig will also be an executive producer on the potential series.

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